Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama said he admirers countrymen and MLB stars Yu Darvish, Kenta Maeda and Shohei Ohtani after becoming the first Japanese man to win a major.

Matsuyama made history with his one-stroke victory ahead of Will Zalatoris in a tense finale at Augusta on Sunday.

A five-time PGA Tour winner before this success, Matsuyama withstood a wobble and the threat posed by Xander Schauffele (72) and Zalatoris (70) to complete a history-making performance in Georgia, where he carded a final-round 73 to claim the green jacket.

Matsuyama was asked about his golfing heroes after the memorable achievement, but the 29-year-old instead listed his baseball idols – Los Angeles Angels two-way sensation Ohtani, four-time All-Star and San Diego Padres ace Darvish and Minnesota Twins pitcher Maeda.

"You know, the people that I admired were a lot -- were mainly baseball players: Darvish, Ohtani, Maeda," Matsuyama told reporters.

"As far as golf, not so much. Hopefully now others will, like you said, be inspired for what happened here today and follow in my footsteps."

"It's been a struggle recently," added Matsuyama, who had last won on the PGA Tour in 2017. "This year, no Top 10s, haven't even contended. So I came to Augusta with little or no expectations. But as the week progressed, as I practiced, especially on Wednesday, I felt something again. I found something in my swing.

"And when that happens, the confidence returns. And so I started the tournament with a lot of confidence."

Matsuyama (2011) – who finished 10 under – became the third Masters champion in the last five years to have previously earned low amateur honours, following in the footsteps of Woods (2019, low amateur in 1995) and Sergio Garcia (2017, low amateur in 1999).

With his final-round 73, Matsuyama became the eighth player (nine instances) to claim The Masters despite an over-par final round – Trevor Immelman was the last to do so in 2008.

It came after Matsuyama – four strokes clear at the start of the day – had extended his lead to five at the turn, before his title bid threatened to turn sour as Schauffele closed in and Zalatoris loomed.

After finding water at the par-five 15th hole, Matsuyama took the penalty and cleaned up for bogey as Schauffele continued to heap pressure on the Japanese hopeful, cutting the lead to two shots with his fourth consecutive birdie.

But Schauffele's pursuit of a maiden major collapsed when the American – seven back at the 12th tee before rallying – also found water before sending his next shot into the crowd.

Matsuyama had a routine par to move three shots clear with two to play, but he dropped another shot, his lead down to two ahead of Zalatoris as an ill-timed triple-bogey sent 2019 runner-up Schauffele down to equal third alongside Jordan Spieth – four shots behind.

That was the breathing space Matsuyama needed as Japan's new poster boy held his nerve, doing what he needed to do during the final two holes in front of an appreciative crowd on the 18th, where not even a bogey could wipe away the champion's smile.

"Xander had just made three birdies in a row at 12, 13 and 14. I hit the fairway at 15, hitting first, with Xander having the momentum," Matsuyama said as he discussed his approach on the 15th and 16th holes. "I felt I needed to birdie 15 because I knew Xander would definitely be birdieing or maybe even eagling.

"But it didn't happen. And so I stood on the 16th tee with a two-stroke lead, and unfortunately for Xander, he found the water with his tee shot and I played safe to the right of the green at 16."

"I can't say I'm the greatest. However, I'm the first to win a major, and if that's the bar, then I've set it," Matsuyama said when asked if he is the greatest male golfer out of Japan following his success.

Homegrown Joe Musgrove tossed the first no-hitter in the San Diego Padres' franchise history in a 3-0 victory over the Texas Rangers in MLB on Friday night.

Musgrove blanked the Rangers across nine close-to-faultless innings with 10 strikeouts, which set off wild frenzied celebrations among the Padres.

"Everyone dreams of getting the chance to throw a no-hitter," Musgrove said post-game. "I've never even thrown a no-hitter in my life, so my first one came today on this field.

"It's awesome to have it be in a Padres uniform and for it to be the first one for the franchise. That's incredible."

It was only Musgrove's second start for the Padres and improves their season record to 5-3.

Shohei Ohtani may not be on the mound at the moment but he hit his third home run of the year in the Los Angeles Angels' 7-1 win over the Toronto Blue Jays.

The Japanese star went 2-for-5 at the plate with a homer, double and four RBIs, with Mike Trout taking a backseat.

