The New York Mets clinched their place in the MLB postseason for the first time since 2016 with Max Scherzer securing his 100th career win in a 7-2 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers on Monday.

The 38-year-old Mets right-hander, reinstated from the injured list, struck out nine across six innings where he threw 68 pitches. Scherzer was pulled after six innings with a perfect game intact, with the Mets opting not to risk injury to the three-time Cy Young Award winner on his return from an oblique issue.

The win means the Mets have booked a postseason berth, guaranteed at least a spot in the National League (NL) Wild Card Game, holding a 94-55 record.

Pete Alonso's three-run homer in the fourth inning headlined five runs against NL Cy Young Award winner Corbin Burnes.

The Mets will be making only their 10th postseason appearance in the franchise's 61-season history.

"This is what you play the game for," Scherzer said. "You play to get into the postseason. There's a lot of ways for it not to work out. For us to be able to find a way to get into the postseason, that's awesome. That's what we celebrate. That's what you play the game for.

"We have a lot of things in front of us. We understand that. But you got to celebrate the good times, too."

Astros clinch fifth AL West title in six years

The Houston Astros secured the American League West title for the first time in the past six seasons with a 4-0 win over the Tampa Bay Rays.

Jose Altuve's leadoff home run set the tone for the Astros, while Luis Garcia gave up two hits and four walks in five innings with four strikeouts as Houston claimed their 16th shutout.

The Astros also won for the eighth time in nine games ahead of their sixth straight postseason. Houston are assured of a first-round bye in the playoffs.

Kershaw dominates Diamondbacks

Clayton Kershaw tossed down 10 strikeouts as the Los Angeles Dodgers toppled the Arizona Diamondbacks 5-2.

The Dodgers, who have already clinched the NL West, saw Joey Gallo blast a second-inning homer, before Chris Taylor's three-run blast opened up a 5-0 lead.

But Kershaw grabbed the headlines, managing to strike out at least 10 batters with no walks in a game for the 27th time in his career.

The worrying form of the New York Yankees continued as they were downed the Seattle Mariners 4-3 after Carlos Santana's seventh-inning go-ahead two-run homer on Wednesday.

The Yankees have lost seven of their past eight games and are 2-7 in August, with the skid putting their top seed hopes in the American League in jeopardy.

Sam Haggerty had blasted the Mariners into a 1-0 lead with a solo home run in the sixth inning.

After Tuesday's 1-0 extras' loss to the Mariners, the Yankees actually went scoreless across 19 innings, breaking that run in the seventh inning on Wednesday.

Kyle Higashioka crushed a go-ahead two-run homer to left-center field in the seventh inning, before Aaron Judge added another, his 45th home run of the season, to extend the lead.

But the Mariners, who won the season series against the Yankees for the first time since 2002, fought back through Santana, with his two-run blast being his 11th homer of the season.

Mariners pitcher Robbie Ray played his part, striking out seven batters as well as Seattle moved to 61-52, while the Yankees are 71-41.

 

Dodgers clinch 10 straight wins

Joey Gallo blasted a three-run homer to help the Los Angeles Dodgers secure their 10th win in a row with an 8-5 triumph over the Minnesota Twins.

The Dodgers were trailing 4-2 in the fifth inning but rallied back with Chris Taylor homering the go-ahead run. Gallo, who was traded to the Dodgers from the Yankees last month, came up with his 13th home run of the season in the seventh inning.

The 10-game win streak is the Dodgers' longest since they won 11 in a row in July 2017, while they swept the four-game series against the Twins with a 32-10 run record.

Lindor stars as Mets winning run continues

The New York Mets extended their run of wins by three or more runs to six with a 10-2 victory over the Cincinnati Reds fueled by Francisco Lindor again.

The shortstop helped the Mets clinch a series sweep with a second-inning two-run single, opening up a 4-0 lead and making franchise history.

Lindor, who finished with three runs, two hits and two RBIs, moved to 81 RBIs for the season, tying with Jose Reyes in 2006 for a Mets' single-season record.

