MLB

Streaking Braves sweep Orioles, Reds move into wild card position

By Sports Desk August 22, 2021

The suddenly unstoppable Atlanta Braves won their ninth successive game, defeating the Baltimore Orioles 3-1 on Sunday to complete another sweep away from home. 

It was a staggering 18th straight loss for the Orioles, who previously endured a 14-game skid in May and are an MLB-worst 38-85 this season. 

Baltimore had their best pitcher on the mound to try and end the slump, but John Means surrendered a solo home run to Jorge Soler and a two-run double to Adam Duvall in the fourth inning for all the runs Atlanta needed. 

Touki Toussaint allowed the Orioles' only run in the bottom of the inning on a Ramon Urias double, and five relief pitchers kept Baltimore off the scoreboard after he departed. 

After going unbeaten in successive series at the Washington Nationals, Miami Marlins and Orioles, the Braves have won 13 in a row on the road. 

That road streak is the longest in franchise history and tied for the second-longest by a National League team since divisional play began in 1969, with only the 2013 Los Angeles Dodgers (15) exceeding their run. 

Atlanta have not lost away from Truist Park since July 28, when they dropped a 2-1 decision at the New York Mets.  

 

Reds move into wild card position with sweep

The Cincinnati Reds hit three solo home runs, two of them by Tyler Naquin, while Vladimir Gutierrez and two relievers held the Miami Marlins in check on the way to a 3-1 victory and a four-game sweep. The win coupled with the San Diego Padres' 7-4 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies put the Reds alone in the second National League wild card slot. 

Pinch-hitter Donovan Solano's two-run homer in the eighth was the difference as the San Francisco Giants edged the Oakland Athletics 2-1 for their 80th win of the season. They have done so in just 124 games, their best pace since their remarkable 1993 campaign that saw them miss the postseason despite a 103-59 record in the pre-wild card era.

The Los Angeles Dodgers saw their nine-game winning streak come to an end in a 7-2 home defeat to the New York Mets, as the World Series champions managed just five hits off Marcus Stroman and three relievers and J.D. Davis drove in four runs for New York. 

Ty France homered to tie the game in the ninth, then gave the Seattle Mariners the lead in the 11th before Kyle Seager's three-run homer blew the game open as the Mariners defeated the Houston Astros 6-3. 

Adam Wainwright allowed just two hits and struck out nine with no walks in eight innings as the St Louis Cardinals blanked the Pittsburgh Pirates 3-0. 

 

Royals light up woeful Cubs

The Kansas City Royals pounded out 16 hits in a 9-1 rout of the Chicago Cubs to complete a three-game series sweep. The Cubs have now lost 15 of their last 17 games and 21 of their last 25.

 

Miggy hits 500th

Detroit Tigers star Miguel Cabrera became the 28th player in MLB history to reach 500 home runs with his opposite-field shot in the sixth inning of a 5-3 win at the Toronto Blue Jays. 

 

Sunday's results 

Tampa Bay Rays 9-0 Chicago White Sox
Kansas City Royals 9-1 Chicago Cubs
Detroit Tigers 5-3 Toronto Blue Jays
Milwaukee Brewers 7-3 Washington Nationals
New York Mets 7-2 Los Angeles Dodgers
San Francisco Giants 2-1 Oakland Athletics
Seattle Mariners 6-3 Houston Astros
Cincinnati Reds 3-1 Miami Marlins
Atlanta Braves 3-1 Baltimore Orioles
St Louis Cardinals 3-0 Pittsburgh Pirates
Arizona Diamondbacks 8-4 Colorado Rockies
Philadelphia Phillies 7-4 San Diego Padres
Cleveland Indians 3-0 Los Angeles Angels
New York Yankees-Minnesota Twins (postponed)
Texas Rangers-Boston Red Sox (postponed)

 

Yankees at Braves

The two hottest teams in baseball collide as the New York Yankees (72-52) visit the Atlanta Braves (68-56) to open a brief two-game series with both clubs riding nine-game winning streaks. 

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    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.

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    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. 

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    "[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. 

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    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.

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    "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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