The short-handed Toronto Blue Jays claimed a much-needed 15-1 win over the Los Angeles Angels as unheralded duo Josh Palacios and Santiago Espinal stepped up on Saturday.

Toronto had lost four consecutive MLB games and were without some key weapons for the third matchup of the Angels series, including star recruit George Springer and Silver Slugger Teoscar Hernandez.

But the Blue Jays returned to form thanks to the likes of Palacios and Espinal – Toronto, who had scored seven runs across their previous 31 innings, using a seven-run second inning to blitz the Angels in Dunedin after rain delayed the start of proceedings for almost three hours.

Palacios managed his first MLB hit and scored on a three-run double from Randal Grichuk as he finished with four runs and as many hits against the Angels.

The 25-year-old became the second player in American League (AL) history with four-plus hits and four-plus runs in one of his first two career games, per Stats Perform. The other was Wid Conroy in 1901.

Espinal – called up to the Blue Jays from the alternate training site on Saturday – had two runs and three hits in five at-bats as Toronto registered 15 runs without homering.

Bo Bichette had five RBIs with three runs and two hits, while Marcus Semien and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. also scored.

Steven Matz impressed in his start for the Blue Jays, allowing just one run and five hits across six strong innings, while Angels pitcher Jose Quintana was tagged with the loss after giving up five hits, seven runs – five earned – in less than two innings.

 

Dodgers flex muscles in LA, Locastro makes history

Chris Taylor hit a three-run homer as World Series champions the Los Angeles Dodgers defeated the Washington Nationals 9-5. The Dodgers improved to 7-2 for the season after AJ Pollock also drove in three runs. Juan Soto homered twice but it was not enough for the visiting Nationals.

Tim Locastro became the first player on record (since 1951) to start a career with 28 consecutive stolen bases without being caught. It came as the Arizona Diamondbacks topped the Cincinnati Reds 8-3.

Jacob deGrom matched a career best with 14 strikeouts over eight innings, but the New York Mets were blanked 3-0 by the Miami Marlins.

Avisail Garcia homered, doubled and drove in five runs as the Milwaukee Brewers beat the St Louis Cardinals 9-5. Keston Hiura hit a three-run homer in a five-run seventh inning for the Brewers.

 

Yankees shut out as German pays the price

It was a miserable outing for Domingo German and the New York Yankees, who were blanked 4-0 by AL East rivals the Tampa Bay Rays. Austin Meadows and Randy Arozarena homered off German. The Yankees optioned German to the club's alternate site after the shut-out loss. 

 

Memorable day for Espinal

Toronto's Espinal will not be forgetting Saturday's game any time soon. Prior to starring for the Blue Jays, the 26-year-old Dominican infielder met iconic countryman and MLB legend Albert Pujols thanks to team-mate Guerrero. Angels star Pujols is a two-time World Series champion, three-time National League (NL) MVP, 10-time All-Star, six-time Silver Slugger, two-time Gold Glove winner and one of the Dominican Republic's most famous names.

 

Saturday's results

Miami Marlins 3-0 New York Mets
Tampa Bay Rays 4-0 New York Yankees
Seattle Mariners 4-3 Minnesota Twins
Milwaukee Brewers 9-5 St Louis Cardinals
San Francisco Giants 4-3 Colorado Rockies
Oakland Athletics 7-3 Houston Astros
Cleveland Indians 11-3 Detroit Tigers
Pittsburgh Pirates 8-2 Chicago Cubs
Boston Red Sox 6-4 Baltimore Orioles
San Diego Padres 7-4 Texas Rangers
Atlanta Braves 5-4 Philadelphia Phillies
Arizona Diamondbacks 8-3 Cincinnati Reds
Los Angeles Dodgers 9-5 Washington Nationals
Toronto Blue Jays 15-1 Los Angeles Angels
Kansas City Royals-Chicago White Sox (postponed)

 

Angels at Blue Jays

The Blue Jays (4-5) will look to level their series with the Angels (6-3) in Sunday's decider in Dunedin.

Homegrown Joe Musgrove tossed the first no-hitter in the San Diego Padres' franchise history in a 3-0 victory over the Texas Rangers in MLB on Friday night.

Musgrove blanked the Rangers across nine close-to-faultless innings with 10 strikeouts, which set off wild frenzied celebrations among the Padres.

"Everyone dreams of getting the chance to throw a no-hitter," Musgrove said post-game. "I've never even thrown a no-hitter in my life, so my first one came today on this field.

"It's awesome to have it be in a Padres uniform and for it to be the first one for the franchise. That's incredible."

