Nestor Cortes carried a three-hit shutout into the ninth inning as the New York Yankees defeated the Tampa Bay Rays 7-2 on Thursday.

Cortes was in impressive form, finishing with five struck out and four hits over 109 pitches before Wandy Peralta came in to close the game out.

The Yankees came into this game with Giancarlo Stanton and Josh Donaldson both unavailable while DJ LeMahieu also deals with wrist soreness.

Requesting a release after 21 games in Triple-A ball for the Round Rock Express, the Texas Rangers' affiliate, Matt Carpenter scored twice from two at-bats as the designated hitter in his debut game for the Pinstripes.

Now on a three-game winning streak, the Yankees moved to 32-13 to extend their lead over the Rays atop the American League East.

Nola propels Phillies to win over Braves

The Philadelphia Phillies bounced back to defeat the Atlanta Braves, splitting their four-game series with a 4-1 win.

Aaron Nola struck out 10 and gave up only four hits while pitching a shutout coming into the ninth inning, giving up one more hit over an eventual 109 pitches before Corey Knebel closed.

The Phillies and Braves are now even on a 21-24 record in the National League East, both seven-and-a-half games behind the New York Mets.

Brewers beat Cardinals, extend NL Central lead

Josh Hader made the eventual save for the Milwaukee Brewers, earning a 37th consecutive scoreless appearance as they defeated the St Louis Cardinals 4-3.

Eric Lauer started slowly for the Brewers, giving up two runs and four hits in the opening two innings, before closing with four hits and a strikeout over 96 pitches in five innings.

Tyrone Taylor drove in for the seventh game in a row while Luis Urias scored a home run, as the Brewers extended their lead over the Cards in the NL Central.

The MLB record for most combined home runs in a game was threatened in the Arizona Diamondbacks' 10-6 win against the Chicago Cubs.

Overall, the teams combined to hit 11 home runs – two short of the record, which was set by the Diamondbacks and Philadelphia Phillies in 2019. 

After the Diamondbacks drove in the first two runs of the contest with a bases-loaded single in the opening inning, Patrick Wisdom launched the first long-ball of the game in the second frame in response for the Cubs.

Arizona took over from there, with seven of the next eight runs coming from Diamondbacks home runs.

Third-baseman Josh Rojas hit his own solo shot in the top of the third inning, and it would be the first of his three home runs in the game, as he hit a two-run bomb in the fifth inning and another solo in the seventh inning, with all three travelling at least 402 feet.

David Peralta hit two home runs for the Diamondbacks, while Alek Thomas and Christian Walker had one each. For the Cubs, Jonathan Villar was the second from his team to go deep, before Christopher Morel and Ildemaro Vargas went back-to-back in the seventh inning.

Given the friendly scoring conditions, the best pitching performance of the game came from Diamondbacks bullpen arm Noe Ramirez, who was only asked to retire four batters, but was the only pitcher from either team to allow no hits and no runs.

 

Story time continues in Boston

After hitting three home runs on Thursday, Trevor Story stayed hot for the Boston Red Sox on Friday, hitting a bases-loaded grand slam in his side's 7-3 home win against the Seattle Mariners.

Story, who was the Red Sox's biggest off-season signing, had his big moment with two outs in the third inning after Christian Vazquez's base hit and walks to Enrique Hernandez and Xander Bogaerts, launching a long-ball 378 feet over the 'Green Monster' in left-field.

A two-run, 429-foot blast from Abraham Toro in the fifth frame kept the Mariners competitive, before Boston's Jackie Bradley Jr. put the game to bed with a three-run homer in the eighth inning.

Nats turn rare triple-play

The Washington Nationals were on the wrong end of a 7-0 beating from the Milwaukee Brewers, but they produced one of the rarest plays in baseball.

With no outs in the bottom of the seventh inning, and runners on first and second base, Milwaukee's Luis Urias hit a hard ground-ball straight at third base, allowing the field to take it cleanly and step on the base, before throwing to second, who got it to first in time for the triple-play.

It was the Nationals' first triple-play since 2016, although it was soured by a dominant pitching performance from Brewer Eric Lauer, who went seven full innings, conceding no runs while allowing just five hits and no walks.

Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Nick Pivetta rebounded from a disappointing start to throw a complete game, beating the Houston Astros 5-1.

