Marco Estrada

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Report: Blue Jays and Marco Estrada nearing agreement on contract extension

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Jon Morosi reports that the Blue Jays and starter Marco Estrada are nearing an agreement on a contract extension. The deal is expected to be for one guaranteed year, Morosi adds.

Estrada, 34, was set to become a free agent after the season. He earned $26 million on a two-year contract signed with the Jays in November 2015. While the right-hander has a subpar 4.84 ERA on the season, he has a solid 170/67 K/BB ratio in 176 2/3 innings and has looked much better since the end of July. Between July 31 and his most recent start on Saturday, Estrada owns a 3.75 ERA.

J.A. Happ is the only other starter technically under contract with the Jays next season. Marcus Stroman will be eligible for his second year of arbitration and the Jays will certainly agree to give him a raise on his $3.4 million salary for the 2017 season. The Jays will likely be active this offseason in adding rotation help and they’re starting early by locking up Estrada.

And That Happened: Saturday’s Scores and Highlights

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

Indians 8, Royals 4: With their 22-win streak laid to rest, the Indians needed to drum up some other form of entertainment this weekend. They settled on a division title, taking back the series from the Royals with a standout effort from Francisco Lindor and Edwin Encarnacion and riding the Twins’ loss to their second consecutive AL Central championship. The only problem? The Twins lost their game long after the Indians wrapped up their matinee in Kansas City, so the players were forced to share their initial reactions via social media:

Astros 8, Mariners 6: The Astros also went for a championship run on Saturday. Carlos Beltran swatted a pair of base hits and a double, tying Cal Ripken on the all-time extra-base hit list, while Joe Musgrove took down the Mariners with some expert maneuvers in the ninth inning:

Unlike the Indians, however, they were foiled by the Angels, who bested the Rangers to keep their division rivals on the right on the edge of the AL West title. Expect the Astros to rebound on Sunday, however, when Justin Verlander tries for his first postseason berth since 2014.

Dodgers 3, Nationals 2: Remember that eight-game skid? The Dodgers don’t; or, if they do, they’re doing a bang-up job pretending like it never happened. They steamrolled the Nationals for their third consecutive win on Saturday, grabbing the lead on a Justin Turner sac fly and reducing their magic number to five. Cody Bellinger hogged the highlight reel with his 38th home run of the season, a 431-footer that landed in him in rare company as one of just three National League sluggers to amass at least 38 dingers in their rookie season.

Yankees 9, Orioles 3: The Yankees still have 14 games left to play, but as of Saturday, they’ve officially secured enough wins to call 2017 their 25th consecutive winning season. That’s a streak that dates back through their 1993 campaign, though they have about 14 more winning seasons to go in order to tie their all-time record. Didi Gregorius got things started with a two-run shot in the third inning, followed by home runs from Greg Bird and Todd Frazier and an RBI single from Jacoby Ellsbury. The nine-run spread backed a stellar performance from Jordan Montgomery, whose six scoreless innings marked the ninth quality start of his rookie year — and the best among that group, to boot.

Red Sox 3, Rays 1: Speaking of the Bronx Bombers — while they may be winners, the Red Sox aren’t ready to let them claim the division title just yet. Reigning AL Cy Young award-winner Rick Porcello stifled the Rays, notching his 10th win in what can only be described as a tough-luck season. He’s 7-8 in nine quality starts in 2017 and has averaged just 3.94 runs of support in that span. On Saturday, that’s all he needed to top the Rays: Mookie Betts put the Sox on the board with a 405-foot home run in the second inning, his 22nd of the year, and chased it with an RBI single and Rafael Devers‘ double in the sixth.

Cubs 4, Cardinals 1: The Cubs continued their run toward a second straight division title on Saturday, distancing themselves from the competition with a four-game lead over the Brewers and a five-game lead over the Cardinals. Kyle Hendricks went 7 2/3 innings for his longest outing of the season, losing the shutout on a Matt Carpenter bomb in the eighth. At the plate, Ian Happ was the difference-maker, delivering a go-ahead RBI single in the fourth inning that gave the Cubs the edge they needed to clinch the series.

Reds 2, Pirates 1: The Reds aren’t going anywhere this October, but that didn’t stop them from turning in a postseason-worthy performance on Saturday. Rookie right-hander Sal Romano flummoxed the Pirates’ bats through eight innings, whiffing six of 28 batters and keeping the game scoreless as the Reds worked up to a two-run lead. Things didn’t go nearly as flawlessly for Pirates’ starter Ivan Nova, however, whose own shutout attempt was spoiled by Jesse Winker‘s seventh-inning home run and later departed with right calf soreness.

White Sox 10, Tigers 4: With no division title to fight for and a wild card well out of reach, the White Sox are spending the next two weeks battling for fourth place in the AL Central. They continued their fight on Saturday, topping the Tigers with a six-run barrage in the first two innings and forcing rookie Myles Jaye off the mound in the second. Nicky Delmonico kicked things off with a 370-footer in the first inning, but it was shortstop Tim Anderson who stole the show, collecting four hits en route to a career-best performance.

