Luis Severino made a successful return from long-term injury on the hill as the New York Yankees stayed in the American League (AL) Wild Card hunt with a 7-1 win over the Texas Rangers on Tuesday.

Giancarlo Stanton creamed a solo home run, with a recorded 118 mph exit velocity, to get the Yankees on their way to victory.

Joey Galllo homered for the 38th time this season, while Aaron Judge's three-run home run in the seventh inning put the Yankees up 7-1.

But with the game practically done and dusted, Severino's return was one of the game's big highlights.

The 27-year-old was making his first appearance since October 15, 2019 due to injuries, and produced two scoreless innings and two strikeouts.

The win keeps the Yankees (85-67) just behind the Toronto Blue Jays (85-66), who overcame the Tampa Bay Rays 4-2.

 

Rare air for 10-straight Cardinals

The St Louis Cardinals recorded their 10th straight win to further enhance their Wild Card hopes with a 2-1 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers.

The 10-game winning streak is the Cards' first since 2001, while they became the second team in the Wild Card era to move into a playoff spot with such a September run.

The Brewers almost snatched the win, down 2-1 in the ninth inning with bases loaded after Christian Yelich was walked, but Giovanny Gallegos struck out Pablo Reyes with a vicious breaking ball to close it out.

Xander Bogaerts had a game to remember, delivering his 23rd home run for the season and driving in four runs as the Boston Red Sox won 6-3 over the New York Mets to solidify their grip on an AL Wild Card spot.

LaMonte Wade Jr drove in Brandon Belt in the ninth inning as the San Francisco Giants got past the San Diego Padres 6-5 despite two homers from Manny Machado to hold sole possession of first place.

Albert Pujols drove in Gavin Lux for the game-winning run in the 10th inning as the Los Angeles Dodgers survived a scare to beat the Colorado Rockies 5-4.

Bryce Harper put on the jets to get home from J.T. Realmuto's right-field flyball to seal a crucial walk-off win for the Philadelphia Phillies 3-2 over the Baltimore Orioles.

 

Reds miss golden opportunity

Nicholas Castellanos, Joey Votto and Kyle Farmer all fluffed a golden chance to press the Cincinnati Reds' National League (NL) Wild Card case, getting out on consecutive at-bats trailing 3-2 with bases loaded in the sixth inning. The Reds eventually went down 6-2 to the Pittsburgh Pirates, leaving Cincinnati 78-74, trailing the Cards by four games in the race for the second NL Wild Card spot.

 

Ohtani homes in on more records

Shohei Ohtani homered for the first time since September 10 as the Los Angeles Angels went down 10-5 to the Houston Astros. Ohtani's solo shot was his 45th home run for the season, pulling him within one of the equal league lead alongside Vladimir Guerrero Jr and Salvador Perez. Ohtani is also now tied with Mike Trout in second for most homers in a single season in Angels franchise history.

 

Tuesday's results 

Detroit Tigers 5-3 Chicago White Sox
Cleveland Indians 4-1 Kansas City Royals
Pittsburgh Pirates 6-2 Cincinnati Reds
Washington Nationals 7-1 Miami Marlins
Philadelphia Phillies 3-2 Baltimore Orioles
New York Yankees 7-1 Texas Rangers
Boston Red Sox 6-3 New York Mets
Toronto Blue Jays 4-2 Tampa Bay Rays
Minnesota Twins 9-5 Chicago Cubs
St Louis Cardinals 2-1 Milwaukee Brewers
Los Angeles Dodgers 5-4 Colorado Rockies
Houston Astros 10-5 Los Angeles Angels
Seattle Mariners 5-2 Oakland Athletics
Atlanta Braves 6-1 Arizona Diamondbacks
San Francisco Giants 6-5 San Diego Padres

 

Blue Jays at Rays

The Blue Jays' (85-66) battle for the second AL Wild Card spot is getting tight, and they will look to round out their series with the Rays with another victory, with the Yankees (85-67) breathing down their necks.

The New York Yankees' playoffs hopes were dealt a blow despite Jordan Montgomery sending down 12 strikeouts as they lost 3-2 to the Baltimore Orioles in 10 innings in MLB on Thursday.

