MLB

Schwarber stars as Nationals edge slugfest, Astros win 10 straight

By Sports Desk June 24, 2021

The tension continued as the Washington Nationals edged a high-scoring 13-12 thriller over the Philadelphia Phillies in the MLB on Wednesday.

The slugfest included both sides scoring grand slams, along with a three-run homer for the first time in MLB history.

It also came after things got heated on Tuesday when Phillies manager Joe Gerardi got ejected after a dispute with Nats pitcher Max Scherzer.

Scherzer did not play this time around, with Kyle Schwarber taking center stage for the Nats, with a three-run homer, his 19th home run of the season. It was also his 10th in 12 games.

Andrew McCutchen had hit a grand slam for the Phillies but Josh Bell responded with one of his own to put the Nats up 11-9.

"We had leads and we gave them away by issuing so many bases on balls and you can’t do that," Girardi said. "We have to be better."

 

Lucky 13 for Giants

The San Francisco Giants piled on seven runs in an incredible 13th inning as they won 9-3 over the Los Angeles Angels.

Shohei Ohtani, who went 0-3 with the bat, sent down nine strikeouts across six innings, only allowing one run, before the late drama.

Giants pitcher Kevin Gausman also yielded four hits with nine strikeouts over seven innings.

The Angels were not helped by injuries, with left-fielder Taylor Ward drafted in as catcher and pitcher Griffin Canning required at left field.

Steven Duggar helped the Giants blow it open in the 13th inning after an RBI double in the 12th, as Angels pitcher Alex Claudio walked three straight.

Brandon Lowe, Mike Zunino and Austin Meadows hit homers as the Tampa Bay Rays got back to winning ways, ending their seven-game losing run with an 8-2 victory over the Boston Red Sox.

Trevor Bauer had 10 strikeouts across six innings but the San Diego Padres got up over the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-3 with Jake Cronenworth and Manny Machado homering in the first inning.

 

No respite for struggling Diamondbacks

The Arizona Diamondbacks ended their franchise-worst 17-game losing run earlier this week against the Milwaukee Brewers but that has not fixed their issues. The Diamondbacks succumbed to a 3-2 loss to the Brewers, meaning they have lost 19 of their past 20 games.

 

Skyrocketing Astros

The Houston Astros claimed their 10th straight win, crushing the Baltimore Orioles 13-0. Houston has the second best differential across a 10-game span since 2000, behind the 2019 Astros. The Astros have scored 21 home runs in that streak, allowing only 21 runs at the same time and are now 17-4 for June.

 

Wednesday's results

Chicago White Sox 4-3 Pittsburgh Pirates
Washington Nationals 13-12 Philadelphia Phillies
Detroit Tigers 6-2 St Louis Cardinals
Milwaukee Brewers 3-2 Arizona Diamondbacks
San Francisco Giants 9-3 Los Angeles Angels
Colorado Rockies 5-2 Seattle Mariners
New York Yankees 6-5 Kansas City Royals
Houston Astros 13-0 Baltimore Orioles
Toronto Blue Jays 3-1 Miami Marlins
New York Mets 7-3 Atlanta Braves
Tampa Bay Rays 8-2 Boston Red Sox
Texas Rangers 5-3 Oakland Athletics
San Diego Padres 5-3 Los Angeles Dodgers

 

Red Sox at Rays

The Tampa Bay Rays (44-31) have snapped their losing run and will round out their series against the Boston Red Sox (44-30).

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    World number one Ash Barty kicked off her Australian Open title bid with a convincing straight-sets victory over Ukrainian qualifier Lesia Tsurenko on Monday.

    The two-time grand slam winner, whose previous best finish on home soil at Melbourne Park was a run to the semi-finals in 2020, prevailed 6-0 6-1 in a time of just 54 minutes.

    Barty held serve throughout the one-sided contest with Tsurenko and is now unbroken in 41 successive service games across her last four matches.

    "It's certainly nice to be back on home soil and playing as well as I did tonight. It was a lot of fun out here," Barty said in her on-court interview.

    "I felt like it was nice and clean. End-to-end I did a good job in adjusting. Tonight it was just nice and solid to get out here and play a decent match and feel like I enjoyed it."

    Tsurenko took Barty to three sets when they met in this competition two years ago, but the world number 113 was outclassed on this occasion.

    Looking to build on her recent Adelaide International success, Barty eased through the first set as she dropped just 12 points.

    Barty was just as dominant in the second set, but she squandered two match points in the sixth game to miss out on a double-bagel to begin her campaign in Melbourne.

    Not that it mattered a great deal, though, as the 25-year-old emphatically served out the match to set up a meeting with Italian qualifier Lucia Bronzetti for a place in round three.

    DATA SLAM: Barty makes statement start

    Barty came through this first-round match with minimal stress and looks in great shape as she bids to become the first Australian to win here since 1978.

    The pressure is no doubt on as the pre-tournament favourite, with no top-seeded player in the women's draw failing to make at least round four since Virginia Ruzici in 1979.

    WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS

    Barty – 14/17
    Tsurenko – 4/21

    ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS

    Barty – 5/0
    Tsurenko – 0/1

    BREAK POINTS WON

    Barty – 5/8
    Tsurenko – 0/2

  • Detroit rookie Cunningham denies ejection gesture: I was acknowledging my people Detroit rookie Cunningham denies ejection gesture: I was acknowledging my people

    Cade Cunningham insisted he was acknowledging his "people" and not taunting the opposition after he was ejected during the Detroit Pistons' loss to the Phoenix Suns.

