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Royals clinch first division title since 1985

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The Royals beat the Mariners 10-4 in front of an electric crowd at Kauffman Stadium tonight to clinch the AL Central and secure their first division title since 1985. MLB’s longest drought between division titles is officially over. The Royals were in the AL West in 1985, so this is the first AL Central title in franchise history.

The Royals came into Thursday night with a magic number of two. They got some help from the Indians, who beat the second-place Twins 6-3. The Cardinals and Pirates have already punched their tickets to the postseason by at least clinching a spot in the NL Wild Card Game, so the Royals are the first team in MLB to actually clinch their division.

Johnny Cueto, who has mostly struggled since coming over from the Reds at July’s trade deadline, allowed three runs over seven innings. The win was his first since August 15. Mike Moustakas homered and drove in three runs while Alex Rios and Lorenzo Cain each knocked in two runs apiece. Eric Hosmer also homered in the victory.

Despite their World Series run last year, the Royals entered spring training as underdogs in the AL Central, with the Tigers, White Sox, and Indians getting most of the preseason attention. While those teams have largely disappointed, the Royals have been in first place every day since June 8. Even with a losing record in September, clinching the AL Central has been a foregone conclusion for weeks.

The Royals (89-63) have a two-game lead over the Blue Jays (87-65) for the best record in the American League.

Joe Kelly’s suspension reduced to 5 games on appeal

Joe Kelly suspended eight
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LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles Dodgers reliever Joe Kelly had his suspension for throwing pitches near the heads of Houston hitters reduced to five games on appeal.

Kelly was originally penalized eight games by Major League Baseball on July 29, a day after throwing a 96 mph fastball near the head of Houston’s Alex Bregman and two curveballs that brushed back Carlos Correa.

The Dodgers on Wednesday confirmed the reduced penalty.

Kelly went on the 10-day injured list retroactive to last Sunday with right shoulder inflammation. He will serve his suspension when he returns.

After striking out Corea, Kelly curled his lip into a pouting expression and exchanged words with the shortstop.

Benches cleared after Kelly’s actions during the sixth inning of Los Angeles’ 5-2 win at Houston in the teams’ first meeting since it was revealed the Astros stole signs en route to a 2017 World Series title over the Dodgers.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts served his one-game suspension the same day the penalty was handed down. Astros manager Dusty Baker was fined an undisclosed amount.

Kelly denied that he purposely threw at the Astros. He has previously been suspended in his career for throwing at a batter.

The penalties were imposed by former pitcher Chris Young, MLB’s senior vice president of baseball operations, who issued his first ruling since taking over the job from Joe Torre.