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Schwarber goes low for homer against Brewers

Special to MLB.com

CHICAGO -- On a night dominated by starting pitching, Kyle Schwarber put his power on display once again.

Schwarber snapped a scoreless tie in the sixth inning with his seventh home run of the season and provided just enough offense for Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks in a 1-0 victory that snapped the Brewers' eight-game winning streak Thursday night.

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CHICAGO -- On a night dominated by starting pitching, Kyle Schwarber put his power on display once again.

Schwarber snapped a scoreless tie in the sixth inning with his seventh home run of the season and provided just enough offense for Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks in a 1-0 victory that snapped the Brewers' eight-game winning streak Thursday night.

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Schwarber, who homered twice Tuesday night in the Cubs' 10-3 win over the Indians, lined a solo shot into the right-field bleachers off Brewers starter Chase Anderson.

Hendricks was brilliant over seven innings during which he allowed four hits and struck out five. Relievers Carl Edwards Jr. and Brandon Morrow preserved the win, pitching the eighth and ninth innings. Morrow earned his fifth save with a scoreless ninth.

Jeff Arnold is a contributor to MLB.com based in Chicago.

Chicago Cubs, Kyle Schwarber

J.D.'s big swing, catch carry Red Sox over Jays

MLB.com @IanMBrowne

TORONTO -- When the Red Sox needed a big swing on Thursday night at Rogers Centre, J.D. Martinez provided it. And earlier in the game, when they needed a big catch on a fly ball to deep right, Martinez also came through.

The slugger's three-run shot to right-center with two outs in the fifth and running grab in front of the wall in the first helped lift the Red Sox to 5-4 victory over the Blue Jays in the finale of a nine-game road trip.

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TORONTO -- When the Red Sox needed a big swing on Thursday night at Rogers Centre, J.D. Martinez provided it. And earlier in the game, when they needed a big catch on a fly ball to deep right, Martinez also came through.

The slugger's three-run shot to right-center with two outs in the fifth and running grab in front of the wall in the first helped lift the Red Sox to 5-4 victory over the Blue Jays in the finale of a nine-game road trip.

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The Red Sox took six out of nine on the journey to Anaheim, Oakland and Toronto and head back to Boston with a 19-5 record -- the best in the Majors.

Martinez's catch on a drive by Lourdes Gurriel Jr. prevented one and possibly two runs from scoring.

Video: BOS@TOR: Martinez covers ground for a run-saving grab

The homer couldn't have come at a better time, as it swung the score from a 3-2 deficit to a 5-3 lead for Boston. Martinez smacked a first-pitch, 88.9-mph fastball from Jays right-hander Marco Estrada to give ace Chris Sale his first lead of the night.

It was Martinez's fifth homer of the season, and the type of big hit the Red Sox envisioned when they signed him to a five-year, $110 million contract during Spring Training.

As for Sale, he wasn't at his best, but he did enough to get the win. The lefty (2-1, 2.31 ERA) allowed four hits and three runs, including solo shots by Devon Travis and Justin Smoak. He walked two and struck out four.

The bullpen took it home. Matt Barnes worked out of jams in the seventh and eighth, and Craig Kimbrel pitched for the third straight day and got the save, his seventh.

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.

Boston Red Sox, J.D. Martinez

White Sox go deep five times in six frames

Special to MLB.com

KANSAS CITY -- Kauffman Stadium has historically been known as a tough place to hit home runs, but you wouldn't know it by what Matt Davidson and the White Sox have done in Kansas City's home ballpark this year.

The White Sox pounded five homers through 5 2/3 innings off Royals right-hander Jakob Junis on Thursday, including two by Davidson. Five of Davidson's seven homers this year have come at Kauffman. He had a three-homer game on Opening Day, when the White Sox launched six home runs.

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KANSAS CITY -- Kauffman Stadium has historically been known as a tough place to hit home runs, but you wouldn't know it by what Matt Davidson and the White Sox have done in Kansas City's home ballpark this year.

The White Sox pounded five homers through 5 2/3 innings off Royals right-hander Jakob Junis on Thursday, including two by Davidson. Five of Davidson's seven homers this year have come at Kauffman. He had a three-homer game on Opening Day, when the White Sox launched six home runs.

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The White Sox didn't waste any time in beginning its latest power display. Yoan Moncada led off the game with a solo blast to right. It was Moncada's second leadoff homer in two days, making him just the fourth White Sox player to accomplish that feat. The others were Kenny Lofton in 2002, Alejandro De Aza in 2013 and Adam Eaton in 2015.

Video: Moncada hits leadoff homer in back-to-back games

Welington Castillo and Davidson added solo homers in the fourth, Trayce Thompson went deep in the fifth and Davidson hit a two-run drive in the sixth for his second homer of the game.

Video: CWS@KC: Castillo launches a solo homer to left

Junis is the third Royals' pitcher to have allowed five homers in the game. The last was Chris Young in 2016.

Robert Falkoff is a contributor to MLB.com based in Kansas City.

Chicago White Sox, Lucas Giolito

Cards storm back twice to best Mets in 13

MLB.com @JoeTrezz

ST. LOUIS -- Dexter Fowler avoided the first water-cooler shower, juking his way through a mob of teammates giddy on the infield dirt. He could not avoid the second, the cold celebration that came minutes later, near his dugout.

"I thought I eluded them, but they got me!" Fowler said afterwards. "I'll be ready next time."

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ST. LOUIS -- Dexter Fowler avoided the first water-cooler shower, juking his way through a mob of teammates giddy on the infield dirt. He could not avoid the second, the cold celebration that came minutes later, near his dugout.

"I thought I eluded them, but they got me!" Fowler said afterwards. "I'll be ready next time."

