Randy Arozarena Makes MLB Playoff History by Stealing Home & Hitting Homer in Same Game

Randy Arozarena has made MLB playoff history…

The 26-year-old Cuban professional baseball outfielder for the Tampa Bay Rays – the leading candidate for American League Rookie of the Year — made history Thursday by becoming the first player in playoff history to steal home and hit a home run in the same game during Tampa Bay’s 5-0 victory over the Boston Red Sox in Game 1 of the ALDS in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Randy Arozarena

The swipe marked the first steal of home in a playoff game since 2016, when Chicago Cubs infielder Javier Baez pulled off the feat in the National League Championship Series, and the first straight steal of home in a playoff game since Jackie Robinson‘s against Yogi Berra and the New York Yankees in 1955.

“I noticed the pitcher kind of wasn’t keeping attention to me. I was able to take a big enough lead and take that base,” Arozarena said through an interpreter. “That’s the first time I’ve ever stolen home.”

Arozarena, who is still a rookie despite setting postseason records with 10 home runs and 29 hits in 20 games during the 2020 playoffs, stole home against Boston reliever Josh Taylor to make the score 5-0 in the seventh inning after drawing a walk.

Rays manager Kevin Cash said Arozarena had been asking him about stealing home for weeks. During the 2020 World Series, Rays outfielder Manuel Margot was thrown out when he attempted a similar steal off Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw, but Arozarena kept insisting.

“He’s asked me all season long, ‘Verde, verde, verde’ — green light,” Cash said. “We finally gave it to him.”

Arozarena easily beat the throw home to catcher Christian Vazquez via headfirst slide.

Arozarena ranks second for the most home runs in a 20-game postseason span, tied with Carlos Beltran and Jim Thome with 11 and trailing just Babe Ruth, who leads with 12. His 11 career postseason home runs are five more than any other rookie in MLB history, with Evan Longoria ranking second with six.

Asked about his playoff success, Arozarena said the stakes create a desire to meet the moment.

“I just focus a little bit more,” Arozarena said. “Luckily it’s happening in October, when it means it’s closer to the World Series.”

Teofimo Lopez to Fight George Kambosos in October

Teofimo Lopez is officially ready to rumble…

The 24-year-old Honduran American boxer and George Kambosos have signed contracts for an undisputed lightweight title fight that will take place on October 4 at New York’s Hulu Theater at MSG, Triller COO Thorsten Meier tells ESPN.

Teofimo Lopez

The fight was set for October 5, but Triller moved the fight to avoid competing with a potential wild-card playoff game between the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox in New York. If the MLB season ended today, that game would take place on October 5.

“We want to make sure the sporting fans can see both amazing events,” Meier said.

Lopez-Kambosos will be the rare Monday evening boxing match in a sport that usually — with rare exception — holds its notable events on Saturday. It’s yet another date change for the seemingly snakebitten event.

Triller won the rights to the fight at a February purse bid with $6.018 million. The fight was planned for June 5 before it was officially set for June 19 in Miami. In the days leading up to the bout, Lopez tested positive for COVID-19.

Triller announced a rescheduled date of August 14 before it looked to stage the fight on October 17 in Sydney, Australia. Lopez balked at the government-mandated 14-day quarantine, leading to a legal battle. The IBF ultimately ruled the fight couldn’t take place in a location that requires quarantine.

The bout between Lopez, a Brooklyn native, and Kambosos, a 28-year-old Australian, was then planned for October 5.

Lopez (16-0, 12 KOs) is ESPN‘s No. 1 lightweight and No. 5 pound-for-pound fighter. He won the undisputed championship in October with a unanimous-decision victory over Vasiliy Lomachenko.

Kambosos (19-0, 10 KOs), ESPN’s No. 9 lightweight, earned the title shot with a split-decision win over Lee Selby later that month.

Jose Altuve Homers in Bottom of Ninth Inning to Lead Houston Astros to 8-7 Win Over New York Yankees

Jose Altuve is a miracle worker…

The 31-year-old Venezuelan professional baseball second baseman hit a three-run homer to cap a startling six-run rally in the bottom of the ninth inning, getting his shirt yanked off in a frenzied celebration and lifting his Houston Astros team over the New York Yankees 8-7.

Jose Altuve

“It was a miracle,” said Astros manager Dusty Baker.

The Astros had been shut out by the Yankees the previous two games, highlighted by ace Gerrit Cole‘s three-hitter in a 1-0 win on Saturday night.

But in a series where the teams took turns trolling each other after lingering ill will over the years — including Yankees star Aaron Judge seeming to mock Altuve — the Astros and their dynamic second baseman had the final say.

