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AL bests NL 4-3 to win 2019 All-Star Game


For the first time since 2014, an American League team hosted the All-Star Game. This time, it was at Progressive Field in Cleveland, Ohio, home of the Indians. For a seventh consecutive year, the American League emerged victorious, defeating the National League 4-3.

After the players were introduced on the field, the ballpark went silent in memory of Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs, who died last week at the age of 27. In his honor, All-Star teammates Mike Trout and Tommy La Stella wore Skaggs’ No. 45. Players donned “45” patches on their uniforms, but they had trouble staying attached.

CC Sabathia, who spent the first eight seasons of his career with the Indians and is retiring after this season, threw out the ceremonial first pitch to Sandy Alomar, Jr.

Dodger pitching yielded the first two runs to the AL. Clayton Kershaw allowed a run in the second inning on a one-out single by Alex Bregman followed by a two-out RBI double to Michael Brantley. Walker Buehler allowed the next run in the fifth when Gary Sánchez led off with a double. Sánchez moved to third base on a grounder, then scored on an infield single by Jorge Polanco.

Before the top of the fifth inning, the players, the broadcasters, and the crowd stood up with their Stand Up To Cancer signs. Many of the signs mentioned Carlos “Cookie” Carrasco, who was recently diagnosed with leukemia. Carrasco held his own sign, which said, “I stand.” His All-Star teammates Francisco Lindor, Carlos Santana, and Carlos Santana, as well as manager Terry Francona hugged him as he made his way back into the dugout.

Hometown hero Shane Bieber had a great moment after taking the mound for the top of the fifth. He struck out the side, becoming the first Indians player to do so in the All-Star Game.

The NL finally got on the board in the top of the sixth when Charlie Blackmon crushed a Liam Hendriks fastball out to center field for a two-out solo homer, cutting the deficit to 2-1. The AL would get that run back plus one in the bottom of the seventh against Brandon Woodruff. Matt Chapman drew a leadoff walk, then advanced to third base on a James McCann single and scored when Xander Bogaerts grounded into a 6-4-3 double play. After lefty Will Smith replaced Woodruff, Joey Gallo swung at the first pitch, driving a line drive solo home run out to right field to push the AL’s lead to 4-1.

Home Run Derby champion Pete Alonso played a key role in the NL’s eighth-inning rally against the Indians’ Brad Hand. Yasmani Grandal led off with a walk and moved to second on a David Dahl single. Paul DeJong drew a one-out walk to load the bases. Hand was able to strike out Blackmon, but Alonso ripped a line drive past Gleyber Torres, plating two runs.

The NL couldn’t figure out Aroldis Chapman in the ninth inning. J.T. Realmuto and Max Muncy each struck out swinging. As Grandal came to the plate for the final at-bat, Sabathia came out to the mound to “visit” Chapman. As Sabathia walked back to the dugout, he received a standing ovation from the Cleveland crowd. When play resumed, Chapman fanned Grandal, striking out the side and ending the game in a 4-3 victory for the American League.

Bieber won All-Star Game MVP. As mentioned, he struck out the side in his only inning of work. Bieber was added to the AL All-Star roster only four days ago.

Rays beat Mets 8-5, clinch 1st AL East title in 10 years

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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.


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.


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.


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.


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.