And That Happened: Tuesday’s scores and highlights

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Giants 5, Diamondbacks 1: Yusmeiro Petit tossed a complete game with 84 pitches with only a solo homer blemishing things. Nine strikeouts. That has to be one of the most pitch-efficient complete games in recent history.

Tigers 4, Royals 2: And the Tigers tie the Royals. Anyone wanna tell me why Jarrod Dyson was stealing — or at least looking very much like he was stealing — third base with the Royals down two with two on and one out in the ninth? He ended up getting picked off/caught stealing. Have to assume that was a called play too, as Dyson was just inserted as a pinch runner before then. If it was called, and Dyson wasn’t just freelancing and/or falling asleep at the switch, it sorta tells you a lot about why Ned Yost was fired in late September the last time he had a team heading into the playoffs. It’s like you can hear him thinking “I’m gonna manage the HELL out of this game! I’m gonna make things happen!” Meanwhile, anyone not thinking that would’ve realized that Joe Nathan was on the mound, that he’s been shaky and that it’s way better to hit your way to a rally than to try to manufacture your way to one. Gee whiz.

Twins, 4, Indians 3: I’m not 100% sure when it was proper to stop talking about the Indians as if they were playoff contenders, but it was probably before this loss. In the event you were still holding out, however, I think this loss should take care of it for you. The Twins are using September rosters in a major way and trotted a guy out on the mound in Trevor May whose ERA was pushing ten, yet they rallied on offense in the fourth and May more or less shut down the Indians bats. It’s been nice but, eh.

Blue Jays 9, Cubs 2: It was close until the seventh, when Jose Bautista hit a go-ahead, three-run double. Toronto would tack on five insurance runs in the eighth. Bautista has a 13-game hitting streak. Makr Buehrle got the win, scattering ten hits. Reader Ross C. wrote me and said Buehrle’s appearance here made him feel old:

I had a moment today when I realized Buehrle was pitching against the Cubs, and that I still think of him as being with the White Sox. Which was only three years ago.  Yet I still had to sit back and think of who on the Cubs would have even been on the roster when he was still with the Sox.  Starlin Castro.  And he was a rookie . . . The mere thought that Starlin Castro is the longest serving Cub.

I only bring up this moment because you frequently mention having moments similar to this in ATH.  I just wanted you to know that you are not alone.  There are support groups out there who can help you get through it, but unfortunately there is no cure.

I feel ya, Ross. I mean, I’m so old that I remember when digital watches were the stuff of mockery and U2 was actually good. Yet yesterday’s Apple stuff made that seem like a distant memory.

Nationals 6, Braves 4: The Nats sent nine hitters to the plate in the first inning and scored four runs. The Braves had their chances later, but as is so often the case with these guys, they did not take advantage of their chances. Early in the season and stretching into last season the Braves had had the Nats’ number. No more. Washington as won 5 of the last 7 against the Braves head-to-head. Not that these much matter to Washington at the moment. Their lead in the East is insurmountable. The Braves, though, have had every opportunity to make up ground in the wild card race but have continued to fail to do so.

Phillies 4, Pirates 3: The Phillies cool off the recently-hot Pirates as Maikel Franco hit a tiebreaking single in the seventh inning and Freddy Galvis singled, doubled and homered. Galvis stole a base, too. Pirates probably don’t need to worry, though, as no one behind them for the second wild card seems all that threatening at the moment.

Rays 4, Yankees 3: A play at the plate in the fifth inning in which Stephen Drew was tagged out was the first test of the new clarification to the collision rules at home plate. It seems like the umps failed the test. Drew was called out, with the umpires’ reasoning being, presumably, that the ball beat the runner by a decent amount of time, thereby allowing some leeway in the plate blocking rule. Except, no, this was not one of those situations where the tag was a formality. Drew had no place to go and Rays catcher Ryan Hanigan was clearly blocking. I have no idea how Drew isn’t called safe here. After the game Joe Girardi said that in the future he’ll tell his runners just to plow over the catcher in this situation. Hanigan didn’t disagree with that. Clean it up, guys.

Reds 9, Cardinals 5: Devin Mesoraco homered and drove in three runs as the Reds got a rare victory. After the game Bryan Price said “the good thing was we stayed resilient.” Yeah, sorry Bryan, but the Reds’ second half has been a lot of things but “resilient” is not one of them.

Mets 2, Rockies 0: Jacob deGrom continues to be as impressive as all get-out. He tossed eight innings of three-hit, shutout ball while striking out nine. He’s 8-6 with a 2.62 ERA and a K/BB ratio of 121/39 in 127.1 innings. I imagine laziness and early season memories will help Billy Hamilton get a lot of Rookie of the Year votes, but I’m not sure how anyone can argue that deGrom isn’t the better choice.

Marlins 6, Brewers 3: Milwaukee continues its epic skid. Tied at three, Casey McGehee and Marcel Ozuna went back-to-back. Milwaukee is still tied with Atlanta, one and a half behind Pittsburgh for the second wild card.

Orioles 4, Red Sox 1: Alejandro De Aza hit two homers in the first three innings and Adam Jones tacked on one of his own in the third. Chris Tillman and four relievers shut down the mailing-it-in-Red Sox.

Padres 6, Dodgers 3: San Diego snaps a six-game skid. Andrew Cashner pitched seven innings, allowing two runs and scattering nine hits for his first win since April.

Angels 9, Rangers 3: A seven-run eighth inning put this one away. The Angels score runs in an era when no one scores runs. That’s a big deal. They’ve won 12 of 14 and have scored 55 runs in their current six-game winning streak.

Athletics 11, White Sox 2: That will shut up the critics for a day, I guess. Jon Lester allowed only two runs over eight innings. Josh Donaldson was 5 for 6 and drove in four via an RBI double and RBI single.

Astros 2, Mariners 1: Jonathan Villar hit a tiebreaking single in the ninth and Collin McHugh pitched eight strong innings to pick up the win. Even with a fired manager and another losing season, it’s good to see the Astros not phoning it in.

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.