MLB

Astros silence boo boys as Altuve's birthday homer sinks Yankees, Braves in seven-year first against Nats

By Sports Desk May 07, 2021

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.

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  • Packers out to avoid another playoff nightmare against upstart 49ers Packers out to avoid another playoff nightmare against upstart 49ers

    The San Francisco 49ers prevailed in the Wild Card round as they renewed a storied rivalry with the Dallas Cowboys. Now, they will be underdogs again as they lock horns with a postseason foe more familiar to them in recent years.

    While the Niners' 23-17 upset win over the Cowboys was the first postseason meeting between the two teams since the 1994 campaign, playoff clashes between San Francisco and the Green Bay Packers have been more habitual of late.

    Green Bay and the 49ers have faced off in the postseason in every decade since their first playoff meeting in the 1995 campaign, last doing so on January 19, 2020 when San Francisco won a 37-20 rout in the NFC Championship Game.

    That scoreline carried on a trend in this matchup. The 49ers and Packers have split their eight all-time meetings in the postseason, but the Niners have won each of the last three. In those three games, they have outscored Green Bay by an average of 11.3 points (35.0-23.7). 

    Saturday's game at Lambeau Field is expected to be much closer, with most backing the top-seeded Packers to turn the tide.

    Green Bay won the Week 3 matchup at Levi's Stadium, though the Packers needed a last-gasp field goal from Mason Crosby, following some vintage Aaron Rodgers heroics, to avoid defeat.

    Rodgers is the favourite to retain the NFL's MVP award and enters this game in blistering form. 

    He has thrown for multiple touchdowns and no interceptions in each of his last seven games, the second-longest such streak in NFL history (Tom Brady, nine straight in 2010).

    The three-time MVP threw 37 touchdowns and just four picks this season, the most passing touchdowns with four interceptions or fewer in a single season all-time. 

    Yet Rodgers is going against a Niners defense playing its best football of the season. San Francisco held the Cowboys' number one-ranked offense (407 yards per game) to 307 total yards, with Dak Prescott completing only 53.5 per cent of his passes as he was pressured more than any other quarterback in the Wild Card round, coming under duress 25 times.

    San Francisco's deep defensive front would appear to have the edge this weekend, too. The 49ers' finished the regular season ranked first in Stats Perform's pass rush win rate metric - boasting a win rate of 32.6 per cent - while the Packers were 23rd with a pass protection win rate of 72.6 per cent.

    The Packers will hope the potential return of left tackle David Bakhtiari can redress the balance but if it does not then the contest could tilt in the favour of San Francisco. When under pressure this season, Rodgers completed 49.6 per cent of his passes. Among quarterbacks with at least 100 attempts under duress, the only two to fare worse were rookies Zach Wilson (41.7 per cent) and Trevor Lawrence (45.7 per cent).

    If the Niners pressure Rodgers and get the Packers behind the chains and playing catchup on the scoreboard, then they will look to control the clock by keeping the ball on the ground with All-Pro wide receiver Deebo Samuel and rookie running back Elijah Mitchell.

    Samuel scored the first rushing touchdown by a 49ers receiver in postseason history to put San Francisco 23-7 ahead against the Cowboys, while his 72 yards on the ground were the most in the playoffs by any wideout in the Super Bowl era.

    Mitchell rushed for 96 yards last weekend, a 49ers rookie playoff record. The Niners are 7-1 when Mitchell rushes for at least 75 yards this season and 1-3 when he plays and does not.

    A long night may be in store for the 49ers and their secondary should Rodgers stay on schedule, and that could mean history for his favourite target, Davante Adams.

    Adams has had exactly nine receptions in each of his last three playoff games. That is tied for the longest streak of postseason games with nine-plus catches in NFL history (Julian Edelman, 2015-2016).

    With at least nine catches in four of his five games against San Francisco (regular and postseason), he is a strong bet to break that record. Adams failing to do so would be a major indicator of Green Bay suffering another nightmare against a team that has continually haunted them in the playoffs.

  • Man Utd 'destroyed' by Brentford in first half and only deserved a draw - Frank Man Utd 'destroyed' by Brentford in first half and only deserved a draw - Frank

    Manchester United were "destroyed" in the first half of their 3-1 win over Brentford, with Thomas Frank claiming they only deserved a draw at most. 

    United failed to register a single shot on target in the opening period in west London on Wednesday, while David de Gea was forced into three saves from Mathias Jensen and Ethan Pinnock. 

    After Cristiano Ronaldo sent a header against the crossbar at the start of the second half, Anthony Elanga put the Red Devils ahead with their first shot on target. 

    Mason Greenwood and Marcus Rashford put United out of sight and secured a 300th Premier League away victory for the club, with Ivan Toney netting a late consolation for Brentford. 

    "Unbelievably proud of my team. I think we are the smallest club in the Premier League, Manchester United are probably the biggest. The way we played in the first half, I think we destroyed them," Frank told BT Sport. 

    "We should have been up at least 2-0, they didn't have a sniff, nothing. We created five, six chances and three huge chances. Man United deserved a maximum of a draw. I think they are unbelievably lucky. 

    "Of course you need to take your chances, I know all that c**p. But the performance, I'm proud of that. They changed the system against little Brentford. I'm so, so proud of my team. 

    "[It was] one of those nights, it's football. Fair play to De Gea, a very good performance. If we get those chances again one will go in the back of the net. 

    "Our intensity killed them, we showed that in the first half. We pressed them, when we had to we defended low, we won the second balls, we played behind and ran behind them. We played the Brentford way in the first half. 

    "The game opened up. They hadn't had a chance before their goal. Of course, I know that's why they pay 72 million [pounds] for [Jadon] Sancho, who's not even included in the team. That's why, that little bit of brilliance created the first goal. 

    "Of the three goals, the second is most disappointing and difficult to come back from. There were huge positives. I think the way we smashed them in the first half was fantastic, so proud of my team." 

  • Inzaghi delighted with Inter fightback in Coppa Italia triumph Inzaghi delighted with Inter fightback in Coppa Italia triumph

    Simone Inzaghi expressed his delight with Inter's reaction as his side came from behind to beat Empoli in the Coppa Italia last 16.

    Empoli stunned the Serie A leaders in the second half as substitute Nedim Bajrami cancelled out Alexis Sanchez's opener before the visitors fortuitously took the lead at San Siro when Ionut Radu deflected into his own net.

    Andrea Ranocchia levelled things up with a stunning, acrobatic stoppage-time equaliser to send Inter into extra-time in the last 16 of the competition for the fourth time in their last eight outings.

    Substitute Stefano Sensi stepped up to deliver the decisive strike after 104 minutes, Inzaghi's side now boasting 20 different scorers this season – more than any other team in Europe's top-five leagues in all competitions.

    Despite squandering an initial one-goal lead, Inzaghi was pleased with what he saw from his side as they made the quarter-finals for the 18th time in their last 19 seasons.

    "I think we had an excellent first half, where we found the goalkeeper who should be congratulated for two, or three, difficult saves," Inzaghi told Inter TV post-match. 

    "In my opinion, we deserved a few more goals, then in the second half we lost clarity, we stretched out. In the spaces, they showed the qualities they have. 

    "We went down, we changed players, we changed formation, but the boys gave everything on the pitch, they didn't give up and we go to the quarters with a lot of confidence.

    "We suffered, we went under, but I take the big reaction."

    Inter return to Serie A action on Saturday when they host Venezia.

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