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Welcome to MLB Opening Day!

All 30 teams were scheduled to be in action Thursday before rain postponed the scheduled Milwaukee BrewersNew York Mets and Atlanta BravesPhiladelphia Phillies openers to Friday.

The Los Angeles Angels and Baltimore Orioles got things started with new O’s ace Corbin Burnes on the mound at 3:05 p.m. ET. Soon after, things really heated up with seven games scheduled to begin at 4:10 p.m. ET — highlighted by a New York Yankees vs. Houston Astros showdown in Texas.

Later, the Texas Rangers will raise the first World Series banner in franchise history before taking on the Chicago Cubs in manager Craig Counsell’s team debut (7:35 p.m. ET on ESPN). And, if that wasn’t enough, there are a trio of late-night games on the West Coast, including Luis Castillo and the Seattle Mariners against the Boston Red Sox at 10:10 p.m. ET.

What are we looking for as the season gets started? Our reporters give their pregame takes from the ballpark, plus we’ll post lineups as they are announced and live updates throughout the day, including takeaways from each game as it concludes.

Season preview: Power rankings | Predictions | Moves that rocked offseason
MLB Rank 2024: Who are baseball’s 100 best players? | Snubs, surprises
ESPN+: Passan’s bold predictions, breakout stars | 2024 MLB payroll tiers

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Live updates | Storylines & lineups

Postponed games: MIL-NYM, ATL-PHI

Live updates from every Opening Day game

What to watch, lineups for every Opening Day game

First pitch: 3:05 p.m. ET
The pitching matchup: Patrick Sandoval vs. Corbin Burnes

The big storyline: The best regular-season team in the American League last year unveils its newest star while the team that lost the biggest one in the game starts anew. Burnes’ Baltimore debut is the main attraction of the afternoon, though after the Orioles ran roughshod through the Grapefruit League, the biggest question is: How good can they be? Extremely is the answer, particularly with the No. 1 overall prospect in baseball, Jackson Holliday, starting the season at Triple-A after slashing .311/.354/.600 in spring training.

Sandoval gets his first Opening Day start after Shohei Ohtani got the nod the past two years. Ohtani’s absence hangs over the Angels, whose lineup includes the return of Mike Trout from the hamate bone injury that kept him out all but one game over the season’s final three months and a menagerie of top prospects and high draft picks.

One fun fact to impress your friends: In his NL Cy Young-winning 2021 season, Burnes started the year with 58 strikeouts before yielding his first walk. He surpassed the previous record of 51, held by Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen. The streak broke another mark: 56 consecutive walk-free strikeouts at any point in the season, held by Gerrit Cole and Curt Schilling. Against the 127th batter he faced, St. Louis utilityman Tommy Edman, Burnes walked him on five pitches. — Jeff Passan

Angels lineup

Anthony Rendon (R) 3B
Aaron Hicks (S) RF
Mike Trout (R) CF
Taylor Ward (R) LF
Brandon Drury (R) 2B
Nolan Schanuel (L) 1B
Miguel Sano (R) DH
Logan O’Hoppe (R) C
Zach Neto (R) SS

Orioles lineup

Gunnar Henderson (L) SS
Adley Rutschman (S) C
Ryan Mountcastle (R) 1B
Anthony Santander (S) RF
Austin Hays (R) LF
Jordan Westburg (R) DH
Cedric Mullins (L) CF
Ramon Urias (R) 3B
Jorge Mateo (R) 2B

First pitch: 4:10 p.m. ET
The pitching matchup: Tarik Skubal vs. Garrett Crochet

The big storyline: The Tigers have been rebuilding for a long time — their last winning season came way back in 2016 — but maybe this is the season they finally break through. They have a couple of interesting rookies joining the lineup in second baseman Colt Keith (the No. 40 overall prospect) and center fielder Parker Meadows (No. 45). Keith is more bat over glove while Meadows is a tooled-up 6-foot-5 plus defender. But the Tigers’ playoff hopes may rest on a dominant season from Skubal, who went 7-3 with a 2.80 ERA and 11.4 K’s per nine in 15 starts last season. His fastball averaged 96.4 mph in his final spring training game and he could be a Cy Young contender.

