MLB Opening Day is still over a week away but several of baseball's biggest names will be in action on Tuesday – and Shohei Ohtani cannot wait.

The final of the World Baseball Classic will pit Ohtani's Japan against the might of defending champions the United States.

With Ohtani planning to hit and pitch in relief as he ramps up his preparations for the new season, all eyes will be on his potential matchup with Los Angeles Angels team-mate Mike Trout, the Team USA captain.

"It's not only Mike Trout, but one through nine in that order is filled with superstars, household names," Ohtani said.

"I'm just excited to face that lineup. It's a great thing for Japanese baseball."

Ohtani was speaking after Japan's dramatic 6-5 comeback win over Mexico that booked their spot in the final.

In an apparent nod to the Angels' eight-year absence from the MLB playoffs – spanning his entire career – Ohtani said: "It's been a while since I've played in a win-or-lose game, in a playoff atmosphere."

Munetaka Murakami, a Japanese Triple Crown winner last year, clinched Japan's victory with a walk-off double at the bottom of the ninth.

"It was the best, epic," said Boston Red Sox outfielder Masataka Yoshida, while Mexico manager Benji Gil graciously added: "Japan advances, but the world of baseball won tonight."

That is still not enough for Ohtani, though, as the two-way superstar said: "Obviously, it's a big accomplishment to get to the championship series.

"But there's a big difference from being in first and second, so I'm going to do all I can to get that first place."

The agent of Los Angeles Angels superstar Shohei Ohtani believes the baseball unicorn has "earned the right" to explore free agency.

Ohtani, 28, is the only player in Major League Baseball who excels as both a pitcher and a hitter, earning an All-Star selection in both categories last season.

He struck out 219 batters in 2022 – the sixth-most in the majors – while also tying for 11th on the home run leaderboard with 34 dingers. His 80 combined home runs over the past two seasons trails only Aaron Judge (101).

The six-foot-four Japanese sensation led all players in Wins Above Replacement (WAR) in 2021, and it took Judge breaking the American League home run record in 2022 to unseat him as number one.

Ohtani will play for a $30million salary this season ahead of what will almost certainly be a record-breaking contract, but agent Nez Balelo gave no indication that his client is leaning towards staying in Anaheim.

When asked if he would be open to negotiating a long-term extension during spring training, Balelo said he is open to anything, but will not make a commitment.

"I've always been open to it," he said. "But there's several layers to this one, and Shohei's earned the right to play through the year, explore free agency, and we'll see where it shakes out."

Asked if that meant a spring training deal was actually unlikely, Balelo was again not willing to go one way or the other.

"I've said it before, I'll say it again – we're taking it one day at a time," he said. "I'm not putting the cart before the horse on this one."

Ohtani has been weighed down by poor Angels teams and has never made the playoffs – something he may be growing tired of.

"He's so competitive, like all great players are, so of course they want to experience the postseason, of course they'd love to be in the World Series," Balelo said. "But is that the deciding factor? I don't know. We'll just have to wait and see.

"Shohei's been here five years, now this is his final year, and now we have free agency, so of course there's gonna be a lot of questions.

"What does he wanna do? Where's he gonna go? All of it. And I've said this so many times and Shohei has said it as well – we really take it day by day, one day at a time.

"I've always wanted him to enjoy this ride that he's on. I've wanted him to embrace it. That's what he's done. We're gonna continue that."

Whoever eventually secures Ohtani long-term will almost certainly have to eclipse the nine-year, $360m benchmark set by Aaron Judge and the New York Yankees this offseason.

Eight players who have won a Major League Baseball MVP award during their careers will take part in this year's World Baseball Classic as rosters for the 20 participating teams were revealed.

Five of those players will be competing for the defending champion United States squad, that will be captained by Los Angeles Angels superstar Mike Trout. The three-time American League MVP will be part of a potentially fearsome lineup that also includes 2022 National League MVP Paul Goldschmidt and Los Angeles Dodgers standouts Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman.

Another Dodger and former NL MVP, Clayton Kershaw, will help anchor a pitching staff as the U.S. attempts to duplicate its victory in the most recent WBC held in 2017.

