The man at the centre of the the biggest potential trade story of the season, Juan Soto, gave another display of his value on Monday as he won the MLB Home Run Derby.

Soto, 23, recently rejected a 15-year, $440million extension with the Washington Nationals, sparking rumours that the franchise would instead try to cash-in on him for what is expected to be one of the greatest trade hauls in league history.

He went second in all three of his matchups, meaning he never had a chance to bat out his full time and put up a monstrous score, but he chased down his target relatively comfortably all three times.

He defeated Cleveland Guardians star Jose Ramirez 18-17 in the first round, setting up a surprise matchup with future first-ballot Hall-of-Famer Albert Pujols after the legend shocked top seed Kyle Schwarber 20-19 in a swing-off after tying 13-13 in regulation.

Pujols could not repeat the heroics in the second round, getting eliminated 16-15 as Soto booked his place in the final.

On the other side of the bracket, Seattle Mariners rookie Julio Rodriguez would steal the show, crushing the highest total of the day with 32 home runs as the very first batter of the event, eliminating Corey Seager.

Rodriguez then showed up the reigning back-to-back champion, Pete Alonso, with a score of 31-23, storming into the final opposite Soto.

Ultimately, Rodriguez ran out of juice, only putting up 18 in the decider, which Soto was able to chase down with 30 seconds to spare to claim the crown. Soto also finished with the longest home run of the day at 482 feet.

The Seattle Mariners set a new record on Sunday as they defeated the Texas Rangers 6-2 for their 14th consecutive win – the longest winning streak entering the All-Star break in MLB history.

Prior to this season, the longest winning streak heading into the All-Star break was 10 games, set by the 1935 Detroit Tigers, the 1945 Chicago Cubs and the 1975 Cincinnati Reds. All three teams ended up making the World Series.

It was a great showing from the Mariners' top hitters as their two All-Stars drove in a pair of runs each. 

A late addition to the American League All-Star roster, Ty France connected on the longest drive of the game with his 432-foot solo home run in the fifth inning, extending the Mariners' lead to 3-1.

Rookie of the Year favourite – and the only rookie All-Star – Julio Rodriguez then drove in a pair of runs with his double in the seventh inning, and Rodriguez was brought home by a France RBI base hit as the very next batter.

Of all rookies in the majors this season, Rodriguez leads in hits (93), home runs (16), RBIs (50), runs (52) and stolen bases (21).

The Mariners are now 51-42 for the season, giving them the fourth-best record in the American League. They are also one game away from tying their longest winning streak of all time, with 15-in-a-row set in 2001.

Soto homers in Nationals win

Washington Nationals star Juan Soto showed why he is expected to fetch one of the largest trade hauls in the history of the league as he connected on his 20th home run of the season in his side's 7-3 win over the Atlanta Braves.

Soto is reportedly on the trade block after turning down a 15-year, $440million contract extension, with the 23-year-old considered one of the purest hitters in the game.

He connected on his homer in the eighth inning to put the finishing touches on the win and continue his barnstorming July. After an uncharacteristically poor start to the season, Soto is 17-of-40 at the plate this month, with an on-base percentage of .589 while slugging .850.

Cease pitches a gem

Chicago White Sox ace Dylan Cease was at the top of his game as his team hammered the Minnesota Twins 11-0.

Cease, arguably the best pitcher not to be named an All-Star this season, showed his quality with seven scoreless innings, giving up just one hit and two walks while striking out eight.

Nine of the 10 White Sox batters collected at least one hit, with elite first baseman Andrew Vaughn hitting a home run among his three knocks, and their lone offensive All-Star Tim Anderson had a two-RBI single to open the scoring.

The Boston Red Sox needed 11 innings to defeat the New York Yankees 5-4 as newly minted two-time All-Star Rafael Devers went deep.

Boston had lost eight of their previous 10 games entering Friday's contest, but Devers got the Red Sox off to a perfect start with a two-run home run in the first inning.

