Maverick Vinales will make his Aprilia debut at the Aragon Grand Prix, with the Spaniard replacing Lorenzo Savadori for the rest of the MotoGP season.

Vinales left Monster Energy Yamaha ahead of schedule last month and had two successful test days with Aprilia at Misano this week.

Aprilia on Wednesday revealed that the 26-year-old will line up alongside Aleix Espargaro in the next MotoGP round on home soil this week.

Savadori, who is recovering from the fractured right malleolus he suffered at the Styrian GP, will take part in a selection of wildcards this season and be an Aprilia test rider next year.

Aprilia Racing CEO Massimo Rivola said: "We are extremely proud to be able to announce our plans for the current season and for 2022 with the goal of optimising the contributions of our three riders to the utmost.

"Alongside our confirmed rider, Aleix, it is our pleasure to welcome a talented athlete like Maverick to the Aprilia Racing team, who demonstrated a great feeling with the team and the bike straight away and who I am confident will be able to give his best as early as the Aragon GP.

"At the same time, we are also confirming Lorenzo’s role as 2022 test rider.

"This is a fundamental position that rewards the great efforts he has demonstrated in developing the new RS-GP, whereas he will finish out the 2021 season taking advantage of the wildcards that we'll decide on together as soon as he is back to 100 per cent fitness."

Romano Albesiano, Aprilia Racing technical director, said: "The decision to have Maverick on the track from Aragon is a direct result of the tests done in Misano.

"It was not a given that, after a career spent up to now on a bike with an in-line engine, Maverick would have a good feeling with our V4 straight away. This is why the test on this track, historically not an easy one for our bike, was an important moment of assessment.

"Therefore, we are satisfied with Maverick's immediately positive reactions, which demonstrated a good feeling both with the RS-GP and with the team and our work method.

"His and Aleix's talent, combined with the experience Lorenzo has gained this season, make us optimistic about the future of our MotoGP project."

Shohei Ohtani produced something he had never done before to help the Los Angeles Angels past the New York Yankees 6-4 in MLB on Tuesday.

Favourite to win the American League (AL) MVP this season, two-way Angels star Ohtani stole home for the first time in his four-year career.

Ohtani stole home as part of a double steal in the fifth inning, which saw the Angels produce a three-run rally against the slumping Yankees, who have lost four straight games.

The Japanese sensation leads the majors with 42 homers, while he also has 22 stolen bases.

Ohtani is only the fourth player in AL history with at least 42 home runs and 22 stolen bases in a season, joining Jose Canseco (1988, 1991 and 1998), Alex Rodriguez (1998 and 2007) and Ken Griffey Jr. (1999).

 

Snell sizzles against D-Backs

Blake Snell was dominant as the San Diego Padres blanked the Arizona Diamondbacks 3-0. Snell delivered seven no-hit innings, but San Diego's no-hit bid was ended when the Padres turned to the bullpen. According to Stats Perform, Padres ace Snell is the second starter in the modern era to be removed from the game after throwing 7.0-plus no-hit innings with 10-plus shutouts, following Francisco Cordova in 1997.

The Philadelphia Phillies tallied 18 hits in a rallying 12-6 victory over the Washington Nationals to extend their winning streak to five games. According to Stats Perform, the win marked the sixth occasion this season the Phillies had trailed by three-plus runs against the Nationals and came back to win – tied for the most such victories by any team against any single opponent in a season I the modern era.

The American League (AL) East-leading Tampa Bay Rays celebrated their ninth straight win by downing the Boston Red Sox 8-5.

 

Bogaerts tests positive for COVID-19

Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts had to be pulled from the game after testing positive for coronavirus. After hitting an RBI single in the first inning, the Boston star was withdrawn in the second.

The Milwaukee Brewers got on top of San Francisco Giants starter Johnny Cueto in a 6-2 win. Cueto allowed six runs and 10 hits in 3.2 innings.

 

Rosario makes history

Amed Rosario hit an inside-the-park homer to fuel the Cleveland Indians' 7-2 victory at the Kansas City Royals. Rosario became the first player to go five-for-five with five-plus RBIS, an inside-the-park homer and an over-the-fence home run in the same game, per Stats Perform.

 

 

Tuesday's results 

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

 

Red Sox at Rays

The Rays (84-48) will put their winning run on the line when they face the Red Sox (75-59) again on Wednesday. Chris Sale starts for the Red Sox as the high-flying Rays counter with Drew Rasmussen.

World number one Novak Djokovic is embracing the weight of personal and external expectations in pursuit of history after advancing to the US Open second round.