Venezuela is the only other nation with multiple former MLB MVPs and will be captained by longtime Detroit Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera, who is expected to retire at the end of the 2023 season. The Venezuelan roster also includes 2017 AL MVP Jose Altuve of the Houston Astros as well as Atlanta Braves sensation Ronald Acuna Jr.

Japan, the only nation with more than one WBC title, will be headlined by Trout’s Angels teammate and two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani. The 2021 AL MVP is joined by the reigning Nippon Baseball MVP Munetaki Murakami for the 2006 and 2009 champions.

Team USA and Japan would have to each advance to at least the semifinals for an unprecedented matchup between Ohtani and Trout to take place.

"I don’t even know what to tell 'em," Trout told MLB Network during the roster reveal show when asked if he would offer Team USA a scouting report on Ohtani. "I'm watching him from center field pitching – he's got the best stuff in the league, I think. I don't think I've talked to anybody in the league who wants to face that dude.

"At the plate, he’s got very little weaknesses. Nothing even comes to the top of my head."

Team USA will play their first-round games in Phoenix as part of the Group C bracket that also includes Mexico, Colombia, Canada and first-time participant Great Britain. Japan will be the host nation for Group B play, which will take place in Tokyo with South Korea, Australia, China and the Czech Republic also in the pool.

Venezuela will head to Miami to be part of a loaded Group D field that contains tournament betting favourite Dominican Republic as well as 2013 and 2017 runner-up Puerto Rico.

The Dominican team, which captured the title in 2013, features 2022 NL Cy Young Award winner Sandy Alcantara atop its pitching staff and reigning AL Rookie of the Year Julio Rodriguez among a star-studded crop of position players that also includes sluggers Juan Soto, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Manny Machado, Rafael Devers and Wander Franco.

First-round play is scheduled to run from March 8-15 with the top two teams from the four groups advancing to the quarterfinals, which will be held in Tokyo from March 15-16 and Miami from March 17-18.

Miami’s LoanDepot Park will also host the semifinals from March 19-20 as well as the championship game on March 21.

The Los Angeles Angels have no plans to trade two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani this offseason, general manager Perry Minasian told reporters Monday.  

Ohtani is entering his final season of team control before he becomes a free agent next offseason. The Angels agreed to pay Ohtani $30million in 2023 to avoid arbitration, but speculation has persisted that Los Angeles is at a crossroads with the Japanese-born star.  

"Because he's obviously such a good player, we're not moving him. Ohtani is not getting moved," Minasian said at the GM meetings in Las Vegas. "He'll be here to start the season.  

"I know there's been rumors and all types of things, but he will be part of the club. We love the player and I think the goal is for him to be here for a long time."

Minasian said that the Angels’ potential impending ownership change would not affect the club’s willingness to offer Ohtani a contract that is sure to be enormous.  

"At the end of the day it's ownership's call," Minasian said about a potential deal with Ohtani. "But I make the recommendations and I think everybody's on the same page. Easy player not to move."

Ohtani, 28, was named one of the three finalists for the American League MVP Monday after winning the award in 2021. He hit .273 this season with 34 home runs and 95 RBI. As a pitcher, he finished with a 15-9 record and 2.33 ERA while making a career-high 28 starts.  

The Angels have missed the playoffs every season since Ohtani joined the team in 2018 and have made just one postseason appearance since his co-star, Mike Trout, made his debut in 2011.  

The Los Angeles Angels may have missed the 2022 playoffs, but interim manager Phil Nevin has been hired by the franchise permanently.

The Angels announced a one-year contract for Nevin prior to Wednesday's season-ending 3-2 loss to the Oakland Athletics.

Nevin had started the season as third-base coach and took over on an interim basis in June after Joe Maddon was fired amid a franchise-record 14-game losing streak.

The 51-year-old was officially hired after meeting with general manager Perry Minasian on Tuesday.

"It certainly means a lot," Nevin said. "It wasn't exactly how I envisioned these things happening, but I know I've been given a heck of an opportunity with some special people that I've created relationships with now for the last six, seven months."