It was only Musgrove's second start for the Padres and improves their season record to 5-3.

Shohei Ohtani may not be on the mound at the moment but he hit his third home run of the year in the Los Angeles Angels' 7-1 win over the Toronto Blue Jays.

The Japanese star went 2-for-5 at the plate with a homer, double and four RBIs, with Mike Trout taking a backseat.

 

Acuna does it all for Braves

Young gun Ronald Acuna Jr did it all for the Atlanta Braves in their 8-1 win over the Philadelphia Phillies.

The 23-year-old Venezuelan hit a huge home run, added a duo of doubles and made a super outfield catch as he notched his fifth career four-hit game to lead the Braves to victory. 

"That just shows you the complete player he is and the skillset this kid has and what he brings," Braves manager Brian Snitker said.

Corey Kluber had a tough shift as the New York Yankees were battered by reigning American League champions the Tampa Bay Rays 10-5.

Rich Hill struck out seven for the Rays while Joey Wendle and Brandon Lowe combined to drive in five.

Justin Turner homered in the sixth inning to earn the Los Angeles Dodgers a 1-0 victory over the Washington Nationals.

After being beaten by the Houston Astros five times, the Oakland Athletics hit back with Matt Olson's three-run homer helping them to a 6-2 triumph.

 

Fowler felled in scary play

In a scary moment, Angels' right fielder Dexter Fowler was carted off with a left knee issue after an awkward fall on second base, although cmanager Joe Maddon later said "I don't think it's bad, fortunately".

 

Freddie finds his form

Acuna stole the show for the Braves but 2020 National League MVP Freddie Freeman would not be denied with a big home run of his own.

 

Friday's results

Tampa Bay Rays 10-5 New York Yankees
Los Angeles Dodgers 1-0 Washington Nationals
San Francisco Giants 3-1 Colorado Rockies
Los Angeles Angels 7-1 Toronto Blue Jays
Cleveland Indians 4-1 Detroit Tigers
Atlanta Braves 8-1 Philadelphia Phillies
San Diego Padres 3-0 Texas Rangers
Oakland Athletics 6-2 Houston Astros
Cincinnati Reds 6-5 Arizona Diamondbacks 

 

Yankees at Tampa

There's a full 15-game fixture on Saturday with the Tampa Bay Rays series against the New York Yankees ongoing.

The Oakland Athletics ended their run of six consecutive losses to start the season by rallying past MLB champions the Los Angeles Dodgers 4-3 in extra innings.

Mitch Moreland hit an RBI single in the 10th inning on Wednesday as the Athletics won for the first time in 2021.

The A's were in danger of falling to 0-7 for the first time in their history before Matt Chapman scored on a sacrifice fly in the ninth inning.

Moreland completed the confidence-boosting comeback in the 10th – a line-drive single scoring Mark Canha from third in Oakland midweek.

"It's definitely not the start we wanted," Moreland said. "We know we're a lot better team than that. We played great in spring and kind of had a little bit of lag. It didn't go our way out of the gate. That's a good win for us."

Trevor Bauer impressed for World Series champions the Dodgers, despite the defeat.

The reigning National League (NL) Cy Young winner allowed three hits and two runs, recording 10 strikeouts for the second consecutive start.

 

Cain makes history

Lorenzo Cain became the first player in Milwaukee Brewers history to hit two go-ahead home runs in the eighth inning or later in the same game, per Stats Perform. The Brewers overcame the Chicago Cubs 4-2.

Justin Dunn impressed for the Seattle Mariners, who defeated the Chicago White Sox 8-4. He became the first pitcher since Pete Harnisch in 1991 to walk eight-plus batters and allow one hit or fewer in his season debut, via Stats Perform. The only other Mariners pitcher to do so in any regular-season game was Randy Johnson in 1991.

Connor Brogdon became the first Philadelphia Phillies player to have three wins in the team's first six games of a season in the modern era. The Phillies accounted for the New York Mets 8-2.

The Cleveland Indians were 4-2 winners against the Kansas City Royals thanks to Shane Bieber, who became the first MLB pitcher to start multiple seasons with back-to-back 12-plus strike-out games.

 

Marlins mauled

The Miami Marlins were blanked 7-0 by the St Louis Cardinals, who claimed a series sweep. Zach Pop struggled after giving up four runs and a homer in less than an inning.

 

Waffles over bat flips for Pederson

Joc Pederson hit his first home run for the Cubs – a game-tying homer in the eighth inning against the Brewers. A World Series winner with the Dodgers last season, the 2015 All-Star celebrated with a waffle maker.

