Toronto Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said George Springer was feeling fatigued as he allayed concerns over the MLB World Series champion after he exited Sunday's 7-2 victory over the Atlanta Braves.

Springer left the win against the Braves in the sixth inning for a pinch hitter as the Blue Jays claimed a series sweep in Dunedin.

It came a day after Toronto's prized recruit and 2017 World Series MVP hit his first home runs for the Blue Jays – the three-time All-Star only making his long-awaited debut against the Washington Nationals on Wednesday due to injuries.

Springer, who joined Toronto on a six-year, $150million contract from the Houston Astros via free agency ahead of the 2021 season – the largest deal in Blue Jays history, has been playing as a designated hitter and clubbed a pair of homers as the Blue Jays rallied to a 6-5 walk-off triumph on Saturday.

After his removal on Sunday, Montoyo told reporters: "He was fatigued. It was hot today, and [playing] three days in a row swinging the bat, he felt fatigued.

"Of course, we're going to be careful with him and that's why we decided to take him out. It was the best thing for him today."

Blue Jays star Springer was playing in just his fourth game since returning from a quad strain.

It remains to be seen when Springer will play in the field as he continues as a designated hitter ahead of Monday's series opener against the Oakland Athletics.

"We're going to manage his load and his work, but we have to communicate," Montoyo said. "We have to talk to him.

"If he feels like he needs a day off, we're going to give it to him. That's why he's been at DH – we're being careful."

The Blue Jays (14-12) have won seven of their last 10 games to be second in the American League (AL) East, behind the Boston Red Sox (17-12).

George Springer says not "overthinking" things was key to hitting his first home runs for the Toronto Blue Jays on Saturday. 

Springer joined Toronto on a six-year, $150million contract from the Houston Astros via free agency – the largest deal in Blue Jays history – ahead of the 2021 MLB season.

He only made his long-awaited debut against the Washington Nationals on Wednesday due to injuries, but starred as the Blue Jays rallied to a 6-5 walk-off win against the Atlanta Braves.

Toronto trailed 4-0 and 5-2 but Springer, who hit a two-run home run in the third inning and a 470-foot shot in the seventh to level the game at 5-5, helped the Blue Jays rally.

Springer – still playing as a designated hitter – attributed his success to being in a positive frame of mind and not worrying about what could go wrong. 

"It's awesome, it's exciting," he told a media conference. "It feels good to help out. Obviously that's a big spot and it's exciting to help the team for the first time in a long time. 

"It felt good. They all count the same so it doesn't matter how far they go. I'm happy to help the team in a big spot. 

"It's a huge win for us against a great team, and onto tomorrow."

On his method in such situations, Springer added: "It's not really overthinking it; it's getting a pitch that I think I can hit well and hopefully not miss. 

"A lot that goes into it. I think it's a mentality thing as well. I need to be able to do the things the game asks me to do and I have to be able to do the things my team-mates expect me to do. 

"I don't want to be out there scared of something. I think I'm in a good spot now and go from there."

George Springer hit his first home runs for the Toronto Blue Jays, who rallied to a 6-5 walk-off win against the Atlanta Braves.

Springer was lured to Toronto on a six-year, $150million contract from the Houston Astros via free agency – the largest deal in Blue Jays history – ahead of the 2021 MLB season and only made his long-awaited debut against the Washington Nationals on Wednesday due to injuries.

The prized recruit – still playing as a designated hitter – fuelled the Blue Jays with a pair of homers against the Braves on Saturday.

Toronto trailed 4-0 and 5-2 but Springer, who hit a two-run home run in the third inning and a 470-foot shot in the seventh to level the game at 5-5, helped the Blue Jays rally.

Randal Grichuk completed the comeback against the visiting Braves with an RBI single in the 10th inning.

There was also a walk-off win in Milwaukee, where the Brewers took down struggling World Series champions the Los Angeles Dodgers 6-5.

Travis Shaw homered and hit a game-winning single for the Brewers, who scored three runs in the 11th inning to beat the Dodgers for a third consecutive game.

 

Taillon celebrates first win in two years

It was a game to remember for Jameson Taillon. For the first time in two years, Taillon earned his first victory after the New York Yankees outlasted the Detroit Tigers 6-4. Taillon allowed one run, three hits and struck out eight batters over five innings.

