Alex Rodriguez and David Ortiz are among the newcomers on the ballot for the Baseball Hall of Fame's Class of 2022, which was announced Monday by the Hall.

Their arrival coupled with 2022 being the last year on the ballot for Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens guarantees questions about how the game should grapple with the legacy of performance-enhancing drugs will remain at the forefront for another election cycle.

Ten-year members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America (BBWAA) can vote for up to 10 of the 30 players on this year's ballot, and a candidate must receive at least 75 per cent of the votes to be elected. Results will be announced on January 25. 

The BBWAA did not elect anyone last year, with Curt Schilling coming the closest at 71.1 per cent followed by Bonds (61.8) and Clemens (61.6). 

All three will be in their 10th and final year on the writers' ballot, along with Sammy Sosa. 

Bonds, Clemens and Sosa have seen their candidacies stall thanks in part to long-standing rumours of PED use, and Rodriguez and Ortiz could face similar hurdles. 

Unlike the others, Rodriguez was suspended for violating MLB's drug policy, missing the entire 2014 season, while Ortiz reportedly was among the players who tested positive during unofficial survey testing in 2003. 

Voters will have to weigh that against their impressive on-field accomplishments. Rodriguez is one of the best hitters the game has ever seen, a three-time American League MVP and 14-time All-Star whose 696 home runs and 2,086 RBIs rank fourth in baseball history. 

Ortiz was a 10-time All-Star who led the Boston Red Sox to three World Series titles after a decades-long drought for the franchise and remains one of the most beloved figures of his era. 

Other first-time players on the 2022 ballot include longtime first baseman Mark Teixeira, 2007 National League MVP Jimmy Rollins, 2006 AL MVP Justin Morneau, 2007 NL Cy Young Award winner Jake Peavy and the man who won that award the next two seasons, Tim Lincecum. 

Closers Joe Nathan and Jonathan Papelbon, catcher A.J. Pierzynski, speedy outfielder Carl Crawford and slugger Prince Fielder also are on the ballot for the first time.

Players must get at least five per cent of the vote each year to remain on the ballot for the following election. 

Other holdovers from previous ballots back this year include Scott Rolen (52.9 per cent last year), Omar Vizquel (49.1), Billy Wagner (46.4), Todd Helton (44.9) and Gary Sheffield (40.6). 

After a pair of frustrating seasons with the Los Angeles Angels, Shohei Ohtani was finally healthy in 2021, and he answered every challenge put before him on the way to an MVP season. 

The two-way sensation was a unanimous choice as the American League's Most Valuable Player on Thursday – early Friday in Japan – on the heels of a season that saw him perform feats that left fans and peers alike in awe. 

Ohtani easily led MLB players in WAR (wins above replacement) at 9.1 as he finished third in the majors with 46 home runs while also striking out 156 batters in 130.1 innings in 23 starts as a pitcher. 

The latter was especially impressive considering Ohtani pitched only 1.2 innings the previous two seasons combined as he recovered from elbow surgery, but the 27-year-old handled the workload with relative ease this season. 

"It was definitely challenging, but at the same time I had a lot of fun with it,” Ohtani told reporters through an interpreter on a conference call.

"I felt like the expectations from the team were very high and I wanted to do my best to try to answer those expectations."

He added: "I’ve always dealt with a lot of doubters, especially from my days in Japan. I tried to not let that pressure get to me. I just wanted to have fun and see what kind of numbers I could put up, and what kind of performance I could put up." 

After the voting results were announced Thursday, with Ohtani easily outdistancing Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Marcus Semien to win, former MLB pitcher CC Sabathia tweeted that the two-way star is the "BEST PLAYER I'VE EVER SEEN". 

Ohtani's Angels team-mate Mike Trout, the last unanimous AL MVP in 2014, also lauded his friend's performance. 

"Shohei’s season was nothing short of electric," Trout said in a statement released by the team. "At times, I felt like I was back in Little League. To watch a player throw eight innings, hit a home run, steal a base and then go play right field was incredible.

"What impresses me the most about him though, is the way he carries himself both on and off the field. With so much on his plate daily, he still manages to do it with a smile. Congratulations Shohei!"