Djokovic's quest to become only the third man to complete a calendar Grand Slam and first since 1969 started with a 6-1 6-7 (5-7) 6-2 6-1 victory over Holger Rune on Tuesday.

The Serb star – also looking to win a record 21st men's slam crown, which would break a tie with absent pair Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer – made a dominant start before qualifier Rune levelled the match, much to the delight of the Arthur Ashe crowd.

But Rune, who was making his grand-slam main-draw debut, faded dramatically due to cramps as the 18-year-old's worsening physical condition gifted Djokovic the third and fourth sets en route to the second round.

Sympathetic of Rune's situation after the energetic teenager could barely move following the second set tie-break, Djokovic was then asked about his biggest obstacle entering the Flushing Meadows tournament.

"I guess as always you have tons of expectations and pressure from just the whole tennis community, including myself," Djokovic, who is back in New York for the first time since he was sensationally thrown out of the US Open last year after accidentally hitting a line judge in the throat with a tennis ball, told reporters.

"Obviously I would like myself to win, to go far, to win the title and make the history. Without a doubt that's something that inspires me.

"But I am focused on trying to be the best version of myself every day. I know it sounds like a cliche, but there is a great power in being present and working on mentally and emotionally being in the moment and trying to handle it in such way that would benefit you."

Djokovic, who will face Dutchman Tallon Griekspoor after improving his US Open record to 16-0 in the opening round, added: "I have my own routines that differs probably from all the other guys. I just try to do things, surround myself with people, have a trajectory and journey in this tournament that suits me, that I know has worked in the past.

"There are things that you can always rely on, go back to when you are experiencing a little bit of a turbulence in terms of emotions on the court or off the court. When it gets too much, then I've developed a mechanism where I feel like I can mentally handle that.

"But it's not a guarantee, right? I do have a formula for many years that has worked well for me, that got me to where I am. At the same time, it's not necessarily a guarantee that it will work every single time.

"Of course, you have to be flexible, open-minded, and rely also on your environment and the people that support you, that are there for you, so they can deflect also some of the things that are coming in off the court that you don't need to think about, handle, and just focus on what matters these few weeks."

Rajon Rondo said "wisdom" is key to winning an NBA championship after he joined a growing list of veterans on the Los Angeles Lakers' roster.

Rondo is back with the Lakers after spending last season split between the Atlanta Hawks and city rivals the Los Angeles Clippers.

A championship winner with the Lakers in 2019-20, Rondo was traded to the Memphis Grizzlies by the Clippers at the end of the 2020-21 campaign before agreeing a contract buyout and clearing waivers.

With Rondo (35) back at the Staples Center alongside Carmelo Anthony (37), LeBron James (36), Marc Gasol (36), Trevor Ariza (36) and Dwight Howard (35), the Lakers have the oldest team in the NBA this season.

The Lakers also boast former MVP Russell Westbrook (32) following his arrival from the Washington Wizards.

Amid criticism over the age of the team, Rondo told reporters on Tuesday: "Wisdom is definitely key to winning a championship.

"We have a lot of that, obviously, with the age and experience on the court. I'm most excited about not being the oldest guy on the team anymore.

"I'm actually about [fifth oldest] now, so that's a big step for me going from two months ago I was the oldest guy on the team and now I'm one of the young guys."

After ending their 10-year title drought in 2020, the Lakers struggled last season as James and Anthony Davis endured injury problems.

The Lakers finished with a 42-30 win-loss record and stumbled into the play-in tournament before losing to the Phoenix Suns in the first round of the playoffs.

Rondo added: "I'm looking forward to it, looking forward to the naysayers saying our age being a problem, but you don't have longevity in this league without discipline.

"We have guys that have the mileage, but there's a reason they're still playing in this league at this level for so many years. So I'm not worried about anything or the spectators saying age makes a difference.

"I think the mind is going to be a big key in why we win this year."

Novak Djokovic's quest to become only the third man to complete a calendar Grand Slam and first to win 21 majors started with a 6-1 6-7 (5-7) 6-2 6-1 victory over Holger Rune at the US Open.

Not since Rod Laver in 1969 has a man won all four majors in the same year – Djokovic arrived in New York as the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon champion.

Also eyeing history as the first man to claim 21 slams – currently tied with injured superstars Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer – Djokovic navigated his passage through to the second round at Flushing Meadows on Tuesday.

Danish qualifier Rune was making his grand slam main-draw debut, but the 18-year-old was not overawed under the bright Arthur Ashe lights.

However, Rune faded fast due to apparent cramps as world number one Djokovic eventually cruised through to round two of the year's final major after more than two hours.

