A big performance from New York Mets star Francisco Lindor helped his side conquer the Miami Marlins and their ace pitcher Sandy Alcantara 5-3 away from home.

Lindor struck in the very first inning, grinding out an eight-pitch at-bat before connecting on a 404-foot solo home run to center-field.

It was also a poor beginning to the game for Mets starter Taijuan Walker, giving up four consecutive base hits to the Marlins' first four batters, but he was able to get out of the first inning only conceding one run to keep things tied. 

Alcantara, who is the favourite to win the Cy Young Award as most outstanding pitcher in his conference, found his footing through the middle stages, not allowing a baserunner through the second, third and fourth inning.

He only gave up two hits and no walks through the first five innings, but the second hit – courtesy of Mark Canha in the fifth – also travelled over the fence, giving the Mets a 2-1 lead.

Just like the first frame, the Marlins did not allow the Mets to finish the inning in the lead, tying it at 2-2 in the bottom of the fifth through a Jorge Soler RBI groundout.

The sixth inning is where the Mets won the game, with an infield single to lead-off, followed by a bunt for a hit, and then a fielding error to load the bases with no outs.

Lindor cashed in, with a bases-clearing, three-run double to bust the game open, opening up a winning break that the Mets bullpen was able to defend.

Alcantara ended up pitching seven complete innings, giving up four earned runs from five hits and no walks, doing enough to remain as one of four starting pitchers with an ERA still under 2.0 this season (1.95, giving up 23 earned runs in 106.1 innings).

Walker was credited with the win, coming back from his rough start to work through six innings, giving up three runs and striking out five.

Astros snap Yankees' home streak

The New York Yankees lost at home for the first time in their past 16 games at Yankee Stadium as the Houston Astros got the job done 3-1.

Both teams finished with five hits, and both teams had all their scoring come from a single home run in the sixth inning, but while Giancarlo Stanton's homer was a solo shot, Kyle Tucker's was a three-run blast after a double from Alex Bregman and a walk to Yordan Alvarez.

It was a terrific outing for Astros ace Justin Verlander, pitching seven complete innings for four hits and one walk.

Devers, Pivetta and the Red Sox stay hot

The Boston Red Sox have now won 17 of their past 21 games after a 6-3 road win against the Cleveland Guardians.

Nick Pivetta shined on the mound, giving up two runs in seven innings, allowing nine hits, but no walks.

With the bat, AL MVP candidate Rafael Devers delivered with a 411-foot solo home run to put the Red Sox ahead in the second inning, before Carlos Arroyo's two-run shot in the seventh frame finally gave Boston some breathing room.

New York Mets shortstop Francisco Lindor has been ruled out of Thursday's primetime matchup against the Los Angeles Dodgers after reportedly jamming his finger while closing a door.

Lindor is the Mets' hottest batter, driving in a run in a career-high 10 consecutive games, hitting .365 during that stretch.

The Mets (35-17) are currently one game behind crosstown rivals the New York Yankees (35-15) in the race for the best record in baseball, while the Dodgers (33-17) are third, one game behind the Mets. 

Lindor's absence puts the Mets' six-game winning streak in danger, and he told reporters he is disappointed to miss out after his finger quickly swelled up and his nail turned black.

"The last time I pinched a finger, I was 12 years old," he said.

"I ran around the room for like three minutes. I didn't want to look at it. I felt like I had my heart in that finger.

"It's frustrating to not be out there with the boys – I want to be out there every day and do whatever it takes to help the team win."

Lindor is not expected to miss more than a day or two.

After seven consecutive road games to start their season, the New York Mets put on a show for their home crowd at Citi Field in a 10-3 win against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Making his second start of the season, Chris Bassitt was lights out again for the Mets, pitching six full innings for six strikeouts while only giving up one run and four total baserunners.

After Pete Alonso drove in the first two runs through two sacrifice-fly balls, Robinson Cano delivered the first big shot of the day with a solo home run in the third inning, before Francisco Lindor bombed a two-run jack in the fifth frame.

Starling Marte would get in on the action in the eighth inning, connecting on a 391-foot three-run homer, before Lindor added his second long ball of the day in the very next at-bat.

 

 

 

Orioles walk-off with a walk

The New York Yankees went down 2-1 in extra innings against the Baltimore Orioles as the winning run was gifted home plate with a walk.

Giancarlo Stanton was the lone bright spot for the Yankees on the offensive side of the ball, getting three hits from five at-bats and driving in New York's only run.

The two starting pitchers – Jordan Montgomery for the Yankees and Jordan Lyles for the Orioles – combined for 10 innings of work for only one earned run.