One interesting fact to impress your friends: Crochet is one of the most unlikely Opening Day starters in MLB history, which tells you what to expect from the White Sox in 2024. He’s made 72 appearances in the majors, but all those came in relief, making him just the third pitcher since World War II to make his first career start on Opening Day. The others: Tanner Scheppers for the Rangers in 2014 and Fernando Valenzuela for the Dodgers in 1981. — David Schoenfield

Tigers lineup

Andy Ibanez (R) 3B
Spencer Torkelson (R) 1B
Riley Greene (L) LF
Mark Canha (R) DH
Matt Vierling (R) RF
Colt Keith (L) 2B
Jake Rogers (R) C
Javier Baez (R) SS
Parker Meadows (L) CF

White Sox lineup

Andrew Benintendi (L) LF
Yoan Moncada (S) 3B
Luis Robert Jr. (R) CF
Eloy Jimenez (R) DH
Andrew Vaughn (R) 1B
Paul DeJong (R) SS
Kevin Pillar (R) RF
Martin Maldonado (R) C
Nicky Lopez (L) 2B

First pitch: 4:10 p.m. ET
The pitching matchup: Pablo Lopez vs. Cole Ragans

The big storyline: One of these teams won the division last year, but fell in the ALDS. The other team matched a franchise record with 106 losses, finishing 31 games out of first place. One of these teams made around $110 million in free agent commitments this offseason; the other just $6.2 million. Who was who? Well, it was the bottom-feeding Royals who spent big over the winter while the Twins … not so much. Can Kansas City possibly close a 31-game deficit in one offseason? It’s a tall order, obviously, but at least the Royals behaved like a team trying to change its fortunes.

One interesting fact to impress your friends: According to ESPN BET, this pitching matchup pits two of the top seven AL Cy Young candidates. Lopez finished seventh a season ago while the emergent Ragans would have been a prime contender if he had put up his Kansas City-only numbers over a full season. Ragans was traded from Texas on June 30 and only four AL starters produced a lower ERA than his 2.64 mark after the All-Star break. — Bradford Doolittle

Twins lineup

Byron Buxton (R) CF
Ryan Jeffers (R) C
Royce Lewis (R) 3B
Carlos Correa (R) SS
Carlos Santana (S) 1B
Max Kepler (L) RF
Kyle Farmer (R) 2B
Willi Castro (S) LF
Manuel Margot (R) DH

Royals lineup

Maikel Garcia (R) 3B
Bobby Witt Jr. (R) SS
Vinnie Pasquantino (L) 1B
Salvador Perez (R) C
MJ Melendez (L) LF
Hunter Renfroe (R) RF
Adam Frazier (L) 2B
Nelson Velazquez (R) DH
Kyle Isbel (L) CF

First pitch: 4:10 p.m. ET | ESPN+
The pitching matchup: Nestor Cortes vs. Framber Valdez

The big storyline: This is a meeting between two rivals expected to compete for the American League pennant. Both rosters are loaded with stars. Both feature intriguing young talents. Both teams splurged on premier talent from San Diego during the offseason (Juan Soto via trade on one side, Josh Hader via free agency on the other). The heated history, of course, is there.

But Thursday’s matchup in particular is as much about who isn’t playing. Former Astros teammates Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander would have been the opening day starters if not for injuries. Cole is dealing with nerve irritation and edema in his right elbow. Verlander had a setback with his right shoulder. Two left-handers looking to rebound from disappointing seasons will take the ball in their places.

One interesting fact to impress your friends: The Astros have reached the last seven American League Championship Series, one shy of the longest LCS streak in history. The Braves set the record in the ’90s, advancing to eight straight NLCS. Atlanta won one (1) World Series during that span. The Astros have won two. Yankees fans, of course, would argue that the title in 2017 would’ve been theirs if the Astros weren’t banging trash cans. New York instead hasn’t won a championship since 2009. It’s the franchise’s longest title drought since going without a parade between 1978 and 1996. — Jorge Castillo

Yankees lineup

Gleyber Torres (R) 2B
Juan Soto (L) RF
Aaron Judge (R) CF
Giancarlo Stanton (R) DH
Anthony Rizzo (L) 1B
Anthony Volpe (R) SS
Alex Verdugo (L) LF
Jose Trevino (R) C
Oswaldo Cabrera (S) 3B

