Shohei Ohtani hammered his 43rd home run of the 2021 MLB season to lead the Los Angeles Angels to a 4-1 victory over the Texas Rangers on Saturday.

The Japanese two-way star delivered the homer with the Angels leading 1-0 and runners on first and second at the bottom of the sixth inning.

Ohtani skied his three-run shot over center field from his first Kolby Allard pitch to set up with the win.

The homer was crushed with 107.2 mph exit velocity and travelled a projected 426 feet, per Statcast.

Ohtani now leads the MLB for home runs with 43, three ahead of in-form Kansas City Royals slugger Salvador Perez, with Toronto Blue Jays' Vladimir Guerrero Jr third on 39.

The 27-year-old is homing in on history, with no Angels player ever ending a season top of the HR charts, while he may eclipse Troy Glaus' franchise record of 47 from 2000.

The win improves the Angels record to 67-68 but they are well back in fourth in the American League (AL) West and Wild Card race.

 

Perez hits homers 39 and 40

Ohtani may have padded his MLB home run lead, but Perez moved into second spot with his 39th and 40th blasts in the Royals' 10-7 loss to the Chicago White Sox.

Perez produced the home-run double despite a neck contusion which prevented him from catching.

Alex Verdugo walked it off for the depleted Boston Red Sox with a hit to deep right-field as they won 4-3 over the Cleveland Indians, with Rafael Devers homering earlier. The Red Sox are 79-59 and second in the AL Wild Card race.

Adrian Houser sent down the Milwaukee Brewers' first shut-out in seven years as they defeated the St Louis Cardinals 4-0. Houser had seven strikeouts and allowing only three hits.

Trea Turner and Corey Seager hit homers as the Los Angeles Dodgers won 6-1 over the San Francisco Giants to improve their Wild Card hopes, while Kyle Seager blasted the Seattle Mariners to a 8-5 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks to stay in the hunt.

The Toronto Blue Jays survived a late scare as the Oakland Athletics piled on five ninth-inning run to win 10-8 and boost their Wild Card aspirations.

 

Yankees almost held hitless

The New York Yankees had not been held hitless in a game since June 11 2003 but they appeared destined to end that run near the end of the seventh inning against the lowly Baltimore Orioles on Saturday. Gleyber Torres delivered a seventh-inning RBI single after 25 Yankees were held hitless. Joey Gallo then had an eighth-inning two-run homer but the Orioles won on Pedro Severino's sacrifice fly in a blow to the Yankees' Wild Card hopes.

 

Rays' rookie Wander keeps streak going

It seems like there is no stopping Tampa Bay Rays' rookie Wander Franco, after he extended his historic on-base streak to 34 games with an RBI single in his side's 11-4 win over the Minnesota Twins. Franco, who was absent on Friday due to a headache, had two runs with an RBI double on Saturday.

 

Saturday's results 

New York Mets 11-9 Washington Nationals
Baltimore Orioles 4-3 New York Yankees
Chicago Cubs 7-6 Pittsburgh Pirates
Toronto Blue Jays 10-8 Oakland Athletics
Tampa Bay Rays 11-4 Minnesota Twins
Boston Red Sox 4-3 Cleveland Indians
Washington Nationals 4-3 New York Mets
Miami Marlins 3-2 Philadelphia Phillies
Milwaukee Brewers 4-0 St Louis Cardinals
Cincinnati Reds 7-4 Detroit Tigers
Chicago White Sox 10-7 Kansas City Royals
Seattle Mariners 8-5 Arizona Diamondbacks
Colorado Rockies 7-6 Atlanta Braves
San Diego Padres 10-2 Houston Astros
Los Angeles Dodgers 6-1 San Francisco Giants
Los Angeles Angels 4-1 Texas Rangers

 

Dodgers at Giants

It is hard to look past the Giants and Dodgers meeting again in the third and final game of their series.

The San Francisco Giants reclaimed the National League (NL) West lead with a dramatic 3-2 walk-off victory over rivals and World Series champions the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Sole possession of top spot was on the line as the Giants and Dodgers clashed in a heavyweight MLB showdown in San Francisco on Friday.

The score was deadlocked at 2-2 until a bizarre walk-off throwing error lifted the Giants past the Dodgers in the 11th inning.

With the bases loaded in the 11th and two outs, Buster Posey appeared to have hit an inning-ending groundout, but Trea Turner's throw went wide of Will Smith, whose toe came off the bag.

Posey was initially ruled safe, and it stayed that way despite a lengthy Dodgers (85-50) review – the Giants (86-49) moving back to the top of the NL West again.

 

Comeback of the year?