After a chaotic offseason, which included a lockout and pushing back Opening Day, baseball is almost back.

With a new collective bargaining agreement in place, two new playoff spots up for grabs and plenty of big-name player movement, it is shaping up to be an enthralling MLB season.

The defending champion Atlanta Braves may have improved, despite losing star Freddie Freeman to the Los Angeles Dodgers, and the Yankees' position as the best team in New York could soon be under threat. 

With so many storylines, the most logical place to begin is right at the very top.

 

Can the Braves go back-to-back?

As is often the case, the World Series race is wide open, but Atlanta is at least in the mix as far as the pre-season odds go.

Some would consider the Braves' run last season a fluke – they won 88 games in the regular season, while the 91-win Toronto Blue Jays and 90-win Seattle Mariners missed out on playoff berths entirely.

However, they were missing superstar Ronald Acuna Jr for a large chunk of the year, and made meaningful additions at the trade deadline including Eddie Rosario, Jorge Soler and Joc Pederson, and their playoff surge indicated that the record was not an accurate reflection of their talent.

While they lost franchise legend Freeman to the Dodgers, the Braves are arguably getting an upgrade at first base in the form of Matt Olson, who is four years younger and was a two-time Gold Glove winner with the Oakland Athletics before being traded for a four-player package of young Braves prospects.

Max Fried and Charlie Morton comprise a stout top of the rotation while Mike Soroka is out injured, and they have some strong bullpen arms including Tyler Matzek and Collin McHugh.

The Braves are a team without a clear weakness and will be full of confidence, so expect them to be fighting it out at the top of the NL East against the second-most expensive team in baseball, the New York Mets, as they bid to become the first team to win consecutive World Series since the Yankees in 1999 and 2000.

 

Are the Mets the best team in New York?

Since 2001, the New York Mets have only finished with a better record than the Yankees twice, in 2015 and 2016.

During that span, the Mets have never had a more expensive payroll than their local rivals – until this year.

The Mets are projected to come into Opening Day trailing only the Dodgers with the second-highest payroll in the league at $251million, while the Yankees are third at $239m.

It represents more than just deep pockets for second-year owner Steve Cohen, it shows that the Mets are no longer the 'little brother', and are willing to spend what it takes to be taken seriously against the most decorated franchise in major league history.

Buck Showalter will be the man tasked with turning the money into wins in his first year in the role, the former three-time AL Manager of the Year known for maximising talent on a limited budget with the Baltimore Orioles from 2010 to 2018, a stint that included a playoff series win over the Yankees.

Ultimately, what the Mets' season will hinge on is the health of their starting pitchers, with Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer (who turns 38 this season) comprising the best one-two punch in baseball after Marcus Stroman left as a free agent to join the Chicago Cubs. DeGrom has already been sidelined for four weeks with a shoulder injury.

The rotation also includes 2021 All-Star Taijuan Walker, who tailed off late last season, but showed impressive ability when fresh.

Francisco Lindor remains the young jewel of the franchise – now two seasons into a 10-year, $341m contract extension – and along with power-hitting Pete Alonso and rangy center-fielder Starling Marte, there is plenty of quality stepping into the batters' box.

The Yankees will have one of the highest-ceiling batting line-ups when they roll out sluggers Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton and Joey Gallo, but they also play in the league's toughest division in the AL East, and could be candidates for regression after losing pitcher Corey Kluber and trading away bats Gio Urshela and Luke Voit.

 

 

Did the best team in baseball not make the playoffs in 2021?

It may be hard to believe, but given the meat grinder that is the AL East, the Toronto Blue Jays are bookmakers' second-favourite to win the World Series despite not making the playoffs this past season.

The Blue Jays were top three in runs scored in 2021 and should again be one of the most explosive teams in the league this time around.

Toronto will also be able to enjoy a homecoming season, returning to Rogers Centre after the Blue Jays were forced to play their 2021 home games in Buffalo due to pandemic restrictions.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr and Bo Bichette are franchise cornerstones, last year's big signing George Springer was enormous in an injury-shortened debut campaign, and they have the luxury of adding Matt Chapman this season, who has two Platinum Gloves to his name as one of the best defensive players in the league.

Pitching remains the question mark in Toronto, with AL Cy Young winner Robbie Ray departing for Seattle in a serious blow to a rotation with plenty to prove.

Nobody should be surprised if the Blue Jays jump up from fourth in their division all the way to the top, and are one of the teams with real World Series aspirations this season.

 

Which top prospect will establish themselves as a star? 

There will be some elite prospects finding their way in the majors this season, but will any of them burst onto the scene as a star?

