And That Happened: Friday's scores and highlights

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Cardinals 3, Nationals 2: Pujols gets a walkoff homer, but the
bigger story is that John Smoltz was strong again, giving up one run
and striking out six over six innings. Yes, it was once again against a weak
team, but unlike San Diego, Washington can actually hit and are sixth
in the NL in runs per game.

Giants 2, Rockies 0: Eight shutout innings for Lincecum, and the Rockies wild card lead is down to two games.

Angels 11, Athletics 7: The A’s led this one 6-1 at one point,
but then Anaheim turned on the afterburners, mostly due to Kendry
Morales, who was 5-5 with a homer and six RBI. All seven of the Angels’
runs in the seventh were unearned.

Reds 4, Dodgers 2: It’s tempting to say that Homer Bailey has
finally turned the corner after a couple of strong starts (and this one
was strong: 8 IP, 0 ER, 7K), but he’s done this kind of thing before
only to revert back to, well, being Homer Bailey. The difference now is
that the Reds have no business messing with him anymore, and should
start next season with him in the rotation to either sink or swim for
good.

Yankees 5, White Sox 2: Three-run walkoff job for Robinson Cano
in the 10th. The Golden Sombrero for Jim Thome (0-4, 4 Ks). Not trying
to slam Thome here. I like him. I just like to say “Golden Sombrero.”

Phillies 4, Braves 2: Stupid rain. Due to a 45 minute rain delay
early in the game the Braves lost Tommy Hanson which, all due respect
to Pedro Martinez, is a bigger loss to them than losing Pedro was to
Philly. Moyer and Chen mop up for the Phillies, and Ryan Howard went 3
for 3 with two homers. I won’t say the Braves are quite done yet, but
if you took them off the fire and let them rest covered on the counter
for a little while they’ll probably be nice and medium rare in a few
minutes.

Red Sox 6, Blue Jays 5: Josh Beckett continues to struggle and give up long balls, but the Sox rallied.

Diamondbacks 14, Astros 7: Just like a 68 degree day in August
gives you a refreshing but premature taste of fall, a 14-7 game before
labor day between two non-contenders gives you a depressing but
premature taste of just-playing-out-the-string season.

Tigers 6, Rays 2: From the “You have GOT to be kidding me”
department, Brandon Inge: “There’s a kid named Noah that I’ve visited a
couple times in the hospital, and he’s at home right now, and I spent a
couple hours with him today. He asked me the dreaded question — could
I hit a home run for him in the game, and I told him I’d do the best I
could.” And he did.

Cubs 5, Mets 2: A three-run homer by Alfonso Soriano breaks a
tie in the eighth and wins the game. It was his first homer in a month.
Milton Bradley had three hits, but don’t think for a second he enjoyed
any of them.

Orioles 13, Indians 4: Matt Wieters was 3-4 with 4 RBI. Fausto Carmona, who looked so damn good his last time out, got shelled.

Brewers 8, Pirates 6: Braun, Fielder and Jason Bourgeois hit
homers. John Russell benched Ryan Doumit in the middle of the game and
the two of them had a closed-door meeting after the game. Neither of
them are talking to the media, so until we hear anything further, I’m
going to assume that they were arguing over whether Pitt the Elder or
Lord Palmerston was England’s greatest Prime Minister.

Padres 9, Marlins 5: Chris Volstad was lit up like a Christmas
tree. The Braves fan in me likes to see that San Diego is effectively
ending Florida’s shot at the wild card on the same road trip that they
killed the Braves’ chances.

Twins 3, Rangers 2: Brian Duensing is no fireballer, but he
struck out eight in seven innings. The Rangers’ Tommy Hunter looked
good too. He’s also tough: Justin Morneau lined one off his chest, but
Hunter stayed in the game.

Mariners 6, Royals 3: Mike Sweeney is 112 years old and really
hasn’t been able to run since he was in grade school, but he scored
from third on a comebacker to the mound in the second, belly-flopping
past Olivo as he tried to apply the tag. Calling hours for Sweeney will
be held for Sweeney at the Ranier Funeral Home this Tuesday. In lieu of
flowers, donations can be made to the Harold Baines Home for the Aged
and Decrepit.

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

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
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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.