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Video: NYM@STL: Fowler discusses walk-off hit, win in extras

Fowler's bath came as a reward for his 13th-inning single off Paul Sewald, which helped the Cardinals cap a long Thursday at Busch Stadium with a 4-3 walk-off win over the Mets. Fowler's hit made a winner of John Gant, who threw three scoreless innings of long relief in his season debut, and brought a climactic end to an afternoon in which Carlos Martinez and Noah Syndergaard dueled.

"It felt like a playoff atmosphere," Fowler said. "We could see them again in the playoffs."

Such long-distance forecasting is uncommon in the Cardinals' clubhouse, where focusing on the present qualifies as standard doctrine. But Fowler wasn't the only one alluding to the postseason Thursday, or speaking of the win in excitable terms. Jose Martinez called it the best victory of the season. Manager Mike Matheny called it "special."

Video: NYM@STL: Fowler, Martinez, Pham, Matheny on 4-3 win

"It was one of the best games I ever played," Martinez said. "We never gave up."

Flummoxed by Syndergaard for much of the day, the Cardinals fought back from two deficits. Fowler and Marcell Ozuna, two slumping but important regulars, drove in key runs. Gant, who woke up as a member of Triple-A Memphis and could end up back in the Minors soon, picked up a bullpen asked to record 21 outs. The victory sent the Cardinals to Pittsburgh winners of 10 of 12.

Video: NYM@STL: Ozuna bloops an RBI single to right field

"This was the most special game today for us," Matheny said. "It took a little bit of everything. It took the entire roster."

Gant wasn't even on the roster until a few hours prior to first pitch, swung up from Memphis as insurance to cover innings John Brebbia could not, after Brebbia's three-inning save Wednesday. Gant entered after Martinez tied the game with a two-out double in the 10th, then breezed through a full turn of the Mets' lineup unscathed.

"So much fun to be involved," Gant said. "To compete is what I feel like I'm here for, and it's an amazing feeling."

Video: NYM@STL: Gant strikes out Cabrera in the 12th inning

Martinez's two-out hit scored Tommy Pham and saved the Cardinals a half-inning after Luke Gregerson walked in the go-ahead run with the bases loaded. Pham started St. Louis' first rally with a double in the seventh, and finished with four hits, just one day after suffering a bizarre head injury in the batting cage. Two of those hits came off Syndergaard, who lined up with Carlos Martinez in a rematch of Opening Day starters.

Video: NYM@STL: Pham has four-hit, two-run game vs. Mets

There were 37,762 fans at Busch Stadium expecting to see a high-octane duel, and that's what they got, though both starters were long gone by the end. Syndergaard's defense spoiled what was a dominant start through six; he finished with two runs (one earned) allowed over 7 1/3 innings. Martinez scattered four hits and a run over six frames, routinely wiggling out of jams brought upon by three hit batsmen.

"That's unique, going into a rubber game against a good team with a good starter," Matheny said. "Great series."

Video: NYM@STL: Martinez gives up one run over six frames

MOMENT THAT MATTERED
Down to their final out, Jose Martinez inside-outed a 96-mph Familia sinker off the wall in right-center field, just beyond the outstretched reach of Juan Lagares. Martinez clapped his hands at second base as Pham crossed the plate with the tying run.

Video: NYM@STL: Martinez hits game-tying RBI double in 10th

"We already had the confidence, but this game gave us the belief that we can actually stay in the game if we never give up," Martinez said. 

SOUND SMART
The one blemish in Carlos Martinez's six strong innings came in the first, when he hit leadoff man Brandon Nimmo, who then scored on a Yoenis Cespedes double. Martinez hit Nimmo again in the fifth, and Adrian Gonzalez as well. He became the first Cardinals starter to hit at least three batters in a game since Jake Westbrook in 2013. Martinez has now also hit at least one batter in seven straight games, tied for the fourth-longest streak in MLB history. 

HOLLAND IMPRESSES AGAIN
Matheny said he was "very comfortable" giving Greg Holland the ninth inning in a tie game, and even more so after Holland threw a spotless ninth frame. It was the righty's fourth consecutive scoreless appearance. He appears primed to regain closing opportunities in the near future, though Bud Norris also struck out two over a scoreless inning Thursday. Norris has five saves filling in for Holland.

Video: STL@NYM: Holland strikes out Nimmo in the 9th inning

"You're seeing the [bad] swings, and that was the indicator we were looking for," Matheny said of Holland. "What kind of at-bats are guys taking against him? Guys aren't seeing the spin, they aren't picking him up real well. That's what we're accustomed to seeing."

HE SAID IT
"I might have to give some credit to my therapeutic do-rag." -- Pham

UP NEXT
The Cardinals hit the road for their first of 19 games against the Pirates when they open a three-game set at PNC Park on Friday. Miles Mikolas (3-0, 3.46 ERA) looks to win for the third time in a row when he opposes lefty Steven Brault (2-1, 4.44 ERA) at 6:05 p.m. CT. St. Louis went 11-8 against Pittsburgh last season.

Joe Trezza is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @joetrezz.

St. Louis Cardinals

These are the 100 best prospects in the 2018 Draft

MLB.com @JonathanMayo

On June 4, 12 months of scouting, home visits, meetings and planning will all come to fruition as all 30 teams build for the future via the Draft.

Scouting staffs are still criss-crossing the country, gathering as much information as possible to line up their Draft boards. MLB Pipeline's new Top 100 Draft Prospects list reflects the latest opinions of the scouting industry. It's based on talent and perceived ceiling, not where players are expected to be selected (that will come with several mock drafts in the coming weeks).

On June 4, 12 months of scouting, home visits, meetings and planning will all come to fruition as all 30 teams build for the future via the Draft.