Austin Hays delivered a walk-off single in the 10th inning to give the Orioles the win, with the Yankees moving to an 82-65 record, slipping behind the Boston Red Sox (83-65) in the American League (AL) Wild Card race.

Joey Gallo had put the Yankees ahead with a solo home run in the second inning, his fifth in 11 games. Gio Urshela got Gary Sanchez home in the second for a 2-0 lead.

But the Orioles worked their way back, initially as rookie Ryan Mountcastle made history with a 438-foot solo home run in the sixth inning off Montgomery.

Mountcastle's 29th homer of the season eclipsed Cal Ripken Jr's franchise record which has stood since 1982.

That was the only earned run Montgomery allowed, conceding six hits and one walk, with his 12 Ks.

Kelvin Gutierrez tied the game off a wild Clay Holmes pitch in the ninth inning, before Hays' chopper got Jahmai Jones home for the win.

 

Rays return to winners' column

The Tampa Bay Rays returned to winning ways with a 5-2 series-opening victory over the Detroit Tigers, with Yandy Diaz setting the tone with a lead-off homer, along with a late two-run shot from Mike Zunino.

Mathematically the Rays, who improved to 91-56 in top spot in the AL East division, could clinch their postseason spot on Monday.

Bryce Harper drove in four runs including a three-run homer for his 33rd of the season as the Philadelphia Phillies crushed the Chicago Cubs 17-8.

The Phillies were buoyed by a seven-run fourth inning, helping them stay in the Wild Card hunt at 74-72.

Fernando Tatis Jr launched a solo line drive home run, his 39th of the season, as the San Diego Padres toppled the San Francisco Giants 7-4.

Carlos Correa crushed a three-run shot while Alex Bregman drove in four runs as the Houston Astros downed the Texas Rangers 12-1.

The Cincinnati Reds stopped their slide and boosted their Wild Card hopes with a 1-0 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates.

 

White Sox ejected after Ohtani hit

There was late drama as the Los Angeles Angels won 9-3 over the Chicago White Sox with reliever Mike Wright Jr ejected after three wayward pitches, with the latter hitting Shohei Ohtani in the leg. White Sox manager Mike La Russa protested the decision, insisting it was not intentional, before also being ejected from the game. For what it is worth, Ohtani was OK to continue.

 

Perez equals catcher HR record

Salvador Perez clubbed a two-run homer to match Johnny Bench for the most home runs in a season by a primary catcher. Perez's first inning home run took his season tally to 45 and helped the Kansas City Royals to an early 2-0 lead, before losing 7-2 to the Oakland Athletics.

 

Thursday's results 

Cincinnati Reds 1-0 Pittsburgh Pirates
Los Angeles Angels 9-3 Chicago White Sox
Oakland Athletics 7-2 Kansas City Royals
San Diego Padres 7-4 San Francisco Giants
Baltimore Orioles 3-2 New York Yankees 
Philadelphia Phillies 17-8 Chicago Cubs
Tampa Bay Rays 5-2 Detroit Tigers
Houston Astros 12-1 Texas Rangers 

 

Padres at Cardinals

Wild Card spots are on the line when the St Louis Cardinals (76-69), who have won five games in a row, host the San Diego Padres (76-70) in the National League.

Tim Anderson hit a dramatic walk-off two-run homer to secure an 9-8 victory for the Chicago White Sox over the New York Yankees in MLB's Field of Dreams game in Iowa.

Trailing 8-7 at the bottom of the ninth inning, Anderson stepped up to deliver his 13th home run of the season into the surrounding corn fields. The seesawing contest saw eight home runs in a fitting display of hitting.

Jose Abreu hit the first MLB home run in Iowa with a moon shot into left-field at the bottom of the first inning.

Aaron Judge sent a ball into the corn at the top of the third inning with a three-run homer to give the Yankees the advantage.

Eloy Jimenez homered down the right-field line with a three-run shot to put the White Sox back on top.

The big hits continued with Seby Zavala flying a homer into right-field and Brett Gardner responding by homering in the sixth.

Judge homered again for the Yankees to bring it back to 7-6 at the top of the ninth, before Giancarlo Stanton put them ahead over left-field, only for Anderson's decisive blow from closer Zack Britton.

