Raul Rosas Jr. Becomes Youngest MMA Fighter to Sign with UFC

Raul Rosas Jr. has earned his place in UFC history…

The 17-year-old Mexican mixed martial artist has become the youngest fighter to sign with the UFC.

Raul Rosas Jr.Rosas signed with UFC Tuesday night, following a unanimous decision win over Mando Gutierrez on Dana White‘s Contender Series.

White, impressed by Rosas’ performance, offered the teen a contract before the end of the show, which he accepted. Rosas is the youngest fighter to compete on the series.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” White said of Rosas’ age and outing against Gutierrez. “Not only that, the amount of fighters blowing me up saying you’re crazy not to (sign him). … He’s absolutely, positively talented. He’s special, he’s different.”

Rosas, a bantamweight fighter, dominated the 25-year-old Gutierrez for most of the fight with his grappling prowess. He nearly finished Gutierrez in the first round with a rarely used Suloev stretch submission from back control. Gutierrez had moments, taking Rosas down and landing some ground-and-pound. But almost always, Rosas would end up in the better position, using his dexterity, skill and creativity on the ground to scramble his way to the top.

Rosas (6-0) had finished all of his previous opponents before Tuesday night. The Mexican-born fighter, who trains out of Las Vegas, previously fought in the UWC promotion in Tijuana.

Dan Lauzon holds the record as the youngest fighter to compete in the UFC (18 years, 198 days), per ESPN Stats & Information research. As long as Rosas steps into the Octagon within the next 216 days — a likely scenario — he will beat that mark.

And Rosas is already talking about winning championships. The youngest UFC champion was Jon Jones at age 23 in 2011.

“Everybody shouldn’t be surprised,” Rosas said. “I’m the new king in here, so I’m coming for that belt now. … I’m gonna be champion when I’m 20. Respect to everybody, but I’m gonna be champion when I’m 20, or even earlier. Nobody is gonna stop me.”

Houston Astros’ Framber Valdez Sets MLB Single-Season Record with 25th Straight Quality Start

Framber Valdez has earned his place in Major League Baseball history…

The 28-year-old Dominican professional baseball pitcher for the Houston Astros set a major league single-season record with his 25th straight quality start in the Astros’ 11-2 victory over the Oakland Athletics on Sunday.

Framber Valdez Valdez’s streak is tied for the third-longest all time across multiple seasons, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.

Valdez (16-5) allowed two runs and four hits in six innings to pass Jacob deGrom (24 in 2018) for the most consecutive quality starts in a single season in MLB history. Valdez, who threw his first career shutout in his last start, is 15-4 during his streak, which began April 25.

“It’s one of those things that just goes down on your resume, and to be able to have a record like that does mean a lot for me,” he said through a translator.

Valdez’s career-high 16 wins rank second in the American League behind teammate Justin Verlander (17) and his 2.57 ERA is sixth.

Manager Dusty Baker raved about the consistency Valdez has brought to the team this season.

“That’s a remarkable streak,” Baker said. “There have been some great pitchers that he surpassed by breaking this record and I’m just glad that he accomplished it and we won the ballgame.”

Framber Valdez & Three Houston Astros Relievers Tie MLB Record for Strikeouts in Nine-Inning Game

Framber Valdez has earned a place in Major League Baseball history…

The 28-year-old Dominican professional baseball pitcher and three Houston Astros relievers tied the MLB record for strikeouts in a nine-inning game, as the Astros won 4-2 for a sweep on Sunday of the Los Angeles Angels.

Framber ValdezTwelve different Los Angeles batters came to the plate and all of them struck out at least once. 

Valdez struck out a career-high 13 in six innings, allowing two runs on three hits and five walks. Relievers Hector Neris and Rafael Montero each struck out two in scoreless innings and Ryan Pressly (2-2) fanned three in the ninth.

“It’s something that is very emotional and very exciting for me,” Valdez said through a translator after the game. “It’s very special to be a part of that.”

Astros manager Dusty Baker concurred.

“It’s very impressive. He was throwing strikes,” Baker said referring to Valdez, and when asked about the team total of 20, he simply replied, “Boy, that’s a lot.”

