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again. With Thursday nights loss a
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The American League East has suddenly tightened up again. With Thursday nights loss at Baltimore coupled with the Yankees win at Seattle, the Jays lead atop the division is down to three-and-a-half games on the Os and the Yanks. Its way too early to get a read on how this thing might shake down by the end of September, but it would only seem fitting if on the 25th anniversary of Rogers Center the Blue Jays and Orioles would be fighting it out for first. They meet in the final three games of the regular season at the Dome on September 26-28. The Blue Jays and Orioles have a bit of history in these kinds of things. In 1983, the Blue Jays had their first ever winning season in their seventh year of existence. With Bobby Cox at the helm, they were actually in first place in the American League East at the All-Star game by one game on Baltimore. The Jays record was 43-33 when they were rained out on July 4, the day before the All-Star break. Baltimore was 42-34 through the 4th of July. Baltimore took off in the second half, though, and won the division with a 98-64 record and with Cal Ripken Jr. being named the Most Valuable Player. The Orioles felt 1983 was destined to be their year, since they had finished just one game back of division leading Milwaukee the year before. As for the Jays, they won their first division title two years later in 1985. Flash forward to 1989, the year Rogers Centre opened. The Blue Jays chalked up a couple of firsts that season. On April 16, Kelly Gruber became the first Blue Jays player to hit for the cycle, when he turned the trick against Kansas City in a 15-8 Jays victory. On June 9 at Fenway, the Jays put together the most incredible comeback in franchise history. Down 10-0 to the Red Sox, they battled all the way back, thanks in large part to an Ernie Whitt grand slam and sent the game into extra innings. Then, Junior Felix slugged the game winning homer in a 13-11 victory in the 12th inning. Heading into the final weekend of the regular season, the Jays held a one-game lead on the Orioles heading into a three game series at Rogers Center. On Friday night, it was a classic pitchers duel. Lefty Jeff Ballard started for the Orioles and Todd Stottlemyer for the Jays. But the real hero on this night for the Jays was reliever Jim Acker, who took over in the 6th inning and pitched four shutout frames giving up only two hits. The Jays ultimately pulled out a 2-1 victory in 11 innings to clinch at least a tie for the division crown. On Saturday, it appeared for the better part of the game that the Orioles were going to force a meaningful game on Sunday. They got Jimmy Key out of the game in four innings and took a 3-1 lead to the bottom of the 8th. The Jays, who only had four hits on the day, bunched a couple in the bottom of the 8th and scored three runs to ultimately win it 4-3 to wrap up their second division title. For the second day in a row, the bullpen saved the day. 30-year-old right hander Frank Wills pitched four innings of one-hit relief, and then Tom Henke, who got his eigth win in relief on Friday, picked up his 20th save in this one. So the Jays, who started the season at Exhibition Stadium and got off to a 12-24 start under Jimy Williams, finished the season winning the East under Cito Gaston. The Jays finished the 1989 season with  89 victories -- the same number as they did in 1983 when they wound up fourth -- nine games behind the division-winning Orioles. So, if the Jays and Orioles meet on the final weekend of this season, it will be a sort of historical rubber match or completion of the trilogy 25 years after Rogers Center opened. Just when you think the Yankees might be slipping out of contention, they turn around and win three straight at Seattle. Not only that, Derek Jeter is finally starting to hit; banging out seven hits in the series. Whats even more impressive is the Yankees may have uncovered a diamond in the rough in 24-year-old right hander Chase Whitley. A 15th round draft pick in 2010, hes 2-0 with a 2.41 ERA with the "big club." He has not walked a batter in the last 114 men he has faced. What are the odds that the hottest rookie pitcher in the National  League would also be named Chase? 26-year-old right hander Chase Anderson has won all five of his starts for Arizona and has a 3.14 ERA. He doesnt walk too many either; just seven, in fact, to 22 strike outs. He was a 9th round pick in 2009. The Tigers Max Scherzer won his eigth game Thursday night in an 8-2 victory at Chicago over the White Sox. But the thing that blew me away was that it was the first complete game of Scherzers career. We used to take CGs for granted, but it took Scherzer, who already has a Cy Young Award to his credit, until his 179th career start to get it done. That was the longest stretch any starter had gone without a complete game since 1900. The two active pitchers who had gone the longest now without a complete game, according to ESPN, are  Scherzers teammate Rick Porcello (146 starts) and the Orioles Bud Norris (139 starts). There could be some history made Friday night at Philadelphia. Phils shortstop Jimmy Rollins needs only two more hits to break Hall of Famer Mike Schmidts franchise record of 2,234 hits.  