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Autographed jersey that Rockies’ Nolan Arenado wore while making one of his best defensive plays is up for auction

Denver Post Local News - 7 hours 14 min ago

While Rockies fans can’t see Nolan Arenado on their TV sets in this Rocktober cut short, they can bid on his autographed jersey from one of the best — if not the best — defensive moments of his six-year career.

Goldin Auctions is auctioning off Arenado’s game-used jersey from April 14, 2015, when the five-time Gold Glove winner made an over-the-shoulder, Wille Mays-esque catch on a pop-up in foul territory against the Giants at AT&T Park.

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The play became known as the “tarp catch,” for the way Arenado — running full speed toward the stands and en route to his first all-star nod that season — barreled into the field tarp immediately after making the grab, and then spun and fired the ball back to the infield.

Arenado signed the purple jersey, and as an ode to the play, the third baseman wrote “tarp catch” and the date on it as well. The jersey comes with a letter of authenticity from the Rockies as well as a letter of authenticity for the signature.

Bidding ends Saturday, October 27, and the price tag was at $2,000 as of midday Thursday.

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Closure is still an option, but a new approach will let struggling Denver schools make their case

Denver Post Local News - 7 hours 30 min ago

Denver schools with persistently low test scores will have to present detailed improvement plans this fall, but they no longer face automatic closure or replacement.

The Denver school board on Monday night agreed to a more flexible process for intervening in struggling schools. The changes mean the board will have more options and more discretion.

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The process also seeks to give greater weight to information about a school’s culture, the demographics of the students it serves, and how school staff support those students socially and emotionally. In past years, school closure decisions were based overwhelmingly on academic factors, such how students fared on state literacy and math tests.

Ten low-performing schools are eligible for intervention this year (see box). The board is set to vote in December and January on which actions to take at each school.

How to improve struggling schools is a key question for urban school districts across the country. However, Denver Public Schools stands out nationally for adopting a policy in 2015 codifying that it should “promptly intervene” when a school is persistently underperforming and coming up with guidelines that set a clear path to school closure.

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Chalkbeat Colorado is a nonprofit news organization covering education issues. For more, visit

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String of smash and grab burglaries continue in Denver suburbs

Denver Post Local News - 7 hours 31 min ago

A string of smash and grab break-ins has continued as more Denver-area stores were broken into this week.

The number of business hit in Parker has risen to at least 10, with many other Denver-area suburbs seeing similar spikes in this type of crime. Police are unsure if all of the crimes are connected, but several break-ins in Parker appear to be the work of a ski mask-clad man, according to Parker Polices spokesman Josh Hanf.

“The thing that is most concerning is the frequency,” Hanf said, “we have not seen this before in Parker.”

Surveillance video from the Parker Honey Baked Ham-one of 7 businesses burglarized early Monday morning.
Full video of the burglary:

— Parker Police Dept. (@ParkerPolice) October 15, 2018

Parker police officers responded to seven break-ins early Monday morning after a male dressed in all black smashed several front windows of local businesses. Most of the businesses were small service-industry shops.

Cash drawers and tablets being used as registers were taken from several stores. Three of the cash drawers were later recovered in the parking lot of a church, Hanf said.

Three more small businesses were broken into Tuesday morning in the same manner. Police are still investigating whether the crimes are connected, but they appear similar, Hanf said. The weapon of choice for the smashing appears to be landscaping rocks.

Centennial also was hit when Wave the Grain, a new bakery, had its store front smashed early Tuesday morning. While no valuables were stolen, the cost of replacing the large glass windows and front door will cost Wave the Grain several thousand dollars, said Alex Kulinski, who works at the bakery.

With temperatures dipping overnight, heating costs are expected to put a further dent in the business’s pocket.

“No one wants to be here by themselves,” Kulinksi said. “We have been worried and having to look over our shoulder.”

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The rash of crime is not specific just to south of Denver. Several other Denver-area suburbs have seen similar spikes in smash and grabs, Hanf said.

Arvada last week experienced eight smash and grabs, said Arvada police Detective David Snelling. Detectives are working with other agencies to see whether the string in Arvada is connected with the burglaries in other areas.

The Parker Police Department is increasing patrols at night in response to the smash and grabs, and it sent an email to business owners warning them to keep valuables out of sight.

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Women may have been drugged at party on Boulder’s University Hill, police say

Denver Post Local News - 7 hours 33 min ago

Boulder police are investigating the possible drugging of two women at parties on University Hill.

According to a news release, two University of Colorado students were treated early Thursday morning at Boulder Community Health’s Foothills Hospital after unknowingly ingesting drugs while drinking alcohol at parties on the Hill.

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Police have not said specifically where on Hill the parties may have been taking place.


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5 of the highest places to grab wine, beer, cheese and more in Colorado

Denver Post Local News - 10 hours 51 min ago

The proximity of the peaks of the Rocky Mountains makes Colorado an obvious candidate for some of the highest attractions in the country.

We’re talking about elevation, people.

Already Colorado has the highest paved road in North America (Mount Evans Scenic Byway) and the highest vehicle tunnels in the world (Eisenhower-Johnson Memorial Tunnels), but what about things made in Colorado? Specifically food and drink?

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Here’s a look at some of some of the places that rise to the top of the list.

Highest Winery

At an elevation of 10,362 feet, the Continental Divide Winery is the world’s highest-altitude winery — technically. The elevation stems from the winery’s storage facility located in Alma. It’s here that the grapes that eventually become wine under the Continental Divide label are shipped in from California and Palisade and stored until they are ready to be processed. Crushing, aging, blending and bottling all happen in the winery’s Fairplay facility (still a respectable 9,953 feet), which also has a tasting room and retail outlet. Continental Divide’s Breckenridge location offers tastings and another place to buy the wines or to sign up for one of the wine clubs.

Continental Divide makes mostly classics: cabernet sauvignon, merlot, zinfandel, albarino, riesling and others. The tasting flights offer the opportunity to do a side-by-side comparison of Colorado and California versions of the same varietal.

Even though the boasted elevation is a storage facility, the Palisade vineyards sit at elevations of between about 5,000 and 7,000 feet. These altitudes and the soil associated with them have a definite influence on the flavor profile. Condensed periods of sunlight and the iron and minerals in the soil give the grapes — and resulting wine — unique characteristics, said Leanne Bellncula, executive wine ambassador. Colorado reds are earthy and have qualities of minerality and smokiness that come from the area, Bellncula said.

“It is truly reflective of the region and its physical surroundings,” she said.