Playing for the first time since his Golden Slam bid came unstuck at the Olympic Games in Tokyo, Djokovic looked comfortable initially, closing out a merciless opening set with an ace.

Djokovic did not face a break point, boasting 100 percent returns against first serve, barely giving Rune a break.

But that changed in the second set – the energetic Rune winding up the crowd as he raced out to a 3-0 lead before Djokovic swiftly reeled off four consecutive games to move ahead.

Rune, however, capitalised on some uncharacteristic double faults to ultimately level the match in a tie-break, much to the delight of the American crowd.

But that is as good as it got for a frustrated Rune, whose physical conditioning proved his downfall, having gone toe-to-toe with the top seed in a fearless display.

 

Data slam: Djokovic extends US Open streak

Back in New York for the first time since he was sensationally thrown out of the US Open last year after accidentally hitting a line judge in the throat with a tennis ball, Djokovic got the job done.

Three-time US Open champion Djokovic now remains unbeaten in opening-round matches at the tournament, with a 16-0 record.

 

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS

Djokovic – 55/30
Rune – 24/26

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS

Djokovic – 17/7
Rune – 1/4

BREAK POINTS WON

Djokovic – 8/14
Rune – 2/3

New York Mets stars Javier Baez and Francisco Lindor apologised after their thumbs-down gesture towards the franchise's own fans.

Baez and Lindor sparked controversy explaining their thumbs-down celebrations were directed at Mets fans amid their boos on Sunday.

The actions were swiftly condemned by Mets president Sandy Alderson and the pair apologised on Tuesday.

"I didn't mean to offend anybody," Baez said. "And if I offended anybody, we apologise."

Baez arrived from the Chicago Cubs at the trade deadline, but the World Series champion and two-time MLB All-Star has struggled to impress in New York, where fans have voiced their dissatisfaction.

The Gold Glove and Silver Slugger hit .210 with four homers and a .709 OPS in 17 games prior to Tuesday.

Booed when he entered as a pinch hitter during the eighth inning of Tuesday's rallying 6-5 win against the Miami Marlins, fans quickly cheered as Baez hit an infield single to trim the deficit in the ninth before dashing home on Michael Conforto's single.

"I might have said something wrong about, 'I was booing the fans'," Baez said. "I really meant, like, 'Boo me now' -- and not to the fans, to our dugout.

"I didn't say the fans are bad. I love the fans. I just felt like we were alone."

Lindor added: "Thumbs down for me means adversity that we have gone through this whole time, the negative things, we overcome it.

"However, it was wrong, and I apologise to whoever I offended. It was not my intent to offend people. I can't go against the fans."

"It's not like I'm sitting at my locker saying, 'Ah, the media here sucks'," Lindor said. "No, I've never said it. The media here is an honest one, and the fans here are honest. … Here, I have a lot of respect for people that are very honest, and they let you know right away.

"As soon as I come down, if I suck or make an error, they let me know. 'You suck'. What can I say? What, am I going to get into an argument? No, that’s not right. I respect people that are honest."

World number one Ash Barty was relieved but happy with her response after surviving a first-round scare against Vera Zvonareva at the US Open.

Barty – the top seed back at Flushing Meadows after skipping the 2020 event due to the coronavirus pandemic – booked her spot in the second round with a 6-1 7-6 (9-7) victory but the Wimbledon champion endured a challenging opener in New York on Tuesday.

Despite firing down 11 aces to improve her WTA Tour-leading tally to 300 in 2021, and hitting 31 winners, veteran Zvonareva was a tricky first-up opponent for Australian star Barty.

A US Open and Wimbledon runner-up in 2010, Zvonareva made life difficult for Barty in the second set, earning a chance to force a decider but the 36-year-old was unable to capitalise at 7-6 in the tie-break.

Afterwards, Barty – who ranks first this season for titles (five), match victories (41), finals reached (six) and top-10 victories (seven) – told reporters: "Obviously a tough one against Vera straight up.

"She's an experienced campaigner. She knows how to get herself into matches. I think all in all, adapting to conditions was a little bit slower than I probably would have liked [but] we're through. We have another chance to improve on that in the next round.

"I think when my back was against the wall late in that buster, I came up with some really good stuff. That's all we can ask is when your back is against the wall, you trust yourself, you go out there and pick your spots and hit them."

Two-time grand slam champion Barty – fresh off winning in Cincinnati as Clara Tauson awaits in round two – added: "It obviously got really tense in that second set - tight - and in the bigger moments I was able to be aggressive and trust myself and that was a massive thing today.

