Max Scherzer and the Washington Nationals prevailed 3-2 in a contentious matchup with the rival Phillies that saw Philadelphia manager Joe Girardi ejected from the game after a dispute with the Washington pitcher. 

Girardi took advantage of the MLB's new provision cracking down on pitchers for use unlawful substances that help improve grip and spin on the ball, requesting that the three-time Cy Young Award winner be checked by the umpires during the fourth inning after he already had been examined and cleared after the first and third innings. 

The final check infuriated Scherzer, who threw his hat and glove to the ground and began to unbuckle his belt before being declared clean again.

"I'll take off all my clothes if you want to see me," Scherzer told reporters afterward. "I've got nothing on me."

After striking out J.T. Realmuto to end the fifth inning, Scherzer stared into the Phillies' dugout as he walked off the field and Girardi emerged from the dugout to shout at the veteran pitcher, leading to his immediate ejection. 

That was also the end of the night for Scherzer thanks to his high pitch count (106), but he looked strong in his first appearance since leaving a June 11 start early with a groin injury.

Scherzer allowed just two hits, one of them a long solo home run by Bryce Harper that accounted for Philadelphia's only scoring against the Nationals ace. 

 

Red Sox top Franco, Rays

The Boston Red Sox spoiled the MLB debut of top prospect Wander Franco and handed the Tampa Bay Rays their seventh straight loss in a 9-5 victory at Tropicana Field. The 20-year-old Franco was impressive, tying the game at 5-5 in the fifth inning with a three-run homer for his first major league hit, but the Rays surrendered four runs in the 11th to lose at home to their rivals. According to Stats Perform, Franco is the second player in history to hit a game-tying three-run homer or grand slam in his MLB debut, after Kosuke Fukudome of the Chicago Cubs did it in 2008.

The San Diego Padres got home runs from Jake Cronenworth and pinch-hitter Kim Ha-seong to beat Clayton Kershaw and the Los Angeles Dodgers 3-2 for their sixth consecutive win. 

Zack Greinke led the Houston Astros to their ninth straight win, 3-1 over the Baltimore Orioles, to maintain a one-game division lead over the Oakland Athletics. 

 

Mets lose Stroman, game

The New York Mets managed only two hits while striking out 12 times in a 3-0 loss to Charlie Morton and the Atlanta Braves and saw starting pitcher Marcus Stroman depart at the start of the second inning with hip soreness. 

A day after breaking their 17-game losing streak, the Arizona Diamondbacks reverted to form, collecting just two hits in a 5-0 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers.

 

HR champ Voit is back

Luke Voit returned from the injured list with a bang, as the 2020 MLB home run leader hit a monster 423-foot blast on the first pitch he saw since May 25 after being sidelined with an oblique injury in a 6-5 New York Yankees loss to the Kansas City Royals. 

 

Tuesday's results

Atlanta Braves 3-0 New York Mets
Houston Astros 3-1 Baltimore Orioles
Chicago Cubs 7-1 Cleveland Indians 
Oakland Athletics 13-6 Texas Rangers
Milwaukee Brewers 5-0 Arizona Diamondbacks
San Diego Padres 3-2 Los Angeles Dodgers
Cincinnati Reds 10-7 Minnesota Twins
Seattle Mariners 2-1 Colorado Rockies
Detroit Tigers 8-2 St Louis Cardinals
Washington Nationals 3-2 Philadelphia Phillies
Pittsburgh Pirates 6-3 Chicago White Sox
Kansas City Royals 6-5 New York Yankees
Boston Red Sox 9-5 Tampa Bay Rays
Toronto Blue Jays 2-1 Miami Marlins
San Francisco Giants 5-0 Los Angeles Angels

 

Giants at Angels

Shohei Ohtani will face MLB's best team as he takes the mound for the Los Angeles Angels against Kevin Gausman and the San Francisco Giants.

MLB World Series champions the Los Angeles Dodgers broke their slump with a 16-4 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers.

The Dodgers arrested a three-game skid and avoided a series sweep at the hands of the Brewers thanks to Sunday's onslaught.

A.J. Pollock and Matt Beaty fuelled the Dodgers with grand slams off Brewers rookie Alec Bettinger in each of the first two innings.

Pollock had two home runs and eight RBI, while Beaty contributed four hits and seven RBI against the Brewers as they became the first Dodger duo in history to record seven-plus RBI in the same game.

Elsewhere, the Cincinnati Reds topped the Chicago Cubs 13-12 in a wild walk-off win.

Nick Castellanos – who also clubbed two home runs – hit a game-ending RBI single in the 10th inning to lead the Reds past the Cubs in an epic encounter.

"It felt like a playoff game, to be honest with you," Cubs manager David Ross said. "Back and forth. Heavyweight fight. Wind blowing out in Cincinnati. And we just came up on the short end."

