MLB

Vintage Kershaw as Dodgers win, Yankees ace Cole dominates

By Sports Desk April 07, 2021

Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw returned to form as the World Series champions crushed the helpless Oakland Athletics 5-1 in MLB action on Tuesday.

Kershaw – a three-time Cy Young Award winner – struggled on Opening Day following a difficult Spring Training campaign for the Dodgers.

But Kershaw bounced back against the winless Athletics, striking out eight batters across seven solid innings in Oakland.

Kershaw allowed one run and four hits and did not walk a batter as the star pitcher retired 20 of 22 opponents for the Dodgers, who won their fifth consecutive game.

Dodgers team-mate Mookie Betts homered for the first time this season, while team-mates Max Muncy and Edwin Rios also went long for the visitors.

In New York, three-time All-Star Gerrit Cole impressed with a 13-strikeout gem – his most in a regular-season game since joining the franchise in 2020 – as the Yankees made light work of the Baltimore Orioles 7-2.

Yankees ace Cole allowed four hits without a walk over seven scoreless innings, while slugger Aaron Judge and Jay Bruce homered at Yankee Stadium.

Per Stats Perform, Cole already has 21 punchouts this season – tying Al Downing (1964) for the most by any Yankees pitcher in his first two starts of a season.

 

Reds flying after slow start

The Cincinnati Reds humbled the Pittsburgh Pirates 14-1. Cincinnati allowed 11 runs on Opening Day but have proceeded to score 40 runs over their next four games. According to Stats Perform, they are the first National League (NL) team to allow 10-plus runs in their first game and then tally 40-plus runs over the next four since the 1877 Louisville Grays (47 runs).

Juan Soto was the hero for the Washington Nationals, hitting a walk-off home run in the ninth inning in a 6-5 victory against the Atlanta Braves.

American League (AL) MVP Jose Abreu crushed his second grand slam of the season to lead the Chicago White Sox to a 10-4 success against the Seattle Mariners.

 

Roark rocked in Texas

Tanner Roark's first start of the season for the Toronto Blue Jays was a dismal one. The veteran pitcher gave up three homers – five runs – in three innings as the Blue Jays lost 7-4 to the Texas Rangers. He finished with a 15.00 ERA for the night.

 

The Baddoo legend grows

Akil Baddoo continued his amazing start to his MLB career. After homering on his very first pitch in the big leagues on Sunday, Baddoo hit a grand slam on Monday. Not satisfied with that, he hit a walk-off homer to lift the Detroit Tigers past the Minnesota Twins 4-3 – in just his third appearance.

 

Tuesday's results

Detroit Tigers 4-3 Minnesota Twins
Washington Nationals 6-5 Atlanta Braves
Houston Astros 4-2 Los Angeles Angels
New York Yankees 7-2 Baltimore Orioles
Cincinnati Reds 14-1 Pittsburgh Pirates
St Louis Cardinals 4-2 Miami Marlins
New York Mets 8-4 Philadelphia Phillies
Boston Red Sox 6-5 Tampa Bay Rays
Milwaukee Brewers 4-0 Chicago Cubs
Texas Rangers 7-4 Toronto Blue Jays
Los Angeles Dodgers 5-1 Oakland Athletics
San Diego Padres 3-1 San Francisco Giants
Chicago White Sox 10-4 Seattle Mariners
Arizona Diamondbacks 10-8 Colorado Rockies

 

Braves at Nationals

After finally opening their season, the coronavirus-hit Nationals (1-0) will look to stay undefeated in a doubleheader against the winless Braves (0-4) on Wednesday. Erick Fedde will start game one for the Nationals against Atlanta's Max Fried, while ace Stephen Strasbourg takes to the mound in the second clash as the Braves counter with Huascar Ynoa.

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    Jose Altuve celebrated his birthday with a home run as the Houston Astros silenced the boo boys in a 7-4 win at the New York Yankees.

    The Astros have been booed relentlessly in their first visit to New York since the sign-stealing scandal.

    Houston were found to have stolen signs of opposition teams on the way to winning the championship in 2017, as well as for part of 2018 following an investigation last year.