The Colorado Rockies crushed the Arizona Diamondbacks 14-6 behind Dom Nunez's grand slam and a two-run homer via Trevor Story.

Blake Snell – a World Series participant with the Tampa Bay Rays and 2018 American League (AL) Cy Young Award winner – registered his first win for the San Diego Padres since arriving in the offseason. Snell gave up one earned run and five hits across five innings, striking out six as the Padres beat the San Francisco Giants 6-2. Manny Machado added a three-run homer.

Tim Anderson's grand slam – second of his career – guided the Chicago White Sox to a 7-3 victory over the Cleveland Indians.

 

Cahill's costly start

While Trevor Cahill regained his composure and control, it was too late for the Pittsburgh Pirates, who were beaten 12-5 by the St Louis Cardinals. Cahill gave up four runs in the opening inning and the Pirates never recovered. Cahill allowed seven hits, five runs and a homer in just over five innings.

 

Trout loves Seattle

Mike Trout hit his seventh home run of the season to see the Los Angeles Angels past the Seattle Mariners 10-5. Trout clubbed his 28th homer in Seattle – his 10th career first-inning home run away to the Mariners. The Angels star is the only Mariners opponent with more than 20 homers in Seattle.

 

Saturday's results

New York Yankees 6-4 Detroit Tigers
Washington Nationals 7-2 Miami Marlins
Kansas City Royals 11-3 Minnesota Twins
Chicago White Sox 7-3 Cleveland Indians
Baltimore Orioles 8-4 Oakland Athletics
Chicago Cubs 3-2 Cincinnati Reds
Houston Astros 3-1 Tampa Bay Rays
New York Mets 5-4 Philadelphia Phillies
St Louis Cardinals 12-5 Pittsburgh Pirates
Texas Rangers 8-6 Boston Red Sox
Milwaukee Brewers 6-5 Los Angeles Dodgers
Toronto Blue Jays 6-5 Atlanta Braves
Colorado Rockies 14-6 Arizona Diamondbacks
San Diego Padres 6-2 San Francisco Giants
Los Angeles Angels 10-5 Seattle Mariners

 

Dodgers at Brewers

The Dodgers (16-12) will be looking to avoid a four-game sweep when their series against the Brewers (17-10) concludes on Sunday.

The Milwaukee Brewers saw off the Los Angeles Dodgers 3-1 on Friday to sit in first place at the end of April in the National League despite their mounting injury crisis.

Omar Narvaez appeared to sustain a left leg injury running to first base in the win, which improves the Brewers record to 16-10, while the Dodgers are 16-11.

The Brewers held the Dodgers to just two hits as their offensive woes continued to haunt them, losing for the ninth time in 12 games.

Freddy Peralta was excellent on the mound for the Brewers across six innings.

Milwaukee moved to a 2-0 lead at the bottom of the second, thanks to Jackie Bradley Jr's two-run homer.

 

Darvish back to his best

Veteran right-hander Yu Darvish was at his brilliant best with 12 strike-outs across six innings in the San Diego Padres' 3-2 triumph over the San Francisco Giants.

Darvish was giving a huge reception after stepping off the mound, showing he has quickly won over his new fans after his move from the Chicago Cubs.

It was a case of adding injury to insult as Kansas City Royals pitcher Brady Singer was hurt when he copped a line drive to the foot/heel in their 9-1 loss to the Minnesota Twins.

For the winners, Alex Kirilloff hit two home-runs, including a three-run homer to open up the lead.

Left-hander Madison Bumgarner bounced back from illness to land six strike-outs and lead the Arizona Diamondbacks to a 7-2 win over the Colorado Rockies.

The Boston Red Sox maintained their strong early season form with a 6-1 win over the Texas Rangers, while the Oakland Athletics went down 3-2 to the Baltimore Orioles.

Shohei Ohtani continues to deliver home runs for the Los Angeles Angels, with his eighth of the 2021 season in their 7-4 loss to the Seattle Mariners. He has scored as many in 2021 as he did across the whole 2020 season.

 

Alvarado gets lippy, benches cleared

The benches cleared in the Philadelphia Phillies' 2-1 win over the New York Mets after pitcher Jose Alvarado struck out Dominic Smith and then got chirpy. Alvarado dropped his glove and Smith did not back down so they had to be separated. It all felt  quite unnecessary.