The 20 strikeouts is the most in a nine-inning game in Astros franchise history, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. There had been several occasions where other teams struck out 20, including performances by Max Scherzer, Roger Clemens and Kerry Wood. The Astros’ previous record was 18 in 1964 against Cincinnati.

Houston pitchers fanned 47 in the series against the Angels.

Jose Ramirez Agrees to Historic 5-Year, $150-Million Contract Extension with Cleveland Guardians 

Jose Ramirez is extending his time in Ohio…

The 29-year-old Dominican professional baseball player, an MLB All-Star third baseman and the Cleveland Guardians have agreed on a five-year, $124 million contract extension, according to ESPN.

Jose RamirezThe deal includes a full no-trade clause, per sources. With this year and the pickup of a 2023 option, Ramirez is guaranteed $150 million.

Cleveland set the table for this move during the offseason, picking up Ramirez’s $12 million contract option on November 5 after an MVP-caliber campaign for Ramirez. The formal transaction allowed the franchise some room for longer-term negotiations once baseball’s work stoppage ended.

The five-year, $124 million extension is the largest in franchise history, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. The Guardians had been one of five Major League Baseball teams that had never agreed to a $100 million contract with a player. The Oakland AthleticsPittsburgh PiratesKansas City Royals and Chicago White Sox are the others.

Ramirez, who has finished in the top three of the American League MVP voting three times in his career, was one of few bright spots for Cleveland’s inconsistent offense during the team’s final season with its old nickname. He hit .266 with 36 home runs, 103 RBIs and 27 steals in the final year of what was a team-friendly $26 million, four-year contract.

“I would really like to stay,” Ramirez said after Cleveland finished 80-82 last year, the club’s first losing season since 2012. “But there’s no rush. I would really like to stay here the rest of my career. But we have to wait to see what happens. I would love to see what they have to offer.”

The veteran’s future has been a hot topic during spring training in Goodyear, Arizona, and manager Terry Francona was not afraid to open up about it last month.

“I think Jose knows how we feel about him,” Francona told reporters during a March 17 media availability. “In this age of blogging and the internet, there is so much out there that we could make ourselves crazy. I hope it doesn’t make him crazy. I don’t think it does.”

Chris Antonetti, Cleveland’s president, also addressed his star infielder’s future in Arizona last month.

“Without getting into specifics, I do think we’ll have some internal conversations,” Antonetti said about the new deal. “The timing of that is really hard to say when we’ll be able to do that, just because of the compressed nature of the offseason.”

Ramirez is the only position player left from Cleveland’s 2016 pennant-winning team, which lost the World Series in seven games. He has been in the majors since 2013, spending his entire career with Cleveland. In his first season, he appeared in just 15 games, but he has topped 120 games in five seasons since — and has stayed relatively healthy.

Francona expects to use Ramirez in the No. 3 spot in the batting order this season, telling reporters last month that it was safe to “ink” him in that spot moving forward.

The Guardians will open the year Thursday against the Kansas City Royals. In that game, right-hander Shane Bieber will become the 12th pitcher in franchise history to make three consecutive Opening Day starts.

Opening Day will also see the return of Francona to regular-season action for Cleveland after missing time because of toe surgery.

“It’s been a hard couple years, there’s no getting around it,” Francona said. “And I don’t want to act like a big baby because I know there’s people that have had way worst bouts than I had. But it’s not been easy.”

Brook Lopez Returning to Milwaukee Bucks Lineup Against Utah Jazz After Recovering from Back Surgery

Brook Lopez is getting back in the game…

The 33-year-old Cuban-American professional basketball player and Milwaukee Bucks center who has been out with a back injury since opening night, will make his return to the lineup against the Utah Jazz on Monday night, the team announced.

Brook LopezLopez’s return fortifies the Bucks’ front line as the franchise prepares for the Eastern Conference playoffs and the chance to defend their NBA championship.

Lopez had back surgery on December 2, and had been rehabilitating the injury until he was cleared to return to full contact in practice a week ago.

The Bucks are outside of the league’s top 10 in defensive efficiency for the first time in coach Mike Budenholzer‘s tenure, and part of the reason is that they’ve been playing without Lopez’s rebounding and rim protection.

