MLB

Late Perez home run lifts Royals against the Yankees, Alvarez and Riley both deliver walk-offs

By Sports Desk July 31, 2022

The Kansas City Royals avoided a series sweep on Sunday with a 8-6 come-from-behind win on the road against the New York Yankees, with a pair of late home runs turning the tide.

Both starting pitchers finished with mediocre figures, but they were both spotless early, holding the game scoreless through the first four innings. The fifth inning was a different story, with the sides combining for seven runs. 

The Royals struck first as Nick Pratto came through with a two-run, bases loaded single, before Maikel Garcia followed him with an RBI double, and they capped off a four-run frame with an RBI groundout from Whit Merrifield.

But the best team in baseball this season answered right back, with Kyle Higashioka batting in a run with his single, before D.J. LeMahieu brought him home with a homer to the short porch at right-field. 

Later in the seventh inning, with Aaron Judge and Aaron Hicks on base, Anthony Rizzo shot the Yankees into a 6-4 lead with the longest hit in the game up to that point, a 418-foot home run over the right-field wall.

Kansas City's Hunter Dozier topped that the next inning with a 420-foot shot to left-field, trimming the margin to 6-5 and setting up an exciting finish.

Needing three outs to secure the win, the Yankees brought in elite relief pitcher Clay Holmes for the save, but it did not go to plan.

Holmes got the first out, but then issued a five-pitch walk to Merrifield, before hitting Bobby Witt Jr with a pitch to put runners on first and second with Salvador Perez at the plate.

Perez had been swinging a hot bat as of late with three home runs in his past seven games, and he added one more with a monstrous 441-foot nuke to center-field, jumping ahead 8-6 in the final frame.

Instead of handing the ball to a new closer, the Royals let Taylor Clarke head back out for his second inning to finish the job.

Yankees superstar Aaron Judge finished hit-less, but he contributed with two walks and a run.

The win is only the Royals' second from their past 12 meetings with the Yankees.

Austin Riley walks it off for the Braves

A quality pitching duel broke out in the Atlanta Braves' 1-0 win against the Arizona Diamondbacks, with Austin Riley batting home the first run of the game in the bottom of the ninth inning.

Braves ace pitcher Max Fried allowed four hits and two walks with five strikeouts in his seven scoreless innings, while Arizona's Merrill Kelly was slightly better, conceding three hits and two walks to go with eight strikeouts over the same stretch of innings.

The Braves had five hits in the game, and two of them were by Riley, who has quickly established himself as a realistic NL MVP candidate. 

Riley is fourth in the league in home runs (29), and second in total bases (239) – trailing only Aaron Judge.

Alvarez plays the hero in Houston

Speaking of players having unbelievable under-the-radar seasons, Houston Astros star Yordan Alvarez continued what is arguably the best hitting season in the majors with the winner in his side's 3-2 victory against the Seattle Mariners.

He went zero-for-four in regulation, but with scores tied in extra innings he came through with a clutch hit to drive in the winning run.

Alvarez leads the league in on-base percentage (.417) and trails only Judge in slugging percentage (.670 compared to Judge's .671).

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  • 'It's out of my price range' – Aaron Judge rules out $3million-plus auction bid for 62nd home run ball 'It's out of my price range' – Aaron Judge rules out $3million-plus auction bid for 62nd home run ball

    Aaron Judge is resigned to being an intrigued observer when the ball he struck for a record-breaking 62nd home run goes up for auction – declaring he cannot afford to join the bidding race.

    The 30-year-old set a single-season Yankees and AL home-run record by reaching 62 to surpass Roger Maris Sr's 61 – set 61 years ago in 1961.

    Judge became the fourth major league player to hit 62 or more homers in a single season, and his feat belongs in baseball legend, making the ball that saw him set the record on October 4 especially valuable.

    It occurred at the home of the Texas Rangers in Arlington, with the spectator at Globe Life Field that caught the ball striking lucky by guaranteeing himself an apparent fortune.

    According to ESPN, that man, Cory Youmans, decided to put the ball in the hands of Goldin Auctions "after weeks of a lot of deep conversations" with his wife and lawyer.

    Youmans said: "It seems fair in the sense it gives anyone that is interested and has the means the opportunity to own it. As a fan, I'm curious to see what it's worth, who buys it and what they do with it."

    Youmans is said to have already turned down $3million for the ball, with his lawyer, Dave Baron, suspecting the final selling price could be "significantly higher based on New York, the New York fan base and how crazy it could get at an auction".

    That rules Judge out of contention, as he said the ball is "out of my price range right now".

    The ball is listed with a starting bid of $1million, with the auction due to get under way on November 30.