Jake Arrieta will be on the mound for the Cubs. Jason Taylor Youth Jersey . The Senators will put the busy off-season and training camp behind them when they open their regular season on the road. They kick things off Friday against the Buffalo Sabres and then head to Toronto to take on the Maple Leafs on Saturday. Michael Deiter Dolphins Jersey . -- Zach Johnson is like most players at the World Challenge, not sure whether hes still playing in 2013 or if hes in the middle of the new wraparound season that officially started in October. http://www.authenticdolphinspro.com/Mike...ns-jersey/ . According to bodog.ca, Cleveland moved up to grab the best odds to win the Larry OBrian trophy at 4-1 on Friday. By comparison, the Miami Heats odds plummeted from 3-1 favourites before LeBron left, to 50-1. Dan Marino Womens Jersey . -- New York Yankees centre fielder Jacoby Ellsbury was sent for an MRI Thursday of his ailing right calf, which was negative. Cameron Wake Dolphins Jersey . -- Jay Haas and Peter Jacobsen took the second-round lead Saturday in the Champions Tours Legends of Golf, teaming for a 6-under 48 in windy conditions on the par-3 Top of the Rock course.The UFC stacked the deck this weekend for the promotions debut on FOX Sports 1. Five of the main card fighters (Shogun, Sonnen, Overeem, Browne and Faber) have all headlined UFC events in the past. Some pivotal matchups take place Saturday but the biggest matchup on TSN.ca is the return of Jordan Cieciwa who goes head-to-head with me this week with his picks. As always you can follow me (@LynchOnSports) or Jordan (@FitCityJordan) if you agree or disagree, also feel free to leave your opinions in the comment section below. Mauricio “Shogun” Rua vs. Chael Sonnen Lynch: In a fight that was rumored to save the UFC 161 card in Winnipeg, Shogun and Sonnen finally lock horns in a matchup where both fighters are looking for contender status in the 205-pound division. If Shogun had any hopes of a rematch with Jon Jones that was all shattered in his last fight as he endured a one sided beat down to current number one contender Alexander Gustafsson at UFC on FOX 5. The biggest knock on the Brazilian throughout his entire career is his conditioning, and that was evident against the Swede who looked faster and landed more shots than the former UFC light heavyweight champion. “The American Gangster” meanwhile competes in his first non-title bout since January of 2012, and aims to bounce back from his current two-fight losing streak. Conditioning has never been an issue with Sonnen, who took former middleweight champion Anderson Silva into deep waters during their first encounter and nearly won the fight. On paper the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt has all the talent in the world to defeat the former NCAA Division I wrestler, but depending on what type of shape he comes in for this fight, will determine the outcome. This is a tough fight to call as its possible Rua lands a fight ending submission on the 36-year old (who has been tapped out eight times in his career) however its also possible the Sonnen effectively secures takedowns and grinds out a decision. Overall this fight comes down to who wants it more and I believe “The Peoples Champ” is hungrier than his 31-year old foe. Sonnen via unanimous decision JC: Well the fight is finally here. I really thought this was going to happen for UFC 161, and it would have really added to the card in Winnipeg. It didnt. Now the problem remains, who shows up to this fight?  Obviously, its Mauricio “Shogun” Rua vs. Chael Sonnen, but which Rua will we see on Saturday night?  Are we talking the "Shogun" from his Pride days, or the "Shogun" that fought Gustafsson?  At 31, Rua is still in his prime and there is no reason for him to do anything other than show up in shape and leg kick a slower, one dimensional Sonnen. Sonnen can wrestle, and he can throw strikes, but they arent pretty. Truth be told, this fight in my opinion is Ruas to lose. He can beat himself on this.  There are no better athletes than wrestlers. Sonnen will control Rua if he lets him.  Can "Shogun" keep the distance, and out strike Sonnen.  Well see, and this will be a very long drawn out fight.  