Tagged in: home run

Perez breaks Bench’s home run record; Royals sweep Indians

Salvador Perez hit his 46th home run, breaking Johnny Bench’s record for most by a catcher in a campaign to highlight the opener, then the Kansas City Royals completed a doubleheader sweep by defeating the Cleveland Indians 4-2 Monday night.

Perez hit a two-run homer in the fifth inning of a 7-2 victory, topping Bench’s total from 1970 for the highest total by a player who spent at least 75% of his team’s games at catcher.

Perez also moved into a tie for the major league lead in homers with Toronto’s Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Perez leads the majors with 115 RBI.

“I had never hit 30 in my career,” he said. “So I was looking for 30 homers and 100 RBI. This is a dream come true.” Perez’s career high in home runs was 27, which came in both the 2017 and 2018 seasons.

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Being in the same company with Bench is something else special for the 31-year-old Perez who has been a mainstay for the Royals since reaching the majors in 2011.

“When you see a Hall of Fame catcher, you try to be just like him,” Perez said. “I’m going to try my best to be one of those guys.”

Royals manager Mike Matheny considered it an honor to witness the moment.

“It’s just hard to get your head around, to be honest,” Matheny said. “The long history in this game and how many great players have come through. For him to do something that nobody’s done, it’s amazing.”

In the second game, Perez hit an early double before striking out against Anthony Gose, a former outfielder who returned to the majors after a five-year absence as a hard-throwing reliever.

Gose pitched 1 2/3 innings, permitting one run and one hit with one walk and one strikeout. Of his 39 pitches, seven reached 100 mph.

The 31-year-old Gose last played in the majors in 2016 with Detroit. He spent parts of five years with the Tigers and Toronto before becoming a pitcher.

“It meant a lot to get the opportunity to go out there again. It’s been a while. I’m excited to be able to have the opportunity,” Gose said.

Joel Payamps, Domingo Tapia, Jake Brentz. Josh Statamount and Scott Barlow combined on a four-hitter in the second game. Tapia (3-0) struck out four in 1 2/3 innings and Barlow pitched the ninth for his 14th save.

The Royals scored twice off Nick Wittgren (2-8) in the first when Carlos Santana drew a bases-loaded walk and Hunter Dozier added a sacrifice fly.

Kansas City scored in the fourth off Gose on a double by Hanser Alberto and an RBI groundout by Sebastian Rivero.

Alberto added an RBI single in the sixth off Bryan Shaw.

Andrés Giménez and Bobby Bradley homered for Cleveland. The Indians were held to four runs in the two seven-inning games after scoring 11 runs on both Saturday and Sunday in victories over the New York Yankees.

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Milwaukee Brewers slugger Ryan Braun announces retirement

Ryan Braun, the 2011 National League MVP and franchise home run king for the Milwaukee Brewers, revealed his retirement Tuesday.

The six-time All-Star selection has not played this season after becoming a free agent when the Brewers declined to exercise a $15 million mutual option in his contract last October.

“I have weighed this decision for many months,” Braun, 37, said in a video posted to social media by the Brewers. “While I still love this game very much, the time is right for me to retire from my playing days.

“It’s difficult to describe my emotions today, but it starts with overwhelming gratitude to those who have shared this experience with me while offering their unconditional support at every turn. … I will forever appreciate the best fans in the game and the countless people who came out to the ballpark night after night, making Milwaukee the greatest city to play the game.”

In addition to his 352 home runs, Braun, who played all 14 of his MLB career with the Brewers, ranks second in franchise history in career RBIs (1,154), extra-base hits (809), total bases (3,525) and doubles (408). He ranks third in runs (1,080), hits (1,963), triples (49), stolen bases (216) and walks (586).

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“I am so fortunate to have enjoyed a 14-year career wearing the jersey of one team, and even more grateful that team is the Milwaukee Brewers,” Braun said. “I am retiring today from Major League Baseball, but my love for all those who supported me continues to grow. I cherish great memories from my time with the Brewers and will continue to build on the many friendships made in this amazing city.”

