MLB

Blue Jays enjoying best streak since 2016, Giants first MLB team to 90 wins

By Sports Desk September 09, 2021

The playoff-chasing Toronto Blue Jays recorded their seventh consecutive win after beating American League (AL) East rivals the New York Yankees 6-3.

Toronto – enjoying their best winning streak since 2016 – are the hottest team in MLB with 10 victories in their last 11 games as they try to secure a Wild Card berth.

The streaking Blue Jays are only one and a half games behind the slumping Yankees in the AL Wild Card race after Vladimir Guerrero Jr. hit his 41st home run of the season.

Guerrero Jr. is now just three homers shy of Hall of Fame father Vladimir Sr.'s career high set in 2000 for the Montreal Expos.

As for the Yankees, they have lost five straight games and nine of 11 since winning 13 consecutive games.

 

Win number 90 for San Fran

The San Francisco Giants became the first team to 90 wins this season with a 7-4 triumph over the Colorado Rockies and series sweep. At 90-50, the Giants moved to a season-high 40 games over .500 for the first time since 1993.

The Baltimore Orioles scored nine runs in the eighth inning to trump the Kansas City Royals 9-8. The Orioles became the first team in the modern era to have a reliever earn the win in his MLB debut in back-to-back games after Mike Baumann on Tuesday and Manny Barreda on Wednesday, according to Stats Perform.

The San Diego Padres outlasted the Los Angeles Angels 8-5 after scoring all their runs in the second inning. With Baltimore's result, it is the first time in the modern era that two MLB teams had an eight-plus run inning that accounted for all their runs on the same day, per Stats Perform.

 

Keuchel struggles… again

The Oakland Athletics got to out-of-form Chicago White Sox ace Dallas Keuchel in their 5-1 win. Keuchel allowed five runs on eight hits over 5.2 innings with three strikeouts and a walk.

 

Don't run on Renfroe

Hunter Renfroe was the hero in the Boston Red Sox's 2-1 win over the AL East-leading Tampa Bay Rays. After hitting a two-run homer in the eighth inning, the Red Sox star produced a stunning throw from deep centerfield to thwart Joey Wendle's attempt for a triple for the final out of the ninth.

 

Wednesday's results 

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

 

Dodgers at Cardinals

The Dodgers (88-52) will look to bounce back against the Cardinals (70-68) in St Louis on Thursday. Tony Gonsolin starts for the Dodgers as the Cardinals send Jake Woodford to the mound.

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  • Pivac understands South Africa selection and says Wales will not take Springboks lightly Pivac understands South Africa selection and says Wales will not take Springboks lightly

    Wayne Pivac can understand the reasons behind South Africa naming an almost entirely new team to face Wales in their second Test but says his side will not take the second-string Springboks lightly.

    Reigning world champions South Africa beat Wales 32-29 last weekend in Pretoria with the final kick of the ball in a thrilling start to the three-Test series.

    The sides reconvene in Bloemfontein on Saturday in a game Wales, who have now lost three in a row against their opponents, must win to keep their hopes of a series triumph alive.

    The hosts surprisingly named 14 changes to their side for this weekend's showdown when announcing their squad on Tuesday, with experienced lock Eben Etzebeth – in line for his 99th cap – the only player to retain his place in the XV.

    Among the fresh faces in the Springboks' side are uncapped pair Kurt-Lee Arendse and Evan Roos, while four others – Ntuthuko Mchunu, Ruan Nortje, Deon Fourie and Grant Williams – could make their debuts from the bench.

    Welsh rugby great Gareth Edwards accused South Africa of "disrespecting" Wales with their selection, but Pivac was more understanding when asked about the mass changes at his news conference on Thursday.

    "From our point of view, it's a big focus on what we can improve from the last Test match," he said. "We are in a different part of the cycle; really we're at the end of our season, and they're at the start of theirs. 

    "They've got their reasoning why they did it. They've got depth and quality throughout the squad and some experience in this team. So we're certainly not taking them lightly at all.

    "There are players playing there with an opportunity to impress for the third test, so we know they'll come out strongly and represent their country like anyone else in that jersey. So for us, it's around what we can control and that's our performance.

    "It hasn't changed our preparation at all. It is going to be 15 rugby players in green shirts, and we are expecting more of the same."

    Unlike their opponents, Wales have stuck largely with the same group that came agonisingly close to pulling off a big result last weekend, with wing Alex Cuthbert replacing Josh Adams in the only change.