Processing wine at altitude also means there’s less air in the bottle, which helps preserve the flavors, Bellncula explained. On occasion, the winery “partners with Mother Nature” during the fermentation process, she added. This involves the high-tech process of rolling wine barrels into the snow to slow down fermentation, and then rolling them back inside to restart fermentation.

Continental Divide Winery: 505 S. Main St., Breckenridge, 970-771-3443, Daily noon-7 p.m.; and 331 Highway 285, Suite D, Fairplay, 719-838-2349; Labor Day to Memorial Day: Monday, Thursday-Saturday noon-7 p.m., Sunday noon-5 p.m. Closed Tuesdays and Wednesday. Rest of the year: Monday-Saturday noon-7 p.m., Sunday noon-5 p.m.;

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Highest Brewery

At an elevation of 10,156 feet, Periodic Brewing in Leadville claims the title of the highest craft brewery in North America. The family-owned brewery has a rotating selection of its own craft beers: There’s always an IPA, an amber and a Belgian, plus experimental and whimsical creations, and other liquid libations as well as a select food menu at the brewery and tasting room.

The chemistry of beer brewing is complicated (and beyond the scope of this article), but let’s just say it becomes even more challenging at altitude. Lower air pressure affects carbonation, and brewing itself is made more difficult because of the higher temperatures required to boil any liquid at elevation — including beer. Experts also agree that higher altitudes mean you need more hops — though how much more depends on who you ask. Success at altitude has encouraged Periodic to open a second location in Northglenn, in case you don’t feel inclined to drive to Colorado’s highest town for a beer.

Periodic Brewing, 115 E. 7th St., Leadville, 720-316-8144, Monday-Thursday 3-9 p.m.; and 2100 E. 112th Ave., Northglenn, 719-422-3370; Fall hours: Friday-Sunday 12-10 p.m., Monday and Thursday 3-10 p.m., Tuesday-Wednesday 3-9 p.m.

Highest coffee roaster

Given that Leadville is the highest town in Colorado, it stands to reason that City On A Hill Coffee & Espresso is the highest coffee roaster in the state. The roaster is at about 10,200 feet and, as far as owner Adam Schuknecht knows, it’s the highest coffee roaster in the country. The art, and challenge, of making a good coffee is in the roasting process. Roasted too long and the beans become “baked” and don’t fully develop their flavors. Roasted too hot and the beans become burnt and the resulting coffee tastes the same. Roasting at altitude affects these variables bringing the skills of the roaster into play. The folks at City On A Hill have got it down — or up, as the case may be.

The establishment is also a café, and in the summer months it fields a coffee truck. The roasted beans feature names like Alpine Grind and Mt. Massive Medium Roast and can be ordered ground or as whole in 1- or 5-pound bags. Purchase at the shop, or you can join its coffee club and have your coffee shipped directly to you. Currently, City On A Hill is featuring fair trade, sustainable coffee from Nicaragua, with a portion of sales dedicated to helping humanitarian organizations in that country.

City On A Hill Coffee & Espresso, 508 Harrison Ave., Leadville, 719-486-0797; Open daily 6 a.m. – 6 p.m.;

Highest cheesemaker

Unofficially, the highest cheesemaker in Colorado is Moon Hill Dairy, where cows graze at 6,800 feet elevation on 300 acres at the foot of Sleeping Giant Mountain north of Steamboat Springs. Cows that produce the milk that Moon Hill cheese is made from are entirely grass fed and graze outdoors year-round in pastures of native grasses and clover. This forage coupled with other unique environmental elements makes for delicious cheese.

According to owner John Weibel, there isn’t a particular limitation on cheesemaking imposed by altitude “as long as the bacteria can do their thing,” Weibel said. The challenge — and the opportunity — in producing alpine cheese is the short season — a mere 48 days of frost-free growing. Weibel said this short season means the grass has a higher omega-3 fatty acid content, which is transferred to the cow, her milk and, ultimately, the cheese, “making our products a health food, when one considers the fatty acid content,” Weibel said.

Moon Hill Dairy offers about six cheeses, numerous flavors of ice cream and soon will add “alpine yogurt” to the lineup. The operation also offers pork- and grass-fed beef. Find Moon Hill products in natural food stores, fine cheese shops, and restaurants in the mountains and along the Front Range.

A full list of retail outlets and restaurants using Moon Hill Dairy is available at; Dairy’s contact 970-367-6184;

Highest concert

OK, it’s not food or drink, although both can be had at the 10 Mile Music Hall in Frisco, which on its opening at the end of October will be the highest year-round concert venue in the country at 9,097 feet.

The views are incomparable, and some might say music sounds better at altitude. But performing at altitude — just like everything — can take a toll on musicians. To ensure the show goes on, 10 Mile provides oxygen backstage for all performers.

The 7,500-square-foot venue features a large rooftop deck that serves food for lunch, dinner and happy hours, weather permitting. (The fare is from Moe’s Original BBQ, but drinks are made on-site.)

In addition to concerts, the venue is available for weddings, conferences and other events. Tickets can be purchased at Cool Inside, 620 Main St., from noon to 6 p.m. daily, or one hour before the show at 10 Mile.

Leftover Salmon will headline the grand opening celebration Oct. 30 and 31. The inaugural season lineup also includes Perpetual Groove, The Infamous Stringdusters, Tab Benoit, Los Lonely Boys and Big Sam’s Funky Nation.

10 Mile Music Hall, 710 Main St., Frisco, 720-299-0459;

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Denver’s streak of balmy weather could reach 70 by Sunday

Denver Post Local News - 11 hours 57 min ago

A warming trend in the Denver metro area means high temperatures will climb from the lower to the upper 60s for the next week, with a lot of sunshine.

The high on Thursday will be around 62 degrees, according to the National Weather Service in Boulder.

Variable winds will gust up to 17 mph. The low temperature Thursday night will be around 39 degrees.

A few light snow storms are possible in the mountains, the NWS says.

Partly cloudy & mild today with breezy conditions on the plains. A few light snow showers will be possible in the mountains. #cowx

— NWS Boulder (@NWSBoulder) October 18, 2018

Sunny skies with temperatures in the mid 60s are expected both on Friday and Saturday. By Sunday, Denver will be threatening to hit 70 degrees, the NWS says.

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The warmer temperatures will last at least through Wednesday.

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Hearing postponed for backflipping FBI agent who dropped gun, accidentally shot a man

Denver Post Local News - 12 hours 27 min ago

An arraignment for an FBI agent who shot a man in the leg after dropping his gun while doing a backflip on a Denver dance floor has been postponed until November.

Chase Bishop, 29, who earlier waived his preliminary hearing has been bound over to district court for an arraignment hearing.

Bishop has been charged with one count of second-degree assault in connection with the June 2 nightclub shooting.