The Toronto Blue Jays emerged from the jaws of defeat in stunning fashion, somehow conquering the Oakland Athletics 11-10. Toronto – chasing the last Wild Card spot – trailed 8-2 entering the eighth inning at home to fellow playoff hopefuls the A's. Lourdes Gurriel Jr. hit a game-tying grand slam after a two-out rally. Mark Canha's two-run homer restored Oakland's advantage in the top of the ninth, but Marcus Semien delivered an incredible walk-off three-run homer in the bottom of the inning. Gurriel became just the third Blue Jays player ever to hit three grand s lams in a season after Edwin Encarnacion (2015) and Darrin Fletcher (2000).

The Detroit Tigers lit up the Cincinnati Reds 15-5 behind Dustin Garneau's two-run homer and solo shot, plus Robbie Grossman's three-run blast.

Kyle Schwarber hit a lead-off homer in the opening inning to fuel the Boston Red Sox's 8-5 victory at home to the Cleveland Indians. Hunter Renfroe added a three-run homer for the Red Sox, who have won three straight games.

 

Keuchel's woes continue

Dallas Keuchel struggled again as the Chicago White Sox went down 7-2 to the Kansas City Royals. Keuchel allowed six runs in three innings – the 2015 American League (AL) Cy Young winner has a 7.26 ERA through his past 11 starts. He gave up five earned runs, seven hits and two walks with just one strikeout against the Royals.

 

Arenado homers twice as Wainwright and Molina celebrate milestone

St Louis Cardinals star Nolan Arenado recorded his 21st multi-homer game since entering the majors in 2013 – tied for the second most alongside Bryce Harper in the NL in that span, behind Giancarlo Stanton (22). The Cardinals crushed the NL Central-leading Milwaukee Brewers 15-4. Cardinals team-mates Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina started together for the 300th time – the fourth most prolific battery in history.

 

Friday's results 

Chicago Cubs 6-5 Pittsburgh Pirates
New York Yankees 4-3 Baltimore Orioles
New York Mets 6-2 Washington Nationals
Toronto Blue Jays 11-10 Oakland Athletics
Boston Red Sox 8-5 Cleveland Indians
Detroit Tigers 15-5 Cincinnati Reds
Tampa Bay Rays 5-3 Minnesota Twins
Miami Marlins 10-3 Philadelphia Phillies
Kansas City Royals 7-2 Chicago White Sox
St Louis Cardinals 15-4 Milwaukee Brewers
Colorado Rockies 4-3 Atlanta Braves
Los Angeles Angels 3-2 Texas Rangers
Seattle Mariners 6-5 Arizona Diamondbacks
Houston Astros 6-3 San Diego Padres
San Francisco Giants 3-2 Los Angeles Dodgers

 

A's at Blue Jays

With both teams vying for a Wild Card berth, the Blue Jays (71-62) and Athletics (74-61) will continue their series on Saturday. Jose Berrios will start for the Blue Jays as the A's counter with Paul Blackburn.

Toronto Blue Jays sensation Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Los Angeles Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani and Fernando Tatis Jr. of the San Diego Padres headline the starters for the 2021 MLB All-Star Game.

The starters for the upcoming All-Star Game, scheduled for July 13 at Coors Field – home of the Colorado Rockies, were revealed after two rounds of fan voting on Thursday.

Guerrero (aged 22 years and 119 days) will be the youngest Blue Jays player to start an All-Star Game, while he is also the youngest player to start at first base since George Scott in 1966.

Son of an MLB Hall of Famer, Guerrero is only second to Ohtani (28) for home runs this season with 26, while he leads the majors in RBI (66), on-base percentage (.442), OPS (1.117) and three-plus hit games (11 – level with Trea Turner).

Ohtani, 26, is set to become the first Japanese-born player to start an All-Star Game since Ichiro Suzuki in 2010.

The Angels' Ohtani has the most homers this season, while he owns a 3.60 ERA and 83 strikeouts across 60 innings on the mound.

As for Tatis, the 22-year-old shortstop will be the youngest player to start for the Padres in an All-Star Game.

Tatis entered Thursday's action leading MLB with an incredible .705 slugging percentage, while leading the National League (NL) in homers.

Elsewhere, Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers will become the first shortstop/third base combo in Boston Red Sox history to start the All-Star Game.

Atlanta Braves star Ronald Acuna Jr. will join Eddie Matthews as the player in franchise history to start multiple All-Star Games before turning 24, while Nick Castellanos and Jesse Winker will give the Cincinnati Reds multiple outfield starters for the first time since 1956.

 

All-Star Game starters:

American League

C: Salvador Perez (Kansas City Royals)
2B: Marcus Semien (Toronto Blue Jays)
3B: Rafael Devers (Boston Red Sox)
SS: Xander Bogaerts (Boston Red Sox)
OF: Mike Trout (Los Angeles Angels) 
OF: Aaron Judge (New York Yankees)
OF: Teoscar Hernandez (Toronto Blue Jays) 

National League

C: Buster Posey (San Francisco Giants)
1B: Freddie Freeman (Atlanta Braves)
2B: Adam Frazier (Pittsburgh Pirates)
3B: Nolan Arenado (St Louis Cardinals)
OF: Ronald Acuna Jr. (Atlanta Braves)
OF: Nick Castellanos (Cincinnati Reds)
OF: Jesse Winker (Cincinnati Reds)

The St Louis Cardinals made a splash after acquiring Nolan Arenado on Monday.