    Yankees fans have made their feelings known throughout the MLB series, but Altuve answered the boos by hitting a go-ahead, three-run homer in the eighth inning on his 31st birthday.

    The Astros avoided a series sweep against the Yankees, who had their five-game winning streak snapped on Thursday.

     

    Braves end seven-year wait

    For the first time since 2014, the Atlanta Braves swept the Washington Nationals thanks to a 3-2 victory. It was a bittersweet outing for Dave Martinez, who oversaw his 411th career game as Nationals manager – a franchise record. Washington's Jon Lester also became the 17th left-handed pitcher in MLB history to record 2,400 career strikeouts.

    Taijuan Walker allowed just one hit in seven innings to fuel the New York Mets' 4-1 win away to the St Louis Cardinals.

    Randal Grichuk had a memorable game after homering, doubling and driving in five runs as the Toronto Blue Jays rallied past the Oakland Athletics 10-4. Marcus Semien homered among his four hits for the Blue Jays, who split the series in Oakland.

    The Detroit Tigers and Boston Red Sox combined to score 21 runs without hitting a homer – the latter were 12-9 victors. It is the first time that many runs were scored without a homer at Fenway Park in a nine-inning game since 1961.

     

    Twins and their extra-inning woes continue

    The Minnesota Twins were outlasted 4-3 by the Texas Rangers after 10 innings. This season, the Twins are 0-7 in extra innings.

    The Miami Marlins edged the Arizona Diamondbacks 3-1 but Pablo Lopez is still searching for a win. Lopez improved his ERA to 0.38 over his last four starts following his five-inning, 0 earned-run no decision. Per Stats Perform, he is the first pitcher since ERA became official in 1913 to have a four-start span with 20-plus innings pitched, an ERA under 0.50 and no wins.

     

    Ohtani homers… again

    Two-way Los Angeles Angels star Shohei Ohtani hit his 10th home run of the season in an 8-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays. With his homer, it is the second time this year Ohtani has been the starting pitcher one day and then homered the next. According to Stats Perform, the Japanese sensation is the first player in the modern era to do so in the same season.

     

    Thursday's results

    Houston Astros 7-4 New York Yankees
    Philadelphia Phillies 2-0 Milwaukee Brewers
    Boston Red Sox 12-9 Detroit Tigers
    Texas Rangers 4-3 Minnesota Twins
    New York Mets 4-1 St Louis Cardinals
    Cleveland Indians 4-0 Kansas City Royals
    Toronto Blue Jays 10-4 Oakland Athletics
    Atlanta Braves 3-2 Washington Nationals
    Miami Marlins 3-1 Arizona Diamondbacks
    Tampa Bay Rays 8-3 Los Angeles Angels

     

    Dodgers at Angels

    It will be an all-Los Angeles affair as city rivals the Dodgers (17-15) and Angels (13-17) meet on Friday. Slumping World Series champions the Dodgers have lost three straight games and eight of their last 10. The Dodgers will send Julio Urias to the mound, while Griffin Canning starts for the Angels.

  • Pujols' future in limbo as Angels insist 'never a right time' to part with future Hall of Famer Pujols' future in limbo as Angels insist 'never a right time' to part with future Hall of Famer

    Los Angeles Angels general manager Perry Minasian insisted there is "never a right time for something like this" after the MLB franchise designated future Hall of Famer Albert Pujols for assignment.

    Pujols' future is in limbo following Thursday's announcement – a procedural move that will lead to his release by the end of the week, less than two months into the last season of the slugger's 10-year, $240million contract.

    The oldest active player in the majors, the 41-year-old Pujols popped out to first in his final at-bat with the Angels in Tuesday's ninth inning before sitting out Wednesday in the team's fourth straight loss. 

    One of the greatest sluggers in baseball history, Pujols' 667 home runs rank fifth while his 669 doubles are also fifth-most of all time, but he has been batting mere .198 this season, though has homered five times and is fourth on the Angels with 12 RBIs.

    "There's never a right time for something like this," Minasian said. "Obviously, I have all the respect in the world for what type of player he is; this is more about playing time and who we have."

