MLB

Judge stands alone atop AL history with record-breaking 62nd home run, Braves clinch NL East

By Sports Desk October 04, 2022

Aaron Judge stands alone at the top of home run history in the American League after breaking Roger Maris' 61-year single-season homer record with his 62nd blast in the New York Yankees' 3-2 loss to the Texas Rangers on Tuesday.

Judge, who had hit just one homer in his previous 13 games coming in, blasted a 1-1 slider off Rangers' pitcher Jesus Tinoco over the left-field fence for a lead-off homer to break the mark.

The Yankees outfielder's home run was his 62nd of the season, surpassing Maris' 61-homer mark from 1961, which he had matched last Wednesday against the Toronto Blue Jays.

The blast came in the Yankees' penultimate game of the regular season, with Judge's 62 homers sitting seventh for most in a single season in MLB history.

Ahead of Judge are only three players, all from 1997 to 2001; Barry Bonds (73 in 2001), Mark McGwire (70 in 1999 and 65 in 1999) and Sammy Sosa (66 in 1998, 64 in 2001, 63 in 1999).

The home run means 11 of Judge's past 14 blasts have come on the road. Gerrit Cole also made franchise history, reaching 257 strikeouts for the most in a single season for the Yankees.

The Yankees were beaten after the Rangers added two fifth-inning runs, with the visitors having won the first game in the double header 5-4 when Judge went one-for-five with a single.

Braves complete turnaround to clinch NL East

Following their sweep over the New York Mets, the Atlanta Braves clinched their fifth straight National League (NL) East title with a 2-1 victory over the Miami Marlins.

William Contreras drove in the go-ahead run in the fifth inning with an infield single, earning the reigning world champions a first-round bye as the NL second seed. The achievement comes after the Braves had trailed the Mets by 10-and-a-half games in June.

Jake Odorizzi had seven strikeouts across five innings, while Kenley Jansen recorded his 41st save with a perfect ninth inning. Ronald Acuna Jr hit a second-inning single to give the Braves an early lead.

AL seeds locked in as Verlander stars for Astros

The Seattle Mariners locked in the number five seed in the AL playoffs with a 7-6 walkoff win over the Detroit Tigers, highlighted by back-up catcher Luis Torrens pitching the 10th inning.

Entering extras ahead of the postseason, the Mariners shuffled their deck, with Torrens becoming the first position player other than Shohei Ohtani to earn a win since John Baker in 2014 for the Chicago Cubs. Abraham Toro's sacrifice fly allowed Carlos Santana to score the walkoff run.

That result meant the Tampa Bay Rays were locked for the third AL Wild Card spot, not helped by a 6-0 loss to the Boston Red Sox where Xander Bogaerts delivered a fifth-inning grand slam.

Meanwhile, the Houston Astros go into the postseason as the AL top seed after a 10-0 win over the Philadelphia Phillies where Cy Young Award favourite Justin Verlander had 10 K's and kept the opposition hitless until the ninth inning.

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    Portugal coach Fernando Santos insists his relationship with Cristiano Ronaldo is unchanged despite dropping the captain for Tuesday's 6-1 win over Switzerland at the World Cup.

    Ronaldo was benched after Santos expressed his disappointment with the striker's attitude following his substitution during last week's defeat to South Korea.

    Santos said on Monday the matter had been resolved internally, but Ronaldo was then dropped to the bench for the clash at Lusail Stadium, starting a major-tournament match among the substitutes for the first time since 2008 (31 games).

    A fan poll on the website of Portuguese newspaper A Bola suggested 70 per cent of Portugal fans wanted Ronaldo out of the team, and the Selecao went on to produce one of their best performances at a major tournament in years.

    Goncalo Ramos replaced Ronaldo in the attack and had a hand in four goals, including a hat-trick, but Santos did not commit to keeping faith in the Benfica prospect for the quarter-final against Morocco.

    Santos told reporters: "That's still something that has to be defined [who starts in the next game]. I already answered in yesterday's press conference [regarding Ronaldo]; there is no problem between us.

    "I have a strong relationship with him, I always have. I have known him since he was young and at Sporting [CP], and then it started to develop in the national team.

    "This relationship only developed. We've been friends for many years, things don't affect us.

    "I already explained everything was resolved. I said that and I repeat that now. This is something that's finished and resolved.

    "How he came in with a lot of will, he set an example as a great captain."

    In scoring his hat-trick, Ramos became the first player to net three times on his first World Cup start since Miroslav Klose in 2002.

    Similarly, it only took him 17 minutes to do what Ronaldo has never managed: score in a World Cup knockout game.

    For most, Ramos starting the quarter-final clash would be a simple decision to make, but Santos intends to keep people guessing.