    Adams is among the replacements, as is uncapped prop Sam Wainwright after Tomas Francis returned home following the concussion suffered in the first Test.

    Elsewhere, George North will equal Stephen Jones' record as the most-capped Wales men's international back when making his 104th appearance.

    Pivac's side head into the contest on a run of four successive defeats, each coming by a margin of four points or fewer – not since a six-match losing streak between February and November 2020 have they endured a worse run.

    South Africa: Gelant, Arendse, Kriel, Esterhuizen, Fassi, Pollard (c), Hendrikse; Thomas du Toit, Dweba, Nyakane, Etzebeth, Orie, Coetzee, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Roos.
    Replacements: Marx, Mchunu, Koch, Nortje, Elstadt, Fourie, Williams, Willemse.

    Wales: Williams, Rees-Zammit, North, Tompkins, Cuthbert, Biggar (c), Hardy; Thomas, Elias, Lewis, Rowlands, Beard, Lydiate, Reffell, Faletau.
    Replacements: Lake, Wyn Jones, Wainwright, Alun Wyn Jones, Navidi, Williams, Anscombe, Adams.

     

  • McIlroy dials it in and Schauffele finally converts – The stats that defined June on the PGA Tour McIlroy dials it in and Schauffele finally converts – The stats that defined June on the PGA Tour

    Whatever data Mark Horton is supplying his PGA Tour clients these days, it seems to be paying off.

    The English statistician counts both Sam Burns and Billy Horschel among those coming to him for guidance in their golf games. And each registered Tour wins in consecutive weeks last month, as Burns captured the Charles Schwab Challenge before Horschel cruised to victory at the Memorial Tournament presented by Workday.

    "Hortsy (Horton) is unbelievable," Horschel said after his win. "He's been on my team since 2014. First year he comes on the team we win the FedExCup. He's very English and he's very blunt, and we had a conversation before he joined my team about my record on the PGA Tour and things I didn't do well.

    "My short game wasn't very good and I had stone hands. And this week I showed him finally that I have a short game that can live up to the golf course and save me at times."

    Horschel's game at the Memorial wasn't just good, it was unprecedented. His +13.58 Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green was the most at an event in his PGA Tour career and best since the 2018 Wyndham Championship (+10.74, tied for 11th). It broke his long-time career record of +13.07, set a decade ago at the 2012 Sanderson Farms Championship.

    He was the fourth Memorial winner since 2003 to rank first in both Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green as well as Greens in Regulation (53), joining Patrick Cantlay (2021), Jason Dufner (2017) and Tiger Woods (2012). He also finished the week ranked second in Proximity to the Hole, his third time on Tour ranking in the top-two and more than four feet closer than his previous average in eight previous starts at the Memorial.

    Credit to Horschel for his performance. And in the meantime, Horton will keep crunching the numbers.

    "He just tells me where I need to be on holes, where guys are making bogeys, where the birdies are coming from, the perfect way for me to plot my way around the golf course," Horschel explained. "That's what I love to do. I love to put my ball here, put the ball there. And he backs me up with that data that's he's been giving me for the last eight years."

    SCHAUFFELE FINALLY CONVERTS

    Xander Schauffele knew the record. The numbers don't lie.

    0-4 lifetime. Oh for four. Goose egg.

    That was Schauffele's career record on the PGA Tour when holding a 54-hole lead or co-lead. The now six-time Tour winner was still waiting to successfully convert a third-round position atop the leaderboard into a victory, and the Travelers Championship was one more opportunity to do it.

    "In the past when I had a 54-hole lead or close to the lead, my Sundays felt really fast," he said. "And I'd be sitting back in the hotel or at a house on Sunday [afterward] thinking, 'What happened today?'"

    This time, he said, Schauffele wanted to stay in the present and focus on the task at hand, which was each and every shot. They would all be critical to stave off Cantlay, who trailed him by only a stroke entering the final round, with more players not far behind.

    "I told [my caddie] to hold me accountable on the first hole walking up there," Schauffele said. "And he did a really great job, and both of us were pretty much dialled in from the first hole."

    That they were. Schauffele finished the week hitting 63 greens in regulation, leading the field and tying his most hit during an event on Tour in his career. He also hit 63 earlier this season at the WM Phoenix Open, where he tied for third, and hit 60 twice at both the 2020 Sentry Tournament of Championship (T2) and CIMB Classic (T3).