"I hope we're making a lot of waffles," Pederson said after the game. "I don't know. It's [Ian] Happer's. I think I just rented it for a minute, but we'll see. Hopefully we're passing out waffles soon to all of us."

 

 

Wednesday's results

Atlanta Braves 7-6 Washington Nationals
Atlanta Braves 2-0 Washington Nationals
Cincinnati Reds 11-4 Pittsburgh Pirates
Cleveland Indians 4-2 Kansas City Royals
Minnesota Twins 3-2 Detroit Tigers
Boston Red Sox 9-2 Tampa Bay Rays
Texas Rangers 2-1 Toronto Blue Jays
Milwaukee Brewers 4-2 Chicago Cubs
Oakland Athletics 4-3 Los Angeles Dodgers
Philadelphia Phillies 8-2 New York Mets
Seattle Mariners 8-4 Chicago White Sox
San Francisco Giants 3-2 San Diego Padres
St Louis Cardinals 7-0 Miami Marlins
Baltimore Orioles 4-3 New York Yankees
Colorado Rockies 8-0 Arizona Diamondbacks

 

Angels at Blue Jays

The Blue Jays (3-3) will stage their first home series – at their spring base in Dunedin as the coronavirus pandemic prevents them from returning to play in Toronto – starting Thursday. The Los Angeles Angels (4-2) are their opponents.

Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw returned to form as the World Series champions crushed the helpless Oakland Athletics 5-1 in MLB action on Tuesday.

Kershaw – a three-time Cy Young Award winner – struggled on Opening Day following a difficult Spring Training campaign for the Dodgers.

But Kershaw bounced back against the winless Athletics, striking out eight batters across seven solid innings in Oakland.

Kershaw allowed one run and four hits and did not walk a batter as the star pitcher retired 20 of 22 opponents for the Dodgers, who won their fifth consecutive game.

Dodgers team-mate Mookie Betts homered for the first time this season, while team-mates Max Muncy and Edwin Rios also went long for the visitors.

In New York, three-time All-Star Gerrit Cole impressed with a 13-strikeout gem – his most in a regular-season game since joining the franchise in 2020 – as the Yankees made light work of the Baltimore Orioles 7-2.

Yankees ace Cole allowed four hits without a walk over seven scoreless innings, while slugger Aaron Judge and Jay Bruce homered at Yankee Stadium.

Per Stats Perform, Cole already has 21 punchouts this season – tying Al Downing (1964) for the most by any Yankees pitcher in his first two starts of a season.

 

Reds flying after slow start

The Cincinnati Reds humbled the Pittsburgh Pirates 14-1. Cincinnati allowed 11 runs on Opening Day but have proceeded to score 40 runs over their next four games. According to Stats Perform, they are the first National League (NL) team to allow 10-plus runs in their first game and then tally 40-plus runs over the next four since the 1877 Louisville Grays (47 runs).

Juan Soto was the hero for the Washington Nationals, hitting a walk-off home run in the ninth inning in a 6-5 victory against the Atlanta Braves.

American League (AL) MVP Jose Abreu crushed his second grand slam of the season to lead the Chicago White Sox to a 10-4 success against the Seattle Mariners.

 

Roark rocked in Texas

Tanner Roark's first start of the season for the Toronto Blue Jays was a dismal one. The veteran pitcher gave up three homers – five runs – in three innings as the Blue Jays lost 7-4 to the Texas Rangers. He finished with a 15.00 ERA for the night.

 

The Baddoo legend grows

Akil Baddoo continued his amazing start to his MLB career. After homering on his very first pitch in the big leagues on Sunday, Baddoo hit a grand slam on Monday. Not satisfied with that, he hit a walk-off homer to lift the Detroit Tigers past the Minnesota Twins 4-3 – in just his third appearance.

 

Tuesday's results

Detroit Tigers 4-3 Minnesota Twins
Washington Nationals 6-5 Atlanta Braves
Houston Astros 4-2 Los Angeles Angels
New York Yankees 7-2 Baltimore Orioles
Cincinnati Reds 14-1 Pittsburgh Pirates
St Louis Cardinals 4-2 Miami Marlins
New York Mets 8-4 Philadelphia Phillies
Boston Red Sox 6-5 Tampa Bay Rays
Milwaukee Brewers 4-0 Chicago Cubs
Texas Rangers 7-4 Toronto Blue Jays
Los Angeles Dodgers 5-1 Oakland Athletics
San Diego Padres 3-1 San Francisco Giants
Chicago White Sox 10-4 Seattle Mariners
Arizona Diamondbacks 10-8 Colorado Rockies

 

Braves at Nationals

After finally opening their season, the coronavirus-hit Nationals (1-0) will look to stay undefeated in a doubleheader against the winless Braves (0-4) on Wednesday. Erick Fedde will start game one for the Nationals against Atlanta's Max Fried, while ace Stephen Strasbourg takes to the mound in the second clash as the Braves counter with Huascar Ynoa.