Pivetta was put on the back foot straight away, as Houston's lead-off hitter, Jose Altuve, forced him to throw nine pitches before sending the 10th over the 'Green Monster' for a home run to left-field.

The Astros would only register one more hit in the entire game as Pivetta found his footing, though, retiring 18 consecutive batters until a double in the seventh inning, and then another nine consecutive batters to close out the contest.

Despite conceding so early, the Red Sox reclaimed the lead later in the first frame, as Rafael Devers was brought home after his triple, before Xander Bogaerts hit a solo home run to make it 2-1.

Another extra-base hit from Devers in the third inning brought home Boston's third run, and the home side then manufactured another two tallies in the fourth, never allowing the Astros back into the contest.

The win moves the struggling Red Sox to 15-22 for the season, while the Astros are in a much stronger position, tied for the third-best record in the majors at 24-14.

Hiura the hero for Brewers

Keston Hiura crushed a massive walk-off home run to give the Milwaukee Brewers a 7-6 win against the Atlanta Braves in extra innings.

The Braves led 4-0 after three innings, but the Brewers were able to fight back, tying the game with a two-out triple in the bottom of the ninth and final frame to keep the game alive.

After both teams scored a run each in the 10th, the Braves added another in the top of the 11th, before Hiura's two-run, 447-foot blast to center-field closed the show.

Lowe sends one high for the win

After Jared Walsh tied things up for the Los Angeles Angels at 4-4 with a ninth-inning home run, Nathaniel Lowe came back to bomb a two-run walk-off to give the Texas Rangers a 6-5 win in extra innings.

It was a solid start on the mound for Angels star Shohei Ohtani, pitching six full innings for two earned runs and seven strikeouts, but the Rangers capitalised once he exited with solo home runs in the seventh and eighth frames.

Walsh's two-run homer sent the game to extra innings, and the Angels scored first at the top of the 10th, but Lowe wasted no time ending things, leading off the bottom of the 10th and blasting the first pitch over the wall to win it.

The New York Yankees continued their red-hot start to the season with a 6-2 away win against the Baltimore Orioles on Monday.

With the win, the Yankees are now 26-9, and sit three games clear atop the standings.

As has been the story with the Pinstripes this season, their power was again the driving force in their success, with every run scoring as a result of an extra-base hit.

New York took the lead in the third inning through a Giancarlo Stanton RBI double, before Jose Trevino gave the Yanks some breathing room with a three-run homer an inning later.

Anthony Santander launched his own long-ball in response for the Orioles, making it 4-1 later in the fourth inning, and that score would hold all the way through to the ninth frame.

After Luis Severino pitched six terrific innings, allowing just one hit – Santander's home run – with two walks, the big bats came back to the plate to put the icing on the cake.

Josh Donaldson blasted the longest shot of the night for a 395-foot solo shot, before Rizzo topped it as the very next batter, sending his solo home run 406 feet through the Baltimore sky.

In a consolation for the home fans who stuck around, Santander hit his second bomb of the night in the bottom of the ninth.


Cubs go crazy in first inning

The Chicago Cubs wasted no time putting their 9-0 win against the Pittsburgh Pirates to bed, jumping out to a 8-0 lead in the first inning.

Pirates starting pitcher Dillon Peters was only able to get two outs before being pulled from the game as the Cubs piled on eight hits and two walks for their eight runs, highlighted by a grand-slam from Willson Contreras in his second plate appearance of the inning.

Cubs pitcher Wade Miley was lights-out, retiring 12 straight batters through the fourth inning, and finished with just one hit allowed, and no walks, through seven complete frames.

Brewers battle for 1-0 win

A wild pitch was the only thing that could bring in a run in the Milwaukee Brewers' 1-0 win against the Atlanta Braves.

Freddy Peralta was spectacular on the mound for the Brewers, striking out 10 batters in seven full innings, conceding just two hits and one walk.

Ian Anderson was not much worse for the Braves, giving up four hits and two walks in his six innings, but a costly wild pitch in the sixth inning while a runner was on third base gifted the Brewers the game's only run, and the win. 

Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Christian Yelich made history on Wednesday with his third career cycle, but it came in a high-scoring 14-11 loss to the Cincinnati Reds.

