Starlin Castro

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Yankees defeat Blue Jays to clinch postseason spot

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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: Thursday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Indians 11, White Sox 2: Cleveland wins its 15th straight and it came in a laugher, with the Tribe offense jumping on White Sox starter Mike Pelfrey for seven runs in the first three innings. Corey Kluber didn’t need even half of that run support as he tied up the Chisox for seven innings, allowing only two runs on three hits and striking out 13. The last team to win at least 15 in a row was the 2002-03 Giants, who did it straddling the offseason. The last team to win as many as 15 in a single season was the 2002 A’s, who famously won 20 in a row between August 13 and September 4.

Yankees 9, Orioles 1: The Bombers hit four bombs, with Aaron Judge and Chase Headley hitting two-run homers and Starlin Castro and Todd Frazier adding solo shots. Judge has destroyed the Orioles this year. His line against them: .449/.603/1.082 with nine homers, 18 RBI and 19 walks. That’s just obscene.

Nationals 4, Phillies 3: Four wins in a row for the Nationals, whose magic number is now down to four. Trea Turner hit a two-run single in the sixth. Michael A. Taylor robbed Andres Blanco of a homer with a leaping grab. Everything’s coming up Nationals lately.

Braves 6, Marlins 5: One of the reasons Washington’s magic number is so low so early is because the Marlins are absolutely reeling. Miami has lost 10 of 11, including five straight. This one was a back-breaker, as the lowly Braves mounted a two-run rally in the ninth for a come-from-behind win. Brad Ziegler tried to nail it down, but Matt Adams doubled to lead off the inning, Nick Markakis pinch-ran for him and Ozzie Albies doubled Markakis in. After an intentional walk to Freddie Freeman and a ground out that erased Albies, Kurt Suzuki doubled home Freeman to give the Braves the walkoff win.

Cubs 8, Pirates 2: Anthony Rizzo went 2-for-2 with 2 RBI and 2 walks and 2 runs scored. That makes for a very pretty and satisfying line in the box score. Ian Happ, who is from the Pittsburgh area, went 3-for-5 and scored twice. He also threw a runner out at the plate. Quite an improvement over the night before when he tripped over his own bat running out of the batter’s box.

Mets 7, Reds 2Brandon Nimmo hit two homers on a 3-for-4, three RBI day and Matt Harvey got his first win since May 28 with a five inning, two run, five-hit performance. It wasn’t a great outing — he only struck out one guy — but it’s an improvement over his last start.

Twins 4, Royals 2: Minnesota was down 2-1 after eight but rallied for three in the top of the ninth with a Brian Dozier sac fly and a two-run single from Jorge Polanco off of Kelvin Herrera with two outs. Not the sort of loss the Royals can take if they want to stay relevant in the AL Wild Card race. Kansas City falls to three and a half games back, but with four teams in between them and the the Twins, who remain a game up on the Angels for the second slot.

Padres 3, Cardinals 0: Clayton Richard tossed six shutout innings and three relievers finished it off. Wil Myers‘ two-run homer in the seventh was the big blow for the Padres. St. Louis had a chance in the ninth, rallying to load the bases with two outs, but Brad Hand struck out Dexter Fowler to end the threat.

Rockies 9, Dodgers 1: That’s seven straight losses for the Dodgers and this one hurt more as it came with their ace, Clayton Kershaw on the mound. Colorado was unimpressed, scoring three runs off of him in the first inning courtesy of a Nolan Arenado three-run homer and handing him his first loss since May 6. The bullpen didn’t fare much better. Josh Ravin gave up back-to-back bases-loaded walks in the seventh inning and the fans in Dodger Stadium rained down boos. L.A. is lucky the playoffs start in October and not September.

And That Happened: Monday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Diamondbacks 13, Dodgers 0: That was a slaughter. And the man swinging the biggest meat cleaver was J.D. Martinez who went deep four times and drove in six. He’s the second guy to hit four bombs in a game this season, following Scooter Gennett, and only the 18th man to do it in major league history. What’s more, Martinez had more homers than the Dodgers had hits (4-3). Robbie Ray was responsible for that, shutting out Los Angeles for seven and two-thirds and striking out 14 Dodgers batters. Arizona has now won 11 games in a row. The Dodgers have lost nine of ten.

Here are Martinez’s blasts:

 

Angels 11, Athletics 9Kole Calhoun hit a two-run triple in the 11th inning to give the Angels the win but the news here was that the Angels used 12 pitchers to get through those 11 innings. Every manager who worked before, say, 1988 is rolling in their graves. Even the ones who aren’t dead yet. Three Angels pitchers didn’t record an out, which is just, oh my God. The major league record is 13 pitchers, but that was in a 16-inning game. Someone had best go check on Mike Scioscia today, because he probably hasn’t gotten that much exercise since he was trying to make his first big league team in camp 40 years ago.