Milwaukee is 42-26 and second in the Eastern Conference behind the Miami Heat. Lopez was third in the NBA a year ago with 163 defensive box-outs, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.

He also ranked second in field goal percentage allowed at the rim among 72 players to defend 200 shots, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Only the Golden State WarriorsDraymond Green (47.3%) rated better than Lopez (49.3%).

Lopez averaged 12.3 points, five rebounds and 1.5 blocks a year ago.

Salvador Perez Breaks Johnny Bench’s Record for Home Runs by a Catcher in a Season

Salvador Perez is one hit ahead in the history books…

The 31-year-old Venezuelan professional baseball player for the Kansas City Royals hit his 46th home run on Monday, breaking Johnny Bench‘s record for home runs by a catcher in a season, as the Royals beat the Cleveland Indians 7-2.

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

“It was unbelievable,” he said. “I thank God for this. It’s amazing.”

Perez also moved into a tie for the major league lead in homers with Toronto Blue Jays‘ Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and leads the MLB with 115 RBIs, the first catcher with that many RBIs since Mike Piazza in 1999.

It has been a long road for Perez this season to put himself in contention for the home run title. He trailed Shohei Ohtani — the home run leader at the time — by 12 at the MLB All-Star break and made up the distance by hitting 25 homers since July 24.

Only Jimmie Foxx in 1935 has won the home run title after trailing the leader by at least 12 dingers at the All-Star break, according to research by ESPN Stats & Information.

“It’s just hard to get your head around, to be honest,” Royals manager Mike 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.”

Starting again behind the plate — the durable All-Star has seen some time at designated hitter — Perez drove a 1-2 pitch from Triston McKenzie into the left-field bleachers, a drive that traveled 429 feet. Perez pointed to the sky after crossing home plate and was hugged by several teammates as he entered the dugout.

“For a guy who’s so respected in this clubhouse, it was different than your normal home run,” Matheny said. “You could see the look on Salvy’s face. He’ll never forget it.”

Perez tied Bench on Thursday night in Kansas City as the Royals played Seattle. He went 1-for-13 at the plate in the final three games of the series but didn’t feel any pressure to set the record and was more focused on winning games.

“Perez is one of those rare individuals to find energy and passion just to keep playing,” Indians interim manager DeMarlo Hale said. “And the offensive year he’s having it’s even more special. People don’t talk about him in the MVP race, but I’ll tell you what, he’s there in my book.”

Perez also singled in the first and made his presence known defensively when he threw out Myles Straw trying to steal second base in the bottom of the inning.

“He’s a great hitter, to start,” McKenzie said. “Second of all, he’s a great catcher. Threw out Straw early in the game, kind of shut down some of our momentum. He’s a guy that can always make you pay for mistakes. He did just that. He has definitely caught fire toward the end of the season.”

Miguel Cabrera Becomes Newest Member of MLB’s 500 Home Run Club

Miguel Cabrera is in elite company…

The 38-year-old Venezuelan professional baseball player, a first baseman and designated hitter for the Detroit Tigers, is now a member of one of the most exclusive clubs in baseball, after becoming the 28th member of the 500 home run club with a sixth-inning blast for the Tigers on Sunday against the Toronto Blue Jays.

Miguel Cabrera

Cabrera connected on a 1-1 pitch from left-hander Steven Matz, sending the ball over the scoreboard in right-center field. The 400-foot homer tied the score at 1. The Tigers won the game 5-3 in 11 innings.

The 14,685 fans at Rogers Centre rose for a standing ovation as Cabrera rounded the bases. After celebrating with his teammates, the Tigers slugger came out of the dugout to accept a curtain call, taking off his helmet and bowing to the crowd behind Detroit’s dugout.

“It’s something special for my country, for my family, to be able to do this,” he said. “I’m really happy.”

Cabrera is the first player to reach the mark in a Tigers uniform. Detroit manager AJ Hinch asked Cabrera to address the team after the game, and the slugger thanked his teammates for their support.

“So proud for him and his family, and a career accomplishment so rare you may never get to be a part of this again,” Hinch said. “We have no idea who the next person can be to pass this big number.”