Scouting staffs are still criss-crossing the country, gathering as much information as possible to line up their Draft boards. MLB Pipeline's new Top 100 Draft Prospects list reflects the latest opinions of the scouting industry. It's based on talent and perceived ceiling, not where players are expected to be selected (that will come with several mock drafts in the coming weeks).

2018 Draft order | 2018 Draft: June 4-6 | All-time Draft picks

Coming into the spring, scouts were enthusiastically optimistic about the talent in this year's class. That's still the case, though it's a scout's job to be critical, and every spring scout will poke holes in any class. This year's crop appears to have more depth than elite talent at the top, with the prep set -- particularly pitching -- leading the way.

"It's a high school dominant Draft," one National League scouting director said. "There are some good college players at the top of the Draft, though maybe not the star potential of some of the Drafts of the past."

MLB Pipeline's Top 10 Draft prospects
1. Casey Mize, RHP, Auburn
2. Carter Stewart, RHP, Eau Gallie HS (Melbourne, Fla.)
3. Nick Madrigal, 2B/SS, Oregon State
4. Matt Liberatore, LHP, Mountain Ridge HS (Riverdale, Ariz.)
5. Brady Singer, RHP, Florida
6. Shane McClanahan, LHP, South Florida
7. Travis Swaggerty, OF, South Alabama
8. Jarred Kelenic, OF, Waukesha (Wisc.) West HS
9. Joey Bart, C, Georgia Tech
10. Jonathan India, 3B, Florida
Complete Top 100 list »

Even if the sentiment is that high schoolers lead the way this year, the split in the Top 100 is almost right down the middle, with 50 high schoolers, 49 college players and one from the junior college ranks. And that top 10 is decidedly college-heavy, with seven of the 10.

"There's one top-end talent and some depth in the next couple of rounds," an American League scouting director said.

That one top-end talent is Mize, an Auburn right-hander who is a slam dunk choice to lead the Top 100. He has been the best performer in the country and has been the lone player to truly separate himself from the pack, though it remains to be seen if the Tigers use the No. 1 pick in this year's Draft to take him.

"Mize has been top of the class," the NL scouting director said. "The big thing has been his ability to take the ball every Friday and compete like he deserves to be there."

While he hasn't quite run away and hid as much as Mize has, Florida high school right-hander Stewart has emerged as the best high school arm in the country, thanks largely to perhaps the best breaking ball in the entire class. At No. 3 is Madrigal, the top college bat in the country despite having missed a chunk of Oregon State's season with a broken wrist. Kelenic, from the Wisconsin high school ranks, is the top high school bat in the class, coming in at No. 8.

There's talent to be found in each of those four categories: college arms and bats, high school pitching and hitters.

College arms

Including Mize, there are three college pitchers in the top 10 and five in the top 20. While none have been as consistently dominant as the Auburn ace has been, there will be some good choices for teams picking near the top of the Draft.

Heading into the spring, Singer, Florida's Friday night starter, topped most lists. He began the year a little slowly, with his stuff not quite as sharp, which caused him to slide in some evaluations. But with Singer's stuff starting to bounce back of late and as good a resume as any in this class, it's hard to imagine teams waiting too long to get him off the board.

Video: Mayo on top college pitchers in 2018 MLB Draft

"He's good, he's big, strong and he's been durable," a scouting director said. "He's been the unwavering top performer in the SEC. We pick him apart, but there's a comfort level in knowing what you're getting whenever you take him."

McClanahan, from the University of South Florida, is the top college lefty in the class. He's drawn some loose comparisons to Chris Sale as a southpaw with arm strength and slightly unorthodox mechanics. He maintains a fastball that touches 97 mph and backs it up with a potentially plus changeup. Some see a potential reliever because of the arm action, but that's happened countless times with college arms from Sale to a guy like Max Scherzer.

"He's a college lefty with plus stuff, you just don't see that guy slide very far," the scouting director said. "The stuff is too good to be a bullpen guy. You know you're getting a big league pitcher you feel you can get there pretty quickly."

College bats

Every year, college hitters rise up the Draft board. Often seen as the safest bet among amateur prospects, players who produce start to float up. This year has certainly followed that script, and while this crop, led by Madrigal, is not seen as elite-level talent, there are five in the top 11.

"Those are the college bats that will fly off the board quickly," the NL scouting director said. "You look at past Drafts and hitters went high …These guys aren't in the class off Ryan Zimmerman and Ryan Braun, but they've gone out and performed. That's why they're going where they're going."

Video: Mayo on the top college bats in 2018 MLB Draft

Madrigal's the best pure hitter in the class. Travis Swaggerty is toolsy with a chance to play center at the next level. Joey Bart is a rare commodity: a college catcher who will stick behind the plate. Alec Bohm, at No. 11, is a potential power corner infield bat. But no one has improved his stock more than Florida infielder Jonathan India. India wasn't even on MLB Pipeline's Top 50 last fall, but is now at No. 10 because of how well he's performed for the Gators.

"If you had told me we'd be talking about Jonathan India where we're talking about him now, I wouldn't have believed it," a scouting director said. "Kudos to him, he's gone out and done it. He's matured. He's not swinging at pitches he can't hit, and he's not missing the ones he can."

High school arms

There was no doubt heading into the spring that this was the strength of the class, especially near the top. And it's still the case, with high school pitching taking up seven of the top 20 spots. Right behind Stewart is lefty Matt Liberatore, who has advanced pitchability and opened some eyes by touching 96-97 mph in a couple of early starts. Kumar Rocker, at No. 14, has held steady with his premium velocity. Ryan Weathers, David's son, gives teams another prep lefty to continue in the top 20 (No. 16). Cole Winn (No. 15) helped Orange Lutheran win the National High School invitational in March and has continued to pitch well all spring.