Angels manager Joe Maddon added in a statement: "Shohei came to the States to play among the best on both sides of the ball and he accomplished that mission on the highest level

"Knowing him, this award is going to serve as motivation to exceed his previous accomplishments. I cannot wait to watch how his game helps push us to our goal of playing in the last game of the season and winning it. Congratulations to Shohei and his entire family on this special honour."

The best news for Maddon and the Angels is that Ohtani is under team control for the next two seasons, and is set to play 2022 on a team-friendly salary of $5.5million. 

Ohtani brushed off a question from reporters about a possible contract extension Thursday but made it clear how he feels about his team. 

"This is not the time to talk about contract stuff, but I want to make it clear that I love the Angels organisation and am looking forward to being a big part of the team for a long time," he said. "Right now I want to focus on winning next season with the Angels."

Los Angeles Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani was a unanimous choice as the American League's Most Valuable Player for 2021, while Bryce Harper of the Philadelphia Phillies took home the National League award. 

It was the first time since 1987 neither league's MVP appeared in the postseason, but Ohtani and Harper were rewarded for their overall dominance. 

The 27-year-old Ohtani electrified baseball with an all-round game not seen in the 100 years since Babe Ruth gave up pitching to focus on hitting full-time and was the runaway winner in voting by members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America. 

Ohtani received all 30 first-place votes for a total of 420 points. Toronto Blue Jays star Vladimir Guerrero Jr. received all but one second-place vote as he compiled 269 points, and Marcus Semien of the Toronto Blue Jays was third with 232 points. Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees (171 points) and Carlos Correa of the Houston Astros (163) were next in the voting. 

Ohtani hit .257 with 46 home runs and an MLB-leading eight triples and also stole 26 bases while posting a .865 on base plus slugging percentage (OPS).

He was also dominant at times as a pitcher, going 9-2 with a 3.18 ERA in 23 starts while striking out 156 in 130.1 innings. 

Harper received 348 points, taking 17 of the 30 first-place votes. Juan Soto of the Washington Nationals was second with 274 points and six first-place votes, while Fernando Tatis Jr. of the San Diego Padres was third with 244 points and two first-place votes.

Brandon Crawford of the San Francisco Giants (213, four) and Trea Turner of the Washington Nationals and Los Angeles Dodgers (185, one) rounded out the top five. 

Harper, 29, led the majors with a 1.044 OPS as he hit .309 with 35 home runs and an MLB-best 42 doubles.

He also won the NL MVP award in 2015 while playing for the Washington Nationals. 

 

The Cleveland Indians will officially become the Cleveland Guardians on Friday as the MLB franchise usher in a new era.

Known as the Indians since 1915, the organisation announced in December 2020 that they were to begin the search for a new nickname, having held discussions with a number of different groups, including the Cleveland Indigenous Coalition and the National Congress of American Indians.

Guardians was announced as the choice through a video in July, though the red, white and navy colour scheme will remain, and the team will begin the transition following Wednesday's announcement.

From Friday, Cleveland's name will switch to the Guardians on all their social media platforms, while new merchandise will be released at Progressive Field.

At the time of the announcement of the name change, team owner and chairman Paul Dolan said: "Hearing first-hand the stories and experiences of Native American people, we gained a deep understanding of how tribal communities feel about the team name and the detrimental effects it has on them.

"We also spoke to local civic leaders who represent diverse populations in our city and who highlighted the negative impact our team name has had on our broader population and on under-represented groups across our community.

"I am truly grateful for their engagement and input, which I found enlightening and insightful. When a sports team is aligned with its community, it unlocks the ability to unite people from different backgrounds and bring people together in support of their home team.

"While Indians will always be a part of our history, it is time to move forward and work to unify our stakeholders and fans through a new name."

World Series champions in 1920 and 1948, the Indians failed to reach the playoffs in 2021.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

San Francisco Giants boss Gabe Kapler and Kevin Cash of the Tampa Bay Rays were named Managers of the Year for 2021 in MLB.

Kapler scooped National League (NL) honours after leading the Giants to a franchise-record 107-win season and the best winning percentage (66.0) since 1913.