 

Scherzer sizzles as Kluber celebrates 100th win

Washington Nationals ace Max Scherzer dominated in a 3-1 win over the Miami Marlins. Scherzer – who carried a shutout into the ninth inning – pitched a five-hitter, finishing with nine strikeouts, five hits and no walks before hurrying to the hospital for the birth of his third child.

Corey Kluber earned his 100th career victory as the New York Yankees beat the Detroit Tigers 2-0. A two-time Cy Young Award winner, Kluber gave up two hits in eight innings, walking one and striking out 10 batters – his first 10-strikeout game since September 2018. He became the 17th active pitcher in the majors to reach 100 wins.

Andrelton Simmons and Mitch Garver homered in a seven-run third inning to inspire the Minnesota Twins' 13-4 rout of the Kansas City Royals.

Marcus Semien homered and drove in four runs as the Toronto Blue Jays swept the Atlanta Braves with a 7-2 triumph. Toronto's Bo Bichette carried an historic start into the game, with a franchise record 124 hits, 69 runs, 32 doubles, 23 homers and 56 extra-base hits through his first 100 career games.

 

Bettinger schooled on debut

It was a forgettable first MLB appearance for Milwaukee's Bettinger. Having never pitched above Double-A previously, debutant Bettinger gave up 11 runs against the Dodgers. He allowed 11 hits and two walks in four innings, while hitting a batter and striking out none.

 

Tatis homer!

The San Diego Padres lost 7-1 to rivals the San Francisco Giants but Fernando Tatis Jr. stayed hot. Tatis homered for the eighth time this season as he became the first player to record 40-plus home runs and 30-plus stolen bases in his first 162 career games.

 

Sunday's results

New York Yankees 2-0 Detroit Tigers
Washington Nationals 3-1 Miami Marlins
St Louis Cardinals 3-0 Pittsburgh Pirates
Toronto Blue Jays 7-2 Atlanta Braves
Cincinnati Reds 13-12 Chicago Cubs
Tampa Bay Rays 5-4 Houston Astros
Cleveland Indians 5-0 Chicago White Sox
Minnesota Twins 13-4 Kansas City Royals
Los Angeles Dodgers 16-4 Milwaukee Brewers
Texas Rangers 5-3 Boston Red Sox
Oakland Athletics 7-5 Baltimore Orioles
Seattle Mariners 2-0 Los Angeles Angels
Arizona Diamondbacks 8-4 Colorado Rockies
San Francisco Giants 7-1 San Diego Padres
New York Mets 8-7 Philadelphia Phillies

 

Rays at Angels

Two-way star Shohei Ohtani will take to the mound for the Angels (13-13), who host the Rays (14-15) on Monday.

The Los Angeles Dodgers outlasted the San Diego Padres 11-6 after 12 innings in an enthralling MLB showdown between the National League West rivals.

Padres star Fernando Tatis Jr returned from a shoulder injury to face World Series champions the Dodgers in the series opener and he hit a home run in the fifth inning – a 410-foot bomb – to mark his comeback on Friday.

The Padres tied the game in the bottom of the ninth after Eric Hosmer's single allowed Manny Machado to score in San Diego.

Tensions threatened to boil over after benches cleared in the 10th when Dodgers pitcher Dennis Santana struck Jorge Mateo.

San Diego and Los Angeles could not be separated until Corey Seager's two-run homer sparked a Dodgers onslaught in the top of the 12th inning, which finished with five runs.

The red-hot Dodgers extended their winning streak to seven games, while improving to an MLB-best 12-2.

 

Reds stay hot

The Cincinnati Reds eased past the Cleveland Indians 10-3. Cincinnati are now 6-1 at home this season with 67 runs scored (9.6 per game). Per Stats Perform, it is the most runs by a team in their first seven home games of a season since the 1900 Boston Beaneaters (Braves franchise) had 71. The Reds' plus-38 run differential (67-29) at Great American Ball Park is the highest by any National League squad through seven home games since the 1894 Cleveland Spiders (plus-44).

Washington Nationals ace Max Scherzer surpassed Cy Young for the 22nd most strikeouts (2,807) of all-time. Three-time Cy Young Award winner Scherzer struck out the side in the seventh inning, finishing with 10 and 2,808 for his career. The Nationals edged the Arizona Diamondbacks 1-0.

Justin Upton smashed a grand slam as the Los Angeles Angels crushed the Minnesota Twins 10-3.

 

Yankees continue to underwhelm

The star-studded New York Yankees dropped to an American League (AL) East-worst 5-8 following an 8-2 loss to rivals the Tampa Bay Rays. The Yankees walked seven Rays batters, had just three hits, struck out 14 times and tallied three errors that led to three unearned runs. Yankees fans made their feelings known after throwing balls onto the field, which led to a stoppage.

 

Schwarber lifts Nationals

Kyle Schwarber's walk-off homer saw the Nationals beat the Diamondbacks. His 463-foot shot was Schwarber's first home run for Washington.