Braun batted a career-low .233 in 2020 with seven homers and 27 RBIs in 39 games while dealing with a back issue. He came on strong late in the season and had a .958 OPS in September.

His back issues prevented him from playing in the Brewers’ first-round playoff loss to the eventual World Series-champion Los Angeles Dodgers.

Braun was one of baseball’s best hitters from 2007 to 2012, but was never the same after he was suspended midway through the 2013 season for using performance-enhancing drugs. He acknowledged that he took banned substances while rehabilitating an injury and apologized.

From 2014 on, Braun never played more than 144 matches in a season and reached the 30-homer mark once after topping 30 homers five times in his first six years, including an NL-leading 41 in 2012. Still, he remained a key contributor for the Brewers.

“I always thought that the way Ryan’s last six or seven years went, he should be incredibly proud with how those years went,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell stated. “He should be incredibly proud of that. At that point, he had a story to write. He didn’t know how it was going to go, and I think he wrote a great story and that he should be proud of that.”

Braun was teammates with Counsell early in his career before eventually playing for him.

“What I always tell Ryan is, I always joke with him that, ‘Maybe besides your mom and your dad, I have seen you play baseball probably more than anyone in the world.’ I was there for every game throughout his career,” Counsell said. “I got a close seat for a vast majority of them. Watching him play was definitely an honor.”

The Brewers selected Braun with the fifth overall pick in the 2005 amateur draft out of Miami. He was named NL Rookie of the Year in 2007 and ranked in the top 15 in the MVP voting every year from 2008 to 2012. He finished second in the MVP balloting in 2012 and third in 2008.

The Brewers will honor Braun with an on-field ceremony on Sept. 26.

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Shohei Ohtani launches 31st home run in victory, tying Hideki Matsui’s record for most in MLB season by a Japanese-born player

Shohei Ohtani hit his major-league-leading 31st homer of the season for the Los Angeles Angels, tying Hideki Matsui’s record for the most homers in a Major League Baseball season by a Japanese-born player.

Ohtani crushed a 459-foot solo shot off Baltimore’s Thomas Eshelman in the third inning Sunday, clearing the ficus trees behind the center-field fence.

Ohtani finished 1-for-4 as the Angels won 6-5. Juan Lagares doubled to deep center in the ninth inning, scoring two runs as Los Angeles rallied past the Orioles.

With his 14th homer in the past 17 games, the Halos’ two-way sensation tied the MLB homer record for Japanese-born players set by Matsui in 2004. Matsui needed 159 matches to hit his 31 homers for the Yankees, while Ohtani has done it in just 81 games for the Angels while also making 12 starts on the mound.

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“I’m really excited to be at the same level with somebody I looked up to since I was young,” Ohtani said through his interpreter. “However, it’s still the first half, so like I’ve said before, I want to continue to build up one hit at a time.”

Ohtani also extended his own major league record for the most homers in a campaign with at least 10 games pitched.

With his 29th and 30th home runs on Friday, Ohtani tied and passed Babe Ruth’s record of 29, set in 1919.

Ohtani passed Mike Trout on Friday for the most homers in Angels history before the All-Star break. He is also the first player in American League history to record 30 homers and 10 stolen bases in his team’s first 81 games of a season.

Ohtani was voted to his first major league All-Star team last week. Ohtani’s next mound start is Tuesday night versus Boston. It will be his final pitching performance before the All-Star Game in Denver.

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Schwarber’s 12th homer in 10 games helps Nats over .500

Kyle Schwarber led off the first inning with his 12th home run in 10 matches, and the Washington Nationals defeat the Tampa Bay Rays 4-3 Tuesday night to move above .500 for the first time since the opening week of the season.

Schwarber tied Albert Belle in 1995 for the most home runs over a 10-game span since at least 1901. He has 16 home runs in 18 games since being moved into the leadoff spot in the Nationals’ batting order on June 8.

