MLB

Rays' 11-game winning streak halted, deGrom returns for Mets

By Sports Desk May 26, 2021

The Tampa Bay Rays' 11-game winning streak ended as they went down 2-1 to the Kansas City Royals on Tuesday in the MLB.

With veteran Rich Hill on the mound, the Rays were exceptional in the outfield in the early innings with Austin Meadows and Kevin Kiermaier pulling off spectacular catches from Andrew Benintendi.

Hill, at the cherry ripe age of 41, tossed down 13 strikeouts across seven innings for the Rays.

But the Royals got their go-ahead run in the sixth inning when Cam Gallagher touched down from Salvador Perez's hit.

Shohei Ohtani hit his 15th homerun of the season, a 117 mph rocket, as the Los Angeles Angels won 11-5 over the Texas Rangers, while the San Diego Padres made it 10 wins from their past 11 with a 7-1 victory at the Milwaukee Brewers.

 

Guerrero moves to 16, DeGrom returns

Vladimir Guerrero moved into the outright lead for most homeruns this season in the Toronto Blue Jays' 6-2 win over the New York Yankees.

Guerrero hit his 16th homer of the 2021 MLB season in the third inning, as Yankees pitcher Corey Kluber started for the first time since last week's no-hitter.

Kluber only sent down 58 pitches across three innings, allowing his first hit in 39 batters, before being hastily replaced by Michael King, with fears of a shoulder injury.

The result ended the Blue Jays' six-game losing streak too.

Jacob deGrom returned for his first game since April 28 with ride side tightness and pitched five innings with nine strikeouts as the New York Mets won 3-1 over the Colorado Rockies.

It was not a perfect return for deGrom, allowing only his third homerun of the season, when Ryan McMahon homered in the second inning. It was the first he has allowed in the strike zone too.

Right-hander Edwin Diaz stepped up to finish the job for the Mets with three strikeouts, sending down a 100 mph pitch on the corner to end the game.

Max Scherzer was on song for the Washington Nationals but it was not enough for victory as the Cincinnati Reds triumphed 2-1 with Kyle Farmer and Eugenio Suarez homeruns.

Scherzer pitched seven innings and had nine strikeouts, including eight out of the strike zone.

 

Jack's rough high school reunion

Harvard-Westlake pals Jack Flaherty and Lucas Giolito reunited in the Chicago White Sox's 8-3 win over the St Louis Cardinals. Flaherty had started with an 8-0 record in his first eight appearances for the Cardinals but that came to an end in a hard day, including a wild pitch to Yermin Mercedes which allowed Nick Madrigal to score. Jose Abreu also returned to form with a homer off Flaherty.

 

Greinke vs Kershaw in Houston

Star pitchers Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw faced off with the latter getting the upper hand as the Los Angeles Dodgers won 9-2 at the Houston Astros. Kershaw sent down 81 pitches with 57 strikes and six Ks. He only gave up one run and did not walk anybody.

 

Tuesday's results

Chicago Cubs 4-3 Pittsburgh Pirates
Philadelphia Phillies 2-0 Miami Marlins
Cincinnati Reds 2-1 Washington Nationals
Toronto Blue Jays 6-2 New York Yankees
Atlanta Braves 3-1 Boston Red Sox
Kansas City Royals 2-1 Tampa Bay Rays
New York Mets 3-1 Colorado Rockies
Cleveland Indians 4-1 Detroit Tigers
San Diego Padres 7-1 Milwaukee Brewers
Minnesota Twins 7-4 Baltimore Orioles
Chicago White Sox 8-3 St Louis Cardinals
Los Angeles Dodgers 9-2 Houston Astros  
Los Angeles Angels 11-5 Texas Rangers
San Francisco Giants 8-0 Arizona Diamondbacks
Seattle Mariners 4-3 Oakland Athletics

 

Padres at Brewers

Fernando Tatis Jr and the San Diego Padres  continue their enthralling series away to the Milwaukee Brewers.

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    Week 4 of the NFL season could well have a substantial bearing on how the playoff race shakes out.

    Through three weeks, the 2022 campaign has delivered excitement at almost every turn, and there are plenty of high-stakes matchups to whet the appetite this weekend.

    There are conference championship and Super Bowl rematches on the docket, as well as extremely intriguing matchups between some of the season's early pacesetters.

    But which of the games on the schedule are likely to deliver the best contests? Stats Perform can provide some insight in that regard, using its SmartRatings as a guide.

    SmartRatings is an AI-based platform that provides excitement ratings for sporting events, teams and players. The excitement scale, ranging from 0-100, is powered by complex algorithms that are predicated upon six primary variables: pace, parity, novelty, momentum, context and social buzz.

    The weight of each variable is dynamic and adapts as a season progresses. The excitement scale translates to the following general sub-ranges: 0-39 (Dull Game), 40-64 (OK Game), 65-84 (Good Game), 85-100 (Great Game).

    So, let's take a look at the three games rated among the most exciting on the Week 4 slate and break down the key matchups that could decide them.

    Buffalo Bills @ Baltimore Ravens

    SmartRating: 67

    Win probability: Buffalo Bills (55.3%)

    Key Matchup: Lamar Jackson vs. Bills linebackers

    The Bills only need to look to their AFC East rivals the New England Patriots for a reminder of what can happen when a defense fails to defend 2019 MVP Lamar Jackson effectively.

    Last week, Jackson threw for 218 yards and four touchdowns with one interception while rushing for 107 yards and a touchdown on just 11 carries. He became the first player in Ravens history to throw at least three touchdown passes in each of the team's first three games of a season.