Yelich's cycle began with an automatic double in the first inning, before he blasted a three-run home run his next time up in the third frame.

A single in the fifth inning meant he just needed a triple to accomplish the rare feat, and after a fly-out in the seventh, Yelich connected on a first-pitch changeup in the last inning, hooking it into the right-field corner and hustling around to third base to complete his cycle.

He is now one of six players to ever hit for the cycle on three occasions and, incredibly, all three have come against the Reds. He is the only player to have three cycles against one team.

The action from the game did not stop with Yelich as there were 29 combined hits between the two sides, including six home runs.

For the Brewers, as well as Yelich, Hunter Renfroe hit two home runs, while Jace Peterson and Mike Brosseau hit one each.

Colin Moran was the only Reds player to go deep as the team with the worst record in baseball (7-24) found another way to win, manufacturing runs with consecutive singles and walks.

In the most eye-catching stat-line of the game – other than the cycle – Reds relief pitcher Dauri Moreta conceded five runs from five hits, including two home runs, while failing to get a single out before being pulled.

 

Torres stays hot for the Yankees

After hitting a walk-off home run against the Texas Rangers earlier in the week, New York Yankees second-baseman Gleyber Torres was the hero again in his side's 5-3 win against the Toronto Blue Jays.

Torres drove in all five Yankees runs, with a three-run home run in the fourth inning, and a base hit in the sixth inning when runners were on second and third base.

Yankees starting pitcher Jameson Taillon was credited with the win, with two earned runs from six hits and one walk in five-and-a-third innings, striking out four.

Angels waste quality Ohtani start

Reigning AL MVP and Los Angeles Angels superstar Shohei Ohtani pitched a gem against the Tampa Bay Rays, but it was not enough as the visiting Rays won 4-2 in extra innings.

Ohtani pitched six full innings, allowing just one run from two hits and two walks, but a lack of run support meant his side was trailing 1-0 when he was withdrawn.

Shane McClanahan was also nearly flawless on the mound for the Rays to win the pitching duel, finishing with seven shutout frames, striking out 11 batters and allowing two hits with one walk.

Minnesota Twins pitcher Josh Winder etched his name into the history books on Friday night as he guided his team to a 2-1 win against the Oakland Athletics.

Winder, 25, in his second career start, pitched six shutout innings, giving up three hits and no walks with eight strikeouts. It comes after allowing just two hits and one walk from six scoreless innings in his first start against the Tampa Bay Rays.

He is the first pitcher since ERA became an official stat in 1913 to have 15 strikeouts, no more than one walk and allow no earned runs over his first two career starts.

It was almost not enough for the Twins, who scored their two runs from two solo homers, courtesy of Byron Buxton and Jorge Polanco. 

The Athletics cut the margin back to one when a fielding error allowed Cristian Pache to third base, where he would get brought home by a sacrifice fly, before Twins closer Emilio Pagan allowed a base hit and two walks to load the bases in the bottom of the ninth inning.

After a ground ball allowed the Twins to stop the third-base runner from getting to home plate, Pagan finished the job with a strikeout, sealing the victory and collecting the hard-earned save.

 

Trout delivers for Angels

AL MVP hopeful Shohei Ohtani's biggest competition for back-to-back trophies may be on his own team, as Mike Trout lifted the Los Angeles Angels to a 3-0 win against the Washington Nationals.

Reigning MVP Ohtani finished zero-for-three with a walk and an RBI, while three-time MVP Trout batted in two runs with a clutch double in the fifth inning.

It was a terrific performance by the Angels pitching staff, as starter Jhonathan Diaz gave up three hits and four walks through five scoreless frames, before the bullpen allowed just one hit and no walks the rest of the way.

Acuna bombs in Brewers win

Atlanta Braves star Ronald Acuna Jr gave the home fans something to cheer for, despite going down 6-3 to the Milwaukee Brewers.

In his second game back in Atlanta after a long-term injury, Acuna blasted a 450-foot home run to center-field for his first since July, but a four-run sixth inning for the Brewers put the visitors in front, where they would stay.

A Bo Bichette grand slam in the bottom of the eighth inning propelled the Toronto Blue Jays to a 6-2 home win against the Boston Red Sox on Tuesday.

It was a quiet game offensively early on as both clubs had their ace pitchers working on the mound, with only one combined run through the first six innings.