Astros lineup

Jose Altuve (R) 2B
Yordan Alvarez (L) DH
Kyle Tucker (L) RF
Alex Bregman (R) 3B
Jose Abreu (R) 1B
Chas McCormick (R) LF
Yainer Diaz (R) C
Jeremy Pena (R) SS
Jake Meyers (R) CF

First pitch: 4:10 p.m. ET
The pitching matchup: Mitch Keller vs. Jesus Luzardo

The big storyline: Oneil Cruz is back at shortstop for the Pirates after fracturing his ankle nine games into 2023 and he’s looked good in spring training with seven home runs, including several monstrous blasts. Henry Davis, the first overall pick in the 2021 draft, struggled as a rookie last season while moving from catcher to right field, but an offseason injury to Endy Rodriguez has Davis back behind the plate and he’s also had a good spring. Other young Pirates include pitcher Jared Jones, the team’s No. 3 prospect who cracked the Opening Day rotation, and Paul Skenes, last year’s No. 1 overall pick who shouldn’t need much time in the minors. If that group delivers, the Pirates have a chance to become this year’s Marlins as a surprise playoff team.

One interesting fact to impress your friends: It’s been a rough spring training for the Miami rotation as Braxton Garrett (shoulder), Eury Perez (elbow) and Edward Cabrera (shoulder) will all begin the season on the IL (on top of Sandy Alcantara already being out for the year). Luzardo will have to step up and he’s a sleeper Cy Young candidate after finishing in the top 10 among NL starters in ERA, strikeout rate and fWAR. — Schoenfield

Pirates lineup

Connor Joe (R) RF
Bryan Reynolds (S) LF
Ke’Bryan Hayes (R) 3B
Andrew McCutchen (R) DH
Henry Davis (R) C
Oneil Cruz (L) SS
Jared Triolo (R) 2B
Rowdy Tellez (L) 1B
Michael A. Taylor (R) CF

Marlins lineup

Luis Arraez (L) 2B
Josh Bell (S) 1B
Bryan De La Cruz (R) DH
Jazz Chisholm Jr. (L) CF
Jake Burger (R) 3B
Jesus Sanchez (L) RF
Tim Anderson (R) SS
Nick Gordon (L) LF
Nick Fortes (R) C

First pitch: 4:10 p.m. ET
The pitching matchup: Logan Webb vs. Yu Darvish

The big storyline: It’s a matchup of perhaps the two biggest curiosities in baseball this season. The Giants went from a projected fourth-place finish in the NL West to the third-best team in the NL by PECOTA’s projected standings with the signings of reigning Cy Young winner Blake Snell and third baseman Matt Chapman. San Francisco had a big winter — but was it really enough to turn them into a playoff team after two disappointing seasons?

The Padres are $60 million lighter in payroll with the trade of Juan Soto and free agent exits of Snell, Josh Hader, Seth Lugo, Michael Wacha, Nick Martinez and more. They added Dylan Cease and Michael King, bulked up their bullpen, continued their positional musical chairs and, after splitting their season-opening series in Korea with the Los Angeles Dodgers, have nearly the same question to answer: Was it really enough to turn them into a playoff team after a disappointing season?

One interesting fact to impress your friends: Like his former Kiwoom Heroes teammate Ha-Seong Kim, new Giants center fielder Jung Hoo Lee spent seven seasons in the Korea Baseball Organization before entering the posting system as a 25-year-old free agent. Kim walked (four-year, $28 million contract, which expires after this season) so Lee could run (six-year, $113 million deal). Lee has not been the home run hitter in Korea that Kim was, but a .340/.407/.491 line and impeccable pedigree — his dad is Korean baseball legend Jong-Beom Lee, nicknamed Son of the Wind — made the so-called Grandson of the Wind one of the KBO’s most popular players. Oh, and he slashed .414/.485/.586 this spring, so the hype may be real. — Passan

Giants lineup

Jung Hoo Lee (L) CF
Jorge Soler (R) DH
LaMonte Wade Jr. (L) 1B
Matt Chapman (R) 3B
Mike Yastrzemski (L) RF
Thairo Estrada (R) 2B
Michael Conforto (L) LF
Patrick Bailey (S) C
Nick Ahmed (R) SS