 

Schwalk-off

Kyle Schwarber did it again with a walk-off home-run deep into the center field to secure the Washington Nationals their 2-1 win over the Miami Marlins.

 

Friday's results

St. Louis Cardinals 7-3 Pittsburgh Pirates
Washington Nationals 2-1 Miami Marlins
New York Yankees 10-0 Detroit Tigers
Philadelphia Phillies 2-1 New York Mets
Houston Astros 9-2 Tampa Bay Rays
Cincinnati Reds 8-6 Chicago Cubs
Toronto Blue Jays 13-5 Atlanta Braves
Boston Red Sox 6-1 Texas Rangers
Milwaukee Brewers 3-1 Los Angeles Dodgers
Cleveland Indians 5-3 Chicago White Sox
Minnesota Twins 9-1 Kansas City Royals
Arizona Diamondbacks 7-2 Colorado Rockies
Baltimore Orioles 3-2 Oakland Athletics
Seattle Mariners 7-4 Los Angeles Angels
San Diego Padres 3-2 San Francisco Giants

 

Astros at Rays

Last season's Atlantic League top two the Houston Astros and the Tampa Bay Rays will meet again in their series.

The odds were against the Milwaukee Brewers as they had to call up Eric Lauer from the alternate training site to make the start against the World Series champions Los Angeles Dodgers, but they prevailed 2-1. 

Lauer entered the game with a 14-19 record in the majors but out-pitched last year's Cy Young Award winner Trevor Bauer in Milwaukee, scattering four hits in five shutout innings. 

Despite his overall career mark, Lauer has had unusual success against the Dodgers dating to his two seasons in San Diego's rotation in 2018-19. 

Thursday's game improved his career record against the Dodgers to 6-0 with a 1.89 ERA. 

Bauer suffered from lack of run support, working eight innings for the first time this season and allowing only a two-run home run to Travis Shaw in the fourth that proved to be the difference in the game. 

The Brewers' win to open the four-game series put them at 15-10 this season, trailing only the Dodgers (16-10) and San Francisco Giants (16-9) among National League teams. 

 

Pitchers' duel in Houston

Yusei Kikuchi was brilliant for the Seattle Mariners against the Houston Astros, allowing one hit and two walks in seven innings while striking out seven in a 1-0 win over the Astros. The Mariners got their only run from a Taylor Trammell homer off Houston starter Luis Garcia in the third inning, and Trammell ended the game with a sliding catch in center field. 

The Oakland Athletics split their series against the Tampa Bay Rays with a 3-2 thanks in large part to Matt Chapman, who hit a solo home run in the fourth and added the go-ahead double in the top of the ninth. 

In Baltimore, the Orioles bounced back to beat the New York Yankees 4-3 in the 10th inning thanks to a one-out sacrifice fly by Cedric Mullins. 

 

Phillies lose in heartbreaking 10th

The Philadelphia Phillies rallied to send their game with the St. Louis Cardinals to extra innings, but lost 4-3 in the 10th without allowing a hit in the inning. The frame began with Tyler O'Neill on second base thanks to MLB's rule designed to shorten games, and he moved to third on a groundout and scored the winning run on a wild pitch by David Hale. 

 

The Yerminator strikes again

Who else but Yermin Mercedes would cap a White Sox doubleheader sweep of the Detroit Tigers with a monstrous 449-foot home run to center field in Chicago.

 

Thursday's results

Baltimore Orioles 4-3 New York Yankees
Oakland Athletics 3-2 Tampa Bay Rays
St. Louis Cardinals 4-3 Philadelphia Phillies
Seattle Mariners 1-0 Houston Astros
Chicago White Sox 3-1 Detroit Tigers
Chicago White Sox 11-0 Detroit Tigers 
Chicago Cubs 9-3 Atlanta Braves
Milwaukee Brewers 2-1 Los Angeles Dodgers
Texas Rangers 4-1 Boston Red Sox
Arizona Diamondbacks 5-3 Colorado Rockies

 

Astros at Rays

The last two American League champions face off in Florida as Tampa native Lance McCullers Jr. and the Houston Astros (13-12) visit Ryan Yarbrough and the Tampa Bay Rays (13-13)

New York Mets ace Jacob deGrom matched an MLB record, but it was not enough to avoid a 1-0 loss to the Boston Red Sox.

