Cody Bellinger saved the Los Angeles Dodgers with their season on life support as he crushed a game-tying three-run homer in a 6-5 win over the Atlanta Braves in Game 3 of the National League Championship Series (NLCS).

World Series champions the Dodgers were facing a 3-0 deficit in the NLCS, with the Braves leading 5-2 in the eighth inning before Bellinger's intervention at Dodger Stadium on Tuesday.

With Will Smith and A.J. Pollock on base, Dodgers star Bellinger crushed a Luke Jackson fastball into the right-field bleachers.

Three batters later, Mookie Betts laced a go-ahead double with Chris Taylor touching down, before Kenley Jansen closed out the come-from-behind win.

Jansen moved to outright second most MLB postseason saves with 19.

Only the 2004 Boston Red Sox have ever erased a 3-0 deficit to win a postseason series, so the Dodgers significantly revived their hopes of reaching another MLB showpiece.

The Dodgers had opened a 2-0 lead in the first inning after Corey Seager's two-run homer, but the Braves produced a four-run fourth inning, before Adam Duvall drove in Ozzie Albies in the fifth inning for his second RBI of the game to build a 5-2 advantage.

The Braves held that lead until Bellinger's intervention in the eighth inning, with the Dodgers staying in the NLCS at 2-1.

Meanwhile, the Houston Astros levelled the American League Championship Series (ALCS) after a seven-run ninth inning guided them to a 9-2 rout of the Red Sox in Game 4 at Fenway Park.

The Red Sox had led 2-1 from the first inning after Xander Bogaerts' two-run inning, before Jose Altuve's game-tying home run in the eighth, which marked his 21st playoff home run, behind only Manny Ramirez (29) and Bernie Williams (22) overall.

With two out, Jason Castro hit a go-ahead double in the ninth inning, setting off a rush of runs – including Michael Brantley's three-run double. The Astros' seven-run ninth inning tied the most ever in the ninth inning of a postseason game.

 

Braves at Dodgers

The Dodgers will look to level the NLCS when they host the Braves on Wednesday, with Julio Urias confirmed to start on the mound for the storied Los Angeles franchise in Game 4. Elsewhere, the Red Sox and Astros will meet in Game 5 of the ALCS.

World Series champions the Los Angeles Dodgers clinched their spot in the National League Championship Series (NLCS) for the fifth time in six seasons after a 2-1 victory over the San Francisco Giants in the winner-takes-all showdown.

The Giants suffered ninth-inning heartbreak in Game 5 of the Division Series decider after Cody Bellinger drove in the go-ahead run, while the MLB playoff concluded in contentious fashion on Thursday.

Dodgers ace Max Scherzer – in his 432nd career appearance – got his first professional save for the Dodgers after former NL MVP Bellinger continued his bright postseason by driving in Justin Turner for the decisive run in the ninth.

The Dodgers, who became the first team in MLB playoff history to have their relievers pitch 8.0-plus innings with 12 or more strikeouts and no walks in a game, will now face the Atlanta Braves in the best-of-seven NLCS, starting on Saturday.

After five scoreless innings, the game came to life in the sixth with Corey Seager landing an RBI double from starting pitcher Logan Webb to drive Mookie Betts home to give the Dodgers the lead.

Betts finished the game with four hits, becoming the first player in Dodgers history to achieve the feat in a winner-takes-all playoff contest.

But the Giants responded immediately with Darin Ruf crushing a solo homer to level the game up at the bottom of the sixth inning.

Giants ace Webb finished with seven strikeouts across seven innings, while Julio Urias came on in the third inning, tossing down five K's across four innings.

At the top of the ninth inning with two runners on, Bellinger hit Camilo Doval low into right centerfield with an RBI single.

Bellinger delivered the game-winning RBI in a serious-clinching victory for the fifth time in his career – the most by any player in MLB postseason history, according to Stats Perform.

The game ended on a controversial call for Wilmer Flores' check swing from Scherzer's slider called a swing and third strike to end the Giants' campaign following their remarkable 107-55 regular season.

 

Red Sox at Astros

The opening game of the American League Championship Series (ALCS) takes place on Friday as the Houston Astros host the Boston Red Sox. Framber Valdez and Chris Sale will start on the mound for the respective sides.

Walker Buehler was hailed by his team-mate Mookie Betts and manager Dave Roberts after playing a crucial role in the Los Angeles Dodgers' win over the San Francisco Giants.

The Giants had the chance to book their spot in the NL Championship Series (NLCS) on Tuesday, but they were instead blown away by the Dodgers.

Buehler, coming in off three days' rest for the first time, was at his best, giving up just one run on three hits while striking out four batters in 4.1 innings.

Betts and Will Smith both homered in a convincing 7-2 win that sets up a winner-takes-all finale at Oracle Park in San Francisco on Thursday.

"I just know when our backs are against the wall that we have a guy named Walker Buehler that ends up getting us out of it," Betts told reporters. 