Toronto's Jose Berrios finished with two earned runs and four strikeouts from just six baserunners in seven complete innings, while Nathan Eovaldi also pitched seven innings for two earned runs, allowing five hits and no walks with his five strikeouts.

The deadlock was broken in the fifth inning through a Lourdes Gurriel Jr solo home run for the Blue Jays, hooking it over the left-field wall, before Matt Chapman doubled the advantage with one swing in the seventh inning.

Chapman's 422-foot bomb to center-field was the biggest hit of the game, but not the most important, as the Red Sox manufactured two runs in the top of the eighth inning to set the table for Bichette.

After three consecutive hits from Santiago Espinal, Bradley Zimmer and George Springer – who took one of the catches of the year earlier in the game – up stepped Bichette with bases loaded and one out in a tie game.

Bichette connected with a sinker over the heart of the plate and sent it to the opposite-field corner, clearing the wall for a grand slam and giving the Jays a 6-2 lead and the win.

Mets rally in the ninth

With a runner on first base and two outs in the ninth inning, the New York Mets trailed 2-0 – and ended up beating the St Louis Cardinals 5-2.

After the Cardinals allowed the runner on first to take second base unopposed, he came around to score after nine-time Gold Glove winner Nolan Arenado committed a rare throwing error in a play that would have finished the game.

Down 2-1, Jeff McNeil doubled to put runners on second and third, setting up pinch-hitter Dominic Smith to drive them both in with an infield hit after he won the race to first base due to some poor fielding from pitcher Giovanny Gallegos.

Brandon Nimmo put the icing on the cake as the next batter, driving in Smith with a two-run homer.

Gonzalez wins it with first career homer

Luis Gonzalez was the hero for the San Francisco Giants in their 4-2 win against the Milwaukee Brewers.

The Giants' win was in spite of the best efforts of Brewers ace Corbin Burnes, who pitched a gem, with 11 strikeouts, no earned runs and only four base runners through six-and-two-thirds innings.

When Burnes was eventually pulled after 106 pitches, the Giants' offense woke up, with a two-run Joc Pederson home run in the eighth inning, before Gonzalez's first career home run brought home another two runs to break the 2-2 tie, allowing Camilo Duval to clean up the save.

Early National League Rookie of the Year favourite Seiya Suzuki continued the remarkable start to his MLB career on Monday with another two hits in the Chicago Cubs' 4-2 win against the Tampa Bay Rays.

Suzuki, 27, was named National League Player of the Week in his first full week in the majors, and with his first of two hits on Monday, he tied Akinori Iwamura for the longest hitting streak by a Japanese player to start their career at nine games.

He is also the first Cub to hit safely in the first nine games of their career (with an official at-bat) since 1943. He sits fifth in the majors in batting average (.429) and is tied for fourth in home runs (four).

Of the Cubs' four runs, Suzuki scored two, as he was driven in by a Patrick Wisdom two-run homer in the second inning, before getting hit by a pitch in the seventh inning, eventually coming around to score again off an Ian Happ hit.

With the Cubs up 3-2 in the eighth inning, Frank Schwindel gave Chicago a little breathing room with a solo home run for the last score of the game.

Despite the loss, it was a terrific performance on the mound for Rays Cy Young candidate Shane McClanahan, striking out nine batters in six innings, allowing only four hits and no walks for one earned run.

Yelich grand slams for Brewers

Leading 2-1 in the fourth inning, Christian Yelich stepped up to the plate with bases loaded and slogged a massive 429-foot grand slam to give the Milwaukee Brewers their 6-1 final score against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Brewers starting pitcher Eric Lauer was excellent, striking out five batters in six innings, conceding only one run and six baserunners in the process.

Freeman goes deep against old friends

After spending the first 12 years of his MLB career with the Atlanta Braves, Freddie Freeman hit a home run against them in the first inning of the Los Angeles Dodgers' 7-4 home win against his visiting former team.

From just the second pitch he faced against his old side, Freeman hammered it for a 386-foot home run to center field for the early lead.

The Braves rallied in the sixth frame to get Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw out of the game with seven strikeouts and four earned runs through five complete innings, but it was not enough to deny the Dodgers their seventh consecutive win to move to the best record in the majors at 8-2.