Nevin enjoyed a 46-60 record after taking over from Maddon, who had led the Angels to a 27-29 start to the 2022 season.

"I had a lot of great experiences the last four months, or really the entire season," Nevin said. "A lot of times when you're given this opportunity for the first time, you’re walking into a place where they're rebuilding or expectations are low for a while.

"But we have some of the best players in the world. And I know we’re going to have a good support group around them. I know the common narrative is 'if we're healthy we can do this'. We have a lot of talented guys in that room and on our staff."

Nevin earned praise from Angels star pair Mike Trout, who hit his 40th home run of the 2022 season against the A's, and Shohei Ohtani.

"It's been great. The guys in this clubhouse trust and rely on him," Trout said. "Nev knows the game. He's worked hard to get here, and it means a lot to him."

Ohtani added via a translator: "I felt like he was kind of thrown into the situation. I felt like he did as well as he could, got us as many wins as possible. I felt like players were with him and gave him all their best."

The Los Angeles Dodgers are heading into the playoffs on the right foot after a convincing 6-1 home win against the Colorado Rockies in their regular season finale on Wednesday.

With the win, the Dodgers finished the season 111-51, setting a new franchise record as they totaled the fourth-most wins in MLB history and the most by a National League (NL) team since 1906.

The NL record is held by the Chicago Cubs from 1906 with 116 wins. The Dodgers' 111-win season is the equal fourth best in MLB history.

It was a stylish final outing for Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw, who gave up one run from one hit and one walk in his five innings, striking out nine batters. 

At the plate, Dodgers first baseman Freddie Freeman did all he could in his last-gasp attempt to win the National League batting title, going three-for-four with a home run to raise his batting average to .325 – finishing .001 behind the New York Mets' Jeff McNeil (.326).

Fellow All-Star Trea Turner also hit a home run for the Dodgers as he went two-for-four with three RBIs, and center-fielder Cody Bellinger collected a deep-ball of his own as five of the Dodgers' six runs scored via home runs.

The Dodgers will play the winner of the Wild Card game between the Mets and the San Diego Padres in the NLDS.

Arraez wins the AL batting title

Luis Arraez risked losing the American League (AL) batting title by suiting up in the Minnesota Twins' 10-1 win against the Chicago White Sox.

Arraez came into the day with the lead at .315, with his only threat, Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees at .311 and not playing on the final day.

But fittingly, Arraez did not record an out, collecting two walks and a double before being pulled. 

Incredibly, it is the third-best batting average from Arraez's four years in the league, posting a .334 in 2019 before going .321 on a small sample size in 2020. His 'down' year in 2021 was still a very strong .294.

Ohtani, Trout end the season in fitting fashion

As has been the story of their time with the Los Angeles Angels, both Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout were excellent, but could not stop their team from losing 3-2 against the Oakland Athletics.

Ohtani only gave up one run from one hit and one walk in his five innings on the mound, lowering his ERA for the season to a magnificent 2.33. It is the sixth-lowest ERA in the league, while he is also 11th in home runs hit with 34.

He went one-for-four with a single at the plate, while Trout hit his 40th home run of the season to finish tied for third in the majors. No other player in the top 15 has played fewer than 130 games, while Trout played 119.

In a feel-good story, after announcing his retirement, Oakland's Stephen Vogt hit a home run with his last ever swing on a day where his children were allowed to do his introduction over the PA system at the start of the game.

Albert Pujols hit a home run in his final regular season home game as a trio of St Louis Cardinals legends were honoured in a 7-5 loss against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Sunday.

Pujols, 42, drove in the first runs of the game with a two-run double in the first inning, and with his next at-bat, he connected on the 702nd home run of his career to score another two runs. Only Barry Bonds (762), Hank Aaron (755) and Babe Ruth (714) have ever hit more homers in their career, and with his three RBIs, he joined Ruth with the second-most ever (2214), trailing only Aaron (2297).

Starting on the mound for the Cardinals was another future Hall-of-Famer, 41-year-old Adam Wainwright, who was being caught behind the plate by 40-year-old Yadier Molina as the two added one more to their record number of starts together.

