And That Happened: Sunday's scores and highlights

Leave a comment

Braves 7, Mets 1: Correlation is not the same thing as
causation, but it’s worth noting that the Braves are 5-2 since
unloading Francoeur. The Mets are now seventeen games back of the Nats
in the Bryce Harper sweepstakes. Maybe that makes them a longshot, but
I like their chances of winning that race way more than I like them
winning the N.L. East.

Phillies 5, Marlins 0: While the Braves trend upwards and the
Mets trend down, the Phillies simply don’t plan on losing, it seems.
J.A. Happ shuts the Marlins down for seven and four others combine to
handle the remaining two innings, as the Phils sweep the Marlins. They
lead the East by 6.5 games, and no one else in that division looks as
though they have a higher gear.

Angels 1, Athletics 0: It was like Game 7 of the 1991 World
Series, but only if Jack Morris was lifted after nine and John Smoltz
was lifted after eight. And if Dan Gladden was a Venezuelan right
fielder with minimal range who homered instead of doubled. And if the
game really didn’t mean all that much. Hope you didn’t blink during
this one, though. It was 2 hours, 17 minutes for a 10 inning game.

Giants 4, Pirates 3: The Giants finally find some post-break
offense. Not a lot, mind you, but enough to finally win a game. Matt
Cain was strong (7 IP, 5 H, 1 ER). Heavy hearts in the San Francisco
dugout, as earlier in the day Giants’ part owner Sue Burns died of
complications from cancer. According to reports of her death, she was
diagnosed with the disease July 10. Christ, why do we care about most
of the stupid crap we care about in this world when any single one of
us can go from zero to cancer to the sweet hereafter in nine freakin’
days?

Dodgers 4, Astros 3: Big surprise as the Dodgers’ seventh hitter
goes 3-3, scores four runs and hits the game-winning dinger. Oh, wait.
It was Matt Kemp, so I suppose the only surprising thing about it is
that he’s still hitting seventh. Whatevers, Joe.

Rockies 6, Padres 1: It’s Jason Marquis’ world; the rest of us
are just, quite unexpectedly, living in it. The Major League leader in
wins — I repeat, Jason Marquis, the Major Leagues’ leader in victories
— not only pitches eight strong innings, but he doubles and drives in
two runs as well.

Cardinals 2, Diamondbacks 1: Joel Piniero is apparently living
in Jason Marquis’ world too, contributing on the hill and at the plate
(7 IP, 5 H, 1 ER; 1-3, 2B, 2 RBI).

Rays 4, Royals 3: Roman Colon walked in the winning run after
getting ahead of the hitter 0-2 which, like so many other things in
Kansas City these days, had to be kind of depressing. Luke Hochevar
pitched well. When asked about it, he sounded like he was sending Colon
a message: “I got to two strikes a lot and I tried to put them away.”
“Unlike that no-good sonofa@!$%# Colon,” Hochevar thought but did not
add. And this may mean nothing, but Joe Posnanski’s Facebook status
last night said “Something big coming?” I suppose it could mean that a
Skyline Chili is opening up in Kansas City, but with Joe that would
have inspired an exclamation point. No, if I had to guess, I’d say he
heard someone telling someone that someone was getting fired. Or
something.

Yankees 2, Tigers 1: Nice weekend for the Yankees as they sweep
Detroit, but this one is especially nice as Joba Chamberlain looked
good for the first time in a while. Can’t say that the Tigers looked
bad, though. Leyland pretty much said it all: “If you told me that we’d
hold those guys to nine runs in three games in this ballpark, I’d say
we’d have won two out of three for sure, maybe even sweep. We just
didn’t get any hits. Period.”

Orioles 10, White Sox 2: Jeremy Guthrie (8 IP, 3 H, 2 ER) and
Greg Zaun (3-4, HR, 4 RBI) had nice days to salvage one from the
Chisox. In other news, I like to say “Chisox.” Chisox, Chisox, Chisox.