The Milwaukee Brewers rode a quality start from Brandon Woodruff to a 5-1 home win against the St Louis Cardinals.

After a horrible first showing where he conceded seven runs in less than four innings, Woodruff was terrific in a bounce-back performance on Thursday, pitching five scoreless frames and allowing only four baserunners.

Milwaukee was always in control of the contest, leading 4-0 after three innings thanks to a big home run from Omar Narvaez and RBI hits to Andrew McCutchen and Hunter Renfroe.

However, the best hit of the game belonged to the Cardinals, as Tommy Edman blasted a big 423-foot consolation home run in the eighth inning for the visiting side's only score.

After going one-for-four with a double, Brewers star Christian Yelich now has hits in five of his past six games as he looks to return to form following two down seasons by his standards.

Ohtani gets grand-slammed

Reigning AL MVP Shohei Ohtani was on the receiving end of a Jonah Heim grand slam as the Los Angeles Angels lost to the Texas Rangers 10-5.

Ohtani, who was the Angels' starting pitcher and lead-off hitter, was disappointing on the mound on Thursday, giving up six runs in less than four innings, and finished the game one-for-four in the batter's box after a ninth-inning double.

It was a frustrating game for the Angels after it started so well, as Mike Trout hit one of the biggest home runs of his career in the first inning, travelling 472 feet.

Yankees get out of a jam

Leading 3-0 heading into the ninth inning, the New York Yankees found themselves in a sticky situation when closer Aroldis Chapman walked three consecutive Toronto Blue Jays batters to load the bases with no outs.

Chapman was pulled from the game and replaced with Michael King, who struck out George Springer. 

King then got Bo Bichette to line out to second base for a game-ending double play as Matt Chapman got caught too far away from first base when the catch was made.

Juan Soto made history with his 100th career home run in the Washington Nationals' 16-4 loss to world champions, the Atlanta Braves, on Tuesday.

Soto, 23, became the youngest player in franchise history to reach 100 career home runs with a moon shot at the top of the sixth inning.

The homer, which travelled 451 feet according to Statcast to right-center field, was the fourth longest of his career.

"It just comes to me. I never tried to hit a homer, or anything like that," Soto told reporters. "I’m one of the guys who just tries to hit singles every day. So for me to become consistent hitting homers, it’s just impressive and it tells how good I’ve been working on my body and everything."

Soto is the seventh active player to blast 100 homers at age 23 or younger, having first homered as a 19-year-old in 2018.

The Braves ultimately got the win after 10 runs in three innings to open up a 10-1 lead after four innings, but Soto finished with two hits, one run, one walk and one RBI.

Ozzie Albies, who finished with three hits, two runs and three RBIs, blasted his first homer of the 2022 season in the fourth inning.

Giancarlo Stanton continued his remarkable home-run hitting form against the Boston Red Sox as the New York Yankees won 4-2 on Saturday.

Yankees slugger Stanton homered for the sixth consecutive game against the Red Sox, hitting the go-ahead two-run homer to left center field in the sixth inning.

Boston had gone ahead in the second inning from Alex Verdugo's two-run homer, before Anthony Rizzo equalled the feat in the fourth inning to level the game up.

The victory means the Yankees have begun the new season with a 2-0 start, ahead of the third and final game of their series against the Red Sox on Sunday.

"I can’t say it’s the rivalry or anything," Stanton said about his record against the Red Sox. "I’m doing my homework and getting the ball over the plate."

 

Dodgers offense shut down

The Los Angeles Dodgers struggled on offense as they slumped to a 3-2 loss to the Colorado Rockies, who were sparked by an eighth-inning Connor Joe homer.

Rockies closer Daniel Bard shut down the Dodgers in the ninth inning to round out the win, striking out Justin Turner, Edwin Rios and Cody Bellinger.

Austin Barnes had two hits and an RBI for the Dodgers, while Mookie Betts had an eighth-inning RBI single to tie the game up, before Joe's go-ahead blast.

 

Alonso hits career-first grand slam

Pete Alonso clubbed a fifth-inning grand slam to lead the New York Mets past the Washington Nationals 5-0. That marked 27-year-old's first career grand slam and comes after Alonso had been left with a bloodied lip after being struck by a Mason Thompson fastball earlier in the series.

