MLB

Dodgers rout secures home-field advantage for wild-card series, Pujols hits 662nd homer

By Sports Desk September 19, 2020

The Los Angeles Dodgers clinched home-field advantage in the MLB wild-card series after crushing the Colorado Rockies 15-6.

Mookie Betts led the way for the high-flying Dodgers, hitting a National League (NL)-leading 16th home run on Friday.

The Dodgers, who are closing in on an eighth consecutive NL West title, will now be at home in the best-of-three wild-card round in the playoffs.

Already assured of a place in the playoffs, the Dodgers also set a season-high for hits with 17 as Cody Bellinger homered for the first time since August.

Meanwhile, Los Angeles Angels star Albert Pujols homered twice to move fifth on the all-time list for career home runs.

Pujols' 661st career homer saw him surpass Willie Mays, while he finished the night with 662 in the Angels' 6-2 victory over the Texas Rangers.

 

Anderson hits hat-trick of homers

Brian Anderson enjoyed a memorable outing, smashing three home runs to fuel the Miami Marlins' 14-3 win over World Series champions the Washington Nationals. Per STATS, Anderson became the first player in MLB history to hit three homers in a game that lasted less than nine innings. The 27-year-old matched the franchise mark for the Marlins in game two of a doubleheader.

The New York Yankees rallied past rivals the Boston Red Sox 6-5 as DJ LeMahieu and Luke Voit continue to star. LeMahieu had a go-ahead double in the 12th inning, while Voit hit an RBI single in the 11th. Through Friday, LeMahieu leads the league in batting average and Voit leads in home runs. The last time one team had the MLB leader in both categories at season's end was in 1959, according to STATS. The in-form Yankees also had All-Star duo Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton back in the line-up together for the first time since August 8.

For the third consecutive season the Oakland Athletics qualified for the playoffs thanks to their 6-0 shut-out win against the San Francisco Giants.

 

Mets battered by Braves

The New York Mets were put to the sword during a 15-2 loss to the Atlanta Braves. Steven Matz returned to the starting rotation but he only lasted three innings after allowing six runs, eight hits, three walks, a wild pitch and two lengthy homers.

 

Friday's results

St Louis Cardinals 6-5 Pittsburgh Pirates
St Louis Cardinals 7-2 Pittsburgh Pirates
Philadelphia Phillies 7-0 Toronto Blue Jays
Philadelphia Phillies 8-7 Toronto Blue Jays
Washington Nationals 5-0 Miami Marlins
Miami Marlins 14-3 Washington Nationals
Cleveland Indians 1-0 Detroit Tigers
Atlanta Braves 15-2 New York Mets
Cincinnati Reds 7-1 Chicago White Sox
New York Yankees 6-5 Boston Red Sox
Tampa Bay Rays 2-1 Baltimore Orioles
Arizona Diamondbacks 6-3 Houston Astros
Los Angeles Dodgers 15-6 Colorado Rockies
Milwaukee Brewers 9-5 Kansas City Royals
Chicago Cubs 1-0 Minnesota Twins
Los Angeles Angels 6-2 Texas Rangers
San Diego Padres 6-1 Seattle Mariners
Oakland Athletics 6-0 San Francisco Giants

 

Dodgers at Rockies

Clayton Kershaw will take to the mount for the Dodgers on Saturday as the Rockies counter with Carlos Gonzalez.

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    New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone has taken a medical leave of absence following surgery to receive a pacemaker, the MLB franchise announced.

    Boone, who underwent open-heart surgery in 2009, is recovering at St. Joseph's Hospital in Tampa, Florida after Wednesday's operation.

    The Yankees said the procedure was "expected", while general manager Brian Cashman added Boone could return to the team within two to three days.

    "As many of you know, I underwent open-heart surgery in 2009, and I wanted everyone to understand where I'm at regarding the procedure that's taking place today," Boone said. "Over the last six-eight weeks I've had mild symptoms of light-headedness, low energy and shortness of breath.

    "As a result, I underwent a series of tests and examinations in New York prior to the beginning of Spring Training, including multiple visits with a team of heart specialists. While the heart check-up came back normal, there were indications of a low heart rate which, after further consultations with doctors in Tampa, necessitates a pacemaker.

    "My faith is strong, and my spirits are high. I'm in a great frame of mind because I know I'm in good hands with the doctors and medical staff here at St. Joseph's Hospital. They are confident that today's surgery will allow me to resume all of my usual professional and personal activities and afford me a positive long-term health prognosis without having to change anything about my way of life.

    "I look forward to getting back to work in the next several days, but during my short-term absence, I have complete trust that our coaches, staff and players will continue their training and preparation at the same level as we've had and without any interruption.

    "I also want to take this opportunity to remind all those dealing with heart issues to remain vigilant in your care and to reach out to your doctor should you have any symptoms of discomfort or trouble.

    "Any issue involving the heart has the potential to be serious. Staying on top of your health is always the first and most important thing you can do for yourself and your family."

    Boone has been Yankees manager since 2018, leading the storied franchise to the American League Championship Series (ALCS) in 2019, while they lost in the AL Division Series (ALDS) last year.

    The 47-year-old was an All-Star with the Yankees in 2003.

    "It's a necessary step,'' Cashman said of Boone's surgery. "It's something that's not avoidable and needs to be taken care of, but he has no fear and I know he's just in great hands and it's just a temporary timeout. He looks forward to getting back to doing what he does best and doing what he loves, which is baseball.'