"All of those arms have secondary stuff to back it up, not just velocity," the NL scouting director said. "They have secondary pitches that are Major League out pitches, that's why we're talking about them at this level and not later in the Draft."

Video: Jonathan Mayo on top high school pitchers

There would be even more if it hadn't been for the injury bug. A trio of prep right-handers -- Ethan Hankins, Mason Denaburg and Mike Vasil -- are still ranked No. 19-21, but all have had some kind of health-related concerns. Hankins is back pitching, but had what was termed a minor shoulder problem that shut him down for a spell, and he has been a bit up-and-down as he's gotten stretched back out. Denaburg hasn't thrown in a while because of biceps tendinitis and Vasil walked off the mound holding his elbow in his last outing. All three could have been firmly in top 10 pick conversations if it weren't for the injury worry.

"A lot of them have been dropping like flies," a scouting director said. "Everyone wants them to be healthy and not pitch until they are, but as time goes by, more question marks arise as they come back if they're not competing as expected. So they're rated as question marks by us."

High school bats

This is the lightest group in this year's class, with only one top 10 hitter in Kelenic and three in the top 20. Arizona area third baseman Nolan Gorman had a huge summer to jump way up lists, but he hasn't been able to dominate as consistently this spring and getting pitched around regularly hasn't helped. Connor Scott from Florida is the other top 20 player, and while he's an outfielder with plus speed, he's missed time with a hamstring issue.

Video: Mayo on best high school bats heading into Draft

Teams at the top of the Draft usually look for that All-Star caliber talent from the high school hitter set. Think about guys like Justin Upton or, most recently, Royce Lewis. That doesn't mean teams that are trying to decide between a prep hitter over a prep pitcher, considered the riskiest play in the Draft, won't go with the bat.

"They're not those elite, definitely-going-to-hit bats we've seen in the past, but they all have ability," the NL scouting director said, adding Triston Casas (No. 25) to his list of favorite high school hitters. "They're solid. The high school hitter is going to take precedence over the high school pitcher, by and large."

Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLB Pipeline. Follow him on Twitter @JonathanMayo and Facebook, and listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.

Yanks sweep Twins with Sanchez's walk-off HR

Special to MLB.com

NEW YORK -- The Yankees always knew they had a chance. Get a couple guys on, get a pitch they could handle, and eight innings where the offense couldn't get going would be largely forgotten.

Just like that.

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NEW YORK -- The Yankees always knew they had a chance. Get a couple guys on, get a pitch they could handle, and eight innings where the offense couldn't get going would be largely forgotten.

Just like that.

View Full Game Coverage

It didn't matter that the Yankees had no hits in the first five innings Thursday afternoon at Yankee Stadium, or that they still had just three hits entering the ninth. All that mattered was that Gary Sanchez came to the plate against Twins closer Fernando Rodney and rocketed a three-run walk-off home run into the left-field seats, giving the Yanks a 4-3 win and extending a six-game winning streak.

"If we can get traffic on the bases, we're always one swing away from our guys," Yankees manager Aaron Boone said.

Video: MIN@NYY: Boone on Sanchez's walk-off, late offense

The Yankees got that traffic when Didi Gregorius reached on an error to begin the ninth and Giancarlo Stanton followed with an infield hit. That brought up Sanchez, who was hitting .193 this season but already had five home runs.

"He had a real confident look up there," Boone said.

Sanchez was hitless on the day, but he had learned something from his first three plate appearances.

"I noticed through the game they were pitching me inside," Sanchez said through an interpreter. "I know Fernando Rodney is a good pitcher and he throws hard, but I was looking for a pitch I could hit."

Video: MIN@NYY: Montgomery K's LaMarre to strand two runners

Rodney indeed throws hard, and he tried to pitch Sanchez inside. The 96.5-mph fastball was the fastest pitch any Yankee has hit for a home run this season, according to Statcast™. It was the second time in his career Sanchez has homered on a pitch at least that fast, the other being a 99-mph Joe Kelly fastball last August.

The home run off Kelly tied a game the Yankees would go on to lose. This one finished off a four-game Yankees sweep of the Twins and earned Sanchez the Gatorade shower that goes to the game's star.

"I knew something was coming," Sanchez said of the shower. "I can just tell you it was cold."

Video: Extended Cut of Gary Sanchez's walkoff homer

The Yankees are hot, even if it didn't look that way in the early innings on Thursday. They were stifled by Twins starter Kyle Gibson, who allowed just one hit and struck out a career-high 10 in six innings. The Yankees didn't score until the seventh, when Stanton doubled off reliever Addison Reed and scored on an Aaron Hicks' sacrifice fly.

Video: MIN@NYY: Hicks plates Stanton on a sacrifice fly

New York didn't score again until Sanchez's home run on the final swing of the day.

It was the 59th career home run for the 25-year-old Sanchez, but it was his first walk-off.

"This definitely is up there, definitely a very exciting moment," Sanchez said. "The other special moment was when we made it to the playoffs, but this is up there."

It was an exciting ending, but a familiar result for a Twins-Yankees series in the Bronx. The Yanks have swept three of their past four home series against the Twins, whom they also defeated at home in last season's American League Wild Card Game.

Video: MIN@NYY: German ends relief outing on a high note

The victim this time was Rodney, a 16-year veteran who is in his first season with the Twins.

"I was trying to get a ground-ball double play," Rodney said. "Threw the pitch a little bit high in the strike zone, that's why he could use his hands. He's got quick hands."

MOMENT THAT MATTERED
Betances fans the side: Looking at the big picture, the Yankees had to be happy with how Dellin Betances looked in striking out the side in the ninth inning. Betances needed only 13 pitches to cut through the top third of the Twins' lineup, and 11 of his 13 pitches were strikes. It was the first time since April 5 that Betances had struck out the side.