DeGrom tied Nolan Ryan's record for most strikeouts through a pitcher's first five starts of a season, however, the Mets were beaten on Wednesday.

Mets star DeGrom tallied nine strikeouts over six innings to improve his five-game total to 59, matching Ryan's feat in 1978.

DeGrom, who has allowed two earned runs all season while boasting a National League (NL)-leading ERA (0.51), saw Christian Vazquez hit an early RBI double which produced the winning run in the second inning at Citi Field midweek.

World Series champions the Los Angeles Dodgers, meanwhile, snapped a three-game skid by shutting out the Cincinnati Reds 8-0.

Seeking to avoid a series sweep, the Dodgers benefited from a trademark Clayton Kershaw performance at home to the Reds.

Kershaw was dominant over seven innings, yielding just four hits while striking out eight batters with one walk as Justin Turner homered for the Dodgers.

 

Padres in 11-year first

The San Diego Padres humbled the Arizona Diamondbacks 12-3. During the rout, the Padres tallied seven successive hits without recording an out in the fifth inning – the first time they have managed to do so since April 2010 (also in the fifth).

A five-homer game from the Atlanta Braves inspired a 10-0 demolition of the Chicago Cubs. Marcell Ozuna homered in a four-run first inning, while Huascar Ynoa hit his first career home run in the fourth. Freddie Freeman posted his seventh home of the season, while Ozzie Albies and Austin Riley also went deep.

 

All good things must end as Matz struggles

Steven Matz had won his first four starts for the Toronto Blue Jays after being acquired from the Mets in January. However, Matz lasted less than four innings in an 8-2 defeat to the Washington Nationals. In George Springer's long-awaited Blue Jays debut, Matz gave up six runs and eight hits, including a three-run shot in the fourth inning.

 

Rizzo strikes out Freeman…

Anthony Rizzo versus Freeman. It is a showdown you do not often see but the Cubs star sensationally came out on top. In the bottom of the seventh inning, Rizzo took to the mound and struck out reigning NL MVP Freeman – his first career strikeout as a pitcher as both players smiled.

 

 

Wednesday's results

Minnesota Twins 10-2 Cleveland Indians
Miami Marlins 6-2 Milwaukee Brewers
Los Angeles Dodgers 8-0 Cincinnati Reds
Kansas City Royals 9-6 Pittsburgh Pirates
Boston Red Sox 1-0 New York Mets
New York Yankees 7-0 Baltimore Orioles
Washington Nationals 8-2 Toronto Blue Jays
Tampa Bay Rays 2-0 Oakland Athletics
Atlanta Braves 10-0 Chicago Cubs
Philadelphia Phillies 5-3 St Louis Cardinals
Los Angeles Angels 4-3 Texas Rangers
Houston Astros 7-5 Seattle Mariners
San Diego Padres 12-3 Arizona Diamondbacks
San Francisco Giants 7-3 Colorado Rockies
Detroit Tigers-Chicago White Sox (postponed)

 

Dodgers at Brewers

After returning to winning ways, the Dodgers (16-9) will open their series against the Brewers (14-10) on Thursday. Trevor Bauer gets the nod on the mound for the Dodgers, while Milwaukee's Eric Lauer starts.

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.

George Springer will make his highly anticipated Toronto Blue Jays debut as a designated hitter against the Washington Nationals on Wednesday.

Springer was lured to Toronto on a six-year, $150million contract from the Houston Astros via free agency – the largest deal in Blue Jays history – but injuries have prevented the 2017 World Series champion and MVP from debuting for the MLB hopefuls.

The three-time All-Star and two-time Silver Slugger had been nearing a return from a left oblique strain, but tightness in his right quad has sidelined Springer.

However, Springer will finally step out for the Blue Jays when they face the Nationals in the second and final game of their short series in Dunedin midweek after star team-mate Vladimir Guerrero Jr. became the youngest player in MLB history with three-plus homers and seven-plus RBI in a game on Tuesday.

Guerrero hit three home runs, including a grand slam, as the Blue Jays topped the Nationals 9-5.

"This will be an exciting day," Springer told reporters. "I'm happy with my progress and obviously looking forward to getting in there.