 

Acuna does it all for Braves

Young gun Ronald Acuna Jr did it all for the Atlanta Braves in their 8-1 win over the Philadelphia Phillies.

The 23-year-old Venezuelan hit a huge home run, added a duo of doubles and made a super outfield catch as he notched his fifth career four-hit game to lead the Braves to victory. 

"That just shows you the complete player he is and the skillset this kid has and what he brings," Braves manager Brian Snitker said.

Corey Kluber had a tough shift as the New York Yankees were battered by reigning American League champions the Tampa Bay Rays 10-5.

Rich Hill struck out seven for the Rays while Joey Wendle and Brandon Lowe combined to drive in five.

Justin Turner homered in the sixth inning to earn the Los Angeles Dodgers a 1-0 victory over the Washington Nationals.

After being beaten by the Houston Astros five times, the Oakland Athletics hit back with Matt Olson's three-run homer helping them to a 6-2 triumph.

 

Fowler felled in scary play

In a scary moment, Angels' right fielder Dexter Fowler was carted off with a left knee issue after an awkward fall on second base, although cmanager Joe Maddon later said "I don't think it's bad, fortunately".

 

Freddie finds his form

Acuna stole the show for the Braves but 2020 National League MVP Freddie Freeman would not be denied with a big home run of his own.

 

Friday's results

Tampa Bay Rays 10-5 New York Yankees
Los Angeles Dodgers 1-0 Washington Nationals
San Francisco Giants 3-1 Colorado Rockies
Los Angeles Angels 7-1 Toronto Blue Jays
Cleveland Indians 4-1 Detroit Tigers
Atlanta Braves 8-1 Philadelphia Phillies
San Diego Padres 3-0 Texas Rangers
Oakland Athletics 6-2 Houston Astros
Cincinnati Reds 6-5 Arizona Diamondbacks 

 

Yankees at Tampa

There's a full 15-game fixture on Saturday with the Tampa Bay Rays series against the New York Yankees ongoing.

Shohei Ohtani's big night ended with a worrying collision, but he will get more chances to show his talents as a two-way star for the Los Angeles Angels.

For the first time in his MLB career, Ohtani was the starting pitcher while also batting second.

Against the Chicago White Sox on Sunday, the Japanese sensation rose to the occasion in a stunning show of his two-way abilities.

The first starting pitcher to bat second in a game since Jack Dunleavy in 1903, Ohtani produced a scoreless first inning as his fastball reached 100mph – a season high across the major leagues.

Then the 26-year-old picked up the bat and hit a crushing solo homer at the bottom of the inning, a projected 451-foot shot that reached 115.2mph. It was the hardest hit by an Angels player since 2015.

Ohtani now has three hits, four runs and two homers this season, although his sole remarkable hit on Sunday made him the first Angels pitcher to record one in an American League game since Clyde Wright in 1972.

The first four White Sox innings were scoreless as Ohtani's pitching prowess produced a three-pitch strikeout - one of seven total strikeouts - of Luis Robert with two runners stranded.

A staggering outing was dampened on his final play, however, as he was clattered into by Jose Abreu at home plate following some sloppy fielding that meant the pitcher finished with three runs, one earned.

But the felled player later assured he was "fine" and the collision "wasn't as bad as it looked", meaning the Angels could revel in his display after Jared Walsh's walk-off homer secured a 7-4 win.

"What he did tonight was pretty special and you're going to see a lot more of that," manager Joe Maddon said.

"It was fun to watch. I think everybody was entertained. That's what he signed up to do and you're going to see more of it."

The incident with Abreu in the fifth came after Ohtani was allowed to continue despite giving up a run on a hit and two walks, but Maddon did not regret that call.

"That's how a guy becomes a guy," he said. "You've got to give him that opportunity, especially this time of year.

"If he does that now and is able to fight through it, he will know what he's capable of. If you are constantly taking guys out of troubling situations, they are never going to find out.

"It's all interconnected. Everything we do is interconnected. He is a very introspective bright young man who loves to play baseball.

"Let's stay out of his way. Let him play baseball and see what happens."

Ohtani pitched and batted in his first year in the majors in 2018 but never in the same game.

"I'm glad I got this game under my belt," he said. "It will lead to more confidence.

"It's just one game. I'm going to take it one game at a time. I'm not out to prove the doubters wrong or anything."

Shohei Ohtani enjoyed an historic night as the two-way Los Angeles Angels star fuelled his team to a 7-4 walk-off win against the Chicago White Sox.

