Update on the latest in sports:
Altuve ascends, NLDS opens at Washington, LA
UNDATED (AP) — Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo and the World Series champion Chicago Cubs begin the NL playoffs when Kyle Hendricks faces Stephen Strasburg at Nationals Park. It remains to be seen how healthy Washington is — star slugger Bryce Harper returned slowly from a knee injury and there’s still no definite word when Max Scherzer will pitch after hurting his hamstring last weekend.
— Clayton Kershaw is a three-time Cy Young Award winner, a five-time ERA champ and a seven-time All-Star. The lone blemish on his resume is his postseason mark — 4-7 with a 4.55 ERA in 18 games. The LA lefty opens the NL Division Series vs. Arizona at Dodger Stadium. Taijuan Walker will make his playoff debut for the Diamondbacks after ace Zack Greinke started and 15-game winner Robbie Ray relieved in the wild-card win Wednesday over Colorado.
— Jose Altuve is off to a smashing start in the playoffs, hitting three home runs in Houston’s 8-2 romp over Boston in the AL Division Series opener. The 5-foot-6 star tries to boost the Astros in the best-of-five matchup when Dallas Keuchel faces Red Sox lefty Drew Pomeranz at Minute Maid Park. Altuve, who led the majors in batting at .346 this year, became just the 10th player to hit three homers in a postseason game.
— Indians ace Corey Kluber starts Game 2 of the ALDS against the Yankees at Progressive Field, a day after Cleveland won the opener 4-0. The right-hander was 4-1 with a 1.83 ERA in six postseason starts last year, then went 18-4 with a 2.25 ERA this season. Kluber went 2-0 during the regular season against New York, but didn’t face slugger Aaron Judge, who was slumping both times the teams met. Judge struck out all four times Thursday after homering in the AL wild-card win. CC Sabathia starts for the Yankees — he spent eight seasons with the Indians, who drafted him in 1998 as a 17-year-old.
Season opener for Islanders, Blue Jackets
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — After missing a third straight postseason appearance by one point last season, the New York Islanders are hoping for a stronger start when they visit the Columbus Blue Jackets in the season opener for both teams. The Blue Jackets believe they have the pieces to go even deeper into the playoffs this year.
In other NHL contests, the Florida Panthers visit the Tampa Bay Lightning, and the Vegas Golden Knights will be hosted by the Dallas Stars.
NFL-TYLER BOYD-DRUG CHARGES
Police: Bengals receiver Tyler Boyd had drugs in crashed car
JEFFERSON HILLS, Pa. (AP) — Cincinnati Bengals receiver Tyler Boyd was charged Thursday with owning a vape pen containing the active ingredient in marijuana that police say was found when his friend crashed the NFL player’s car near Pittsburgh in July.
Jefferson Hills police say Boyd, a former star at the University of Pittsburgh, lent his car to a friend who crashed it about 3 a.m. on July 12. Boyd wasn’t in the car.
But police say they found an open bottle of cognac, an unopened bottle of peach vodka, and two vape pens and several unopened vape cartridges containing THC.
Boyd’s attorney, Daniel Konieczka (koh-NETCH’-kah) says there “might be some factual confusion” over who owned the vape items. But police say Boyd acknowledged owning one of the vape pens.
Top-ranked Rafael Nadal advances to semifinals at China Open
BEIJING (AP) — Top-ranked Rafael Nadal moved into the semifinals of the China Open by beating sixth-seeded John Isner 6-4, 7-6 (0) today.
The French Open and U.S. Open champion has won five titles this season and is closing in on the year-end No. 1 ranking.
Nadal saved all three break points he faced against Isner. He will next play third-seeded Grigor Dimitrov, who defeated Roberto Bautista Agut 7-6 (5), 4-6, 6-2.