“It was pretty amazing how Altuve did it again,” catcher Martin Maldonado said. “He’s a guy with a big heart and is the face of this team. He got to the plate, we knew something big was going to happen.”

New York led 7-2 after a three-run homer by Gary Sanchez in the eighth inning and was poised for a sweep before the Astros broke loose and dealt the Yankees another aching last-inning loss.

“It’s the ultimate gut punch,” manager Aaron Boone said. “You’ve got a five-run lead in the ninth against a great team with a chance to earn the sweep and they come back to win. We’ve got some things to get better at and make sure all hands are where they need to be.”

It was the first time the Astros won after trailing by five or more runs in the ninth inning since also being down 7-2 before rallying to beat the Montreal Expos 9-8 on July 25, 1980, according to information provided by the Astros from the Elias Sports Bureau.

After the first two Astros reached base against Domingo German in the ninth, Chas McCormick hit a two-run double off Chad Green (3-5). Abraham Toro followed with an RBI double to make it 7-5, with no outs.

Pinch-hitter Jason Castro singled and one out later, Altuve launched his soaring shot to left field. His teammates greeted him at the plate and ripped off his jersey in the celebration, leaving him shirtless as he hugged Baker on his way off the field.

“It was 100% coming off after that home run,” McCormick said of Altuve’s jersey.

Added Baker: “That was the most wonderful thing I’ve seen in years.”

Altuve was not available for a postgame interview. The Astros said his father was in the hospital and he rushed to be with him.

Boone was asked why he didn’t go to slumping closer Aroldis Chapman in the ninth.

“I’m trying to get him into [positive] situations,” he said. “It’s critical we get him back to where we need to be. I want him to pitch those situations where he gets through with a clean outing under his belt.”

Ralph Garza Jr. (1-2) pitched 1⅔ scoreless innings for the win. He allowed three walks on a day the Astros won despite walking a whopping 14 batters.

Maldonado homered in the Houston third off Jameson Taillon, making it 1-all and giving Houston its first run in the series.

Maldonado pulled his jersey down on the left side, revealing his bare chest as he rounded third base.

“It was a little hot,” he said with a smile. “Trying to get some air inside my shirt.”

The move came a day after Judge pulled his jersey together with both hands as he rounded third on a home run. It was a gesture that some interpreted as a reference to Altuve gripping his jersey to keep celebrating teammates from ripping it off after his winning homer in Game 6 of the 2019 AL Championship Series against the Yankees.

After Houston’s sign-stealing scandal was uncovered, some speculated that Altuve didn’t want his jersey pulled off because he was concealing a buzzer that helped in the plot. The allegation was never proven, and Altuve said he did it because he was shy and that he got in trouble with his wife when his jersey was ripped off before.

Altuve was not made available early to discuss Judge’s display, but Baker weighed in on it Sunday.

“I noticed what he did,” Baker said. “That was wrong.”

Sanchez also pulled at his jersey very much like Judge did as he trotted home on his homer. He was greeted at the dugout steps by Rougned Odor, who draped him in a heavy Yankees coat — perhaps a reference to Judge saying he did what he did because it gets “pretty chilly” at Minute Maid Park when the roof is closed.

Boone was in no mood to talk about all the back and forth between the players after the loss.

“I really don’t have any interest,” he said. “We coughed up a 7-2 lead. I don’t think it had anything to do with the extra stuff people are talking about.”

Jasson Dominguez Makes His Professional Baseball Debut in Yankees’ Minors

Jasson Dominguez is officially a professional baseball player…

The 18-year-old baseball outfielder, signed by the New York Yankees in July 2019 for $5.1 million, went 0-for-2 with a walk on Monday in his professional debut for the Florida Complex League Yankees against the FCL East Tigers.

Jasson Dominguez

D0minguez hit leadoff and played center field for the rookie level team, going 0-for-2 with a strikeout and foul popup to third against Australian left-hander Jack O’Loughlin and walking against Dominican right-hander Wilmer Fenelon.

Dominguez’s signing bonus matched that of Oakland Athletics shortstop Robert Puason for the highest in the 2019-20 international amateur free-agent class.

Yankees manager Aaron Boone met Dominguez and saw him take batting practice two years ago when he went with bench coach Carlos Mendoza to visit Gary SanchezLuis Severino and Miguel Andujar in the Dominican Republic.

“I’ve actually got to watch quite a bit of video of him in extended spring training, whether it be live at-bats off our pitchers or watching Sevy a few weeks ago when he was starting his return, Dominguez was one of the live hitters he’s facing,” Boone said.

