Tagged in: World Series

Astros club 4 HRs, beat Orioles 13-0 for 10th straight win

José Altuve silenced the booing fans at Camden Yards with a two-run homer, José Urquidy pitched seven innings of three-hit ball and the Houston Astros stretched their winning streak to 10 matches by breezing past the Baltimore Orioles 13-0 Wednesday night.

Yordan Alvarez, Abraham Toro and Chas McCormick also homered for the Astros, who outscored the lowly Orioles 26-3 during a three-game sweep. Houston’s 10-game run is its longest since May 2019 and two short of the club record.

“To me, we’re doing what we’re capable of doing and I still think we’ve got a couple of guys who can get better,” Astros manage Dusty Baker said. “The guys are feeling good about themselves and that’s what you want.”

Altuve was greeted with jeers every time he stepped to the plate during the series, mostly because he was the Most Valuable Player during a 2017 campaign in which the Astros won the World Series but were later found to have been stealing signs.

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The Astros leadoff man has heard boos from opposing fans in almost every stadium this season, but Altuve has nevertheless hit 17 home runs, including a drive in the fourth inning off Thomas Eshelman (0-1) that made it 6-0.

“They spoiled some good pitches and put some good swings on some balls that were in the zone,” Eshelman said.

Alvarez and Toro connected in the seventh off knuckleballer Mickey Jannis and McCormick added a solo shot in the eighth.

Urquidy (6-3) didn’t need to be dominant on a night in which the Astros banged out 17 hits, but the right-hander nevertheless struck out six, walked one and permitted just one runner past second base. He’s won six of his last seven decisions and gone seven innings in three consecutive starts.

“He had outstanding control,” Baker said. “He always has control, but tonight he had command. He threw some quality strikes. He’s getting better and better each outing.”

Baltimore has lost 13 of 14 and Thursday will seek to snap a 19-game skid on the road in Buffalo versus the Toronto Blue Jays.

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Los Angeles Dodgers’ Justin Turner staying on 2-year, $34M deal

Third baseman Justin Turner is staying put with the Los Angeles Dodgers, he revealed Saturday on Twitter.

Turner’s deal is for two years and $34 million guaranteed, and it includes a club option for a third year, sources told ESPN’s Jeff Passan.

Turner, 36, became a free agent when his four-year, $64 million contract expired following the Dodgers’ World Series triumph in October. A member of the Dodgers since 2014, Turner is the longest-tenured position player on the team and the third longest overall, behind Clayton Kershaw (2008) and Kenley Jansen (2010).

Turner was a journeyman for the first half of his major league career. He was non-tendered by the New York Mets in December 2013, went unsigned for the next two months and then agreed to a minor league deal with the Dodgers. At 29, he started to establish himself among the game’s most productive third basemen.

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Turner batted .297/.378/.508 from 2015 to 2019, accumulating 105 homers, 147 doubles and 21.9 FanGraphs wins above replacement in 645 regular-season games.

He made an All-Star team, concluded within the top 10 in National League MVP voting on two occasions and set the tone for the Dodgers’ hitting philosophy as their most consistent performer.

Along the way, Turner contributed several memorable postseason moments, most notably his walk-off home run versus the Chicago Cubs in Game 2 of the 2017 NL Championship Series. According to ESPN Stats & Information research, he ranks first in Dodgers postseason history in hits (79), home runs (12), runs (40) and RBIs (41).

His crowning achievement finally came last season, when Turner — a lifelong Dodgers fan who grew up in Lakewood, California, and identifies Kirk Gibson’s famous pinch-hit home run in the 1988 World Series as his first baseball memory — helped lead the franchise to its first championship in more than 30 years.

Turner posted a 1.066 OPS in six World Series games versus the Tampa Bay Rays, but his career highlight became tarnished after Major League Baseball informed the Dodgers in the late stages of the eventual clincher that Turner had tested positive for COVID-19.

Turner, the Dodgers’ player rep, was removed to start the eighth inning of Game 6 and wasn’t on the field to celebrate the final out. But he broke protocol and reentered the field to take pictures with the World Series trophy and was seen around teammates without a mask, drawing the ire of MLB officials and rampant criticism from people throughout the country. MLB ultimately decided not to discipline him.

