Justin Smoak

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Yankees defeat Blue Jays to clinch postseason spot


The Yankees guaranteed their place in the postseason with a 5-1 win over the Blue Jays on Saturday. Sonny Gray led the charge against their division rivals, clinching his 10th win of the season with six innings of four-hit, one-run, four-strikeout ball.

Gray worked into a little trouble in the first inning, putting runners in scoring position after Josh Donaldson drew a four-pitch walk and Justin Smoak advanced him with a single. The Yankees’ ace induced two quick outs to end the threat, but was overpowered by a Teoscar Hernandez home run in the third inning, the rookie’s fourth blast of the season:

Thankfully for the Yankees, that was the only run that slipped through the cracks. Gray finished the remainder of his outing with two hits and two walks and was backed by another three scoreless innings from the bullpen. Greg Bird supplied the go-ahead run with a three-RBI shot in the fifth inning, plating Chase Headley and Starlin Castro to give the Yankees their first lead of the night.

Todd Frazier tacked on another solo homer in the eighth, while Starlin Castro returned in the ninth to cap the win with an RBI single. Aroldis Chapman did the rest, wielding just 10 pitches to get three straight outs from Kendrys Morales, Kevin Pillar and Rob Refsnyder.

Following Saturday’s win, the Yankees have at least secured one wild card berth, though they’re not out of the division race just yet. They still sit a full four games back of first place in the AL East, with eight games left to play.

And That Happened: Wednesday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:


Pirates 1, Dodgers 0: I wrote up the story of Rich Hill‘s near no-hitter here, so go there for the full picture. Now I’d like to tell you about how I followed it.

For dumb, historical reasons involving the Pirates former owner living in Columbus, Ohio, my town is considered part of Pirates territory and is thus blacked out from Pirates games. No, I’ve never met a Pirates fan here and no Pirates games have never been broadcast here locally, so it’s one of baseball’s dumber blackouts. Anyway, I had to listen to it on the radio feed. Rick Monday was doing play-by-play for the Dodgers.

Monday’s call of the no-hitter-busting, walkoff homer by Josh Harrison may have been the worst call of a major moment I’ve ever heard. For starters, he said it was Starling Marte up to bat. I knew it was Harrison because I was following along with the box score online too, but I’m sure some listeners were confused. The call itself was a dead calm “fly ball to left, Granderson goes back and … [five second of silence then super calmly, as if he was ordering tea] . . . he caught it? No, it’s out.” It wasn’t a calculated, understated counterpoint to highlight a moment of tension. It wasn’t understandable disappointment by a partisan announcer. It sounded like disinterest. It was the exact opposite of what a radio listener wants and needs in order to follow the action. I was sitting there slack jawed, in disbelief, not at the way Hill lost the no-hitter and the game but at how horribly that moment was conveyed.

Anyway: blackouts are dumb and Rick Monday really needs to not call games.

Orioles 8, Athletics 7: Zach Britton blew a two-run lead and failed to get out of the ninth inning, blowing his 60-straight save streak as well, but Manny Machado saved everyone’s bacon with a leadoff walkoff homer in the 12th. After the game, Buck Showalter said “he does hold the record in my mind, OK?” This, I presume, is a reference to the real record holder, Eric Gagne, who saved 84 straight games while juiced to the gills on dinosaur steroids or whatever it was he was taking. No word on how many of Showalter’s own 1,490 wins as a manager he does not recognize due to their being obtained by lineups including PED users like Alex Rodriguez, Rafael Palmeiro, Andy Pettitte and others of whom we are not aware.

Royals 6, Rockies 4: Colorado took a 4-3 lead into the bottom of the ninth and called on the Royals old friend, Greg Holland, to close it out. Eric Hosmer wasn’t having it. After Alex Gordon walked and Melky Cabrera singled, Hosmer launched a 400 foot homer to right field to bring the Royals back, even and over with one swing of the bat. It’s just the latest disappointment for Holland the Rockies, who have lost four straight and 11 of 15. Holland is 0-4 with one save in four chances in his past six games, allowing 10 hits, three home runs and 12 runs over five innings.