Unfortunately for Wainwright his final regular season start at Busch Stadium was less of a fairytale ending than Pujols', giving up six runs in four-and-two-thirds innings before all three Cardinals icons were pulled from the game together for a standing ovation.

Bryan Reynolds finished two-for-five at the plate for the Pirates, and the center-fielder hit his 27nd home run of the season to add some breathing room in the seventh inning, after Ben Gamel's three-run blast in the second frame.

Trout hits homer in Angels win

Three-time American League MVP Mike Trout moved up to fourth in this season's home run standings as he knocked his 39th in the Los Angeles Angels' 8-3 home win against the Texas Rangers.

Trout's 409-foot blast came in the fourth inning after the Angels piled on six runs in the opening frame, and with three games left he only needs one more home run to reach 40 for the third time in his 12 seasons.

Nobody in the top-20 for home runs this season has played fewer than Trout's 116 games, with the rest of the top-five all totaling at least 153 appearances.

Langelliers, Kaprielian carry the A's

Rookie Shea Langelliers and starting pitcher James Kaprielian were both excellent in the Oakland Athletics' 10-3 win against the Seattle Mariners.

Facing reigning Cy Young Award winner Robbie Ray on the mound, the Athletics figured him out in the fourth inning, with Langelliers bombing a big 423-foot home run to left-field. It was one of two homers on the day for the 24-year-old catcher in his first season, also hitting one in the ninth inning for his first ever multi-homer day.

On the mound, Kaprielian was just as good, giving up only one hit and two walks in six scoreless innings, striking out seven batters.

Shohei Ohtani has agreed to a $30million contract with the Los Angeles Angels for the 2023 season, avoiding the need for arbitration.

Reigning AL MVP Ohtani will now become a free agent after next year, having been handed the largest ever MLB deal for an arbitration-eligible player.

It is rich reward for the two-way superstar, who is being paid a relatively meagre $5.5m this year.

The agreement puts Ohtani in a strong position to make a decision on his future in 12 months' time.

Los Angeles will hope the Japanese recommits, though they have had a losing record in each of his four seasons in LA.

Indeed, the Angels have had seven straight years with a losing record and eight straight without reaching the playoffs.

Ohtani is in direct competition with Aaron Judge for this year's MVP award, but he will be watching from home as the New York Yankees' record-setter enters the postseason.

Despite his dual role, only seven pitchers have more wins this season than Ohtani (15), while his 15-game hitting streak is the longest active run in the major leagues.

Shohei Ohtani's no-hit bid was spoiled in the eighth inning with two outs as the Los Angeles Angels won 4-2 over the Oakland Athletics on Thursday.

The reigning American League (AL) MVP was four outs shy of a no-hitter, with Conner Capel managing a two-out single in the eighth inning to end his bid.

Ohtani finished the game with 10 strikeouts across eight scoreless innings allowing two hits and one walk. Dermis Garcia singled after Capel's hit but Ohtani got out of the jam with Shea Langeliers grounding out to third.

The Angels two-way superstar also went two-for-four at the plate with an RBI single in the first inning, meaning his hit streak to reach a career-high 14 games.

Ohtani's performance adds further intrigue to the AL MVP race with New York Yankees' history-making outfielder Aaron Judge who matched Roger Maris' franchise and AL record with his 61st home run this season on Wednesday.

Blue Jays clinch playoff spot despite not taking field

The Toronto Blue Jays secured their postseason berth despite not playing on Thursday, benefitting from the Baltimore Orioles' 5-3 loss to the Boston Red Sox as J.D. Martinez hit a two-run go-ahead home run in the eighth inning.

The result means the Jays (87-69) are assured of an American League (AL) Wild Card spot, with the Orioles back at 80-76 in fourth in the AL Wild Card race.

Toronto are second in the AL East behind the New York Yankees (96-59), with the Seattle Mariners (85-70) and the Tampa Bay Rays (85-71) in the box seats for the other AL Wild Cards.

The Mariners claimed a 10-9 walk-off win over the Texas Rangers in a game that included nine homers, including two each for Seattle's MItch Haniger and Jarred Kelenic.

