One day after clinching the AL Central, the Royals threw out their B-squad Friday night against the Indians. Carlos Carrasco took advantage by striking out a career-high 15 batters as part of a one-hit shutout in a 6-0 victory.
Carrasco, who came within one out of a no-hitter against the Rays on July 1, held the Royals hitless until Alex Rios singled with one out in the seventh. He completed the gem by sitting down the final eight batters, which included six consecutive strikeouts at one point. It was his second career shutout and sixth career complete game.
Every hitter in the Royals’ lineup struck out at least once. Carrasco induced 26 swinging strikes and all of his 15 strikeouts came on a swing and miss.
Carrasco became the first pitcher in franchise history to strike out 15 batters in a shutout while allowing no more than one hit. According to Jeffrey Flanagan and Jordan Bastian of MLB.com, such a pitching line has only been accomplished 16 times in MLB since 1914. His game score was 98, tied for second-highest in the majors this season. Only Max Scherzer‘s 16-strikeout one-hitter against the Brewers ranks higher.
Carrasco, who has 211 strikeouts, and Corey Kluber (230 strikeouts) are the first pair of Indians pitchers to have 200-plus strikeouts in a season since Luis Tiant and Sam McDowell did it in 1967 and 1968.
The Astros fell 4 1/2 games back in the AL West with a 6-2 loss to the first-place Rangers last night. And now their September slide has put them at risk for missing the playoffs altogether.
The Angels moved within a half-game of the Astros for the second Wild Card spot with a 5-4 victory over the Mariners last night. Albert Pujols and C.J. Cron both homered while Garrett Richards persevered through a shaky second inning for his 15th win of the season.
The Astros (80-74) have a half-game edge over the Angels (79-74), but the two teams are tied in the loss column. While the Angels are the biggest threat here, the Twins are 1 1/2 games back while the Indians (3 games back) and Orioles (3 1/2 games back) are still alive. It promises to be a fun final week.
Your Friday box scores and AP recaps:
Pirates 3, Cubs 2
White Sox 5, Yankees 2
Rays 3, Blue Jays 5
Phillies 8, Nationals 2
Twins 4, Tigers 6
Mets 12, Reds 5
Orioles 0, Red Sox 7
Braves 11, Marlins 12
Indians 6, Royals 0
Dodgers 4, Rockies 7
Rangers 6, Astros 2
Brewers 4, Cardinals 3
Diamondbacks 6, Padres 3
Giants 4, Athletics 5
Mariners 4, Angels 5
The Royals beat the Mariners 10-4 in front of an electric crowd at Kauffman Stadium tonight to clinch the AL Central and secure their first division title since 1985. MLB’s longest drought between division titles is officially over. The Royals were in the AL West in 1985, so this is the first AL Central title in franchise history.
The Royals came into Thursday night with a magic number of two. They got some help from the Indians, who beat the second-place Twins 6-3. The Cardinals and Pirates have already punched their tickets to the postseason by at least clinching a spot in the NL Wild Card Game, so the Royals are the first team in MLB to actually clinch their division.
Johnny Cueto, who has mostly struggled since coming over from the Reds at July’s trade deadline, allowed three runs over seven innings. The win was his first since August 15. Mike Moustakas homered and drove in three runs while Alex Rios and Lorenzo Cain each knocked in two runs apiece. Eric Hosmer also homered in the victory.
Despite their World Series run last year, the Royals entered spring training as underdogs in the AL Central, with the Tigers, White Sox, and Indians getting most of the preseason attention. While those teams have largely disappointed, the Royals have been in first place every day since June 8. Even with a losing record in September, clinching the AL Central has been a foregone conclusion for weeks.
The Royals (89-63) have a two-game lead over the Blue Jays (87-65) for the best record in the American League.
The Orioles are on the fringes of the AL Wild Card race with just 10 games remaining. With a big offseason awaiting, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal hears that there’s some friction among the higher-ups in the franchise.
Orioles manager Buck Showalter says all is well. So does general manager Dan Duquette. But officials both inside and outside the Orioles’ organization say the tension in management is reaching a breaking point.
The question is how that tension will be resolved.
Showalter is frustrated with Duquette and wants greater involvement in personnel decisions, sources say. The team, in the view of at least one club official, cannot continue with the same organizational structure.
“If it doesn’t change, it will be a disaster,” the official said.
Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com detailed similar issues earlier this month.
The seeds of tension were planted last offseason when Duquette wanted to pursue the team president job with the Blue Jays, a post which has since gone to former Indians executive Mark Shapiro. However, Orioles owner Peter Angelos made him honor his contract. The pursuit had some in the organization questioning Duquette’s “loyalty.” Meanwhile, Nelson Cruz and Nick Markakis signed elsewhere and Duquette’s attempts to replace them were a flop. Other issues include the team’s lackluster farm system and the influence of pitching development director Rick Peterson.
Showalter and Duquette are both under contract through 2018. The Orioles would owe Duquette around $6 million if they let him go, which Rosenthal speculates is unlikely. While Showalter wants to be more involved in personnel decisions, Rosenthal hears that he wants to remain manager as opposed to being the GM. Something has to give here.
The tension between Showalter and Duquette comes at a crucial time for the franchise. Chris Davis, Matt Wieters, Wei-Yin Chen, and Darren O'Day are all due to become free agents this offseason.