MLB

Cardinals extend streak, benches clear but Rays clinch playoff berth

By Sports Desk September 23, 2021

The streaking St Louis Cardinals won their 11th consecutive game after easing past the Milwaukee Brewers 10-2 in MLB action.

Paul Goldschmidt and Tyler O'Neill homered as the Cardinals extended their lead for the second National League (NL) wild-card spot by downing the division-leading Brewers on Wednesday.

The Cardinals – enjoying a four-and-a-half-game lead over the Cincinnati Reds and Philadelphia Phillies for the final NL wild-card berth – are in the midst of their best winning streak since an 11-game run in 2001.

"We grow from the previous days. We grew from today, we'll get after it tomorrow," Cardinals manager Mike Shildt said. "One of the biggest things this team does is just stay present, so it's just about staying present, keep playing, getting after it."

 

Rays clinch in fierce battle with Blue Jays

The benches cleared between the American League (AL) East-leading Tampa Bay Rays and playoff-chasing Toronto Blue Jays, but the former went on to seal a postseason spot for the third campaign in a row with a 7-1 rout. Rays outfielder Kevin Kiermaier was hit in the back with a pitch from Blue Jays reliever Ryan Borucki in the eighth inning.

"Oh yeah, it was intentional. I thought it was a weak move, to be quite honest," said Kiermaier. "It's over. It didn't hurt by any means, so I don't care. Whatever. We move on. We got a series win, and I hope we play those guys, I really do."

Kyle Schwarber led the way as the Boston Red Sox crushed the New York Mets 12-5. Schwarber homered twice and scored four runs. According to Stats Perform, the Red Sox star is the second player in MLB history to homer in both the first and second innings of a game three different times in the same season, after Mookie Betts in 2016. He is also the first player in MLB history to hit nine-plus home runs in a five-game span against a single opponent.

Juan Soto claimed the NL batting lead behind three hits and three RBIs in the Washington Nationals' 7-5 win over the Miami Marlins. Soto's 27th homer helped raise his average to .321.

 

Rockies get on top of Buehler

Walker Buehler had a rough outing as World Series champions the Los Angeles Dodgers lost 10-5 at the Colorado Rockies. The Dodgers starter gave up five runs on seven hits over 3.2 innings, including a homer.

 

Tatis hits homer number 40

The San Diego Padres went down to the high-flying San Francisco Giants 8-6 but star Fernando Tatis Jr. hit his 40th home run of the season. He joined Johnny Bench as the only players aged 22 or younger to hit 40 homers in their first 119 games of a season.

 

Wednesday's results

Atlanta Braves 9-2 Arizona Diamondbacks
Seattle Mariners 4-1 Oakland Athletics
San Francisco Giants 8-6 San Diego Padres
Tampa Bay Rays 7-1 Toronto Blue Jays
Washington Nationals 7-5 Miami Marlins
Philadelphia Phillies 4-3 Baltimore Orioles
New York Yankees 7-3 Texas Rangers
Boston Red Sox 12-5 New York Mets
Minnesota Twins 5-4 Chicago Cubs
St Louis Cardinals 10-2 Milwaukee Brewers
Colorado Rockies 10-5 Los Angeles Dodgers
Houston Astros 9-5 Los Angeles Angels
Pittsburgh Pirates-Cincinnati Reds (postponed)
Chicago White Sox-Detroit Tigers (postponed)
Kansas City Royals-Cleveland Indians (postponed)

 

Dodgers at Rockies

The Dodgers (97-55) face the Rockies (71-80) on Thursday, with their three-game series on the line. Dodgers ace Max Scherzer is set to start, while the Rockies are poised to send Kyle Freeland to the mound.

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  • Verstappen holds his nerve in Austin to take 12-point championship lead Verstappen holds his nerve in Austin to take 12-point championship lead

    Max Verstappen kept his cool in the Texas heat to hold off Lewis Hamilton and clinch a vital victory in the Formula One title race at the United States Grand Prix.

    Verstappen ended Mercedes' run of six consecutive poles at this race on Saturday and despite Hamilton – who had previously won three times from second on the grid in Austin – enjoying a fantastic start, the Red Bull driver got back ahead and held his nerve in a tense final tussle to clinch his maiden success in America by 1.3 seconds.

    Having been told by his Mercedes team that it was "all about the last three laps", Hamilton trailed by just 3.046 seconds heading into the final 10 at the Circuit of the Americas, which did not host a race last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

    The reigning world champion, who has won more races (six) in the United States than any other driver, cut the gap with five laps remaining, with that promise of a frantic final three laps proving correct.

    In fact, it came down to the final lap, Verstappen utilising DRS early to get an extra boost that just kept him ahead of Hamilton, as Red Bull's decision to pit the championship leader early paid off in style.

    It brought up an eighth race win of the season for Verstappen, and a drive described by his team as "sheer class" propelled the Dutchman 12 points clear. 

    Red Bull had a great day all-round, with Sergio Perez coming in third to seal the team's 200th F1 podium, though Hamilton did take an extra point for the fastest lap.