"There were a couple of games where I had lapses in concentration but I was able to come through in straight sets and now we go back to the drawing board, work on a few things and we'll be as happy as Larry.

"I'm certainly happy to be through and playing again here in New York."

 

Alexander Zverev has accused Stefanos Tsitsipas of behaving like a junior and disrespecting his opponents by taking such long bathroom breaks during matches.

Andy Murray was furious when Tsitsipas was off court for around eight minutes ahead of the final set in their thrilling first-round match at the US Open on Monday.

Tsitsipas also required a medical timeout for a foot problem during a pulsating contest that the world number three won 2-6 7-6 (9-7) 3-6 6-3 6-4 at Flushing Meadows.

Murray said he had lost respect for the 23-year-old, who defended his lengthy spell off court and stated he had played by the rules.

The Brit was in no mood to back down on Tuesday, however, as he tweeted: "Fact of the day. It takes Stefanos Tsitsipas twice as long to go the bathroom as it takes Jeff Bezos to fly into space. Interesting."

Zverev appeared to accuse Tsitsipas of communicating with his father and coach, Apostolos, when he took a break during their semi-final showdown at the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati this month.

Tsitsipas responded by denying having ever used his phone during such a situation, describing the accusation as "absolutely ridiculous."

However, world number four Zverev had Tsitsipas in his sights once again after beating Sam Querrey 6-4 7-5 6-2 in New York.

The German said: "It's happening every match. It's not normal. It happened to me in the French Open, to Novak at the finals [of the] French Open. I think Hamburg against [Filip] Krajinovic he was complaining, against me in Cincinnati was ridiculous, and now here again. I think players are catching up with that.

"He's the number three player in the world. I do not believe he needs to do that, because if you're top three in the world, you're one of the best in the sport.

"These kind of things happen at junior events, at Futures, at Challengers maybe, but not when you're top three in the world.

"You're allowed to do that but it's like an unwritten rule with players. I have been breaking rackets, I go insane sometimes and all that but one thing I'm very proud of, and I'll keep for the rest of my career, is I win and I lose by playing tennis on the tennis court."

Zverev reiterated his grievance with Tsitsipas having taken such a lengthy break during their meeting in Cincinnati.

"I didn't ask that question in Cincinnati, which I was very surprised at, because I was going to answer that very truthfully and honestly," he said.

"He's gone for 10-plus minutes. His dad is texting on the phone. He comes out and all of a sudden his tactic completely changed. It's just not me but everybody saw it. The whole game plan changes.

"I'm like, either it's a very magical place he goes to or there is communication there. But I also don't want to disrespect him. He is a great player, he is number three in the world for a reason. He's winning tournaments and playing incredible tennis this year for a reason, so it's not only that.

"But I do believe, and Andy said it as well, there is some level of respect that everybody needs to have between players.

"I feel like sometimes - or he might just go to the toilet. We don't know that, that's also possible. But it just happens too often, I would say."

Sean Payton has confirmed Jameis Winston has got the nod over Taysom Hill to be the New Orleans Saints' starting quarterback.

Winston has been charged with the task of succeeding future Hall of Famer Drew Brees, who ended his career last season as the all-time leader in passing yards with 80,358.

Hill filled in last season when Brees was absent due to injury and was vying with Winston to start against the Green Bay Packers on September 12.

Saints coach Payton said of Winston on Tuesday: "Both he and Taysom competed their tails off. We feel really good about that (QB) room."

He added: "I can't tell you how much I appreciate how both guys handled it [the battle to be starting QB]."

Payton stated that he has a "clear vision" of how the versatile Hill can help the Saints in the upcoming season.

Winston ended his Tampa Bay Buccaneers career in 2019 with a season that epitomised his frustrating inconsistency.

He led the league in passing yards with 5,109 but became the first quarterback in NFL history to throw for 30 touchdowns and 30 interceptions. His seven picks returned for touchdowns set a league record, too.

It could have been substantially worse for Winston. Per Stats Perform data, he ended the 2019 season with 46 pickable passes, with his interceptable pass percentage of 7.69 the highest of any quarterback with at least 100 attempts.

Meanwhile, Payton says the Saints are prepared for the prospect that they could be forced to operate away from New Orleans for as long as a month due to Hurricane Ida.

He revealed they have explored several college facilities that could be used for off-site preparations for at least four games at the start of the 2021 campaign.

Fabio Jakobsen celebrated his 25th birthday in style as he edged a mass sprint to claim his third stage win of the 2021 Vuelta a Espana.

