MLB

Dominant Phillies sweep Mets, Jays power past Red Sox

By Sports Desk August 08, 2021

Entering Friday's series opener in Philadelphia, the New York Mets had been in sole possession of first place in the National League (NL) East every day since May 9. 

They headed home on Sunday sitting third in the division after managing only two hits in a 3-0 loss to the surging Phillies, who have won eight in a row. 

Former Met Zack Wheeler went the distance for Philadelphia (59-53), retiring 27 of the 30 batters he faced while striking out 11. 

On the day the Phillies honored the late Hall of Famer Roy Halladay, Wheeler became the first Philadelphia pitcher to retire as many as 22 consecutive batters in a start since Halladay's May 29, 2010 perfect game against the Marlins. 

The Phillies got solo home runs from Jean Segura, J.T. Realmuto and Bryce Harper for all the scoring they needed against New York starter Taijuan Walker. 

As the Phillies expanded their lead with the sweep, the Atlanta Braves (57-55) moved a half-game in front of the Mets (56-55) with a 5-4 win over the Washington Nationals. 

 

Springer, Jays power past Red Sox

George Springer's three-run homer in the eighth inning lifted the Toronto Blue Jays past the Boston Red Sox 9-8, recording their ninth win of an 11-game homestand at Rogers Centre. Boston had led 7-2 after four, knocking out Toronto starter Hyun Jin Ryu, but Vladimir Guerrero Jr.'s 35th home run started the rally before Springer's big blow later finished it. 

Brett Phillips' second home run of the game, a grand slam in the eighth, lifted Tampa Bay past the Baltimore Orioles 9-6 as the Rays extended their division lead to four games over the Red Sox.

Brandon Belt tied the game with a two-run homer in the seventh and Tommy La Stella provided the winning margin with an RBI single in the eighth, giving the San Francisco Giants a 5-4 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers to improve their MLB-best record to 71-41.

 

Hess mess for Marlins

Reliever David Hess served as the "opener" for the Miami Marlins against the Colorado Rockies and saw his ERA nearly double. Hess surrendered three homers in his one inning of work, allowing seven runs as his ERA jumped from 4.32 to 7.64. 

 

Turner flies past Angels

Trea Turner showed off his wheels to his new home crowd at Dodger Stadium, scoring from first base on a grounder that barely reached the outfield.

 

Sunday's results 

Seattle Mariners 2-0 New York Yankees
Chicago White Sox 9-3 Chicago Cubs
Toronto Blue Jays 9-8 Boston Red Sox
Philadelphia Phillies 3-0 New York Mets
Oakland Athletics 6-3 Texas Rangers
Tampa Bay Rays 9-6 Baltimore Orioles
Boston Red Sox 2-1 Toronto Blue Jays
San Francisco Giants 5-4 Milwaukee Brewers
Cleveland Indians 7-5 Detroit Tigers
Cincinnati Reds 3-2 Pittsburgh Pirates
Minnesota Twins 7-5 Houston Astros
Kansas City Royals 6-5 St Louis Cardinals
Atlanta Braves 5-4 Washington Nationals
Colorado Rockies 13-8 Miami Marlins
San Diego Padres 2-0 Arizona Diamondbacks
Los Angeles Dodgers 8-2 Los Angeles Angels

 

Reds at Indians

The Cincinnati Reds (61-51) have won five in a row and 10 of their last 12 heading into a makeup game from a May 9 rainout at the Cleveland Indians (54-55).

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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.

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    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.

    James appears to be Gareth Southgate's preferred option in that position, but Walker has made 50 appearances under the Three Lions manager. Trippier has turned out 37 times for Southgate, starting in both the 2018 World Cup semi-final and Euro 2020 final.

    That leaves Alexander-Arnold – often outstanding for Liverpool – as fourth-choice and looking highly unlikely to feature at the World Cup, even if selected in the 26-man squad.

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

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    "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.

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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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