Video: MIN@NYY: Betances K's Sano to strike out the side

"That was ho-hum Dellin at his best there," Boone said.

SOUND SMART
Bert Blyleven had three 10-strikeout games against the Yankees, the last one coming in 1987. Only two Twins pitchers since then have fanned 10 Yanks in a game: Eric Milton in 2000 and Gibson on Thursday.

HE SAID IT
"Our approach doesn't change whether they're in first place or last. Our approach is to win series." -- Sanchez, on the Yankees, whose next three opponents (Angels, Astros and Red Sox) entered play Thursday with a combined 51-23 record

Video: Sanchez, Stanton, Boone, Montgomery on Yankees' win

UP NEXT
Boone is a Southern California guy, and he spent most of the 1980s at Anaheim Stadium when his father Bob was playing for the Angels. Now he returns as the Yankees' skipper for a series that could captivate Japan if Shohei Ohtani bats against Masahiro Tanaka Saturday night. First, New York sends ace right-hander Luis Severino (4-1, 2.32 ERA) to the mound for Friday's 10:07 p.m. ET series opener, against left-hander Andrew Heaney (0-1, 9.64 ERA).

Danny Knobler is a contributor to MLB.com based in New York.

New York Yankees, Dellin Betances, Aaron Hicks, Gary Sanchez

Acuna hits first homer, leads Braves to win

Power, speed on display as top prospect has 3-hit game
MLB.com @mlbbowman

CINCINNATI -- Ronald Acuna Jr. wowed with his power and impressed with the speed he displayed as he provided a glimpse of his five-tool talents while leading the Braves to a 7-4 win over the Reds on Thursday afternoon at Great American Ball Park.

Acuna notched his first career home run in impressive fashion to begin the second inning and then capped a three-hit performance with the game-winning bloop double he produced as the Braves regained the lead in the eighth and held on to split this four-game series.

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CINCINNATI -- Ronald Acuna Jr. wowed with his power and impressed with the speed he displayed as he provided a glimpse of his five-tool talents while leading the Braves to a 7-4 win over the Reds on Thursday afternoon at Great American Ball Park.

Acuna notched his first career home run in impressive fashion to begin the second inning and then capped a three-hit performance with the game-winning bloop double he produced as the Braves regained the lead in the eighth and held on to split this four-game series.

View Full Game Coverage

"It's always good to get that first homer," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "He clocked that ball. But he just shows you what he brings. That set of legs is going to be really valuable for us, the way he can run around and how athletic he is. He definitely makes our club better."

Video: ATL@CIN: Acuna Jr. homers, tallies three hits in win

After Freddie Freeman recorded the last of his three doubles to begin the decisive eighth, Acuna got jammed on Wandy Peralta's first-pitch fastball, but still managed to direct it into no-man's land in shallow right field for a two-out RBI double. The 20-year-old phenom raced home when Dansby Swanson followed with a single.

Albies continues torrid hitting with 8th homer

"The real good ones make an immediate impact," Snitker said. "This kid has skills. He's an asset for us, whether he's batting, in the field or on the bases. It's nice to have him."

Acuna notched his first career hit during Wednesday's Major League debut and then experienced the thrill of his first homer when he opened Thursday's second inning by drilling Homer Bailey's 3-1 slider a projected 416 feet into the second deck located beyond the left-field seats. The majestic solo shot came in what was just the sixth career plate appearance for the young outfielder, who ranks as baseball's second-best prospect per MLB Pipeline.

Video: ATL@CIN: Albies makes nice basket-catch near the tarp

"It was truly a unique moment," Acuna said through an interpreter. "I really enjoyed being able to get my first home run in the big leagues. It was a once in a lifetime experience."

With the addition of Acuna, the Braves have enhanced the opportunities to produce the youthul, energetic brand of baseball that has been displayed as Swanson and 21-year-old Ozzie Albies have spent the season's first two months proving to be consistent offensive assets.

Ball hits directly off the knob of Suzuki's bat

Albies extended his power surge with the two-run homer he hit off Bailey in the fifth inning. The Braves second baseman is tied for the Major League lead with eight home runs. His ninth-inning RBI double increased his league-leading extra-base total to 19, a mark that had never previously been reached by the end of April by any Braves player.

Video: ATL@CIN: Albies skies a two-run home to right field

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Bouncing back: Before issuing consecutive four-pitch walks to Phil Gosselin and Billy Hamilton with one out in the fifth, Sean Newcomb had retired 13 of 17 and encountered just one three-ball count. The free passes proved costly when he grooved a fastball that Joey Votto barrelled for a game-tying three-run homer in the fifth. But the Braves' southpaw regrouped and finished with a perfect sixth.

"I think it boils down to that Votto at-bat," Newcomb said. "Obviously, I missed with one pitch. Other than that, I felt I was in control. I just chalk it up to making a bad pitch to a great hitter."

Video: ATL@CIN: Newcomb strikes out Hamilton swinging

Early advantage: Freeman started the first three-double game of his career with the first-inning two-bagger he sent down the right-field line. Nick Markakis followed with two-out single for the Braves, who have produced a MLB-best .318 batting average with runners in scoring position.

Video: ATL@CIN: Markakis lines an RBI single to right field

SOUND SMART
Acuna (20 years, 129 days) and Albies (21 years, 109 days) both homered Thursday. According to MLB.com's Andrew Simon, the last time a pair of teammates both Albies' age or younger homered in the same game was on Sept. 23, 1978. Coincidentally, that instance also featured the Braves (Bob Horner, Glenn Hubbard) accomplishing the feat against the Reds.

