A’s won’t be trading for Yunel Escobar, as Rays pull shortstop back off waivers

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As expected the Rays have pulled back Yunel Escobar off revocable waivers after the shortstop was claimed by the A’s.

Tampa Bay was only able to negotiate a deal with Oakland and ultimately decided Escobar was worth hanging onto with two seasons and $13 million remaining on his contract.

Escobar has hit just .253 with four homers and a .635 OPS in 113 games this season and wasn’t much better last year, but the bar for shortstops is always very low offensively and the Rays like his defense (and presumably don’t believe Nick Franklin is a legitimate shortstop).

Astros clinch AL West for third consecutive year

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For the third consecutive season, the Astros are AL West champions. The ‘stros clinched the division on Sunday afternoon with a convincing 13-5 win over the Angels. They were backed by three homers from leadoff man George Springer and individual homers from Alex Bregman and Aledmys Díaz.

Springer has the 22nd three-homer game in baseball this season. He’s the first Astro to hit three homers in a game since Yordan Álvarez last month, on August 10.

Justin Verlander lasted five innings in Sunday’s start, yielding two runs on six hits and a pair of walks with five strikeouts. The right-hander is arguably the frontrunner for the AL Cy Young Award, now 20-6 with a 2.53 ERA and a 288/42 K/BB ratio in 217 innings on the year. Verlander is 12 strikeouts shy of the 300-strikeout milestone and six strikeouts short of 3,000 for his career. If the Astros stay on schedule, Verlander would pitch the second-to-last game of the regular season against the Angels.

Sunday’s win marked No. 102 on the season for the Astros. The franchise record is 103 wins set last year. With six games remaining, it seems likely the Astros will set a new record.

The Astros and Yankees both won on Sunday, meaning the Astros remain a half-game ahead in the race for home field advantage. The No. 1 seed will also have the privilege of playing the Wild Card winner, which is down to the Athletics, Rays, and Indians.