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Howie Kendrick retires after 15 MLB seasons

Howie Kendrick announced his retirement Monday after 15 major league seasons.

In an Instagram post, Kendrick thanked each of the teams he played for in the majors, concluding with the Washington Nationals, the team he won a World Series title with in 2019.

“To the fans, without your support and love for the game, our stage and lights would not shine as brightly as they do. Know you will be missed as well. I will always love the game of baseball and will constantly reflect on the lifelong memories made. For now, it’s time to drop the mic and enter a new stage of my life,” he wrote.

In 2019, Kendrick was the MVP of the National League Championship Series and hit the go-ahead homer in Game 7 of the World Series to help the Nationals victory the franchise’s first title.

Kendrick, 37, hit .275 with two home runs and 14 RBIs during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season for the Nationals. The team declined his $6.5 million mutual option for 2021 after the season, and he received a $2.25 million buyout from Washington.

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The veteran infielder went on the injured list with a left hamstring injury on Sept. 9 and was shut down for the season.

In four seasons with the Nats, Kendrick hit .316 with 30 home runs and 113 RBIs.

Overall, Kendrick was a career .294 hitter with 127 home runs and 724 RBIs. In addition to the Nationals, Kendrick played two seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers, nine seasons with the Los Angeles Angels and 39 games with the Philadelphia Phillies in the 2017 season.

Kendrick, a Florida native, was initially drafted by the Angels with a 10th round pick in 2002. His steady production as the Angels’ regular second baseman for several seasons established him as a solidly underrated player. Kendrick’s later career saw him become a multi-position specialist and veteran bat for multiple teams.

Last season, Kendrick’s production slipped across the abbreviated 2020 season, but suffice it to say he’s securely a Nationals franchise legend for that home run above.

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Tampa Bay Rays’ Kevin Cash named AL Manager of the Year

Tampa Bay Rays manager Kevin Cash was selected American League Manager of the Year on Tuesday, receiving 22 of the 30 first-place votes.

Cash guided the Rays to a division title as well as the AL’s best regular-season record at 40-20. The Rays’ .667 win percentage was by far the best in franchise history.

Tampa Bay overcame a rash of pitching injuries to clinch the AL pennant before losing in six games to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series.

Cash, who turns 43 on Dec. 6, hit .183 with 12 homers and 58 RBIs in 246 major league games as a catcher for five teams, including Tampa Bay. After his playing career, he worked as an advance scout for Texas and Toronto before joining Terry Francona’s staff in Cleveland as the bullpen coach.

The Tampa, Florida, native and Florida State alum was hired as Tampa Bay manager the day before his 37th birthday. “There is a sense of pride being a Tampa guy,” stated Cash, who is 454-416 in six years as manager of the Rays.

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Tampa Bay had a $29 million prorated payroll as of Aug. 1, which ranked 28th out of 30 teams.

Still, the Rays obtained the AL East for the first time since 2010.

Cash became the second manager in Rays history to win the AL Manager of the Year award, joining Joe Maddon, who won the award in 2008 and 2011. Cash ended third in the balloting for AL Manager of the Year each of the past two seasons.

Cash was roundly criticized for pulling ace left-hander Blake Snell in the sixth inning of the decisive Game 6 of the World Series versus the Dodgers. However, the Rays leaned heavily on their bullpen throughout the pandemic-shortened season, with 12 pitchers recording at least one save — matching the major league record. Cash has insisted that if he were to face the same situation again, he would trust his bullpen to close it out.

“Yes, I would do it the same way all over again. I would plead for a different outcome, that’s for sure,” Cash said. “That decision was not reflective of my confidence in Blake. It was very reflective of my confidence in Nick [Anderson], and that’s [what] I felt was, at the moment, the best chance for us to win the game.”

Voting by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America concluded before the start of the playoffs. Rick Renteria of the White Sox finished second, and Charlie Montoyo of the Blue Jays finished third.

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Tampa Bay Rays take game 2 to even the series one game apiece

Through all the struggles, all the moments when it looked like he should be dropped down in the lineup or out of it altogether, Brandon Lowe believed.