Mike Trout delivered his first home run of the 2021 season as the Los Angeles Angels defeated the Houston Astros 7-6 in MLB on Monday.

The 29-year-old three-time American League Most Valuable Player clubbed a towering shot from Luis Garcia to left field to earn the Angels their first run in the fourth inning when they were trailing 4-0.

However once again the Angels did most of their work late, with four runs in the eighth inning, meaning they have scored in either the eighth or ninth inning in all five of their games this season.

The win improves the Angels to 4-1 while the Astros, who were once again booed, suffer their first loss to move to 4-1.

The Los Angeles Dodgers triumphed 10-3 over the winless Oakland Athletics but they lost star man Cody Bellinger to injury.

The two-time All Star was removed with a reported foot injury during a close play at first base where he was stepped on.

 

Rangers crowd silenced, Stanton slam leads Yankees

Full crowds were back in Dallas but the Texas Rangers did not give them much to cheer as the Toronto Blue Jays won 6-2.

Marcus Semien hit his second home run of the new season early, before Cavan Biggio went back-to-back in the second inning too, opening up a 4-0 lead.

The return of bumper crowds was a different dynamic as noted by Rangers shortstop Isiah Kiner-Falefa who said it "nerve wracking" and that it felt "like my debut all over again".

The New York Yankees cruised to a 7-0 victory over the Baltimore Orioles with Giancarlo Stanton hitting a monster 471-foot home run in the fifth with bases loaded.

The Philadelphia Phillies maintained their perfect record with a 5-3 win over the New York Mets, although they left it late, with five runs at the bottom of the eighth.

 

Tatis injures shoulder in strike-out

The San Diego Padres lost talented 22-year-old shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr to a shoulder subluxation as he swung at an Anthony DeSclafani curveball in their 3-2 loss to the San Francisco Giants. Tatis looked in considerable pain and was escorted off the field.

 

Debutant Dustin on fire

Rookie pitcher Dustin May produced a sizzling display for the Dodgers in their win over the As, with eight strike-outs and six scoreless innings.

 

Monday's results

Minnesota Twins 15-6 Detroit Tigers
Toronto Blue Jays 6-2 Texas Rangers
Kansas City Royals 3-0 Cleveland Indians
New York Yankees 7-0 Baltimore Orioles
St Louis Cardinals 4-1 Miami Marlins
Cincinnati Reds 5-3 Pittsburgh Pirates
Philadelphia Phillies 5-3 New York Mets
Boston Red Sox 11-2 Tampa Bay Rays
Chicago Cubs 5-3 Milwaukee Brewers
Los Angeles Angels 7-6 Houston Astros
Los Angeles Dodgers 10-3 Oakland Athletics
San Francisco Giants 3-2 San Diego Padres
Chicago White Sox 6-0 Seattle Mariners

 

Astros at Angels

The Los Angeles Angels (4-1) take on the Houston Astros (4-1) once again.

Shohei Ohtani enjoyed an historic night as the two-way Los Angeles Angels star fuelled his team to a 7-4 walk-off win against the Chicago White Sox.

Ohtani made MLB history by starting and serving as the designated hitter, while he put on a show with bat and ball in stunning opening inning on Sunday.

The 26-year-old Japanese sensation, who became the first pitcher to bat second in a game since 1903, produced a scoreless first inning as his fastball reached 100mph (the fastest in MLB so far in 2021) three times.

After starring on the mound, Ohtani hit a crushing solo homer in the bottom of the inning – his projected 451-foot shot reaching 115.2mph – the hardest homer by an Angels player since 2015, eclipsing team-mate Mike Trout (115mph in 2018).

Hampered by injuries since entering the majors in 2018, Ohtani, who exited in the fifth inning after a collision at the plate, also became the first Angels pitcher to record a hit in an American League (AL) game since Clyde Wright in 1972.

Jared Walsh called game with the contest tied at 4-4 in the bottom of the ninth, launching a walk-off homer – his second of the night – to lift the Angels.

