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And That Happened: Friday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the rest of Friday’s scores and highlights:

Astros, 3, Red Sox 2: The Red Sox still need just one win or one Yankees’ loss to clinch the AL East title, but their imminent victory was delayed after the Astros edged past them on Friday. Alex Bregman provided all the fuel the Astros needed to take their fifth straight win and 100th of the season, giving Houston an early 1-0 lead with an RBI single in the third inning and returning in the fifth with a go-ahead two-run homer.

It’s the first time the Astros have recorded 100+ wins since 1998. They can tie their all-time 102-win record by sweeping the Red Sox to finish the season.

Angels 6, Mariners 5: We all have those days when we feel like we haven’t been as productive or creative as we’d like to be. A word of advice: Avoid Mike Trout‘s Baseball Reference page on those days, lest the dazzling array of his 201 career home runs and lifetime .977 OPS makes you feel less-than-accomplished after realizing he’s still just 26 years old.

Yankees 4, Blue Jays 0: The Yankees clinched their 90th win of the year with a standout performance from Masahiro Tanaka, whose seven scoreless frames and 15 strikeouts landed him a rare spot in franchise history as the Yankees combined for 18 strikeouts in a nine-inning contest. Lost in all the hubbub surrounding the gem? Greg Bird’s double and RBI sac fly, which extended a rare hitting streak to seven games:

Cubs 5, Reds 4: For those fortunate enough to have clinched their postseason berth already, each remaining regular season game plays out like a practice session for the playoffs. On Friday, the Cubs honed the art of the clutch comeback, vaulting over the Reds’ two-run lead with Ian Happ‘s go-ahead three-run homer in the bottom of the eighth.

The Reds, meanwhile, sank to a 67-93 record for their worst winning percentage (.419) since… well, 2015 (.395). Keep an eye on Joey Votto this weekend, though. He could finish the year with 162 starts — something no Reds’ player has managed to do in 36 years.

Nationals 6, Pirates 1: Speaking of playoff contenders, the Nationals are heading into the postseason with guns blazing. They delivered a second straight win against the Pirates on Friday, led by 7 2/3 innings of two-hit ball from Stephen Strasburg. It was his 20th quality start and ninth shutout attempt of the season, and in the third inning, a well-placed slider to Sean Rodriguez gave him his 200th strikeout of the year.

Behind Strasburg, Ryan Zimmerman went 4-for-4 with his 35th and 36th home runs, coming just one triple shy of the Nats’ first cycle since April.

Phillies 6, Mets 2: To say that Matt Harvey has had a difficult season is a severe understatement. The Mets’ hurler has battled a variety of shoulder issues since undergoing surgery to treat thoracic outlet syndrome last year, which in turn has caused his command to spiral. On Friday, he capped his 2017 run with four innings of seven-hit, three-run ball, handing Maikel Franco his 22nd home run of the season and allowing Nick Williams to score on a balk. The performance dragged his ERA to new depths, putting him at a 6.70 mark over 18 starts and 92 2/3 innings. No Mets’ starter has earned a higher ERA while making at least 15 starts in a single season. Still, there’s some silver lining to be found:

“The positive is that I guess this nightmare of a season is over for me,” Harvey told reporters after the game.

Marlins 6, Braves 5: Another day has come and gone, and Giancarlo Stanton is still chasing that elusive 60th home run. He went 2-for-4 with a double and RBI single on Friday, but failed to go yard even once. He did, however, manage to startle Dee Gordon with a foul ball that ricocheted off of his back while he perched at the top of the dugout steps:

In the end, the Marlins didn’t need a home run to take the win. They crafted a four-run spread in the seventh inning, tying the game with back-to-back RBI singles from Stanton and Marcell Ozuna and getting the winning run from Justin Bour, who capped the rally with a two-run line drive.

Rays 7, Orioles 0: Neither Wade Miley nor Jake Odorizzi made it past the fifth inning on Friday, but at least in Odorizzi’s case, it had little impact on the club’s ability to rally. The Rays scattered seven runs over the first seven innings, building an insurmountable lead on a pair of home runs from Evan Longoria and Logan Morrison and a handful of productive outs. Longoria’s homer, a fifth-inning 367-footer off of Miley, was his 20th of the year.

Indians 10, White Sox 1: The Indians are still the team to beat this fall, and their win on Friday brought them within one game of clinching the league’s best record — and, more importantly, home field advantage through the postseason. Trevor Bauer guided the club to their 101st win with six innings of one-run ball, but it was the Indians’ 10-run barrage against Mike Pelfrey that sealed the deal.