Padres lineup

Xander Bogaerts (R) 2B
Fernando Tatis Jr. (R) RF
Jake Cronenworth (L) 1B
Manny Machado (R) DH
Ha-Seong Kim (R) SS
Jurickson Profar (S) LF
Luis Campusano (R) C
Tyler Wade (L) 3B
Jackson Merrill (L) CF

The pitching matchup: Miles Mikolas vs. Tyler Glasnow
First pitch: 4:10 p.m. ET

The big storyline: The Dodgers opened their season in South Korea last week and, assuming you woke up really early, you’ve already seen what their lineup looks like with Mookie Betts, Shohei Ohtani and Freddie Freeman atop it. But since then Ohtani has been embroiled in major controversy while at the center of a betting scandal in which he claims his former interpreter, Ippei Mizuhara, stole millions of dollars from his accounts and wired them to a bookmaker who is under federal investigation.

This is a story that is poised to hover over the Dodgers all year, as if they weren’t already getting enough attention. How an exceedingly private, global superstar like Ohtani handles it — while living up to the pressure of a $700 million contract and being without Mizuhara, who took care of many aspects of his life since Ohtani came to the United States more than six years ago — will be fascinating to watch. It starts now.

One interesting fact to impress your friends: The Cardinals rewarded Mikolas, a crucial innings-eater in an unstable rotation, with a three-year, $55.75 million extension last March, then watched him navigate a down year that mirrored that of the team around him. Mikolas’ ERA jumped from 3.29 in 2022 to 4.78 in 2023, and it wasn’t just bad BABIP luck. His expected slugging percentage rose to .499, within the bottom 6% of the league. Mikolas has always been a pitch-to-contact guy, but he allowed way too much hard contact last year. His 226 hits allowed led the majors. — Alden Gonzalez

Cardinals lineup

Brendan Donovan (L) LF
Paul Goldschmidt (R) 1B
Nolan Gorman (L) 2B
Nolan Arenado (R) 3B
Willson Contreras (R) C
Alec Burleson (L) DH
Jordan Walker (R) RF
Victor Scott II (L) CF
Masyn Winn (R) SS

Dodgers lineup

Mookie Betts (R) SS
Shohei Ohtani (L) DH
Freddie Freeman (L) 1B
Will Smith (R) C
Max Muncy (L) 3B
Teoscar Hernandez (R) LF
James Outman (L) CF
Jason Heyward (L) RF
Gavin Lux (L) 2B

First pitch: 4:10 p.m. ET
The pitching matchup: Jose Berrios vs. Zach Eflin

The big storyline: Two teams that are trying to shake off recent playoff disappointment and figure out how to get a little better in October — but in the AL East, you have to get there first. The Jays were swept in the wild-card series the past two seasons and including the wild-card series in 2020, are now 0-6 in the playoffs this decade. The bottom half of their lineup looks a little soft and closer Jordan Romano is beginning the season on the IL with elbow inflammation. The Rays were also swept in the wild-card series the past two seasons and lost in the ALDS in 2021, giving them a 1-7 record the past three postseasons since their run to the 2020 World Series. The Rays have an entire rotation on the IL, although Eflin is coming off a 16-win season. He’ll need another big season given the concerns with the rest of the rotation.

One interesting fact to impress your friends: Everyone — especially the Blue Jays — is wondering whether Vladimir Guerrero Jr. can hit again like he did in 2021, when he hit 48 home runs with a 1.002 OPS and finished second in the AL MVP voting. That was the year the Jays had to play more than half of their home games in Dunedin and Buffalo — and Guerrero absolutely raked in those two parks, hitting .364 with 21 home runs in 44 games. His road numbers the past three seasons have been pretty stable and he really struggled at Rogers Centre in 2023, hitting .238 with a .716 OPS. — Schoenfield

Blue Jays lineup:

George Springer (R) RF
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (R) 1B
Bo Bichette (R) SS
Justin Turner (R) DH
Daulton Varsho (L) LF
Alejandro Kirk (R) C
Kevin Kiermaier (L) CF
Isiah Kiner-Falefa (R) 3B
Cavan Biggio (L) 2B

Rays lineup

Yandy Diaz (R) 1B
Brandon Lowe (L) 2B
Randy Arozarena (R) LF
Harold Ramirez (R) DH
Isaac Paredes (R) 3B
Richie Palacios (L) RF
Jose Siri (R) CF
Jose Caballero (R) SS
Rene Pinto (R) C