Its going to look a lot like Rory MacDonald vs. Jake Ellenberger. Im hoping we see a proud Brazilian come out to knock out a loud mouth American. Rua via unanimous decision Alistair Overeem vs. Travis Browne Lynch: On paper this fight has all the potential of a “Knockout of the Night” fight as former Strikeforce champion Overeem squares off with 67 juggernaut Browne. The former K-1 Grand Prix Champion was embarrassed in his last fight, having been knocked out by considerable underdog Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva at UFC 156. That loss immediately shattered any talk of fighting for the UFC heavyweight title and questioned the Dutch fighters use of PEDs during his career outside the UFC. “The Reem” hopes an impressive performance against the Hawaiian will prove his doubters wrong. Browne meanwhile looks to build off his impressive victory over Gabriel Gonzaga back at the TUF 17 Finale and aims for his 11th career knockout; however that might be easier said than done. The former DREAM champion is clearly the better striker having looked impressive during his tenure in K-1 kickboxing. The other factor to consider is the Dutchman has fought 49 times compared to the Jackson/Winklejohn students 15 fights. While Overeem was knocked out in his last fight, much of that had to do with his cockiness and leaving his hands down in the third round. Look for the Blackzillian fighter to be more composed and use his muay-thai to neutralize any of the knockout power Browne possesses. With whats at stake for Overeem, I see him executing a smart game plan of picking his shots and playing it safe, on route to a unanimous decision victory. Overeem via unanimous decision JC: I dont know where I stand on Alistair Overeem. Hes the scape goat for a very troubled UFC, as far as the drug allegations go. He didnt go the TRT route like a bunch of American wrestlers or Vitor Belfort. He got busted, same as Barry Bonds, in the prime of his career in a sport where no one seems innocent. If you look at Overeems career, its beyond impressive. Hes been fighting as an MMA professional since 1999, since he was 18.  His striking is world class, and he can wrestle enough to take dominant positions to throw strikes.  That all said, he looked like a rookie in his last fight against Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva.  You have a Dream Champion, K-1 Champion, and a threat in every fight he has been in, fighting a relative newcomer.  My money is on the new comer Browne.  "The Reem" is still going to be under the microscope for Performance Enhancing Drugs (PEDs) and I hate to say it that seems to be the secret to most of his wins. Browne has the best corner in the game, and even though I dont like the Jackson/Winklejohn camp, they produce guys who win.  All Browne has to do is be aggressive, fight smart, and control this fight. Hell catch Alistair just like Gonzaga did. Browne via 2nd round TKO Urijah Faber vs. Yuri Alcantara Lynch: Two of the top fighters in the bantamweight division clash as former WEC featherweight champion Faber meets submission ace Alcantara. “The California Kid” has taken his fight game to another level since adding striking coach Duane “Bang” Ludwig to his team, finishing his last two opponents in impressive fashion. A matchup with the Brazilian Alcantara is just another stepping stone on the path to earning a rematch with current 135-pound champ Renan Barao. While Alcantara poses a threat on the ground, this is Fabers fight to lose as he has a lot more tools in his arsenal to impose on his opponent. The step up in commpetition and the fact hes facing an opponent who outside of title fights is currently 7-0, doesnt bode well for the Brazilian.dddddddddddd We should see Faber outwrestle the 33-year old and pick his shots at will, but not likely finish his opponent on the ground as he is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt. Faber via unanimous decision JC: Im going to tape this fight and watch it in slow motion so I can actually see the guys striking. I love the Bantamweights, and hearing that Faber is adding striking into this camp in a big way has me excited to see a great match up.  Faber has always relied on his wrestling, as the whole Alpha Male team has. A win in this fight will have Faber back in the hunt for the title. Fabers wrestling and now improved striking means his only hole is the submission game.  Having been on the ground with better submission guys than Alcantara, I dont see Faber giving up an easy submission here. Im hoping to see the Faber of three or four years ago. The fearless fighter who throws crazy angle shots, spinning elbows of the cage and tries to win in explosive fashion. Faber via unanimous decision Matt Brown vs. Mike Pyle Lynch: Bet you didnt know that both Brown and Pyle combined have a winning streak of nine-straight fights inside the UFCs 170-pound weight class. Well now you do, and it should also be noted that these are two of the most underrated fighters in the UFCs welterweight division. Back in 2011 “The Immortal” was on the verge of unemployment with the UFC having lost four of his last five fights. Since then hes been on a roll, dispatching the likes of Stephen Thompson, Mike Swick and most recently Canadian prospect Jordan Mein. The Achilles heel throughout the Ohio natives