MLB

Haniger leads Mariners in rout of A's, Reds keep faint hopes alive

By Sports Desk September 28, 2021

Mitch Haniger hit two home runs and drove in six as the Seattle Mariners rallied from an early deficit to rout the Oakland Athletics 13-4 Monday. 

Seattle's eighth win in their last nine brought the Mariners (87-70) within 1.5 games of the Boston Red Sox for the second American League (AL) wild-card spot, with the Toronto Blue Jays in between. 

The evening started off poorly for the Mariners as Oakland's Seth Brown hit a three-run homer in the first inning, but Seattle ran away with the game in the fourth. 

The Mariners put up five in that frame, capped by Haniger's three-run homer off Deolis Guerra, to take an 8-4 lead. 

Two innings later, Haniger did it again, hitting his 37th of the year to put the game out of reach. 

According to Stats Perform, Haniger is the third player to hit at least that many home runs a year after missing an entire season, following Ted Williams (38 in 1946) and Willie Mays (41 in 1954). 

The Athletics (85-72) still have a chance at the postseason, but they now sit 3.5 games back of the Red Sox. Monday's defeat officially eliminated Oakland from contention in the AL West, where the Houston Astros can wrap up the title Tuesday with a win over the Tampa Bay Rays and a Mariners loss. 

 

Votto homers twice as Reds stay alive

The Cincinnati Reds kept their miniscule postseason hopes alive for one more day, crushing the Pittsburgh Pirates 13-1 as Joey Votto hit two home runs to give him 35 on the season. Nick Castellanos, Eugenio Suarez and Jonathan India also homered for the Reds (82-75), who will be eliminated with their next loss or the St Louis Cardinals' next win. 

Yasmani Grandal and Eloy Jimenez homered for the Chicago White Sox, who nearly blew a six-run lead late but held on to defeat the Detroit Tigers 8-7. 

 

Another tough outing for Marquez

Colorado Rockies pitcher German Marquez headed to the All-Star Game in July with a 3.36 ERA, but has seen that number inflate throughout a difficult second half to sit at 4.40 after he allowed four runs in five innings in a 5-4 loss to the Washington Nationals. 

 

Sibling rivalry heats up in Cleveland

Cleveland Indians outfielder Bradley Zimmer got the better of his older brother Kyle, smashing a solo homer off the Kansas City Royals pitcher in the eighth inning of an 8-3 Cleveland victory. It was the fourth time in MLB's modern era that one brother has homered off another. Joe Niekro was the last to do it, hitting one against brother Phil on May 29, 1975. 

 

Monday's results

Chicago White Sox 8-7 Detroit Tigers
Cincinnati Reds 13-1 Pittsburgh Pirates
Cleveland Indians 8-3 Kansas City Royals
Washington Nationals 5-4 Colorado Rockies
Seattle Mariners 13-4 Oakland Athletics

 

Yankees at Blue Jays

The hottest remaining postseason race will be in the spotlight as the New York Yankees (89-67) look to continue the momentum from their sweep of the Red Sox as they open a three-game series at the Toronto Blue Jays (87-69).

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    Rafael Nadal cruised through his first-round match against Jordan Thompson to make a strong start to his French Open campaign.

    Nadal is in the hunt for a record-extending 14th title at Roland Garros and he turned in a dominant display on Monday, winning 6-2 6-2 6-2 to progress with ease.

    It took Nadal a little over two hours to see off his opponent on Court Philippe-Chatrier and claim a 24th win of what is already proving to be a wonderful season.

    Nadal, seeded fifth, controlled the match throughout, breaking twice in the first set, which he sealed at the first time of asking.

    Thompson, the world number 82, conceded serve again at the start of the second set, and he was left hanging over the net in despair when Nadal turned defence into attack to deny the 28-year-old holding in his next service game.

    A deft drop shot saw Thompson recover but Nadal was clinical when chances to break came, and he took all three on offer in the second set, though the Australian also grasped his only chance to do so.

    Thompson salvaged the first three break points in set three but Nadal would not be denied, and he nosed into a 3-2 lead before breaking again to serve out for the match.

    A stray shot into the net from Thompson wrapped up the win as Nadal – one of only three players to have previously won the French Open without losing a single set – made an emphatic start.

    Data Slam: Nadal's incredible Roland Garros record

    Nadal is the only player to have won the same grand slam title 10+ times, and of the 109 matches he has now played at Roland Garros (excluding walkovers), the 35-year-old has lost just three – once against Robin Soderling (2008) and twice to Novak Djokovic (2015, 2021).

    Thompson, who made 29 unforced errors, seemed frustrated at his own performance, but he was taking on a true great of the game.

    WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
    Nadal – 27/21
    Thompson – 14/29

    ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
    Nadal – 1/0
    Thompson – 5/1

    BREAK POINTS WON
    Nadal – 7/11
    Thompson – 1/2

  • Salah and Son more deserving of Player of the Season award than De Bruyne, says Thompson Salah and Son more deserving of Player of the Season award than De Bruyne, says Thompson

    Mohamed Salah and Son Heung-min were more deserving winners of the Premier League Player of the Season award than Kevin De Bruyne.