The Minnesota Twins signalled their win-now mindset with a trio of pitching moves, while the Los Angeles Dodgers took on a big-name reclamation project on Tuesday's MLB trade deadline day.

Minnesota lead their division by one game from the Cleveland Guardians, so the decision to push their chips into the middle and make a run at the playoffs is one that makes sense, and to make any noise, they needed pitching reinforcements.

A strong hitting side, the Twins are sixth in the majors in both on-base percentage (.321) and slugging percentage (.419) – but sit in the bottom half of the league in key pitching stats ERA (19th, giving up 4.03 runs per nine innings), strikeouts (21st) and walks allowed (19th).

Out of all 30 teams in the majors, only the Washington Nationals have had fewer 'quality starts' than the Twins – defined by the starting pitcher conceding three or fewer runs in six complete innings. The Nationals are also the only team to have less 'saves' collected by closing pitchers than the Twins.

In a bid to remedy both of those issues, the Twins acquired starting pitcher Tyler Mahle from the Cincinnati Reds, and All-Star closing pitcher Jorge Lopez from the Baltimore Orioles.

The nature of a starting pitcher is that they will throw more innings, and accumulate more overall value, but Lopez is arguably the more significant addition.

One of the best closers in all of baseball this season, 29-year-old Lopez boasts a terrific 1.68 ERA and is 10th in the league in saves with 19. He has allowed 47 total baserunners in 48 innings of work for an impressive WHIP (walks and hits per innings pitched) of 0.97.

Mahle, 27, does not have spectacular numbers this season (4.40 ERA), but that was mainly due to a rocky start.

He has since rebounded with a run of nine starts of at least five innings pitched with no more than four runs conceded, including back-to-back showings against the Arizona Diamondbacks where he totalled 22 strikeouts and one earned run from 15 innings.

Completing their haul, the Twins also traded pitching prospect Sawyer Gipson-Long for established reliever Michael Fulmer from the Detroit Tigers in another win-now move.

Meanwhile, the Dodgers acquired Joey Gallo from the New York Yankees in the midst of the power-hitting outfielder's worst season of his career.

Gallo, who has a pair of 40 home run seasons on his resume, and is still only 28 years old, has been a disaster since being traded to the Yankees last season, batting .159 with just 37 hits compared to 106 strikeouts.

One of the best teams in baseball, the Dodgers are hoping a change of scenery is all that is needed to re-energise the hard-hitting lefty, and they were able to acquire him as a depth piece for only minor league pitcher Clayton Beeter, who did not figure to contribute in any way to the major league side this eason.

In-form Anthony Rizzo produced the first three-home run game of his career while Joey Gallo blasted his first of the season as the New York Yankees won 12-8 over the Baltimore Orioles on Tuesday.

Rizzo opened the scoring with a three-run homer in the third inning, before Gallo slugging a two-run blast in the fourth inning to end his lean run to start the season.

Rizzo added a two-run shot in the fifth inning to put the Yankees up 6-0, while Aaron Judge also got in on the act with a homer on his 30th birthday.

The Orioles closed the gap to 11-8 before Rizzo completed a treble of home runs with a third in the eighth inning.

Rizzo sits on top of the majors charts with eight home runs this season, while he has 13 runs, 17 hits and 18 RBIs.

Twins walk-off miracle

The Minnesota Twins miraculously defeated the Detroit Tigers 5-4 after two wild walkoff runs after catcher Eric Haase's errant throw.

At the bottom of the ninth with two out, the Twins trailed 4-3 when Miguel Sano's hit to right field led to a baserunning blunder.

However, the Twins were bailed out when Haase lobbed a throw too high to third base, allowing Trevor Larnach and Gio Urshela to correct their mix-up and both get home for victory.

Trout homers in Angels win

Mike Trout homered for the fifth time this season as the Los Angeles Angels won 4-1 over the Cleveland Guardians. Trout had two hits for three RBIs in the win.

The Arizona Diamondbacks rallied from 3-0 down to win 5-3 over the Los Angeles Dodgers, who were left to rue sloppy fielding from Cody Bellinger before David Peralta's two-run eighth-inning homer.