Giants 4, Brewers 2Jarrett Parker hit a go-ahead two-run double in the seventh on a check swing. There’s nothing more satisfying than coming through in a moment when you really did not mean to do whatever it was you did but it all worked out anyway.

Phillies 8, Marlins 0Mark Leiter Jr. allowed one hit over seven shutout innings and Rhys Hoskins continued to crush it, homering and driving in five runs. In other news, the fact that Mark Leiter’s kid is pitching in the majors makes me feel super dang old all of a sudden.

Red Sox 6, Indians 1: Corey Kluber struck out 12 over seven and two-thirds, but the Sox got to him in the eighth, when Mitch Moreland homered and Mookie Betts singled home a run. That was enough for Boston as Drew Pomeranz and Joe Kelly held Cleveland scoreless for seven and — after Edwin Encarnacion homered in the eighth — Craig Kimbrel closed it out in the ninth, striking out the side.

Yankees 10, Tigers 2: Gary Sanchez homered and drove in three runs. He has ten bombs in August. Last August, when he was a rookie sensation, he hit 11. You don’t want to be a ballplayer with the nickname “Mr. August,” but I suppose someone has to claim that title. Didi Gregorius and Chase Headley also homered. Luis Severino allowed one run over six and two-thirds. The Yankees have outscored the Tigers 23-6 in the first two games of this series.

Cubs 9, Reds 3: Kyle Schwarber and Tommy La Stella each homered and drove in three. The Cubs have won eight of ten and have their biggest lead in the division all year, at three and a half games.

Mets 4, Diamondbacks 2Chris Flexen allowed two runs over six innings and Dominic Smith homered to help the Mets end a three-game skid. “Flexen! Smith! Be there!” was not exactly the Mets marketing angle heading into 2017, but even disaster seasons have their high points in baseball, usually as a result of seeing unknown dudes do good things.

Blue Jays 7, Rays 6: The Jays hit six homers, with Kevin Pillar‘s solo shot in the eighth breaking a 6-6 tie and giving Toronto the win. The other guys who went deep: Josh Donaldson, Ryan Goins, Raffy Lopez, Steve Pearce and Justin Smoak. All were solo shots except for Donaldson’s. Kevin Kiermaier hit two homers, both solo shots.

Mariners 9, Braves 6: Robinson Cano left the game with a bum hamstring and Taylor Motter replaced him. Later, in the eighth, Motter singled home the tying and go-ahead runs and then came around to score on Kyle Seager‘s three-run blast. Motter also doubled. After the game Scott Servais said that Cano’s initial prognosis seemed OK, but we’ll know more today. The Mariners also lost center fielder Guillermo Heredia, who left in the eighth after being hit on his right forearm by a pitch. Servais said he seems OK too.

White Sox 4, Twins 3: Tim Anderson singled homer with winning run with one out in the bottom of the ninth to walk things off for Chicago. It was Anderson’s first walkoff of his young career. Minnesota starter Ervin Santana allowed two runs — only one earned — on three hits in seven innings before the Chisox rallied. Jorge Polanco homered for the fourth straight game.

Astros 6, Nationals 1Alex Bregman hit a three-run homer and Jake Marisnick and Max Stassi added solo shots to help Houston snap a nine-game losing streak to the Nats. Mike Fiers allowed on run on four hits in seven to notch his first win in over a month.

Cardinals 6, Padres 2: Rookie starter Luke Weaver struck out 10 in seven scoreless innings. His counterpart, Jhoulys Chacin hit more batters (4) than he struck out (3). He also walked three and allowed five runs in four and two-thirds innings. The Cards snapped a three-game losing streak and won for just the third time in nine games.