    That is according to Liverpool legend Phil Thompson, who also told Stats Perform that Erling Haaland will not necessarily make Manchester City a stronger side next season.

    City playmaker De Bruyne last week edged out Son, Salah, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Joao Cancelo, Jarrod Bowen, Bukayo Saka and James Ward-Prowse for the award.

    The Belgium international played a key part in City's successful title defence with 15 goals in 30 league appearances and a further eight assists.

    Remarkably, the 30-year-old's 15 goals came from an expected goals (xG) return of just 6.2, meaning he scored nine goals more than expected from the quality of his chances.

    However, his 23 direct goal involvements were fewer than Salah (36), Son (30) and Harry Kane (26) managed, albeit having played at least five games fewer than any of those.

    De Bruyne ranked above each of those players for chances created (87), though, and was behind only Alexander-Arnold (90) and Bruno Fernandes (89).

    But Thompson believes that Liverpool forward Salah and Tottenham's Son – who shared the Golden Boot with 23 goals – were more consistent than De Bruyne over the season.

    "I think it has to be Mo. I know the players have all given it to Kevin De Bruyne and he's a wonderful player," Thompson said. 

    "He's been wonderful for the last couple of months, but it's over a season and people get swayed by people who finish the season well. 

    "That is still in their minds when they're just putting their name on that form, or whether it's all done on phone now. 

    "But I would like to think over the whole year, and yes, Mo hasn't been rattling them in for the last six weeks or so, but overall, he has been.

    "They were talking around Christmas time that this is the best player in the world. He's not gone from being the best player in the world to playing second fiddle to De Bruyne. 

    "I'm sorry. Mo Salah was the player of the season and then probably Son has probably been more consistent over the whole nine months."

    City's title triumph was their fourth in the past five seasons and they have already moved to bolster their squad with the signing of Haaland from Borussia Dortmund.

    Haaland scored 86 goals in 89 games for Dortmund, a tally only bettered by Kylian Mbappe (90) and Robert Lewandowski (123) since January 18, 2020. 

    But, citing a rather mixed campaign for British record signing Jack Grealish, Thompson questioned whether Pep Guardiola will get the most out of Haaland.

    "He is a wonderful player, a great player," said Thompson, who won 17 major honours across 13 years playing for Liverpool, before a stint coaching the Reds.

    "Is he a missing piece for the jigsaw for them in the Champions League? They can still do things, but it might upset them a little bit. 

    "As you see with Grealish, who was £100million, has that worked? He's playing as a left-winger because it's the system that Pep likes. 

    "So you've got an out-and-out centre-forward who, yes, is full of energy, but he doesn't understand the press that City use. It'll be a change for them. That might change things." 

    Liverpool, who have seen Luis Diaz hit the ground running since joining from Porto in January, are themselves expected to be active in the upcoming transfer window.

    A deal for Fulham teenager Fabio Carvalho is already in place, but Thompson is not sure if signing a big name is really necessary in order to keep pace with champions City.

    "We have a set pattern, though I still hope that we'll sign a couple of players," he said.

    "I do believe that's what you have to do all the time to give that little bit of a buzz in the dressing room, to change things up on the pitch. And we have just come up short."

    The 92 points accrued by Liverpool this season is the joint-eighth most in Premier League history, yet it was not enough to pip City, who finished one point better off.

    Thompson added: "We have to find the magic ingredient to go that extra couple of points to win that league, but we don't have to do too much. 

    "Chelsea signed Romelu Lukaku and he played well those first half a dozen games. They were going to win the league the way the season started and look how that's unravelled.

    "It's not necessarily a gimme that it always works."

  • French Open: Defending champion Krejcikova out after being stunned by Parry French Open: Defending champion Krejcikova out after being stunned by Parry

    Reigning French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova is out of this year's tournament after suffering a first-round defeat to teenage opponent Diane Parry.

    The number two seed looked to be cruising on Court Philippe-Chatrier, taking the first set 6-1, before an impressive recovery from Parry saw the 19-year-old take the next two sets 6-2 6-3.

    Parry becomes the lowest-ranked woman to beat the second seed at Roland Garros since Arantxa Rus beat Kim Clijsters in 2011.

    It looked like Krejcikova was going to follow number one seed Iga Swiatek in easing to a quick win on Monday, winning 15 straight points in the early stages as she ran out to a lead of 6-1 2-0.

    However, her determined opponent suddenly found an extra gear and started to trouble the Czech star, actually winning a higher percentage of points on her second serve (67) than her first (64) to win six straight games in the second set.

    Krejcikova broke in the first game of the deciding set and looked to have recovered, only for Parry to break back in the fourth game, before breaking again in the eighth, and serving out to claim a famous win.

    The French youngster will face Colombian Camila Osorio in the second round.

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