"He did it again today, but we got one more game. Julio [Urias] has to bring us home."

Roberts added: "I told [Buehler] after he came out, I was like, this is something now, you've checked a box.

"You've pitched in big games, elimination games, Game 163, and all this other kind of stuff, but never pitched on short rest. And a box was checked, and you came out ahead."

Buehler himself lauded the spirit and grit the Dodgers showed to level the series at 2-2 and keep their hopes alive.

"Tonight's a great example of 26 guys coming together and figuring out a way to survive," he said.

Fernando Tatis Jr. put on a show as the San Diego Padres scored seven unanswered runs to rally past World Series champions the Los Angeles Dodgers 8-7 after 11 innings in another thrilling MLB showdown.

The Padres trailed National League (NL) West rivals the Dodgers 7-1 at the end of six innings, but Tatis fuelled the visitors to an epic extra-innings victory in Los Angeles on Sunday.

Tatis scored the game-winning run on Eric Hosmer's sacrifice fly in the 11th inning as the Padres became the first team since the 1918 San Francisco Giants to win a game, despite being on the road, facing a side with a .700 per cent winning percentage, trailing by six-plus runs in the seventh inning or later, per Stats Perform.

San Diego's Tatis hit another home run after back-to-back multi-homer games against the Dodgers, making it five home runs in three appearances as the NL West blockbuster continues to provide postseason energy in April.

According to Stats Perform, Tatis became the first player in MLB history to have five-plus home runs and two-stolen bases in a road series.

Tatis has two games with at least one home runs and two stolen bases – Tony Gwynn is the only other player in Padres history to achieve the feat, while he is the eighth shortstop with at least one three-game span of five-plus homers.

Dustin May had a career-high 10 strikeouts for the Dodgers. Aged 23 years and 231 days, he is the youngest pitcher in franchise history with 10-plus strikeouts in a game since Clayton Kershaw (23 years and 169 days) in 2011.

 

Bumgarner dominates with unofficial no-hitter

Madison Bumgarner threw a seven-inning no-hitter to guide the Arizona Diamondbacks to a 7-0 shutout of the Atlanta Braves, clinching a sweep of the doubleheader. Bumgarner struck out seven batters, but it will not officially count as MLB rules stipulate such a game must be a contest of nine or more innings that ended with no hits. The Diamondbacks, meanwhile, became the first team to allow one or fewer hits in a doubleheader after Zac Gallen held the Braves to one hit in the 5-0 opener.

Trevor Story hit a grand slam – the third of his career – in a seven-run fourth inning as the Colorado Rockies routed the Philadelphia Phillies 12-2.

The Cleveland Indians defeated the struggling New York Yankees 7-3 behind Franmil Reyes' three-run homer, triple and first stolen base.

 

A's crash back down to earth

The Oakland Athletics and their 13-game winning streak was snapped by the Baltimore Orioles, who were 8-1 victors. It was Oakland's third longest winning streak since 1968.

Patrick Corbin was put to the sword in the Washington Nationals' 4-0 loss to the New York Mets. Corbin, who suffered his 10th consecutive decision, allowed four runs, seven hits and three walks in four-plus innings.

 

Oh-tani!

The Los Angeles Angels avoided a sweep against the Houston Astros thanks to some help from Shohei Ohtani. The two-way star crunched a 440-foot homer in the eighth inning to give the Angels a 3-2 lead. The Angels beat the Astros 4-2.

 

 

Sunday's results

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

 

Rockies at Giants

It will be an all-NL West clash when bottom team the Rockies (8-13) visit the high-flying Giants (14-8) on Monday. Only the Dodgers have a better record than the Giants in the division this season.

Fernando Tatis Jr. put on another show at Dodger Stadium, but it was the World Series champions who won out via small ball, defeating the San Diego Padres 5-4. 

After slamming a pair of home runs in Los Angeles on Friday, Tatis repeated that feat Saturday -- and had some fun with Dodgers starter Trevor Bauer along the way. 

In early March, Trevor Bauer spent most of the first inning of a spring training game against the Padres pitching with his right eye closed, calling it a training method he uses occasionally to challenge himself.

The Padres didn't forget about it. After Tatis homered off Bauer in the first inning Saturday, the San Diego star covered up his right eye with his hand as he rounded the bases. 

Tatis also went deep off Bauer in the sixth to give San Diego a 3-2 lead, but the Padres' relievers would give the game away in the bottom of the inning.

With San Diego starter Blake Snell out of the game, Los Angeles strung together three singles and a bases-loaded walk to Mookie Betts to tie the game, then took the lead on a two-run single by Corey Seager. 

Tatis had one last chance to be the hero in the ninth, coming up with the tying run on and one out, but Kenley Jansen got him to ground out, then struck out Trent Grisham to end it. 