It cost five players, but the Cardinals fleeced the Colorado Rockies to bring in a five-time All-Star via a blockbuster trade.

The Cardinals will reportedly receive $50million in cash considerations, new deferrals in Arenado's contract that has six years and $199m remaining, and the waiving of his no-trade clause.

Arenado only signed an eight-year, $260m contract with the Rockies prior to the 2019 MLB season but Colorado opted to make a deal with the Cardinals.

The 29-year-old's arrival is a significant addition and quickly establishes the Cardinals as the team to beat in the National League (NL) Central ahead of the Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati Reds, Milwaukee Brewers and Pittsburgh Pirates.

St Louis – eyeing their first World Series championship since 2011 – now boast a formidable corner-infield combination in Arenado and six-time All-Star Paul Goldschmidt.

We take a look at the numbers behind Arenado using Stats Perform data as the World Series-chasing Cardinals eye success in 2021.

 

Arenado's a genuine star

The third baseman's record speaks for itself.

Eight Gold Gloves, four Silver Slugger awards and four Platinum Gloves, to go with three NL home run and NL RBI leader honours.

Arenado is one of two players in MLB history to win a Gold Glove in each of his first eight seasons in the majors, along with former Seattle Mariners favourite Ichiro Suzuki.

While he was hampered by a shoulder injury during the coronavirus-shortened 2020 season – tallying 46 hits, 23 runs, eight homers and 26 RBIs in 182 at-bats for the Rockies, Arenado was coming off a career-best .315 with 41 home runs and 118 RBIs in 2019.

Arenado had five successive seasons with at least 35 home runs and 110 RBIs from 2015-19 (before the shortened 2020 season) – tied for the longest streak in NL history, alongside ex-Cubs star Sammy Sosa (1997-2001).

The Cardinals, on the other hand, have never had a third baseman hit 35-plus home runs in a season in their history.

St Louis are one of five current franchises that have never had a third baseman hit 35-plus homers in a season (34 in 1992 and 2004), and they are the oldest team (1882) in that group, ahead of the Boston Red Sox (1901), Washington Nationals (1969), Mariners (1977) and Miami Marlins (1993).

After making his debut with the Rockies in 2013, Arenado has amassed 1,206 hits, 649 runs, 235 homers and 760 RBIs at an average of .293 in his career.

Since his first MLB appearance almost eight years ago, only Nelson Cruz (287), Mike Trout (267) and Edwin Encarnacion (265) have hit more homers than Arenado.

Arenado, though, tops the list for most RBIs since 2013 – ahead of new team-mate Goldschmidt (720), who sits fourth.

In the postseason, Arenado has two runs, one homer and three RBIs while averaging .190 in 21 at-bats.

The Cardinals – beaten in the Wild Card Round last season – lost to the Nationals in the 2019 National League Championship Series (NLCS), while they went down to the Red Sox in the 2013 World Series.

The St Louis Cardinals have acquired five-time MLB All-Star Nolan Arenado in a blockbuster trade with the Colorado Rockies.

St Louis and Colorado announced the deal on Monday, with the Cardinals sending Austin Gomber, Elehuris Montero, Tony Locey, Mateo Gil and Jake Sommers to the Rockies in exchange for Arenado and cash considerations.

The Cardinals will reportedly receive $50million in cash, new deferrals in Arenado's contract that has six years and $199m remaining, and the waiving of his no-trade clause.

Arenado signed an eight-year, $260m contract with the Rockies prior to the 2019 season but Colorado opted to deal the eight-time Gold Glove Award winner.

The 29-year-old was hampered by soreness in the AC joint of his left shoulder during the coronavirus-shortened 2020 season, tallying 46 hits, 23 runs, eight homers and 26 RBIs in 182 at-bats for the Rockies – who missed the playoffs.

Arenado was coming off a career-best .315 with 41 home runs and 118 RBIs in 2019.

A Gold Glove winner in each of his eight seasons in Colorado, where he made his debut in 2013, Arenado has amassed 1,206 hits, 649 runs, 235 homers and 760 RBIs at an average of .293 in his career.

In the postseason, the four-time Silver Slugger and four-time Platinum Glove winner has two runs, one homer and three RBIs while averaging .190 in 21 at-bats.

The Cardinals, who lost in the Wild Card Round last season, quickly become favourites to win the National League (NL) Central, which consists of the Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati Reds, Milwaukee Brewers and Pittsburgh Pirates.

Not since 2011 have the Cardinals won the World Series.

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