First pitch: 4:10 p.m. ET
The pitching matchup: Josiah Gray vs. Frankie Montas

The big storyline: The last time this much excitement accompanied a Reds Opening Day was in 2013, with Cincinnati coming off an NL Central-best 97-win season. A new generation of Reds are here, and while infielder Matt McLain and outfielder TJ Friedl will start the season on the injured list and third baseman Noelvi Marte on the suspended list following a positive PED test, plenty of talent remains: Elly De La Cruz, Spencer Steer, Christian Encarnacion-Strand and a deep, young rotation. The Reds spent more than $110 million on free agents, including Montas, and they’ll face a Nationals team that is simultaneously growing up with shortstop CJ Abrams and catcher Keibert Ruiz while biding their time until the arrivals of highly touted outfielders James Wood and Dylan Crews as well as third baseman Brady House.

One interesting fact to impress your friends: Gray, starting his first Opening Day, went to Le Moyne College in Syracuse, New York, where he mostly played shortstop before transitioning to the starting rotation as a junior. Gray punched out 105 in 93.1 innings and was drafted in the second round in 2018 by … the Cincinnati Reds. They dealt him to the Dodgers in a trade that was ostensibly supposed to be a salary dump for Los Angeles, which two and a half years later moved him to Washington with Ruiz in the Max ScherzerTrea Turner deal. — Passan

Nats lineup

CJ Abrams (L) SS
Lane Thomas (R) RF
Jesse Winker (L) LF
Joey Meneses (R) DH
Joey Gallo (L) 1B
Keibert Ruiz (S) C
Eddie Rosario (L) CF
Nick Senzel (R) 3B
Luis Garcia Jr. (L) 2B

Reds lineup

Jonathan India (R) 2B
Will Benson (L) CF
Christian Encarnacion-Strand (R) 1B
Jeimer Candelario (S) 3B
Jake Fraley (L) RF
Elly De La Cruz (S) SS
Spencer Steer (R) LF
Nick Martini (L) DH
Tyler Stephenson (R) C

First pitch: 7:35 p.m. ET | ESPN
The pitching matchup: Justin Steele vs. Nathan Eovaldi

The big storyline: Both teams have large-font narratives generating heightened interest in their openers. For the Rangers, it’s a celebration as Texas will raise its first World Series banner before the game. Meanwhile, the Cubs usher in a new era in which the face of the team may well be its new manager, Craig Counsell, who became the highest-paid skipper in history after jumping from one of Chicago’s chief division rivals in the Brewers. Counsell got paid based on a deserved reputation as one of the game’s most well-rounded skippers. Yet when that banner rises, he’ll be admiring the exploits of his opponent, Bruce Bochy, who will be participating in his fourth title celebration as a skipper, or three more titles than the Cubs have won over the last 115 years.

One interesting fact to impress your friends: The magic number for wins in Texas is 102. That’s a high bar but these are the defending champs, after all. If the Rangers hit that total, Bochy’s career total would jump to 2,195 and he’d leap over Joe McCarthy, Bucky Harris, Dusty Baker and Sparky Anderson into sixth on the all-time wins list. And if the Rangers repeat as champs, he’d join McCarthy, Casey Stengel and Connie Mack as the only managers with at least five World Series wins. Yet, from the did-you-know category: Bochy enters the season eight games under .500 for his regular-season career. — Doolittle

Cubs lineup

Cubs lineup Ian Happ (S) LF
Seiya Suzuki (R) RF
Cody Bellinger (L) CF
Christopher Morel (R) DH
Dansby Swanson (R) SS
Michael Busch (L) 1B
Nico Hoerner (R) 2BNick Madrigal (R) 3B
Yan Gomes (R) C

Rangers lineup

Marcus Semien (R) 2B
Corey Seager (L) SS
Josh Jung (R) 3B
Adolis Garcia (R) RF
Wyatt Langford (R) DH
Jonah Heim (S) C
Ezequiel Duran (R) 1B
Evan Carter (L) LF
Leody Taveras (S) CF

First pitch: 10:07 p.m. ET
The pitching matchup: Shane Bieber vs. Alex Wood

The big storyline: It’s the familiar existential question: If a big league baseball game is played in an empty stadium, does it make a sound? With the A’s on their way out of town, diehard Oakland fans have chosen Opening Day as a way of making a statement. Last year was the year of the Reverse Boycott, where fans showed up en masse on select occasions to show their visceral disregard for ownership. This year, after the team’s decision to abandon Oakland for Las Vegas, the fans have chosen a different approach, the UnReverse Boycott, or Reverse UnBoycott, where they hang out in the parking lot to show ownership they still care — without paying to prove it. The A’s have taken steps to mitigate the bad publicity by opening the parking lot just two hours before game time, but angry A’s fans have proven their resourcefulness.