"I just had to trust myself,'' Springer said. "Obviously I don't want to hurt myself again.

"I want to play. I'm tired of being on the IL and not being out there with the guys. I had an opportunity to play today and I said, 'Absolutely.'"

Heading into the 2021 season, Springer had led MLB with 136 home runs from the lead-off spot since 2015.

Springer has 39 lead-off home runs in his career – fourth most all-time behind Rickey Henderson (73), Ian Kinsler (48) and Brady Anderson (44).

The 31-year-old Springer has recorded seven career World Series home runs – most from the lead-off spot all-time – and he is 19-for-56 (.339) in the World Series in his career. No other current Blue Jays player has a World Series hit in their career.

Springer's 174 home runs since debuting in MLB via Houston are third most by an Astro in a player's first seven career seasons, behind only Jeff Bagwell (187) and Lance Berkman (180).

Toronto Blue Jays sensation Vladimir Guerrero Jr. made MLB history in Tuesday's 9-5 win over the Washington Nationals.

Guerrero became the youngest player in major league history with three-plus homers and seven-plus RBI in a game as he fuelled the Blue Jays past the Nationals.

The 22-year-old star – son of Hall of Famer Vladimir Guerrero Sr. – carried the Blue Jays, a monster third-inning grand slam off three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer wiping out a 3-0 deficit.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. made it 7-3 with a solo homer in the fifth inning before adding a two-run home run in the seventh to complete the first three-homer game of his exciting career – not even a feat his father achieved.

Guerrero took his tally to seven home runs for the season as the Blue Jays won the series opener in Dunedin.

Trea Turner homered twice for the Nationals – his seventh multi-homer game and second this season – but it was not enough on the road.

 

Kluber ends wait

Corey Kluber claimed his first win since April 2019, while star sluggers Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton homered to lead the New York Yankees to a 5-1 rout of the Baltimore Orioles.

For the first time since 2018, Carlos Martinez had a win as a starter – the St Louis Cardinals topping the Philadelphia Phillies 5-2. Martinez allowed two runs – one earned – in just over seven innings, having gone 0-9 in his last 12 starts.

The Cleveland Indians beat the Minnesota Twins 7-5 behind Franmil Reyes, who homered twice – including a 452-foot shot.

 

Scherzer struggles, Dodgers downed again

It was a forgettable outing for Washington ace Scherzer, who allowed seven runs – five earned – and eight hits over five innings. He also joined Ivan Nova as the only pitchers to have allowed a home run to both Guerrero Jr. and his iconic father.

After a 13-2 start to the season, the Los Angeles Dodgers have dropped seven of nine games following a 6-5 loss to the Cincinnati Reds. The World Series champions are now in the midst of a three-game losing streak as they look to avoid a series sweep to the Reds.

 

Acuna bomb!

Atlanta Braves star Ronald Acuna Jr. clubbed another moon shot, this time his fifth-inning home run travelled a projected 481 feet. The Braves shut out the Chicago Cubs 5-0.

 

 

Tuesday's results

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

 

Red Sox at Mets

Mets (9-9) ace Jacob deGrom takes to the mound against the Red Sox (15-9) on Wednesday amid Hall of Fame comparisons following his red-hot form. The Red Sox counter with Nick Pivetta at Citi Field midweek.

Toronto Blue Jays star Vladimir Guerrero Jr. could not hide his joy after making history in MLB with his three home runs against the Washington Nationals on Tuesday.

Guerrero became the youngest player in MLB history with three-plus homers and seven-plus RBI in a game as he fuelled Toronto's 9-5 victory over the Nationals.

The son of an MLB Hall of Famer, Guerrero carried the Blue Jays, a monster third-inning grand slam off three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer wiping out a 3-0 deficit.

Guerrero made it 7-3 with a solo homer in the fifth inning before adding a two-run home run in the seventh to complete the first three-homer came of his exciting career – not even a feat father Vladimir Guerrero Sr. achieved.

Former Blue Jays star Vladimir Guerrero Sr. – a nine-time All-Star, eight-time Silver Slugger and 2004 American League (AL) MVP who also homered off Scherzer in his career – tweeted post-game: "What a night for my boy. All the hard work is paying off".

Speaking to the media through a translator afterwards, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. told reporters: "Definitely my career game, no doubt. It's the first time I hit three homers, which makes it very special."

