Indians starter Ubaldo Jimenez pitched his team into the post-season — at least for one game — with a sterling performance against the Twins. The right-hander allowed just one run on five hits and a walk while striking out 13. It marks a season-high in strikeouts and his fourth double-digit strikeout performance of the season. He also lowered his ERA on the season to 3.30.
Nick Swisher gave Jimenez some early run support with a two-run home run in the first inning. The Indians tacked on two more in the sixth and another in the seventh to take a 5-1 lead. Mark Rzepczynski and Justin Masterson teamed up to blank the Twins the rest of the way to wrap up the victory.
The victory is the Indians’ tenth in a row, a fantastic way to wrap up the season. They finish September 21-6 and secure themselves a chance to advance to the ALDS if they can win the Wild Card play-in game at home on Wednesday against the winner of tomorrow’s one-game play-in to the one-game play-in — effectively the 163rd game of the regular season — between the Rangers and Rays to decide the winner of the second AL Wild Card spot. The Indians will be playing in the post-season for the first time since 2007.
23-year-old rookie Danny Salazar will start for the Indians on Wednesday. The right-hander has a 3.12 ERA in 52 innings spanning 10 starts since being made a featured part of the rotation in August.
Update (11:09 PM EDT):
From unlucky to lucky, the Cardinals maintained their position in the National League Wild Card race with walk-off victory over the Reds on Thursday night.
The Cardinals went into the top of the ninth with a 3-2 lead over the Reds, but saw the game tied when Scott Schebler dribbled a two-strike, two out ground ball down the third base line. It seemed as if the baseball gods had turned their backs on the Cardinals.
In the bottom of the ninth against reliever Blake Wood, Matt Carpenter drew a one-out walk. Randal Grichuk then struck out, leaving all of the Cardinals’ hopes on Yadier Molina. Molina went ahead 2-0 in the count, then ripped a 95 MPH fastball to left field. The ball bounced high and over the left field fence for what seemed like an obvious ground-rule double. Carpenter motored around third base and scored the winning run.
The Cardinals poured onto the field in celebration and the umpires walked off the field. Manager Bryan Price wanted to have the play reviewed, but when he went onto the field, the umpires were nowhere to be found. Price chased after them but to no avail. As the Cardinals left the field and the stadium emptied, the Reds remained in the dugout. The Reds’ relievers were left in a bit of purgatory, standing aimlessly in left field after exiting the bullpen. Finally, the game was announced as complete over the P.A. system at Busch Stadium. The results are great if you’re a Cardinals fan, but terrible if you’re a Mets or Giants fan.
As Jon Morosi points out, the rules clearly state that the signage above the fence in left field is out of the field of play. The umpires got it wrong.
Price, however, also took too long to speak to the umpires. Per Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
If this happened between two teams playing a meaningless game, it would’ve been a lot easier to swallow, but Thursday’s Reds-Cardinals game had implications on not only the Cardinals’ future, but the Mets’ and Giants’ as well.
Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman went 0-for-4 during Thursday’s win against the Phillies, snapping his hitting streak at 30 games. It marked the longest hitting streak of the 2016 season. Freeman’s streak of 46 consecutive games reaching base safely ended as well.
The longest hitting streak in Atlanta Braves history belongs to Dan Uggla, who hit in 33 consecutive games in 2011. Tommy Holmes hit in 37 straight for the Boston Braves in 1945.
During his hitting streak, Freeman hit .384/.485/.670 with 11 doubles, seven home runs, 27 RBI, and 26 runs scored in 136 plate appearances. That padded what were already very strong numbers on the season. After Thursday’s game, Freeman is overall batting .306/.404/.572 with 33 home runs, 88 RBI< and 101 runs scored in 677 plate appearances.