Blue Jays 3, Red Sox 1: Halladay was his usual ridiculous self
(CG, 6 H, 1 ER, 7K, 0 BB). He’s still not going anywhere, despite what
the writers of all the game stories say in the seven paragraphs that
precede any discussion of the actual game action, but yes, he was
impressive. The Sox’ lead over the Yankees is now down to one game.

Cubs 11, Nationals 3: Julian Tavarez had another bad outing and was designated for assignment after the game. Chico Harlan has a detailed story about it all,
and it’s actually kind of sad. Tavarez lives in a hotel room near the
stadium in Washington and keeps no friends in D.C. He gets to the park
early. He does nothing else but play, go home, sleep, and then come to
the park again. He says that baseball is everything to him. You hear
about a guy like that and hope that he can stick around a while. When
he doesn’t, you probably have to worry about him even more than you did
when he was on the team.

Mariners 5, Indians 3: If there were any doubts — and I suppose
there could have been a few — as to whether Ichiro was a Hall of Famer
based solely on his U.S. output, they’re being put to rest this season.
He went 3-4 yesterday, raising his average to .363, which suggests a
Tony Gwynn-decline, not a Roberto Alomar one. As for the Indians, I’m
running out of smack to talk. There was a “the bright side of the 2009
Indians” kind of article in the Cleveland Plain Dealer yesterday, and
it focused on Sizemore, Choo, Martinez and Cabrera. Those dudes
combined to go 0-15.

Reds 5, Brewers 3: It’s curious that the Brewers have now lost
four straight Yovani Gallardo starts. I mean, usually you’re better off
with your ace on the mound. Lots of complaining about the umps
in this one from the Milwaukee side of things. “[Dale Sveum] felt that
this guy’s strike zone was a little erratic,” manager Ken Macha said,
adding that “the strike zone got a little wide in the eighth and ninth
innings.” Well yeah. Umps got flights to catch after Sunday games just
like anyone else. What does Sveum expect?

Rangers 5, Twins 3: Ian Kinsler starts the game with a leadoff
homer and ends it with a walkoff. Pretty neat! Not so neat that he did
it off of a knuckleballer, of course — Karma’s gonna kick him in the
jewels for that somehow — but I suppose he’s riding pretty high today,
anyway.

Rays beat Mets 8-5, clinch 1st AL East title in 10 years

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Leave a comment

NEW YORK (AP) Confetti instead of champagne. Silly string instead of beer.

The Tampa Bay Rays, long accustomed to doing more with less, figured out a way to maximize the division-clinching celebration they were allowed to enjoy during a 2020 season shortened by the coronavirus.

Randy Arozarena homered twice and the Rays clinched their first AL East title in 10 years Wednesday night with an 8-5 victory over the New York Mets.

“I’m completely dry right now, which I’m not a huge fan of,” center fielder Kevin Kiermaier, the longest-tenured Rays player, said with a grin. “But you have to adapt to what we’re asked of.”

With teams instructed to celebrate in a muted and socially distant style, the Rays went old school – or maybe elementary school – with their clinching party.

The team filed slowly onto the field after Nick Anderson fanned Andres Gimenez for the final out. A couple of players shot off canisters filled with confetti that eventually dotted the grass and dirt at Citi Field. Hugs and handshakes were exchanged before the Rays doused one another with silly string and lit some cigars in the visiting clubhouse.

Later, hooting and hollering could be heard from the visitors’ dugout.

“We’re little kids trapped in grown men’s bodies,” Kiermaier said.

Joey Wendle and Brandon Lowe also went deep for the Rays to back Tyler Glasnow‘s six solid innings. Tampa Bay will be home at quirky Tropicana Field for a best-of-three first-round playoff series beginning next Tuesday.

It is the third division crown for the thrifty Rays, whose payroll this season is just over $28 million – more than only the Pittsburgh Pirates and Baltimore Orioles. Tampa Bay, which began play in 1998, also won the AL East, home of two big-spending powers in the Yankees and Red Sox, in 2008 and 2010.

