MLB

Ohtani hits 26th homer as Angels add to Yankees' woes, Schwarber makes MLB history

By Sports Desk June 29, 2021

Los Angeles Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani continued his red-hot form with his 26th homer of the season in a 5-3 win over the slumping New York Yankees.

Ohtani moved into a tie with Toronto Blue Jays sensation Vladimir Guerrero Jr. for the most home runs this MLB season on Monday.

After going 0 for nine in his previous appearances at Yankee Stadium, Ohtani recorded his first career hit at the venue thanks to his powerful opening-inning homer.

Ohtani – who is scheduled to pitch on Wednesday – now has nine homers in his last 12 games.

"That definitely sent a message," Angels manager Joe Maddon said. "He's so easy to speak to during the game. He never gets upset. He never loses focus.

"He's able to turn the page to the next one. But yeah, that was just the right way to start his trip to New York, with him hitting a home run."

The loss condemned the Yankees to a fourth consecutive defeat following their series sweep at the hands of bitter rivals the Boston Red Sox.

 

Schwarber's historic night

The Washington Nationals topped the New York Mets 8-4 thanks to Kyle Schwarber, who homered twice. He became the first player in MLB history to hit 15 home runs in a 17-day span, according to Stats Perform.

Schwarber and Trea Turner went back-to-back to open the game for the Nationals. Mookie Betts and Max Muncy did the same thing for the Los Angeles Dodgers in their 3-2 win over rivals the San Francisco Giants. According to Stats Perform, it is the first time in major league history that two teams have started a game with back-to-back home runs on the same day.

 

Manning mauled in Cleveland

Matt Manning was rocked for nine runs in the Detroit Tigers' 13-5 loss to the Cleveland Indians. The Tigers pitcher allowed nine hits and two home runs across 3.2 innings, while striking out just two batters.

As the Milwaukee Brewers celebrated a sixth successive win, the Chicago Cubs were left to pick up the pieces following a 14-4 demolition. The Cubs allowed 10 runs in the eighth inning. Trevor Megill was tagged for a three-run homer in the outburst. He gave up four hits, six runs, two homers and two walks in less than an inning.

 

Castellanos slam

The Cincinnati Reds crushed the Philadelphia Phillies 12-4. Nick Castellanos hit a grand slam in the seventh inning. He finished with three hits and a career-high seven RBIs. Tyler Naquin, Jesse Winker and Castellanos have all had six-plus RBI in a game for the Reds this season. Cincinnati are the first MLB team ever to have three different outfielders with a six-RBI game before the All-Star break, according to Stats Perform.

 

Monday's results

Colorado Rockies 2-0 Pittsburgh Pirates
Cincinnati Reds 12-4 Philadelphia Phillies
Los Angeles Angels 5-3 New York Yankees
Washington Nationals 8-4 New York Mets
Cleveland Indians 13-5 Detroit Tigers
Boston Red Sox 6-5 Kansas City Royals
Baltimore Orioles 9-7 Houston Astros
Milwaukee Brewers 14-4 Chicago Cubs
St Louis Cardinals 7-1 Arizona Diamondbacks
Los Angeles Dodgers 3-2 San Francisco Giants
Minnesota Twins-Chicago White Sox (postponed)

 

Twins at White Sox

After Monday's game was postponed, the White Sox (45-32) will host the Twins (33-43) in Tuesday's all-American League (AL) Central clash. Lucas Giolito starts for the White Sox as the Twins counter with Kenta Maeda.

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    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

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    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.

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    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.

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

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    "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.

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    "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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    "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.

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    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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