Garcia grand slam dents Brewers' Wild Card hopes

The Philadelphia Phillies and the Milwaukee Brewers both lost crucial games in the National League (NL) Wild Card race.

The Phillies, who hold the third NL Wild Card spot with an 83-72 record, went down 2-0 to the Chicago Cubs with both runs scored by Seiya Suzuki.

The Brewers (83-73) looked on track to capitalise on the Phillies' loss before Avisail Garcia's eighth-inning grand slam earned the Miami Marlins a 4-2 win.

Philadelphia Phillies slugger Kyle Schwarber hit his 41st and 42nd home runs of the season in his side's 9-8 loss against the Atlanta Braves on Sunday.

Schwarber connected on his first of the day as the Phillies' very first batter, and he did it again with his next at-bat in the third inning for a pair of solo shots. He is second in the league in home runs, trailing only Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees.

While the Phillies got two RBIs from their lead-off hitter, the Braves got three from theirs, with Dansby Swanson leading the way for Atlanta offensively.

Swanson finished three-for-six, including a massive 417-foot two-run home run in the fourth inning to turn a 4-3 deficit into a 5-4 lead.

After a pair of sacrifice-flies from Phillies Bryce Harper and Alec Bohm in the fifth inning, William Contreras tied things at 6-6 in the eighth inning when he came home to score on a wild pitch, sending the game to extra innings.

In extras, after a scoreless 10th inning, hits to rising stars Ronald Acuna Jr and Michael Harris II drove in a run each, and the Phillies were only able to claw one back.

Braves reliever Jackson Stephens was credited with the win after pitching both extra innings, striking out three batters and allowing one unearned run.

Trout goes deep in Angels win

Mike Trout's strong season continued in the Los Angeles Angels' 10-3 win against the Minnesota Twins, hitting his ninth home run of September.

Trout, who is now tied for the fourth-most home runs in the league with 37, finished three-for-four at the plate and scored three times, highlighted by a 416-foot bomb to left-field.

Fellow Angels star Shohei Ohtani also had a strong outing, collecting two hits and an RBI from five at-bats, while Jose Suarez took the win on the mound with two earned runs in five-and-two-thirds innings.

Javier pitches a gem for the Astros

Houston Astros starting pitcher Cristian Javier gave up only one hit in his six innings against the Baltimore Orioles to help his side to a 6-3 road victory.

Javier had a perfect game through four-and-a-third innings before allowing his sole hit of the contest, quickly following it with a double-play to end the inning. That hit was the only baserunner he allowed as he also finished with no walks, and he lowered his ERA for the season down to 2.65.

The Astros are the only team with three starting pitchers who all boast ERAs under 2.70, with American League Cy Young Award favourite Justin Verlander leading the league at 1.82, while the league-leader in quality starts, Framber Valdez, is at 2.69.

Shohei Ohtani further strengthened his MVP case after pitching seven scoreless innings, driving in one run and scoring another as the Los Angeles Angels claimed a 2-1 win over the Seattle Mariners.

The second straight victory for the Angels over the Mariners dropped the latter in the Wild Card standings, and bolstered their star man's case against the New York Yankees' Aaron Judge AL MVP.

Getting on base twice in three at-bats, Ohtani drove in his 89th run of the season. He also lowered his ERA to 2.43.

"I've said it before: He's the most valuable player of our game right now," interim Angels manager Phil Nevin said. "Until somebody can come in and do the things he does on both sides, I don't see it going any other way.

"I love Aaron Judge like a son, but I'll continue to say it: [Ohtani] can take over a baseball game like nobody can."

Ohtani was more modest in his own assessment however, adding: "I don't like to self-critique myself in any way. One thing I could say is, overall, balance-wise, I'm having a better season this year than I had last year."

The two-time All-Star's performance dropped the Mariners two games behind Toronto Blue Jays and a half game off the Tampa Bay Rays, leaving them five ahead of the Baltimore Orioles in the final Wild Card spot. The Angels improved to 63-82 in another disappointing year.

Aaron Judge blasted two home runs to move another few steps closer to history as the New York Yankees beat the Boston Red Sox 7-6 on Tuesday.

