MLB

Rays top Red Sox to move into first place, Mets win in Baez debut

By Sports Desk July 31, 2021

Two key hits from highly touted rookie Wander Franco lifted the Tampa Bay Rays past the Boston Red Sox 9-5 on Saturday.

Tampa Bay's third consecutive win and Boston's third straight loss moved the Rays into first place in the American League (AL) East by half a game.

After the Rays' Francisco Mejia and Boston's Bobby Dalbec traded two-run homers in the fourth and fifth inning to leave the score tied 5-5, Franco's triple to right field in the sixth gave the Rays the lead.

Franco would add an RBI single in the eighth and come home on Mejia's two-run single later in the inning as the Rays sealed the win.

 

Baez homers in Mets debut

Javier Baez homered in his first game with the Mets as New York rallied past the Cincinnati Reds for a 5-4 victory. Baez's two-run shot in the sixth drew the Mets within one after Eugenio Suarez and Kyle Farmer home runs had given Cincinnati a 4-1 lead. Dominic Smith's ninth-inning single sent the game to extra innings, where Brandon Drury won it in the 10th. Joey Votto went one-for-five with a single for the Reds, ending his streak of games with a home run at seven straight.

Speaking of new New Yorkers, Anthony Rizzo continues to endear himself to Yankees fans. He reached base in all four plate appearances in a 4-2 win over the Miami Marlins, collecting two walks, a single and his second home run in as many days. According to Stats Perform, Rizzo is the first player in Yankees history to have at least two hits, including a home run, in each of his first two games with the team.

The San Francisco Giants hit five home runs to slug their way past the Houston Astros 8-6 in a matchup of division leaders. Donovan Solano, Wilmer Flores, LaMonte Wade, Darin Ruf and Mike Yastrzemski went deep for the Giants, while Houston got two homers from Aledmys Diaz and one from Martin Maldonado in a losing effort.

Kyle Hendricks is now the longest-tenured Chicago Cubs player after the team's sell-off this week, and he was his usual self in allowing one run in seven innings to beat the Washington Nationals 6-3 and win his 11th consecutive decision.

Colorado Rockies All-Star pitcher German Marquez allowed two runs in six innings and provided one of his one, homering off Yu Darvish in the fifth as the Rockies beat the San Diego Padres 5-3.

 

Rough Brewers debut for Curtiss

Making his Milwaukee Brewers debut after coming over from the Marlins in a trade this week, reliever John Curtiss allowed four hits and a walk to Atlanta, punctuated by a Dansby Swanson grand slam that would give the Braves an 8-1 win.

 

Zavala's first, second and third career homers

Entering Saturday, Chicago White Sox catcher Seby Zavala had played 17 major league games between 2019 and this season, collecting three singles, two doubles and one RBI. You could say he had a career game in Chicago's 12-11 loss to the Cleveland Indians, as the 27-year-old went four-for-four with three home runs, including a grand slam. Zavala is the first player in MLB history to collect his first three career home runs in the same game. 

 

Saturday's results 

Pittsburgh Pirates 3-2 Philadelphia Phillies
Chicago Cubs 6-3 Washington Nationals
Toronto Blue Jays 4-0 Kansas City Royals
New York Mets 5-4 Cincinnati Reds
New York Yankees 4-2 Miami Marlins
Tampa Bay Rays 9-5 Boston Red Sox
Baltimore Orioles 5-2 Detroit Tigers
Atlanta Braves 8-1 Milwaukee Brewers
Texas Rangers 5-4 Seattle Mariners
Cleveland Indians 12-11 Chicago White Sox
Minnesota Twins 8-1 St Louis Cardinals
Los Angeles Angels 1-0 Oakland Athletics
Los Angeles Dodgers 8-3 Arizona Diamondbacks
San Francisco Giants 8-6 Houston Astros
Colorado Rockies 5-3 San Diego Padres

 

Red Sox at Rays

The Tampa Bay Rays (63-42) will look to hold onto first place on Sunday with a sweep of the Boston Red Sox (63-43) at Tropicana Field. 

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    Mykhailo Mudryk is "the most talented and unique player in the world", and patient work on the training ground will see Chelsea get the best out of the winger.

    That is the view of Serhiy Palkin, Shakhtar Donetsk's chief executive who struck the £89million deal which took Mudryk from Ukraine to Stamford Bridge last January.

    Like many of the big-money recruits of the Todd Boehly era, Mudryk has struggled for consistency since arriving in west London, after emerging as one of Europe's hottest prospects at Shakhtar.

    Between the start of 2021-22 and his move to the Premier League, Mudryk averaged a goal involvement every 70 minutes in the Ukrainian top flight, scoring nine goals and adding 13 assists in just 23 appearances during that spell.

    However, Mudryk has just three goals and four assists to his name in 34 Premier League appearances, and he attracted more criticism for an ineffective substitute appearance in Sunday's EFL Cup final defeat to Liverpool.

    Palkin, however, remains convinced of the 23-year-old's talent and feels he simply needs close attention from Mauricio Pochettino and his backroom staff. 

    "I can tell you that for me, Mudryk is the most talented and unique player in the world," Palkin told Stats Perform.

    "I believe that in order to get from Mudryk the maximum, as they anticipate, you need to invest in him. These investments are not money. 

    "It's time for the coaching staff to communicate with him and to work closely with him. He is a young boy, he changed from the Ukrainian Championship to the Premier League. 

    "It's a completely different world, with completely different levels, completely different football. 

    "Therefore, I believe that if the coaching staff dedicates him some time, he will return three, four, or five times more."

    One former Shakhtar man who made a far more immediate impact in the Premier League is Roberto De Zerbi, who led Brighton and Hove Albion to Europa League qualification last term while implementing a daring style of play. 

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    Palkin has no doubt De Zerbi is destined for the top, saying: "I can tell you that he did a lot for Brighton, he did brilliant work for Brighton. 

    "I believe 100 per cent that he can jump into a top club tomorrow, even today, 100 per cent. The most important thing is he must accept the proposition.

    "I believe he has a lot of propositions, including in Italian football and English football. Therefore, everything, everything, everything depends on him."

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    "He can do whatever he wants to do with his career. It seems like he enjoys the game. It seems like he puts in the work. Just from the outside looking in, I'm not with him on a day-to-day basis, but I said a long time ago how special he was, and it's literally that simple.

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    Atletico are unbeaten at home in La Liga this season, with 12 wins and one draw from their 13 league matches in front of their own fans. Looking further back, they have now gone 24 such games without defeat dating back to January 2023.

    Llorente's double was his first since scoring twice in a match against Eibar in April 2021, while Correa – who also registered an assist – had not scored in more than two months prior to this fixture. Atleti were worthy winners, accumulating 2.29 xG to Las Palmas' 0.59.

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