Ray, Mariners win 6th straight, 4-0 over slumping Guardians

Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
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CLEVELAND Ray, Mariners win 6th straight, 4-0 over slumping Guardians Robbie Ray started September the way he finished August with six solid innings as the Seattle Mariners won their sixth straight, 4-0 on Saturday night over the slumping Cleveland Guardians.

The AL Central-leading Guardians lost their fourth in a row and have been shut out in three of them.

Ray (12-8), who won the AL Cy Young Award last year, was one of the league’s top pitchers last month, going 3-0 in five starts. The left-hander allowed six hits, but not a costly one. He pitched seven scoreless innings against Cleveland in a win last week.

Seattle’s bullpen combined to finish the shutout with Matt Brash, Andres Munoz and Paul Sewald working one inning apiece.

Mariners first baseman Ty France homered in the first inning off rookie Xzavion Curry (0-1), who struggled with control in his second career start and was pulled in the fifth after walking the bases loaded.

Seattle, trying to end a 20-season playoff drought, currently holds one of the AL’s three wild-card spots and has won 13 of 17.

The Guardians are flat and futile at the plate.

They’ve scored just one run in their last four games. They’ve been shut out four times in six games – five in their last 10.

Fortunately for the Guardians, they still lead the division by one game over Minnesota, which was beaten 13-0 by the suddenly surging Chicago White Sox.

The Guardians put together two threats against Ray, but he was able to work out of them both times – retiring rookie Tyler Freeman twice.

After giving up a pair of singles in the third, Ray got Freeman to bounce into an inning-ending double play. Then with runners at first and third and two outs in the fifth, Ray struck out Freeman with All-Star Jose Ramirez waiting on deck.

France put the Mariners up 1-0 just seven pitches into the game with his 18th homer, a towering shot onto the pedestrian plaza in left field.

Seattle added an unearned run in the second, set up by two walks and fielding error, when Curry walked Mitch Haniger with the bases full to force in a run. The Mariners, however, blew a chance for a big inning when Eugenio Suarez lined to third.

Curry couldn’t find the plate in the fifth, walking three straight before manager Terry Francona took the ball. Cal Raleigh then delivered an RBI single off Nick Sandlin, who walked J.P. Crawford to put the Mariners up 4-0.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Guardians: RHP Zach Plesac (broken hand) will be re-examined in one week. Dr. Thomas Graham concurred with the team’s diagnosis of a non-displaced fracture and suggested Plesac kept his hand immobilized in a splint. Plesac got hurt when he punched the ground in frustration after giving up a homer in Seattle last week.

UP NEXT

Mariners: RHP George Kirby (6-3, 3.16 ERA) was the AL’s Rookie of the Month for August, going 4-0 with a 2.15 ERA in five starts. Kirby has walked one or fewer batters in each of his 19 starts, the longest streak to begin a career in history.

Guardians: RHP Cal Quantrill (11-5, 3.50) is unbeaten since July 5 – a span of 10 starts – and has been Cleveland’s most dependable starter. He’s 12-0 in 39 career games at Progressive Field and has gone 31 straight home starts without a loss.

Yankees star Judge hits 62nd homer to break Maris’ AL record

New York Yankees v Texas Rangers - Game Two
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ARLINGTON, Texas – Aaron Judge hit his 62nd home run of the season Tuesday night, breaking Roger Maris’ American League record and setting what some fans consider baseball’s “clean” standard.

The 30-year-old Yankees slugger drove a 1-1 slider from Texas right-hander Jesus Tinoco into the first couple of rows of seats in left field when leading off the second game of New York’s day-night doubleheader.

Maris’ 61 for the Yankees in 1961 had been exceeded six times previously, but all were tainted by the stench of steroids. Mark McGwire hit 70 for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1998 and 65 the following year. Barry Bonds hit an MLB-record 73 for the San Francisco Giants in 2001, and the Chicago Cubs’ 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 as holder of the legitimate record.

A Ruthian figure with a smile as outsized as his body, the 6-foot-7 Judge has rocked the major leagues with a series of deep drives that hearken to the sepia tone movie reels of his legendary pinstriped predecessors.

“He should be revered for being the actual single-season home run champ,” Roger Maris Jr. said Wednesday night after his father’s mark was matched by Judge. “I think baseball needs to look at the records and I think baseball should do something.”

Judge had homered only once in the past 13 games, and that was when he hit No. 61 last Wednesday in Toronto. The doubleheader nightcap in Texas was his 55th game in row played since Aug. 5.

After a single in five at-bats in the first game Tuesday, Judge was 3 for 17 with five walks and a hit by pitch since moving past the 60 home runs Babe Ruth hit in 1927, which had stood as the major league record for 34 years. Maris hit his 61st off Boston’s Tracy Stallard at old Yankee Stadium on Oct. 1, 1961.

Judge has a chance to become the first AL Triple Crown winner since Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera in 2012. He leads the AL with 131 RBIs and began the day trailing Minnesota’s Luis Arraez, who was hitting .315.

The home run in his first at-bat put him back to .311, where he had started the day before dropping a point in the opener.

Judge’s accomplishment will cause endless debate.

“To me, the holder of the record for home runs in a season is Roger Maris,” author George Will said earlier this month. “There’s no hint of suspicion that we’re seeing better baseball than better chemistry in the case of Judge. He’s clean. He’s not doing something that forces other players to jeopardize their health.”