Cabrera went 31 at-bats between his 499th and 500th home runs, the third-longest such stretch in MLB history, behind Jimmie Foxx (61) and Harmon Killebrew (43), according to ESPN Stats & Information research.

Now in his 19th season in Major League Baseball, Cabrera foretold his future greatness in his first major league game on June 20, 2003, when he hit a walk-off home run to dead-center field in the bottom of the 11th inning for the Florida Marlins in a 3-1 win over Tampa Bay.

Indeed, he was precocious enough at the plate as a much-hyped 20-year-old that by October of that year he was batting cleanup for the Marlins in the World Series. He is still the youngest player to start at cleanup in a World Series game.

It has been a slow trek to 500 for Cabrera, who had 446 home runs at the end of the 2016 season after hitting 38 that year, marking the 10th time he had reached 30 home runs. He hasn’t hit more than 16 in a season since, as injuries and age sapped his power output. His 500th home run was his 13th of 2021.

Still, Cabrera is one of the best all-around hitters in the 500 home run club. His .311 career batting average ranks fifth among the 28 players; only nine batted .300 in their careers. His career adjusted batting is 19.2% better than the league average, which ranks behind only Ted Williams and Babe Ruth among club members, and he won batting titles in 2011 (.344), 2012 (.330), 2013 (.348) and 2015 (.338). The only other right-handed hitters with 500 home runs and a .300 average are Manny Ramirez, Henry Aaron, Willie Mays and Frank Thomas.

Cabrera’s four batting titles ties Williams for the most among members of the 500 home run club, pending inclusion of the Negro Leagues‘ stats, according to ESPN Stats & Info research. Cabrera also is the only member of the club who was born in Venezuela.

Cabrera has won two home run titles, as well, leading the American League with 37 in 2008, his first season with the Tigers after a trade with the Marlins, and then again with 44 in 2012. That was Cabrera’s Triple Crown season, in which he became the first player since Carl Yastrzemski in 1967 to lead his league in home runs, RBIs and batting average. Cabrera won his first of back-to-back MVP awards during that 2012 campaign, beating out Mike Trout both times.

A few more home run facts from Cabrera’s career:

  • He has 41 two-homer games and two three-homer games. His three-homer games came against Oakland on May 28, 2010, and versus Texas on May 19, 2013.
  • His most victimized team: He has hit 50 home runs against Cleveland.
  • His most victimized pitcher: He hit seven off Phil Hughes.
  • He has hit seven walk-off home runs, that first one in his first game coming off Al Levine.

Next up for Cabrera: The 3,000 hit club, which has 32 members. He needed 134 hits at the start of the season, and in spring training, Cabrera said he wished to join both clubs in 2021.

“I hope I can get to 500, 3,000 this year,” he said in February. “It’s one of my goals this year. Mentally, I feel good. I feel mentally strong. I’m trying to go day by day and trying to play hard.”

It appears Cabrera will fall short of that milestone, as he has 2,955 hits. He had one stint on the injured list this year, missing 13 games in April with a biceps strain.

He is still signed through 2023, however, so he should get there in early 2022. The 3,000/500 club includes just six players: Aaron, Mays, Albert Pujols, Eddie Murray, Alex Rodriguez and Rafael Palmeiro.

Giancarlo Stanton Hits MLB-Leading 54th Home Run of the Season

And the hits just keep coming for Giancarlo Stanton

The 27-year-old part-Puerto Rican professional baseball player hit his MLB-leading 54th home run of the season in the Miami Marlins‘ 6-5 loss to the Atlanta Braves.

Giancarlo Stanton

After being given a day off on Friday, Stanton hit the homer off rookie left-hander Max Fried in the first inning on Saturday night.

The ball would have traveled 456 feet unimpeded, according to MLB Statcast, and landed deep into the left-center seats.

Stanton’s 54 homers are the same number that Mark McGwire had through this date in 1999 and the same number Sammy Sosa had through this date in 2001, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.

Stanton has six homers against the Braves this season. He now has 15 more homers than New York Yankees rookie Aaron Judge and Oakland AthleticsKhris Davis, who were tied for second.

The previous Marlins record was 42 homers by Gary Sheffield in 1996.