"All of this feels great. I'm feeling very blessed right now," the 22-year-old continued. "Hitting two home runs against a legend like that, it's unbelievable what I'm feeling right now.

"It's all in my preparation, all in the work that I'm putting in before the games, and I thank God that it's paying off."

Toronto's Guerrero has seven home runs through 22 games played this season, with a .693 slugging percentage.

Guerrero added: "It feels great, but all of the trust I get from my team and my team-mates, all of the work that I put in with my coaches before the game and all of the preparation, that's what it's all about."

"We talked to him last year at the end of the year," Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said. "His goal was to get in better shape and to do better. He did.

"He deserves all the credit in the world for what he's doing right now, because he had an outstanding offseason and he's ready to play. He's doing what we thought he was going to do."

Guerrero's dominant display also earned praise from the opposition, with Washington's Josh Bell saying: "I feel like all of his at-bats tonight were really, really incredible -- really special.

"We saw [New York Mets ace Jacob] deGrom work last week, and that was something else. And we saw it here again. Just a franchise superstar at work. It’s fun to watch."

Los Angeles Dodgers star Cody Bellinger is "trending in the right direction" as he continues to recover from a hairline fracture in his left fibula, according to manager Dave Roberts.

MLB World Series champions the Dodgers have been without 2019 National League (NL) MVP Bellinger since April 5 after he suffered a lower leg injury, which was initially described as a bruised calf.

Roberts provided an update on Bellinger – a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger Award winner – and his fitness on Tuesday.

"[He is] trending in the right direction," Roberts told reporters prior to the Dodgers' clash with the Cincinnati Reds.

"He's doing great. Once that fracture heals, coinciding with the live at-bats, hopefully we can hit the ground running when he's healed."

Two-time All-Star Bellinger is hitting .211 (four-for-19) with two RBIs in four games this season.

The Dodgers have lost back-to-back games following Monday's defeat to the Cincinnati Reds.

The season series between the Dodgers and Reds has shifted dramatically in recent MLB seasons.

Per Stats Perform, the Dodgers claimed all six meetings in 2017, the Reds took six of seven one year later, while Los Angeles clinched five of six in 2019.

San Diego Padres manager Jayce Tingler insisted Fernando Tatis Jr. was "100 per cent" not peeking at signs as he labelled the allegations "ridiculous".

Los Angeles Dodgers ace Trevor Bauer warned Tatis about allegedly peeking at signs after the latter homered twice off the 2020 American League (AL) Cy Young Award winner on Saturday.

The Padres lost 5-4, but a moment in Tatis' at-bat in the sixth inning caught the attention of the Dodgers after the 2020 Silver Slugger appeared to peek at catcher Will Smith's sign before the pitch.

Responding to the claims, Tingler told reporters on Tuesday: "I think it's ridiculous.

"I know 100 per cent he [Tatis] wasn't peeking at signs."

As the National League (NL) West rivalry dominates MLB, Bauer said in a video published via his YouTube channel on Sunday: "That's the type of stuff that would get you hit in other games.

"Now, I'm mild mannered about it. Flip the bat, do all that stuff, fine. If you're going to look at the signs, not OK, and if you do it again, the team that you're playing probably isn't going to take too kindly, and there might have to be some on-field stuff.

"That is disrespecting your opponent, look at their signs, stuff like that. Whereas the bat flips and celebrating with your team-mates is fine, in my opinion."

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts also addressed the incident prior to Sunday's 8-7 loss to the Padres, telling reporters: "When you talk about peeking, that's just not the way you play baseball.

"If that is the case, which I don't know, that'll be noted."

After that epic marathon win against World Series champions the Dodgers, Eric Hosmer defended Padres team-mate Tatis.

"That was maybe a little bit of confusion on their part," Hosmer said. "I don't think Tati was looking at signs. I've never really seen him do that. I certainly didn’t see it last night."

Mike Trout, Ronald Acuna Jr., J.D. Martinez, Xander Bogaerts, Justin Turner, Bryce Harper and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Some of the biggest names in baseball, but MLB's elite hitters have taken a backseat to Yermin Mercedes.

Unheralded Chicago White Sox rookie Mercedes is the batting leader through 19 games – his .414 average setting the tone.