He had built himself into one of the American League’s best hitters, and no slump, not even one during the playoffs, could derail that. The Tampa Bay Rays kept believing in Lowe, too. And in Game 2 of the World Series, both were rewarded handsomely for their faith.

Lowe became the first player ever to hit two opposite-field home runs in one World Series match, and the Rays’ bullpen bent but didn’t break as they held on for a 6-4 triumph Wednesday night to even the series at one game apiece.

The 26-year-old Lowe, an All-Star two years ago as a rookie and a down-ballot MVP candidate this year, had endured a brutal postseason: 6-for-56 with 19 strikeouts and not one multi-hit game among the 15 the Rays had played. And yet Tampa Bay never wavered — he sat only one game and pinch hit in it — confident that Lowe would find his swing.

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Lowe, hitting in the No. 2 hole, punished a 95 mph fastball from rookie starter Tony Gonsolin out to left field, giving the Rays an early advantage. He piled on with a two-run shot off rookie Dustin May in the fifth inning, pushing the Rays’ advantage to 5-0.

In the meantime, Rays starter Blake Snell hadn’t permitted a hit, striking out two Dodgers in each of the first four innings.

Following the fourth, Snell bounded off the mound, shouting into the expanse of Globe Life Field, to no one and everyone among the crowd of 11,472. He looked like his Cy Young-winning self, his fastball, curve ball and slider confounding a group of Dodgers hitters who in Game 1 piled up eight runs through power, patience and proficiency wielding the bat.

Lowe’s multi-homer game was the 55th in World Series history, the seventh by a second baseman and the first by a Rays player. And it continued Tampa Bay’s trend of needing home runs to score. They set a record with 28 home runs this postseason, and entering the World Series, nearly 72% of their runs had come via the longball.

The return of the Lowe who helped lead the Rays to the AL East title was a welcome sign for a Tampa Bay team whose offensive struggles were of paramount concern — particularly with the prospect of falling down 0-2 to the Dodgers. Lowe had hit .269/.362/.554 with 14 home runs in 56 games during the regular season and ranked just behind Juan Soto and Ronald Acuña Jr. in wins above replacement.

Now, after a Thursday off-day, the teams return for Game 3 with the best pitching matchup of the series: Dodgers ace Walker Buehler versus Rays stalwart Charlie Morton.

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Los Angeles Dodgers tab Clayton Kershaw to start Game 1 of World Series

Clayton Kershaw, who avoided an emergency relief appearance over the last two matches of the just-completed National League Championship Series, will start Game 1 of the World Series, the Los Angeles Dodgers announced on Monday.

Kershaw, who will be making his fifth career World Series start, will oppose Tampa Bay Rays right-hander Tyler Glasnow on Tuesday (first pitch from Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas, is 8:09 p.m. ET).

Walker Buehler, who pitched on Saturday, will be pushed back to Game 3 for the Dodgers, giving him five days of rest and still lining him up to start a potential Game 7.

The Rays have tabbed left-hander Blake Snell as their Game 2 starter, but the Dodgers are still unclear, manager Dave Roberts said. His other three starters — Dustin May, Tony Gonsolin and Julio Urias — all pitched in Sunday’s Game 7, and some might be counted on out of the bullpen in the World Series opener.

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Kershaw was initially scratched from Game 2 of the NLCS

Due to back spasms Kershaw was initially scratch but was able to recovered in time to start Thursday’s Game 4, permitting one run through the first five innings before running into trouble in the sixth.

The 32-year-old left-hander made himself available out of the bullpen for Games 6 and 7, but Roberts wanted to avoid using Kershaw in hopes of saving him for a potential World Series opener.

Cody Bellinger is expecting to play behind Kershaw even though his right shoulder popped out of its socket during an emphatic celebration with Enrique Hernandez after his game-winning home run in Sunday’s seventh inning.

The Dodgers’ center fielder said he feels “pretty good” and expects to be ready by Game 1, but Roberts said Bellinger’s shoulder was “still a little bit sore” during Monday’s optional workout.

Bellinger has experienced something similar at least three other times, he said, and Roberts said it’s more of a concern hitting than it is playing defense.

“It was an exciting time, it was pure adrenaline — a thing where you just black out,” Bellinger said of his celebration. “Obviously I wish I didn’t do it, but it was such a cool moment for me. It was just pure excitement.”

