And That Happened: Thursday's scores and highlights

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White Sox 5, Rays 0: Nice game for Josh Fields (1-4, grand
slam). Scott Kazmir’s nightmare season continues. Rumors have him on
the trading block to free up some salary for the Rays to get Lee or
someone. What a difference a year makes. Wait, why are you looking at
me like that? Did something else happen in this game worthy of comment?

Mariners 2, Tigers 1: And with that, the AL Central is tied.
Perfect game juju gives the Sox the momentum, though (that’s how that
works, right?). And how about Jarrod Washburn? Walk a few less guys,
strike a few more guys out, and bammo — you’re ending July at 8-6 with
a 2.71 ERA.

Giants 5, Braves 1: It makes total sense that the Braves hit Tim
Lincecum like he’s Derek Lilliquist and then get shut down by Barry
Zito (7 IP, 3 H, 1 ER). You’re not going to believe this, but Bobby Cox
was ejected. Strange, though. It was only about 80 degrees and the game
was tied. He usually saves that sort of thing for the really hot days
when the game’s outcome is no longer in doubt. Unlike almost all of his
other ejections it’s possible that he was really upset here.

Indians 5, Blue Jays 4: You can leave in a taxi. If you can’t get a taxi, you can leave in a Huff
(7.2 IP, 8 H, 4 ER). If that’s too soon, you can leave in a minute and
a huff. You know, you haven’t stopped talking since I came here? You
must have been vaccinated with a phonograph needle.

Phillies 9, Padres 4: It strikes me that a lot of that “but the Phillies need
Roy Halladay” talk implicitly assumes that Cole Hamels is going to
continue to be a 4.80ish kind of pitcher all year, and I can’t say I’m
sure why people think that. No, the Padres aren’t exactly a formidable
test, but I have this feeling that this fall’s Cole Hamels is going to
look an awful lot like last fall’s Cole Hamels.

Cardinals 4, Nationals 1: Rain put an end to this one early, as
the field became an unplayable mess. Tony La Russa on the conditions
and the grounds crew’s efforts: “You can’t try harder than that —
whether it’s the grounds crew or the umpire. Mother Nature is always
stronger than anybody.” I’d call that profound if I thought he believed
it. Let’s be honest: if there’s a manager in baseball who spends his
offseason building weather-controlling satellites and wishes to one day
destroy the sun itself, it’s Tony La Russa. The man is not exactly the
type to simply defer to nature or anything else. Pfun Pfact: Cards GM
John Mozeliak was on NPR yesterday afternoon being interviewed about
the fact that the team plans on taking the train from D.C. to Philly in
advance of tonight’s game, which is kind of cool. To get in the
era-of-train-travel mood they should all wear suits and smoke too.

Yankees 6, A’s 3: ESPN’s little “Fast facts” box
said “The Yankees came back from four runs down to win their seventh
straight game . . . New York trailed 4-0 before scoring four runs in
the fourth inning.” What happened? Did New York have to begin the game
with -1 runs for some reason, or was Oakland docked one?

Diamondbacks 11, Pirates 4: In a rare events, the Dbacks scored
a lot in a Dan Haren start. Unfortunately for Dan, most of the runs
came after he left the game, so he got a no-decision. Chad Tracy hit a
pinch-hit three-run homer that broke the game open. I have this feeling
that it will not, however, inspire the kind of ruckus Manny Ramirez’s
did the day before.

Angels 6, Twins 5: Howie Kendrick hit one up the middle in the
ninth that ricocheted off of Joe Nathan’s glove and then hit the second
base bag, preventing anyone from making what would have been a
game-ending play and allowing the tying run to score. Not a hell of a
lot you can do about that if you’re the Twins except to hope you don’t
miss the playoffs by one game this year and spend all winter thinking
about stupid bounces.

Blue Jays clinch 1st playoff spot since 2016, beat Yanks 4-1

Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports
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BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) Barred from playing in their own ballpark this year because of COVID-19, the vagabond Toronto Blue Jays have found a home in the playoffs.

The slumping New York Yankees, meanwhile, look likely to play on the road in the postseason, where they’ve struggled all year.

Hyun Jin Ryu pitched seven shutout innings and the Blue Jays clinched their first postseason spot since 2016, beating the Yankees 4-1 Thursday night and further damaging New York’s chances of hosting a first-round series.

New York lost for the fourth time in five games following a 10-game winning stretch and remained two games behind the slumping White Sox for the fourth seed. Chicago lost 5-4 at Cleveland, its fifth straight defeat.