“A special talent. And from all I can tell and all I hear is a really good kid. So look forward to him starting his career and charting his own path and hopefully the hype and the pressure doesn’t become too much of a factor or is something that also can fuel a player, too. But he’ll chart his own path and go at his pace and hopefully be impacting us at some point,” he said.

Fernando Tatis Jr. Agrees to 14-Year, $340 Million Contract Extension with San Diego Padres

Fernando Tatis Jr. is a big deal… with a big deal…

The 22-year-old Dominican professional baseball shortstop, nicknamed “El Niño“, has agreed to a 14-year, $340 million contract extension with the San Diego Padres, securing one of the largest guarantees in American sports history and marrying himself to the team with which he quickly established himself as a star, according to ESPN.

Fernando Tatis Jr.

Tatis, the emerging face of baseball, will receive the third-biggest deal in baseball history — and do so at a far younger age than Mike Trout and Mookie Betts, both of whom signed their megadeals at 27.

The 6-foot-3, 217-pound Tatis, whose dazzling shortstop play is perhaps exceeded by his prowess at the plate, went to San Diego via trade and is now the player around whom the Padres will build a team equipped to win a championship.

Full of substance to back up his style, Tatis blitzed through the minor leagues after the Padres acquired him from the Chicago White Sox in a deal for aging starter James Shields. His talent in spring training was so apparent in 2019 that San Diego started him at shortstop on Opening Day, eschewing the standard play of sending supreme talents to the minor leagues to manipulate their service time and keep them under team control for an extra season.

The mutual admiration between the team and Tatis was clear enough that the Padres hoped it wouldn’t be a mistake. And with a deal that will lock him up for nearly a decade and a half, through his age-35 season, the Padres convinced Tatis that small-market San Diego is where he belongs.

Tatis wasn’t willing to relinquish control of that. He will receive a full no-trade clause, allowing him veto power over any potential deal. The $340 million marks the largest deal given to a player before he reaches arbitration — nearly $200 million more than Trout’s first contract extension. Trout’s second extension set a domestic sports record of $426.5 million guaranteed, and Betts’ $392 million deal is now followed by Tatis’ contract.

Tatis joins Manny Machado, who plays third base next to him, as Padres with $300 million-plus deals — and they join New York Yankees duo Gerrit Cole and Giancarlo Stanton as teammates with such gaudy contracts. Both Machado and Tatis are represented by agent Dan Lozano.

Machado’s agreement with San Diego before the 2019 season was a turning point for the organization, which has positioned itself as the greatest threat to the defending champion Los Angeles Dodgers, who happen to play in the Padres’ division. San Diego blossomed during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, with Tatis playing a front-and-center role after a dynamic rookie season that ended because of injury.

Hitting leadoff, with his trademark dreadlocked hair flowing out of his batting helmet and a bat flip at the ready, Tatis was the best player in the game for the first half of the season, an unstoppable combination of raw talent, polish and excitement, the sort that is evident even to the casual fan.

His appearances in more commercials — for Major League Baseball and products he was selling — illustrated that Tatis might be different than other would-be stars. The sport, starving for someone with wide appeal, struck gold with Tatis, who was raised in the Dominican Republic by his father, longtime major league infielder Fernando Tatis, and his mother, Maria.

Tatis wasn’t a highly touted prospect when he signed with the White Sox as a 16-year-old. The athleticism, the explosiveness, all of the skills he now wields — they were simply tools back then. Maybe they would arrive, maybe they wouldn’t.

San Diego saw something different — a player who, in his first year after signing, grew, gained muscle, started looking the part. After the trade, he grew another inch, then another, and by the time Tatis was embarrassing Double-A pitchers, he looked the part of a future star.

To become that so quickly, not just finishing fourth in the MVP voting in 2020 but compelling a team to guarantee $340 million, speaks to the Padres’ commitment to Tatis. They could have kept him for four more seasons before he reached free agency. Instead, after he hit .277/.366/.571 with 17 home runs and 45 RBIs in 59 games, they gave Tatis more than any free agent ever has received.

Talks between the sides picked up early this week, and sources familiar with the discussions expected a deal to get done. One of this size? One of this magnitude? Well, when Tatis does something, he tends to do it big.

Francisco Lindor Elected to Executive Subcommittee of Major League Baseball Players Association

Francisco Lindor is representing his fellow players…

The 27-year-old Puerto Rican Major League Baseball player, a shortstop for the Cleveland Indians, has been elected to the executive subcommittee of the Major League Baseball Players Association.