    "Albert is not a bench player," Minasian continued. "We felt like for him, with respect to him, keeping him on the bench, him not getting any playing time, would not do him any good or the team any good.

    "Never a good time for this, but with that being said, we felt like it was the best thing for the organisation."

    Only Hank Aaron has more RBIs than Pujols' 2,112 since it became an official statistic in 1920, and Pujols is 13th on the all-time hits list with 3,253.

    Pujols enjoyed great success with the St Louis Cardinals, where he led the franchise to two World Series championships, one other National League (NL) pennant and six division crowns.

    A unanimous NL Rookie of the Year Award winner in 2001 when he hit .329 with 37 home runs and 130 RBIs, Pujols made his first of nine All-Star selections with the Cardinals.

    In his 11 seasons in St Louis, Pujols won three NL MVP Awards and finished in the top five in voting seven other times. 

    He left St Louis after helping the Cardinals win the 2011 World Series to sign a mega deal with the Angels.

    After slugging 445 home runs with 455 doubles while slashing .328/.420/.617 for a 1.037 OPS in 1,705 games over 11 seasons with the Cardinals, Pujols never lived up to expectations over 10 seasons with the Angels, hitting 222 homers with 214 doubles with a .256/.311/.447 slash line for a .758 OPS in 1,181 games.

    His production dropped off significantly in the past four seasons, with 53 homers and a .239/.290/.414 slash line for a .704 OPS in 311 games.

    He only earned one trip to the All-Star game since joining the Angels and the franchise made just one postseason appearance, getting swept by the Kansas City Royals in the 2014 American League Division Series (ALDS).

    "He's as professional as any player I've ever dealt with," Minasian said. "There was no fight, there was no argument; this was a conversation that went back and forth.

    "He expressed his feelings, we expressed ours; he understood where we stood on the whole situation. Things did not end bad. I gave him a big hug."

    "He's as motivated as he's ever been," Minasian added. "If the situation was different and there were at-bats for him to play here, it'd be different. But let me put it this way -- if he does go somewhere else, and pursue playing somewhere else, I would not bet against him."

    Angels manager Joe Maddon said: "Everybody will tell you the same thing; if you watch Albert work, it's pretty impressive. He's been around for a bit, he's been playing for a while, but he came to the ballpark with the same zeal on a daily basis. That's what I saw.

    "The guy wanted to play, he wants to be on the field; he does not want to be a bench player of any kind. This guy has got a lot of pride, and that's a big reason why he's going to be a first-ballot unanimous Hall of Famer."

  • Blue Jays expect Springer to miss more than 10-day IL minimum Blue Jays expect Springer to miss more than 10-day IL minimum

    The Toronto Blue Jays are expecting to wait a while before they get top offseason recruit George Springer back from the injured list. 

    Toronto placed Springer on the 10-day injured list with a right quad strain on Wednesday, with the move retroactive to May 3. 

    Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins believes star Springer will need more than the minimum length of time to return to the MLB line-up. 

    "I would expect it would take more than just the IL stint," Atkins told reporters on Thursday.

    "There's a chance I'm wrong, but based on the information that I have right now, I would expect that it would take longer than that IL stint."

    Springer had been serving as a designated hitter following his long-awaited Blue Jays debut on April 28.

    The 31-year-old has appeared in four games, hitting two home runs against the Atlanta Braves last week but going one for 10 with four strikeouts in his other appearances.

    Springer left Sunday's game after three at-bats, complaining of what manager Charlie Montoyo called only "fatigue".  

    The World Series champion and MVP joined Toronto on a six-year, $150million contract from the Houston Astros via free agency ahead of the 2021 season, the largest deal in Blue Jays history.

    His setback is just one of a number of injury issues for the Blue Jays, who put pitcher David Phelps on the IL on Thursday with a right lat strain as infielder Joe Panik had an MRI after feeling calf pain while running on Wednesday. 

    Earlier this week, Toronto put pitchers Tommy Milone (shoulder) and Anthony Castro (forearm) on the IL along with catcher Alejandro Kirk (hip). 

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