“We’ve got to get it rolling again, obviously, if we’re going to get to where we want to go,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “I’m confident we can do it.

New York went 21-7 at home this season but was 11-18 on the road. Boone said he’s not concerned about that split even as a potential road playoff series looms next week.

“We’ve got to get ourselves in order and start playing really good baseball if we’re going to give ourselves a chance,” Boone said.

Toronto secured at least an AL wild-card spot and ensured its eighth trip overall to the postseason. The Blue Jays had endured three losing campaigns since their previous playoff trip, going 67-95 last season.

“I’m just so proud of my club and everything we’ve gone through all year,” second-year manager Charlie Montoyo said.

Canada’s federal government refused to allow games at Toronto’s Rogers Centre this season, citing the closed Canada-U.S. border and the travel risk associated with the pandemic. Stuck on the road to start the season, the Blue Jays eventually ended up at their Triple-A ballpark, Sahlen Field in Buffalo, but didn’t gripe about their fate.

“They never complained,” Montoyo said. “They had their mind set on getting to this moment right now.”

Blue Jays players embraced after Rafael Dolis struck out Aaron Hicks to end it, donning blue T-shirts that said “Respect Toronto.”

“This is something we want to make an every year thing,” infielder Cavan Biggio said. “For us, we’re happy, we’re excited we’re able to put ourselves in this position, but this is only the start of hopefully something special for a long time.”

The Blue Jays trail the Yankees by two games for second place in the AL East. Both teams have three games remaining. Toronto hosts Baltimore in Buffalo this weekend while the Yankees host the Marlins.

New York failed to hit a homer for the fourth straight game, matching its longest streak since June 2016. It’s the first time the Yankees have failed to homer in a four-game series since doing so at Texas in July 2013.

“I’m concerned with the way we’ve played recently,” outfielder Brett Gardner said. “Any time you’re not playing your best baseball and the postseason is right around the corner, something needs to be corrected rather quickly.”

New York loaded the bases with two outs in the eighth, but pinch-hitter Gary Sanchez flied out to deep center, where Randal Grichuk made a leaping catch at the wall.

“It’s good to see him get a really good swing off in a big spot,” Boone said of Sanchez. “Just unfortunately, that short.”

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. homered for Toronto, his eighth.

Ryu (5-2) scattered five hits, walked two and struck out four. Luke Voit and Hicks hit back-to-back singles to begin the sixth but Ryu struck out Giancarlo Stanton, got Gleyber Torres to fly out, and retired Gio Urshela on a groundball.

“He’s an ace and he did what an ace does,” Montoyo said.

The left-hander lowered his ERA from 3.00 to 2.69.

Dolis got four outs for his fifth save in six chances.

Guerrero opened the scoring with a solo homer off left-hander Jordan Montgomery (2-3) in the second.

The Blue Jays extended their lead when Biggio and Bo Bichette hit back-to-back, two-out doubles in the third.

Toronto made it 4-0 in the sixth. Grichuk chased Montgomery with a single and Guerrero singled off Adam Ottavino before rookie Alejandro Kirk hit a two-out, two-run double.

Montgomery lost for the first time in four starts. He allowed three runs and six hits in 5 1/3 innings.

The Blue Jays finished 5-5 in their 10-game regular season series against the Yankees.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Blue Jays: RHP Nate Pearson (elbow) was activated off the injured list and RHP Wilmer Font was designated for assignment. . RHP Jordan Romano (strained right middle finger) will throw a second bullpen session Friday.

Yankees: Aaron Judge came on as a pinch-hitter but is expected to start all three remaining regular season games, Boone said.

SHARED DUTY

Boone said he expects to use both Sanchez and Kyle Higashioka at catcher in the postseason. Higashioka has hit well while working with ace Gerrit Cole, while Sanchez has struggled with both offense and his defense down the stretch.

SEVEN UP

Ryu became the first Blue Jays starting pitcher since Aug. 22, 2019, to pitch into the seventh. It had been an MLB-record 88 games since RHP Jacob Waguespack pitched into the seventh at Dodger Stadium last year.

UP NEXT

Yankees: LHP J.A. Happ (2-2, 3.25) starts Friday as New York returns home to begin a three-game series against Miami. RHP Sandy Alcantara (3-2, 3.12) starts for the Marlins.

Blue Jays: RHP Taijuan Walker (4-3, 2.86) starts Friday in the opener of a three-game series against Baltimore. The Orioles have not named a starter.