The 46-year-old guided the Giants to their first NL West title since 2012, dethroning the Los Angeles Dodgers before losing to their rivals in the NL Division Series (NLDS).

Prior to Kapler – who signed a contract extension through to 2024 – the only other Giants manager to win the award was Dusty Baker in 1993, 1997 and 2000, having held off Milwaukee Brewers skipper Craig Counsell and former St Louis Cardinals manager Mike Shildt.

Cash, meanwhile, became the first American League (AL) manager to receive the award in back-to-back seasons.

Tampa Bay's Cash – in his seventh season as manager – beat out Baker of the Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners manager Scott Servais.

The Rays clinched back-to-back AL East title for the first time in franchise history with a record 100 victories before falling to the Boston Red Sox in the AL Division Series (ALDS).

Tampa Bay Rays star Randy Arozarena and Cincinnati Reds sensation Jonathan India were named MLB's Rookies of the Year for 2021.

Rays outfielder Arozarena scooped American League (AL) honours after beating out team-mate Wander Franco and Luis Garcia of the Houston Astros on Monday.

Arozarena led all rookies with a 4.1 WAR while compiling a .815 OPS as he hit 20 home runs and stole 20 bases – the 26-year-old becoming the third rookie in the last decade to compile a 20-20 campaign.

After helping the Rays clinch back-to-back AL East titles for the first time in franchise history with a record 100 wins before falling to the Boston Red Sox in the AL Division Series (ALDS), Arozarena became the fourth Tampa Bay player to win the Rookie of the Year.

"I know last year I had a pretty good year – a great year, actually," Arozarena said. "I know I was the favourite to be the Rookie of the Year this year. But my mind wasn't set on winning the award.

"My goal was to have another good year. There has been a lot of hard work and a lot of sacrifices along the way, and the results at the end of the year made it a well-deserved prize."

In the National League (NL), Cincinnati second baseman India claimed the ROTY prize.

The 24-year-old India edged Miami Marlins left-hander Trevor Rodgers and Dylan Carlson of the St Louis Cardinals to the award.

India – the eighth Reds player to receive the honour – led all MLB rookies in on-base percentage (.376), doubles (34), walks (71), runs scored (98) and games played (150), while ranking second in OPS (.835).

"I said at the beginning of the year this was my goal, my personal goal," said India, who became the first Reds second baseman to debut on Opening Day since 1963. "I don't set many personal goals for myself. I just had a feeling this was what I wanted."

San Francisco Giants manager Gabe Kapler signed a new contract, the MLB franchise announced on Friday.

The Giants rewarded Kapler with a deal through until 2024 after leading the team to a franchise-best 107-win season.

Kapler's two-year extension comes after completing his second season with a 107-55 record before losing to rivals the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League Division Series (NLDS).

The 46-year-old guided the Giants to their first National League (NL) West title since 2012.

Kapler was hired as Giants manager in November 2019 on a three-year deal, replacing Bruce Bochy following his retirement.

"Gabe has done an extraordinary job in his role as field manager over the past two seasons, is a key contributor to our front office, and the Giants organisation takes great pride in his active engagement with the community," Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said in a statement.

"Coming off a season in which his work and leadership were instrumental to our success, it was a high priority for us to provide a level of stability and certainty to our continued partnership. We're thrilled about today's announcement."

He is 136-86 in his two seasons with the Giants, who surprisingly beat the Dodgers to the NL West crown in 2021.

Kapler, who also previously managed the Philadelphia Phillies and had a journeyman playing career, was delighted to ink the extension.

"There is nowhere I'd rather be, and I am excited to continue preparing with the entire organisation," he said.

Kapler is a National League (NL) Manager of the Year finalist alongside the Milwaukee Brewers' Craig Counsell and the St Louis Cardinals skipper Mike Shildt.

Clayton Kershaw will "always have a spot" on the Dodgers if he wants to remain in Los Angeles next season, says team president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman. 

Drafted out of high school by the Dodgers in 2006, Kershaw has spent his entire career with the franchise but is a free agent this offseason after the team declined to issue him a qualifying offer for 2022. 