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Acuna got from home plate to first base at a pace of 30.4 feet per second when he recorded an infield single in the sixth. Twins center fielder Byron Buxton leads the Majors with an average sprint speed of 30.5 feet per second. 

Video: ATL@CIN: Acuna sprints to first in 4.12 seconds

HE SAID IT
"Atlanta is really playing good. They're doing a great job. I think they're really a force -- four or five guys in the middle of that lineup -- when they come up, we just didn't have any answers for them." -- Reds manager Jim Riggleman

UP NEXT
Julio Teheran will make his third start of the young season against the Phillies when the Braves open a three-game series at Citizens Bank Park on Friday at 7:05 p.m. ET. Teheran's nine strikeouts against the Phillies on April 16 stands as his highest total since 2016. He has a 1.42 ERA over his past three starts. Aaron Nola will start for the Phillies.

Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.

Atlanta Braves, Ozzie Albies, Ronald Acuna Jr., Sean Newcomb

Seager's 3-hit day, clutch 2B give Mariners win

MLB.com @gregjohnsmlb

CLEVELAND -- For Kyle Seager, there's no place like home, though Progressive Field might be a close second.

The Mariners' third baseman knocked in the go-ahead run in Seattle's 5-4 victory on Thursday with a double off the wall in left-center field in the eighth inning, capping a 3-for-4 night and continuing his long run of success against the Indians.

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CLEVELAND -- For Kyle Seager, there's no place like home, though Progressive Field might be a close second.

The Mariners' third baseman knocked in the go-ahead run in Seattle's 5-4 victory on Thursday with a double off the wall in left-center field in the eighth inning, capping a 3-for-4 night and continuing his long run of success against the Indians.

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Seager has hit .378 (34-for-90) with 10 doubles, a triple, five homers and 13 RBIs in 23 career games at Progressive Field, and his latest hit lifted the Mariners to their third straight win, improving them to 14-10 overall and 5-2 on their current road trip.

"I remember my first year doing well here," Seager said. "I don't know that anybody necessarily loves coming here and facing this pitching staff. I don't think that's certainly it. But maybe my numbers that first year skewed the whole thing."

Seager's opposite-field double scored Ichiro Suzuki, who was pinch-running for Nelson Cruz after the Mariners' cleanup hitter doubled with two outs off reliever Nick Goody.

"It hurt my feelings a little bit, because that was probably my best bolt and it still didn't get out," Seager said with a smile. "But that felt good. That was as clean a swing as I've put in that direction. That's kind of the whole goal of the swing changes and working on all the different stuff; that's the outcome I've been hoping for."

James Paxton equaled his career high of 10 strikeouts in a strong six-inning outing that was marred only by a two-run homer by former Mariners first baseman Yonder Alonso in the sixth. Paxton allowed five hits and two runs, with the no-decision leaving him at 1-1 with a 5.12 ERA in six starts.

The Indians rallied to tie the game at 4-4 before Seager's go-ahead hit led to Seattle's third-straight one-run win.

The Mariners are 6-2 in one-run games and 10-3 in games decided by two runs or less, which is a tribute in part to the success of the back end of the bullpen.

Juan Nicasio delivered a perfect eighth inning for his 10th hold of the season, tops in the Majors, and Edwin Diaz closed out the ninth for his Major League-leading 11th save and third in three days. Diaz has allowed just one run and two hits in 13 1/3 innings this season, with 25 strikeouts.

"You can't say enough about Eddie," said Paxton. "He's just been great. He just comes in and shuts the door, and that's a big reason why we've won so many one-run ballgames. He's just been unreal."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Indians starter Mike Clevinger retired eight straight to start the game before Ryon Healy's two-out single in the third on the first pitch he saw after coming off the 10-day disabled list. That seemed to ignite the Mariners, as they then ripped off three straight RBI hits -- a triple by Dee Gordon, a double by Jean Segura and single from Robinson Cano to take the early lead. It was the first game the Mariners have had their full lineup healthy and together this season.

"That's something good, something you hope for Opening Day, as opposed to a few weeks into it," Seager said. "But that's part of baseball. Injuries and stuff happen. But I really do like this group. You look at it top to bottom, it's a deep group and there's a lot of ways this lineup can score runs, a lot of different dynamics to it."

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Gordon's triple in the third was the fastest by a Mariner since Statcast™ began tracking in 2015, clocked at 10.86 seconds from home to third. Seattle's previous fastest triple in that span was 10.92 seconds, last year by Jarrod Dyson. Gordon's time was the fastest in the Majors this season.

SOUND SMART
Gordon's triple was his first as a Mariner, but he now has 36 since the start of the 2014 season, the most in the Majors in that span.

HE SAID IT
"I didn't check the replay, but they made a decision and nothing else I can do. I'm just happy to get on base for the guys. But I'm going to check that later." -- Cano, on a would-be home run that was turned into a double after a replay in the fifth inning

MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
Cano appeared to have hit his 100th home run as a Mariner with an opposite-field shot in the fifth off Clevinger, but after a crew-chief review, the call was overturned and ruled a double instead. The ball appeared to glance off the yellow line atop the wall in left center and then rebound back into the field of play after deflecting off a railing behind the fence. Clevinger wound up striking out Cruz to strand Cano at second and keep the score at 4-0.

"When you look at it with the naked eye, it looked like it did hit something behind there," Servais said. "But replay didn't see it that way. It's been frustrating. Lately, the replay hasn't gone our way on a few of these. Obviously it's a boundary call they're looking at in New York. Our guy saw it different. It took a big run off the board. It took five to win tonight and we just had to find a different way to score that last run."