The Yankees responded in the third frame when D.J. LeMahieu and Anthony Rizzo both got on base, setting up Giancarlo Stanton for a three-run blast over the right-field wall to jump ahead 3-2.

Christian Vasquez tied things up an inning later with his own 390-foot solo home run to left-field, before teammate Bobby Dalbec gave the Red Sox a 4-3 lead when he repeated the act in the seventh frame, sending his homer 391 feet to the same spot.

That lead would hold until the bottom of the ninth inning, but the Yankees looked like they would steal it after Red Sox closer Tanner Houck allowed an infield single and a hit-by-pitch to put Gleyber Torres and Matt Carpenter on-base with no outs.

Houck then committed a fielding error, handing the Yankees a run and tying things at 4-4 with still no outs.

The Red Sox opted to intentionally walk the next batter, loading the bases, before they got a crucial ground-ball, throwing out the winning run at home as part of a double-play to keep the game alive. 

In extra innings, after the Red Sox were unable to score, the Yankees again loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the 10th, but again fell victim to a ground-ball double-play to extend the game for another frame.

It was not pretty, but Xander Bogaerts was able to hustle across to third base on a fly-ball, before taking a chance and breaking for home after a wild pitch bounced off Jose Trevino's facemask behind the plate to score what would turn out to be the game-winning run.

Ryan Brasier finished it off by coming in and collecting three quick outs for the save and the victory.

J-Rod shows why he is the only rookie All-Star

Seattle Mariners rookie Julio Rodriguez made it clear why he is viewed as one of the game's next big stars as he crushed a grand slam in his side's 8-3 win against the Texas Rangers.

Rodriguez, who earned his first All-Star selection this season at 21 years old, finished the game with five RBIs. 

He drove in his first run with a base hit in the fourth inning, before coming through with the bases loaded and two outs in the eighth inning to stick the dagger into the Rangers fans.

The home run was Rodriguez's 16th of the season – the most of any rookie – while he also leads all rookies in stolen bases (21) and hits (91). The win was also the Mariners' 12th in a row, their longest winning-streak since 2001.

Alcantara takes loss despite another quality start

National League Cy Young Award favourite Sandy Alcantara delivered another terrific pitching performance in his side's 2-1 loss at home against the Philadelphia Phillies.

Alcantara pitched eight full innings, striking out 12 batters, while giving up two runs from four hits and two walks. It was the 13th consecutive start he has pitched at least seven innings, and his ERA is now 1.76, trailing only Tampa Bay Rays ace Shane McClanahan.

The Phillies were finally able to do some damage off the Marlins star in the seventh inning, with Darick Hall delivering an RBI double, before he was driven in by J.T. Realmuto's RBI double.

The fall-out from Sunday's wild Los Angeles Angels-Seattle Mariners brawl has continued with Angels reliever Archie Bradley ruled out for "a couple of months" with a right elbow fracture sustained amid the chaos.

The Angels right-hander fell over the dugout railing as he attempted to join the brawl which erupted in the second inning when Andrew Wantz's pitch struck Jesse Winker, with the benches clearing in Sunday's 2-1 LA win.

The all-in brawl led to a raft of suspensions, totalling 47 games, including a 10-game ban for Angels manager Phil Nevin.

The Angels have been further hit with the news of Bradley's injury, meaning he will be shut down for at least four weeks and may miss up to two months.

"With the way he’s been throwing the ball recently and what he brings to the clubhouse, it’s a huge loss," Angels acting manager Ray Montgomery said.

"In the short term, guys are going to have to step up. I think we’ve done a good job all year of picking up other guys.

"We'll miss him, for sure, but the guys down there know what they need to do."

Bradley has posted a 4.82 ERA with 15 strikeouts, seven walks and one home run allowed in 18 and two-third innings this season.