Carlos Rodon had nine strikeouts with three hits across six innings as the San Francisco Giants improved to 13-5 with an 8-2 victory over the Oakland Athletics.

After a chaotic offseason, which included a lockout and pushing back Opening Day, baseball is almost back.

With a new collective bargaining agreement in place, two new playoff spots up for grabs and plenty of big-name player movement, it is shaping up to be an enthralling MLB season.

The defending champion Atlanta Braves may have improved, despite losing star Freddie Freeman to the Los Angeles Dodgers, and the Yankees' position as the best team in New York could soon be under threat. 

With so many storylines, the most logical place to begin is right at the very top.

 

Can the Braves go back-to-back?

As is often the case, the World Series race is wide open, but Atlanta is at least in the mix as far as the pre-season odds go.

Some would consider the Braves' run last season a fluke – they won 88 games in the regular season, while the 91-win Toronto Blue Jays and 90-win Seattle Mariners missed out on playoff berths entirely.

However, they were missing superstar Ronald Acuna Jr for a large chunk of the year, and made meaningful additions at the trade deadline including Eddie Rosario, Jorge Soler and Joc Pederson, and their playoff surge indicated that the record was not an accurate reflection of their talent.

While they lost franchise legend Freeman to the Dodgers, the Braves are arguably getting an upgrade at first base in the form of Matt Olson, who is four years younger and was a two-time Gold Glove winner with the Oakland Athletics before being traded for a four-player package of young Braves prospects.

Max Fried and Charlie Morton comprise a stout top of the rotation while Mike Soroka is out injured, and they have some strong bullpen arms including Tyler Matzek and Collin McHugh.

The Braves are a team without a clear weakness and will be full of confidence, so expect them to be fighting it out at the top of the NL East against the second-most expensive team in baseball, the New York Mets, as they bid to become the first team to win consecutive World Series since the Yankees in 1999 and 2000.

 

Are the Mets the best team in New York?

Since 2001, the New York Mets have only finished with a better record than the Yankees twice, in 2015 and 2016.

During that span, the Mets have never had a more expensive payroll than their local rivals – until this year.

The Mets are projected to come into Opening Day trailing only the Dodgers with the second-highest payroll in the league at $251million, while the Yankees are third at $239m.

It represents more than just deep pockets for second-year owner Steve Cohen, it shows that the Mets are no longer the 'little brother', and are willing to spend what it takes to be taken seriously against the most decorated franchise in major league history.

Buck Showalter will be the man tasked with turning the money into wins in his first year in the role, the former three-time AL Manager of the Year known for maximising talent on a limited budget with the Baltimore Orioles from 2010 to 2018, a stint that included a playoff series win over the Yankees.

Ultimately, what the Mets' season will hinge on is the health of their starting pitchers, with Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer (who turns 38 this season) comprising the best one-two punch in baseball after Marcus Stroman left as a free agent to join the Chicago Cubs. DeGrom has already been sidelined for four weeks with a shoulder injury.

The rotation also includes 2021 All-Star Taijuan Walker, who tailed off late last season, but showed impressive ability when fresh.

Francisco Lindor remains the young jewel of the franchise – now two seasons into a 10-year, $341m contract extension – and along with power-hitting Pete Alonso and rangy center-fielder Starling Marte, there is plenty of quality stepping into the batters' box.

The Yankees will have one of the highest-ceiling batting line-ups when they roll out sluggers Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton and Joey Gallo, but they also play in the league's toughest division in the AL East, and could be candidates for regression after losing pitcher Corey Kluber and trading away bats Gio Urshela and Luke Voit.

 

 

Did the best team in baseball not make the playoffs in 2021?

It may be hard to believe, but given the meat grinder that is the AL East, the Toronto Blue Jays are bookmakers' second-favourite to win the World Series despite not making the playoffs this past season.

The Blue Jays were top three in runs scored in 2021 and should again be one of the most explosive teams in the league this time around.

Toronto will also be able to enjoy a homecoming season, returning to Rogers Centre after the Blue Jays were forced to play their 2021 home games in Buffalo due to pandemic restrictions.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr and Bo Bichette are franchise cornerstones, last year's big signing George Springer was enormous in an injury-shortened debut campaign, and they have the luxury of adding Matt Chapman this season, who has two Platinum Gloves to his name as one of the best defensive players in the league.

