The Tigers bested the Twins 2-1 in Minnesota on Sunday, but the White Sox failed to keep pace, losing 6-2 to the Rays to fall three games back in the AL Central with three to play.
B.J. Upton hit his 27th and 28th homers for Tampa Bay, and David Price was in control, yielding two runs in seven innings to become the first 20-game winner in Rays history. Joel Peralta and Fernando Rodney finished up from there as the Rays took three out of four in Chicago.
Detroit won despite being outhit 10-7. Of course, all of Minnesota’s hits were singles. Prince Fielder hit a two-run homer in the eighth to do all of the damage the Tigers needed this one.
Miguel Cabrera’s bid for the Triple Crown appears poised to go down to the wire. He ended the game 0-for-3 with an intentional walk, lowering his average to .325. Joe Mauer went 3-for-4, also with an intentional walk, raising his average to .323. Also, Mike Trout went 2-for-4 in the Angels’ victory, putting him at .322 entering the second game of a doubleheader. Josh Hamilton didn’t homer, so Cabrera remains tied for the AL lead with 43 there. The RBI title is all wrapped up.
The Tigers will be able to clinch the AL Central by winning in Kansas City any of the next three days. The White Sox have already been eliminated from the wild card, so things appear very bleak for them.
Tampa Bay still has a slim shot. The Rays really need a loss from the A’s today, though. They’ll end the day two or three back of Oakland for the second wild card.
Matt Williams was voted the National League Manager of the Year on November 11, 2014, receiving 18 of 30 first-place votes from Baseball Writers Association of America members.
Today the Nationals fired him following a season full of disappointment, reports of clubhouse discontent, and Jonathan Papelbon choking Bryce Harper in the dugout.
Williams went 179-145 (.552) in two seasons in Washington, which is an excellent winning percentage, but when you take over a stacked team the expectations are extremely high and there was seemingly nothing anyone could point to about his actual managing that suggested he was doing a good job.
His in-game tactics and particularly his rigid bullpen usage patterns infuriated fans. His dealings with the local media became increasingly antagonistic. And even setting aside two players literally fighting in the dugout there’s ample evidence that Williams lost the clubhouse a long time ago.
Williams was far from the only thing wrong with the Nationals this season and he’s hardly the primary person to blame for their disappointing record, but it’s also hard to make a strong case for his sticking around–meaningless, beat writer-voted award or not–and general manager Mike Rizzo predictably acted quickly to move on.
Now we’ll see who gets to take the next crack at managing the Nationals to play up to expectations.
Dan Haren, who said two months ago that he was leaning toward retiring after the season, reiterated those plans following the Cubs’ regular season finale Sunday.
At age 34 he started 32 games for the Marlins and Cubs with a 3.60 ERA and 132/38 K/BB ratio in 187 innings, so Haren would have no problem finding work and a solid paycheck for 2016.
However, he’s not expected to part of the Cubs’ playoff roster and told Jesse Rogers of ESPN Chicago:
That was it for me. If I have to pitch in the postseason, I’ll be ready for sure. Happy the way the last few starts have gone. Being able to contribute to this amazing team. I’m just thankful to be a part of it. If I don’t pitch in the postseason, that’s it. It’s been fun. Hopefully there’s a lot more games to go. … If my name is called, I’ll be ready.
Injuries has lessened Haren’s overall effectiveness in recent years, but he’s remained a solid mid-rotation starter and has pitched 13 seasons in the big leagues with a 3.75 ERA in 2,419 innings. He made three All-Star teams and earned more than $80 million.