Francisco Lindor

Lindor joins a roster of newcomers to the executive subcommittee that includes New York Yankees pitchers Zack Britton and Gerrit Cole, free-agent catcher Jason Castro and free-agent shortstop Marcus Semien.

They join St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Andrew Miller, free-agent pitcher James Paxton and Washington Nationals pitcher Max Scherzer on the union’s highest-ranking member body.

The newcomers replace Elvis AndrusCory GearrinChris IannettaCollin McHugh and Daniel Murphy on the executive subcommittee.

Lindor and Semien were elected alternate association player representatives, Britton a pension committee representative, and Cole an alternate pension committee representatives.

Britton, Cole, Paxton and Scherzer are clients of agent Scott Boras. Semien is represented by the Wasserman agency, Lindor by SportsMeter, Miller by Frontline Athlete Management and Castro by ISE Baseball.

Cole, at $324 million over eight years, and Scherzer, at $210 million over six seasons, are among baseball’s highest-paid players.

Britton has a $53 million, three-year deal and Miller a $34.5 million, three-year contract. Lindor is eligible for arbitration after making $17.5 million. Semien had a $13 million salary last season, Paxton $12.5 million and Castro $6.85 million.

Jose Abreu Named MLB’s American League MVP

Jose Abreu is this season’s American League star…

The 33-year-old Cuban professional baseball player, a first baseman for the Chicago White Sox, has won the American League MVP award after helping power the team to its first playoff berth in 12 years.

Jose Abreu

Abreu received 21 of 30 first-place votes and 374 points in voting announced by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.

Cleveland Indians third baseman Jose Ramirez was second with eight first-place votes and 303 points, and New York Yankees second baseman DJ LeMahieu, who won the AL batting crown, followed with one first-place vote and 230 points. 

Voting by the BBWAA was completed by the start of the playoffs. It has voted for the award since 1931.

Abreu led the majors with 60 RBIs and 148 total bases, and topped the AL with 76 hits and a .617 slugging percentage. He played in all 60 games during the virus-shortened season as Chicago claimed a wild-card spot.

Surrounded by family members, Abreu put his head down for a minute after hearing he’d won and teared up.

“That was a very special moment,” he said through an interpreter.

Abreu batted .317 with 19 home runs, connecting six times in a three-game series against the Chicago Cubs in late August. That barrage of long balls at Wrigley Field was part of his 22-game hitting streak, the longest in the majors this year.

Abreu gave credit to manager Rick Renteria, who left the team after the season in what was described as a mutual decision. Recently hired Hall of Fame skipper Tony La Russa is now facing charges in a drunken driving arrest; Abreu said he was eager to play for La Russa.

“Keep pushing forward, keep moving forward,” Abreu said.

Abreu was the 2014 AL Rookie of the Year and is a three-time MLB All-Star. He became the fourth White Sox player to win the AL MVP, joining Frank Thomas (1993-94), Dick Allen (1972) and Nellie Fox (1959).

Abreu was the third Cuban-born player to be an MVP, along with Jose Canseco and Zoilo Versalles.

Ronald Acuna Jr. Earns Second Career Silver Slugger Award

There’s certainly a silver lining for Ronald Acuna Jr. 

The 22-year-old Venezuelan professional baseball player is among four Atlanta Braves players to earn Silver Slugger Awards, which were unveiled Thursday by Major League Baseball in honor of the best offensive players at every position in each league.

Ronald Acuna Jr. 

Winning from the Braves were Acuna Jr., Freddie Freeman and Marcell Ozuna, who each won the award for the second time, and first-time winner Travis d’Arnaud.

The Chicago White Sox led the American League with three Silver Sluggers: shortstop Tim Anderson, left fielder Eloy Jimenez and first baseman Jose Abreu, who won the award for the third time after batting .317 with 19 home runs and 60 RBIs.

It was the first honor for both Anderson and Jimenez.

Los Angeles Angels star outfielder Mike Trout received his eighth Silver Slugger Award after batting .281 with 17 home runs and 46 RBIs this season.

2020 Silver Slugger Winners

POS. AL NL
C Salvador Perez, Royals Travis d’Arnaud, Braves
1B Jose Abreu, White Sox Freddie Freeman, Braves
2B DJ LeMahieu, Yankees Donovan Solano, Giants
SS Tim Anderson, White Sox Fernando Tatis Jr., Padres
3B Jose Ramírez, Indians Manny Machado, Padres
OF Mike Trout, Angels Juan Soto, Nationals
OF Eloy Jimenez, White Sox Mookie Betts, Dodgers
OF Teoscar Hernandez, Blue Jays Ronald Acuna Jr., Braves
DH Nelson Cruz, Twins Marcell Ozuna, Braves

Minnesota Twins designated hitter Nelson Cruz, New York Yankees second baseman DJ LeMahieu, Cleveland Indians third baseman Jose Ramirez, Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador Perez and Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Teoscar Hernandez rounded out the American League winners.

