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Update on the latest sports

March 20, 2019

MLB-MARINERS-ATHLETICS

Ichiro cheered at Tokyo Dome, Mariners top A’s 9-7 in opener

TOKYO (AP) — Ichiro Suzuki drew the loudest ovation back home in Japan and Domingo Santana delivered the biggest hit, launching a grand slam that led the Seattle Mariners over the Oakland Athletics 9-7 Wednesday in the Major League Baseball opener.

The game at the Tokyo Dome marked the earliest opening day ever — the summer sport actually started on the last day of winter. No doubt, most fans in North America were sound asleep when Oakland’s Mike Fiers threw the first pitch at 5:36 a.m. EDT.

Tim Beckham also homered as several Seattle newcomers excelled. Khris Davis, who led the majors with 48 home runs last year, Stephen Piscotty and Matt Chapman connected for the A’s.

A packed crowd of 45,787 was buzzing for its favorite star, sending cheers, chants and camera flashes for Ichiro bounding all around the park.

At 45, Ichiro became the second-oldest position player to start an opener, only a few months younger than Julio Franco was for Atlanta in 2004.

Batting ninth and playing right field, Ichiro popped up and worked a walk his two times up. After taking his defensive spot in the bottom of the fourth inning, he was pulled to another ovation. Ichiro is expected to play again Thursday when the two-game series finishes.

The Mariners won for the 12th time in 15 openers. They also beat the A’s in 2012 when MLB last started in Japan.

MLB-OPENING DAY-FIRSTS

Bruce gets 1st hit of 2019 MLB season, Piscotty 1st home run

TOKYO (AP) — Jay Bruce of the Seattle Mariners got the first hit of the 2019 Major League Baseball season and Oakland’s Stephen Piscotty connected for the first home run.

Bruce lined a single off the glove of shifted Athletics shortstop Marcus Semien with two outs in the top of the first inning Wednesday at the Tokyo Dome. Piscotty homered to center field in the bottom of the first off Marco Gonzales.

Mariners newcomer Edwin Encarnacion was the first player to strike out this year and Seattle third baseman Ryon Healy made the first error.

PIMLICO-LAWSUIT

Baltimore mayor sues to block move of Preakness Stakes

BALTIMORE (AP) — Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh has sued the owners of Pimlico Race Course in an effort to seize the horse racetrack and block the move of the Preakness Stakes out of the city.

News outlets report that on behalf of the city, Pugh is also trying to prevent the Stronach Group from using state bonds to fund improvements at Laurel Park, which is being eyed as the new home for the second jewel in the Triple Crown.

A 1987 Maryland law bars the Preakness from leaving Pimlico unless in case of a disaster or emergency. The lawsuit accuses the Stronach Group of essentially manufacturing a disaster by underinvesting in Pimlico, instead spending the majority of the state aid it receives at Laurel Park.

The Stronach Group called the lawsuit “premature and unfounded.”

ESPN-AMERICAN

AP source: American Athletic makes 12-year TV deal with ESPN

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — The American Athletic Conference and ESPN have reached agreement on a new 12-year television contract that will increase revenue to the league’s schools but leaves them far behind their Power Five counterparts.

An official with knowledge of the negotiations says the conference will receive about $1 billion over the next decade and in exchange ESPN will get the rights to all AAC games, many of which will be broadcast on ESPN-plus, the company’s a la carte digital platform.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the contracts have not been signed, said the deal will provide each member school with an average of just under $7 million a year.

The agreement, first reported by Sports Business Journal Daily, runs from the 2020-21 academic year through 2031-32.

Among the Power Five, the Atlantic Coast Conference had smallest revenue distribution payouts to its members last season at an average of $26.6 million.

INDYCAR-INDY 500-PATRICK

APNewsBreak: Danica Patrick to join NBC’s Indy 500 team

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Danica Patrick will join NBC Sports’ inaugural coverage of the Indianapolis 500 as a studio analyst alongside host Mike Tirico.

Patrick retired from racing after last year’s Indianapolis 500.

She tells The Associated Press racing at Indy last year after an eight-year career in NASCAR refreshed her. She will also be part of the broadcast team for qualifying on May 19 and will promote the race across numerous NBCUniversal platforms.

NBC Sports this season snagged the entire IndyCar package, including the showcase Indy 500 that had been broadcast exclusively by ABC since 1965.