And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights

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Holiday weekends weird me out. Sunday night doesn’t feel like Sunday night so doing the recaps of Sunday games doesn’t feel natural. That’s especially true when Monday is a big honkin’ hardly-anyone-goes-to-work-holiday like today.  Which means it’s a big honkin’ hardly-anyone-reads-the-blog day too.

But there are a few of you out there, I’m sure, who still have to wake up today and would like a forum in which you talk about yesterday’s games, so this is it.  It’s a somewhat abbreviated And That Happened, but it’s better than staring at the wall.  At least I think it is.

Reds 7, Indians 5: The Reds win this one, but Cleveland took five of six in the season series, which means that they now technically own Ohio. At least that’s how I think the terms of the all-Ohio series go. The Cleveland Indians team actually owns, in full, the state of Ohio and all of the real and personal property contained therein, and possess the right to exercise complete and total dominion over it.  At least that’s what Manny Acta told me when he rang my doorbell last night. He then proceeded to sit on the lounge chair in my living room, drink my wine, pet my cat and change all of the recordings on my DVR.  I don’t know that I had the legal right to stop him, so I let him do it.

Mariners 3, Padres 1: San Diego scored two runs in this series. And one of them shouldn’t have even scored thanks to Cameron Maybin’s three-ball walk on Saturday.

Athletics 7, Diamondbacks 2: Scott Sizemore had a homer. That doesn’t happen very often.

Twins 9, Brewers 7: A four-run seventh inning to bring the Twinkies back from behind.

Royals 16, Rockies 8: Melky Cabrera hit two home runs and drove in five, Eric Hosmer hit one homer and drove in four.  If this was the LSAT, you’d then have to answer what the next two players who hit no homers drove in, and then six months from now you’d have a set of scores keeping you from your first choice of law schools, and you’d always wonder what in the hell these little patterny word problems had to do with your legal career.

Rays 8, Cardinals 3: Johnny Damon had three hits and drove in four. Dude is gonna get 3000 hits, isn’t he. And when he does, we’re gonna have a real fun Hall of Fame conversation. My guess is that he won’t make it — and won’t really deserve it — but he’ll be kept out for the wrong reason. Specifically, because he never really had a strong identity with one team. If the bulk of his prime is played on either the Yankees or the Red Sox instead of being split up in a few places, there’s probably a group of people lobbying for him who won’t lobby for him now.  And all the while no one will really grok the fact that, really, he just doesn’t have the credentials.

Mets 3, Yankees 2: The Mets get to Mariano Rivera in the ninth and then Jason Bay comes through with a clutch hit in the 10th. You tell me which of those two things is more improbable.

Blue Jays 7, Phillies 4: Huh. Cliff Lee is mortal. I guess it technically ain’t June anymore, so I’ll chalk it up to that.

Cubs 3, White Sox 1: Rodrigo Lopez had seven shutout innings. Of course, the way things have been going for the Cubs, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they were going to win it.  Aramis Ramirez’s two-run homer took care of the run support, however.

Tigers 6, Giants 3:  The Tigers salvage one against the Giants and then afterwards they fired pitching coach Rick Knapp. This strikes me as a weak move. The Tigers’ defense — which is poor — has an awful lot to do with what’s been going on with the pitching staff. Both Jim Leyland and Dave Dombrowski are in the last years of their contracts, however, so everyone has to look like they’re trying to do something, right?

Red Sox 2, Astros 1: The Sox scored the go-ahead run in the ninth on a bases loaded walk. Josh Beckett struck out 11 in eight innings.

Orioles 5, Braves 4: Five hits for Nick Markakis and homers from Mark Reynolds and Zach Britton — Zach Britton? — yes, Zach Britton. Who needs the DH?

Pirates 10, Nationals 2: Kevin Correia won his 11th game and Andrew McCutchen had three hits.  In the series, McCutchen had nine hits, six of which went for extra bases.

Angels 3, Dodgers 1: Ervin Santana out-pitches Chad Billingsley. A two-run homer for Russell Branyan who, I gotta be honest, I hadn’t realized signed with the Angels. I wish there was some blog out there I could read that would keep me up-to-date on this kind of crap.

Marlins 6, Rangers 4: Three of the Feesh’s runs come in on errors. So there’s that.

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

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
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NEW YORK — 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.