 

Astros blitz Athletics

The Houston Astros are 4-0 for the first time since 2001 after a 9-2 victory away to the Oakland Athletics. Kyle Tucker, Jason Castro and rookie Chas McCormick hit home runs for the Astros, who outscored the A's 35-9 across the four games. Houston are the fourth team in MLB history to tally at least eight runs in their first four games, following in the footsteps of the New York Yankees (2003), Red Sox (1995) and Milwaukee Brewers (1978).

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Randal Grichuk homered as the Toronto Blue Jays beat AL East rivals the Yankees 3-1 to claim the season-opening series. Bo Bichette became the fastest Blue Jays player to reach 100 career hits, achieving the feat with a first-inning double in his 78th game.

World Series champions the Los Angeles Dodgers defeated the Colorado Rockies 4-2 behind Julio Urias. He pitched a career-high seven innings to inspire the Dodgers, tallying six strikeouts while giving up three hits and one walk.

 

Red Sox make slow start

The Boston Red Sox's winless start to the season continued, swept by the Baltimore Orioles following an 11-3 defeat. Boston have now fallen to their second-ever 0-3 start at Fenway Park and first since 1948. The Red Sox are coming off a 24-36 record in last year's coronavirus-shortened season – their lowest winning percentage since 1965.

 

Baddoo homers on first career pitch

It was a memorable outing for Detroit Tigers outfielder Akil Baddoo, who homered in his opening MLB at-bat – the very first pitch. The 22-year-old Baddoo – making his first appearance above Class A – drove to left field in the bottom of the third inning. Detroit, though, lost 9-3 to the Cleveland Indians.

"I was actually waiting for the silent treatment, but everyone was just full of energy -- just so happy for me," Baddoo said. "So I loved every second of it."

 

 

Sunday's results

Philadelphia Phillies 2-1 Atlanta Braves
Toronto Blue Jays 3-1 New York Yankees
Baltimore Orioles 11-3 Boston Red Sox
Cleveland Indians 9-3 Detroit Tigers
Cincinnati Reds 12-1 St Louis Cardinals
Minnesota Twins 8-2 Milwaukee Brewers
Texas Rangers 7-3 Kansas City Royals
Chicago Bulls 4-3 Pittsburgh Pirates
Los Angeles Dodgers 4-2 Colorado Rockies
Houston Astros 9-2 Oakland Athletics
Arizona Diamondbacks 3-1 San Diego Padres
Los Angeles Angels 7-4 Chicago White Sox
New York Mets-Washington Nationals (postponed)

 

Astros at Angels

The Astros (4-0) will put their perfect record on the line in the opening game of their series with the Angels (3-1) on Monday.

Yermin Mercedes entered MLB's history books after maintaining his red-hot start to the season, despite the Chicago White Sox losing 5-3 to the Los Angeles Angels.

White Sox rookie Mercedes set a league mark on Saturday after he made it eight-for-eight hits in 2021.

Mercedes – who also hit a solo homer in the second inning against the Angels – surpassed Chris Stynes for the longest streak of hits to start a season in the modern era (since 1900).

After a groundball single in the seventh inning and a double in the eighth, the 28-year-old's streak came to an end in his ninth at-bat.

Mercedes finished with three hits and a run, to go with two RBIs as a designated hitter for the White Sox, who dropped to 1-2.

The Angels trailed 3-2 heading into the eighth but capped a three-run rally via Justin Upton's two-run homer.

 

Dominant Musgrove leads Padres

Joe Musgrove enjoyed a memorable debut for the San Diego Padres. He struck out eight batters in six innings to lead the unbeaten Padres to a 7-0 shutout of the Arizona Diamondbacks and 3-0 start to the season. Musgrove held the Diamondbacks to three hits, while walking none.

An inside-the-park home run from Zach McKinstry lifted World Series champions the Los Angeles Dodgers past the Colorado Rockies 6-5. McKinstry hit the go-ahead score in the eighth inning after connecting on a fastball from Mychal Givens for his first major league homer. It was the first inside-the-park homer by a Dodgers player since 2017.

Jose Berrios struck out 12 batters in six hitless innings as the Minnesota Twins took down the Milwaukee Brewers 2-0. He combined with three relievers on a one-hitter with 17 strikeouts. Berrios and Brewers pitcher Corbin Burnes became the first pair of opposing starters to have 10-plus strikeouts and one or fewer hits allowed in the same game in the modern era, per Stats Perform.

The Houston Astros maintained their 100 per cent record thanks to Yordan Alvarez's three-run homer in the 9-1 rout of the Oakland Athletics.