Pitching remains the question mark in Toronto, with AL Cy Young winner Robbie Ray departing for Seattle in a serious blow to a rotation with plenty to prove.

Nobody should be surprised if the Blue Jays jump up from fourth in their division all the way to the top, and are one of the teams with real World Series aspirations this season.

 

Which top prospect will establish themselves as a star? 

There will be some elite prospects finding their way in the majors this season, but will any of them burst onto the scene as a star?

In 2017, Judge did more than just win Rookie of the Year, he led the AL in home runs and finished second in AL MVP voting.

While there is always a chance that an unheralded rookie emerges as the premier prospect, there is a relatively clear top-tier consisting of three players entering the season.

Kansas City Royals infielder Bobby Witt Jr, Baltimore Orioles catcher Adley Rutschman and Seattle Mariners outfielder Julio Rodriguez.

Rutschman will hit for average from both sides of the plate while projecting as an elite defensive catcher, Witt is the five-tool stud who will make eye-popping plays with his glove at shortstop, and Rodriguez is the big, power-hitting corner outfielder.

At 24 years old, Rutschman is the senior of the class, while the other two are considerably younger at 21, but all three will have a chance to prove themselves early in the year as franchise-altering stars – and potentially become the biggest story of this season.

Luis Severino made a successful return from long-term injury on the hill as the New York Yankees stayed in the American League (AL) Wild Card hunt with a 7-1 win over the Texas Rangers on Tuesday.

Giancarlo Stanton creamed a solo home run, with a recorded 118 mph exit velocity, to get the Yankees on their way to victory.

Joey Galllo homered for the 38th time this season, while Aaron Judge's three-run home run in the seventh inning put the Yankees up 7-1.

But with the game practically done and dusted, Severino's return was one of the game's big highlights.

The 27-year-old was making his first appearance since October 15, 2019 due to injuries, and produced two scoreless innings and two strikeouts.

The win keeps the Yankees (85-67) just behind the Toronto Blue Jays (85-66), who overcame the Tampa Bay Rays 4-2.

 

Rare air for 10-straight Cardinals

The St Louis Cardinals recorded their 10th straight win to further enhance their Wild Card hopes with a 2-1 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers.

The 10-game winning streak is the Cards' first since 2001, while they became the second team in the Wild Card era to move into a playoff spot with such a September run.

The Brewers almost snatched the win, down 2-1 in the ninth inning with bases loaded after Christian Yelich was walked, but Giovanny Gallegos struck out Pablo Reyes with a vicious breaking ball to close it out.

Xander Bogaerts had a game to remember, delivering his 23rd home run for the season and driving in four runs as the Boston Red Sox won 6-3 over the New York Mets to solidify their grip on an AL Wild Card spot.

LaMonte Wade Jr drove in Brandon Belt in the ninth inning as the San Francisco Giants got past the San Diego Padres 6-5 despite two homers from Manny Machado to hold sole possession of first place.

Albert Pujols drove in Gavin Lux for the game-winning run in the 10th inning as the Los Angeles Dodgers survived a scare to beat the Colorado Rockies 5-4.

Bryce Harper put on the jets to get home from J.T. Realmuto's right-field flyball to seal a crucial walk-off win for the Philadelphia Phillies 3-2 over the Baltimore Orioles.

 

Reds miss golden opportunity

Nicholas Castellanos, Joey Votto and Kyle Farmer all fluffed a golden chance to press the Cincinnati Reds' National League (NL) Wild Card case, getting out on consecutive at-bats trailing 3-2 with bases loaded in the sixth inning. The Reds eventually went down 6-2 to the Pittsburgh Pirates, leaving Cincinnati 78-74, trailing the Cards by four games in the race for the second NL Wild Card spot.

 

Ohtani homes in on more records

Shohei Ohtani homered for the first time since September 10 as the Los Angeles Angels went down 10-5 to the Houston Astros. Ohtani's solo shot was his 45th home run for the season, pulling him within one of the equal league lead alongside Vladimir Guerrero Jr and Salvador Perez. Ohtani is also now tied with Mike Trout in second for most homers in a single season in Angels franchise history.