 

Shohei stars, Harper and Alonso homers

Shohei Ohtani came close to a second home run in consecutive games with a deep hit to center-field but impressed on the mound with five scoreless innings and six strikeouts in the Los Angeles Angels' 6-3 win over the Toronto Blue Jays.

The match-up pitted MLB's leading home-run scorer Ohtani against second-placed Vladimir Guerrero Jr, who he kept relatively quiet, with only one hit from three at-bats.

Bryce Harper homered for the 21st time of the season, getting the Philadelphia Phillies off to a fast start in the first inning in a 2-1 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Pete Alonso crushed a 358-foot walk-off solo home run to left-center field to clinch the New York Mets a 5-4 win over the Washington Nationals.

 

Indians routed in third straight loss

There is still plenty of time until the postseason but the Cleveland Indians' hopes of being part of it continue to slide after they suffered a third straight loss, going down 17-0 to the Oakland Athletics. The A's dined out at-bat, while the Indians only managed three hits for the game, slumping to their seventh loss from their past 10.

 

Pina slams in Brewers big win

After Corbin Burnes' record-equalling heroics on Wednesday, Manny Pina took the spotlight with a grand slam in the fifth inning opening up a 9-1 lead for the Milwaukee Brewers, who eventually won 17-4 over the Chicago Cubs. Pina finished the game with three hits, three runs and six RBI.

 

Thursday's results 

New York Mets 4-1 Washington Nationals
St Louis Cardinals 7-6 Pittsburgh Pirates
Philadelphia Phillies 2-1 Los Angeles Dodgers
Oakland Athletics 17-0 Cleveland Indians
Milwaukee Brewers 17-4 Chicago Cubs
New York Mets 5-4 Washington Nationals
Detroit Tigers 6-4 Baltimore Orioles
Tampa Bay Rays 8-1 Boston Red Sox
Seattle Mariners 3-1 Texas Rangers
Cincinnati Reds 12-3 Atlanta Braves
Chicago White Sox 9-8 New York Yankees
Los Angeles Angels 6-3 Toronto Blue Jays
Arizona Diamondbacks 12-3 San Diego Padres
San Francisco Giants 7-0 Colorado Rockies
 

Astros at Angels

The 68-46 Houston Astros make the trip west to face the Los Angeles Angels, who are 58-58, in a big American League West clash as sides jostle for position.

Bryce Harper flexed his muscles as the red-hot Philadelphia Phillies defeated the slumping Chicago Cubs 15-10 in MLB on Tuesday.

Harper homered and tied a career high with five hits as the Phillies scored double-digit runs in consecutive games for the first time since 2015.

Phillies star Harper hit his seventh home run of the season after crushing a three-run drive in the seventh inning, extending Philadelphia's lead to 15-4.

Andrew McCutchen hit a grand slam, while Rhys Hoskins also went deep for the Phillies on the road in Chicago.

The out-of-sorts Cubs tried to rally but crashed to an 11th straight defeat.

 

Ohtani star of the show

The Los Angeles Angels were 5-3 winners over the Boston Red Sox thanks to two-way star Shohei Ohtani, who allowed just five hits across seven innings on the mound. Ohtani also hit an RBI double.

Luke Voit fuelled the New York Yankees' 12-1 rout of the Seattle Mariners. Voit had five hits, three RBI and one run in Seattle. According to Stats Perform, he is the third player in Yankees history to have five-plus hits in a game after entering hitting below .200 (minimum 100 plate appearances), after Roy Weatherly (1943) and Cecil Fielder (1997).

 

Dodgers fall on wild pitch

The Los Angeles Dodgers lost 2-1 at the Miami Marlins after catcher Will Smith's wild throw flew past third base for a game-ending error in the 10th inning.

 

Catch of the season?

Wet weather but no worries for Chicago White Sox centerfielder Billy Hamilton. He produced a highlight moment with a leaping catch to thwart Max Kepler in the ninth inning. The White Sox topped the Minnesota Twins 4-1.