It is a case of perseverance and determination when it comes to the big-hitting 28-year-old from the Dominican Republic.

Involved in professional baseball for a decade, Mercedes is taking the majors by storm following his long road to the top, but can he sustain it?

 

Started from the bottom, now we're here

If you look at the career of Mercedes, few could have anticipated the red-hot start to his first season.

Signed by the Washington Nationals as an 18-year-old international free agent in 2011, Mercedes bounced between the Nats, Baltimore Orioles, Dominican league and independent league before the White Sox took him in the 2017 minor league Rule 5 draft.

A hitting machine in the minors, Mercedes combined to hit 23 homers across two teams at Triple-A level in 2019, including 17 home runs for Charlotte with a 1.033 on-base slugging percentage (OPS).

Those exploits earned an invitation to the White Sox's alternate site last season as Mercedes made his MLB debut with an at-bat during the coronavirus-shortened 2020 campaign in August.

Mercedes could have easily given up on his dream, but he has not looked back since he was a late addition to the White Sox's 26-man Opening Day roster – a team with eyes on their first World Series ring since 2005.

According to Stats Perform, Mercedes joined Washington's Cecil Travis (1933) as the only MLB players in the modern era to have five hits in their first career start.

With patience continuing to pay off, he also became the first player since at least 1900 to begin a season with eight straight hits.

Mercedes also tops the leaderboard for longest home run of the season – his crushing 485-foot bomb against the Kansas City Royals the franchise's longest regular-season homer in the Statcast era (since 2015). Overall, it was the second longest blast since 2015, behind only Luis Robert's monster 487-foot in last season's playoffs.

New York Yankees slugger Giancarlo Stanton is next best at 471 feet.

"I just want to cry every time when I see I'm in the majors right now. I just want to cry because it's a long time," Mercedes said. "I've got a big history.

"It's about time, but it's hard for me because just looking around, I'm like, 'It's real. I'm here'. I know when it was a couple years ago, I said, 'What am I going to do? What's going to happen with me?' I just said, 'God, when am I going to be in the majors? What do I need to do?' Because all the time, all my years, I put up my numbers, do the best of myself."

 

History-making rookie on the right path

There is no stopping Mercedes, whose meteoric rise through the first month of the season netted him his own burger – 'The Yerminator' at Fabulous Freddies, where they honoured the designated hitter on their menu.

The last rookie to win his league's batting title (American League or National League) was Seattle Mariners great Ichiro Suzuki (.350) in 2001. Only two rookies have done that in the live-ball era (since 1920), Tony Oliva (.323 with the Minnesota Twins in 1964) being the other. Mercedes – through 19 games in 2021 – is above that mark at the moment. Whether he maintains that figure is another story.

When it comes to hits, Mercedes has tallied 29 in 70 at-bats this season. The last rookie to lead his league (AL or NL) in hits in a season was also Ichiro, who topped the American League with 242 hits in 2001.

Mercedes is only the second player to have a .400-plus batting average and 15-plus RBI over his first 20 career games since RBI became an official stat in 1920, along with Atlanta's Jeff Francoeur in 2005. Francoeur recorded a .406 avg and 19 RBI for the Braves in that 20-game span.

Francoeur was in the NL, so Mercedes is the first AL player to ever do that.

Mercedes made his debut aged 27 – only Ichiro managed more hits through 20 career games in the expansion era (since 1961). Coco Laboy, like Mercedes, also registered 29 hits for the Montreal Expos in 1969.

"A couple months ago, I wouldn't have believed that I would be at this point right now," said Mercedes. "I'm surprised. So I'm so excited for that. I never imagined I would be here. Now we're here, keep going. Don't put the head down. Just keep doing what I'm doing every day to keep it at that point.

"That's great for me, I'm feeling great, feeling nice because I'm with my people, with my fans and with everybody. So I'm excited for that."

While the season is still young, it feels like this is just the tip of the iceberg for Mercedes, who is seizing his opportunity after years battling away outside the majors. Enjoy the ride.

Shohei Ohtani could not ignore his "terrible" first inning during an historic game for the Los Angeles Angels against the Texas Rangers.

Two-way star Ohtani became the first player for nearly 100 years to start a game on the mound while also entering the day leading MLB in home runs.