Schwarber drove Rich Hill’s first pitch, an 83 mph fastball, 434 feet off the upper-deck facade in right for his major league-leading seventh leadoff home run — all in June. Schwarber’s 16 home runs this month are the second-most in any June behind Sammy Sosa’s 20 in 1998.

The 28-year-old Schwarber is batting .253 with 25 homers and 53 RBI. He is tied in home runs with San Diego’s Fernando Tatis Jr., three shy of the major league-leading total of the Los Angeles Angels’ Shohei Ohtani and one back of Toronto’s Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

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Schwarber became a free agent Dec. 2 when the Chicago Cubs failed to offer a 2021 contract.

He agreed in January to a $10 million, one-year contract with the Nationals calling for a $7 million salary, a deal that contains an $11.5 million mutual option for 2022 with a $3 million buyout.

Juan Soto followed two batters later with a two-run drive, and Victor Robles added a solo homer in the second for a 4-0 lead off Hill (6-3).

Washington has won three consecutive and 12 of 15 and at 39-38 has a winning record for the first time since beating Atlanta on opening day.

Joe Ross (5-7) gave up two runs and six hits in 6 1/3 innings for his third victory in his four outings.

Brad Hand allowed Mike Zunino’s 17th homer leading off the ninth, then got three straight outs for his 18th save in 20 chances.

Brandon Lowe hit his 16th homer in the fifth, and Kevin Kiermaier doubled in a run in the sixth. Hill gave up four runs and eight hits in six innings.

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Ohtani’s 26th homer starts Angels past reeling Yankees 5-3

Shohei Ohtani pounded his hardest-hit home run of the season in another dismal first inning by Michael King, starting the New York Yankees to yet another distressing loss in a season overflowing with them.

“That definitely sent the message,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said after Los Angeles beat the troubled Yankees 5-3 on Monday night. “It was just the right way for him to start his trip to New York.”

Left-hander José Suarez pitched 5 1/3 innings of one-run relief against the heavily right-handed Yankees after Dylan Bundy threw up on the mound because of heat exhaustion.

Ohtani was 0 for 9 in his previous appearances at Yankee Stadium, all three years ago. The two-way sensation connected for a 117.2 mph drive to right on a hanging curveball from King (0-4) in a two-run first that also included Jared Walsh’s RBI double.

The home run was the ninth in 12 games and 26th this season for Ohtani, who is slated to pitch Wednesday night. He tied Toronto’s Vladimir Guerrero Jr. for the major league lead, one ahead of San Diego’s Fernando Tatis Jr.

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New York, meanwhile, leads the league in is regrouping.

“We just haven’t showed up every night. A lot of spurts of it, but this game, these seasons, this uniform isn’t about spurts. It’s about showing up every night,” said Giancarlo Stanton, who hit his 14th home run in the sixth. “We’re just collectively as a group not performing the way we should.”

Suarez (3-1) entered in the second after Bundy permitted Gio Urshela’s tying home run and Miguel Andújar’s single. With sweat dripping off the bill of his cap, Bundy stepped back off the mound, bent over and vomited on the 90-degree night.

“He told me even after the first inning he did not feel that good but went out in the second and he knew he might get ill and he did. I mean, this guy is as tough as they come,” Maddon said. “He’s fine right now. Everything’s groovy.”

Suarez allowed two hits, struck out five and walked one in his longest big league outing in two years. He kept the Yankees off balance with 22 fastballs, 22 changeups, nine curveballs and three sinkers.

“He is looking like a major league starting pitcher,” Maddon said.

Steve Cishek pitched a one-hit eighth, and Raisel Iglesias struck out the side for his 14th save in 17 chances, helping Los Angeles win its second straight following a five-game skid.

New York lost three matches in Boston last weekend, getting swept for the third time in four weekends, and is on its fourth four-game losing streak this season.