    "Obviously I have my ways to observes things, I always have," he continued. "The players we have in this position obviously have many different characteristics.

    "Andre [Silva] plays more advanced, Cristiano is more fixed, he plays in a determined area. Goncalo is dynamic.

    "That's what he ended up showing us, but it was nothing new because he came on in two other games.

    "I have three players I fully trust and for each match I will use what I think is the right strategy, as I have always done in my career."

    Tuesday's success was Portugal's biggest ever victory in the knockout rounds of the World Cup, with it the first time they have scored six beyond the group stage.

    It was a truly rampant performance, though Santos was particularly pleased that his team did not get carried away with the euphoria.

    "It's exactly what I said [to the players]; when we are euphoric, I think we can go beyond what we should do in a match.

    "We can end up having a bit too much fun, to use that expression, and football is not fun. Yes, you have to play, have fun in the field, but too much fun is not appropriate.

    "In this aspect, in terms of how serious they were, they were fantastic."

    Portugal will face Morocco in their quarter-final at Al Thumama Stadium on Saturday.
  • Struggling Los Angeles Rams claim QB Baker Mayfield off waivers Struggling Los Angeles Rams claim QB Baker Mayfield off waivers

    Desperate to save what has been a disastrous title defense, the Los Angeles Rams have claimed quarterback Baker Mayfield off waivers.

    The defending Super Bowl champions made the move on Tuesday, one day after Mayfield was released by the Carolina Panthers.

    The former top pick joins a Los Angeles team that has lost six consecutive games and is tied with the Denver Broncos for the NFL's third-worst record at 3-9.

    While it was being speculated he would be claimed by a contending team dealing with an injury at quarterback – the San Francisco 49ers or the Baltimore Ravens – he instead joins a Rams team out of the playoff picture.

    The quarterback position has been a mess for Los Angeles with Matthew Stafford likely out for the rest of the season with a bruised spinal cord, while backups John Wolford and Bryce Perkins have struggled to generate much offense.

    Wolford has one touchdown pass and a 64.6 QB rating in two games played, while Perkins has one touchdown and a 53.7 rating in four contests.

    Mayfield, the No. 1 overall pick of the 2018 draft by the Cleveland Browns, has not been much better, throwing six touchdowns and six interceptions while registering a 74.4 passer rating in seven games played. Among quarterbacks with at least 75 attempts, Mayfield's 57.8 completion percentage beats out only the New York Jets' Zach Wilson (55.6 per cent).

    Mayfield went just 1-6 for the Panthers, who acquired him from the Browns in July and would have been responsible to pay him $1.35million for the remainder of this season had the Rams not put in the claim.

    Los Angeles host the Las Vegas Raiders on Thursday night, and it is not out of the question Mayfield plays.

  • Portugal 6-1 Switzerland: Ramos hat-trick emphatically vindicates Ronaldo benching as Selecao stroll into last eight Portugal 6-1 Switzerland: Ramos hat-trick emphatically vindicates Ronaldo benching as Selecao stroll into last eight

    Cristiano Ronaldo's benching was fully vindicated as his replacement Goncalo Ramos scored a hat-trick to guide Portugal into the World Cup quarter-finals courtesy of a 6-1 demolition of Switzerland.

    Fernando Santos had been angered by Ronaldo's attitude after being substituted in their defeat to South Korea and the veteran coach took the opportunity to bench the out-of-form 37-year-old on Tuesday.

    It took Ramos 17 minutes to do what Ronaldo has never done for Portugal: score in a World Cup knockout game, and he would ultimately have a hand in four goals.

    Pepe, captain in Ronaldo's absence, got Portugal's second and Ramos also teed up Raphael Guerreiro, with Manuel Akanji's consolation for Switzerland prior to Ramos' hat-trick goal and Rafael Leao's late stunner a mere footnote.

    Ramos' opener was entirely out of keeping with a dull opening.

    Joao Felix passed into the left side of the area and, after taking a touch, Ramos sent a bullet of a left-footed strike into the top-left corner from a tight angle.

    A fingertip Diogo Costa save from Xherdan Shaqiri's free-kick just before the half-hour kept Portugal in front and they capitalised three minutes later as Pepe headed home Bruno Fernandes' corner.

    Any hope of a turnaround was swiftly put down by two goals early in the second half.

    Ramos first turned in Diogo Dalot's low cross before the striker unselfishly teed up Guerreiro.

    Akanji knocked in at the back post after a Portugal defender inadvertently flicked on a corner, but the deficit was four again soon after – Ramos' impudent dink over Yann Sommer completing a memorable treble.

    He was later brought off as Ronaldo – who had a late goal disallowed for offside – entered, but Portugal were not done yet, with Leao burying a gorgeous curler in stoppage time.

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