Raleigh homers twice, Mariners down sluggish Guardians 6-1

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
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CLEVELAND – Cal Raleigh homered twice, Luis Castillo pitched six solid innings and the Seattle Mariners pushed their winning streak to five with a 6-1 victory Friday night over the Cleveland Guardians, who at least ended their longest scoreless drought in 31 years.

Raleigh hit a solo homer in the second inning off rookie Cody Morris (0-1) and connected for a three-run shot in the sixth as the Mariners kept pace in the crowded AL wild-card chase.

Seattle has won seven of eight and 12 of 16.

Castillo (6-5) didn’t allow a run on five hits in six innings. The right-hander extended Cleveland’s scoreless streak to 27 innings – the club’s longest since a 28-inning scoring dry spell in 1991 – before the Guardians pushed across a run in the seventh off reliever Diego Castillo.

Cleveland, which has dropped four of five, came in clinging to a one-game lead over second-place Minnesota in the AL Central.

Baseball’s youngest team looks tired and the Guardians took another blow before the game when starting pitchers Zach Plesac (broken hand) and Aaron Civale (forearm inflammation) were placed on the 15-day injured list.

Plesac broke his hand punching the ground last week after giving up a home run to the Mariners. His frustration cost him a start, and probably several more, and it forced the Guardians to have Morris make his major league debut against a red-hot Seattle squad.

Morris managed to get out of the first allowing just one run on Mitch Haniger‘s RBI double.

However, the Mariners added two in the second – one unearned – on Raleigh’s first homer and Haniger’s second double, which scored rookie Julio Rodriguez after he reached on shortstop Amed Rosario‘s fielding error.

The Mariners put it away in the sixth when Carlos Santana walked, Adam Frazier singled and Raleigh followed with his 21st homer.

Seattle is 17-2 when the catcher homers.

STOMPING GROUNDS

Rajai Davis was in a familiar place. Not among familiar faces.

Davis, who hit one of the biggest home runs in Cleveland history in Game 7 the 2016 World Series, was back at Progressive Field. He currently works as an on-field director for Major League Baseball.

Manager Terry Francona was happy to see Davis, and encouraged him to meet some of Cleveland’s new players.

“I told him, `Go in and see the guys in the clubhouse,”‘ Francona said. “And he said, `I only know the coaches.”‘

Davis had two stints with Cleveland, the second in 2018.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Guardians: Plesac is scheduled to be examined by renowned hand specialist Dr. Thomas Graham in the next few days. Francona said even in a “best case” scenario that the right-hander will be out at least one week. … Civale is on the injured list for the third time in 2022.

UP NEXT

Mariners: LHP Robbie Ray (11-8, 3.58 ERA) had an awesome August. In five starts, Ray went 3-0 with a 1.64 ERA with 41 strikeouts in 33 innings. He pitched scoreless innings against the Guardians last week, and has a 1.29 ERA in 14 career innings versus Cleveland.

Guardians: RHP Xzavion Curry (0-0, 5.40) takes Civale’s spot and makes his second career start. He allowed three runs and eight hits over at Detroit on Aug. 15 in the second game of a doubleheader.

Yankees star Judge hits 61st home run, ties Maris’ AL record

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TORONTO — Aaron Judge tied Roger Maris’ American League record of 61 home runs in a season, hitting a tiebreaking, two-run drive for the New York Yankees in the seventh inning against the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday night.

The 30-year-old slugger drove a 94.5 mph belt-high sinker with a full-count from left-hander Tim Mayza over the left-field fence at Rogers Centre. The 117.4 mph drive took just 3.8 seconds to land 394 feet from the plate, and it put the Yankees ahead 5-3.

Judge watched the ball clank off the front of the stands, just below two fans who reached over a railing and tried for a catch. He pumped an arm just before reaching first and exchanged a slap with coach Travis Chapman.

The ball dropped into Toronto’s bullpen and was picked up by Blue Jays bullpen coach Matt Buschmann, who turned it over to the Yankees.

Judge’s mother and Roger Maris Jr. rose and hugged from front-row seats. He appeared to point toward them after rounding second base, then was congratulated by the entire Yankees team, who gave him hugs after he crossed the plate.

Judge moved past the 60 home runs Babe Ruth hit in 1927, which had stood as the major league mark until Maris broke it in 1961. All three stars reached those huge numbers playing for the Yankees.

Barry Bonds holds the big league record of 73 for the San Francisco Giants in 2001.

Judge had gone seven games without a home run – his longest drought this season was nine in mid-August. This was the Yankees’ 155th game of the season, leaving them seven more in the regular season.

The home run came in the fourth plate appearance of the night for Judge, ending a streak of 34 plate appearances without a home run.

Judge is hitting .313 with 130 RBIs, also the top totals in the AL. He has a chance to become the first AL Triple Crown winner since Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera in 2012.

Maris hit No. 61 for the Yankees on Oct. 1, 1961, against Boston Red Sox pitcher Tracy Stallard.

Maris’ mark has been exceeded six times, but all have been tainted by the stench of steroids. Mark McGwire hit 70 home runs for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1998 and 65 the following year, and Bonds topped him. Sammy Sosa had 66, 65 and 63 during a four-season span starting in 1998.

McGwire admitted using banned steroids, while Bonds and Sosa denied knowingly using performing-enhancing drugs. Major League Baseball started testing with penalties for PEDs in 2004, and some fans – perhaps many – until now have considered Maris the holder of the “clean” record.

Among the tallest batters in major league history, the 6-foot-7 Judge burst on the scene on Aug. 13, 2016, homering off the railing above Yankee Stadium’s center-field sports bar and into the netting above Monument Park. He followed Tyler Austin to the plate and they become the first teammates to homer in their first major league at-bats in the same game.

Judge hit 52 homers with 114 RBIs the following year and was a unanimous winner of the AL Rookie of the Year award. Injuries limited him during the following three seasons, and he rebounded to hit 39 homers with 98 RBIs in 2021.

As he approached his last season before free agent eligibility, Judge on opening day turned down the Yankees’ offer of an eight-year contract worth from $230.5 million to $234.5 million. The proposal included an average of $30.5 million annually from 2023-29, with his salary this year to be either the $17 million offered by the team in arbitration or the $21 million requested by the player.

An agreement was reached in June on a $19 million, one-year deal, and Judge heads into this offseason likely to get a contract from the Yankees or another team for $300 million or more, perhaps topping $400 million.

Judge hit six homers in April, 12 in May and 11 in June. He earned his fourth All-Star selection and entered the break with 33 homers. He had 13 homers in July and dropped to nine in August, when injuries left him less protected in the batting order and pitchers walked him 25 times.

He became just the fifth player to hold a share of the AL season record. Nap Lajoie hit 14 in the AL’s first season as a major league in 1901, and Philadelphia Athletics teammate Socks Seabold had 16 the next year, a mark that stood until Babe Ruth hit 29 in 1919. Ruth set the record four times in all, with 54 in 1920, 59 in 1921 and 60 in 1927, a mark that stood until Maris’ 61 in 1961.

Maris was at 35 in July 1961 during the first season each team’s schedule increased from 154 games to 162, and baseball Commissioner Ford Frick ruled if anyone topped Ruth in more than 154 games “there would have to be some distinctive mark in the record books to show that Babe Ruth’s record was set under a 154-game schedule.”

That “distinctive mark” became known as an “asterisk” and it remained until Sept. 4, 1991, when a committee on statistical accuracy chaired by Commissioner Fay Vincent voted unanimously to recognize Maris as the record holder.