Rangers 7, Angels 5: Adrian Beltre hit two solo homers and he and his teammates rallied for three runs in the tenth to give Texas the win. Luis Valbuena homered and drove in four runs for the Angels.

And That Happened: Thursday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Indians 9, Twins 3; Twins 4, Indians 2: Yan Gomes and Jason Kipnis each had three hits and a homer in the first game, helping the Indians win their sixth straight. That streak ended in the second game, however, as Aaron Slegers, making his big league debut, allowed only two runs while pitching into the seventh and Max Kepler hit a go-ahead homer that inning. Eduardo Escobar knocked in two on a 3-for-5 evening.

Diamondbacks 4, Astros 0: Patrick Corbin fell one out short of a shutout, allowing only four hits in eight and two-thirds, and Archie Bradley retired the final batter to make it a team effort. Jake Lamb homered. Daniel Delscalso hit an inside-the-park homer. Lamb called that weirdness and raised by striking out on a wild pitch that allowed David Peralta to scores from third.

Reds 13, Cubs 10: The Reds scored nine runs in the second inning. Normally that’d be enough to ensure a win, but this one was wild, with the Cubs coming back to tie it in the fifth. The Reds kept scoring, however, winning it going away. Lots of crooked numbers in this box score, with Reds outfielder Phillip Ervin driving in four, including the two-run homer which broke the 9-9 ties, and Jose Peraza and Joey Votto each driving in three for Cincinnati. The Cubs hit six homers: Ian Happ had two and Kris Bryant, Alex Avila, Javier Baez and Kyle Schwarber each hitting one. Jon Lester gave up nine runs — seven earned — and left before he could finish two innings. Scott Feldman allowed six in less than four.

Braves 10, Rockies 4Ender Inciarte hit two of Atlanta’s four homers as the Braves bounced back from Wednesday’s rout. Freddie Freeman and Tyler Flowers also homered as Colorado and Atlanta split their four-game set. A scare for the Rockies: Nolan Arenado had a ball smack his hand as he tried to field it at third, forcing him out of the game. X-rays came back negative, however, which is positive.

Blue Jays 5, Rays 3: It was tied 3-3 in the eighth, thanks in part to two solo homers from Josh Donaldson, when Justin Smoak hit a two-run homer. Donaldson is on fire, having hit 11 home runs over his past 19 games, including four times in this series. He’s batting .400 (20 for 50) with 21 RBI in the month of August. There are nine teams in the AL realistically competing for two Wild Card spots, with the Blue Jays — previously written off for dead — among them, three games out of the second spot. September is gonna be nuts.

Cardinals 11, Pirates 7: Dexter Fowler drove in three, two of which coming on a triple, as the Cardinals come back after being down 5-0. Game highlight, though, was Josh Harrison dancing.

Yankees 7, Mets 5Gary Sanchez homered and drove in five runs as the Yankees sweep the Mets in the Subway Series. Which is misnamed, as I figure that few if any of the players involved actually take the subway to the games anymore, what with the subway being an absolute disaster these days.

Rangers 9, White Sox 8: Nomar Mazara homered in drove in five too, hitting a tie-breaking three-run homer in the fifth. The Rangers have won four straight and seven of eight, climbing back to .500. Mazara has 25 RBI in his past 19 games and is on a pace for 111.

Nationals 2, Padres 1: The Nats only had four hits in the game, but one of them was a Ryan Zimmerman homer to break a 1-1 tie in the eighth. Edwin Jackson — who, at this point, we must refer to as “Edwin Jackson of all people” every time he’s mentioned — allowed one run over seven, scattering eight hits.

Giants 5, Phillies 4Jeff Samardzija was solid, winning for the fourth time in his last five starts and Jarrett Parker hit a two-run double in the fifth that led to Denard Span and Hunter Pence scoring within seconds of each other after Pence almost caught up with Span on the base paths:

Don’t look back, somethin’ might be gainin’ on ya.