    Judge said of the seller's choice: "He caught the ball, he's the one that made the play out there in left field, so it's his right to do what he wants with it. Hopefully he's making the right decision for him and his family.''

    The ball's value will not have been harmed by Judge winning the AL Most Valuable Player (MVP) award ahead of Los Angeles Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani on Thursday.

  • History-making Judge and Goldschmidt crowned MVPs for the first time History-making Judge and Goldschmidt crowned MVPs for the first time

    Aaron Judge has capped his historic season after being crowned the AL Most Valuable Player (MVP) ahead of Los Angeles Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani on Thursday.

    St Louis Cardinals slugger Paul Goldschmidt was also voted the NL MVP, beating out Manny Machado of the San Diego Padres and teammate Nolan Arenado for the award.

    Judge's MVP, the first in his career, came after he broke the single-season Yankees and AL home-run record, reaching 62 to surpass Roger Maris Sr's 61 – set 61 years ago in 1961. He became the fourth major league player to hit 62 or more homers in a single season.

    The Yankees outfielder led the AL in home runs (62), RBIs (131), slugging percentage (.686), on-base percentage (.425), OPS (1.111) and total bases (391), while he chased an AL Triple Crown down the stretch, but ultimately fell short as Minnesota Twins' utility Luis Arraez (.316) won the batting title.

    Judge received 28 first-place votes for 410 points, ahead of Ohtani (280) and Houston Astros' Yordan Alvarez (232).

    The 30-year-old already had two top-five MVP finishes on his resume, in 2017 and 2021, winning Silver Slugger awards in both years.

    Yankees manager Aaron Boone said: "I’m grateful that I got to witness it first-hand and share in his magical year, especially given how much respect I have for him as a player and as a person."

    Goldschmidt looked like the NL MVP since the All-Star break, batting .317 while leading the NL in OPS (.982) and slugging percentage (.578).

    The Cardinals first baseman's 35 home runs finished one off his career-high, set in 2013 and equalled in 2017, giving him his seventh season with at least 30 dingers.

    Goldschmidt won the MVP with 380 voting points, ahead of Machado (291) and Arenado (232). It is the sixth time in 35-year-old Goldschmidt's career that he has finished in the top-six for the award.

    "I think definitely as you age, you have to adapt, and that's some of what I've tried to do. I've tried to get ahead of it," Goldschmidt told MLB Network. "I think it was my best season."

  • Harper to have elbow surgery, timeline for 2023 return uncertain Harper to have elbow surgery, timeline for 2023 return uncertain

    Philadelphia Phillies star Bryce Harper will have surgery on his right elbow next week although the exact operation and recovery timeline is still uncertain.

    Harper will have surgery on November 23 to address the tear in the ulnar collateral ligament he suffered back in April.

    Phillies president Dave Dombrowski said on Wednesday the surgeons won’t know until surgery begins if they’ll be performing Tommy John surgery or a less intensive repair of the existing UCL.

    ''We have no prognosis, really, until he goes into the elbow and takes a look at it,'' Dombrowski said of the surgeon. '

    'We'll have something at that time with the surgery and the anticipation something will happen. I would think it will slow him down for the season. We'll know more next week.''

    If he does have Tommy John surgery, recovery could force him to miss the first few months of the 2023 season. If it’s just a repair, he may only miss the season’s first week or two.

    After injuring his elbow in April, Harper switched from right field to designated hitter to avoid the wear and tear of throwing.

    He received a platelet-rich plasma injection shot in his elbow in May in an effort to repair it. But on Monday, Harper met with renowned orthopedist Dr. Neal ElAttrache, who determined surgery was necessary because the tear did not heal on its own.

    ''We always knew that was a possibility,'' Dombrowski said. ''We've known that for months.''

    Despite playing in pain and missing two months with a broken thumb sustained when he was hit by a pitch, Harper still excelled in helping the Phillies reach the World Series, where they lost to the Astros.

    In 99 games, the two-time NL MVP slashed .286/.364/.514 with 18 home runs, 28 doubles, 65 RBIs and 63 runs. He hit six more homers in 17 playoff games, and was named the NLCS MVP after hitting a dramatic game-winning homer in the series-clinching victory over the Padres.

    ''You don't ever want to lose Bryce, you really don't,'' Phillies manager Rob Thomson said. ''He's one of the best hitters in baseball, if not the best.

    "We spent a lot of time last year without him. Guys responded. It gave opportunities to other people to step up and they did. While we will be missing him, and looking forward to getting him back, it'll give somebody else an opportunity.''

    The Phillies open the season March 30 at Texas.

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