    "When you hear 'pacemaker,' it kind of sets off a lot of alarms of concern... No one's going to do more research than the person that's going to be going through this, and I felt so comforted by the way he communicated with me on it that he put me at ease."

    Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner added: "The thoughts of the entire organisation are with Aaron and his family as he undergoes this procedure and takes the time he needs to properly heal.

    "Aaron leads our players, coaches and staff with a rare combination of work ethic, intelligence and a genuine concern for others. Our only priority at this time is Aaron's health and well-being, and we will support him in every way throughout his recovery."

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    Toronto Blue Jays recruit George Springer is excited about the team's young core, describing them as "beyond impressive" after making his Spring Training debut.

    Springer, who joined the Blue Jays on a six-year, $150million contract via free agency – the largest deal in franchise history, debuted in Tuesday's 4-2 win over the Philadelphia Phillies.

    A three-time All-Star and two-time Silver Slugger, Springer managed his first Spring Training hit against the Phillies.

    The arrival of MLB World Series champion Springer from the Houston Astros caused a splash, his wealth of postseason experience complimenting a young group of stars in Toronto – Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Bo Bichette and Cavan Biggio.

    In Toronto, Bichette is the first shortstop in MLB history to have a .300-plus batting average and a .500-plus slugging percentage in each of his first two seasons (minimum 125 plate appearances in both seasons), per Stats Perform.

    Blue Jays team-mate Biggio became the first player in league history to have at least 20 home runs, 20 stolen bases and 100 walks through his first 159 career games (that is how many games he has played so far).

    As for Guerrero, he is the only MLB player currently 21 or younger who has at least 100 career RBIs.

    Based on age at the time of games, the Blue Jays had the most hits (234), runs (148), home runs (38), RBIs (137), XBH (93) and BB (103) in 2020.

    "A lot of people will say that they're young, but I think they're advanced for their age," Springer said post-game.

    "I was having a conversation and you just kind of realise the talent it takes to play at this level at age 21, 22.

    "It's beyond impressive to be in the big leagues that young and to do the things all these guys can do."

    Springer impressed on his Spring Training bow for the Blue Jays, who will open their 2021 MLB season against American League (AL) East rivals the New York Yankees on April 1.

    Batting leadoff at TD Ballpark on Tuesday, 2017 World Series MVP Springer hit a single as a designated hitter.

    "I generally just see the ball and hit the ball," Springer said. "As Spring Training goes along, you're not facing a new guy every inning, you're starting to face the same guy over and over again.

    "Sequences are starting to change, the game plans are starting to change, so as the spring progresses, it becomes more of a season-like feel."

    Springer leads MLB with 136 home runs from the lead-off spot since 2015. The Blue Jays as a team have 129 homers from the lead-off spot over that time, per Stats Perform.

    He has 39 lead-off home runs in his career – fourth most all-time behind Rickey Henderson (73), Ian Kinsler (48) and Brady Anderson (44).

    Springer has recorded seven career World Series home runs – most from the lead-off spot all-time – and he is 19-for-56 (.339) in the World Series in his career. No other current Blue Jays player has a World Series hit in their career.

    The 31-year-old's 174 home runs since debuting in MLB via Houston are third most by an Astro in a player's first seven career seasons, behind only Jeff Bagwell (187) and Lance Berkman (180).

    Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo added: "I like when he leads off like we did today. I like that. But we'll see."

  • Fernando Tatis Jr. goes viral as 'Slam Diego' returns in 2021 Fernando Tatis Jr. goes viral as 'Slam Diego' returns in 2021

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    Tatis is fresh off signing a record-setting extension with the Padres last month – an eye-popping 14-year, $340million contract, which is the longest deal in MLB history and also the largest contract awarded to a player not yet eligible for arbitration.

    MLB's new poster boy and the generational superstar teased what is to come in 2021 with a grand slam in the second inning of Tuesday's victory against the Diamondbacks.

    Tatis sent the ball 441 feet to left field at Salt River Fields – a home run that went viral on social media.

    "Hit it about as clean as you can hit a ball," Padres manager Jayce Tingler said of Tatis, who hit his first career grand slam against the Texas Rangers last season. "That was really, really good to see."

    Tatis, who flipped his bat in celebration, also singled in the first inning and then stole second as Trent Grisham was allowed to sprint home.

    "Had a couple good defensive plays, great at-bats, did something on the bases," Tingler said. "That's everything you want to see."

    Tatis won a Silver Slugger award last season, having hit .277 with 17 home runs and 45 RBIs in the coronavirus-shortened 2020 campaign.

    The powerful 22-year-old is the first player in MLB history to have at least 35 home runs and 25 stolen bases within the first 150 games of his career.

    Tatis packs a punch with the bat – he led the majors in average exit velocity (95.9 mph), hard hit percentage (62.2), and balls hit 95-plus MPH (102).

    He also enjoyed a remarkable rise defensively following an erratic rookie season at shortstop.

    Tatis went from minus-13 outs above average (OAA) to plus-seven – his plus-20 improvement the largest of any player across that period.

    When it comes to on-base plus slugging, Tatis stacks up well. Since 1920, Tatis (150.8) is only behind Juan Soto (153.9 – 2018-20), Albert Pujols (159.3 – 2001), Jimmie Foxx (160.0 – 1925-29), Ted Williams (161.5 – 1939-40) and Mike Trout (165.0 – 2011-13) for highest OPS-plus up until the age of 21.

    Using the same timeframe, but for wins above replacement (WAR) among shortstops, Tatis (5.6) ranks ninth. Alex Rodriguez is top (13.6 – 1994-97).

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