 

Friday's results

Atlanta Braves 5-2 Chicago Cubs
Washington Nationals 1-0 Arizona Diamondbacks
Philadelphia Phillies 9-2 St Louis Cardinals
Tampa Bay Rays 8-2 New York Yankees
Cincinnati Reds 10-3 Cleveland Indians
Miami Marlins 4-1 San Francisco Giants
Baltimore Orioles 5-2 Texas Rangers
Pittsburgh Pirates 6-1 Milwaukee Brewers
Los Angeles Angels 10-3 Minnesota Twins
Oakland Athletics 3-0 Detroit Tigers
Los Angeles Dodgers 11-6 San Diego Padres
Seattle Mariners 6-5 Houston Astros
Chicago White Sox-Boston Red Sox (postponed)
Toronto Blue Jays-Kansas City Royals (postponed)
New York Mets-Colorado Rockies (postponed)

 

Blue Jays at Royals

After Friday's game was postponed, the Toronto Blue Jays (6-7) and Kansas City Royals (7-4) will contest a doubleheader on Saturday. Steven Matz will start game one for the Blue Jays as the Royals counter with Mike Minor. Toronto's Tommy Milone will take to the mound in the game two, with Ervin Santana handed a Kansas City start.

World Series champions the Los Angeles Dodgers swept the Washington Nationals with a 3-0 shutout on Sunday as Clayton Kershaw outduelled Max Scherzer in a pitching showdown.

In his first home start as a World Series winner, Dodgers ace Kershaw struck out six batters over six scoreless innings without a walk against the struggling Nationals, while Zach McKinstry drove in all three runs.

Kershaw – a future Hall of Famer and three-time National League (NL) Cy Young Award winner – has now allowed just one run across his last two starts, striking out 14 over 13 innings.

Scherzer – also a three-time NL Cy Young winner and World Series champion – pitched six innings of three-hit ball with five strikeouts and a walk.

"Max has obviously had an unbelievable run with what he's done over there in Washington. I have a ton of respect for him and everything he's done in this game," Kershaw said after the Dodgers improved to 8-2 for the season.

"You try not to attack it any differently. You always try to put up zeroes on the board. But after we got that early run there, you try and make it stand as best you can, knowing that Max probably isn't going to give up many himself. [We're] fortunate today that it worked out."

The Philadelphia Phillies, meanwhile, snapped the Atlanta Braves' four-game winning streak following a narrow 7-6 victory.

Didi Gregorius fuelled the Phillies with a three-run home in a four-run fourth inning, while he had the go-ahead sacrifice fly in the ninth.

It was a controversial finish after Alec Bohm managed a double off Will Smith at the start of the ninth before advancing to third on a bunt and scoring to make it 7-6.

Bohm was initially called safe following Marcell Ozuna's throw, and the decision was upheld, despite replays appearing to show the former's foot missing the plate as the Phillies avoided a sweep.

 

Debutant Odor lifts Yankees

Rougned Odor – acquired from the Texas Rangers – capped his New York Yankees debut with a go-ahead single at the top of the 10th inning in an 8-4 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays. According to Stats Perform, it was the fourth time since 1974 a player's first hit with the Yankees delivered the game-winning RBI in extra innings, following Chase Headley (2014), Alfonso Soriano (1999) and Alex Johnson (1974).

The Seattle Mariners rallied past the Minnesota Twins 8-6. Seattle came back from being six-plus runs down and won for the first time since 2016.

 

De Leon and Reds put to the sword

It was a rough outing for Jose De Leon and the Cincinnati Reds, who were blanked 7-0 by the Arizona Diamondbacks. De Leon allowed six runs over a little more than four innings, walking three and fiving up eight hits, including two home runs.

 

Martinez delivers a masterclass

Boston Red Sox star J.D. Martinez already has 12 extra-base hits in eight games this season. It is the most by any player in their first eight games of a campaign in American League (AL) history. The Red Sox beat the Baltimore Orioles 14-9 on the back of his three homers.

 

Sunday's results

Boston Red Sox 14-9 Baltimore Orioles
Pittsburgh Pirates 7-1 Chicago Cubs
Cleveland Indians 5-2 Detroit Tigers
New York Yankees 8-4 Tampa Bay Rays
Kansas City Royals 4-3 Chicago White Sox
Seattle Mariners 8-6 Minnesota Twins
Milwaukee Brewers 9-3 St Louis Cardinals
San Diego Padres 2-0 Texas Rangers
Arizona Diamondbacks 7-0 Cincinnati Reds
San Francisco Giants 4-0 Colorado Rockies
Los Angeles Dodgers 3-0 Washington Nationals
Philadelphia Phillies 7-6 Atlanta Braves
Miami Marlins 0-0 New York Mets (suspended, to resume August 31)
Los Angeles Angels-Toronto Blue Jays (postponed)

 

Yankees at Blue Jays

After their series finale against the Angels was postponed, the Blue Jays will welcome AL East rivals the Yankees to Dunedin for Monday's series opener.

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).

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