UP NEXT
Erasmo Ramirez (0-1, 9.64 ERA) makes his second start of the season as the Mariners take on two-time AL Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber in Friday's 4:10 p.m. PT game at Progressive Field. The Mariners handed Kluber (3-1, 1.96 ERA) his only loss this year on Opening Day. Ramirez gave up five runs in 4 2/3 innings on Sunday in Texas in his first game back from a strained right lat that sidelined him early in Spring Training.

Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB.

Seattle Mariners, Edwin Diaz, James Paxton, Kyle Seager

Dad 'stunned' to see son throwing with a Pirate

Ryan Payzant was in the middle of a conversation with a fellow baseball dad when he was told his son was "playing catch with a Pirate." He glanced over to see his 8-year-old, Colin, tossing the ball with Chad Kuhl.

Homers lift D-backs to 8th straight series win

Dyson, Ahmed, Peralta all went deep to back Koch's six-inning start
MLB.com @SteveGilbertMLB

PHILADELPHIA -- Before departing Citizens Bank Park late Wednesday night following a loss to the Phillies, D-backs left fielder David Peralta had a message for a reporter asking about how his team would respond the next day.

"We'll be ready," he said.

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PHILADELPHIA -- Before departing Citizens Bank Park late Wednesday night following a loss to the Phillies, D-backs left fielder David Peralta had a message for a reporter asking about how his team would respond the next day.

"We'll be ready," he said.

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The D-backs were in fact ready from the get-go Thursday afternoon as they rode a three-run first inning and a strong pitching performance from Matt Koch to an 8-2 win over the Phillies.

Video: ARI@PHI: Koch tosses six innings of two-run ball

With the win, the D-backs still have not lost consecutive games this year and they captured their eighth series to open the season. That is the most series wins to open a season by a National League team since the 1977 Dodgers won eight. The all-time NL record is held by the 1907 Cubs, who won their first 11 series, and the Mariners opened the 2001 season with nine.

"It's really fun to go into a town or be at home and win that first game and show up the second day with a chance to win the series," reliever Archie Bradley said. "We understand what it takes. We understand the situations. There's a moment in every game where we just understand getting to second or stealing that bag or whatever it is, that's kind of the moment that lets us take over the game."

The series wins have helped the D-backs get off to the best start in the NL at 17-7. Impressive, sure, but even more so when you consider that they are missing key pieces.

Outfielder Steven Souza Jr. has missed the whole year due to a right pectoral strain, third baseman Jake Lamb has played in just four games after spraining his left AC joint and Taijuan Walker has been lost for the season to Tommy John surgery.

Video: ARI@PHI: Peralta clubs a two-run shot to left field

"I was talking to Lamb last night through text messages and I was like, 'Dude, I just keep picturing a full lineup,'" Bradley said. "Nothing against the guys who are starting and playing now, but I think that's what everyone keeps saying. You look at the way we're winning, our starters, our bullpen, our defense.

"And, yeah, collectively we may not be hitting as a whole but we're hitting when we need to. With the way we've thrown the ball and the way we've played defense, it's exciting. If we're doing this with the guys now and we're missing two power hitters, what is the rest of the season going to play out to be?"

Video: ARI@PHI: Koch singles up the middle for first MLB hit

Jarrod Dyson and Chris Owings have filled in for Souza in right while Deven Marrero and Daniel Descalso have taken over for Lamb at third.

Koch has pitched in place of Walker twice and has a 1.93 ERA.

"We're missing Souza and Lamb, and those guys both hit 30 bombs [last year], so that's 60 bombs sitting on the DL right now," Dyson said. "Guys are just stepping up. You've got Deven stepping up, you've got Descalso stepping up, I've got to step up, C.O. doing his job. And that's all you can ask for."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Early blow: The D-backs struck first and they struck hard. After Peralta led off the game with a single off Ben Lively, Dyson smacked a homer over the wall in right, his second of the series, as the D-backs grabbed a quick 2-0 lead. It became 3-0 later in the frame and provided Koch with some early breathing room.

"We got off the mat from a tough loss last night," manager Torey Lovullo said. "We were prepared. We scored three runs. You jump ahead of a team like the Phillies and don't really let them catch their breath, and I thought we did a good job of that with Lively. I thought that was the difference in the game today."

Video: ARI@PHI: Ahmed belts a three-run homer to left field

SOUND SMART
Four runs seems to be the magic total for the D-backs these days. They are 15-1 dating back to Sept. 26, 2017, when they score four or more runs in a game.

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Koch flashed some leather in the first inning when he snagged Odubel Herrera's smash up the middle. Koch reached behind his back with his glove and the ball found its way in there, and he was able to easily throw out Herrera at first.

Video: ARI@PHI: Koch reaches behind his back for nifty stop

HE SAID IT
"The guys come every day prepared, ready to win. So if you beat us, you beat us prepared. That's how we come in every day, and I love it so far because anybody can hurt you on any given day, and that's the fun part of this team." -- Dyson

UP NEXT
The D-backs open a three-game series with the Nationals on Friday at 4:05 p.m. MT at Nationals Park. Zack Godley will get the start for the D-backs opposite righty Stephen Strasburg. Godley won his last start against the Padres when he allowed a pair of runs in 5 1/3 innings. He has pitched well at Nationals Park, going 2-0 and not allowing a run in three games (one start) over 10 1/3 innings.

Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB.

Arizona Diamondbacks

6 reasons to believe in Braves after strong start

Atlanta staying competitive in National League East in first month
MLB.com @RichardJustice

This success has happened so quickly for the Braves, it's reasonable to ask: Is it real? Or maybe this is a better way to put it: Can it be sustained? To Braves fans, here's some advice: Don't sweat it.

You suddenly have a team that is both competitive and wildly entertaining. In 20-year-old outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr., you have a potential superstar. On Thursday, in his second Major League game, he had a single, double and home run in a 7-4 victory over the Reds.