In 2017, Judge did more than just win Rookie of the Year, he led the AL in home runs and finished second in AL MVP voting.

While there is always a chance that an unheralded rookie emerges as the premier prospect, there is a relatively clear top-tier consisting of three players entering the season.

Kansas City Royals infielder Bobby Witt Jr, Baltimore Orioles catcher Adley Rutschman and Seattle Mariners outfielder Julio Rodriguez.

Rutschman will hit for average from both sides of the plate while projecting as an elite defensive catcher, Witt is the five-tool stud who will make eye-popping plays with his glove at shortstop, and Rodriguez is the big, power-hitting corner outfielder.

At 24 years old, Rutschman is the senior of the class, while the other two are considerably younger at 21, but all three will have a chance to prove themselves early in the year as franchise-altering stars – and potentially become the biggest story of this season.

Francisco Lindor hit three home runs, including the game-winner in the eighth inning, as the New York Mets defeated slumping city rivals the New York Yankees 7-6 in a contentious finale to the Subway Series. 

After the visiting Yankees scored twice in the first inning of the MLB showdown at Citi Field, Lindor's three-run homer while hitting left-handed off Clarke Schmidt gave the Mets the lead in the second on Sunday.

After a Gleyber Torres homer brought the Yankees within a run in the top of the sixth, Lindor answered in the bottom half with a solo shot from the right side and appeared to be having some words with the visitors as he rounded the bases. 

That sparked a reaction from Giancarlo Stanton after he tied it up with a two-run homer in the seventh, as he all but stopped at Lindor's shortstop position while rounding the bases, prompting both dugouts and bullpens to clear before order was restored. 

But Lindor had the last laugh with a left-handed drive to right in the eighth that had the shortstop pointing to his bicep as he rounded first base. 

"Coming up to the box, I did want to hit a home run," he told reporters afterward.

It was the Mets' fourth win in six games against their cross-borough rivals, the first time since 2013 they have won the season series against the Yankees, who have lost 12 of their past 15 games to fall a game behind the Boston Red Sox and Toronto Blue Jays for the two American League (AL) Wild Card spots.

 

Scherzer makes history as Dodgers dominate Padres

Max Scherzer and the Los Angeles Dodgers allowed only one San Diego Padres runner to reach base in an 8-0 rout, which completed a three-game series sweep. Scherzer retired the first 22 batters he faced before Eric Hosmer doubled with one out in the eighth inning to break up the perfect game. Three innings earlier, Scherzer got Hosmer to swing and miss on a 3-2 changeup for the 3,000th strikeout of his career, becoming the 19th pitcher in MLB history to reach that milestone. 

After the Red Sox levelled their game with the Chicago White Sox on an Alex Verdugo sacrifice fly in the top of the ninth, the latter won it 2-1 on Leury Garcia's two-out walk-off homer in the bottom of the inning. 

Home runs by Ozzie Albies and Freddie Freeman in the seventh inning gave the Atlanta Braves a 5-3 victory over the Miami Marlins. Atlanta gained a crucial game on the second-placed Philadelphia Phillies. 

The San Francisco Giants improved their MLB-best record to 93-50 with a 6-5 defeat of the Chicago Cubs for their seventh win in a row. 

The Milwaukee Brewers followed up Saturday's no-hitter by crushing the Cleveland Indians 11-1 as Kolten Wong and Avisail Garcia each hit a pair of homers. 

 

Rays blow chances to beat Tigers

The Tampa Bay Rays blew two chances to beat the Tigers before losing 8-7 to drop two of three in the series at Detroit. After the Rays scored four in the top of the eighth to take a 5-2 lead, Detroit tied it with three in the bottom of the inning. The Rays scored two more in the top of the 10th to go up 7-5 before Jeimer Candelario's two-run homer extended the game to the 11th. There, J.P. Feyereisen walked three batters, including Robbie Grossman to force in the winning run for Detroit and drop Tampa Bay to 6-12 in extra-inning games.

 

Gurriel, Blue Jays destroy Orioles

Lourdes Gurriel Jr.'s fourth grand slam of the season jump-started a 22-7 Toronto demolition of the Baltimore Orioles. Gurriel became the first Blue Jays player to score five times and drive in seven in a single game. Among other Blue Jays highlights, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. tied Shohei Ohtani for the MLB lead with his 44th homer and Teoscar Hernandez hit the Jays' second grand slam of the day in a 10-run third inning. The 22 runs scored were the second most in franchise history. Between the seventh inning of Saturday's game two and the first three of Sunday's demolition, the Blue Jays set a new MLB record for runs scored across a four-inning span with 27.