The last to do so was New York Yankees great and Hall of Famer Babe Ruth back in 1921.

Ohtani, who picked up his first win since May 2018, went two-for-three with two RBIs and three runs scored in Monday's 9-4 victory in Arlington.

He also became the first player to have at least two hits and three runs scored plus nine strikeouts since Luis Tiant for the Cleveland Indians back in 1961.

However, a difficult opening inning, in which he gave up four runs and a homer to Nate Lowe, was foremost in Ohtani's mind after the win.

"I'm happy for the team victory and my team-mates gave me a lot of run support, which led to confidence," he said.

"But personally, that first inning was terrible, so I can't be fully satisfied. I think it's mechanics, more than anything. And I felt like my mechanics were better from the second inning on.

"I try to separate pitching and hitting while I'm doing both, but putting those runs on the board does lead to confidence. But that first inning I had, I need to not repeat that again, and I need to adjust and work on that before my next outing."

Ohtani was pulled after 75 pitches amid concerns about a blister on his right middle finger, but the Japanese star does not think it a major problem.

"I'm not worried at all," Ohtani said. "It's different from my last one and was barely starting to form. I felt like I could've gone another inning."

Shohei Ohtani made more MLB history as the Los Angeles Angels beat the Texas Rangers 9-4.

Angels two-way star Ohtani became the first player in almost 100 years to start a game on the mound while also entering the day leading the majors in home runs.

New York Yankees great and Hall of Famer Babe Ruth was the last to do so in 1921.

Ohtani, who picked up his first win since May 2018, went two-for-three with two RBIs and three runs scored against the Rangers, striking out nine over five innings on Monday.

He became the first American League (AL) player to reach those numbers in a game since Luis Tiant in 1967, according to Stats Perform.

"A pretty complete game of baseball," Angels manager Joe Maddon said. "If you weren't entertained by watching him tonight, you can't be entertained watching the game of baseball."

Angels star Mike Trout also made his return from an elbow injury, going four-for-five at the plate.

 

Posey and Giants show no mercy

Buster Posey had a two-run homer among his four hits as the San Francisco Giants crushed the Colorado Rockies 12-0. Posey also caught Anthony DeSclafani's three-hit shutout. It is the eighth time Posey has caught a shutout while having more hits himself than the entire opposing team – the most such games by any catcher in the modern era, per Stats Perform.

The Philadelphia Phillies edged the St Louis Cardinals 2-1. Zach Wheeler became the first Phillies pitcher to go eight-plus innings pitched with one hit or fewer since Cole Hamels in 2015. Wheeler gave up one hit and one run while striking out nine.

 

Yankees continue to struggle

The Yankees are not getting hits at the moment. The storied franchise managed just four in a 4-2 loss to AL East rivals the Baltimore Orioles. Between All-Star sluggers Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge, the pair only managed two hits. The Yankees are bottom of the AL East. Baltimore have finished above the Yankees just three times in the AL East since MLB went to six divisions in 1994, doing so in 1997, 2014 and 2016.

World series champions the Los Angeles Dodgers have now suffered back-to-back defeats, upstaged 5-3 by the Cincinnati Reds after 10 innings.

 

Bryant slam!

Kris Bryant hit the sixth grand slam of his career – a shot off Charlie Morton in the third inning which tied the game. The Chicago Cubs still lost 8-7 to the Atlanta Braves.

 

Monday's results

Cincinnati Reds 5-3 Los Angeles Dodgers
Kansas City Royals 3-2 Detroit Tigers
Cleveland Indians 5-3 Minnesota Twins
Atlanta Braves 8-7 Chicago Cubs
Baltimore Orioles 4-2 New York Yankees
Oakland Athletics 2-1 Tampa Bay Rays
Miami Marlins 8-0 Milwaukee Brewers
Philadelphia Phillies 2-1 St Louis Cardinals
Los Angeles Angels 9-4 Texas Rangers
Houston Astros 5-2 Seattle Mariners
San Francisco Giants 12-0 Colorado Rockies

 

Tigers at White Sox

The Chicago White Sox (12-9) – riding a four-game winning streak – will host the Detroit Tigers (7-16) in Tuesday's series opener at Guaranteed Rate Field. Lucas Giolito is set to start for the White Sox as the Tigers counter with Jose Urena.

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