 

Tuesday's results 

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

 

Blue Jays at Rays

The Blue Jays' (85-66) battle for the second AL Wild Card spot is getting tight, and they will look to round out their series with the Rays with another victory, with the Yankees (85-67) breathing down their necks.

The Los Angeles Dodgers and the New York Mets went to extras for the second straight game with Cody Bellinger coming up with the crucial RBI in a 2-1 win for the world champions on Saturday.

The Dodgers had won 6-5 on Friday against the Mets and backed that up in another tight contest, with Bellinger's line hit allowing Corey Seager to score easily in the 10th inning.

This came after the Dodgers had been held hit-less across six innings by the Mets, with LA also having an 1-12 record in extras coming into the series.

Mets pitcher Taijuan Walker had eight strikeouts but Will Smith hit a game-tying solo home run in the seventh inning for the Dodgers.

Bellinger has had an underwhelming season but came up with the crucial hit in the 10th inning before Corey Knebel locked down the save.

Walker Buehler had an exceptional performance for the Dodgers, keeping the game tight with 10 strikeouts across seven innings. That marks the sixth time Buehler has gone at least seven innings and allowed one earned run or fewer.

The win improves the Dodgers record to 71-46, while the Mets are 59-57.

 

Moore silences the boos, Gilbert no-hitter

Making his 10th start of the season, Philadelphia Phillies left-hander Matt Moore allowed no hits, tossing down eight strikeouts in their 6-1 win over the Cincinnati Reds.

Moore's no-hit start was across six innings and comes after copping boos for his relief display against the Los Angeles Dodgers earlier this week. "A day like today, coming off the field, it’s something you wish you could put in a bottle and open up someday or relive it," Moore said.

In his first big league start, Tyler Gilbert completed a no-hitter for the Arizona Diamondbacks, with five strikeouts across nine innings in their 7-0 triumph over the San Diego Padres.

Chris Sale fired in his return to the mound after two years, tossing down eight strikeouts in the Boston Red Sox' 16-2 win over the Baltimore Orioles, while Rafael Devers had two hits and four RBI.

Matt Chapman had a game to remember after bashing two home runs and taking an unbelievable catch running backwards in the Oakland Athletics' 8-3 victory over the Texas Rangers.

Shohei Ohtani drilled a lead-off home run, taking his season tally to 39 homers, as the Los Angeles Angels lost 8-2 to the Houston Astros.

Joey Gallo crushed a two-run home run in the 10th inning to cap the New York Yankees' 7-5 win over the Chicago White Sox.

 

Rays dismantled by Twins

The Tampa Bay Rays may be leading the American League East with a 71-46 record but they were dismantled by the resurgent Minnesota Twins 12-0. The Rays trailed 7-0 after three innings and only managed three hits for the game.

 

Swanson makes Braves history

The Atlanta Braves hit four home runs in their 12-2 win over the Washington Nationals, including Dansby Swanson who made franchise history, with no Braves short-stop hitting more homers than him.

 

Saturday's results 

Pittsburgh Pirates 14-4 Milwaukee Brewers
Philadelphia Phillies 6-1 Cincinnati Reds
Boston Red Sox 16-2 Baltimore Orioles
Atlanta Braves 12-2 Washington Nationals
Miami Marlins 5-4 Chicago Cubs
Detroit Tigers 6-4 Cleveland Indians
Milwaukee Brewers 6-0 Pittsburgh Pirates
Oakland Athletics 8-3 Texas Rangers 
New York Yankees 7-5 Chicago White Sox
St Louis Cardinals 9-4 Kansas City Royals
Los Angeles Dodgers 2-1 New York Mets
Minnesota Twins 12-0 Tampa Bay Rays
Arizona Diamondbacks 7-0 San Diego Padres
Colorado Rockies 4-1 San Francisco Giants
Houston Astros 8-2 Los Angeles Angels 
Seattle Mariners 9-3 Toronto Blue Jays

 

Padres at Diamondbacks

Fernando Tatis Jr could return for the first time this month following a shoulder injury when the Padres complete their four-game series against the Diamondbacks who are chasing a sweep.