Bishop made international news in June when a video of the shooting went viral.

Bishop was partying while off duty at Mile High Spirits, a distillery and dance club in the Ballpark neighborhood. In the video, Bishop dances in the center of a circle of people and then performs a backflip.

During the flip, his gun fell from its holster. When Bishop picked it up, the gun fired. Bishop then placed the gun in his waistband and walked off the dance floor with his hands in the air.

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The bullet hit the victim in an artery in his leg. The injury was serious but the man will recover, said his attorney Frank Azar.

A July protection order amendment in court allowed Bishop to carry his service weapon again on and off duty.

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Ruby Kirk-Gray, pillar of Denver’s black community, remembered for her entrepreneurship and philanthropy

Denver Post Local News - 13 hours 8 min ago
Courtesy Shayla MoonRuby Kirk-Gray

Those seeking the light Ruby Kirk-Gray imparted into her community during her 101 years need only catch the sun filtering through the stained-glass window at Denver’s Shorter AME Community Church bearing her portrait and name.

Kirk-Gray, a pillar in Denver’s black community who was known for her entrepreneurship, philanthropy and faith, died Monday.

“She was always in the space of giving and service,” said Shayla Moon, who adored her great-aunt. “At the age of 92, she drove me to college. She was so committed to ensuring that I did well.”

Kirk-Gray’s own business pursuits did so well that her work ethic inspired those around her. She and her late husband William Henry Kirk at one point had six jobs between them, eventually leading them to the creation of Kirk Mortuary in 1949.

Purchased in 1984 by Elvin R. Caldwell Jr., the mortuary, renamed the Caldwell-Kirk Mortuary, bills itself as the oldest black-owned mortuary in Denver.

“If I had any success over the last 35 years, I would have to attribute it to my father, mother and Ruby Kirk-Gray,” Caldwell Jr. said. “Her professionalism and her class and her dignity were all things that impacted me, and I’ve used them as benchmarks and milestones to try to achieve as I’ve taken and managed the business for the last 35 years.”

The many organizations and groups Kirk-Gray founded to better her community include the Learning to Live Again organization, which she created in 1979 as a grief support group that provided counseling to the families served by her mortuary.

Courtesy Shayla MoonRuby Kirk-Gray stands between former Denver Mayor Wellington Webb and his wife, Wilma Webb.<br />Photo curtesy of her great niece, Shayla Moon

Kirk-Gray grew up in Kansas attending National Association for the Advancement of Colored People meetings with her father. She was a member of the Urban League of Metro Denver, the National Council of Negro Women, the National Funeral Directors Association and the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority.

A woman of deep faith, Kirk-Gray helped the Shorter Community AME Church flourish with her involvement in its Woman’s Day Program, as well as her founding of the Matrons Club and the gospel hour on KDKO radio.

As a part of the booster club for Denver’s Whittier Elementary School, she collected and donated coats to students for 30 years. Her generosity drove her to select students to open checking accounts for and teach them financial literacy. When her husbands William Kirk and Elliott Gray died, she established scholarships at Langston University and Dillard University — both historically black universities — in honor of them.

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“She paid for college tuition for 20 people that I know of,” Moon said. “And despite everything, she was committed to family.”

Kirk-Gray didn’t have children, so Moon fell under her mentorship.

“She comes from a family that always had a mark in the space of business and civil rights,” Moon said. “Her grandfather was the first elected black official in the territory of Oklahoma. That gene has always been a part of her, and she lived with it to the ripe age of 101.”

A visitation is scheduled at Caldwell-Kirk Funeral and Cremation Services, 2101 N. Marion St., Denver, from 4 to 9 p.m. Oct. 30, and a service will be held at 11 a.m. Oct. 31 at Shorter Community AME Church, 3100 Richard Allen Court, Denver.

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“The world is watching”: RTD’s reputation under fire as lawsuits fly, G-Line delay continues

Denver Post Local News - 13 hours 8 min ago

Seven hundred twenty-two days after the G-Line to Arvada and Wheat Ridge was supposed to launch, trains run the 11 miles to and from Denver’s western suburbs in test mode without a single paying passenger on board.

The G-Line, ensnared in technical and regulatory delays for nearly two years, is now at the heart of a legal battle royale featuring two lawsuits and a threat to scuttle a $2.2 billion contract between the Regional Transportation District and its private-sector partner, Denver Transit Partners — a consortium tapped to design and build the University of Colorado A-Line, the B-Line and the G-Line and operate them through 2044.

Hanging in the balance is RTD’s reputation as an innovative transit agency overseeing a complex overlay of bus routes, light rail corridors and commuter rail lines that provide metro residents an array of travel choices. With every day that goes by with ghost trains on the G-Line, the hit to RTD’s brand becomes more pronounced.

“The average person does not distinguish between RTD and Denver Transit Partners — they don’t care,” said Andrew Goetz, a University of Denver geography professor who specializes in transportation issues. “It’s RTD’s train.”

It’s a dynamic that RTD itself spelled out in a lawsuit it filed against DTP last week, in which it accused its rail partner of failing to implement the technology necessary to properly control the timing of safety gates along the system’s numerous at-grade crossings — a deficiency that “has caused, and is causing … reputational harm” to the agency.

RTD’s suit came just a few weeks after DTP filed its own suit against the transit agency, alleging that the consortium had been unfairly penalized for not complying with regulations that it said changed over time and didn’t comport with what had been spelled out in its contract.

RTD last week notified DTP that it may terminate their contract given the ongoing delays to the opening of the G-Line, which was supposed to have started service on Oct. 26, 2016.

Angie Rivera-Malpiede, director of transit advocacy group Northeast Transportation Connections, said the negative headlines about the debut of commuter rail in the metro area, which began with the launch of the A-Line in April 2016, are noticed well beyond the Front Range. That’s because the three lines — collectively known as Eagle P3 — are the first public-private partnership commuter rail project in the country.

“It’s not just a black eye — it’s a huge embarrassment for all of us,” Rivera-Malpiede said. “The world is watching.”

But she said both DTP and RTD, which signed a contract to build the three rail lines in 2010, “have no choice but to make it right.” They are in too deep to break ranks now, she said.

“It’s not just a romance — they’re engaged,” Rivera-Malpiede said.

Doug Tisdale, chair of RTD’s board of directors, doesn’t think the partnership will end, either. He characterized the dispute between his agency and DTP as a disagreement between two “commercially responsible parties.”

“There’s no allegation of ill will or bad faith on either side,” Tisdale said.

Operation of the A-Line and B-Line, which serves Westminster, and progress toward the start of G-Line service will continue on a “parallel track” to the legal machinations currently being fought in court.

