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AROUND THE HORN

Ohio State-Michigan on Dec. 12

COLUMBUS (AP) — The Big Ten’s third football schedule of the 2020 season is highlighted by Ohio State-Michigan on Dec. 12, the final day of the conference’s regular-season and the latest date the rivals have ever played.

The Big Ten released an eight-games-in-eight-weeks schedule on Saturday that will start the weekend of Oct. 24. Just three days ago, the conference reversed course and decided to play a fall football season after postponing on Aug. 11 because of concerns about COVID-19.

Week 1 features Nebraska at Ohio State, two teams that were at the forefront of the grassroots push to play fall ball in the Big Ten. Michigan will play at Minnesota in the Little Brown Jug rivalry to open the season.

In Week 2, Ohio State will play at Penn State on Halloween. The Buckeyes at No. 2 and Penn State at No. 7 were the highest ranked Big Ten teams in the preseason AP Top 25.

The regular season concludes as usual with the Buckeyes and Wolverines facing off. Michigan and Ohio State have played 103 times, but never later than November.

The Big Ten championship game will be played Dec. 19 in Indianapolis, matching the East and West Division champions. The conference has said it will give all its teams the opportunity to play on Dec. 19. The tentative plan is to match teams with similar finishes in the respective division standings.

Carrasco, Ramirez key Indians

DETROIT (AP) — With Carlos Carrasco looking sharp down the stretch, the Cleveland Indians could be a dangerous team in the postseason.

Carrasco allowed one hit in seven scoreless innings, and Jose Ramirez homered twice to lift the Indians to a 7-4 victory over the Detroit Tigers on Sunday. Cleveland took three of four in this series after entering on an eight-game losing streak, and now the Indians are closing in on a playoff berth.

“I’ve been working a lot just getting to this point, but I feel really good right now,” Carrasco said.

This was Carrasco’s first win of September, but he’s been impressive this month, allowing one run or fewer in three of his four starts. Cleveland’s starting pitching has been a strength from the start this season, with Shane Bieber and Zach Plesac leading the way with ERAs under 2.00.

Pirates manage two hits

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Yadier Molina hit a two-run homer and Jack Flaherty struck out 11 as the St. Louis Cardinals kept their hold on a postseason spot with a 2-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Sunday.

Molina’s home run to the bleachers in left field came in the seventh inning off Derek Holland and extended St. Louis’ winning streak to a season-high four games. The Cardinals had been shut out by Joe Musgrove over the first six innings.

Flaherty (4-2) allowed only one run and two hits in six innings while walking two. It was his ninth career double-digit strikeout game.

Flaherty had been tagged for a career-worst nine runs in three innings in his previous start Tuesday at Milwaukee. He said he made some slight changes to his throwing mechanics between starts.

“It’s a game of continuous adjustments and there was obviously a lot to improve on after the last one,” Flaherty said. “I had a good week of work of getting together with guys and seeing what adjustments we could make.”

The Cardinals (26-24) hold a one-game lead on Cincinnati (27-27) and Milwaukee (26-26) for second place in the NL Central with one week left in the regular season. The top two finishers in each division gain berths in the expanded postseason during this pandemic-affected season.

Davis beats buzzer, Nuggets

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) — Anthony Davis has never been this deep in the playoffs, never had the chance to take such an important shot.

It’s nothing new for the Los Angeles Lakers, though.

So when Davis’ 3-pointer swished through the net as time expired to give the Lakers a 105-103 victory over the Denver Nuggets on Sunday night and a 2-0 lead in the Western Conference finals, coach Frank Vogel thought of a Laker who had done it before.

“That’s a shot Kobe Bryant would hit,” Vogel said. “To me, AD coming off, just flying to the wing like that, catch-and-shoot with the biggest game on the line of our season, nothing but net, it’s a Mamba shot.”

Pogacar looks good in yellow

PARIS (AP) — In a first, the Tour de France winner wore a face mask on the podium Sunday, bright yellow to match the color of the iconic jersey so snug on his young shoulders.

But at least there was a winner.

Three weeks ago, when 21-year-old Tadej Pogacar set off with 175 other competitors that he ended up beating, not even race organizers were sure they would make it through the storm of France’s worsening coronavirus epidemic and reach Paris.

“Really, I was scared we wouldn’t get to the end,” race director Christian Prudhomme conceded at the finish.

And so it was that Pogacar, up there on that podium, backlit by the pink hues of a Paris dusk, not only became the Tour’s youngest champion in 116 years but also a symbol of resilience, of can-do, of learning to live with — but not surrendering to — the virus still causing so much pain.

Sure, it all felt weird, as so many things do these days. Example: Pogacar’s mask puffed in and out, like an octopus glued to his face, as he sang the anthem of his native Slovenia, played in his honor.

But so liberating and invigorating, too, in this most horrid of years. The rumble of the riders’ wheels hammering over the cobblestones of Paris’ Champs-Elysees. Alive, like heartbeats, on the famous boulevard that during lockdown just months ago was deserted.

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