One interesting fact to impress your friends: Stephen Vogt is the Guardians’ new manager. Stephen Vogt is also a cult hero in Oakland, where the chant “We Believe In Stephen Vogt” — accompanied by the drumbeat from the diehards in the right-field bleachers — became an earworm of the last of the Oakland glory days. — Keown

First pitch: 10:10 p.m. ET
The pitching matchup: Brayan Bello vs. Luis Castillo

The big storyline: Call this the battle of two playoff contenders who decided not to spend any money this offseason — leaving two very unhappy fan bases. Boston’s payroll is down about $21 million from last season while Seattle’s is down about $1 million. The Red Sox ran the highest payroll in the sport when they won the World Series in 2018 but may not crack the top 10 this season. The Mariners missed the postseason by one win but simply retooled the roster rather than making significant additions. Still, with Julio Rodriguez and what could be one of the sport’s best rotations, the Mariners could challenge for their first division title since 2001 — and maybe even their first World Series appearance.

One interesting fact to impress your friends: Rodriguez had 60 home runs and 62 stolen bases over his first two seasons. Only six other players in MLB history reached 60-60 through their age-22 seasons: Alex Rodriguez, Mike Trout, Ken Griffey Jr., Ronald Acuna Jr., Andruw Jones and Cesar Cedeno. Rodriguez will have his sights on a 40-40 season in 2024. — Schoenfield

Red Sox lineup: TBA

Mariners lineup

J.P. Crawford (L) SS
Julio Rodriguez (R) CF
Jorge Polanco (S) 2B
Mitch Garver (R) DH
Cal Raleigh (S) C
Mitch Haniger (R) RF
Dominic Canzone (L) LF
Ty France (R) 1B
Josh Rojas (L) 3B

First pitch: 10:10 p.m. ET
The pitching matchup: Kyle Freeland vs. Zac Gallen

The big storyline: From a national perspective, pretty much all the interest in this game surrounds Arizona, a breakout team in 2023 that won’t be sneaking up on anyone this time around. The Diamondbacks are defending an NL pennant for the second time in their history and as a club built on a foundation of a surfeit of young, high-upside players, they should in theory be better. But can they be improved enough to keep pace in the high-powered NL West? Getting off to a strong start will be a challenge as Arizona is dealing with key injuries in its pitching staff. That list is led by key free agent signee Eduardo Rodriguez (lat strain) and closer Paul Sewald (oblique).

One interesting fact to impress your friends: Arizona star Corbin Carroll is a great all-around player and one of the games’ best young hitters. But where he breaks the scale is on the basepaths. On the surface, you see that he scored 116 runs in 2023 while racking up 10 triples and recording a 54-for-59 success rate on steals. Add it up and Carroll’s plus-12 runs above average in the baserunning component of bWAR was five runs better than any other player in baseball last season, ranked as the best-ever total for a player 22 or younger and was tied for the 12th-best single-season figure in history. You can’t take your eyes off him. — Doolittle

Rockies lineup: TBA

Diamondbacks lineup

Ketel Marte (S) 2B
Corbin Carroll (L) RF
Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (R) LF
Christian Walker (R) 1B
Gabriel Moreno (R) C
Eugenio Suarez (R) 3B
Blaze Alexander (R) DH
Alek Thomas (L) CF
Geraldo Perdomo (S) SS

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Reddick wins in Talladega after McDowell crashes




Reddick wins in Talladega after McDowell crashes

TALLADEGA, Ala. — Tyler Reddick stole a NASCAR Cup victory at Talladega Superspeedway when front-runner Michael McDowell, swerving up and down the track trying to block Brad Keselowski, wound up crashing with the finish line in sight Sunday.