Tuesday's 180 kilometre stretch from Laredo to Santo Cruz de Bezana was always expected to provide a frantic finish and so it proved.

Deceuninck – Quick Step rider Jakobsen was dropped by the peloton with around 60km remaining, yet recovered brilliantly with the help of his team-mates and launched his sprint to perfection at the end of stage 16.

Jakobsen held off a late surge by UAE-Team Emirates' Matteo Trentin, who eventually finished in third, with Jordi Meeus taking second place.

"A birthday is always a good day but I'm over the moon with this win," Jakobsen said. "I think what we saw today was the Wolfpack. 

"I was dropped on a climb, the guys waited for me and brought me back. I won the race but it was all because of them. 

"The only thing I can do is do a short, fast sprint, and they did everything else today. I'm never confident but I always try – because if you don't try then you never win."

The drama was not just consigned to the finish, as a crash took out 15 riders earlier in the day, including red jersey contenders Enric Mas, Guillaume Martin and Giulio Ciccone.

Trek - Segafredo rider Ciccone, who was positioned 12th overall at the start of the day, attempted to continue but had to withdraw.

There was no change in terms of the general classification standings as Odd Christian Eiking finished safely in the peloton.

With four stages to go ahead of Sunday's conclusion in Santiago de Compostela, Martin trails Eiking by 54 seconds and Primoz Roglic is one minute and 36s behind.

STAGE RESULT

1. Fabio Jakobsen (Deceuninck – Quick Step) 04:08:57
2. Jordi Meeus (BORA - hansgrohe) same time
3. Matteo Trentin (UAE-Team Emirates) same time

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification

1. Odd Christian Eiking (Intermarche-Wanty-Gobert) 64:06:47
2. Guillaume Martin (Cofidis) +0:54
3. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) +1:36

Points Classification

1. Fabio Jakobsen (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) 250
2. Matteo Trentin (UAE-Team Emirates) 123
3. Magnus Cort Nielsen (EF Education–Nippo) 114

King of the Mountains

1. Romain Bardet (Team DSM) 50 
2. Damiano Caruso (Bahrain Victorious) 31
3. Rafal Majka (UAE-Team Emirates) 29

What's next?

A whole different challenge awaits on Wednesday with a classic climb of the Lagos de Covadonga. The gruelling stage includes a climb almost 8km long with slopes reaching an inclination of 14 per cent

Cam Newton has been cut by the New England Patriots, according to widespread reports, leaving Mac Jones as the new starting quarterback.

Newton and Jones had appeared in a battle for the starting spot ahead of the 2021 season.

On Sunday, after the Pats' final preseason game against the New York Giants, coach Bill Belichick refused to declare his starter, saying: "We still have decisions to make."

But Newton played just 39 snaps in preseason, also missing five days due to a "misunderstanding" relating to COVID-19 tests. He has now been released.

The decision clears a path for Jones, a first-round pick who led Alabama to the College Football Playoff National Championship this year.

Belichick will hope the 22-year-old can be a long-term replacement for Tom Brady, who left for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers before last season and went on to win the Super Bowl.

Newton was signed as a free agent to fill the void but completed just 65.8 per cent of his passes for 2,657 yards, eight touchdowns and 10 interceptions across 15 regular season games.

Although the 32-year-old did rush for 12 touchdowns – the most since 14 in his rookie year with Carolina Panthers in 2011 – even his underlying numbers through the air were poor.

Newton delivered a well-thrown, accurate ball on 76.1 per cent of his passes while averaging 7.07 air yards, below the 2020 league averages for quarterbacks with at least 100 attempts in both metrics (78.0 per cent and 8.16).

The departing three-time Pro Bowler was still handed a one-year contract ahead of Jones' arrival, but New England have clearly seen enough from the rookie in preseason.

At Alabama, Jones showed himself to be far more effective through the air than the man he will be replacing as starter. His 83.21 well-thrown percentage ranked third in the Power 5 in 2020.

Andy Murray has doubled down on his criticism of Stefanos Tsitsipas by joking that his US Open conqueror's bathroom breaks take twice as long as Jeff Bezos' trips to space.

World number three Tsitsipas beat Murray 2-6 7-6 (9-7) 3-6 6-3 6-4 in a thrilling five-set battle in the opening round at Flushing Meadows on Monday.

The opening-day showdown was overshadowed by Tsitsipas' controversial bathroom break ahead of the decisive fifth set – the Greek star spending around eight minutes off court, much to the frustration of Murray.

Tsitsipas also required a medical timeout for an apparent foot problem after losing the third set to 2012 champion Murray, who was far from impressed following almost five hours of action.