"His overall time down could be a couple of months," Angels athletic trainer Mike Frostad said.

The Seattle Mariners acquired veteran slugger Carlos Santana from the Kansas City Royals for a pair of pitchers on Monday, helping to fill the void at first base in the wake of Ty France's injury.

The 36-year-old Santana is in the midst of a third straight sub-par season, batting .216 with four home runs and 21 RBIs in 52 games, but has shown significant improvements at the plate in the past three weeks.

After slashing .157/.291./.244 with seven extra-base hits in his first 37 games, Santana has compiled a .367/.492./.592 slash line with two home runs, five doubles and 11 RBIs in 15 contests since June 7.

An All-Star in 2019 with the Cleveland franchise, Santana's 263 career home runs are the seventh-most by a first baseman since his 2010 rookie season.

Santana will take over at first for France, who suffered a Grade 2 flexor strain in his left forearm on Thursday and is sidelined indefinitely. 

France was enjoying a stellar season before his injury, batting .316 with 10 home runs while leading Seattle with 45 RBIs.

The Mariners, who own baseball's longest active playoff drought at 20 seasons, begin play on Monday in fourth place in the AL East, seven games out of the league's second wild card spot.

As part of the trade, Seattle sent right-hander Wyatt Mills and minor league righty William Fleming to Kansas City, with the Mariners also receiving cash considerations.

Santana, who was first traded to the Mariners in 2018 but returned for a second stint in Cleveland 10 days later, is in the final year of a two-year, $17.5million contract.

Six players and both managers received ejections following a benches-clearing brawl during the second inning of Sunday’s game between the Seattle Mariners and Los Angeles Angels.

The nasty incident occurred after Angels pitcher Andrew Wantz hit Mariners outfielder Jesse Winker in the hip with a pitch to begin the second inning, after throwing behind rookie star Julio Rodriguez in the opening frame.

After exchanging words with Wantz and briefly moving towards first base, Winker then charged the Angels’ dugout on the third-base side as both teams’ benches and bullpens emptied.

Numerous punches were thrown in the resulting fracas, which delayed the Angels’ eventual 2-1 win for more than 15 minutes. When order was restored, both Winker and Wantz were ejected along with Seattle outfielder Julio Rodriguez and shortstop J.P. Crawford, Angels pitchers Raisel Iglesias and Ryan Tepera and each team’s manager – the Mariners’ Scott Servais and the Angels’ Phil Nevin.

Tensions between the American League West rivals were already running high after Seattle pitcher Erik Swanson’s errant pitch sailed over Angels star Mike Trout’s head in the Mariners’ 5-3 victory on Saturday night.

Wantz was not originally scheduled to start the game, with the change coming in the hours leading up to start time, prompting those on the Mariners' side to believe he was brought in with the intent to hit batters.

"It’s classless," Mariners starting pitcher Marco Gonzales said afterward. “To throw at Julio, who’s a kid, over something that happened last night when we were trying to win a ballgame in the ninth inning, (not) put the tying run on base. It’s just classless to come out and change your pitcher before the game.

"It’s clear. The intention is clear."

Wantz, who was making his first career major league start, denied intentionally throwing at either Rodriguez or Winker.

"I was pretty amped up for my first start and the first one just got away from me," he said. "It was sweaty. I was sweating.

"First day game I’ve pitched (in the majors), and that’s that. Second one to Winker was a cut fastball inside and just yanked it. That’s all I’ve got to say."

Nevin also downplayed the incident afterward.

"You play eight games in a matter of a week against the same team, things like this happen," he said. "The scheduling, tensions, that’s baseball sometimes – unfortunately there’s some ugly incidents once in a while. I think that’s just what happened today."

Winker later directed obscene gestures towards several Angels fans as he left the field, actions he expressed remorse for during his postgame interview.

"The only thing I’m going to apologise for is flipping the fans off. That’s it," he said. "As fans, they’re spending their hard-earned money to come watch us play a game, and they didn’t deserve that. So, I apologise to the fans, especially the women and children."

