Settling the Scores: Friday’s results

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There’s no playoff race quite as tight as the one in the American League East right now. The Orioles and Blue Jays are two games back of the division lead, with a three-game gap between their wild card spots and second-tier contenders like the Mariners and Tigers. The Yankees, while not completely out of the playoff hunt, sit six games back after dropping Game 2 of a four-game set against the Red Sox on Friday night.

The Red Sox had no problem defending their spot atop the division, utilizing a pair of blasts from Hanley Ramirez and Jackie Bradley Jr. and a smattering of smaller contributions in their 7-4 win. Clay Buchholz took the mound for the Sox, allowing two runs and two walks and striking out two batters over a six-inning spread.

Elsewhere in the division, the Orioles mounted a two-run comeback in the eighth inning to preserve their spot in second place. They clinched the game in the ninth when Tampa Bay outfielder Mikie Mahtook made a gutsy sprint from first base and was tagged out at the plate on Manny Machado‘s perfect throw from the left field corner. Naturally, the Rays challenged the call, but home plate umpire Adrian Johnson upheld the initial ruling and sent the Orioles home with their 81st win of the year.

In Anaheim, where the Angels are currently riding a five-game losing streak, the Blue Jays fought for their place behind the Red Sox with a strong outing from knuckleballer R.A. Dickey and a pair of home runs by Troy Tulowitzki and Edwin Encarnacion. Encarnacion, who lifted his 40th home run of the season on a 440-ft. moonshot in the ninth inning, joined Jose Bautista and Carlos Delgado as one of just three Blue Jays to hit 40+ homers in multiple seasons.

Things aren’t about to get easier for the AL East rivals, who will play almost exclusively within the division over the last weeks of the season. The Orioles will get the only reprieve from division match-ups when they host the Diamondbacks next weekend to cap their final homestand of the year.

Here are the rest of the scores for Friday’s games. Keep an eye out for Albert Pujols‘ 600th career double, Bartolo Colon‘s smooth double play, and Ryan Braun‘s 450-foot, 106 m.p.h. home run.

Cubs 5, Brewers 4 (10 innings)

Phillies 4, Marlins 3 (13 innings)

Orioles 5, Rays 4

Indians 11, Tigers 4

Mets 3, Twins 0

Red Sox 7, Yankees 4

Pirates 9, Reds 7

Nationals 7, Braves 2

Rangers 7, Athletics 6

White Sox 7, Royals 4

Rockies 8, Padres 7

Dodgers 3, Diamondbacks 2

Blue Jays 5, Angels 0

Astros 6, Mariners 0

Giants 8, Cardinals 2

Phillies’ Bryce Harper to miss start of season after elbow surgery

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PHILADELPHIA – Phillies slugger Bryce Harper will miss the start of the 2023 season after he had reconstructive right elbow surgery.

The operation was performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache in Los Angeles.

Harper is expected to return to Philadelphia’s lineup as the designated hitter by the All-Star break. He could be back in right field by the end of the season, according to the team.

The 30-year-old Harper suffered a small ulnar collateral ligament tear in his elbow in April. He last played right field at Miami on April 16. He had a platelet-rich plasma injection in May and shifted to designated hitter.

Harper met Nov. 14 with ElAttrache, who determined the tear did not heal on its own, necessitating surgery.

Even with the elbow injury, Harper led the Phillies to their first World Series since 2009, where they lost in six games to Houston. He hit .349 with six homers and 13 RBIs in 17 postseason games.

In late June, Harper suffered a broken thumb when he was hit by a pitch and was sidelined for two months. The two-time NL MVP still hit .286 with 18 homers and 65 RBIs for the season.

Harper left Washington and signed a 13-year, $330 million contract with the Phillies in 2019. A seven-time All-Star, Harper has 285 career home runs.

With Harper out, the Phillies could use Nick Castellanos and Kyle Schwarber at designated hitter. J.T. Realmuto also could serve as the DH when he needs a break from his catching duties.