That decision was not a surprise, as forearm problems caused Kershaw to miss more than two months during the regular season and the entire postseason. 

But Friedman told reporters on Tuesday that move should not be seen as a sign that the door is closed. 

"We've been very outspoken that we really want Kersh to come back, not only what he's meant to us looking back, but also what we think he will mean for us looking forward," Friedman said at the MLB general managers' meetings in California, via ESPN. 

"That being said - just like every free agent, but Kersh even a little bit more so - he has earned the right to be in this position and figure out what's best for him and his family.

"So there's like a personal and a professional tug of war for me. Professionally I really hope he's back, personally I want them to do what makes the most sense for their family, and we'll figure out what that means."

Kershaw wrapped up a three-year, $93million contract this season, and the Dallas-area native's hometown Texas Rangers are expected to make a strong push to sign him. 

The 33-year-old went 10-8 with a 3.55 ERA and 144 strikeouts in 121.2 innings this season, the ERA representing the second-worst of his career ahead of only a 4.26 as a rookie in 2008. 

Kershaw has a 185-84 career record with 2,670 strikeouts and a 2.49 ERA, winning three Cy Young Awards and eight All-Star selections along the way in addition to the 2014 National League MVP award. 

 

The Los Angeles Dodgers declined to extend a qualifying offer to Clayton Kershaw as the veteran ace prepares to enter free agency amid uncertainty over his MLB future.

Kershaw, who did not pitch in the MLB playoffs as the Dodgers lost to the Atlanta Braves in the National League Championship Series (NLCS) due to the recurrence of a forearm problem, has spent his entire 14-year career in Los Angeles.

The World Series champion and three-time Cy Young Award winner is a free agent following the conclusion of his three-year, $93million contract with the Dodgers.

While the Dodgers lodged offers to free agent All-Stars Corey Seager and Chris Taylor prior to Sunday's deadline – worth $18.4m for one year – there was none forthcoming for future Hall of Famer Kershaw.

However, the Dodgers are reportedly still keen on bringing Kershaw back to LA for at least one more season as both parties take time to determine the 33-year-old's health.

Kershaw – an eight-time All-Star and 2014 NL MVP – made his debut for the Dodgers in 2008.

In 2021, Kershaw finished with a 3.55 ERA, the worst of his illustrious career since his rookie year (4.26) with the Dodgers.

Kershaw had a 10-8 record this season with 144 strikeouts in 121.2 innings pitched.

Overall, Kershaw has a 185-84 win-loss record with 2,670 strikeouts and a career 2.49 ERA.

San Francisco Giants great Buster Posey surprisingly called time on his illustrious MLB career on Thursday.

Posey enjoyed a resurgence in 2021, helping the Giants to a franchise-record 107 wins and their first National League (NL) West title since 2012 before falling to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL Division Series (NLDS).

The three-time World Series champion and seven-time All-Star, who opted out of the coronavirus-shortened 2020 campaign, was among a number of Giants players to enjoy a rejuvenation this term.

Posey boasted his best SLG (.499) and OPS (.889) since the Giants were crowned world champions in 2012, while the 34-year-old's 18 home runs were his most since his 19-homer campaign six years ago.

However, the future Hall of Famer – the first catcher in MLB history to hit .300 or better in his final year – announced his retirement, citing family and the physical toll of the game.

"I want to do more stuff from February to November with family," Posey – the 2012 NL MVP – said in a news conference. "Physically, it's much harder now. It's hard to enjoy it as much when there is physical pain that you're dealing with.

"It was getting to the point that things that I was enjoying were not as joyful anymore."

"I've been blessed to play in a league that has the most talented baseball players in the world," Posey added. "It's a fraternity that I've watched from afar from the time I was five years old until I arrived in September 2009.

"And one of the greatest benefits that comes along with that is that you get to meet a lot of great teammates that have a lot of similar interests as you do. ... I feel very fortunate to have made some of those friendships over the years. I look forward to them lasting for years to come."

Posey said: "The last week to 10 days I've been thinking, 'How do you thank a fan base?' And the Giants fan base is more than just fans, it's a community. And that sense of community is something we as players could feel in the ballpark when we took the field each night.