World Series champion and Los Angeles Dodgers star Mookie Betts, Washington Nationals outfielder Juan Soto, San Francisco Giants second baseman Donovan Solano and San Diego Padres teammates Fernando Tatis Jr. and Manny Machado completed the National League list.

Selections are based on a combination of offensive stats, including batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage, in addition to the managers’ and coaches’ views of a player’s overall offensive value.

Manny Machado Named National League MVP Finalist

Manny Machado has proven his most valuable status…

The 28-year-old Dominican-American professional baseball player and San Diego Padres third baseman and shortstop has been named a finalist in the MLB’s National League MVP race.

Manny Machado

Machado, who hit .304 with 16 homers and 47 RBIs for the Padres this season, is nominated alongside Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Mookie Betts and Atlanta Braves star Freddie Freeman, after balloting by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.

Meanwhile, New York Mets ace Jacob deGrom is going for his third consecutive National League Cy Young Award. He’s facing off Trevor Bauer and Yu Darvish for the honor.

The top three finishers for each BBWAA award were revealed Monday. The winners will be announced next week.

Balloting for the BBWAA awards was completed before the start of the postseason.

Chicago White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu, Cleveland Indians infielder Jose Ramirez and New York Yankees leadoff man DJ LeMahieu are the top three finishers in voting for the American League MVP award.

LeMahieu, who hit a big league-best .364, and Bauer are free agents after starring during the pandemic-shortened season.

Indian’ pitcher Shane Bieber joined Minnesota Twins right-hander Kenta Maeda and Toronto Blue Jays left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu as finalists for the American League Cy Young Award.

The top finishers in voting for American League Manager of the Year are Tampa Bay RaysKevin Cash, Toronto OriolesCharlie Montoyo and Rick Renteria, who was let go by the Chicago White Sox after the team made the playoffs for the first time since 2008.

Miami’s Don Mattingly, San Diego’s Jayce Tingler and the Cubs’ David Ross are the finalists for NL Manager of the Year. Tingler and Ross just completed their first seasons as big league skippers.

The finalists for AL Rookie of the Year are Houston Astros right-hander Cristian Javier and center fielders Kyle Lewis of the Seattle Mariners and Luis Robert of the White Sox. Philadelphia Phillies infielder Alec Bohm, Padres infielder Jake Cronenworth and Milwaukee Brewers reliever Devin Williams are the top finishers for the National League rookie award.

Giancarlo Stanton Opts to Stay with the New York Yankees

Giancarlo Stanton is still in a New York state of mind…

The 30-year-old part-Puerto Rican professional baseball player will keep the remaining $218 million and seven guaranteed years in his New York Yankees contract rather than opt out after a pair of injury-decimated seasons.

Giancarlo Stanton,

Stanton, a designated hitter, hit .266 with 38 homers and 100 RBIs in his first season with the Yankees in 2018. He batted .288 with three homers and 13 RBIs in 2019, when he was limited to 18 games by a left biceps strain that sidelined him from April 1 to June 18 and a right knee strain that kept him out from June 26 to September 18. He hit .250 with four homers and 11 RBIs in the coronavirus pandemic-shortened 2020 season, limited to 23 games by a strained left hamstring that sidelined him from August 9 to September 15.

Stanton rebounded to become the Yankees’ best offensive player in the playoffs, hitting .308 (8-for -26) with six homers and 13 RBIs in seven games.

A four-time MLB All-Star with the Miami Marlins, Stanton agreed to a $325 million, 13-year contract with the Marlins in November 2014. He hit .281 in 2017 and led the major leagues with 59 homers and 132 RBIs, then was traded to the Yankees in December 2017 for second baseman Starlin Castro, right-hander Jorge Guzman and minor league infielder Jose Devers.

Stanton is due $29 million in each of the next two seasons, $32 million annually from 2023 to ’25, $29 million in 2026 and $25 million in 2027. The deal includes a $25 million club option for 2028 with a $10 million buyout.

As part of terms of the trade, because Stanton did not opt out, the Marlins will send the Yankees $30 million to offset part of what remains in his contract: $5 million each on July 1 and October 1 in 2026, 2027 and 2028.