MLB

Angels star Ohtani makes more MLB history, Posey's Giants win 12-0

By Sports Desk April 27, 2021

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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  • Ballon d'Or: Messi deserved the crown – Pochettino Ballon d'Or: Messi deserved the crown – Pochettino

    Lionel Messi "completely deserved" his record-extending seventh Ballon d'Or, according to Paris Saint-Germain head coach Mauricio Pochettino.

    The PSG star has endured something of a slow start to the Ligue 1 season, scoring just once in seven games, but his prior exploits with Barcelona and Argentina were enough to secure another accolade.

    The 34-year-old's performances for Argentina at the Copa America, helping his country to a first major trophy in 28 years, were likely what gave him the edge over Robert Lewandowski.

    Bayern Munich striker Lewandowski, who Messi claimed should have been awarded the cancelled 2020 Ballon d'Or, was once again in the running after breaking Gerd Muller's long-standing record of 40 goals in a single Bundesliga season.

    But Pochettino insists his Argentinian compatriot was the most deserving of the award for yet another outstanding year in which he has also managed 32 goals and 12 assists across 40 club appearances.

    "Firstly, I want to publicly congratulate Leo and his family," Pochettino told reporters at Tuesday's pre-match news conference ahead of the visit of Nice. 

    "Winning seven Ballons d'Or is an extraordinary achievement. I hope he takes advantage of it and that it's the first day to work on getting the eighth.

    "To have players with six and seven Ballon d'Or is something extraordinary and we are delighted to have him here every day. 

    "We hope at the end of the year to also have collective trophies beyond the individual trophies."

    Asked about the criticism of the Argentina international's victory, Pochettino responded: "Messi completely deserved it and there is no debate. 

    "Of course, in other countries there may be criticism, but he completely deserved it."

    Ahead of Wednesday's clash with Nice, PSG lead Ligue 1 by 12 points after winning 13 of their opening 15 games, a total surpassed only once at this stage in the competition by PSG themselves in 2018-19 (14/15).

    The league leaders may be without Messi for the clash at Parc des Princes, though, after the former Barcelona forward, along with Leandro Paredes, did not train on Tuesday due to a stomach bug.

    PSG will decide on the fitness of the pair on the morning of the Nice game, while they will definitely be without Neymar, who is expected to be out for six to eight weeks due to an ankle injury sustained against Saint-Etienne.

  • Ballon d'Or: Ancelotti congratulates Messi and tips Benzema for future success Ballon d'Or: Ancelotti congratulates Messi and tips Benzema for future success

    Karim Benzema will be extra motivated to win the 2022 Ballon d'Or after finishing fourth in this year's voting, according to Real Madrid head coach Carlo Ancelotti.

    The 33-year-old has scored 34 goals for Madrid this calendar year and was recalled to the France squad in May after a six-year exile.

    Benzema's combined 46 goals and assists in 2021 has been bettered only by Erling Haaland (48), Kylian Mbappe (51) and Robert Lewandowski (59) from Europe's top five leagues when taking all club competitions into account.

    The Madrid striker finished behind Euro 2020 winner Jorginho, Lewandowski and record seven-time winner Lionel Messi at Monday's Ballon d'Or ceremony, with N'Golo Kante completing the top five.

    Benzema's Madrid team-mate Toni Kroos has argued the Frenchman did more than Paris Saint-Germain star Messi this year to win the award.

    But Ancelotti accepts the decision, determined by journalists from across the world, and insists Benzema will not be fazed by finishing outside the top three.

    "We have to give fair value to the classification," he said at a news conference previewing Wednesday's LaLiga contest with Athletic Bilbao.

    "Messi has won and we must congratulate him. The individual awards are important but if they do not win it is not a catastrophe. I hope next year a Madrid player will win it.

    "Benzema has had a great season and finished fourth. He will continue to be motivated to try to be first next time.

    "If I had a vote, I would not choose any player outside of my own team. I'd have voted Benzema first, Vinicius [Junior] second, [Thibaut] Courtois third, Casemiro fourth.

    "But you have to respect and congratulate Messi on winning."

    Madrid-linked forward Kylian Mbappe finished ninth, but Ancelotti does not believe leaving Paris Saint-Germain will necessarily enhance his chances of winning the coveted crown.

    "Playing for a great club can help you, but it is still an individual prize," Ancelotti said when asked specifically about Mbappe.

    "These players will not cry because they have not won the award. The likes of Benzema and Courtois will accept it without a problem."