 

Hill humbled in Miami

Rich Hill struggled in the Tampa Bay Rays' 12-7 loss to the Miami Marlins. The 41-year-old gave up four earned runs in four innings in his first start with the Rays. He also walked two. Chris Archer took the loss after giving up four runs in two innings of relief.

 

Haniger completes comeback

It was a special day for Mitch Haniger. After three surgeries and nearly two years of recovery, the 30-year-old hit his first home run since 2019 as the Seattle Mariners blanked the San Francisco Giants 4-0.

 

Saturday's results

Houston Astros 9-1 Oakland Athletics
Cincinnati Reds 9-6 St Louis Cardinals
Miami Marlins 12-7 Tampa Bay Rays
New York Yankees 5-3 Toronto Blue Jays
Baltimore Orioles 4-2 Boston Red Sox
Detroit Tigers 5-2 Cleveland Indians
Kansas City Royals 11-4 Texas Rangers
Chicago Cubs 5-1 Pittsburgh Pirates
Philadelphia Phillies 4-0 Atlanta Braves
Minnesota Twins 2-0 Milwaukee Brewers
Los Angeles Dodgers 6-5 Colorado Rockies
San Diego Padres 7-0 Arizona Diamondbacks
Los Angeles Angels 5-3 Chicago White Sox
Seattle Mariners 4-0 San Francisco Giants
New York Mets-Washington Nationals (postponed)

 

Blue Jays at Yankees

The Blue Jays (1-1) and Yankees (1-1) will look to settle their three-game series in New York on Sunday.

World Series champions Los Angeles Dodgers were humbled on the Opening Day of the new Major League Baseball season 8-5 by the Colorado Rockies on Thursday.

The Dodgers had 14 stranded runners throughout the game while Cody Bellinger hit a ball into the stands which did not count as a home run on a strange afternoon.

With crowds returning to MLB, the Dodgers were unable to get off to a flying start.

"Honestly, we just didn’t play a good baseball game," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. "All the way around, we didn’t play well."

In the Houston Astros' first game back playing in front of crowds since their cheating scandal emerged they were jeered and boed in an 8-1 win on the road against the Oakland Athletics.

Back-to-back home runs from Michael Brantley and Alex Bregman in the eighth put the Astros out of sight and silenced the crowd.

 

Trout lifts Angels, Mariners mighty comeback

Mike Trout flexed his muscle as the Los Angeles Angels rallied to beat the Chicago White Sox 4-3. At the bottom of the eighth, a visibly pumped Trout's hit gave him an RBI and tied the game. Shohei Ohtani then got on the board after an error by second baseman Nick Madrigal.

The Seattle Mariners trailed 6-1 in the eighth inning against the San Francisco Giants before mounting a remarkable fightback and eventually prevail 8-7. The winning run came when Jake Fraley walked with the bases loaded.

The New York Yankees' bats let them down as they were beaten 3-2 by the Toronto Blue Jays.

The Tampa Day Rays shut out the Miami Marlins in a 1-0 win earned by Austin Meadows' solo home run in the ninth.

 

Bellinger denied by mix-up

Bellinger was denied his first homer of the new season in a moment of confusion, when team-mate Justin Turner, who was on first base, thought Bellinger had been caught in the outfield and ran back. Bellinger's hit was actually fumbled by Raimel Tapia over the fence so when Turner reversed and passed by the left-hander that made him out and resulted in only an RBI single.

 

First homer of season

Detroit Tigers hitter Miguel Cabrera claimed the maiden homer of the new season in driving snow, which left him confused, sliding into base just in case it had not cleared the fence.

 

Thursday's results

Toronto Blue Jays 3-2 New York Yankees
Detroit Tigers 3-2 Cleveland Indians
Milwaukee Brewers 6-5 Minnesota Twins
Pittsburgh Pirates 5-3 Chicago Cubs
Philadelphia Phillies 3-2 Atlanta Braves
Tampa Bay Rays 1-0 Miami Marlins
St Louis Cardinals 11-6 Cincinnati Reds
Colorado Rockies 8-5 Los Angeles Dodgers
San Diego Padres 8-7 Arizona Diamondbacks
Kansas City Royals 14-10 Texas Rangers
Los Angeles Angels 4-3 Chicago White Sox
Houston Astros 8-1 Oakland Athletics 
Seattle Mariners 8-7 San Fransisco Giants 

 

Dodgers to bounce back

The Dodgers will look to bounce back from their opening day loss on Friday on the road again versus the Colorado Rockies.

Opening Day.

A term synonymous with baseball across the United States and the globe. For fans, it is nothing short of a national holiday.