The benches cleared in the Chicago Cubs' 9-0 win over the Milwaukee Brewers after tempers flared between the division rivals when right-hander Keegan Thompson hit Andrew McCutchen in the hip with a fastball.

Dylan Cease stepped in for the Chicago White Sox with eight strikeouts across five innings in their 5-2 win over the Detroit Tigers. Cease remarkably boasts a 9-0 record against the Tigers in 10 starts.

 

Saturday's results

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

 

Astros at Angels

The Los Angeles Angels take on the Houston Astros in the final game of their thrilling four-game series, with Shohei Ohtani potentially back on the mound after being rested for the past two games.

St Louis Cardinals ace pitcher Adam Wainwright was nearly flawless as he led his side to a 9-0 Opening Day shutout of the visiting Pittsburgh Pirates.

Wainwright pitched six scoreless innings, giving up five hits and no walks before being relieved to begin the seventh inning, finishing with 81 pitches.

It was far from a stressful game for the home side, scoring in the first inning through a Tyler O'Neill RBI single, before O'Neill smashed a three-run bomb over the wall an inning later to lead 4-0 through two frames.

The middle innings moved quickly as neither team was able to string baserunners together, but the Cardinals gave the home fans some more to cheer for in the eighth inning with home runs to Tommy Edman and Nolan Arenado.

J.T. Brubaker took the loss for the Pirates, finishing with four hits, three walks and four earned runs in three innings of work.

Super Suzuki wins debut

The Chicago Cubs' high-profile international signing, Seiya Suzuki, collected a hit and two walks from four at-bats in a 5-4 home win against the Milwaukee Brewers.

Kyle Hendricks pitched well for the home side, conceding one earned run to go with seven strikeouts before being withdrawn in the sixth inning.

The big moment for Suzuki came as he led-off the fifth inning, sending a base hit to shallow left field for his first career knock after signing a five-year, $85million deal out of the Japanese league this off-season.

The Bobby Witt Jr era begins in Kansas City

While Suzuki is favourite to take home the NL MVP, the Kansas City Royals' Bobby Witt Jr is the favourite in the AL, and delivered on debut in his side's 3-1 home win against the Cleveland Guardians.

After three outs from his first three at-bats, Witt delivered when it mattered, finding the gap with a RBI double in the eighth inning to give his side a 2-1 lead, and then came around and scored himself to finish it off.

Ohtani makes history in Angels loss    

It was not a great Opening Day for the Los Angeles Angels, but reigning AL MVP Shohei Ohtani made history once again.

In the Angels' 3-1 loss to the Houston Astros, Ohtani became the first player to start on the pitchers' mound and lead-off the batting, throwing and facing Los Angeles' first pitch of the season.

He finished with nine strikeouts and one earned run before being withdrawn in the fifth inning after 80 pitches, while going zero-for-four from his plate appearances.

 

Thursday's results

Atlanta Braves 3-6 Cincinnati Reds

St Louis Cardinals 9-0 Pittsburgh Pirates

Kansas City Royals 3-1 Cleveland Guardians

Chicago Cubs 5-4 Milwaukee Brewers

New York Mets 5-1 Washington Nationals

Arizona Diamondbacks 4-2 San Diego Padres

Los Angeles Angels 1-3 Houston Astros

 

Red Sox at Yankees

The two historic rivals will kick off their seasons at Yankee Stadium on Friday in the first scheduled game of the day.

Christian Yelich understands the pressure that comes with being paid as a franchise player heading into the first season of his seven-year, $188million contract extension with the Milwaukee Brewers.

Yelich, 30, has now spent four years with the Brewers after arriving from the Miami Marlins and was a revelation with his new club.

In his first year in Milwaukee, Yelich catapulted himself into the conversation of the game's elite players, winning NL MVP in 2018 and finishing second in the award in 2019, leading the National League in batting average in both seasons.

His incredible performance was rewarded with a juicy new contract – which officially kicks in this season – but since signing, he has regressed significantly.

The 2020 and 2021 season were the two worst of Yelich's career, but he now says he knew the entire contract would not be all "smooth sailing".

"I understand what comes with [the big contract]," he told The Athletic. "I understand that if you don't play well, people are going to be p***ed. Like, I get it. 

"It's part of sports. It's part of what we do, especially when you sign a deal like that. There's no getting around that, and I'm very aware of that.