 

Tuesday's results

Pittsburgh Pirates 2-1 Atlanta Braves
Baltimore Orioles 7-5 Toronto Blue Jays
Miami Marlins 2-1 Los Angeles Dodgers
Texas Rangers 10-5 Detroit Tigers
Philadelphia Phillies 15-10 Chicago Cubs
Chicago White Sox 4-1 Minnesota Twins
Kansas City Royals 7-6 Cincinnati Reds
Houston Astros 9-6 Oakland Athletics
Los Angeles Angels 5-3 Boston Red Sox
Arizona Diamondbacks 4-3 Colorado Rockies
St Louis Cardinals 6-5 San Francisco Giants
San Diego Padres 7-4 Washington Nationals
New York Yankees 12-1 Seattle Mariners
Milwaukee Brewers-New York Mets (postponed)
Tampa Bay Rays-Cleveland Indians (postponed)

 

Brewers at Mets

The Brewers (51-35) and Mets (44-37) will contest a doubleheader on Wednesday after Tuesday's clash was postponed due to inclement weather. All eyes will be on Mets ace Jacob deGrom as Corbin Burnes starts for the Brewers.

Philadelphia Phillies star Bryce Harper said he is "all good" after he was forced to exit his team's win over the St Louis Cardinals due to being struck in the face by a pitch.

The Phillies topped the Cardinals 5-3 on Wednesday but the MLB win was overshadowed by a scary moment involving 2015 National League (NL) MVP Harper.

Harper was hit in the face by Genesis Cabrera's fastball in the top of the sixth inning at Busch Stadium in St Louis, where the six-time All-Star was able to leave the field under his own power.

Afterwards, Harper – a Silver Slugger who signed a 13-year, $330million contract to join the Phillies from the Washington Nationals in 2019 – allayed fears over his health via social media midweek.

"Everything came back good, CT [scan], all that kind of stuff," said Harper in an Instagram video.

"Face is still there. We're all good. See you guys soon."

It was an eventful game on the road for the Phillies, who also saw Didi Gregorius hit by Cabrera's next pitch as tempers threatened to boil over.

Phillies manager Joe Girardi was ejected after Gregorius was hit, while both benches were issued warnings.

In 2021, Phillies slugger Harper has tallied 17 hits for 25 runs, six homers and 10 RBI from 78 at-bats.

Opening Day.

A term synonymous with baseball across the United States and the globe. For fans, it is nothing short of a national holiday.

The highly anticipated start to the season on April 1 is an occasion steeped in history, with tradition front and centre.

This year's Opening Day means more than most. It is the latest signal of American life and sport returning to normal amid the COVID-19 crisis.

The coronavirus pandemic led to an enforced break and a reduced 60-game regular season schedule behind closed doors, with a limited number of fans allowed to attend the playoffs as the Los Angeles Dodgers went on to end their 32-year World Series drought.

But 2021 will see the return of the usual 162-game calendar and more importantly, spectators in the stands. All but one of the 30 teams will start at reduced capacity – the Texas Rangers hosting a full house for their home opener against the Toronto Blue Jays.

As America's pastime begins anew, we preview the upcoming season, in which the Dodgers look to defend their World Series crown, using Stats Perform data.
 

Kershaw gears up for a franchise-record start

Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw – entering the final season of his three-year, $93million deal – will be on the mound when the Dodgers open their title defence against the Colorado Rockies.

It will be Kershaw's ninth Opening Day start – the most in franchise history – after injuries prevented him from beginning the 2019 and 2020 campaigns, the eight-time All-Star getting the nod ahead of Walker Buehler and high-profile recruit Trevor Bauer, the reigning National League (NL) Cy Young winner.

Future Hall of Famer Kershaw boasts a 5-1 record on Opening Day, with a 1.05 ERA (6/51.2), 59 strikeouts and eight walks. The 2014 NL MVP's only loss came in his previous start in 2018 as he allowed eight hits and one earned run, while tallying seven strikeouts in six innings against the San Francisco Giants.

Since 1913, when ERA became an official stat, Kershaw has managed the lowest Opening Day figure among pitchers with six starts – 1.05. The 32-year-old's ERA is ahead of Bob Feller (1.21), Jim Palmer (1.40), Hal Newhouser (1.41) and Walter Johnson (1.51).

As for the star-studded Dodgers, they are 74-62 (.544) all-time on Opening Day, winning nine of their 10 season openers since 2011, losing only in 2018.

