And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights

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Yankees 7, White Sox 2: Gosh, I just don’t know how the Yankees are gonna compete with the rotation in such bad shape. I mean, really, it’s dire (Ivan Nova 7.2 IP, 6 H, 1 ER 10K).

Phillies 3, Giants 0: Cliff Lee tosses a seven hit shutout. Microcosm game: both teams can pitch, the Giants have no offense anymore, and thus comparisons between this series and the 2010 NLCS are not exactly apt. Seven straight for the Phillies.

Rangers 5, Tigers 2: The Rangers put at least a temporary halt to their current skid behind a strong outing from Alexi Ogando. Brad Penny — who seems to only pitch in day games — got lit up again.

Cardinals 7, Marlins 4: Single, double and a homer for Albert Pujols and — thanks to Edwin Jackson totally wearing that game on Wednesday afternoon — the Cards were able to trot out seven pitchers to keep the Feesh at bay. Like I’ve always said: that Tony La Russa is a genius.

Indians 7, Red Sox 3: Justin Masterson outpitches new hire Erik Bedard. At least by a little. Same number of runs allowed in one more inning for Masterson. The bullpens were the difference, with Andrew Miller giving up two runs on four hits while walking two in two and two-thirds. Carlos Santana went 3-for-4 with three RBI and Kosuke Fukudome had three hits.

Rays 7, Blue Jays 6: An exciting twelve inning affair. Desmond Jennings hit a solo homer in the 10th to tie it up at four. Then Robinson Chirinos tied it in the 11th with a pinch-hit single and won it with a two-out single in the 12th.

Cubs 7, Pirates 6: Things were relatively under control for the Pirates until the eighth, but then four Pirates relievers managed to allow three Cubs runs, turning a 6-4 Pirates lead unto a 7-6 deficit, which proved to be the final score.

Royals 9, Orioles 4: Before the season, every time I was asked about the Orioles’ chances, I’d say something about how that young rotation needs to come around.  Guess what? They never did, and a nightmare season continues.

Angels 7, Twins 1: Dan Haren took a shutout into the eighth and Mark Trumbo drove in four. Home run number 598 for Jim Thome.

Rockies 6, Nationals 3: Esmil Rogers slid into Ubaldo Jimenez’s slot in the rotation and things went just fine (5.2 IP, 7 H. 1 ER).  A homer for Tulowitzki.

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.