UPDATE: I guess the “statement” only lasted so long. Bottom of the eighth and Mark Teixeira just deposited a Daniel Bard fastball to the upper deck in right field. You may now exhale, Mr. Papelbon.
4:54: P.M.: Daniel Bard just came into the Yankees-Red Sox game in the bottom of the seventh with the Sox leading 2-0, the bases loaded, one out and Derek Jeter and Nick Swisher coming to bat.
Bards threw six pitches, all fastballs, clocking in at 97, 99, 98, 98, 97 and 99. Strike, strike, strike, strike, strike, strike.
I don’t know if the Red Sox season is truly over or not. But if it isn’t, and if they somehow manage to make it into the playoffs, I can’t help but think this moment will be remembered.
For the third consecutive season, the Astros are AL West champions. The ‘stros clinched the division on Sunday afternoon with a convincing 13-5 win over the Angels. They were backed by three homers from leadoff man George Springer and individual homers from Alex Bregman and Aledmys Díaz.
Springer has the 22nd three-homer game in baseball this season. He’s the first Astro to hit three homers in a game since Yordan Álvarez last month, on August 10.
Justin Verlander lasted five innings in Sunday’s start, yielding two runs on six hits and a pair of walks with five strikeouts. The right-hander is arguably the frontrunner for the AL Cy Young Award, now 20-6 with a 2.53 ERA and a 288/42 K/BB ratio in 217 innings on the year. Verlander is 12 strikeouts shy of the 300-strikeout milestone and six strikeouts short of 3,000 for his career. If the Astros stay on schedule, Verlander would pitch the second-to-last game of the regular season against the Angels.
Sunday’s win marked No. 102 on the season for the Astros. The franchise record is 103 wins set last year. With six games remaining, it seems likely the Astros will set a new record.
The Astros and Yankees both won on Sunday, meaning the Astros remain a half-game ahead in the race for home field advantage. The No. 1 seed will also have the privilege of playing the Wild Card winner, which is down to the Athletics, Rays, and Indians.