Stat of the day: Triple-A ERA leaders

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International League top 10
1. Carlos Torres (White Sox) – 2.39
2. Matt Maloney (Reds) – 3.08
3. Michael Bowden (Red Sox) – 3.13
4. Justin Lehr (Reds) – 3.31
5. Kyle Kendrick (Phillies) – 3.34
6. Drew Carpenter (Phillies) – 3.35
7. Wade Davis (Rays) – 3.40
8. Daniel McCutchen (Pirates) – 3.46
9. Marco Estrada (Nationals) – 3.63
10. Chris Lambert (Tigers-Mets) – 3.84
– Of course, most of the International League’s most talented pitchers didn’t qualify for the list. Tommy Hanson had a 1.49 ERA in 11 starts, Clay Buchholz had a 2.36 ERA in 16 starts and Chris Tillman had a 2.70 ERA in 18 starts.
– The league strikeout leader was Carlos Carrasco at 148. He also had just a 1.24 WHIP, but he finished with a 4.64 ERA. It’s becoming easier to see why since the Indians added him to their rotation at the beginning of the month.
– Making Bowden’s season remarkable was that he finished 4-6 with a whopping 14 no-decisions in his 24 starts. He did average just 5.3 innings per start, but that’s still pretty incredible.
– It will be interesting to see if anyone wants to take a chance on Kendrick after the season he had. To go along with his 3.34 ERA, he had a fine 1.17 WHIP and he allowed only nine homers in 143 innings. However, he also struck out just 68 batters. The Phillies will probably opt to keep him around as insurance unless they get offered a quality prospect for his services.
PCL top 10
1. Bud Norris (Astros) – 2.63
2. Ramon Ortiz (Giants) – 3.05
3. Yorman Bazardo (Astros) – 3.20
4. Lenny DiNardo (Royals) – 3.32
5. Josh Banks (Padres) – 3.46
6. Giancarlo Alvarado (Dodgers) – 3.49
7. Charlie Haeger (Dodgers) – 3.55
8. Clay Hensley (Astros-Marlins) – 3.56
9. J.R. Mathes (Cubs) – 3.62
10. Willie Collazo (Marlins) – 3.70
– Brandon Hynick, the pitcher the White Sox got from the Rockies for Jose Contreras earlier this month, also deserves mention. He finished 11th at 3.83, but given that he was pitching at Colorado Springs, his performance was more impressive than that of a few guys ahead of him on the list.
– Hensley came in at 3.24 in his 19 starts with New Orleans after a failed stint at the Astros organization at the beginning of the year.

Royals clinch home field advantage, best record in the American League

Lorenzo Cain
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With a 6-1 win over the Twins in Sunday’s season finale, the Royals clinched the best record in the American League, which nets them home field advantage in the ALDS and ALCS. The Royals stand at 95-67 while the Blue Jays, who lost on Sunday, finish at 93-69.

95-67 is the Royals’ best record since finishing 97-65 in 1980, when they lost the World Series to the Phillies. Their division title is their first since 1985.

In the ALDS, which starts on Thursday, the Royals will host the winner of the AL Wild Card game between the Astros and Yankees. They are looking to avenge last year’s World Series loss, in seven games, to the Giants. The Blue Jays will host the Rangers in the other ALDS series.

Yankees to host AL Wild Card Game after Astros lose to D’Backs

Jacoby Ellsbury, Tony Pena
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Both the Astros’ and the Yankees’ fates were decided before their own games had completed on Sunday. The Rangers defeated the Angels, which clinched a Wild Card spot for the Astros. Then the Astros dropped Sunday’s season finale to the Diamondbacks, which clinched the first AL Wild Card slot for the Yankees. The Yankees are on their way to a loss against the Orioles as of this writing, but that will not affect anything now.

The Astros were in a 3-3 tie with the Diamondbacks in the seventh inning, but reliever Chad Qualls served up a two-run home run to Paul Goldschmidt. That would prove to be the deciding factor in a 5-3 loss.

The Yankees are losing 7-4 to the Orioles behind a subpar start by Michael Pineda and a shaky performance by the bullpen.

The MLB postseason opens up with the Yankees hosting the Astros on Tuesday in the AL Wild Card game. The winner moves on to face the Royals in Kansas City in the ALDS.