Speaking after the match, Murray – who failed to progress beyond the first round of the US Open for the first time in 15 appearances – said he had lost respect for Tsitsipas and suggested his opponent had deliberately attempted to disrupt his flow. 

Tsitsipas defended his lengthy break, insisting he had played by the rules and that he would speak to Murray face-to-face should the Briton wish to take the issue further.

Rather than resolving the matter, however, Murray aimed another dig at Tsitsipas with a sarcastic message on his personal Twitter account on Tuesday, comparing the stoppage to the 10 minutes and 10 seconds it took billionaire Bezos to fly to space last month.

"Fact of the day. It takes Stefanos Tsitipas (sic) twice as long to go the bathroom as it takes Jeff Bazos (sic) to fly into space. Interesting," he posted.

With the win over Murray, Tsitsipas became the 10th active player to defeat all four members of the 'Big Four' – Murray, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.

Tsitsipas will meet world number 44 Adrian Mannarino in the second round on Wednesday.

Corbin Burnes and the Milwaukee Brewers' bullpen did their job on Monday in a 3-1 defeat of the San Francisco Giants to open a series between the National League division leaders. 

The All-Star Burnes allowed four hits and a run in six innings while striking out nine, and Brad Boxberger, Devin Williams and Josh Hader held the team with MLB's best record scoreless the rest of the way. 

Burnes also helped himself with an RBI single in the second inning that gave the Brewers a 2-0 lead as the Giants ran out seven pitchers to get through the evening in a bullpen game. 

It was the third defeat in four games for the Giants, who lost their series in Atlanta over the weekend. 

 

Dodgers down Braves to close on Giants

The Los Angeles Dodgers took advantage of San Francisco's defeat, moving to within 1.5 games of the NL West lead after holding on for a 5-3 victory over the Braves.

Every run in the game was scored via a home run, with the teams combining for seven of them.

Los Angeles started things off with solo homers from Max Muncy, Will Smith and Mookie Betts and a two-run drive by Corey Seager before Atlanta answered with longballs from Jorge Soler, Freddie Freeman and Adam Duvall, but that trio of solo shots was not enough to get the Braves over the top. 

The Tampa Bay Rays won their eighth game in a row and 12th from their past 13, defeating the Boston Red Sox 6-1 as Wander Franco hit a two-run single in his final trip to the plate to extend his on-base streak to 30 games.

The only other players aged 20 or younger to have an on-base run at least that long are Hall of Famers Frank Robinson, Mickey Mantle, Mel Ott and Arky Vaughan.

The New York Yankees fell seven games back of the Rays with an 8-7 loss to the Los Angeles Angels in Corey Kluber's first start since May 25.

The former Cy Young winner served up a grand slam to Jack Mayfield as the Angels took an early lead and Shohei Ohtani later added his 42nd home run of the season, but it was Juan Lagares who won it for Los Angeles with an RBI single in the eighth after Giancarlo Stanton had levelled the game with a two-run homer the previous inning. 

 

Punchless Reds lose again

Kyle Farmer went two-for-four with a double and a home run but the rest of the Cincinnati Reds lineup were zero-for-26 in a 3-1 loss to Jon Lester and the St Louis Cardinals.

The Reds have dropped three in a row and are clinging to a half-game lead for the second NL wild card spot. 

 

Vladdy doubles up

Vladimir Guerrero hit his 37th and 38th home runs of the season while bumping his RBI total to 95 as the Toronto Blue Jays beat the Baltimore Orioles 7-3 at Rogers Centre. 

 

Monday's results 

Minnesota Twins 3-2 Detroit Tigers
St Louis Cardinals 3-1 Cincinnati Reds
Philadelphia Phillies 7-4 Washington Nationals
Toronto Blue Jays 7-3 Baltimore Orioles
Tampa Bay Rays 6-1 Boston Red Sox
Texas Rangers 4-3 Colorado Rockies
Los Angeles Angels 8-7 New York Yankees
San Diego Padres 7-5 Arizona Diamondbacks
Milwaukee Brewers 3-1 San Francisco Giants
Houston Astros 4-3 Seattle Mariners
Los Angeles Dodgers 5-3 Atlanta Braves

 

Braves at Dodgers

The Atlanta Braves (70-60) send veteran Charlie Morton to the mound as they try to bounce back from a series-opening loss against Walker Buehler and the Los Angeles Dodgers (83-49)

Danny Green believes the Philadelphia 76ers without Ben Simmons might cause defensive issues amid uncertainty over his future with the NBA franchise.