The two teams are scheduled to face one another 11 more times this season, including a four-game series in Seattle from August 5-7. The Mariners will visit Anaheim twice more in 2022, a three-game series in August and a four-game set in September.

Mike Trout hit his fifth home run of the Los Angeles Angels' five-game series against the Seattle Mariners to help his side to a 4-0 road win.

Trout hit two home runs in the series-opener on Thursday, and after a zero-for-three performance in the second game, he followed it up with a homer in each of the third, fourth and fifth games.

On Sunday he blasted his 21st of the season – the second-most in the majors – to give his side a 2-0 lead in the fourth inning.

Angels pitcher Kenny Rosenberg put in a strong performance in his second start of the season, throwing four-and-two-thirds innings of scoreless baseball, allowing two hits and three walks.

It was a spectacular showing from the Angels bullpen as well, not allowing a single hit or walk the rest of the way after Rosenberg was withdrawn, while striking out seven batters.

Max Stassi finally added another run for the away side in the seventh inning when he brought home Luis Rengifo with an RBI double, before Jared Walsh completed the scoring with a base hit in the eighth inning that allowed Taylor Ward to make it home off a fielding error.

The series win against the Mariners has helped get the Angels' season back on track, winning four-out-of-five after coming into the slate of games with just two wins from their previous 20.

Blue Jays win epic power display

The Toronto Blue Jays won a high-scoring battle against the New York Yankees 10-9 as two of the most powerful batting sides combined for nine home runs.

Blue Jays star Vladimir Guerrero hit the first of the game with a two-run shot in the opening inning, but over the next four frames home runs to Gleyber Torres and Josh Donaldson, as well as RBI doubles to Aaron Judge and Torres had the Yankees up 6-2.

Toronto's George Springer hit a solo home run in the sixth frame, answered by two solo shots from New York's Kyle Higashioka and Marwin Gonzalez, but the Blue Jays would not go away.

Down 8-3, Toronto came all the way back with a grand slam by Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and a three-run homer from Teoscar Hernandez, with Jordan Romano completing a five-out save.

Soto shows his swing in Nationals upset

Juan Soto came through in a big spot for the Washington Nationals to defeat the red-hot Philadelphia Phillies 9-3.

Soto, considered to be one of the game's greatest young hitters, is having the worst season of his career, with his batting average of .218 well below his career average of .290.

He only had one hit from five at-bats against the Phillies, but it was a big one, driving a 428-foot, three-run home run in the second inning to give his side some breathing room.

For the Phillies, the loss was just their third from their past 18 games.

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.

The New York Mets treated their home crowd to a thrilling extra-innings walk-off victory, beating the St. Louis Cardinals 7-6 on Thursday.

With their top-three pitchers – Jacob deGrom, Max Scherzer and Tylor Megill – all out injured, the Mets gave starter Chris Bassitt some early run-support as a Pete Alonso base hit and a Jeff McNeil fielder's choice made it 2-0 in the opening frame.

St. Louis fought back with a towering 414-foot solo home run to Juan Yepez in the second inning, and then tied it up with another solo shot from Paul Goldschmidt an inning later, before Goldschmidt made it 3-2 with a RBI double in the fifth frame.

McNiel drove in another two Mets runs in the bottom of the fifth, opening up a 5-3 lead, but Goldschmidt would again come through for the Cardinals, grounding out to drive in one in the seventh, before tying the game at 5-5 with an infield single in the ninth to force extra innings.

After future Hall-of-Famer Albert Pujols gave the Cardinals a lead, Pete Alonso closed the show for the Mets in the bottom of the 10th inning, crushing a 447-foot bomb into the left-field bleachers to win the game.

Bassitt pitched six-and-a-third innings for four earned runs and three strikeouts, helping the Mets move to the third-best record in the league at 26-14.