"I also hope it's worked the other way -- I hope over the years that you've been able to see that our team has a sense of pride that we've all taken in coming together each night and each day, working hard with a common goal and pushing each other along the way."

Jorge Soler says the Atlanta Braves gave him the instant welcome he needed following his mid-season trade from the Kansas City Royals before going on to win the World Series MVP on Tuesday.

Soler, who was traded to the Braves in July, hit three home runs across the six games in the World Series, including a three-run go-ahead blast in the decisive 7-0 Game 6 win over the Houston Astros to earn the MVP.

The 29-year-old Cuban's three home runs were all go-ahead blasts, becoming only the sixth player in history to achieve the feat in a World Series, joining Babe Ruth (1926), Lou Gehrig (1928), Gene Tenace (1972), Curtis Granderson (2015) and George Springer (2017).

Soler had struggled earlier in the season with the Royals, hitting at .192 with 13 home runs, 37 RBIs and 59 hits across 94 games.

Following his switch to Atlanta, Soler hit at .269 with 14 home runs, 33 RBIs and 56 hits in 55 regular season games, before an explosive postseason.

Soler, who missed the National League Championship Series due to COVID-19, hit at .242 across the postseason, headlined by his three home runs and six RBIs in the World Series, hitting at .300.

"I was traded over here, and it was challenging at first," Soler told reporters after the game when asked about his form turnaround. "I felt a little out of my comfort zone. I didn't really know people.

"Everyone in that clubhouse welcomed me in, and it felt instantly, after a little while, just like a family. It's top to bottom, from the entire organisation since I joined, I always felt extremely welcome here."

Soler becomes only the second Cuban to win the World Series MVP, following Livan Hernandez with the Florida Marlins in 1997.

"[Winning MVP] means a lot to me, to my family, to the organisation," Soler said. "It's something really special."

Soler also posted a slugging percentage of .800 against the Astros in the World Series, earning praise from manager Brian Snitker.

"He's been swinging the bat so good," Snitker said. "This whole World Series. Even just the walks he was taking were really big."

While the pain of World Series is still raw, Dusty Baker said the hurting Houston Astros will use it as a source of motivation to go one step further in MLB next season.

The Astros were unable to stop the red-hot Atlanta Braves, who clinched their first World Series title since 1995 with a 7-0 rout in Houston on Tuesday.

Houston needed to win Game 6 on home soil to force a championship decider, but there was no denying the Braves – who were fuelled by home runs from World Series MVP Jorge Soler, Dansby Swanson and Freddie Freeman.

The Astros – who were featuring in their third World Series in five years – and their big hitters were unable to get going, with postseason experts Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa blanked by Atlanta.

After a 4-2 series loss, veteran Astros manager Baker said: "Yeah, it's tough, but you know something? You've got to keep on trucking, and that gives you even more incentive next year.

"It's tough to take now, but this too shall pass. I mean, it really hurts, but it's over."

 

It could be an end of an era for the Astros, with World Series-winning star Correa set to enter free agency.

The Astros have already lost Gerrit Cole (New York Yankees) and George Springer (Toronto Blue Jays) in free agency over the past two years and the departure of two-time All-Star Correa looms large.

Veteran pitchers Justin Verlander and Zack Greinke are also soon-to-be free agents.

"I was just thinking this is crazy how you spend — and you give your life and everything you have to an organisation and then one day you don't belong to the organisation anymore just in a matter of seconds," the 27-year-old Correa said post-game.

"So it's obviously tough to process."

"I hope it's not, that it's not over yet," Baker said of Correa, who debuted for the Astros in 2015. "He's a professional. He's a real leader. ... He doesn't give an alibi or any excuses. He just comes out and plays the game the way he's supposed to play it."

Baker added: "I can tell how our guys gravitate towards him. I can tell even how the opposition always shows respect for him, especially when they're around second base. ... He just plays the game the way it should be played."

Atlanta Braves manager Brian Snitker and star Freddie Freeman lauded the team's resilience in overcoming obstacles on the road to winning their first World Series since 1995.