Ohtani made MLB history by starting and serving as the designated hitter, while he put on a show with bat and ball in stunning opening inning on Sunday.

The 26-year-old Japanese sensation, who became the first pitcher to bat second in a game since 1903, produced a scoreless first inning as his fastball reached 100mph (the fastest in MLB so far in 2021) three times.

After starring on the mound, Ohtani hit a crushing solo homer in the bottom of the inning – his projected 451-foot shot reaching 115.2mph – the hardest homer by an Angels player since 2015, eclipsing team-mate Mike Trout (115mph in 2018).

Hampered by injuries since entering the majors in 2018, Ohtani, who exited in the fifth inning after a collision at the plate, also became the first Angels pitcher to record a hit in an American League (AL) game since Clyde Wright in 1972.

Jared Walsh called game with the contest tied at 4-4 in the bottom of the ninth, launching a walk-off homer – his second of the night – to lift the Angels.

 

Astros blitz Athletics

The Houston Astros are 4-0 for the first time since 2001 after a 9-2 victory away to the Oakland Athletics. Kyle Tucker, Jason Castro and rookie Chas McCormick hit home runs for the Astros, who outscored the A's 35-9 across the four games. Houston are the fourth team in MLB history to tally at least eight runs in their first four games, following in the footsteps of the New York Yankees (2003), Red Sox (1995) and Milwaukee Brewers (1978).

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Randal Grichuk homered as the Toronto Blue Jays beat AL East rivals the Yankees 3-1 to claim the season-opening series. Bo Bichette became the fastest Blue Jays player to reach 100 career hits, achieving the feat with a first-inning double in his 78th game.

World Series champions the Los Angeles Dodgers defeated the Colorado Rockies 4-2 behind Julio Urias. He pitched a career-high seven innings to inspire the Dodgers, tallying six strikeouts while giving up three hits and one walk.

 

Red Sox make slow start

The Boston Red Sox's winless start to the season continued, swept by the Baltimore Orioles following an 11-3 defeat. Boston have now fallen to their second-ever 0-3 start at Fenway Park and first since 1948. The Red Sox are coming off a 24-36 record in last year's coronavirus-shortened season – their lowest winning percentage since 1965.

 

Baddoo homers on first career pitch

It was a memorable outing for Detroit Tigers outfielder Akil Baddoo, who homered in his opening MLB at-bat – the very first pitch. The 22-year-old Baddoo – making his first appearance above Class A – drove to left field in the bottom of the third inning. Detroit, though, lost 9-3 to the Cleveland Indians.

"I was actually waiting for the silent treatment, but everyone was just full of energy -- just so happy for me," Baddoo said. "So I loved every second of it."

 

 

Sunday's results

Philadelphia Phillies 2-1 Atlanta Braves
Toronto Blue Jays 3-1 New York Yankees
Baltimore Orioles 11-3 Boston Red Sox
Cleveland Indians 9-3 Detroit Tigers
Cincinnati Reds 12-1 St Louis Cardinals
Minnesota Twins 8-2 Milwaukee Brewers
Texas Rangers 7-3 Kansas City Royals
Chicago Bulls 4-3 Pittsburgh Pirates
Los Angeles Dodgers 4-2 Colorado Rockies
Houston Astros 9-2 Oakland Athletics
Arizona Diamondbacks 3-1 San Diego Padres
Los Angeles Angels 7-4 Chicago White Sox
New York Mets-Washington Nationals (postponed)

 

Astros at Angels

The Astros (4-0) will put their perfect record on the line in the opening game of their series with the Angels (3-1) on Monday.

Two-way player Shohei Ohtani has agreed to a two-year, $8.5million contract with the Los Angeles Angels.

Ohtani, 26, and the Angels avoided arbitration after agreeing to terms on Monday.

The 2018 American League (AL) Rookie of the Year is set to enter his fourth MLB season with the Angels in 2021.

"OFFICIAL: The Angels have agreed to a two-year, $8.5million contract with Shohei Ohtani," the team wrote on Twitter.

"With the agreement, an arbitration hearing is avoided."

Ohtani is hitting .269 in his MLB career, with 47 home runs and 147 RBIs.

He is 4-3 as a pitcher in 12 starts, including an ERA of 4.39.

Ohtani pitched in just two games in 2020 after suffering a flexor strain in his right elbow, on which he underwent Tommy John surgery in 2018.

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