“Our season’s on the line,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said before the game. “Too many ups and downs, and we’re in too good a division to have those ups and downs. We can’t afford to play great for two weeks and struggle for a week — not if we’re going to make up ground. We’ve dug ourselves a little bit of a hole in the division. Obviously, the good news is we still are in complete control of the script.”

New York is in danger of falling out of contention before the All-Star break.

“We can throw out all the sayings. Talk is cheap. We got to go do it,” Boone said after the game.

King has a 15.00 ERA in the first inning of six starts and a 1.88 ERA over the rest of his outings.

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Ryan Braun, longtime Milwaukee Brewers slugger, leaning toward retirement

Ryan Braun stated he’s strongly leaning toward retirement, but the Milwaukee Brewers’ home run leader isn’t ready to make any decision regarding his future.

Braun visited the Brewers’ spring training site Monday and said he hasn’t picked up a bat since the end of the 2020 season. The 2011 NL MVP became a free agent when the Brewers declined to exercise a $15 million mutual option in his contract last October.

“I’m strongly leaning in the direction of being done as an active player,” the 37-year-old Braun said. “But I think you can always push that decision back.

I’m still young enough, still working out, still in shape. If something were to change, I might as well leave that door open as long as possible.”

Braun has spent his entire major league career with the Brewers and said that “I can’t foresee a scenario in which I play for any other major league team.”

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Last campaign, Braun batted a career-low .233 with seven homers and 27 RBIs in 39 matches while dealing with a back issue. He came on strong late in the season and had a .958 OPS in September.

His back issues prevented him from playing in the Brewers’ first-round playoff loss to the eventual World Series-champion Los Angeles Dodgers.

“Once the regular season starts and I’m able to watch some games, I feel like that’s when I’ll actually miss the game itself,” Braun said.

“I’m kind of interested to see how I feel, what it feels like. Obviously, I’ve never experienced it before. Time will tell.”

Braun made his debut with Milwaukee in 2007. His 352 homers as a Brewer are the most of anyone in franchise history.

He ranks second among all Brewers in career RBIs (1,154), extra-base hits (809), total bases (3,525) and doubles (408). He ranks third in runs (1,080), hits (1,963), triples (49), stolen bases (216) and walks (586).

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World Series 2020: Champs! The Dodgers end L.A.’s 32-year title drought

The Kirk Gibson home run had endured, but it had also run its course. The clip remained a constant presence around the Los Angeles Dodgers, consuming their broadcasts and playing on a near-constant loop at their stadium. It stood as the seminal moment from a bygone era, of a championship captured more than three decades earlier. A new memory had long been desired.

“We’ve heard it a lot, and we’ve seen a lot of highlights, and it’s fantastic,” Dave Roberts, the fifth-year manager, said. “But we wanna make our own mark on Dodgers history.”

On Tuesday night, in a neutral stadium 1,400 miles away, at the conclusion of a bizarre campaign played amid a global health crisis, these Dodgers ultimately made their mark.

Their 3-1 triumph over the Tampa Bay Rays in Game 6 of the World Series won them their first championship since Gibson famously hobbled to the batter’s box in 1988, a fitting coronation for a dominant franchise.

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Tony Gonsolin, counted on to function as a traditional starter, recorded only five outs.

But four relievers — Dylan Floro, Alex Wood, Pedro Baez and Victor Gonzalez — retired 13 of the next 14 batters, keeping the game within reach long enough for the Dodgers to get past an electric Blake Snell and tap into the Rays’ bullpen.

After Rays manager Kevin Cash turned to Nick Anderson with one on, one out and the top of the order due up a third time in the sixth, the Dodgers’ offense finally came alive. Mookie Betts doubled, Austin Barnes scored on a wild pitch, and Betts slid home safely on a grounder to the right side.

Betts, the offseason acquirement who has somehow exceeded expectations, tacked on an important insurance run with a solo homer in the eighth, and Julio Urias cruised past the finish line, leading the Dodgers to the title — 16 days after the Los Angeles Lakers did the same.

The Dodgers, division champions for eight consecutive years, are finally champions again.

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