The Yankees outfielder delivered his 56th blast in the sixth inning, taking another over the Green Monster in the eighth inning for his 57th of the season.

Judge remains on pace for 65 home runs this season, which would break Roger Maris' American League (AL) and Yankees single-season record of 61 set in 1961. The pair of solo blasts comes after Judge went without a homer across five games.

The 30-year-old also has 10 multi-homer games this season which is one short of the AL record held by Hank Greenberg from 1938.

"I'm out of adjectives," Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. "Just really impressive what he did."

Gerrit Cole, who came into the game with a 7.13 career ERA as a Yankee at Fenway Park, had 10 strikeouts across six innings.

Xander Bogaerts blasted Cole for a game-tying solo home run in sixth inning, before the game went to extras where Gleyber Torres had a go-ahead three-run double.

Trout misses out on eight-game HR streak

Three-time AL MVP Mike Trout fell one game short of tying the majors record for homering in consecutive games, going 0-for-3 in the Los Angeles Angels' 3-1 loss to the Cleveland Guardians.

Trout, who walked on four pitches in his second at-bat, lined out to center on a 3-2 cutter from left-hander reliever Kirk McCarty.

The 10-time All-Star's streak ends at seven games, falling one shy of the record of eight held by Dale Long (1956), Don Mattingly (1987) and Ken Griffey Jr (1993).

Twins pair fall agonisingly short in no-no-bid

Minnesota Twins' pair Joe Ryan and Jovani Moran doubled up but fell agonisingly two outs short in their no-hitter bid in a 6-3 win over the Kansas City Royals.

Rookie Ryan was pulled after seven innings and 106 pitches, with the Twins crowd booing that call, before Moran got through the eighth and attempted to close it out, only to lose the no-no bid with Bobby Witt's RBI double.

The failed bid means there have five no-hit bids lost in the ninth inning this season, which is the most since 2017.

Three-time American League (AL) MVP Mike Trout moved one away from the major league record after homering in his seventh-straight game as the Los Angeles Angels lost 5-4 to the Cleveland Guardians.

The 10-time All-Star drove high to center-field at the top of the fifth inning for a game-tying two-run blast and his 35th home run of the season. Trout crushed a fastball for the third straight game, this time from Konnor Pilkington for a 422-foot drive.

The Angels center fielder is within one blast of the eight-game record, held jointly by Dale Long (1956), Don Mattingly (1987) and Ken Griffey Jr (1993). Trout will get the chance to match the mark on Tuesday against the Guardians.

"That's good company to be in," Trout said. "I'm just putting a good swing on the ball and they're going out."

The win was important for the AL Central-leading Guardians, as Amed Rosario doubled home Steven Kwan in the seventh inning for the go-ahead run.

The Guardians are 74-65, three games ahead of the Chicago White Sox (72-69) who did not play on Monday.

Valdez equals deGrom quality-start record

Left-hander Framber Valdez tied the record with a 24th consecutive quality start as the Houston Astros won 7-0 over the Detroit Tigers.

Valdez's shutout tied New York Mets ace Jacob deGrom (2018) for the all-time single-season streak record since 1913, tossing down 107 pitches with eight strikeouts allowing six hits and one walk.

The Astros pitcher's shutout was almost broken when Willi Castro was called safe at the plate from Yordan Alvarez's throw but that was overturned on replay.

Dodgers secure postseason berth for real

The Los Angeles Dodgers officially clinched their postseason berth with a 6-0 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks after the MLB prematurely declared that on Sunday.

The MLB confirmed that an internal error in determining the Dodgers' postseason scenario meant that Dave Roberts' side actually needed one more win to lock in their 10th straight playoffs berth.

Mookie Betts blasted a ninth-inning three-run home run, marking a career-high 34 homers this season for him.

Three-time American League (AL) MVP Mike Trout moved one away from the major league record after homering in his seventh-straight game as the Los Angeles Angels lost 5-4 to the Cleveland Guardians.