Their 9-1 (.900) Opening Day record over this stretch is the best in the league, ahead of the Houston Astros (8-2), Baltimore Orioles (8-2), Seattle Mariners (7-3), Detroit Tigers (7-3) and New York Mets (7-3).
 

All eyes on Tatis and Padres

Fernando Tatis Jr. heads into the 2021 season fresh off signing his eye-popping 14-year, $340m contract with the San Diego Padres.

The Padres – winners of two NL pennants – are pinning their hopes on MLB's new poster boy delivering a first World Series to San Diego.

Tatis won a Silver Slugger award last year, having hit .277 with 17 home runs and 45 RBIs in the coronavirus-shortened 2020 season.

The powerful 22-year-old is the first player in MLB history to have at least 35 home runs and 25 stolen bases within the first 150 games of his career.

Tatis – the youngest Padres player to debut on Opening Day (20 years and 85 days) in 2019 – became the fastest player in franchise history (24 team games) to reach the double-digit home run mark in a season in 2020 after hitting his 10th and 11th homers in August.

In the postseason, Tatis homered twice against the St Louis Cardinals in October, becoming the youngest Padre to ever homer in a playoff game (21 years and 273 days) and the third-youngest player in MLB history to homer twice in a postseason match, behind Carlos Correa (21 and 20 days old) and Andruw Jones (19 years, 180 days old).

When it comes to on-base plus slugging, Tatis stacks up well. Since 1920, Tatis (150.8) is only behind Juan Soto (153.9 – 2018-20), Albert Pujols (159.3 – 2001), Jimmie Foxx (160.0 – 1925-29), Ted Williams (161.5 – 1939-40) and Trout (165.0 – 2011-13) for highest OPS-plus up until the age of 21.

Across his two Opening Day appearances, Tatis has three hits in seven at-bats and two runs while slugging at .571. The Padres will be hoping he can improve on that when they host face the Arizona Diamondbacks.

By comparison, Philadelphia Phillies star Bryce Harper and New York Yankees slugger Giancarlo Stanton love Opening Day.

Harper – the 2015 NL MVP and six-time All-Star – has nine hits, five homers and six runs in eight appearances, while 2017 NL MVP Stanton has 13 hits, four homers, 10 runs and 12 RBIs through 10 games.

Blue Jays recruit George Springer, a World Series winner with the Astros, has also impressed on Opening Day following five hits, three homers and six RBIs in six games.
 

Can Abreu and Freeman go back-to-back?

Chicago White Sox star Jose Abreu was crowned the American League's best in 2020.

Becoming the 28th player to win both the MVP and Rookie of the Year in his career, Abreu beat Jose Ramirez of the Cleveland Indians and Yankees star DJ LeMahieu.

Abreu – the fourth White Sox player to win the award – was second in MLB with 19 home runs and fourth in the AL with a .317 batting average.

Freddie Freeman of the Atlanta Braves trumped Dodgers star Mookie Betts and Padres sensation Manny Machado to the NL honour.

Freeman's 1.102 OPS was the second highest in MLB, trailing only Washington Nationals outfielder Juan Soto, while he led the majors with 51 runs scored and was second in the NL in batting average (.341), on-base percentage (.462) and slugging percentage (.640).

Does it bode well for the pair in 2020?

In a season after winning the MVP award, a player averages 135.9 hits, 21.5 homers, 80.5 runs and 79.5 RBIs with a slugging percentage of .516.

There have been 13 players to win back-to-back MVPs; 11-time All-Star Miguel Cabrera (AL) was the last to do so in 2012 and 2013. The most recent player in the NL was Albert Pujols (2008-09).
 

The end of Cleveland as we know them

After 106 years, this will be the last season the franchise will be known as the Indians, following the example of the NFL's Washington Football Team, who dropped their Redskins nickname in 2020 amid a long-time controversy.

Since 1915, Cleveland have won two World Series – in 1920 and 1948 – with their current streak of 71 seasons without a World Series title the longest active run in the majors.

In 1954, Cleveland went 111-43 (.721) in the regular season, before being swept in the World Series by the Giants. It stands as the highest single-season win percentage in AL history, and the best by any MLB team in the past 100 years.

