And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights

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Dodgers 1, Giants 0: In 1968, a gallon of gas cost 34 cents, the average cost of a car was $2,282 and the federal minimum wage was $1.60.  In other news, Clayton Kershaw (8 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 12K)  beat Tim Lincecum (7 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 7K).

Mets 6, Cardinals 5:  The walkoff homer from Angel Pagan in the bottom of the tenth. But he doesn’t get all of the kudos. Some are owed to Jason Isringhausen, who gave a valiant effort in two innings of relief, including striking out Albert Pujols, Matt Holliday and Lance Berkman consecutively between the ninth and tenth innings.

Rockies 3, Braves 2: Carlos Gonzalez with the walkoff RBI single off Eric O’Flaherty. Why was Eric O’Flaherty, the Braves third best reliever, pitching with runners on in the ninth inning instead of one of the Braves’ All-Star relievers? Because the damn book says you (a) use your setup man in the eighth inning, so yep, Johnny Venters had to be in there in the eighth; and (b) you never use your closer in a tie game on the road because then the gods up on Olympus will release the friggin’ Kraken and innocent women and children will be killed. Or at least that’s what Fredi Gonzalez’ book says, because that’s the way he manages.

Angels 9, Rangers 8: A six-run sixth inning brings the Angles back to beat the Rangers, ending their winning streak. All good things must come to an end. Or, if you’re an Angels fan, all bad things, I suppose.

Twins 7, Indians 5: Danny Valencia was the hero  For the second day in row, singling in what proved to be the winning run. The Twins and Tribe split the series, further establishing that no one really wants to win the AL Central.

Phillies 9, Cubs 1: Two homers for Jimmy Rollins.  Vance Worley gave up one run over eight innings as the Phillies win it in a laugher.  Game time temperature was 97 degrees with high humidity and the Phillies had a huge lead all game, so why Worley pitched eight innings I have no idea. I mean, it’s not like Phillies pitchers have been affected by the heat in Chicago already or anything.

Red Sox 4, Orioles 0: Andrew Miller walked six guys in five and two-thirds innings and the Orioles still couldn’t score. That’s just kinda sad.

Astros 3, Nationals 2: Break up the Astros. They’ve won two in a row — and a series —  for the first time in a month. Jason Michaels with the game-winning single in the 11th.

Reds 3, Pirates 1: Chase d’Arnaud had two critical errors, one in the first, one in the fifth, that let the Reds score a couple of runs.  Of course, when you only score one run yourself, you don’t leave yourself that much of a margin for such things.

Yankees 4, Rays 0: Anyone else getting the distinct impression that the Rays are falling out contention? Freddy Garcia is no slouch, but he shouldn’t shut you out into the seventh inning if you have any designs on contending.

Padres 14, Marlins 3: Not Ricky Nolasco’s night (1.1 IP, 9 H, 9 ER). And, mere hours after I voiced dread over the prospect of Ryan Ludwick being traded to the Braves, he drives in four runs.

Blue Jays 11, Mariners 6: It just keeps getting worse for the Mariners, who drop their 11th straight. A three-run homer for Travis Snider, who drove in five on the night. Homers for Adam Lind and Edwin Encarnacion as well.

Athletics 7, Tigers 5: Hideki Matsui hit his 500th career home run (NPB + MLB of course). He also hit the go-ahead-for-good RBI single in the seventh. Eleven pitchers were used in this one. I note that because it seems odd to see that this season. It’s far less common than it was even just a couple of years ago. I suppose depressed offense will do that for you.

Royals 2, White Sox 1: Runners at first and third with two out in the 11th, and Ozzie Guillen calls for Sergio Santos.  Santos goes 3-1 to Billy Butler and then throws a wild pitch, allowing Alex Gordon to score from third. Ozzie probably blew a gasket.

Brewers 5, Diamondbacks 2: Nyjer Morgan, Ryan Braun and Rickie Weeks all hit RBI singles in the 10th inning.  Academic though given the carnage in this one: Stephen Drew broke his ankle and Carlos Gomez broke his collarbone. This obviously hurts both teams playoff chances.

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.