    Charles Leclerc took fourth place for Ferrari, while Valtteri Bottas overcame Carlos Sainz late on to grab sixth place behind Daniel Ricciardo – the latter pair having clipped on lap 43.

    Verstappen matches Mansell

    Verstappen has now equalled Nigel Mansell as the driver to have recorded the second most victories with a Honda engine, on 13, behind only the late Ayrton Senna (32). 

    With eight wins to his name in 2021, victory is on Verstappen's side. Apart from Hamilton in 2016, who won 10 without claiming the title, all drivers who have won at least eight races in a season went on to seal the championship.

    Alonso's unhappy Austin hunting ground

    Only in Belgium (16, three podiums) has Fernando Alonso raced on more occasions without a win than in the United States (13, two podiums). 

    There was no change in that record on Sunday as the Alpine driver was forced to retire due to a broken rear wing.

    IN THE POINTS

    1. Max Verstappen (Red Bull)
    2. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +1:333
    3. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) +42:223
    4. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) +52:246
    5. Daniel Ricciardo (McLaren) +1:16:854
    6. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) +1:20:128
    7. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) +1:23:545
    8. Lando Norris (McLaren) +1:24:395
    9. Yuki Tsuonda (AlphaTauri) +1 LAP
    10. Sebastian Vettel (Aston Martin) +1 LAP

    CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS

    Drivers

    1. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) 287.5
    2. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 275.5
    3. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) 185
    4. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) 150
    5. Lando Norris (McLaren) 149

    Constructors

    1. Mercedes 460.5
    2. Red Bull 437.5
    3. McLaren 254
    4. Ferrari 250.5
    5. Alpine 104

    WHAT'S NEXT?

    Mexico is next up to start a triple-header that also includes trips to Brazil and Qatar in November. Only five grands prix remain in what is shaping up to be a sensational title race.

  • Atletico Madrid 2-2 Real Sociedad: Suarez double drags champions back from behind Atletico Madrid 2-2 Real Sociedad: Suarez double drags champions back from behind

    Luis Suarez scored twice in the second half to help champions Atletico Madrid come from behind to earn a 2-2 draw against Real Sociedad at the Wanda Metropolitano.

    Atletico goalkeeper Jan Oblak will feel he could have done better for both Sociedad goals as Alexander Sorloth finished off a slick, one-touch move to give La Real an early lead before Alexander Isak extended their advantage with a free-kick into the bottom-right corner shortly after the break.

    Suarez gave Diego Simeone's men a lifeline with a header, however, and hauled his team back on level terms by winning and then converting a penalty.

    The draw means Sociedad return to the top of LaLiga having been briefly usurped by Real Madrid, who trail by a point but have the benefit of a game in hand. Atletico are up to fourth.

    Just seven minutes in, Sorloth added the finishing touch to a lightning-quick Sociedad attack after the ball was won in midfield, prodding past a hesitant Oblak, who came off his line too late.

    The goalscorer then linked up neatly with David Silva, playing a one-two with the veteran midfielder as the latter tested Oblak with a sharp effort from a tight angle on the right, with Suarez heading wastefully at Alex Remiro shortly after for Atletico.

    Isak, having set up the opener, doubled La Real's lead two minutes into the second half as Oblak could not keep out his low free-kick despite getting a hand to the shot.

    Suarez pulled one back just after the hour mark, though, finding space in the box to deftly nod Joao Felix's left-wing cross past Remiro before drawing a penalty from Mikel Merino - awarded after a VAR check - which he converted confidently, sending Remiro the wrong way to salvage a point for his side.

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    Paulo Dybala's late penalty cancelled out Edin Dzeko's first-half strike as Inter were held by Juventus 1-1 in Sunday's Derby d'Italia clash in Serie A.

    The Bianconeri started this term poorly – going winless in their first three top-flight games – but had responded well with a four-match winning run before travelling to Inter, who were facing consecutive league defeats for the first time since March 2020.

    However, it was Dzeko who opened the scoring after 17 minutes at San Siro with his eighth goal of the season as the division's early top scorers added their 24th goal of the term.

    Juve's nine-match unbeaten run across all competitions seemed destined to end but Dybala's late penalty, aided by a VAR decision that infuriated Simone Inzaghi so much he was sent off for his reaction, ensured Massimiliano Allegri's men left Milan with a point.

    Samir Handanovic produced a fine double save to deny Alvaro Morata and Alex Sandro in the opening stages after Milan Skriniar had headed narrowly wide for Inter.

    Hakan Calhanoglu then curled against the right-hand post before Dzeko converted on the rebound from close range – his fifth Serie A goal in just four home appearances so far this campaign.

    Juan Cuadrado fired wide at the other end and Leonardo Bonucci sliced off target on the stroke of half-time as Juve looked to respond.

    Dzeko flicked wide after the interval as he sought to extend Inter's lead before Ivan Perisic skewed over Wojciech Szczesny's goal just after the hour mark.

    Substitute Dybala's free-kick was then beaten away by Handanovic before the Argentina international converted from the spot to score a late equaliser following Denzel Dumfries' foul on Alex Sandro, which was picked up by VAR.

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