The highly anticipated start to the season on April 1 is an occasion steeped in history, with tradition front and centre.

This year's Opening Day means more than most. It is the latest signal of American life and sport returning to normal amid the COVID-19 crisis.

The coronavirus pandemic led to an enforced break and a reduced 60-game regular season schedule behind closed doors, with a limited number of fans allowed to attend the playoffs as the Los Angeles Dodgers went on to end their 32-year World Series drought.

But 2021 will see the return of the usual 162-game calendar and more importantly, spectators in the stands. All but one of the 30 teams will start at reduced capacity – the Texas Rangers hosting a full house for their home opener against the Toronto Blue Jays.

As America's pastime begins anew, we preview the upcoming season, in which the Dodgers look to defend their World Series crown, using Stats Perform data.
 

Kershaw gears up for a franchise-record start

Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw – entering the final season of his three-year, $93million deal – will be on the mound when the Dodgers open their title defence against the Colorado Rockies.

It will be Kershaw's ninth Opening Day start – the most in franchise history – after injuries prevented him from beginning the 2019 and 2020 campaigns, the eight-time All-Star getting the nod ahead of Walker Buehler and high-profile recruit Trevor Bauer, the reigning National League (NL) Cy Young winner.

Future Hall of Famer Kershaw boasts a 5-1 record on Opening Day, with a 1.05 ERA (6/51.2), 59 strikeouts and eight walks. The 2014 NL MVP's only loss came in his previous start in 2018 as he allowed eight hits and one earned run, while tallying seven strikeouts in six innings against the San Francisco Giants.

Since 1913, when ERA became an official stat, Kershaw has managed the lowest Opening Day figure among pitchers with six starts – 1.05. The 32-year-old's ERA is ahead of Bob Feller (1.21), Jim Palmer (1.40), Hal Newhouser (1.41) and Walter Johnson (1.51).

As for the star-studded Dodgers, they are 74-62 (.544) all-time on Opening Day, winning nine of their 10 season openers since 2011, losing only in 2018.

Their 9-1 (.900) Opening Day record over this stretch is the best in the league, ahead of the Houston Astros (8-2), Baltimore Orioles (8-2), Seattle Mariners (7-3), Detroit Tigers (7-3) and New York Mets (7-3).
 

All eyes on Tatis and Padres

Fernando Tatis Jr. heads into the 2021 season fresh off signing his eye-popping 14-year, $340m contract with the San Diego Padres.

The Padres – winners of two NL pennants – are pinning their hopes on MLB's new poster boy delivering a first World Series to San Diego.

Tatis won a Silver Slugger award last year, having hit .277 with 17 home runs and 45 RBIs in the coronavirus-shortened 2020 season.

The powerful 22-year-old is the first player in MLB history to have at least 35 home runs and 25 stolen bases within the first 150 games of his career.

Tatis – the youngest Padres player to debut on Opening Day (20 years and 85 days) in 2019 – became the fastest player in franchise history (24 team games) to reach the double-digit home run mark in a season in 2020 after hitting his 10th and 11th homers in August.

In the postseason, Tatis homered twice against the St Louis Cardinals in October, becoming the youngest Padre to ever homer in a playoff game (21 years and 273 days) and the third-youngest player in MLB history to homer twice in a postseason match, behind Carlos Correa (21 and 20 days old) and Andruw Jones (19 years, 180 days old).

When it comes to on-base plus slugging, Tatis stacks up well. Since 1920, Tatis (150.8) is only behind Juan Soto (153.9 – 2018-20), Albert Pujols (159.3 – 2001), Jimmie Foxx (160.0 – 1925-29), Ted Williams (161.5 – 1939-40) and Trout (165.0 – 2011-13) for highest OPS-plus up until the age of 21.

Across his two Opening Day appearances, Tatis has three hits in seven at-bats and two runs while slugging at .571. The Padres will be hoping he can improve on that when they host face the Arizona Diamondbacks.

By comparison, Philadelphia Phillies star Bryce Harper and New York Yankees slugger Giancarlo Stanton love Opening Day.

Harper – the 2015 NL MVP and six-time All-Star – has nine hits, five homers and six runs in eight appearances, while 2017 NL MVP Stanton has 13 hits, four homers, 10 runs and 12 RBIs through 10 games.

Blue Jays recruit George Springer, a World Series winner with the Astros, has also impressed on Opening Day following five hits, three homers and six RBIs in six games.
 

Can Abreu and Freeman go back-to-back?

Chicago White Sox star Jose Abreu was crowned the American League's best in 2020.