Simmons' future in Philadelphia is up in the air after struggling in the 76ers' shock Eastern Conference semi-final exit at the hands of the Atlanta Hawks in the NBA playoffs.

The three-time All-Star – an elite defender whose shooting problems were laid bare during the postseason – has been at the centre of trade rumours involving the Minnesota Timberwolves, Golden State Warriors and the Portland Trail Blazers.

Portland are a team of particular interest, given reports the 76ers are eyeing their All-Star Damian Lillard.

Green, who signed a new deal to return to Philadelphia for the 2021-22 season, was asked what a Simmons-less 76ers would look like.

"That's going to be tough to say man because we don't know what we're going to get back for him," Green told Howard Beck on the Crossover podcast.

"We may get a point guard, we may get wings. That may change a lot: I might be playing with a different type of point guard, I might be playing with different types of wings, I might be coming off the bench. I don't know who we’re going to get."

Former number one draft pick Simmons had no fourth-quarter field-goal attempts in his last four games of the playoffs last season. He is the only NBA player in the last 20 seasons to have four consecutive postseason games with no field-goal attempts in the fourth quarter during a season in which he was an All-Star.

 

After four seasons in the league, there has been no improvement from the 24-year-old Simmons in one fundamental area – shooting.

An elite defender and creator, debate around Simmons centres on his offence or lack thereof, with the 76ers handicapped by his unwillingness to shoot.

Simmons' field-goal percentage has regressed, dropping from 58.0 in 2019-20 to 55.7 this season – he only managed worse in his 2017-18 rookie campaign (54.5).

He averaged just 10.1 field-goal attempts in 2020-21 – a career low, which dropped to 7.9 in the playoffs. It is the same story with his scoring as it dropped to a career worst 14.3 points per game and 11.9 in the postseason – both career lows.

Then there is Simmons and free throws. He was exposed by rival teams as they regularly sent him to the line, with the Melbourne-born guard making just 25 of 73 shots in the 2020-21 playoffs. His 34.2 free-throw percentage is the lowest ever in a single postseason.

Despite those liabilities, Green said losing Simmons would force some adjustments. 

"And also defensively, I probably become the primary defender," he said. "Not saying it's an issue or a problem for me, but we have one less wing defender with him.

"Now it's me and Matisse [Thybulle]. Not saying that the other guys don't play defence, but you talk about our main defenders. That was a big part of that and a big part of our defence. … Ben, you know, was DPOY [Defensive Player of the Year] for us this year. …

"We thought Ben was able to guard one through five and set the tone for us. If he's gone, that changes a lot not just offensively but defensively as well for me."

The Los Angeles Angels are pushing back Shohei Ohtani's next outing on the mound and Mike Trout may be running out of time for a return to the field this MLB season. 

Ohtani had been scheduled to pitch against the New York Yankees on Tuesday, but Angels manager Joe Maddon said his two-way star's hand is still sore after being hit by a pitch on Saturday. 

X-rays came back negative and Ohtani was in Monday's line-up as the designated hitter, however, the Angels will keep him off the pitching mound for the time being and give Jaime Barria the start against the Yankees. 

"Pitching is problematic, so we'll just have him hit until he's ready to pitch," Maddon told reporters. 

Maddon compared the issue to when Ohtani was hit in the thumb by a foul ball while sitting in the dugout last month, which led to the team moving his next pitching start back a few days. 

The Angels have no plans to shut Ohtani down from either pitching or hitting, Maddon said as the likely MVP is "in the running for some pretty big personal awards right now and I don't ever want to get in the way of anybody’s greatness."

Ohtani entered Monday's game with an MLB-leading 41 home runs and an American League (AL)-best .623 slugging percentage at the plate – not to mention 20 stolen bases – and is 8-1 with a 3.00 ERA in 19 starts on the mound, striking out 127 in 105 innings. 

Trout – a three-time AL MVP himself – appeared to be nearing a return from a calf injury that has sidelined him since May 17 after running the bases at full speed before Saturday's outing. 

While he felt fine at the time, Trout has experienced soreness since then and Maddon said the time is approaching that the Angels (64-67) might need to talk to him about shutting it down for the season. 

The Angels are fourth in the AL West and 10 games adrift in the Wild Card race.

"It's a possibility, and probably getting closer to having to say something like that," Maddon said. "But he still wants to continue the fight and we're going to honour his wishes. However Mike sees this, we're going to go that way."

The 30-year-old is hitting .333 with a 1.090 OPS and eight home runs in 36 games this season. 

Defending US Open champion Naomi Osaka passed her opening-round test, producing a powerful performance against Marie Bouzkova 6-4 6-1 on Monday.