Santander delivers against Yankees

The Baltimore Orioles had a memorable 9-6 win against the New York Yankees thanks to a three-run Anthony Santander walk-off homer in the bottom of the ninth inning.

After a back-and-forth battle, the Yankees tied the game 6-6 at the top of the ninth inning with a D.J. LeMahieu single, but the New York bullpen could not send it to extra innings.

An error and a base hit got two Orioles on base, and with Santander just needing a single to win the game, he instead launched a shot over the left-field fence for a dramatic walk-off win.

Trevor writes his own story    

Trevor Story played his best game as a Boston Red Sox player in his side's 12-6 win against the Seattle Mariners, hitting three home runs.

Story, 29, was the Red Sox's biggest off-season acquisition, but has struggled to start the season, with only two home runs entering Thursday's game. He turned that around in a big way with a 402-foot two-run home run in the second inning, and a 403-foot two-run bomb an inning later.

After a single in the sixth inning, Story capped off his day in the eighth frame with a 358-foot three-run shot, giving him seven RBIs in the game. 

The Atlanta Braves came out best after an action-packed eighth inning to defeat the San Diego Padres 6-5 on Saturday.

Down 5-2 in the bottom of the eighth following a four-run inning from the Padres, the defending World Series champions responded with a four-run inning of their own to split the opening two games of a three-game series.

Marcell Ozuna scored a home run and Austin Riley hit the go-ahead double in the response to hand the Braves the win, in what has been a sputtering start to the season.

Charlie Morton pitched solidly, striking out nine and giving up two hits over 83 pitches in six innings.

Atlanta have now won four of their past six games to move to a 16-18 record for the season.

Robert ruins Yankees win streak

Luis Robert drove home the winning run in the ninth inning to hand the Chicago White Sox a 3-2 win over the American League East-leading New York Yankees.

The Yankees were relentless at the plate over the opening two games of the series, scoring 25 runs but faced difficulty against Dallas Keuchel, who struck out three and gave up only four hits over 86 pitches.

While New York still hold the best record in baseball at 24-9, the loss ends a five-game winning streak.

Marte mashes Mariners

Patrick Mazeika hit the game-winning home run in the seventh inning, but Starling Marte was the star for the New York Mets in their 5-4 win over the Seattle Mariners.

Marte tripled, doubled, singled and claimed three RBIs from four at-bats for the Mets, who let a 4-0 lead slip when Jesse Winker tied with a three-run home run in the seventh inning.

Batting ninth, Mazeika had the final say however, mashing Andres Munoz inside the right-field foul pole for his second home run in the major leagues.

Dusty Baker joined elite company with his 2,000th major league win as manager in the Houston Astros' 4-0 victory over the Seattle Mariners on Tuesday.

Baker began his managerial career in 1993 and becomes the 12th manager to reach the 2,000 wins milestone.

The 72-year-old is the fifth manager to reach that mark with 40 playoffs wins, alongside Joe Torre, Tony La Russa, Bobby Cox and Bruce Bochy.

"I think about the people that made it possible for me to get in this position – my dad, Jackie Robinson, Frank Robinson, Cito Gaston – the guys who were minority managers ahead of me," Baker said.

"You look at guys like Maury Wills and some of the guys that I know. To me, everybody is making a bigger thing out of it than me because I’ve got work to do."

Yordan Alvarez homered in the fourth inning to give the Astros a 1-0 lead, before two runs in the sixth and Jose Altuve's seventh-inning blast sealed the 4-0 win.

 

Judge stars as Yankees clinch 11 straight

The New York Yankees recorded their 11th win in a row with a 9-1 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays with Aaron Judge finishing with three RBIs, two hits and one run on Tuesday.

There was a heartwarming moment when Judge homered in the sixth inning, with a Blue Jays fan retrieving the ball and gifting it to a young boy wearing Judge's number 99 shirt.