“We are irretrievably committed to the opening of the G-Line at the earliest possible moment,” he said. “It is absolutely going to happen.”

That’s also the feeling on the other side, with John Thompson, executive project director and CEO of Denver Transit Partners, telling The Denver Post that it is “extremely unlikely that RTD will terminate the concession agreement.”

And if it does?

“DTP will contest it vigorously,” Thompson said. “There is provision in the concession agreement that addresses this and it is likely that the process would take years to determine a resolution. In the meantime, we do not foresee any impact on commuters.”

Right now, he said, it comes down to getting regulators at the Federal Railroad Administration to fully sign off on DTP’s crossing technology, which blends wireless signal activation with federally mandated positive train control, a protocol that provides automatic safeguards on the nation’s railroad tracks.

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Despite the difficulties in getting the systems to work together, the A-Line and B-Line were allowed to operate under a federal waiver that required crossing attendants to provide a safety backstop at all crossings. The G-Line, which uses the same crossing technology as the other two lines, was not granted the same waiver.

Thompson said the “vast majority of delays are regulatory and out of our control.”

“We feel extremely confident in the technology — it is the exact same technology that has allowed the A-Line to become RTD’s best-performing transportation service,” he said. “To date, the A-Line has safely carried more than 15 million passengers between Denver International Airport and Union Station and has a 97.1 percent on-time performance.”

But safety concerns over DTP’s crossing gate technology have been around almost from the start. In RTD’s lawsuit, the agency alleges that in March 2016, a month before the A-Line officially began rolling, there were three grade crossing failures, “the most serious of which resulted in a near miss with two motor vehicles.”

In August, federal regulators ordered flaggers back to several crossings on the A-Line after a G-Line test train entered a crossing before it was supposed to.

Shelley Cook, who is running for the District L RTD board seat, hopes the agency and DTP work through their legal issues without jettisoning their agreement. With 27 years to go in the contract, there’s too much skin in the game to walk away now.

“Both sides have so much to lose,” she said.

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Canadian legalization creates opportunities for Colorado marijuana businesses

Denver Post Local News - 13 hours 8 min ago

Nationwide recreational marijuana legalization makes Canada a fertile landscape for ganjaprenuers. While some Colorado companies are already cashing in on opportunities north of the border, the effect on the local cannabis landscape is expected to be mostly invisible to consumers, industry advocates say.

People began lining up in the wee hours of Newfoundland time Wednesday morning to make the first legal recreational marijuana purchases in Canadian history. It was a party atmosphere in many places, save for Ontario. That province, home to more than 13 million people and the country’s largest city, Toronto, is still ironing out rules and shops aren’t expected to open for months yet.

“I’m so disappointed,” Colorado cannabis entrepreneur and industry advocate Dan Anglin said Wednesday afternoon from outside his hotel in Toronto. “I was it expecting it to be like Jan. 1, 2014, (the day recreational sales became legal in Colorado) but it is nothing like that here.”

Anglin’s visit to Canada has already been a success. CannAmerica Brands, the company he co-founded and leads as CEO, went live on the Canadian stock exchange Monday, opening at 97 cents Canadian, above his expectations. It closed Wednesday at $1.03 Canadian after a sell off drove many Canadian cannabis stocks down.

“The Canadian market is hot for cannabis right now,” he said. “With national legalization, the environment is ripe and right.”

With a market cap of 50 million shares, the strong showing on the CSE means CannAmerica — which in addition to its flagship cannabis gummies, also sells branding, licensing and intellectual property to cannabis operators outside of Colorado — is now flush with capital to help fuel growth. The company, previously named Americanna, is already working with licensees in Nevada and Maryland. It has aims to expand into California in the next six months, and, as local regulations evolve, potentially Canada later.

Kristi Kelly, executive director of the Marijuana Industry Group, Colorado’s largest cannabis trade organization, sees access to capital being the biggest draw for local companies looking north. Because marijuana remains illegal at the federal level in the U.S., companies are cut off from traditional banking and other financial resources.

“Any new market, Canada’s included, is attractive,” Kelly said. “The added thing Canada offers is a national perspective and pathway forward for business.”

But Kelly does not expect the inviting regulatory environment to lead local companies to relocate to Canada.

“There is probably going to be a little bit of brain drain of subject matter experts here who want to take advantage of these new markets, including Canada,” she said. “For brick-and-mortar (businesses), I think there is still an interest in maintaining a toehold in Colorado’s marketplace.”

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Citing more permissive public consumption laws that allow consumers to indulge in places outside their homes — rules Denver is still tangling with — Anglin said he could see Canada becoming a premier marijuana tourism destination. But Kelly isn’t as concerned about that. She pointed to recent research delivered to the Colorado Department of Revenue that found state residents bought 90 percent of the marijuana sold in the state last year.

For all the hoopla surrounding the local industry, a Canadian company reached across the border earlier this week to acquire a Colorado business. Canopy Growth purchased Evergreen-based hemp research firm ebbu  on Monday in a deal worth $348 million Canadian when stock was included, according to a ebbu spokesperson. The aim, according to Canopy, is to grow better cannabis with ebbu’s help.

Anglin is hoping Canada’s cannabis industry exports something to the U.S.: Motivation.

“Really the message to the United States government is, ‘You are missing the boat.’ Canada has really created an opportunity for economic growth,” he said. “Honestly, it’s time for Congress to follow Canada’s lead.”

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Denver Sports Omelette: Last stand for Vance Joseph? A Broncos loss at Arizona would be prime time for firing

Denver Post Local News - 13 hours 9 min ago

Vance Joseph has one job tonight: Find a way to prevent the Broncos from losing.

No, not find a way to win – though that would be nice. For a team that’s lost four games after opening the season 2-0, Denver could settle for a tie. Just look at how excited Cleveland was for its 21-21 draw with the Steelers to start the year. And don’t dump on the Browns, they have a better winning percentage than the Broncos this year. Know who else does?

Brock Osweiler. Yeah 

It feels as if everyone and their uncle is calling for Joseph’s head already, and if the Broncos lose to a 1-5 Cardinals team tonight in Phoenix, it’s hard to imagine him keeping his job for another week. If you’re in the camp that thinks Joseph has no chance of turning this team around, then perhaps you should consider yourself an Arizona fan tonight.