career has been his ground skills, with nine of his eleven losses coming by way of submission. Because of an injury to Thiago Alves, his replacement Pyle poses an interesting threat because16 of his 25 wins has come by way of submission. In his last fight “Quicksand” narrowly squeaked out a decision over Rick Story, in a bout which he almost lost due to overwhelming strikes in the first round. Brown hits a lot harder than Story and has more tools in his arsenal to finish this fight. The TUF 7 alum should be able to avoid the mat, keep this fight standing and earn his 11th career knockout for what should be the ‘Fight of the Night Brown via second round knockout JC: GSP, Hendricks, MacDonald... Brown and Pyle? Yes folks, these boys are in that welterweight division and no one talks about them.  They dont like to lose.  Pyle is 7-1 in his last 8, his loss was to Rory MacDonald. Brown is 6-1 in his last 7.  He had a bit of a rough go in 2010 with 3 straight losses, but like any great fighter, went back to the lab and perfected his craft. Now both of these underrated fighters are poised to make a run to the top 5 and maybe a title shot.  My pick is Pyle doing everything right, getting this fight to the mat, and showing the only weakness Matt Brown seems to have, getting submitted.  Brown has a tenancy to make major mistakes on the ground and leave the cage early due to chokes. Pyle via second round submission (Guillotine) Uriah Hall vs. John Howard Lynch: TUF 17 Middleweight Tournament runner up Hall aims for his first UFC victory Saturday night when he is paired with hometown favorite Howard. With all the hype building from his spinning hook kick knockout of Adam Cella on his season of the Ultimate Fighter, Hall struggled at the TUF 17 finale, losing a split decision to eventual winner Kelvin Gastelum. One area that was greatly exposed in that loss was Halls mental struggles and his inability to stop a takedown. In matching up with a seasoned veteran like “Doomsday”, Hall will need those issues to be resolved. The 30-year old Howard meanwhile makes his return to the UFC for the first time since June 2011 and hopes to find success as a middleweight, as he previously competed inside the octagon in the 170lb division. However because of the short notice of taking this fight (replacing Josh Samman) and the fact that Hall has a three inch height and eight inch reach advantage, the edge has to go to Hall. With Howard being stopped just three times in his career, its doubtful Hall will be able to finish him, instead I think we see him play it safe, pick his shots and earn a unanimous decision victory. Hall via unanimous decision JC: Im going to assume that Uriah Hall is a hard working athlete, that he is smart and that he has a team around him who will take him back to basics and teach him how to sprawl. Hall needs to win big fights, and do it with improving his takedown defense. This fight will be interesting as its a short notice replacement fight.  Those always throw wrenches into the game plan. Hall will be ready, the jitters of the big show should be out, and my hope is he has fixed the major problem in his game. If he can stay in control with his height and reach advantage and defend the takedown, he should safely take this to the full 3 rounds. Hall via unanimous decision Joe Lauzon vs. Michael Johnson Lynch: Boston native Lauzon makes his return to the octagon after his grueling loss to Jim Miller back in December to face TUF 12 runner up Johnson. Both are coming off losses and are well rounded, so fans should expect an exciting all-out war. Lauzon has a clear advantage on the ground and should be able to submit Johnson rather easily should he be able to take this fight to the mat. The Blackzillian member has six submission losses and most likely it will be seven after Saturday night. Lauzon via second round submission. JC: Michael Johnson is making the trek from Florida where the Blackzillians train to Boston, my hope is that he has fixed his submission loss ways. Thats actually not true, I really like Joe Lauzon and want to see him win this with a submission.  Lauzon needs this win to jump back up in to the top 10 of the 155-pound division.  He has the toughness; he just hasnt won the big fights.  Lauzon with some consistency, is one of the best fighters at 155. He can dominate this one on the mat, the question is, does he get it there or does he get frustrated and let Johnson keep this one standing. We all know Lauzon can take a beating but the problem is thats just the "tough way" to lose a decision. Lauzon via unanimous decision Undercard Picks Lynch: McDonald, McGregor, Brown, Brandao, Miller, St-Preux, NijemJC: Pickett, McGregor, Brown, Brandao, Miller, Donovan, Nijem Also be sure to tune into the “Weigh-In” on TSN Radio 1290 Winnipeg every Saturday as Jordan and I go toe to toe in discussing the hottest topics in Mixed Martial Arts. ' ' '
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