Rangers, Rockies on pace for historic finishes

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With two teams already there and the rest set to hit the halfway point of the season within the next few days, I wanted to look at what kind of pace each team was on. Below are the number of wins each team would finish with given its current pace, plus how that would stack up against the team’s history. As things stand now, there’s one team on pace for its most wins ever and another on pace for its fewest.

AL East
Yankees – 100 – most since 2009
Orioles – 87 – most since 1997
Red Sox – 86  – fewest since 2001
Rays – 84 – fewest since 2009
Blue Jays – 82 – most since 2010

AL Central
White Sox – 86 – most since 2010
Indians – 83 – most since 2007
Tigers – 80 – fewest since 2008
Royals – 74 – most since 2008
Twins – 69 – most since 2010

AL West
Rangers – 101 – most ever
Angels – 90 – most since 2009
Athletics – 77 – most since 2010
Mariners – 68 – most since 2009

NL East
Nationals – 95 – most since 1979*
Mets – 87 – most since 2008
Braves – 85 – fewest since 2008
Marlins – 79 – most since 2010
Phillies – 72 – fewest since 2000

NL Central
Reds – 89 – most since 2010
Pirates – 87 – most since 1992
Cardinals – 84 – fewest since 2007
Brewers – 75 – fewest since 2006
Astros – 66 – most since 2010
Cubs – 60 – fewest since 1981**

NL West
Giants – 91 – most since 2010
Dodgers – 89 – most since 2009
Diamondbacks – 81 – fewest since 2010
Rockies – 62 – fewest ever
Padres – 61 fewest since 1993

*The Expos were 74-40 and on pace to win 105 games when the strike ended the 1994 season.

**The 1981 Cubs went 38-65 in that strike-shortened season, which also works out to 60-win pace. Their last full season under 60 wins was 1966, when they went 59-103.

If the Rangers keep at it, they’ll set a franchise high for victories for the second straight year, topping last year’s total of 96. Before that, their high was 95 win sin 1999.

The Rockies are on pace for their fewest wins, excluding the 1994 strike season (they were on pace for 73 wins that year). Their low total is 67 wins, from both their inaugural season in 1993 and from 2005.

The Yankees and Rangers are both on pace for 100 wins. Only one team, the Phillies, got there last year. No team did in 2010. If the Yankees can do it, it’d be their sixth 100-win season since 1998.

And then there’s the Pirates, on pace for their first .500 season since Barry Bonds left. Their high total since was 79 wins in 1997.

Watch: Ryan Goins tags Todd Frazier with the hidden ball trick

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The Yankees are facing a convoluted path to the postseason, and they didn’t do themselves any favors after Todd Frazier fell for Ryan Goins‘ hidden ball trick in the third inning of Friday’s series opener. With one out and Frazier on second base, Jacoby Ellsbury skied a deep fly ball to right field, where it was caught by Jose Bautista just shy of the warning track and tossed back to Goins at second. Goins faked the throw to Marco Estrada, then sneakily (or not so sneakily, depending on your vantage point) gloved the ball and caught Frazier off the bag for the third out.

Of course, it helped that Frazier’s back was turned during the throw, so Goins’ fake-out may not have been as obvious as it was when the Yankees reviewed the tape several minutes later.

Goins earned another spot on the highlight reel in the sixth inning, mashing his second grand slam of the season while Frazier — and the rest of the Yankees’ offense, sans one home-run-record-slaying Aaron Judge — scrambled to catch up. The Yankees currently trail the Blue Jays 8-1 in the bottom of the eighth inning, and will need to pull off a comeback (and hope the Astros and Athletics clinch their respective games) before they can lay claim to a playoff spot.

Blue Jays shut down Steve Pearce for the rest of 2017

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The Blue Jays have shut down left fielder Steve Pearce for the remainder of the season following a lingering case of lower back stiffness. Pearce has not appeared in a game since September 8, when he was forced to exit in the first inning after experiencing back pain during his at-bat. Per Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca, he’s scheduled to return to Florida next week, where he’ll receive epidural injections to address the pain.

Pearce, 34, impressed in his first season with Toronto. He battled through a calf injury during the first half of the season and finished the year with a modest .252/.319/.438 batting line, 13 home runs and a .757 OPS through 348 PA. By September, the Blue Jays started testing the waters with outfield prospect Teoscar Hernandez, who shouldered the bulk of the starts in left field after Pearce was sidelined with back issues.

With the Blue Jays all but eliminated from playoff contention, however, there’s no rush to get Pearce back to the outfield. He should be in fine shape to compete for another starting role in spring, and could face stiff competition from Hernandez if the rookie continues building on his .278 average and three home runs this month. The veteran outfielder is slated to receive the remaining $6.25 million on his contract in 2018 and will be eligible for free agency in 2019.