"I know that I am paid at a level where you need to produce and things are expected of you, and that's because of past performances in the game. That's how it works... so there's no shying away from it. 

"I knew that contract is over a long time, so I didn't really assume that it was going to be smooth sailing all the time."

Yelich admitted the game felt "pretty easy at times" during his peak years but stressed his career is evidence plenty can change from year to year.

"That's the thing – every year is its own year," he said. "Just because you did well or did poorly the year before, it doesn't mean anything going into the next year or the year after that. Every year is its own thing – nothing carries over. 

"There's different factors every year that go into whatever's going on for players and teams.

"The game is constantly adjusting and things constantly are changing. You have to do that as well or the game is going to kick your a**."

The Brewers kick off their season on the road against the Chicago Cubs on Opening Day.

Toronto Blue Jays ace Robbie Ray capped his career year with the American League (AL) Cy Young Award, while Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Corbin Burnes was the National League (NL) winner.

Ray was rewarded for his fine season in Toronto, where the Blue Jays narrowly missed out on the MLB playoffs despite a 91-win campaign.

The 2017 All-Star boasted a 2.84 ERA – the best among qualifiers in the AL, having come off a 6.62 ERA last year.

Ray – acquired by the Blue Jays in 2020 – led the AL in ERA-plus (154) and WHIP (1.045), while striking out an MLB-best 248 batters in 32 starts.

It is the fifth time a Blue Jays pitcher has claimed the AL Cy Young and the first since Hall of Famer Roy Halladay in 2003, while Ray is just the ninth pitcher in history to earn the top honour heading into free agency.

In the NL, Milwaukee's Burnes reigned supreme after starring for the Brewers, who lost to eventual World Series champions the Atlanta Braves in the NL Division Series (NLDS).

Burnes ended the season as the leader in ERA (2.43), strikeout rate (35.6), strikeout-to-walk ratio (6.88), fielding independent pitching (1.63) and barrel rate (2.9 per cent).

The right-hander – Milwaukee's first Cy Young winner since Pete Vuckovich in 1982 – had started the season by striking out a record 58 batters before issuing his first walk.

There will be a winner-takes-all Game 5 in the National League Division Series (NLDS) after MLB World Series champions the Los Angeles Dodgers avoided elimination with a 7-2 win over the San Francisco Giants.

The Giants had the chance to book their spot in the NL Championship Series (NLCS) on Tuesday, but they were instead blown away by the Dodgers, who levelled the best-of-five matchup at 2-2.

Mookie Betts and Will Smith homered for the Dodgers in Los Angeles, where ace Walker Buehler gave up just one run on three hits while striking out four batters in 4.1 innings.

The deciding Game 5 will take place at Oracle Park in San Francisco on Thursday.

 

Astros reach fifth straight ALCS

The Houston Astros will face the Boston Red Sox in the American League Championship Series (ALCS) after crushing the Chicago White Sox 10-1. Houston became the third team ever to appear in five successive league championship series. Astros star Carlos Correa tied Albert Pujols for the most playoff RBIs among active players after reaching 54, while Jose Altuve also hit his 19th postseason homer – matching George Springer and future Hall of Famer Pujols for fourth all-time.

 

Houston get to Hendriks and White Sox

On a rough day for the White Sox, closer Liam Hendriks conceded a three-run homer off Altuve in the top of the ninth inning. White Sox team-mate Michael Kopech allowed three runs on three hits in 0.2 innings.

 

Freeman sends Braves through

Freddie Freeman was the hero in Game 4, hitting a two-out home run in the bottom of the eighth inning as the Atlanta Braves came from behind to top the Milwaukee Brewers 5-4 en route to the NLCS. Freeman's 428-foot go-ahead bomb was the furthest opposite-field homer of his career. The Braves will feature in back-to-back championship series for the first time since they advanced to eight straight from 1991 to 1999.

 

Tuesday's results

Houston Astros 10-1 Chicago White Sox
Atlanta Braves 5-4 Milwaukee Brewers
Los Angeles Dodgers 7-2 San Francisco Giants

 

Dodgers at Giants

NL West rivals the Dodgers and Giants will put it all on the line in Thursday's do-or-die showdown. Both teams have won an incredible 107 games this season as the Dodgers prepare to pit Julio Urias against Logan Webb.

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