Reds 5, Brewers 4: If you’re gonna guess who hit a big walkoff homer on any given day in Major League Baseball you’d probably go a long dang time before you picked Billy Hamilton. Hamilton had his day yesterday, however, smacking a walkoff solo shot to beat the Brewers. Hamilton also threw a runner out at home for his 12th assist of the year. After the game he said this:

“Saving a run was better for me. Me and [Adam] Duvall go out there every day to try to outdo each other. He still has one up on me. I’d rather throw a guy out than hit the big homer. but I’ll take both of them.”

Hmmmm. Can’t say I’d feel the same way, but given that he’s done both things and I’ll never do either, he’s in a better position to know.

Royals 7, Tigers 6: Alex Gordon had a day in the field. Doing this:

And this. Both in the fourth inning. Eric HosmerSalvador Perez and Alcides Escobar homered for the Royals as well. The Tigers have lost five straight and have very apparently given up on the year.

Mets 11, Phillies 7: Jose Reyes and Asrbubal Cabrera homered to back Rafael Montero who wasn’t great but was good enough. After the game all 25 men on the Mets roster had season ending surgery, probably.

Yankees 7, Orioles 4Starlin Castro homered and drove in three runs and Didi Gregorius went deep as well as the Yankees won their fourth in their last five. Aaron Judge drew four walks, singled and scored a run, which seems to go against the whole idea of throwing stuff in on Judge and making him show you his shoulder doesn’t hurt. The Orioles have now lost three of five. Seems like they were on a roll just ten minutes ago.

Indians 5, White Sox 3: That’s 12 straight wins for Cleveland. Trevor Bauer allowed two runs on three hits with nine strikeouts and one walk over six and a third to win his eighth decision in a row. The Indians’ franchise record winning streak is 14, set just last year. Oh, Bauer and Avisail Garcia had a little exchange in this one over whether it’s OK to throw breaking balls to big league batters. Watch the body language in this sequence:

And now listen to Bauer’s explanation:

Rockies 4, Giants 3: Carlos Gonzalez won the game on a walkoff walk, ending the Rockies’ four-game losing streak. Charlie Blackmon hit his 33rd homer of the season and DJ LeMahieu extended his hitting streak to 12 games. Colorado is now 8-0 at home against the Giants this season.

Pirates 12, Cubs 0Chad Kuhl shut the Cubs out on four hits over seven innings and two relievers took it the rest of the way. Max Moroff and Josh Bell each went 3-for-5 with four RBI for the Pirates. Jake Arrieta left with a hamstring injury for Chicago. He says it was just a cramp and believes he’ll make his next start.

Cardinals 2, Padres 0: Carlos Martinez tossed a three-hit complete game shutout with ten strikeouts and Yadi Molina hit a two-run RBI single in the fourth. That’s it. You now know everything of note that happened in that game.

Astros 6, Mariners 2:  Alex Bregman had a tiebreaking two-run double in Houston’s four-run seventh inning and Josh Reddick knocked in two that frame as well. Yuli Gurriel and Brian McCann had solo homers and Dallas Keuchel allowed two runs while pitching into the eighth. Houston has won five straight.

Blue Jays 10, Red Sox 4:  Kendrys Morales, Jose Bautista and Raffy Lopez all took Rick Porcello deep on a day when the reigning Cy Young Award winner was tagged for seven runs on ten hits and was handed his 16th loss on the year. Meanwhile his counterpart J.A. Happ allowed just one earned run in five and two-thirds. Boston has lost four of five and its division lead is down to two and a half games.

Nationals 7, Marlins 2: Anthony Rendon And Daniel Murphy each hit homers and had two-run doubles, wth Rendon driving in four runs and Murphy driving in three. With that the Nats won easily, but as always, Giancarlo Stanton gets some press in a losing cause. He hit his 53rd homer of the year. And he dented a TV camera as he did it, breaking its zoom lens function. Really:

Rays 11, Twins 4:  Corey Dickerson homered and doubled twice. He, Logan Morrison and Kevin Kiermaier drove in two runs a piece. Evan Longoria drove in three. The Rays are now three games behind the Twins for the second Wild Card with 23 left to play.

Rangers 8, Braves 2Elvis AndrusRougned Odor and Mazara homered as the Rangers won in a laugher. Andrus had homered twice on Sunday too. The Rangers lead all of baseball with 215 homers on the year.