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Yankees and Dodgers co-favorites to win World Series

The New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers are the consensus favorites to win the World Series in a season that guarantees to be like no other in Major League Baseball’s history.

The Yankees and Dodgers are co-favorites at 7-2 to win the World Series at Caesars Sportsbook. The Houston Astros are next at 11-1, followed by the Atlanta Braves and Minnesota Twins, who are each 15-1 at Caesars.

On Tuesday, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred revealed a plan for a 60-game regular season that is expected to start July 23 or July 24 and last until late September. Teams will play their four divisional opponents 10 times and five interleague opponents in the same geographical area four games apiece.

The playoff format stays the same as recent seasons, with 10 teams — three division winners and two wild-card teams from each league — reaching the postseason.

The condensed season and insecurity caused by the coronavirus pandemic have oddsmakers wary of long shots that could surprise.

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“It would seem plausible to me that there will be money for some of the midrange to longer-shot teams that might field young lineups — think Toronto — or hot shot, young pitching that the league hasn’t seen much of yet,” Rex Beyers, senior oddsmaker for Caesars Sportsbook, told ESPN.

In addition to the Blue Jays, Beyers pointed to the Detroit Tigers and Colorado Rockies as examples of teams with longer odds that he presumes to attract betting interest. The Blue Jays are 75-1, the Rockies are 100-1 and the Tigers are 250-1 at Caesars Sportsbook.

Some bettors already have taken early stabs on a few long shots to win the World Series. Bookmaker William Hill U.S. reported having taken a $1,000 bet on the San Francisco Giants at 125-1 and a $100 bet on the Baltimore Orioles at 1,000-1.

For now, though, the Yankees and Dodgers are the clear-cut favorites. Both teams added superstars during the offseason, with starting pitcher Gerrit Cole going to the Yankees and right fielder Mookie Betts joining the Dodgers.

The defending-champion Washington Nationals are 18-1, along with the Tampa Bay Rays. The Chicago Cubs, Oakland Athletics and Cincinnati Reds are each 20-1.

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Nationals defeat Astros to win Franchise’s first World Series

Howie Kendrick, Anthony Rendon and the Washington Nationals finished their amazing comeback journey — fittingly with one last late rally on the road.

Kendrick and Rendon homered in the seventh inning as the Nationals overcame a two-run deficit, rocking the Houston Astros 6-2 Wednesday night to win the first title in franchise history.

With all eyes on Scherzer and his remarkable recovery after a painkilling injection, these Nationals truly embraced their shot in the only Series when the road team won every game.

Even more against the odds: Juan Soto and Washington came from behind to win five elimination games this postseason, an unprecedented feat.

“What a story,” said Ryan Zimmerman, the only player who’s been a part of every Nationals team.

“The way this game went is the way our whole season went,” he said.

Strasburg, new lefty Patrick Corbin and the Nats brought the first World Series championship to the nation’s capital since ol’ Walter Johnson delivered the crown for the Senators in 1924. This franchise started out as the Montreal Expos in 1969 when the major leagues expanded beyond the border, putting a team with tricolor caps at jaunty Jarry Park. They moved to D.C. in 2005, ending Washington’s three-decade-plus wait for big league baseball after the Senators left town to become the Texas Rangers.

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But the unbelievable path these wild-card Nationals with the curly W logo took, well, no one could have imagined.

Because in one topsy-turvy week, they put aside the pain of past playoff failures.

“Resilient, relentless bunch of guys,” manager Dave Martinez said. “They fought all year long.”

Having lost star slugger Bryce Harper in free agency and beset by bullpen woes, Washington plummeted to 19-31 in late May. It got so bad there was talk around town the Nationals might fire Martinez and trade away Scherzer.

Instead, they stuck with the mantra that sprung up on T-shirts — Stay In The Fight.

“That was our motto,” Scherzer said.

And months later they finished it, indeed. The Nationals became the first wild-card team to acquire the Series since Madison Bumgarner and the Giants in 2014. Starting with San Francisco’s win, the last six champs have clinched on the road.

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Nationals force World Series Game 7

It’s been an unusual road to Game 7 of the World Series for Stephen Strasburg and the Washington Nationals.