    That precision helped Schauffele finish with a Strokes Gained: Total of +16.39, the most at an event in his career. His previous best total was +15.31, set in 2020 at The CJ CUP.

    Schauffele trailed Sahith Theegala by one stroke as he approached the last, but the tournament leader closed with a double-bogey before Schauffele hit his approach to 3 feet, setting up the winning birdie. It marked his first individual PGA Tour title since the 2019 Sentry Tournament of Champions.

    "It's been a year where my stats have been very solid, just haven't really put in four good rounds of golf," Schauffele said afterward. "I think subconsciously or without myself even really knowing I was getting a little impatient. And this week I was just trying to be self-aware as possible to just stay as patient as possible. I had to just realise that I put the work in and if I can just sort of do what I've been doing and just focus a little bit more throughout the day that it will pay off in a big way, and fortunately it did."

    MCILROY DIALS IT IN

    When Rory McIlroy looked ahead to the final-round forecast at the RBC Canadian Open, a simple glance at the wind direction told him all he’d need to know about his chances for victory.

    "Seeing that southerly wind again, I knew I needed to go out and shoot 5-or-6-under par to have a chance to win," he said.

    Simple enough. McIlroy posted an eight-under 62 to edge Tony Finau by two strokes for his 21st PGA Tour victory.

    "You needed to keep your foot down, you needed to keep your foot on the pedal," McIlroy said of his mindset. "I got off to a faster start today than I have done the previous few days."

    McIlroy has feasted in final rounds this year, joining Finau as one of only two players on Tour with four final rounds of six-under or better this year. Prior to his eight-under 62 in Canada, he also posted a pair of six-under 66s at The Players Championship and The CJ CUP to go along with an epic eight-under 64 at The Masters.

    It marked his third final round of 62 or better en route to a PGA Tour win, something no other winner has done more than once since 1983. He also shot a final-round 61 to win the 2019 RBC Canadian Open, as well as a 62 at the Wells Fargo Championship.

    The Northern Irishman was buoyed by an incredible approach shot performance, as he averaged just over 3 feet to the hole from 100 to 125 yards out, 14 feet closer than the field average in the final round.

  • Porter and Freeman set for England debuts in second Australia Test Porter and Freeman set for England debuts in second Australia Test

    Uncapped pair Guy Porter and Tommy Freeman will make their England debuts after they were named in Eddie Jones' starting XV for the second Test against Australia.

    The tourists will also hand a first start to Tigers scrum-half Jack van Poortvliet as they ring the chances for the must-win encounter against the Wallabies in Brisbane on Saturday.

    Despite a man advantage after Darcy Swain's first-half dismissal in Perth, Jones' side slid to a 30-28 loss at Optus Stadium last weekend in their first encounter.

    That has prompted a flurry of changes from the Australian, in what some may see as a risky gamble as he seeks to level the three-match series in what could be humid winter conditions in Queensland.

    Leicester title-winning centre Porter will make his bow, while Freeman – who featured last month in an uncapped game against the Barbarians – will make his international debut proper.

    Sam Underhill moves up to take the place of Tom Curry, who has been ruled out of the rest of the tour through concussion, while Owen Farrell has been retained at inside centre.

    "We have decided to make changes in our backline, they were tough calls, but we feel they will strengthen the team," Jones said. "There are opportunities to attack against Australia which we can take."

    Australia meanwhile have been forced into a slate of swaps, through Swain's suspension and Tom Banks' injury, with Matt Philip in for the former and Jordan Petaia moved to full-back to cover the latter's absence.

    In a significant boost, prop Taniela Tupou is back, and makes a like-for-like change with the injured Allan Ala'alatoa.

    Australia team: Petaia, Wright, Paisami, Kerevi, Koroibete, Lolesio, White; Bell, Porecki, Tupou, Philip, Neville, Leota, Hooper, Valetini.

    Replacements: Fainga'a, Sio, Slipper, Frost, Samu, Gordon, O'Connor, Perese.

    England team: Steward, Nowell, Porter, Farrell, Freeman, Smith, Van Poortvliet; Genge, George, Stuart, Itoje, Hill, Lawes, Underhill, B Vunipola.

    Replacements: Cowan-Dickie, M Vunipola, Heyes, Chessum, Ludlam, Willis, Care, Arundell.

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