The Braves claimed the best-of-seven World Series 4-2 thanks to a 7-0 win over the Houston Astros in Game 6, becoming the eighth side in a row to clinch the title away from home.

The triumph is Atlanta's first championship in 26 years, while it comes after they lost star outfield Ronaldo Acuna Jr. in July due to an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury along with starting pitcher Charlie Morton to a fractured fibula in Game 1 of the World Series.

Atlanta had off-field issues too, with two-time All-Star Marcell Ozuna placed on the commissioner's exempt list after being arrested and charged with aggravated assault in May.

The Braves traded in Alex Duvall and acquired Joc Pederson in July, with both hitting three home runs during the postseason, along with 10 and nine RBIs respectively.

"These guys never gave up on themselves. We used a lot of guys," Snitker said during the post-game ceremony.

"We lost a lot of pieces over the course of the summer. It was just the next man up. These guys never stopped believing in themselves.

"They never stopped working. I've got a rock star coaching staff that make sure these guys stay consistent every day. They always played the game the way you're supposed to play it."

Freeman, who has been with the Braves since 2010 and won last season's National League (NL) MVP, hailed the side's resilience.

"I think the most gratifying thing is this team, we hit every pothole, every bump that could've happened this year," Freeman said. "Injuries, everything that could've gone wrong. We overcame every single one of those things.

"This group came very single day, prepared and worked and worked and worked and ended up world champions."

Freeman, who padded the lead with a seventh-inning solo home run, added: "This is what you dream about every single year. You come to spring training wanting this to happen and it happened this year.

"It means everything. We've been waiting for a championship in this city for a long time. I'm glad we delivered it."

Snitker has spent all of his 45 seasons in professional baseball with the Braves, including the past six years as manager.

"It takes a lot to make this happen," Snitker said. "I'm very proud of our organisation and this club. There's nothing better. We're world champions."

Jorge Soler was named World Series MVP after hitting three go-ahead home runs across the six games. He becomes the second Cuban to claim the honour, behind Livan Hernandez with the Florida Marlins in 1997.

Soler also becomes the sixth player to hit three or more go-ahead home runs in a World Series, joining Babe Ruth (1926), Lou Gehrig (1928), Gene Tenace (1972), Curtis Granderson (2015) and George Springer (2017).

"I was just really focused during that at-bat," Soler said about his third-inning go-ahead three-run blast. "I feel like he'd thrown my every pitch he had in his arsenal so I just kept fouling the pitchers off and eventually got to that 3-2 count and he hung the slider and I was able to drive it."

The Atlanta Braves returned to the summit of MLB, claiming their first World Series crown in 26 years after blitzing the Houston Astros 7-0 on Tuesday.

Atlanta had the chance to clinch on home soil on Sunday but were denied by a desperate Astros franchise, who overturned a four-run deficit to prolong the best-of-seven series.

But the Braves were not to be denied in Game 6 as home runs from Jorge Soler, Dansby Swanson and Freddie Freeman secured a 4-2 series victory and their first World Series since 1995.

The drought-ending success delivered a fourth World Series title to the Braves, with all four championships being clinched in different cities – Boston, Milwaukee, Atlanta and Houston.

After two scoreless innings in Houston, the Braves seized control thanks to a three-run third inning at Minute Maid Park, where the bats of Astros stars Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa and Yordan Alvarez fell silent.

Soler was the instigator, his 446-foot three-run homer off Luis Garcia seeing him become the fourth player in Braves history to hit a three-run homer in a World Series after Hank Aaron (1957), Lonnie Smith (1991) and Ryan Klesko (1995).

 

The red-hot Braves did not let up in the fifth as Swanson delivered a two-run homer after Freeman's double had allowed Soler to score earlier in the inning.

Entering the game, Freeman had eight career postseason home runs, with half of them coming in 2021 and the Braves star tied a franchise record.

Freeman matched Fred McGriff with his fifth homer of the playoffs – a joint Braves record for most home runs in one postseason after going long in the seventh inning.

Braves ace Max Fried became the first starter in history to have six-plus strikeouts, zero walks and no runs in a potential World Series-clinching game.

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