 

Sunday's results 

San Francisco Giants 6-5 Chicago Cubs
Texas Rangers 4-3 Oakland Athletics
Toronto Blue Jays 22-7 Baltimore Orioles
Colorado Rockies 5-4 Philadelphia Phillies
Detroit Tigers 8-7 Tampa Bay Rays
Milwaukee Brewers 11-1 Cleveland Indians
Washington Nationals 6-2 Pittsburgh Pirates
Chicago White Sox 2-1 Boston Red Sox
Kansas City Royals 5-3 Minnesota Twins
Houston Astros 3-1 Los Angeles Angels
St Louis Cardinals 2-0 Cincinnati Reds
Atlanta Braves 5-3 Miami Marlins
Toronto Blue Jays 11-2 Baltimore Orioles
Arizona Diamondbacks 5-4 Seattle Mariners
Los Angeles Dodgers 8-0 San Diego Padres
New York Mets 7-6 New York Yankees

 

Red Sox at Mariners

The Red Sox (81-64) and Mariners (77-66) open a series on Monday that could have significant implications in the AL Wild Card race. 

Francisco Lindor has agreed to a mammoth 10-year, $341million contract extension with the New York Mets, according to reports.

Lindor arrived in New York as part of a blockbuster six-player trade with the Cleveland Indians on January 7.

The four-time MLB All-Star and two-time Gold Glove winner – who was due to become a free agent after this season – had set a deadline of Opening Day to reach a deal over a new contract in New York.

MLB.com and ESPN reported on Wednesday a deal had been struck on the eve of the 2021 season, with the 27-year-old shortstop's contract beginning in 2022.

It is one of the richest contracts in MLB history, only behind Los Angeles Angels star Mike Trout ($426.5m) and Mookie Betts of the Los Angeles Dodgers, ($365m), though it trumps the $340m deal signed by San Diego Padres sensation Fernando Tatis Jr. this offseason.

Lindor hit .258 with eight home runs and 27 RBIs in the coronavirus-shortened 2020 campaign.

A career .285 hitter, Lindor has averaged 29 home runs, 86 RBIs and 21 steals over his six major league seasons. 

Amid speculation over Lindor's future with the Mets, team-mate Pete Alonso had told reporters on Tuesday: "I hope they pay him $400m. He's worth every penny."

Francisco Lindor's time in Cleveland has come to an end, as the Indians moved the four-time All-Star to the New York Mets in a blockbuster six-player trade announced on Thursday. 

The Mets will also receive starting pitcher Carlos Carrasco in the deal, with Cleveland getting infielders Amed Rosario and Andres Gimenez and a pair of prospects in pitcher Josh Wolf and outfielder Isaiah Greene. 

Lindor has been one of the game's premier shortstops, and the face of the Cleveland franchise, since breaking into the majors in 2015. The 27-year-old was the runner-up in voting for the American League's Rookie of the Year in 2015 and has won two Silver Slugger awards as well as a pair of Gold Gloves during his six-year career. 

The Puerto Rico native is set to be a free agent after this season, however, and an inability to agree to terms on a contract extension forced Cleveland to field offers from interested teams. 

Lindor joins a Mets organisation with grand designs under new owner Steve Cohen and who have been one of the more aggressive teams this offseason. New York previously added catcher James McCann and reliever Trevor May in free agency, while pitcher Marcus Stroman accepted an $18.9million qualifying offer to return. 

A career .285 hitter, Lindor has averaged 29 home runs, 86 RBIs and 21 steals over his six major league seasons. 

The Mets also add a valuable piece to the rotation in Carrasco, who went 88-73 with a 3.77 ERA in 11 seasons with Cleveland. The 33-year-old right-hander won 35 games between the 2017 and 2018 seasons before missing most of the 2019 campaign when diagnosed with leukaemia. 

Carrasco successfully fought off the disease to make 12 regular-season starts in 2020, going 3-4 with a 2.91 ERA and winning a second straight AL Comeback Player of the Year award. 

Rosario is the most experienced of the players Cleveland got in return and figures to slot in as Lindor's replacement at shortstop. The 25-year-old's last full season in the majors was a solid one as he batted .287 with 15 homers, 72 RBIs and 19 stolen bases. 

Gimenez, 22, made his major league debut last season and hit .263 with three homers and 12 RBIs in 49 games. 

Wolf and Greene were ranked as the Mets' number nine and number 10 overall prospects by MLB.com. Wolf was a second-round pick by New York in 2019, while Greene was taken in the second round of the 2020 draft and has yet to make his professional debut.

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