    Limiting his efficiency on the ground will be critical for the Bills' hopes of outscoring a potent Ravens offense. On designed runs, Jackson is averaging a remarkable 13.47 yards per carry, with his threat as a runner naturally helping fuel the Ravens' play-action game. Baltimore's average of 10.85 yards per play on play-action is well above the league average of 9.15.

    In Matt Milano and Tremaine Edmunds, the Bills possess two athletic and intelligent linebackers. They will need to display their physical gifts and their awareness to help limit Jackson's impact with ball in hand and ensure they do not bite too hard against play-action and open large throwing windows for him to attack. An evenly matched clash between two AFC heavyweights promises to be a classic, and Milano and Edmunds may have a crucial say in it tilting in the favour of Buffalo.

    Kansas City Chiefs @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers

    SmartRating: 75

    Win Probability: Kansas City Chiefs (54.7%)

    Key Matchup: Travis Kelce vs. Antoine Winfield Jr.

    The Chiefs are unlikely to find much joy targeting the Buccaneers outside corners, Jamel Dean and Carlton Davis, who have each enjoyed excellent starts to the season as they look to gain a measure of revenge for their blowout loss to Tampa Bay in Super Bowl LV.

    Instead, Patrick Mahomes will probably look to his most trusted weapon, All-Pro tight end Kelce, to help him get the Chiefs back on track following their shock loss to the Indianapolis Colts last weekend.

    Kelce has run 24 routes from the slot this season compared to nine from his in-line tight end spot. Having consistently thrived in the 'power slot' role throughout his career, Kelce will hope to do significant damage from that position while going against one the premier young safeties in the league.

    Winfield has spent 63 percent of his snaps this season in the slot but has conceded a burn, which is when a receiver wins his matchup on a play where he is targeted, on seven of his 11 targets. He has given up a big play on four of those targets.

    With Kelce registering a burn on 18 of his 24 targets, the matchup looks to be in his favour. Winfield must find a way to ensure it isn't if the Bucs' defense is to provide yet more critical support to an offense that continues to struggle.

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    SmartRating: 85

    Win Probability: Los Angeles Rams 53.0%

    Key Matchup: Aaron Donald vs. 49ers' Offensive Line

    Even after losing their starting quarterback and All-Pro left tackle to injury, the 49ers are still only seen as slight underdogs in Monday's rematch of last year's NFC Championship Game.

    But it is how the 49ers perform up front in the absence of Trent Williams that will likely determine if the Niners can continue their regular-season hoodoo over the Rams.

    The Niners have won the last six regular-season meetings with Los Angeles, but the Rams – who finally knocked off their rivals in the game that mattered most – will be confident of ending that streak if Donald and Co. can take advantage of San Francisco sliding Colton McKivitz in at left tackle as Williams' replacement.

    Much of that confidence will be based on how Jimmy Garoppolo performs when he is pressured. Among quarterbacks with at least 10 throws under pressure, Garoppolo's well-thrown percentage of 54.5 is the second worst in the NFL.

    Donald has already racked up 13 pressures on 40 pass rush snaps and is known for his ability to create pressure from anywhere on the defensive line. McKivitz, right tackle Mike McGlinchey and an extremely inexperienced interior offensive line must deliver their best for San Francisco to avoid falling to 1-3.

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    Liverpool right-back Alexander-Arnold has been the subject of much debate this week after being left out of England's matchday squad to face Germany on Monday.

    Reece James started the match and Kyle Walker came off the bench, while Kieran Trippier was among the substitutes.

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    Southgate handed Alexander-Arnold his international debut in 2018, but he has since earned just 17 caps for his country.

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    "It's like you have a list, bad defending and good defending, and bad defending [is] massive, and the good defending [list] is like you can't even see," he said.

    "That's what I see, because I'm not dumb."

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    Cal Raleigh made MLB history to end the Seattle Mariners' 21-year playoff drought in fitting fashion – circumstances scarcely believable to manager Scott Servais.

    The Mariners entered Friday knowing either defeat for the Baltimore Orioles or a victory of their own at home to the Oakland Athletics would clinch a Wild Card place.

    Seattle were enduring the longest active postseason absence in any of the four major American sports.

    And a surprise win for the Orioles at the New York Yankees kept Mariners fans waiting just a little longer, with their team very rarely doing things the easy way even in this hugely successful season.

    But Raleigh, pinch-hitting for Luis Torrens, homered on a 3-2 pitch from Domingo Acevedo at the bottom of the ninth to clinch a sensational 2-1 walk-off win and a playoff series next weekend.

    Raleigh became the first player in MLB history to secure a postseason berth with a pinch-hit, walk-off home run.

    After only two as a rookie in 2021, this was also Raleigh's 26th homer of the year – a new single-season record for Mariners catchers.

    That it happened at T-Mobile Park put the icing on the cake for Servais, who had already been talking up his team's World Series chances after beating the Texas Rangers the previous night. 

    "The fact that we're in our ballpark and there's 40,000 people here tonight, it's better than maybe what you can even dream it could be," Servais said.

    "We have a lot of baseball yet ahead of us. We did end the drought tonight, which is a very special feeling.

    "There's so many kids that grew up in the Pacific Northwest that don't know anything about the Mariners being in the playoffs, and now we get to show them."

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    "It wasn’t fluid. It wasn't a linear road for us," he said. "We stumbled, and we fell, and I think that made us stronger.

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    "I think what you see out there right now is a group of guys who believe that they can beat anybody."

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