Phillies 5, Athletics 3: Sometimes, the best part of a baseball game has nothing to do with baseball whatsoever:

Despite their rain delay resilience, the A’s didn’t have enough left in the tank to see them through the rest of the game. J.P. Crawford put up a pair with an RBI single and sac fly, and Jorge Alfaro‘s two-run shot in the sixth gave the Phillies a lead they refused to relinquish.

Marlins 7, Brewers 4: The Marlins finally worked the faux home field advantage to their favor, topping the Brewers to even the series at Miller Park on Saturday. A four-run first inning helped them reclaim the lead (and then some), while Derek Dietrich‘s two-run homer cemented their advantage in the third. “We talked this thing up like it’s the playoffs for us,” skipper Don Mattingly remarked to the press, giving due credit to the sizable crowds drawn by unusual circumstances this weekend. “When you have two teams that are out of it playing Game 140 or something, it is not always a high-energy game. You want guys to push their way through and be professionals during that and have pride in the game and for the fans that come to see it, but this is a lot easier when you have people that are enthused.”

The Brewers, meanwhile, have an actual chance to break through to the real playoffs, but will need to vault over the Rockies and their 3.5-game lead to do so.

Mets 7, Braves 3: Jacob deGrom was lights-out again on Saturday, following two quality starts with another stellar performance against the Braves. The Mets’ ace went seven strong, holding batters to just five hits and a run while he worked toward a career-best 15th win.

“He wants to be known as one of the best in the game,” manager Terry Collins told reporters following the win. “The only way to do that is to stay out there and pitch a lot of innings.”

He’s certainly done that, with 195 1/3 innings under his belt so far this season and 200 innings well within reach. Also helping matters? A run support average of 5.23, which got a boost of its own with the Mets’ seven-run spread on Saturday.

Blue Jays 7, Twins 2: The Twins didn’t set out to help the Indians reach their AL Central championship on Saturday, but Marco Estrada left them little choice. Estrada twirled eight innings of three-hit ball in a performance so dominant that skipper John Gibbons referred to it as “vintage Estrada.” The Twins poked a couple holes in the right-hander’s pitching line with a Eddie Rosario‘s solo shot in the fifth and Eduardo Escobar‘s home run in the eighth, but couldn’t stay ahead of the Blue Jays for the win.

Rockies 16, Padres 0: The Rockies couldn’t have asked for a better comeback performance from Tyler Anderson, whose quality outing coincided with his first start since undergoing knee surgery back in June. Even with a no-hitter stretching into the sixth inning (and eventually broken up by a Manuel Margot base hit), pitching wasn’t at the forefront of anyone’s mind on Saturday. The Rockies trampled the Padres with 16 runs, building to a double-digit finish with everything from a run-scoring passed ball to Pat Valaika‘s seventh-inning grand slam.

Diamondbacks 2, Giants 0: You haven’t seen Zack Greinke this good in a while. In fact, you haven’t seen Zack Greinke this good since 2015, when he fired eight innings of one-hit ball against the Phillies. Greinke was dominant again on Saturday, daring the Giants to venture past the batter’s box as he hurled eight shutout innings for his 17th win of the season. (He also collected two doubles off of Madison Bumgarner, just for the hell of it.)

The Giants managed just two hits against Arizona’s ace — a couple of singles up the middle by Joe Panik and Brandon Crawford — while Paul Goldschmidt‘s two-run homer supplied ample run support for Greinke’s gem.

Angels 2, Rangers 0: Not only did the Angels play spoiler to the Astros’ postseason hopes on Saturday, but they also managed to narrow the gap in the wild card standings. Rookie righty Parker Bridwell logged eight pristine innings, keeping the game scoreless while Rangers’ southpaw Cole Hamels helped Justin Upton score a couple of dingers to decide the game. With the win, the Angels now sit just one game back of the Twins and could grab hold of a wild card berth as soon as Sunday.

The Indians are AL Central champions

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The Indians didn’t let Friday’s loss turn into a skid. They got back on their feet with an 8-4 win over the Royals on Saturday as they continued counting down to the division title. Carlos Carrasco wasn’t at his best, scattering four runs and five strikeouts over 6 2/3 innings, but Jason Hammel was worse, lasting a full six innings after giving up seven runs on 11 hits and a walk.

The offense came through for Carrasco in the bottom of the sixth inning. Francisco Lindor collected his 40th double of the year, a two-RBI line drive that also helped extend his extra-base hitting streak to 10 games. (He’ll need four more to tie Chipper Jones’ and Paul Waner’s all-time 14-game record.) Austin Jackson, on the other hand, roped a two-run single that looked a lot like a Little League home run:

A solo shot by Edwin Encarnacion and two solid innings from Cleveland’s bullpen helped seal the deal with a comfortable four-run lead. With the win, the Indians needed the Twins to take a loss to the Blue Jays in order to clinch the division title. The Twins were quick to oblige. Marco Estrada crafted eight innings of two-hit, four-strikeout ball, muffling Minnesota’s bats while Josh Donaldson, Jose Bautista and Kendrys Morales enjoyed multi-hit games.

Following the Blue Jays’ victory, the Indians found a new kind of winning streak, one they hadn’t replicated in 18 years: back-to-back division titles.