The 10-time All-Star drove high to center-field at the top of the fifth inning for a game-tying two-run blast and his 35th home run of the season. Trout crushed a fastball for the third straight game, this time from Konnor Pilkington for a 422-foot drive.

The Angels center fielder is within one blast of the eight-game record, held jointly by Dale Long (1956), Don Mattingly (1987) and Ken Griffey Jr (1993). Trout will get the chance to match the mark on Tuesday against the Guardians.

"That's good company to be in," Trout said. "I'm just putting a good swing on the ball and they're going out."

The win was important for the AL Central-leading Guardians, as Amed Rosario doubled home Steven Kwan in the seventh inning for the go-ahead run.

The Guardians are 74-65, three games ahead of the Chicago White Sox (72-69) who did not play on Monday.

Valdez equals deGrom quality-start record

Left-hander Framber Valdez tied the record with a 24th consecutive quality start as the Houston Astros won 7-0 over the Detroit Tigers.

Valdez's shutout tied New York Mets ace Jacob deGrom (2018) for the all-time single-season streak record since 1913, tossing down 107 pitches with eight strikeouts allowing six hits and one walk.

The Astros pitcher's shutout was almost broken when Willi Castro was called safe at the plate from Yordan Alvarez's throw but that was overturned on replay.

Dodgers officially secure postseason berth

The Los Angeles Dodgers officially clinched their postseason berth with a 6-0 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks after the MLB prematurely declared that on Sunday.

The MLB confirmed that an internal error in determining the Dodgers' postseason scenario meant that Dave Roberts' side actually needed one more win to lock in their 10th straight playoffs berth.

Mookie Betts blasted a ninth-inning three-run home run, marking a career-high 34 homers this season for him.

Two-time All-Star Justin Turner hit a pair of home runs to help his Los Angeles Dodgers defeat the San Diego Padres 11-2 on Sunday, giving them three consecutive series wins against their California rivals.

It was a bright start for the Padres, who led 2-0 through four innings of action as Joe Musgrove was pitching well and Jake Cronenworth hit a home run – before it all unravelled.

Turner got the first run on the board for the Dodgers with a solo home run in the fifth inning, before Chris Taylor followed suit two batters later to tie the game at 2-2.

A two-RBI, bases loaded single in the next frame from Max Muncy was the end of Musgrove, who finished with four earned runs from six hits and a walk.

But it was just the beginning for the Dodgers, who added six more runs in the seventh inning, capped off with a grand slam from Turner for his second homer of the game and 13th of the season.

Dodgers starter Andrew Heaney gave another good showing as he finished with two earned runs in five innings, striking out six.

After going four-for-five at the plate on Saturday and two-for-three on Sunday, Freddie Freeman now leads the majors in batting average at .331, and he has hit four more doubles (45) than any other player.

The Dodgers are 7-2 in their nine games against the Padres since the All-Star break, opening up a 20-game lead in the NL West.

Ohtani homers again in Angels loss

Shohei Ohtani is now tied for the fifth-most home runs in the league, with his 34th of the campaign coming in a 12-4 loss against the Houston Astros.

Ohtani – who is also seventh in the league for strikeouts as a pitcher (188 in 24 starts) – connected on his big two-run blast as the second batter of the game, but after teammate Andrew Velazquez put the Angels up 3-0 in the second inning, it would be all downhill from there.

The Astros rattled off the next 12 runs in a row, with home runs to Mauricio Dubon, Alex Bregman, Trey Mancini, Yordan Alvarez and Kyle Tucker, extending their lead atop the American League to five-and-a-half games.

Pujols moves into fourth place on all-time home run list

Albert Pujols inched closer to the magical 700 home run mark on Sunday as he launched number 697 to help his St Louis Cardinals come from behind in the last inning to beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 4-3.

Trailing 2-0 in the last inning, a Corey Dickerson RBI double cut the margin to one, before Pujols drilled a high fastball 403 feet over the center-field wall.

Retiring at the end of the season, the 42-year-old seemed incredibly unlikely to reach 700 at the All-Star break, but he has since posted one of the best second halves to a season of his career, hitting 11 home runs in 99 at-bats while slashing .343/.400/.737.

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