    The Pistons fell to a 135-108 reverse against the NBA-leading Suns on Sunday as they saw two of their players ejected in the second half.

    Cunningham was the first to be dismissed in the third quarter, ending an enthralling battle with Devon Booker, for what referee Kevin Cutler later described as "a physical taunt for pointing at the defender".

    Cutler was referring to Cunningham's gesture after he slammed past Jalen Smith and immediately pointed in the 21-year-old's direction, leading to his second technical foul.

    But Cunningham – who had 21 points, one rebound and four assists before his ejection – provided a different view after the game as he justified his celebration.

    "I had my people right behind the bench," said Cunningham, who finished on 9-for-15 shooting in 24 minutes. 

    "I went baseline to dunk the ball, and he's right in between me and my people. I probably should've read that situation better. I don't really get into taunting too much. 

    "Usually I'm chilling after a play. I realised the situation after he tech'ed me [technical fouled] up, but I didn't think I was going to get a tech. 

    "I let coach Monty [Williams of the Suns] over there, let him know, 'Good game,' and stuff like that."

    Detroit trailed by 20 at the time of Cunningham's removal, and that increased to 27 by the end of the game after Josh Jackson was also ejected with 41 seconds remaining.

    Pistons coach Dwane Casey – whose side are 10-32, the second-worst record in the league – believes his team must manage their reputation by maintaining strong disciplinary levels.

    "He [the referee] said Cade pointed at the guy that he dunked on," Casey said after the game. "I didn't see that part. I thought he was pointing towards his teammate. 

    "That's why he said he got a technical for and got ejected for, he already had one. I've seen a lot worse things to get ejected for than that. 

    "The Josh one, I haven't looked at it yet. He said Josh hit, or pushed, or whatever at [Ish] Wainright. I didn't see that part either, I have to look at that.

    "We're not in a position as a team to complain. Let me be the bad guy to fight for us.

    "As a young team, we shouldn't get that reputation of complaining to officials. Until we get to that level, we have to button up and zip up and play our butts off."

    Despite Cunningham's dismissal, the 20-year-old has been in fine form recently – averaging 17.9 points, 5.7 assists and 4.9 rebounds since November 30 (a span of 18 games).

    With the Pistons looking to bounce back with a trip to the Golden States Warriors on Tuesday, Cunningham insisted that his team are heading in the right direction.

    "We're still locked in," Cunningham added. "We feel ourselves getting better and growing together. 

    "This is a big road trip that we got to go into. We're going to play some good teams. We're excited to take that challenge on and see what we got." 

  • Australian Open: Nadal disappointed by Djokovic absence but 'will never be against what justice says' Australian Open: Nadal disappointed by Djokovic absence but 'will never be against what justice says'

    Rafael Nadal believes it would be "better for everybody" if Novak Djokovic was competing at the Australian Open, while declaring the situation a "mess".

    Nadal sits level on 20 grand slam titles with Djokovic and Roger Federer but is the only one of tennis' 'Big Three' featuring in Melbourne.

    Federer was ruled out due to ongoing knee injury problems, while Djokovic saw his visa cancelled for a second time on Sunday as he appealed Australia's refusal to let him into the country.

    That ruling owed to Djokovic's unvaccinated status and Australia's coronavirus guidelines, leaving the Serbian unable to defend his Melbourne Park crown and seek a record-extending 21st grand slam.

    Nadal has previously said he was "tired" of talking about the Djokovic saga, but the Spaniard again offered his thoughts after defeating Marcos Giron in the first round on Monday.

    "Almost one week ago when he won in the first instance, the case, he was able to get back his visa and practising. I said the justice has spoken," Nadal told reporters.

    "If the justice says his visa is valid and he's able to play here, the justice has spoken, so that's the fairest thing, that he deserves to play here. Yesterday the justice said another thing. I will never be against what the justice says.

    "Another thing is what I believe personally and what I believe is the ideal situation personally, no?

    "The ideal situation in the world of sport is that the best players are on court and playing the most important events. That's better for the sport without a doubt.

    "If Novak Djokovic is playing here, it's better for everybody, no doubt about that. Another thing is what happened. As I said in the beginning, I can't say another thing because I believe that the situation is very clear now."

    Pressed for an answer on his relationship with the 34-year-old world number one, Nadal wished his fellow competitor all the best.

    "He's not the only one that did bad things in that case," Nadal added.

    "Of course, there are more responsibilities on all for this terrible situation that we faced for the last two weeks. But of course, he is one of those responsible, too.

    "So on a personal level, yes, I would like to see him playing here. If it is fair or not that he's playing here is another discussion that I don't want to talk anymore about that."

    Nadal advanced to the second round in Melbourne with a cruising 6-1 6-4 6-2 victory over American Giron, who is ranked 66th in the world.

    That was Nadal's fourth win of the year after triumphing at the Melbourne Summer Set and he appears to have battled through his foot injury, though he still expressed concerns over his fitness.

    "It's been a very challenging few months… tough moments with a lot of doubts – there still are doubts," he said.

    "But I am here and I can't be happier to be back in Australia in this amazing stadium.

    "You never know when you come back from injury, which unfortunately I have a lot of experience with, how things will be, so you have to take it day by day. You have to forgive yourself if things aren't going the proper way."

    Awaiting Nadal in the second round of the tournament will be either Australia's Thanasi Kokkinakis or Yannick Hanfmann of Germany.

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