MLB

Vintage Kershaw as Dodgers win, Yankees ace Cole dominates

By Sports Desk April 07, 2021

Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw returned to form as the World Series champions crushed the helpless Oakland Athletics 5-1 in MLB action on Tuesday.

Kershaw – a three-time Cy Young Award winner – struggled on Opening Day following a difficult Spring Training campaign for the Dodgers.

But Kershaw bounced back against the winless Athletics, striking out eight batters across seven solid innings in Oakland.

Kershaw allowed one run and four hits and did not walk a batter as the star pitcher retired 20 of 22 opponents for the Dodgers, who won their fifth consecutive game.

Dodgers team-mate Mookie Betts homered for the first time this season, while team-mates Max Muncy and Edwin Rios also went long for the visitors.

In New York, three-time All-Star Gerrit Cole impressed with a 13-strikeout gem – his most in a regular-season game since joining the franchise in 2020 – as the Yankees made light work of the Baltimore Orioles 7-2.

Yankees ace Cole allowed four hits without a walk over seven scoreless innings, while slugger Aaron Judge and Jay Bruce homered at Yankee Stadium.

Per Stats Perform, Cole already has 21 punchouts this season – tying Al Downing (1964) for the most by any Yankees pitcher in his first two starts of a season.

 

Reds flying after slow start

The Cincinnati Reds humbled the Pittsburgh Pirates 14-1. Cincinnati allowed 11 runs on Opening Day but have proceeded to score 40 runs over their next four games. According to Stats Perform, they are the first National League (NL) team to allow 10-plus runs in their first game and then tally 40-plus runs over the next four since the 1877 Louisville Grays (47 runs).

Juan Soto was the hero for the Washington Nationals, hitting a walk-off home run in the ninth inning in a 6-5 victory against the Atlanta Braves.

American League (AL) MVP Jose Abreu crushed his second grand slam of the season to lead the Chicago White Sox to a 10-4 success against the Seattle Mariners.

 

Roark rocked in Texas

Tanner Roark's first start of the season for the Toronto Blue Jays was a dismal one. The veteran pitcher gave up three homers – five runs – in three innings as the Blue Jays lost 7-4 to the Texas Rangers. He finished with a 15.00 ERA for the night.

 

The Baddoo legend grows

Akil Baddoo continued his amazing start to his MLB career. After homering on his very first pitch in the big leagues on Sunday, Baddoo hit a grand slam on Monday. Not satisfied with that, he hit a walk-off homer to lift the Detroit Tigers past the Minnesota Twins 4-3 – in just his third appearance.

 

Tuesday's results

Detroit Tigers 4-3 Minnesota Twins
Washington Nationals 6-5 Atlanta Braves
Houston Astros 4-2 Los Angeles Angels
New York Yankees 7-2 Baltimore Orioles
Cincinnati Reds 14-1 Pittsburgh Pirates
St Louis Cardinals 4-2 Miami Marlins
New York Mets 8-4 Philadelphia Phillies
Boston Red Sox 6-5 Tampa Bay Rays
Milwaukee Brewers 4-0 Chicago Cubs
Texas Rangers 7-4 Toronto Blue Jays
Los Angeles Dodgers 5-1 Oakland Athletics
San Diego Padres 3-1 San Francisco Giants
Chicago White Sox 10-4 Seattle Mariners
Arizona Diamondbacks 10-8 Colorado Rockies

 

Braves at Nationals

After finally opening their season, the coronavirus-hit Nationals (1-0) will look to stay undefeated in a doubleheader against the winless Braves (0-4) on Wednesday. Erick Fedde will start game one for the Nationals against Atlanta's Max Fried, while ace Stephen Strasbourg takes to the mound in the second clash as the Braves counter with Huascar Ynoa.

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    Franco finalised a mouth-watering 11-year, $182million contract in Tampa, where the deal includes a club option for the 2033 season, on Saturday.

    It is the largest financial commitment to a player in the Rays' 24-year history, while it is also the biggest deal in MLB history for a player with less than a year of major league service time.

    Franco, who made his debut in June, enjoyed a remarkable season after recording a 43-game on-base streak to tie Cincinnati's Frank Robinson (1956) for the longest in MLB history among player aged under 21.

    The 20-year-old shortstop helped the Rays win the American League (AL) East – Tampa Bay clinching back-to-back titles for the first time in franchise history with a record 100 victories before falling to the Boston Red Sox in the AL Division Series (ALDS).

    "I'm really happy for this opportunity, and the one thing I want to do is bring a championship to the organisation," Franco said during Monday's news conference as the Rays target a maiden World Series championship.

    "With this, I can help my family and have nothing in my mind when I'm playing on the field … and be happy with this opportunity."

    Franco also finished third in the AL Rookie of the Year voting after slashing .288/.347/.463 with 18 doubles, five triples and seven home runs in 2021.

    "The Rays have given me the support that I need, the development, the people that they have here," Franco said. "I wish to stay here for my whole career."

    Rays president of baseball operations Erik Neander added: "The chance for a homegrown star to be with the club for the foreseeable future, that in and of itself is a really big deal.

    "Our on-field goal is to win a World Series, and as we've said many times over now, our desired approach to making that happen is to be as competitive as possible in as many years as possible.

    "This commitment certainly increases our confidence that we're going to continue to be competitive and eventually be that last team standing."

  • Alex Rodriguez, David Ortiz on Baseball Hall of Fame ballot for first time Alex Rodriguez, David Ortiz on Baseball Hall of Fame ballot for first time

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    Their arrival coupled with 2022 being the last year on the ballot for Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens guarantees questions about how the game should grapple with the legacy of performance-enhancing drugs will remain at the forefront for another election cycle.

    Ten-year members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America (BBWAA) can vote for up to 10 of the 30 players on this year's ballot, and a candidate must receive at least 75 per cent of the votes to be elected. Results will be announced on January 25. 

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    Voters will have to weigh that against their impressive on-field accomplishments. Rodriguez is one of the best hitters the game has ever seen, a three-time American League MVP and 14-time All-Star whose 696 home runs and 2,086 RBIs rank fourth in baseball history. 

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    After a pair of frustrating seasons with the Los Angeles Angels, Shohei Ohtani was finally healthy in 2021, and he answered every challenge put before him on the way to an MVP season. 

    The two-way sensation was a unanimous choice as the American League's Most Valuable Player on Thursday – early Friday in Japan – on the heels of a season that saw him perform feats that left fans and peers alike in awe. 

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    "I felt like the expectations from the team were very high and I wanted to do my best to try to answer those expectations."

    He added: "I’ve always dealt with a lot of doubters, especially from my days in Japan. I tried to not let that pressure get to me. I just wanted to have fun and see what kind of numbers I could put up, and what kind of performance I could put up." 

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    "What impresses me the most about him though, is the way he carries himself both on and off the field. With so much on his plate daily, he still manages to do it with a smile. Congratulations Shohei!"

    Angels manager Joe Maddon added in a statement: "Shohei came to the States to play among the best on both sides of the ball and he accomplished that mission on the highest level

    "Knowing him, this award is going to serve as motivation to exceed his previous accomplishments. I cannot wait to watch how his game helps push us to our goal of playing in the last game of the season and winning it. Congratulations to Shohei and his entire family on this special honour."

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    Ohtani brushed off a question from reporters about a possible contract extension Thursday but made it clear how he feels about his team. 

    "This is not the time to talk about contract stuff, but I want to make it clear that I love the Angels organisation and am looking forward to being a big part of the team for a long time," he said. "Right now I want to focus on winning next season with the Angels."

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