The Los Angeles Dodgers fortified their chances to repeat as World Series champions by acquiring starter Max Scherzer and shortstop Trea Turner as MLB teams completed a historic trade deadline scramble that saw 10 different 2021 All-Stars change teams.

The Dodgers, who trail the Giants by three games in the highly competitive National League West, were able to orchestrate a blockbuster deal to plug the hole in their rotation left by Trevor Bauer, who remains on leave as he is investigated for sexual abuse.

Scherzer, a three-time Cy Young Award winner and eight-time All-Star, steps into a formidable rotation that still features Walker Buhler, Clayton Kershaw and Julio Urias – plus left-hander Danny Duffy, who was acquired from the Kansas City Royals on Thursday.

Turner is batting .322 this year with 18 home runs and has 21 stolen bases, earning him his first All-Star selection earlier this month. He will add his combination of speed and power to a Los Angeles lineup that already leads the National League in runs scored.

In return for the two All-Stars, the Dodgers sent four minor league players to the Washington Nationals, including a pair of top-50 prospects in catcher Keibert Ruiz and pitcher Josiah Gray.

The Nationals were among the biggest sellers at the deadline, sitting in fourth place in the NL East and having just announced that 2019 World Series MVP Stephen Strasburg will undergo season-ending neck surgery.

On Thursday, Washington sent relief pitcher Brad Hand to the Toronto Blue Jays and dealt slugger Kyle Schwarber to the Boston Red Sox. The fire sale continued on Friday, with the Nationals sending catcher Yan Gomes and infielder Josh Harrison to the Athletics and trading veteran lefty Jon Lester to the St. Louis Cardinals.

The other notable sellers at the deadline were the Chicago Cubs, who gutted nearly the entire core that helped them win the World Series in 2016.

Kris Bryant, Javier Baez and Anthony Rizzo each played a vital role in that championship five years ago but were sent packing this week with all three playing in the final seasons of their contracts.

The New York Mets added Baez, who will likely start at shortstop until Francisco Lindor is healthy then play second base, as well as pitcher Trevor Williams in exchange for 2020 top draft pick Pete Crow-Armstrong.

Bryant, who had previously said he would consider re-signing with the Cubs this offseason, yielded a modest return in a trade with the NL West-leading Giants.

The Cubs also had the leading closer on the market, sending Craig Kimbrel to the crosstown White Sox for second baseman Nick Madrigal and pitcher Codi Heuer.

Rizzo was the first to go, traded Thursday to the New York Yankees, whose first basemen have slugged an MLB-worst .323 this season.

The Yankees are in third place, thanks mostly to an anemic offense that has scored the second-fewest runs in the American League, but took huge strides at the deadline. Earlier on Thursday, the Yankees secured towering slugger Joey Gallo in a trade with the woeful Texas Rangers, giving the Bronx Bombers two new power threats from the left side of the plate.

Despite entering Friday fourth in the AL East, the Toronto Blue Jays dealt two prospects to the Minnesota Twins for right-handed starter Jose Berrios. Even if Toronto misses the playoffs this season, Berrios is still just 27 and remains under team control through 2022.

The Atlanta Braves drew attention around the league for being buyers, despite star center fielder Ronald Acuna Jr. being out for the rest of the season. The Braves made multiple deals on Friday and since the All-Star break have added catcher Stephen Vogt, pitcher Richard Rodriguez and four outfielders: Adam Duvall, Joc Pederson, Jorge Soler and Eddie Rosario.

Elsewhere in the NL East, the Philadelphia Phillies also strengthened their position by acquiring All-Star pitcher Kyle Gibson from the Rangers and by re-uniting with infielder Freddy Galvis.

Add in earlier trades that sent Nelson Cruz to the Tampa Bay Rays, Adam Frazier to the San Diego Padres and Eduardo Escobar to the Milwaukee Brewers to reach 10 of this year’s All-Stars moved at the deadline, the most ever.

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