This success has happened so quickly for the Braves, it's reasonable to ask: Is it real? Or maybe this is a better way to put it: Can it be sustained? To Braves fans, here's some advice: Don't sweat it.

You suddenly have a team that is both competitive and wildly entertaining. In 20-year-old outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr., you have a potential superstar. On Thursday, in his second Major League game, he had a single, double and home run in a 7-4 victory over the Reds.

Acuna's home run was one of those jaw-dropping moonshots, which Statcast™ clocked at 105.8 mph off the bat with an estimated distance of 416 feet. One more time: He's 20 years old.

Braves fans have been buzzing about Acuna's arrival for more than a year, and sometimes, a kid shows up who is every bit as good as advertised.

Video: ATL@CIN: Acuna belts 416-ft. longball for first homer

Oh, and the Braves also have the second youngest player in the Majors in 21-year-old second baseman Ozzie Albies. He arrived with some hype, too, and, like Acuna, he's off to a blazing start: eight home runs and 19 extra-base hits in his first full season.

In the long history of the Atlanta Braves, no player has had that many extra-base hits before the end of April.

Video: ATL@CIN: Albies skies a two-run home to right field

It's one thing to be good, and at 14-10, the Braves, after averaging 93 losses over the last three seasons, are in a good place. It's another thing -- and also critical -- to be entertaining to watch, and the Braves are must-watch television at the moment.

Raise your hand if you thought the Braves-Phillies series beginning Friday at Citizens Bank Park would feature two of the best, and most fascinating, teams in the early part of the season.

At this point, there's reason to think that these two teams -- along with the Nationals and Mets -- are capable of making the National League East the most competitive division race in the Majors.

Here are six reasons for Braves fans to believe in their team:

1. Ronald Acuna Jr.
His teammates will feed off his enthusiasm and positive energy. They know that his speed and power can ignite rallies, fuel comebacks and stop losing streaks. Players like this don't come along very often.

Video: ATL@CIN: Acuna discusses first homer, big day at dish

2. Lineup depth
The Braves were leading the NL in runs before Acuna made his debut Wednesday night. Along with Albies, shortstop Dansby Swanson, the No. 1 pick of the 2014 Draft, appears to have turned a corner. Preston Tucker and Ryan Flaherty have been nice surprises.

3. Freddie Freeman
He remains the face of the franchise and the rock in the middle of the lineup. If he stays healthy, he's good for 40 doubles and 30 home runs, and he will make the kids around him even better.

Video: ATL@CIN: Freeman tallies three doubles against Reds

4. Starting pitching
If you want to doubt the Braves, this is where you start. If Julio Teheran and Brandon McCarthy stay healthy, they're a solid one-two punch at the front of the rotation. After that, it's up to the kids: Mike Foltynewicz, Sean Newcomb and Matt Wisler have been good enough. Veteran Anibal Sanchez was excellent before going on the disabled list. Here's the good news: The Minor League system is stacked with quality arms, and they're likely to be needed.

5. Bullpen
So far, there have been too many walks and too much uncertainty, but there's also potential, both in the pitchers on the roster and even more in the youngsters in the Minors. Rookie left-hander A.J. Minter and veteran righty Arodys Vizcaino could share closing duties, and manager Brian Snitker is still sorting out how to line up guys in front of them.

6. Alex Anthopoulos
His hiring as general manager last year was one of the smartest moves any team made. He understands that roster building is as much an art as a science. His under-the-radar acquistions of Flaherty and Tucker have already paid dividends. His signing of veteran Jose Bautista to play third base is a no-risk addition that could be a significant boost. He also has a deep farm system that allows him the flexibility to replenish the big league talent, or to make a midseason trade.

Richard Justice has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2011. Read his columns and follow him on Twitter at @RichardJustice.

Atlanta Braves

Dee sparks 2-out rally with fastest triple of '18

Center fielder goes home to 3rd in 10.86 seconds as Mariners plate 3 in 3rd
MLB.com @gregjohnsmlb

CLEVELAND -- With Dee Gordon providing the speed on the fastest triple in the Majors this season, the Mariners jumped on Indians right-hander Mike Clevinger for three quick runs in a two-out, third-inning rally on the way to a 5-4 win in Thursday's series opener at Progressive Field.

Clevinger retired the first eight Mariners in order before Seattle strung together four straight hits, including Gordon's first triple with his new club.

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CLEVELAND -- With Dee Gordon providing the speed on the fastest triple in the Majors this season, the Mariners jumped on Indians right-hander Mike Clevinger for three quick runs in a two-out, third-inning rally on the way to a 5-4 win in Thursday's series opener at Progressive Field.

Clevinger retired the first eight Mariners in order before Seattle strung together four straight hits, including Gordon's first triple with his new club.

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The 30-year-old speedster was clocked at 10.86 seconds from home to third, the fastest time recorded by a Mariner since Statcast™ began tracking in 2015. Jarrod Dyson had the previous fastest triple for Seattle: 10.92 seconds last year.

Gordon's fastest clocked triple was 10.80 seconds last season for the Marlins. He also had a 10.82-second effort in which he was thrown out at third.

The swift triple got Seattle on the board after Ryon Healy's two-out single on the first pitch he saw after coming off the 10-day disabled list. Jean Segura followed Gordon's triple with an RBI double and Robinson Cano made it 3-0 with a run-scoring single.

Video: SEA@CLE: Segura rips an RBI double to left in 3rd

Clevinger came into the game with a 2-0 record and 1.75 ERA after throwing a two-hit shutout at the Orioles in his last outing.

Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB.

Seattle Mariners, Robinson Cano, Dee Gordon, Jean Segura