And That Happened: Monday’s scores and highlights

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Twins 9, Tigers 6: Congratulations Jim Thome on home run number 599 and, the very next at bat, home run number 600.  For the record, his first one came against Steve Farr on October 4, 1991. I was a freshman in college and had a lush head of hair at the time. George H.W. Bush was the president. The number one song in the country was “I Adore Mi Amor” by Color Me Badd. In the lineup for the opposing Yankees — managed by Stump Merrill — was Steve Sax, Don Mattingly, and Mel Hall.

Braves 5, Giants 4: Gimme an F! Gimme an F! What’s that stand for? Well, if you’re Brian Wilson, it stands for FFUUUUUUUU….  If you’re a Braves fan, it stands for Freddie Freeman, who hit the game winning single off Wilson on a 3-2 count with two outs, the bases loaded and the Bravos trailing 4-3.  Freeman, by the way, had just turned two when Thome hit that first homer.

Pirates 6, Cardinals 2: Ryan Doumit was 4 for 4 with a three-run homer that ended up being the game winner.

Brewers 3, Dodgers 0: Randy Wolf shut out the Dodgers for eight innings. The Brewers turned a triple play in the third inning. And it was a pretty nifty one. Not as good as a 5-4-3 bang-bang-banger, and maybe a product of a bad baserunning play by Matt Kemp trying to go home, but still solid. Definitely not one of those boring “the second baseman caught a line drive and everyone stood around wondering what was going on while he tagged anyone he could find” kind of things.

Rangers 8, Angels 4: Texas extends its lead to five games. If the Angels don’t get to work here, this could be their last meaningful series.  You hear that Mr. Anaheim? That is the sound of inevitability… It is the sound of your death… Goodbye, Mr. Anaheim.

Mets 5, Padres 4: Jim Thome wasn’t the only guy hitting a big round number last night. Jason Isringhausen saved his 300th game. Isringhausen admitted after the game that getting his 300th save was the reason he came back after a nearly two-year layoff. You don’t hear guys being that honest about milestones very often.

Rockies 7, Marlins 4: Freddie Freeman wasn’t the only guy getting a walkoff hit after a big ninth inning rally last night. Jason Giambi hit a walkoff homer — a three-run job — to turn a tie game into a 7-4 win. Before he did it, Carlos Gonzalez had tied it up with an RBI double.

Mariners 6, Blue Jays 5: Two homers for Mike Carp, who happens to lead the majors in RBI for the month of August. Bet you didn’t know that.

Orioles 6, Athletics 2: Tommy Hunter let a load of guys on base and was pitching out of trouble, but he kept things afloat and the O’s win the first game of a ten-game road trip. That’s two in a row for Baltimore, by the way, so break out the champagne and ticker tape.

Yankees 7, Royals 4: A.J. Burnett pitches into the sixth inning and gets a win. Of course, based on my Yankee-fan-filled Twitter timeline as the game was going on, it wasn’t as if it was an exercise in confidence building, what with all of the hits he gave up.  Better than nothin’, I guess. Jeter went 3-for-4 with three RBI.

Cubs 4, Astros 3: Geovany Soto had three hits and drove in two. The Cubs have won 12 of 15.

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.