The Yankees beat the Rays, clinch a playoff spot

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For the Yankees, it’s 16 playoff appearances in 17 years. For the Rays: missed opportunities. For the Red Sox: some breathing room, at least for a bit.  The Yankees beat the Rays 4-2 in the front end of a double header today.

The game was decided in the eighth when James Shields allowed a homer to Eduardo Nunez to tie it up.  Joe Maddon left Shields in the game and he struck out Eric Chavez before allowing Brett Gardner to single and then reach second on a stolen base. Derek Jeter then walked, bringing up Robinson Cano.

Shields was at 120 pitches at this point.  He was likely gassed, and it was a totally defensible call to bring in a reliever. Whether he brought in the correct one, however, in J.P. Howell is something Rays fans are likely still asking themselves. Howell has been the worst guy in that Rays pen all year. Yes, he’s a left and you want a lefty to face Cano in that situation, but Howell? That’s a major “hurm” moment if I’ve ever seen one. Cano doubled off Howell, scoring Gardner and Jeter. Which was basically the ballgame.

For the Yankees, the playoffs await again. For the Rays, another missed opportunity to put pressure on the Red Sox.  A Red Sox team which, even if it keeps losing games, won’t lose any ground if the Rays do the same.

Oh, and the Yankees did not have the champagne shower after this game. It would have made the nightcap a bit too difficult to get through, I would reckon.

Cardinals tab Miles Mikolas for Opening Day start

Miles Mikolas
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The Cardinals have selected right-hander Miles Mikolas as their Opening Day starter, the club revealed Saturday. It’ll mark the first career Opening Day start for Mikolas, who is scheduled to go up against the Brewers when the team hits the road on March 28.

The 29-year-old righty was a strong contender for the 2018 NL Cy Young Award, earning All-Star distinctions and pitching to a career-best 18-4 record with a 2.83 ERA, 1.3 BB/9, 6.5 SO/9, and 4.3 fWAR over 200 2/3 innings. He’s positioned to lead the Cardinals rotation in 2019 as well, with former Opening Day starters Carlos Martínez and Adam Wainwright and some combination of right-handers Jack Flaherty, Michael Wacha, Alex Reyes, and John Gant behind him.

Manager Mike Shildt told reporters that Flaherty, Wacha, Wainwright, and Martínez had all been considered for the honor, but admitted that Opening Day honors were ultimately handed to Mikolas “in recognition of [his performance] last year.” The Cardinals are scheduled to play a four-game set against the Brewers to start the season and will stop over in Pittsburgh for another two games before returning to St. Louis for their opening homestand against the Padres on April 4. Additional pitching assignments have yet to be announced.