 

Yankees' Cole almost untouchable

Gerrit Cole was spectacular for the Yankees in New York's 2-1 win over the Cleveland Indians. The right-hander allowed just three hits and a run and did not walk a batter while striking out 11 to outpitch Shane Bieber (seven innings, four hits, two runs, nine strikeouts).

The Oakland Athletics won their 13th consecutive game after a 1-7 start, defeating the Baltimore Orioles 7-2. A three-run home run by Jed Lowrie in the fourth inning put the game out of reach for Oakland. 

The Houston Astros lost starter Jake Odorizzi after five pitches and one out due to an arm injury, but Kent Emanuel pitched the rest of the game in his MLB debut, allowing a pair of solo home runs in a 16-2 Astros win over the Los Angeles Angels. 

 

Reds hit bottom in NL Central

After spending more than two weeks with at least a share of first place in the National League Central, the Cincinnati Reds dropped to last in the division Saturday after their sixth consecutive lost, this one 2-0 to the St. Louis Cardinals. The Reds managed only three hits, all singles, off John Gant and two St. Louis relievers in their latest setback. 

 

White Sox walk it off

Up until the final inning of the Rangers-White Sox game Saturday, the only run had come on a bases-loaded wild pitch in the sixth that gave Chicago a 1-0 lead, but things got interesting in the ninth. Willie Calhoun tied the game with a home run for Texas in the top of the inning, but the White Sox put together a rally in the bottom half and won 2-1 on Nick Madrigal's walk-off double. 

 

Saturday's results

Milwaukee Brewers 4-3 Chicago Cubs
Oakland Athletics 7-2 Baltimore Orioles
Kansas City Royals 2-1 Detroit Tigers
New York Yankees 2-1 Cleveland Indians
Seattle Mariners 8-2 Boston Red Sox
Tampa Bay Rays 5-3 Toronto Blue Jays
Washington Nationals 7-1 New York Mets
Houston Astros 16-2 Los Angeles Angels
Pittsburgh Pirates 6-2 Minnesota Twins
Chicago White Sox 2-1 Texas Rangers
St Louis Cardinals 2-0 Cincinnati Reds
Philadelphia Phillies 7-5 Colorado Rockies
Miami Marlins 5-2 San Francisco Giants
Los Angeles Dodgers 5-4 San Diego Padres
Atlanta Braves-Arizona Diamondbacks (postponed)
 

Padres at Dodgers

San Diego (12-11) send Joe Musgrove to the mound for the final game of their series against the Dodgers (15-6) on Sunday. Dustin May will get the ball for Los Angeles. 

Mookie Betts pulled off a spectacular outfield catch to seal victory for the Los Angeles Dodgers in a 2-0 win over the San Diego Padres in MLB on Saturday night.

The 28-year-old center fielder dived to his left for Tommy Pham's curving hit, getting it inch-perfect for a walk-off catch in the ninth.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said: "Mookie has played a lot of innings in center field, but with that said, it takes an elite defender in center to make that play."

In a blockbuster tussle, Clayton Kershaw was crucial for the Dodgers with eight strikeouts across six innings, while Padres pitcher Yu Darvish had nine.

Earlier, Justin Turner hit a ninth inning home run to open up the 2-0 buffer, following Zach McKinstry's fifth inning run.

The result improves the Dodgers' 2021 record to 13-2, while the Padres are 9-7.

 

De Grom within a whisker of record

New York Mets right-hander Jacob de Grom came within one of Tom Seaver's 51-year-old record for consecutive strikeouts in their 4-3 win over the Colorado Rapids in the first game of their double-header.

De Grom finished the game with 14 strikeouts although the Mets lost the second of their double-header, going down 7-2.

Jorge Alfaro was the hero as the Miami Marlins scored twice at the bottom of the 10th to claim a dramatic 7-6 win over the San Francisco Giants.

Salvatore Perez came up trumps with a monster home-run at the bottom of the seventh to secure the Kansas City Royals a 3-2 walk-off win over the Toronto Blue Jays in the second of their double-header.

The win lifts the Royals to a 8-5 record, while the Blue Jays are 7-8.

The Oakland Athletics won their seventh straight, knocking off the Detroit Tigers 7-0, while the Boston Red Sox beat the Chicago White Sox 7-4.

The Tampa Bay Rays won 6-3 over the New York Yankees despite a bizarre moment when Tyer Glasnow's right leg and left hand suddenly cramped up.

 

Braves cop six home-runs

The Atlanta Braves saw six home-runs sail over their heads in their 13-4 loss to the Chicago Cubs, struggling on the mound, trying five different pitches on a rough night.

 

Greinke's double play

Houston Astros pitcher Zach Greinke pulled off an unusual 1-5-6 double play in their 1-0 win over the Seattle Mariners after dropping a red hot drive.

 

Saturday's results

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

 

Dodgers in San Diego

The rivalry resumes between the San Diego Padres and the Los Angeles Dodgers on Sunday, with tempers spilling over at times during their series already.

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).

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