    Benzema and Vinicius are in contention to start Wednesday's clash with Athletic as Madrid aim to make it five league wins in a row and maintain a four-point lead at the top.

    Madrid are unbeaten in their last 12 LaLiga games against Athletic (W8 D4), one short of their best unbeaten run against the Basque club in the top flight.

    Ancelotti, who has lost only one of his four LaLiga games against Athletic, is prepared to make changes to Madrid's line-up three days on from their 2-1 win against Sevilla.

    "It's an evaluation I make every day," he said. "The dynamics of the team right now are very good. I won't rotate for the sake of it, but if we have any risks then of course we will do it.

    "We are facing a well organised team at the back. Marcelino trains all his teams very well, especially in a defensive sense.

    "This game will demand a lot from us and we need some offensive clarity. They are also a team that attacks vertically, so we must show good balance."

    Despite having to contend with injury problems and a congested schedule, Ancelotti reiterated Madrid are not likely to bring in any new players in January.

    "You have the summer to improve the squad," he said. "I don't like using January to adjust as that means something must have gone wrong in the summer.

    "If players are not happy then we'll think about it, but we are not looking to sign. The squad is fine and will compete until the end."

  • Klopp backs Van Dijk as Liverpool defensive leader returns to scene of Goodison agony Klopp backs Van Dijk as Liverpool defensive leader returns to scene of Goodison agony

    Jurgen Klopp backed Virgil van Dijk to power through his return to Goodison Park with Liverpool but believes the Dutchman will have his emotions stirred.

    Last season's Merseyside derby at Everton saw Van Dijk clattered early on by Jordan Pickford and hobble out of the game, suffering an anterior cruciate ligament injury that ended his season in October.

    The Dutch defender was sorely missed as Liverpool's Premier League title defence collapsed amid a drastic set of injuries that left Klopp struggling to piece together a backline at times.

    Now he has Van Dijk back and close to as good as ever, with Liverpool in great shape as they prepare to face Everton, who are under the instruction of former Reds boss Rafael Benitez.

    When asked about Van Dijk ahead of Wednesday's tussle with their struggling neighbours, Klopp suggested it would be naive to expect no reaction.

    "We're all human beings, so it's probably difficult to ignore something like that," Klopp said.

    "It was a situation that should not happen in football and doesn't happen very often. I can't remember one since then in any other game.

    "Virgil is very experienced, and he has these situations constantly since he's been back where he's in challenges and has to be completely free of all things he could have in his mind because of one issue in his past.

    "So slightly more different [against Everton] because it's in the same place, but apart from that it's just a football game again."

    Van Dijk has been an ever-present for Liverpool in their 13 Premier League games so far this season, and in that time he has been dribbled past only once by an opponent. No defender with 10 or more appearances has bettered that, and Klopp has been reassured by his increasingly imposing form.

    "He came back brilliant. People are really quick if something's not exactly like it was before to say 'he's not the same anymore' and stuff like this, and this is of course not right," Klopp said. "These kind of judgements make absolutely no sense because everybody needs time to get back.

    "He had a full pre-season which is absolutely helpful. His comeback was absolutely brilliant since he came back, it's been really good.

    "If some things are not exactly as they have been, it's only a matter of time because of his quality, there's no doubt about that."

    The Liverpool manager said his team would need "a cool head" for the likely raucous atmosphere awaiting them.

    "We are still an emotional team, but you have to use the emotion in the right way and that's the plan for tomorrow absolutely," Klopp said.

    Everton won 2-0 at Anfield in their last Premier League game against Liverpool, ending a 20-game winless run against them in the competition. Wednesday's hosts have not won back-to-back league Merseyside derbies since beating Liverpool in both meetings in the 1984-85 campaign, with Everton then on their way to winning the First Division title.

    Eight of the last nine Premier League derbies at Everton have finished level, including each of the last four in a row.

    Liverpool can break a long-standing record on Wednesday, which is one of numerous incentives. Klopp's team have scored at least twice in each of their last 17 games in all competitions, the joint-longest such run in history by an English top-flight side, level with Sunderland in 1927.

    Benitez will be out to prevent that happening, but his Everton side are in free-fall having lost five of their last six games.

    Former Liverpool managers have lost 13 of their last 14 Premier League games against the Reds, with Brendan Rodgers' Leicester City the exception, winning 3-1 in February, with Van Dijk by then on the injured list.

    Klopp does not entertain the theory that form goes out of the window for a derby.

    "I think previous form matters," he said. "Especially when it's good."

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