Should the Broncos lose in the desert, VJ’s end is likely. Here’s what our Ryan O’Halloran had to say following Denver’s 23-20 loss to the Rams on Sunday:

“If they lose Thursday night, it would be tough for John Elway to not do something drastic, like removing the head coach. You’ve lost five straight after a 2-0 start, you’ve lost to a bad Jets team and 1-5 Arizona if you lose to them on a short week. The question for John Elway is, ‘how culpable are you?’ Very. And also, two more things: Who’s the interim, and also, are you doing it to spark the season, or just because you want someone else in charge? I think that gives Vance the chance to hold on a little longer, but if they lose to Arizona and drop to 2-5 going into Kansas City, you have a long week, it’s the ideal time to make that kind of change.”

The only reasonable option for an interim coach is Gary Kubiak, Elway’s longtime friend who led the Broncos to the Super Bowl 50 championship. His health issues have been well-documented and led to him stepping away during the 2016 season. Now Denver’s senior personnel advisor, he’s a viable option to lead the Broncos through the end of the year, but it’s unrealistic to think he’d continue as coach in 2019.

Aside from Kubiak, the only person on the Broncos’ staff with head-coaching experience at a high level is offensive line coach Sean Kugler (UTEP, 2013-17) and there’s no way he’s being thrust into a top NFL job.

Defensive coordinator Joe Woods? He’s part of the problem.

Offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave, a Grand Junction native, and special teams coach Tom McMahon are two other options, but would they really be an improvement at head coach?

“That’s a flaw in the staff building that there wasn’t a more veteran presence around this staff to help Vance,” O’Halloran said.

That flaw could be Joseph’s saving grace. If Kubiak doesn’t want the job, there might not be a better man available than VJ.

Here’s what you need to know for tonight’s game:

— Matt Stephens, The Denver Post

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Pressure Points: Focus on several Broncos to pick up their play, starting Thursday

Denver Post Local News - 13 hours 9 min ago

Last week, Broncos president/CEO Joe Ellis was asked about the organization’s confidence level in coach Vance Joseph and his staff to right the season.

“They know the deal,” Ellis said.

The deal: If the 2-4 Broncos lose Thursday at the 1-5 Arizona Cardinals, it becomes more difficult to justify any faith in Joseph after last year’s 5-11 season.

Also the deal: If the Broncos are to begin a turnaround, the onus is on several players who, if they don’t pick up their play, may be on a different team in 2019.

“We all get it,” Joseph said after Tuesday’s practice of the outside chatter.

The week started with general manager John Elway calling the rush defense “soft,” and saying the team should be “fighting for their lives,” and continued with linebacker Von Miller predicting the Broncos were going to “kick (Arizona’s rear end).”

As the season nears the halfway point, we put the focus on one coach and four players:

Vance Joseph Joe Amon, The Denver PostDenver Broncos head coach Vance Joseph on the sidelines in the second quarter as the Denver Broncos played the Kansas City Chiefs at Broncos Stadium at Mile High.

Why he’s the focus: Elway isn’t going anywhere so if the losing continues, somebody will take the fall, be it during or after the season. Joseph is 7-15 as the Broncos’ coach, including 4-14 since last year’s 3-1 start. On the road, the Joseph-led Broncos are 1-9.

Joseph has resisted making any staff changes, be it firings or re-delegation of duties.

The Broncos have three games until their bye week. They need two wins so they can enter mid-November with a 4-5 record. A win over Arizona would slightly turn down the heat on Joseph.

“We’ve lost four games in a row, everyone’s frustrated, the city’s on fire,” Joseph said. “But we have to simply ignore the noise so we can move on (and) so we can fix it and win. … We have to ignore it, go back to work and prove that we can win football games. That will stop the noise.”

Demaryius Thomas Andy Cross, The Denver PostDemaryius Thomas (88) of the Denver Broncos catches a deep pass while defended by Troy Hill (32) of the Los Angeles Rams during the third quarter. The Denver Broncos hosted the Los Angeles Rams at Broncos Stadium at Mile High in Denver, Colorado on Sunday, Oct. 14, 2018. Related Articles

Why he’s the focus: Thomas has six dropped passes. Although he caught a 45-yard pass last week and has a team-high three touchdown receptions, he has been passed by Emmanuel Sanders as the Broncos’ No. 1 receiver.

Thomas’ salary cap number jumps to $17.5 million in 2019 and the Broncos can save $14 million by cutting him.

The drafting of Courtland Sutton (who needs to see the football more) and DaeSean Hamilton (could be ready for a larger role in ’19) triggered thoughts that the Broncos would cut Thomas and Sanders after this year. But Sanders’ solid first six weeks (40 catches for 501 yards) should keep him in the plans.

Thomas could be experiencing his final 10 games of his stellar Broncos career.

Brandon Marshall Eric Lutzens, The Denver PostLinebacker Brandon Marshall #54 of the Denver Broncos winces as he walks toward the sideline during the second quarter on Sunday, Oct. 14 at Broncos Stadium at Mile High. The Denver Broncos hosted the Los Angeles Rams in week six.

Why he’s the focus: Marshall, listed at 250 pounds but not even close to that (230-ish), dropped weight to be better in coverage. But has it come at the cost of playing the run?

One play from the Rams’ run-all-day win over the Broncos should raise a concern. On a drive-starting first-and-10, Todd Gurley gained 29 yards when Marshall simply couldn’t get away from right tackle Rob Havenstein’s block. Marshall and linebacker Todd Davis then missed the tackle.

Marshall’s cap number goes from $7 million this year to $9 million in 2019 and the Broncos can save $5 million by cutting him. Rookie Josey Jewell is a part of the inside linebacker rotation with Marshall and Davis.

If Marshall finishes strong and healthy, he will make for a tough decision.

Bradley Roby Eric Lutzens, The Denver PostCornerback Bradley Roby #29 of the Denver Broncos runs onto the field prior to the game on Sunday, Oct. 14 at Broncos Stadium at Mile High. The Denver Broncos hosted the Los Angeles Rams in week six.

Why he’s the focus: Handed the No. 2 cornerback spot — and an opportunity to cash in as a free agent in March — Roby has not played like it.

Teams are 21-of-31 passing for 335 yards and three touchdowns against Roby in man coverage. Because Chris Harris moves inside to cover the slot receiver in nickel situations, teams have not hesitated challenging Roby outside.

“He’s a starter for the first time so it takes time to develop the resiliency you need to be an NFL corner,” said Joseph, whose argument is a stretch since Roby is in his fifth year.

Roby is playing for his next contract and it would be shocking if he commands anything close to the $8.5 million he is making this year.

The downside for Roby’s poor start is that it creates another item for the Broncos’ offseason to-do list. Veterans Tramaine Brock and Adam Jones were stop-gap signings and Issac Yiadom needs further developing before he’s ready.