It was another wild Talladega finish — and set off a raucous celebration on pit road with one of Reddick’s team owners, Basketball Hall of Famer Michael Jordan.

“This is like an NBA playoff game,” Jordan said in Victory Lane. “I’m so ecstatic.”

McDowell, the pole-sitter, dominated the closing laps and was in position to give Ford its much-needed first victory of the year. But his topsy-turvy efforts to block Keselowski — another Ford driver — wound up costing them both.

McDowell spun out, Keselowski had to check up and Reddick sped by to claim his sixth career Cup victory by 0.208 seconds.

A pile of cars behind them was taken out, as well. Corey LaJoie’s No. 7 machine slid across the finish line on its side, pinned against the wall in front the massive grandstands.

Reddick climbed out of his No. 45 car and scurried up the fence like Spider-Man.

“That was crazy, fans,” he screamed. “Chaos. Typical Talladega.”

Keselowski settled for the runner-up spot, failing again to pick up his first win since 2021 at this 2.66-mile trioval in east Alabama.

“We went to make a move and Michael covered it,” Keselowski said. “We went the other way and had nowhere to go when Michael came back down. It’s just the way this stuff goes.”

Reddick’s victory redeemed a botched strategy that knocked out a bunch of Toyota contenders, including his team co-owner, Denny Hamlin.

All three Toyota teams pitted in tandem with 37 laps to go, going with a strategy that would’ve allowed them to push the pace on the rest of the fuel-saving field — with an idea of drafting all the way to the front for the checkered flag.

Unfortunately, they couldn’t keep their cars straight.

Just four laps later, with the Toyota train running at a blistering, single-file pace and chasing down the lead pack, John Hunter Nemechek appeared to get into the bumper of Bubba Wallace’s No. 23 machine, which clipped Erik Jones and sent him smashing hard into the outside wall.

Nemechek then slid down the track and took out Hamlin, as well.

“We had a plan,” Wallace said. “We just didn’t execute it as well as we should have. I hate it. It doesn’t make us look good at all.”

Jones took the brunt of the blow, a crash that would’ve been much worse without the sturdy cars and foamy barriers.

“I’m a little sore, but I’m all right,” Jones said after exiting the infield care center. “If you’re gonna be dumb, you’ve got to be tough.”

Reddick was at the front of the pack and avoided the crash.

In the end, he was able to celebrate an improbable win.

CLEAN RACING: Unlike the wacky finish, the first two stages were caution-free — the first time that’s happened at Talladega since the stage system was instituted in 2017. Many drivers were focused on saving fuel and there weren’t many bold moves.

Finally, on lap 132, with the cars three-wide and tightly bunched in the middle of a huge train, the first occurred.

Justin Haley got a bump from behind and went spinning into Christopher Bell, whose car sustained heavy damage that left him with a last-place finish.

IMPRESSIVE KIWI: Shane Van Gisbergen turned in a strong run in the first oval race of his burgeoning NASCAR Cup career.

The stunning winner of the Chicago street race in his Cup debut last summer, Van Gisbergen showed the depth of his talent by leading laps and staying out of trouble at the harrowing 2.66-mile trioval until the very end.

Unfortunately for the 34-year-old from New Zealand, he got caught up in the final melee and didn’t make it across the line. He finished 27th.

STARTING AT THE BACK: Season points leader Kyle Larson started the race with a huge disadvantage after his team was penalized for altering the roof rails on his No. 5 car on the way to the qualifying line Saturday.

Larson, who had won three straight poles, was barred from qualifying, forced to start from the back of the field and ordered to do a drive-through penalty on the opening lap. He was least a half-lap behind the field by the time he got up to speed and, without anyone to draft with, was caught by the leaders on the 12th lap.

NASCAR also ejected Larson’s car chief, Jesse Saunders, from the speedway.

Larson was able to work his way back into the mix but he wasn’t a contender at the end. He finished 20th.

UP NEXT: The Cup series heads next Sunday to Dover Motor Speedway, where Martin Truex Jr. won the race a year ago.

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Love, 19, claims first Xfinity win in Talladega




Love, 19, claims first Xfinity win in Talladega

TALLADEGA, Ala. — Nineteen-year-old rookie Jesse Love won the first NASCAR Xfinity Series of his career in a crash-marred, double-overtime finish at Talladega Superspeedway on Saturday.

