Arrieta wins 19th straight decision as Cubs beat Giants 8-1

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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) Even one of baseball’s hottest team’s couldn’t slow down Jake Arrieta.

Arrieta gave up four hits and one walk while striking out eight in seven innings to win his 19th consecutive decision as the Chicago Cubs beat San Francisco 8-1 Friday night, snapping the Giants’ eight-game winning streak.

“It was a battle for me,” said Arrieta, who leads the majors with a 1.29 ERA. “I wasn’t crisp until the third or fourth inning . Those guys are tough, top to bottom and they make you work. I had to adjust on the fly a little bit. I brought my B stuff and had to sequence differently.”

The Cubs have won Arrieta’s last 22 starts going back to last season, with their ace going 19-0 in that stretch. Chicago also won on the road for the 24th time in 29 games.

Cubs outfielder Jason Heyward left the game in the bottom of the first inning after crashing into the left field wall on a diving catch. He chased a shot over his head off the bat of Denard Span, robbing the Giants’ leadoff man of extra bases on the third pitch he saw from Arrieta (8-0).

“The first hitter of the game, something like that, I’m at a loss for words,” Arrieta said of Heyward’s catch in the deepest part of the stadium.

“That’s an amazing catch. What he’s capable with the glove in the outfield, it’s amazing. I think he’ll be just fine. A little sore, but I hope he’s back as soon as possible.

Heyward is under evaluation for an injury to his right torso abdominal region, the Cubs said.

“He’ll get an MRI in the morning,” manager Joe Maddon said. “We don’t know anything yet. That might have been the game right there. He threw caution to the wind. That could have been an inside the park home run and they have a different mentality.”

Arrieta retired 13 of the last 16 batters he faced after allowing Joe Panik‘s two-out run-scoring single in the bottom of the third – just the second run Arrieta has allowed through the first three innings this season.

“That’s what he’s been doing,” Maddon said. “Makes pitches when he has to. His stuff is so good, even without his good command, he can be productive.”

The Cubs also got production from Kris Bryant, who was 2 for 5 with four RBIs, including a three-run homer to left off Jake Peavy (1-5) that highlighted a five-run outburst in the top of the second inning.

After Bryant’s homer, Anthony Rizzo chased Peavy with a single to right that snapped his streak of 13 consecutive hitless at-bats.

Peavy allowed five runs and seven hits and two walks after 1 2/3 innings. He threw 55 pitches.

MAKING A SPLASH

Ben Zobrist homered into McCovey Cove for his sixth homer, becoming just the 38th opposing player and the second Cubs player (Corey Patterson is the other) to reach San Francisco Bay’s waters with a “splash hit.” Zobrist’s homer extended his hitting streak to seven games and his on-base streak in games in which he’s started to 26.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Cubs: OF Matt Szczur, on the disabled list with a strained right hamstring, began a rehab assignment on Thursday with double-A Tennessee, going 1 for 2 with a walk, a run and a strikeout. Friday’s Smokies’ game was rained out. Szczur was eligible to come off the 15-day disabled list on Wednesday.

Giants: RHP Sergio Romo, out since April 15 with a strained right hip flexor, threw 24 pitches in an extended spring training game on Friday, manager Bruce Bochy said. Romo will start a rehab assignment at triple-A Sacramento on Saturday is expected to be activated within two weeks.

UP NEXT

Cubs: LHP Jon Lester (4-2) has allowed one or fewer runs in six of eight starts. He took a no-hitter into the seventh inning his last time out against Pittsburgh (a 2-1 Pirates victory in which he was tagged with the loss). Lester is 3-0 with a 1.11 ERA against the Giants.

Giants: RHP Matt Cain (0-5) has a 1.80 ERA with 13 strikeouts and two walks over his last two starts. In his previous six starts he was 0-4 with a 7.84 ERA. Cain is 6-4 with a 3.84 ERA in 17 games against the Cubs.

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.