Case Keenum RJ Sangosti, The Denver PostDenver Broncos Case Keenum #4 walks onto the field as the Broncos take on the Los Angeles Rams, at Broncos Stadium at Mile High, on Oct. 14, 2018 in Denver. Broncos lost 23-20 to the Rams.

Why he’s the focus: Projected as a player who would bring short-term stability to the Broncos’ quarterback position, Keenum is ranked 29th in the NFL in passer rating (75.5), tied for first in interceptions (eight) and tied for 23rd in touchdowns (eight).

Maybe we expected too much from Keenum after he helped Minnesota to last year’s NFC title game. Maybe our analysis was off-base after Keenum’s drama-free training camp.

Keenum’s cap number in 2019 is $21 million and the Broncos can save $11 million by releasing him. The Broncos are a long way from benching a healthy Keenum in favor of Chad Kelly, so that discussion is moot. But they need Keenum to be more accurate on the underneath throws and also add a scrambling element to his game to help move the offense.

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Nuggets’ Gary Harris on clutch win over Clippers: “There’s a different vibe right now”

Denver Post Local News - 13 hours 9 min ago

LOS ANGELES — Gary Harris didn’t know what to call his celebration, but that wasn’t the point.

All that mattered as the Denver Nuggets basked in the glow of their gutsy season-opening win was that they’d won – on the road, no less – against a team they need to beat to realize their goals.

“Sauntering? Whatever y’all want to call it,” Harris said. “I felt good though.”

Harris had reason to after burying a step-back midrange jumper over the outstretched arm of Los Angeles Clippers forward Montrezl Harrell with 44 seconds left to give the Nuggets a cushion.

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The Clippers called a timeout but would never recover as the Nuggets hung on for an important 107-98 road victory.

“It’s over,” Harris said, revealing what he was thinking as he skipped up the court toward his jubilant bench. “Game over.”

Harris forced a turnover immediately after his clutch bucket, bookending a sequence that exemplified the win. Unlike last year, when their defense ranked in the bottom third of the league, the Nuggets held the Clippers to just 40 percent shooting, including just 8 of 28 from the 3-point line. The effort, rotations and communication were all evident Wednesday night.

“Last year, I don’t know if we win this game,” Nuggets coach Mike Malone said. “For us to have the poise and the ability to execute down the stretch, even though we’re down, shows the poise and maturity. Let’s be honest, we’re the third youngest team in the NBA.”

Nothing went particularly right for the Nuggets save for the final five minutes. Their shooting was off (38 percent), point guard Jamal Murray had just seven points on 3-of-12 from the field and Paul Millsap couldn’t buy a bucket. But Millsap, who was 1 for 7 from the field and 9 for 12 from the free throw line, dominated on the glass with 16 rebounds and found ways to impact the game on the defensive end.

“I’ve been around for a while,” Millsap said. “I know when things aren’t going well, when shots aren’t falling, I try to do something else.”

The Nuggets needed every big body they could throw at reserve center Boban Marjanovic, who feasted on the Nuggets’ interior in the fourth quarter. He finished with 18 points, 10 in the final period alone. His pummeling dunks were the reason the Clippers were up 92-84 with just over five minutes left.

“He is a very large human being who presents problems for anybody,” Malone quipped.

The takeaway from Wednesday’s season opener was their resiliency. Malone and the players all made note of it, citing a maturity that just wasn’t there during the last two seasons.

“There’s just no panic,” Murray said. “I think we’re a lot calmer compared to other games where we start to rush things or not trust each other in certain situations.”

Part of that trust comes from how dangerous any given starter can be on any particular night. If Millsap is struggling, it might be Nikola Jokic carrying the interior burden. If Murray isn’t scoring, it might be Will Barton, who finished with 19 points and 3 for 5 from the 3-point line in his debut as a full-time starter.

It’s one game, but even Malone cited the pain of last year’s season-ending loss during pregame on Wednesday as motivation.

“We’re all locked in, we’re all focused,” Harris said. “There’s a different vibe right now, and I think we all feel it, and we’re just trying to ride that wave right now.”

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Opposition group forms to challenge metro Denver property tax hike

Denver Post Local News - 13 hours 9 min ago

A former Broomfield City Council candidate has formed an opposition group to challenge a property tax increase sought from metro area voters for the Urban Drainage and Flood Control District.

The regional district referred a tax-restoration measure to the Nov. 6 ballot, seeking a 48-percent increase in its rate next year to pay for more projects. If voters approve Ballot Issue 7G, the rate in most of the district would increase from 56 cents per $1,000 of assessed value to 83 cents; the district also would receive the authority to raise the tax rate even higher by board vote, up to a ceiling of $1.

That is the level the rate was at in 1992, before Colorado voters approved the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights. TABOR instituted revenue growth limits that have ratcheted down the rate, though overall tax revenue has grown in recent years.

“The ballot language is written in a way to not really let people know that they’re giving up their rights under TABOR” to vote on subsequent tax increases, said Karl Honegger, who ran unsuccessfully for the Broomfield council last year.

Earlier this month, he formed an opposition committee called Taxpayers Protecting Affordable Housing, began soliciting donations and launched a “No on 7G” website.

He questions the district’s plans for the new tax revenue and portrays the increase as a potential “blank check” for a special district that’s not directly accountable to voters.

The flood control district’s executive director, Ken MacKenzie, has said the steep tax increase would keep up with a large gap in current annual funding requests by the district’s 41 cities and counties. The district has a $32 million annual budget, and the initial increase is expected to generate $14.9 million next year.

“The need is there,” MacKenzie said last month.

The full rate restoration would raise an additional $24 million a year, which is double the district’s spending on projects and programs. The district estimates the full increase would cost $13 for the owner of a $400,000 home.

The district’s board members mostly are elected mayors, council members and commissioners who receive appointments by cities and counties within the district.

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Honegger criticized the board’s decision earlier this year to spend $1.4 million on a public outreach campaign to raise the district’s profile ahead of the ballot measure.

“The people who authorized that — the board members — are never going to be accountable to the citizens for spending their tax money on advertisements,” he said.

The district covers Denver and all or parts of Boulder, Broomfield, Jefferson, Adams, Arapahoe and Douglas counties.

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Ask Amy: Woman’s partner hates her children

Denver Post Local News - 14 hours 39 min ago

Dear Amy: I’m 51 years old, and have been in a relationship for over three years with a man who hates my grown daughter and her 10-year-old son (my grandson).

My daughter was 16 when she had my grandson. I was a single mom, and the two of them lived with me for a few years. She eventually got into low-income housing.

She doesn’t drink, smoke or party. She works hard, and struggles to get by.

I pay for her car insurance and phone bill.