Love held off Brennan Poole, who pulled alongside roaring into the trioval, and took the checkered flag 0.141 seconds ahead of Riley Herbst. Anthony Alfredo and Leland Honeyman claimed the next two spots, Poole faded to fifth and one last crash sent Joey Gase spinning behind the frontrunners.

“Let’s go playoff racing!” Love screamed over the radio.

Hailie Deegan went into the final restart with a shot at becoming the highest-finishing woman in Xfinity Series history, but she slipped all the way to 12th. Danica Patrick retains the distinction with a fourth-place showing at Las Vegas in 2011.

Pole-sitter Austin Hill — Love’s teammate at Richard Childress Racing — won the first stage, led a race-high 41 laps and was at the front of an 18-car train with two laps to go when the usual Talladega chaos erupted.

Parker Kligerman appeared to give Hill a couple of slight taps to the rear bumper, though Kligerman insisted over his radio that he never touched the leader’s car. Nevertheless, Hill suddenly went into a spin that ended his hopes of his third victory of the season and sent the race to overtime.

Kligerman was out front when the green flag waved, but that didn’t last long. Shane Van Gisbergen appeared to run out of gas and Love got into Kligerman going for lead, sending the the No. 48 car smashing into the wall.

Several other contenders had to duck into the pits for fuel before the second overtime, which extended the race from 113 to 124 laps.

In the end, Love had enough fuel to get to the line, erasing memories of another strong run at Atlanta where he went dry at the end.

Chandler Smith comes in as points leader, but finished 25th.

Early in the final stage, the first big crash of the day collected at least a dozen cars, knocking four of them out of the race.

Kligerman and Ryan Sieg sparked the incident on lap 65, trading paint when both went for an opening in the middle of the track during three-wide racing through the trioval. That slight bump set off a chain-reaction crash that left cars spinning, sliding and smashing into each other from the outer wall to the inside grass.

“You have to be aggressive,” said Brandon Jones, whose car was too damaged to continue. “The only way be aggressive is to get up front.”

The day also ended for Sam Mayer, Jeremy Clements and Ryan Truex, while several cars returned to the track with significant damage. A.J. Allmendinger kept going with with his rear bumper cover barely hanging on.

Mayer has failed to finish four of the first nine races, but he’s locked into the playoff after winning last week at Texas in a photo finish with Sieg.

Teenagers won both preliminary races at Talladega leading up to the NASCAR Cup race on Sunday.

Before Love took the checkered flag, 18-year-old Jake Finch led from start to finish in the ARCA Menards Series event.

Justin Allgaier, who came into Talladega ranked fourth in the point standings, was the first one out of the race.

His No. 7 Chevrolet got loose coming off of turn two while running in a big pack of cars, sliding sideways off the track and smashing hard into an inside wall.

Allgaier wasn’t injured, but the 38th-place finish was by far his worst of the season.

“A disappointing day,” he said. “The car was fast.”

Allgaier remained tied with Kyle Busch for the most top-10 finishes in Xfinity Series history with 266. He equaled the mark last week with a third-place showing at Texas.

It was a tough day for JR Motorsports, which had three of its four drivers — Allgaier, Mayer and Jones — wiped out by crashes. Sammy Smith was the only one to make it to the checkered flag in 21st.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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Ohtani breaks mark for HRs by Japan-born player




Ohtani breaks mark for HRs by Japan-born player

LOS ANGELES — Dodgers slugger Shohei Ohtani has broken Hideki Matsui’s record for the most homers hit by a Japanese-born player in Major League Baseball.

Ohtani crushed a two-run homer deep into the right-field bleachers off Adrian Houser of the New York Mets in the third inning of L.A.’s 10-0 win Sunday at Dodger Stadium.

The homer was the 176th of Ohtani’s six-plus seasons in the majors. That’s one more than Matsui, who played the final 10 seasons of his 20-year pro career in North America.

Ohtani’s record-breaking blast traveled 423 feet with a 110 mph exit velocity, and it put the Dodgers up 2-0. Ohtani hadn’t homered in his previous seven games.

The homer was his fifth of the season for the Dodgers, who signed the two-time American League MVP to a $700 million contract this past winter. Ohtani hit 171 homers in six seasons with the Los Angeles Angels.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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