All eyes were on Osaka following a difficult couple of months due to mental health concerns as a result of "long bouts of depression" since winning the 2018 US Open.

Osaka withdrew from May's French Open having won her first-round match, after she was fined and threatened with further punishment – and possible expulsion from the grand slam – for skipping obligatory media duties.

The Japanese star subsequently pulled out of Wimbledon before returning for the Olympic Games, though she suffered a surprise loss on home soil in Tokyo and was reduced to tears during a news conference in Cincinnati.

But as fans returned to Flushing Meadows for the first time in two years after the 2020 event was played behind closed doors due to the coronavirus pandemic, Osaka looked comfortable under the Arthur Ashe Stadium lights with the likes of former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson and Hollywood star Alec Baldwin in the crowd.

Bouzkova kept pace with Osaka in the opening set, not overawed by the occasion, but she came unstuck on serve in the 10th game.

While fending off one set point, Bouzkova was unable to save another, slicing a backhand into the net as Osaka closed out the set on her opponent's racquet.

With a set under her belt having reeled off 21 winners in the opener, Osaka stepped it up a gear – winning seven consecutive games before Bouzkova avoided a bagel.

Bouzkova continued to battle but it only delayed the inevitable as Osaka continued her quest for a fourth US Open crown and fifth slam title.

 

Data slam: Osaka on track to follow in Serena's footsteps

The 23-year-old needed one hour, 33 minutes to book her spot in the next round. Osaka is looking to become the first woman to win consecutive titles at Flushing Meadows since 23-time major champion Serena Williams claimed three in a row from 2012 to 2014.

Osaka is the only woman to win at least one major title over the past four seasons, claiming the Australian Open in 2019 and 2021, as well as the US Open in 2018 and last year.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS

Osaka – 34/23
Bouzkova – 10/8

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS

Osaka – 4/1
Bouzkova – 2/2

BREAK POINTS WON

Osaka – 3/6
Bouzkova – 0/8

Andy Murray said he has lost respect for Stefanos Tsitsipas in a scathing criticism of the world number three's excessively long bathroom break at the US Open.

Tsitsipas rallied past three-time grand slam champion Murray 2-6 7-6 (9-7) 3-6 6-3 6-4 in a thrilling five-set battle in the opening round of the major at Flushing Meadows on Monday.

Murray's career has been devastated by injuries – the 34-year-old underwent hip resurfacing in 2019 but he has continued to be plagued by fitness problems – however he turned back the clock in a heroic display on Arthur Ashe Stadium, where the former world number one led two sets to one before Tsitsipas' comeback.

But the opening-day showdown was overshadowed by Tsitsipas' controversial bathroom break at the end of the fourth set – the Greek star spent around eight minutes off court, much to the frustration of Murray.

Tsitsipas also required a medical timeout for an apparent foot problem after losing the third set to 2012 champion Murray, who was far from impressed following almost five hours of action.

"It can't be a coincidence that it's happening at those moments. I don't believe it [Tsitsipas' foot] was causing him any issue at all," said world number 112 Murray after failing to progress beyond the first round of the US Open for the first time in 15 appearances.

"The match went on for another two-and-a-bit hours after that. He was fine, moving great I thought. It's just disappointing because I feel it influenced the outcome of the match. I'm not saying I necessarily win that match [without Tsitsipas' delays], for sure, but it had influence on what was happening after those breaks.

"I rate him a lot. I think he's a brilliant player. I think he's great for the game. But I have zero time for that stuff at all, and I lost respect for him."

"If people don't care enough about it to change, that's fine," Murray said of players taking long breaks.

"Look, I'll speak to my team about it. I'll listen to what, I don't know, fans, players and everything are saying about it. Maybe I'm being unreasonable. Maybe I'm overreacting to something because I lost the match.

"But yeah, right now sitting here I feel like it's nonsense and they need to make a change because it's not good for the sport, it's not good for TV, it's not good for fans. I don't think it's a good look for the players either.

"I'm sitting in here after a match like that against one of the best players in the world, and rather than talking about how fantastic he is, how good he is for the game, how great it was for me that I was able to put on a performance like that after everything that's gone on the last four years – I'm sitting in here talking about bathroom breaks and medical timeouts and delays in matches.

"That's rubbish, I don't think that that's right. I said I don't want to do press tonight because I know I'm going to sit here and it's going to seem like I'm just smashing him. Yeah, that's annoying for me because sounds like sour grapes because you've lost a match and everything.

"I would have said the same thing if I'd won, I promise. It was nonsense, and he knows it."

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