This is why my boyfriend says he hates her. He says this takes away from us.

I own my own house, my car is paid for and I pay my bills. I also have savings.

He pays for the electric and heat at the house. I buy 90 percent of the groceries.

He has moved out three times in the last year, and says it is because of her.

He’s mean to my grandson. He can’t even look at my daughter.

They don’t know the whole truth, but I’m sure they feel his tension. He brings this up every day.

I love him, but I feel it’s none of his business what I do for my kids.

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He has three kids and only has a relationship with one of his kids — the others won’t speak to him. Do I need to get him out of my life?

— Put-Upon

Dear Put-Upon: I take it as a given that every story has two sides. Maybe you enable your daughter in ways you haven’t described. Maybe your daughter and grandson are openly disrespectful toward your boyfriend.

However, none of this matters, really, because judging from the tone and content of your question; you don’t actually love this guy. And frankly, from your description, he sounds quite unlovable: He doesn’t pull his own weight. He bullies you. He is an enemy to your close and meaningful family relationships. And he keeps leaving you.

Keep your daughter and grandson.

Give this guy the boot.

Dear Amy: I am seeking advice on Petiquette. I’m a dog mom. During the day my dog is in daycare, but the nights present more of a challenge.

I work full time and I am single, but I still choose to have a dog because of the proven emotional and fitness benefits that correlate to owning four-legged friends.

Lately, I’ve been wondering whether or not my dog can come along with me in atypical settings such as to Bible study, to hair appointments and to other venues that are not conspicuously dog-friendly? I live in Denver, and our city is extremely dog-friendly, but I fear that the culture here could be desensitizing me to what is otherwise unacceptable social behavior elsewhere.

I have a healthy view of an animal’s place in the world versus a human’s, so I do not want to display bad manners to my two-legged friends by imposing my four-legged friend upon them.

What is the appropriate petiquette?

— Wondering

Dear Wondering: My first suggestion is that we banish the word “petiquette,” but that’s a personal “pet” peeve.

I generally equate dogs with human toddlers. Like toddlers, dogs are lovable, loving and often well-behaved. But they can be inconsistent. Their behavior can be unpredictable. And — as with a toddler — not every patron of your hair salon or member of your Bible study group wants to spend time with your pet, certainly if they’ve left their own at home, or if they have allergies, phobias or simply dislike dogs.

Call your salon in advance and ask what their policy is regarding dogs. Some salons have their own dogs — this would tell you that they are dog-friendly, but would your dog do well with the salon’s dog? You should not bring your pooch without asking.

You should also ask your fellow Bible study members how they would feel about you bringing your dog. Don’t put anyone too much on the spot, and urge them all to be frank.

Dear Readers: Family estrangement is a serious (and frequent) topic discussed in this space.

Karl Pillemer, a researcher at Cornell University, is studying the experiences of family members who have had an estrangement, but who have reconciled with one another. The goal is to learn more about how estrangements can be healed.

I encourage any readers who are experiencing — or have experienced — family estrangement to consider participating in this study. You can share stories of family reconciliation — or ask to be interviewed about your own family estrangement — at their website:

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Weld County worker dies after wood from machine strikes him in chest

Denver Post Local News - 17 hours 54 min ago

JOHNSTOWN, Colo. — An industrial accident at Sun Mountain Custom Doors in Johnstown has claimed the life of a 54-year-old Milliken man, according to a release from the Weld County Coroner.

According to reports, Steven Verle Deniston was struck in the chest by a piece of wood thrown from a machine at the Johnstown facility Tuesday afternoon. He was pronounced dead at a local hospital.

The incident remains under investigation by local authorities and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The final manner and cause of death await autopsy and laboratory reports.  

The company, founded in 1998, manufactures doors and wood plank flooring at its 105,000 square-foot facility located off Interstate 25 and County Road 48 in Johnstown.

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Attorneys seek dismissal of case against former CU Boulder student shot by police

Denver Post Local News - 18 hours 56 min ago

BOULDER — A former University of Colorado student shot by Boulder police in a 2014 standoff near campus is requesting for the charges against him to be dismissed, claiming officers violated his rights.

The Daily Camera reports 27-year-old Coleman Stewart was convicted by a Boulder County jury in 2015 of felony menacing and obstructing a peace officer after he was accused of brandishing a BB gun, resulting in police opening fire.

A judge called for a new trial after the Colorado Court of Appeals reversed Stewart’s conviction, finding several errors in court proceedings.

His attorneys are asking for the dismissal, claiming police violated Stewart’s rights when they followed him to his apartment and lied about seeing the BB gun.

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Prosecutors say they have until Oct. 29 to file a response.


Information from: Daily Camera,

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Benintendi, Red Sox hold off Astros 8-6 for 3-1 ALCS lead

Denver Post Local News - 19 hours 14 min ago

HOUSTON — Left fielder Andrew Benintendi made a diving catch with the bases loaded for the final out, and the Boston Red Sox held off the Houston Astros 8-6 Wednesday night to take a 3-1 lead in the AL Championship Series.

Boosted by a questionable fan interference call and another home run from Jackie Bradley Jr. in a gripping, back-and-forth game, the Red Sox moved within one victory of their first World Series trip since winning the 2013 title.

Craig Kimbrel earned a shaky six-out save, aided by a rocket throw from right fielder Mookie Betts and Benintendi’s daring grab of Alex Bregman’s sinking liner in left. Had the ball scooted past a charging Benintendi, it easily could have scored three runs and won the game for Houston.

ALCS Game 4 boxscore

Instead, the Red Sox improved to 4-0 on the road in these playoffs and inched closer to eliminating the defending World Series champions.

Game 5 is Thursday night in Houston, where ace Justin Verlander will pitch for the Astros with their season on the line. David Price, who was warming up in the bullpen late in Game 4, will start for Boston on three days’ rest after Chris Sale was ruled out Wednesday while recovering from a stomach illness.

Bradley hit a go-ahead homer in the sixth inning, his latest huge swing for a Red Sox team that was knocked out of the postseason by Houston in the Division Series last year.

Boston has won three straight after a Game 1 loss, and this one came with some controversy after Houston star Jose Altuve was denied a two-run homer in the first inning because of fan interference.

Boston trailed by one with two outs in the sixth when Christian Vazquez doubled to deep right-center. Center fielder George Springer nearly made a leaping catch, but the ball glanced off his glove.

Bradley, who hit a grand slam in Game 3 and a three-run double in Game 2, put the Red Sox on top 6-5 with his soaring shot to right field on the next pitch from rookie Josh James.