Rangers 5, Athletics 3: Very cool: Jed Lowrie lashed his 48th double on Friday, setting a new franchise record for most doubles in a single season. Pretty cool: Renato Nunez clubbed his first career home run, taking Martin Perez deep with a three-run blast over the right field wall in the seventh inning. Also cool: The Rangers snapped a seven-game skid with Shin-Soo Choo‘s go-ahead homer in the fifth, his 22nd of the year. Not cool at all:

Twins 6, Tigers 3: Brian Dozier was so eager to make up for the Twins’ 3-0 deficit in the first inning that he overshot second base on a leadoff double:

He made it back to the bag just in time, however, giving Eduardo Escobar the opportunity to drive in a run as Minnesota worked their way up to a six-run spread. The win eventually went to Jose Berrios, who took the mound in the fifth for his first-ever major league relief appearance. He’s supposed to be one of the Twins’ relief options during their wild card tiebreaker on Tuesday, though the righty told reporters he’s hoping Ervin Santana will be able to throw a complete game. “If not,” Berrios said, “I’ll be ready.”

Rockies 9, Dodgers 1: The Rockies inched closer to a wild card spot on Friday, fueling a nine-run effort with four blasts from Nolan Arenado, Mark Reynolds, Charlie Blackmon and Trevor Story. Blackmon’s home run, a blistering upper-deck shot in the second inning, established a new RBI record for leadoff hitters, at 102, and he returned in the fifth to tack on his 103rd RBI with a single.

With the win, the Rockies are looking at an NL wild card spot on Saturday if they defeat the Dodgers a second time or the Brewers take a loss. Given their matchup on Saturday — German Marquez vs. Clayton Kershaw‘s 2.21 ERA — they might be better off hoping for the Brewers’ collapse.

Royals 2, Diamondbacks 1: Thanks to some combination of health issues, poor run support and a career-worst 5.38 ERA, Ian Kennedy entered Friday’s start with 18 consecutive losses at home. That all changed against Zack Greinke and the D-backs, however, who eked out a single run during Kennedy’s fifth win of the year. The right-hander twirled five solid innings, striking out seven of 19 batters and making 2017 his eighth straight season with at least 30 starts.

Brewers 5, Cardinals 3: Don’t count the Brewers out of the postseason just yet. They can still grab a wild card spot if they sweep the Cardinals and the Rockies lose their next two games to the Dodgers and if they manage to win a tie-breaking Game 163. That’s a lot of ifs, but the Brewers appear up to the challenge after dismantling the Cardinals on Friday, coasting on seven standout innings from Chase Anderson and a three-run performance from Stephen Vogt.

Giants 8, Padres 0: While 2017 has been the Giants’ worst season in 32 years, they avoided the dreaded 100-loss mark with an 8-0 shutout over the Padres this weekend. Buster Posey and Joe Panik guided the club through two monster innings, combining for four doubles and four of the club’s eight RBI while Chris Stratton held the Padres scoreless through seven frames.

The Astros gave the Yankees an opening. Keuchel and Verlander will try to close the door.

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If Game 4 of the ALCS had been even remotely conventional, it’d stand at 3-1 in favor of Houston right now. The Yankees’ starter pitched well but got no run support. A mighty Astros team with an ordinarily good closer in Ken Giles had a 4-0 lead in the late innings. As the Yankees set out to mount a comeback, a base runner fell down in between first and second and should’ve been dead to rights. This is playoff baseball, however, so stuff, as they say, happens. The runner was safe, the closer struggled, the Yankees rallied and now we’re tied 2-2.

But are we even at 2-2?

On paper, no, because the Astros now will send Dallas Keuchel and Justin Verlander out in Games 5 and 6, and that gives them a clear advantage. Keuchel dominated the Yankees in Game 1, tossing seven scoreless innings and striking out ten batters. Verlander struck out 13 batters in a 124-pitch complete game in which he allowed only a single run. Beyond the mere facts of the box scores, however, the Yankees have looked profoundly overmatched by both of the Astros’ aces, in this postseason and on other occasions on which they’ve faced off against them. Most notably in the 2015 wild-card game at Yankee Stadium when Keuchel pitched six scoreless innings in the 3-0 victory.

But remember: stuff happens.

Stuff like Aaron Judge‘s and Gary Sanchez‘s bats waking up. The two most important sluggers in the Bombers lineup combined to go 3-for-6 with two doubles, a homer, a walk and five RBI in last night’s victory. Each of them had been silent for the first three games of the series but if they’re heating up, the Yankees will be a lot harder to pitch to.

Stuff like Masahiro Tanaka showing that he can tame the Astros’ lineup. Which he did pretty well in Game 1, giving up only two runs on four hits in six innings. He was overshadowed by Keuchel in that game, but it was a good performance against a strong lineup in a hostile environment. Tanaka pitches much better at Yankee Stadium than he does on the road, so don’t for a second think that the Astros bats will have an easy time of it today.

Stuff like the Yankees bullpen still being the Yankees bullpen. Yes, the Astros got to David Robertson yesterday, but it’s still a strong, strong group that gives the Yankees a clear advantage if the game is close late or if they hold a lead.

All of which is to say that we have ourselves a series, friends. While, 48 hours ago, it seemed like we were on our way to an Astros coronation, the Yankees have shown up in a major way in Games 3 and 4. If you’re an Astros fan you should feel pretty confident with Keuchel and Verlander heading into action over the next two games, but we have learned that absolutely nothing is guaranteed in the postseason.