Judge's homer ended Alek Manoah's handcuffing of the Yankees batters across five innings, before they piled on six runs in the seventh inning.

The Blue Jays were rocked after the officials ruled Vladimir Guerrero Jr had not tagged Marwin Gonzalez in a crucial seventh-inning play at 3-1, with Toronto out of challenges.

 

More Mets hype building

The New York Mets continue to build momentum, improving to a 18-8 record with a sweep of their double-header against the Atlanta Braves, with Pete Alonso homering for the fifth time this season. The Mets won 5-4 and 3-0 across the two games.

Willy Adames got the ball rolling with a third-inning three-run homer as the Milwaukee Brewers downed the struggling Cincinnati Reds 6-3. Adames has five home runs in his last eight games. The Reds have a 3-20 record.

The Los Angeles Dodgers got past the San Francisco Giants 3-1 in their National League West battle, with Chris Taylor driving in Max Muncy and Cody Bellinger in the second inning, before Craig Kimbrel escaped a spot of bother to close it out.

Two home runs from New York Yankees superstar Aaron Judge carried his side to a 6-4 road win against the Kansas City Royals on Sunday.

After the game started with an 11-pitch ground-out from Yankees lead-off hitter D.J. LeMahieu, Judge stepped up next and sent the second pitch he saw – a fastball down the middle from Daniel Lynch – 453 feet over the center-field wall for a 1-0 lead.

That lead held until the bottom of the third inning, when Royals lead-off hitter Michael Taylor smoked the first pitch he saw for a solo home run, igniting a three-run frame for the home side. Kansas City extended their lead to 4-1 after a throwing error from Yankees third baseman Josh Donaldson an inning later.

New York grabbed two runs back in the fifth after Isiah Kiner-Falefa brought Miguel Andujar home with an RBI double, before scoring himself from a LeMahieu single to cut the margin back to 4-3.

Two walks and a hit-by-pitch gave the Yankees life in the seventh inning, loading the bases with no outs to allow Judge to drive in a run by grounding out to the pitcher, before Donaldson drove in one more to grab a 5-4 lead.

With two outs in the top of the ninth inning, clinging to a one-run buffer, Judge let New Yorkers breathe easy as he sent a towering shot over the opposite-field wall for his second homer of the game, sealing the win.

Judge – who will be a free agent at the end of this season after failing to come to terms on a long-term extension with the Yankees – finished with three RBIs, going two-for-five from the plate, and now sits one home run off the major league leader, teammate Anthony Rizzo (nine).

Julio Rodriguez announces his arrival

Seattle Mariners rookie sensation Julio Rodriguez hit his first career home run in a 7-3 away win against the Miami Marlins.

Rodriguez was listed as a top-five prospect in all of baseball before being promoted to the majors at the start of this season, and while he has two more stolen bases than anyone else in the league (nine), he has had some early struggles with the bat.

His big moment came in the sixth inning as he stepped up to the plate with two runners on base and two outs, driving a ball 450 feet over the center-field wall to turn a 2-0 lead into a 5-0 lead. It came after the Marlins opted to intentionally walk the batter before Rodriguez, daring him to make them pay.

The Mariners pitchers finished the job thanks to another strong start from Logan Gilbert, who after conceding just one earned run in five-and-two-thirds is now second in the majors for ERA at 0.68 – giving up two runs through five starts and 28 innings.

Mets give Max some runs

The New York Mets gave ace pitcher Max Scherzer some handy run-support to take a 10-6 win against the Philadelphia Phillies in the Sunday night primetime fixture.

New York's 15 hits set a new season-high for the club, and 10 runs also equalled the Mets' most, as Dominic Smith starred with four hits from four plate appearances.

Smith drove in three runs, as did teammate Starling Marte, giving Scherzer a buffer when he left the game after six complete innings, allowing four runs from five hits and a walk while striking out nine.

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.

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.

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