Boston got some insurance in the seventh when Lance McCullers walked in a run after taking over for Ryan Pressly with the bases loaded and two outs. J.D. Martinez padded the lead further with an RBI single in the eighth.

Houston cut the lead to two on an RBI groundout by Altuve in the eighth.

Red Sox starter Rick Porcello allowed seven hits and four runs over four innings in a wild game that took 4 hours, 33 minutes. Joe Kelly was the winner after giving up a run in the fifth.

Rafael Devers and Xander Bogaerts had two RBIs apiece for the Red Sox, who have outscored their opponents 36-12 on the road this postseason.

Houston’s Carlos Correa, who has struggled with back problems for months, had three hits and two RBIs for his first multihit game this postseason. Springer and Tony Kemp each hit a solo homer for the Astros, who left 13 runners on base.

A rusty Charlie Morton gave up three hits, three runs and two walks in just 2 1/3 innings. He also threw two wild pitches in his first outing for the Astros since the regular-season finale on Sept. 30.

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James took over and yielded four hits and three runs while striking out five in 3 2/3 innings during his second postseason appearance.

Morton had trouble with control from the start and plunked Betts before a one-out walk to Martinez. A wild pitch allowed both runners to advance before a two-out single by Devers sent them both home to give the Red Sox two runs in the first inning for the third straight game.

The disputed home run call came in the bottom of the inning when umpires ruled at least one fan interfered with Betts’ attempt at a leaping catch above the right-field wall on the ball hit by Altuve.

Crew chief Joe West, working the right-field line, signaled fan interference after Betts was unable to make the grab and the ball ricocheted back onto the field.

The call stood after a replay review that lasted 3 minutes, 13 seconds. Altuve was ruled out and Springer was sent back to first base.

Houston manager AJ Hinch moved Bregman up to the leadoff spot from third after the Red Sox walked him seven times in the first three games. The shake-up didn’t help the Astros, though, as Bregman went 0 for 5 and was hit by a pitch.

Springer got the Astros within a run when he sent Porcello’s first pitch of the third inning into the seats in right field. Unlike Altuve’s, this one was a no-doubter, sailing about seven rows into the stands into a pocket of about four fans wearing Red Sox jerseys.

Altuve followed with a double that clanged off the wall in left field. Last year’s AL MVP, who has been Houston’s designated hitter as he deals with a bruised knee, grimaced as he slid into second on the play and was limping after he got to his feet.

Josh Reddick tied the game at 3 with two outs when he singled to shallow left-center to score Altuve, who still looked uncomfortable as he trotted home.

Kemp gave Houston its first lead when he knocked a slider from Porcello over the wall in the right-field corner in the fourth.

Benintendi’s second double came in the fifth and he scored on a two-out single by Bogaerts to tie it at 4.

Correa’s run-scoring single made it 5-4 in the bottom of the inning.


Verlander is 6-1 with a 2.44 ERA in eight postseason appearances for the Astros. He allowed two hits and two runs over six innings for the win in Houston’s 7-2 victory in Game 1 at Fenway Park.


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Nuggets rely on defensive effort to pull out season-opening win in Los Angeles

Denver Post Local News - 19 hours 40 min ago

LOS ANGELES – It wasn’t how the Denver Nuggets were accustomed to winning last year, but it didn’t matter.

It was a win, and they’ll take it. After last year’s glaring 15-26 road record, Wednesday’s 107-98 win over the Los Angeles Clippers will serve as a welcome start to a season with so much potential.

Gary Harris’ fading jumper gave the Nuggets a 99-95 lead with 44 seconds left before he and Paul Millsap put it out of reach from the free-throw line. Franchise centerpiece Nikola Jokic had a game-high 21 points to go along with eight rebounds and five assists. Harris finished with 20 while newly-minted starter Will Barton chipped in 19 on 6-of-12 shooting.

Even though the Nuggets’ offense shined down the stretch – a Jokic 3-pointer, a pivotal Millsap floater – Wednesday’s win was about their defense.

Denver Nuggets

The Nuggets flipped the script on last year’s recipe, locking down the Clippers on the defensive end instead of relying on their high-octane offense as they did so much of last year. The Clippers shot just 40 percent from the field, including 8-of-28 from the 3-point line.

But Clippers’ reserve center Boban Marjanovic nearly spoiled the opener. Marjanovic has a history of plaguing the Nuggets in the post, and Wednesday wasn’t any different. He pummeled his way to 18 points, including several demoralizing dunks as the Clippers made a fourth-quarter run.

Midway through the fourth quarter, arena staff had to re-align the hoop in all likelihood because 7-3 Marjanovic kept dangling from it.

On the same day Nuggets coach Mike Malone celebrated a two-year contract extension, the Nuggets got a chance to embrace a fresh start on a new season. The Nuggets have improved their win total in all three seasons under Malone, and this season there’s an expectation that it will finally yield a playoff berth.

The Clippers’ defense, as Malone had feared, put the clamps on the Nuggets’ offense in the third quarter, limiting them to just 15 points while closing the margin to 74-72. Sloppy sequences on both sides seemed more fitting of last week’s preseason game rather than a regular-season game.

After last year’s disappointment – missing the postseason on the final game of the season – the Nuggets’ coaching staff emphasized an improved 3-point defense, protecting the basketball and hustling in transition defense all while maintaining their offensive identity. The blueprint was never in question. What was unknown – and still is following the season opener – is whether similar personnel can iron out their defensive gaps.

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“We were really exciting last year, we were one of the most unselfish teams in the NBA every year, high-powered offense and we missed the playoffs because our defense wasn’t where it needs to be,” Malone said.

The second unit, as it was all preseason, should be a huge advantage for Malone’s squad going forward. Against the Clippers, it took a 27-24 lead and extended it to a 42-31 lead minutes into the second quarter. Super-sub Trey Lyles brought the scoring punch off the bench while backup point guard Monte Morris conducted the offense with efficient poise. He had four assists during the offensive spurt and will continue to provide insurance as Isaiah Thomas rehabs his surgically-repaired hip.

The Clippers, behind their tenacious backcourt, fought back to take a momentary lead before Barton sunk a pull-up 3-pointer with 2:25 left in the second quarter to wrest the lead back. He had a team-high 13 at halftime, and the Nuggets’ defensive effort held the Clippers under 40 percent shooting in the first half.

The first quarter the Nuggets flashed their offensive potential, which came as advertised. It was free-flowing, unselfish and just as they left off last year when it ranked among the NBA’s elite. Barton and Harris each had eight while Jokic, who didn’t attempt his first shot until there were less than four minutes left in the quarter, finished with six. The Nuggets center was a particular irritant to the Clippers in the post, drawing four fouls against three separate players.

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