Cleveland have had a winning record in each of the past eight seasons (2013-20), making them one of four MLB teams with an active streak of eight-plus (also Yankees 28, Cardinals 13, Dodgers 10). It is tied for the second-longest streak of winning seasons in franchise history (10 straight 1947-56; eight in a row 1994-2001).

Three Cleveland players have won the AL MVP Award – George Burns (1926), Lou Boudreau (1948) and Al Rosen (1953) – while five have claimed the AL Cy Young Award: Gaylord Perry (1972), C.C. Sabathia (2007), Cliff Lee (2008), Corey Kluber (2014 and 2017) and Shane Bieber (2020).

J.T. Realmuto is getting paid.

Arguably the best all-round catcher in MLB, Realmuto has signed a lucrative five-year contract to remain with the Philadelphia Phillies.

Realmuto's new deal is reportedly worth $115.5million, which sets a record average annual value for a catcher at $23.1m per season – eclipsing Joe Mauer's $23m per season for the Minnesota Twins (2011-18).

The 29-year-old – just the third catcher in league history to sign a contract in excess of $100m – is also the first catcher to sign a deal worth more than $100m in free agency after being acquired from the Miami Marlins in a four-player trade two years ago.

The Phillies, who also boast former National League (NL) MVP Bryce Harper, have locked up a two-time All-Star, Silver Slugger and Gold Glove winner as their future becomes clearer.

We take a look at the numbers behind Realmuto using Stats Perform data as the playoff-chasing Phillies eye an upturn in fortunes in 2021.

 

One of MLB's finest

While big-hitting Harper dominates the headlines, Realmuto is arguably Philadelphia's most important player.

Over the last two seasons, the Phillies have won 52.8 per cent (94-84) of their games with Realmuto in the line-up, while they are just 34.1 per cent (15-29) in his absence.

The Phillies average 5.22 runs per game when Realmuto takes to the field compared to 3.43 if he has been rested or sidelined.

Since joining the Phillies in 2019, Realmuto ranks first in a number of categories among catchers – RBI (115), slugging percentage (.492), hits (194), runs (125), doubles (42) and stolen bases (13), while he is equal second for home runs (36).

Realmuto found a home in Philadelphia's number four spot last season. His 11 home runs out of the fourth position ranked second only to the Cincinnati Reds' Eugenio Suarez (13) among clean-up hitters, while his 31 RBIs were third.

Behind the plate, Realmuto has thrown out 41 runners trying to steal over the past two seasons – 14 more than any other catcher.

As a percentage, he has thrown out 39.0 percent of runners attempting to steal since joining the Phillies, second best among those with at least 100 games caught since 2019 (Roberto Perez, 45.0 percent).

Realmuto is one of three Phillies catchers to win a Gold Glove (2019), along with Bob Boone (1978 and 1979) and Mike Lieberthal (1999).

He has 95 home runs and 44 stolen bases in his 732 career games. The only other catcher in MLB history to have at least 90 homers and 40 steals within his first 750 career games was Hall of Famer Carlton Fisk.

Realmuto has proven his durability and defensive skills since his first full season in 2015. He ranks second in MLB with 5615.1 innings caught (behind Yadier Molina) and also ranks second in runners thrown out stealing with 113 (behind Jonathan Lucroy).

 

Playoffs overdue for Realmuto and Phillies

For all of Realmuto's impressive numbers, there is one glaring absence.

Realmuto has never played in the postseason; his 732 career games are the most by any active catcher who has never featured in the playoffs.

It comes as two-time World Series winners the Phillies try to emerge from the postseason wilderness.

The Phillies reigned supreme in 1980 and 2008, but Philadelphia have not made the playoffs or finished a season with a winning record since going 102-60 in 2011 – Joe Girardi's men ended the coronavirus-shortened 2020 campaign 28-32.

Winners of seven NL pennants, Philadelphia have gone nine consecutive seasons without a playoff berth – only second to the Seattle Mariners (19) for the longest active drought in MLB.

Philadelphia, meanwhile, have the most successive campaigns finishing .500 or worse, a run of nine putting them ahead of the Kansas City Royals and Los Angeles Angels (both five).

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