And That Happened: Wednesday's scores and highlights

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Tigers 7, Twins 2: I’ve seen a lot of “well, whaddaya expect,
Pavano sucks” comments floating around the internet since last night’s
loss, but it’s all from New York people who can’t get his time in
Gotham out of their heads. Sure, he got knocked around last night, but
before that he had owned the Tigers this season, going 4-0 with a 1.69
ERA. It wasn’t his night, no, but the outcome wasn’t preordained. Give
Detroit the credit for doing what had to be done. And it is all but
done, no? Three games back with four games to play? Sorry, Twinkies, I
think it’s over.

Marlins 5, Braves 4: Speaking of over. Sixteen freakin’ strikeouts by Ricky Nolasco. Sixteen! If only the Braves had listened to Mike Schmidt.
But they could have won! A dramatic comeback in the ninth, only to be
short-circuited by Matt Diaz’s total brain lock at third base with the
bases loaded in the ninth. Either run home or don’t go, Matt. At least
there’s dignity in being gunned down at home. Dying at third base is an
empty death.

Phillies 10, Astros 3: And now we’re talking really over.
As in the NL East race, which the Phillies have now clinched. Brade
Lidge was brought in to pitch the last out of the ninth with a seven
run lead. I’d call that “baby steps” but to do so would be an insult to
babies everywhere. This is more like it.

Rockies 10, Brewers 6: And really, given how they’re playing
(i.e. not on fire, but better than L.A., St. Louis and Philly) they
kind of have to be your NL favorites, no?

Reds 6, Cardinals 1: I’m supposed to be writing a preview of
whichever NLDS the Cards are a part of, and as I sit here right now, I
can’t picture doing it without using the word “stanky.”

Blue Jays 12, Red Sox 0: Even stankier, though to be fair, the
Sox trotted out a AA lineup the day after clinching the wild card.
Still, thank goodness Pouliot is writing the Anaheim-Boston preview,
because I wouldn’t know what to say. Let’s all tip out hats to Roy
Halladay, who probably had more annoying crap to deal with this season
than any other superstar. He plays for an imploding organization who
left him dangling in the breeze for over a month, and then when it
didn’t happen, he got to read all kinds of stuff talking about how
he’ll never be more valuable, and just wait for the decline, and all of
that. Screw that, he said, and went and shut down the Sox (CG SHO, 3
H). Again, sure, it was almost all second stringers, but dominant is
dominant.

Indians 5, White Sox 1; White Sox 1, Indians 0: Eric Wedge bids
adieu to Progressive Field with the split of the doubleheader. I
basically got fired nearly a year ago, so I know from playing out the
string in October. Contrary to the gloomy game recaps, my guess is that
he rather enjoyed the day. Sure, it will weigh on him later, but once
you hear the rumors about the axe coming down, it’s something of a
relief to actually have it happen. In other news, I heard a rumor that
Shapiro had a line on a new manager. I can’t mention any names until
the deal is official, but I think it will be as soon as the candidate
gets off the other line with that guy who is interested in a set of
white walls.

Rays 5, Orioles 3: “You’re saving your really good lies for some
smarter cop, is that it? I’m just a donut in the on-deck circle. Wait
until the real guy gets here. Wait until that big guy comes back. I’m
probably just his secretary. I’m just Montel Williams. You want to talk
to Larry King. I’ve been a murder police for ten years. If
you’re going to lie to me, you lie to me with respect. What is it? Is
it my shoes? Is it my haircut? Got a problem with my haircut? Don’t you
ever lie to me like I’m Montel Williams. I am not Montel Williams. I am not Montel Williams!” In other news, I’m done thinking of new ways to describe the Orioles’ suckitude. Here on out, it’s only “Homicide” quotes.

Pirates 4, Cubs 0; Pirates 8, Cubs 2: Charlie Morton throws a
four-hit shutout in the first game. Donnie Veal got in another third of
an inning in the second. Nice job getting him some work, Russell. The
Pirates need only split their remaining four to avoid 100 losses. I’m
kind of rooting for them.

Nationals 7, Mets 4: Justin Maxwell came in as a pinch runner,
hung around for a plate appearance and hit a walkoff grand slam on
K-Rod’s 37th pitch of the game. Jerry Manuel after the game: “We’re
just not a good team right now.” You don’t say, doc?

Royals 4, Yankees 3: Derek Jeter led off the first with a homer,
which I’m pretty sure makes him a felon or a fraud or a war criminal of
some kind. Joba Chamberlain was booed off the field following 3+
lackluster innings. He’s 0-4 with 8.42 ERA in his last eight starts,
and at this point I don’t see the Yankees putting much if any trust in
him in the postseason. I think he was jerked around a bit in the second
half, but really, at some point you gotta pitch regardless of how the
bosses are doin’ you.

Padres 5, Dodgers 0: Clayton Richard tosses a one-hitter over
seven and then the bullpen closes the door. Torre: “We certainly don’t
want to finish the season on a bum note because momentum-wise it
doesn’t help you in the postseason.” Sorry Joe, the bum note has
already been played. All that’s left to determine is how long you all
sustain it. Pirates and Padres. Wow.

Angels 5, Rangers 0: One-hitters were apparently all the rage
out west last night. In this one, it was Matt Palmer and four other
relievers who did the trick. And it was a leadoff single in the first
inning! And Palmer was basically just a spot starter, taking Weaver’s
place so that the Angels could set up the playoff rotation.

Mariners 7, Athletics 0: OK, so maybe 629 was Griffey’s
last homer. Although at this rate he may convince someone to give him a
job next year. Oh, and Brandon Morrow gave up one hit over eight
innings. There’s a lot of talk in the game story about how this helps
the Mariners figure out the rotation next year because, boy howdy, how
great is it to have a second strong starter after Hernandez. That talk,
however, doesn’t really acknowledge that one start does not a strong
starter make, especially when it comes on September 30th against
Oakland.

Giants 4, Diamondbacks 1: The Giants are now officially
eliminated. Brad Penny threw a complete game. Based on how he looked in
the middle of the season in Boston — sweaty and tired mostly — I
would have bet the lives of my children that he wouldn’t make it past a
seventh inning for the rest of his days. Throw him in with Zambrano as
a guy who either (a) needs to improve his conditioning; or (b) always,
always always pitch in 62 degree weather. Brad: have your agent call
Mr. Sabean and get a deal done right now.

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.