“It feels great to win the division, no matter what division you’re in,” Kiermaier said. “But especially the American League East – it’s just a different animal.”

After missing a chance to clinch Tuesday, the Rays went into Wednesday again needing just a win or a Yankees loss against Toronto to lock up the division championship.

The Rays (37-20) broke a 2-all tie in the sixth on Arozarena’s two-run homer off Michael Wacha and pulled away, taking care of business themselves while New York was routed 14-1 by the Blue Jays.

“At the end of the day, a clinch is a clinch,” said Wendle, who homered in the second. “But to do it on a win – everybody’s kind of riding the high of winning the game along with the division. We didn’t want to see it come down to them losing a game.”

Tampa Bay also is closing in on wrapping up the top record in the AL and the No. 1 seed in the playoffs.

Lowe, who had an RBI fielder’s choice in the third, hit a two-run homer in the eighth. Willy Adames added an RBI single later in the inning and Arozarena homered again in the ninth.

The insurance came in handy for the Rays when the Mets scored three times off Oliver Drake in the ninth – via an RBI groundout by Robinson Cano and a two-run homer by Todd Frazier – before Anderson closed the door.

“I think we had the game pretty much in control (and) certainly recognized what was going on in Buffalo, but I don’t know if you can ever prepare for a moment like that – it’s pretty special,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said.

Glasnow (5-1) allowed two runs on three hits and one walk with eight strikeouts.

Gimenez and Dominic Smith homered off Glasnow in the final home game of the season for the Mets, whose long-shot playoff hopes were further damaged with the loss. New York began the day 2 1/2 games out of an NL wild-card spot.

“We still have a shot with the four games left and we’re competing,” manager Luis Rojas said. “We’ve just got to do what we do – just keep fighting like we did in the ninth.”

Wacha allowed four runs on six hits and struck out four in six innings.

STABLE SHIRT

Rays pitcher Charlie Morton sported a T-shirt picturing a stable of horses as he spoke with reporters during a pregame Zoom call. Morton did little to discourage the notion the shirt was inspired by Cash’s viral rant earlier this month, when he declared the Rays have “a whole damn stable full of guys that throw 98 mph” after Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman threw near Mike Brousseau’s head in the ninth inning Sept. 4.

“The stable shirt?” Morton said. “It was in my locker last week and I like horses.”

With a grin obviously growing even behind his Rays mask, Morton said he rode horses as a kid.

“So I was ecstatic to see this shirt in my locker and I wore it,” he said.

As for the fireballers on the Rays’ pitching staff?

“We’ve got some guys that throw really hard,” Morton said.

ANOTHER LOSING SEASON

The loss guaranteed the Mets (25-31) will finish with a sub-.500 record for the ninth time in the last 12 seasons – a total matched or exceeded only by the Chicago White Sox (nine), Miami Marlins (10) and San Diego Padres (10). The White Sox and Padres have already clinched playoff spots and a winning record, while the Marlins are in second place in the NL East.

New York made the playoffs in back-to-back seasons in 2015 and 2016 and went 86-76 last year.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Rays: LHP Jose Alvarado (shoulder, lat) is scheduled to throw batting practice to 3B Yandy Diaz (hamstring) and 1B Ji-Man Choi (hamstring) at Tropicana Field on Thursday. Cash said all three players are progressing and he hopes they are available for the playoffs. . Brousseau (oblique) missed a fourth consecutive game. Cash said he would have been available off the bench if needed

Mets: RF Michael Conforto (hamstring) returned to the lineup as the designated hitter after missing two games and went 0 for 4. . The Mets activated RHP Dellin Betances (lat), who last pitched Aug. 29, and optioned RHP Corey Oswalt to the alternate site.

UP NEXT

Rays: After a day off Thursday, Morton (2-2, 4.64 ERA) is scheduled to get his postseason tuneup in the opener of a series against the Phillies on Friday.

Mets: Rookie LHP David Peterson (5-2, 3.80 ERA) opens a four-game road series against the Nationals. Peterson struck out a career-high 10 against the Braves last Saturday.