Becoming the 28th player to win both the MVP and Rookie of the Year in his career, Abreu beat Jose Ramirez of the Cleveland Indians and Yankees star DJ LeMahieu.

Abreu – the fourth White Sox player to win the award – was second in MLB with 19 home runs and fourth in the AL with a .317 batting average.

Freddie Freeman of the Atlanta Braves trumped Dodgers star Mookie Betts and Padres sensation Manny Machado to the NL honour.

Freeman's 1.102 OPS was the second highest in MLB, trailing only Washington Nationals outfielder Juan Soto, while he led the majors with 51 runs scored and was second in the NL in batting average (.341), on-base percentage (.462) and slugging percentage (.640).

Does it bode well for the pair in 2020?

In a season after winning the MVP award, a player averages 135.9 hits, 21.5 homers, 80.5 runs and 79.5 RBIs with a slugging percentage of .516.

There have been 13 players to win back-to-back MVPs; 11-time All-Star Miguel Cabrera (AL) was the last to do so in 2012 and 2013. The most recent player in the NL was Albert Pujols (2008-09).
 

The end of Cleveland as we know them

After 106 years, this will be the last season the franchise will be known as the Indians, following the example of the NFL's Washington Football Team, who dropped their Redskins nickname in 2020 amid a long-time controversy.

Since 1915, Cleveland have won two World Series – in 1920 and 1948 – with their current streak of 71 seasons without a World Series title the longest active run in the majors.

In 1954, Cleveland went 111-43 (.721) in the regular season, before being swept in the World Series by the Giants. It stands as the highest single-season win percentage in AL history, and the best by any MLB team in the past 100 years.

Cleveland have had a winning record in each of the past eight seasons (2013-20), making them one of four MLB teams with an active streak of eight-plus (also Yankees 28, Cardinals 13, Dodgers 10). It is tied for the second-longest streak of winning seasons in franchise history (10 straight 1947-56; eight in a row 1994-2001).

Three Cleveland players have won the AL MVP Award – George Burns (1926), Lou Boudreau (1948) and Al Rosen (1953) – while five have claimed the AL Cy Young Award: Gaylord Perry (1972), C.C. Sabathia (2007), Cliff Lee (2008), Corey Kluber (2014 and 2017) and Shane Bieber (2020).

Francisco Lindor's time in Cleveland has come to an end, as the Indians moved the four-time All-Star to the New York Mets in a blockbuster six-player trade announced on Thursday. 

The Mets will also receive starting pitcher Carlos Carrasco in the deal, with Cleveland getting infielders Amed Rosario and Andres Gimenez and a pair of prospects in pitcher Josh Wolf and outfielder Isaiah Greene. 

Lindor has been one of the game's premier shortstops, and the face of the Cleveland franchise, since breaking into the majors in 2015. The 27-year-old was the runner-up in voting for the American League's Rookie of the Year in 2015 and has won two Silver Slugger awards as well as a pair of Gold Gloves during his six-year career. 

The Puerto Rico native is set to be a free agent after this season, however, and an inability to agree to terms on a contract extension forced Cleveland to field offers from interested teams. 

Lindor joins a Mets organisation with grand designs under new owner Steve Cohen and who have been one of the more aggressive teams this offseason. New York previously added catcher James McCann and reliever Trevor May in free agency, while pitcher Marcus Stroman accepted an $18.9million qualifying offer to return. 

A career .285 hitter, Lindor has averaged 29 home runs, 86 RBIs and 21 steals over his six major league seasons. 

The Mets also add a valuable piece to the rotation in Carrasco, who went 88-73 with a 3.77 ERA in 11 seasons with Cleveland. The 33-year-old right-hander won 35 games between the 2017 and 2018 seasons before missing most of the 2019 campaign when diagnosed with leukaemia. 

Carrasco successfully fought off the disease to make 12 regular-season starts in 2020, going 3-4 with a 2.91 ERA and winning a second straight AL Comeback Player of the Year award. 

Rosario is the most experienced of the players Cleveland got in return and figures to slot in as Lindor's replacement at shortstop. The 25-year-old's last full season in the majors was a solid one as he batted .287 with 15 homers, 72 RBIs and 19 stolen bases. 

Gimenez, 22, made his major league debut last season and hit .263 with three homers and 12 RBIs in 49 games. 

Wolf and Greene were ranked as the Mets' number nine and number 10 overall prospects by MLB.com. Wolf was a second-round pick by New York in 2019, while Greene was taken in the second round of the 2020 draft and has yet to make his professional debut.

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