Seizing the October spotlight he missed out on as a youngster, Strasburg pitched another postseason gem into the ninth inning Tuesday night as the Nationals defeated the Houston Astros 7-2 to tie this Fall Classic at 3-3.

Juan Soto ran all the way to first base with his bat following a go-ahead homer, the same way Houston slugger Alex Bregman did earlier.

Yep, these wild-card Nationals have matched the heavily favored Astros swing for swing, hit for hit – even home run celebration for home run celebration.

Now, it’s onto a winner-take-all Game 7 on Wednesday night to resolve the only Series in which the visiting team won the first six.

”It’s weird, really. You can’t explain it,” Washington manager Dave Martinez said. The Nationals will try their ultimate comeback in a year when they were written off time after time, hoping for the first title in the 51-season history of a franchise that started as the Montreal Expos and the first for Washington since the Senators in 1924.

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Visiting teams have won three straight Game 7s in the Series since the Cardinals defeated Texas at home in 2011.

”I don’t think there’s a person in the building that would have assumed that all road teams were going to win,” Houston manager AJ Hinch said. ”We’ve just got to make sure that last one is not the same.”

Washington rebounded from a 19-31 start – the Nats were given just a 1.6% option to win the Series on May 23 – to finish 93-69. They rallied from a 3-1 eighth-inning deficit against Milwaukee in the NL wild-card game, a two-games-to-one deficit vs. the Los Angeles Dodgers in the Division Series and a 2-1, fifth-inning deficit in Game 6 vs. the Astros.

Outscored 19-3 at Nationals Park while going 1 for 21 with runners in scoring position, the Nationals got the strong outing they needed from Strasburg, who allowed his only runs in the first inning, struck out seven and walked two while throwing 104 pitches. ”It was a mental grind out there, especially after the first,” Strasburg said. ”Just got to keep fighting.”

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Astros hammer Nationals to take 3-2 lead in World Series

The Houston Astros handed the ball to Gerrit Cole, and he gave them a firm grip on the World Series.

Minus ailing ace Max Scherzer, the Nationals were no match in this Washington wipeout.

Cole looked exactly like the stud who dominated baseball most of this season, bouncing back from a Game 1 clunker to pitch the Astros to a 7-1 win Sunday night and a 3-2 lead.

Slumping rookie Yordan Álvarez and Carlos Correa hit early two-run homers off emergency starter Joe Ross, George Springer added another postseason drive and Houston won its third straight at Nationals Park.

What a turnaround, too — outscored 17-7 overall at Minute Maid Park, Houston hammered Washington 19-3 at Nationals Park.

Scherzer beat Cole in the opener, and was the Nats’ best hope to slow Houston. But he was scratched just 3 1/2 hours before game time because of an irritated nerve near his neck, an injury that could finish him for the Series.

With the road team winning every time so far, Houston heads home with two chances to claim its second title in three years.

Justin Verlander gets the first try when he starts against Stephen Strasburg in Game 6 on Tuesday night. Cole threw three-hit ball for seven innings, nicked only by Juan Soto’s home run in the seventh, and struck out nine.

Justin Verlander gets the first try when he starts against Stephen Strasburg in Game 6 on Tuesday night. Cole threw three-hit ball for seven innings, nicked only by Juan Soto’s home run in the seventh, and struck out nine.

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Cole’s mix of 99 mph heat and sharp breaking balls induced a bevy of bad swings from the Nats as he improved to 4-1 with a 1.72 ERA this postseason. It might’ve been his final start for Houston — he’s eligible for free agency and figures to command a steep price.

Standing tall on the mound, Cole was unflappable in the face of 43,910 fans who went from fired up to furious to flat-out frustrated.

The crowd gave Ross a huge ovation when he walked onto the field for warmups, sympathetic to his situation — he had pitched a total of two innings in almost a month.

Cole ended his outing by getting Victor Robles on a called third strike, a pitch the TV zone showed to be off the plate. Robles chucked his bat, helmet and gloves, and crowd soon began a derisive chant at umpire Lance Barksdale. Cole led the majors in strikeouts this year, was second to Verlander in wins and topped the AL in ERA. Yet he hardly looked like an October star in Game 1, giving up five runs over seven uneven innings.

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