Rays start 9 Latin American players, rout Blue Jays 11-0

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TORONTO — Yandy Diaz hit a three-run home run and the Tampa Bay Rays – starting an unprecedented nine Latin American players on Roberto Clemente Day – routed Toronto 11-0 on Thursday to pull within a half-game of the Blue Jays in the wild-card chase.

Clemente, the late Hall of Fame outfielder from Puerto Rico, was a two-time World Series winner and NL MVP who played 18 seasons with Pittsburgh. The Blue Jays’ Latin American starters are from five countries: Colombia, Cuba, Mexico, Venezuela and the Dominican Republic.

“Very happy, especially on a day like today,” Diaz said. “I think the Latinos are really putting a stamp on the game of baseball.”

All nine Rays starters, as well as bases coaches Chris Prieto and Rodney Linares, wore No. 21 to honor Clemente. The nine starters posed for a photo on the field after the game.

Diaz said he hoped to put his jersey and a lineup card in a frame to remember the historic day.

Rays manager Kevin Cash said the lineup was based on the batters he wanted to face Toronto right-hander Kevin Gausman.

“Gausman we’ve got as a reverse-split guy, so load up the righties,” Cash said. “It just worked out that they were all the Latin background.”

Shane McClanahan returned from the injured list to pitch five shutout innings.

“I’ve been dying to get back and help this team any way I can,” McClanahan said.

Isaac Paredes hit a solo home run and added an RBI single as the Rays (80-63) won the fifth and final game of the series. Toronto (81-63) will play a four-game series at Tampa Bay, starting next Thursday.

Seattle (80-62), which holds one of the three AL wild-card spots, was idle Thursday, but moved percentage points ahead of Toronto.

Diaz homered in a four-run second inning, his ninth. Paredes made it 5-0 with a leadoff blast in the seventh, his 19th.

Randy Arozarena had three hits, including an RBI single in the ninth, and Manuel Margot added a three-run double later in the six-run frame as Tampa Bay piled on against right-handers Trevor Richards and David Phelps.

Activated off the injured list after missing 15 games because of a left shoulder impingement, McClanahan (12-5) allowed three hits, struck out five and walked one.

“We’re better with him than without him, no doubt about it,” Cash said. He’s such a talented pitcher.”

The left-hander pitched around a pair of singles in the first inning, then retired 14 of the final 16 batters he faced. He lowered his ERA to 2.13.

“Today he was so nasty,” Rays catcher Rene Pinto said. “We are not machines but he looks like one.”

JT Chargois got two outs in the sixth, Jason Adam worked 1 1/3 innings, Javy Guerra pitched the eighth and Kevin Herget finished the six-hitter, Tampa Bay’s 10th shutout.

Gausman (12-10) allowed five runs and six hits in seven innings, snapping a streak of four straight winning decisions. He struck out seven and walked one.

“Too many mistakes and mistakes magnified with guys on base,” Gausman said.

After Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette hit back-to-back singles in the first, the pair executed a double steal. McClanahan escaped by striking out Matt Chapman and getting Teoscar Hernandez to fly out.

Bichette doubled off JT Chargois in the sixth and advanced on Chapman’s infield single but Hernandez struck out before Adam came on to strike out pinch hitter Cavan Biggio.

HONORING CLEMENTE

Bichette, right-hander Jose Berrios, outfielder George Springer and third base coach Luis Rivera wore No. 21 for Toronto.

SWEET DEAL

Two fans from Toronto’s Korean community gave some treats to Rays slugger Ji-Man Choi during batting practice, including one labelled Choco Pie. Choi returned the favor with some signed baseballs.

ROSTER MOVES:

Tampa Bay optioned LHP Josh Fleming to Triple-A Durham to clear a roster spot for McClanahan.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Rays: RHP Shane Baz (right elbow) has started throwing on flat ground but will not return this season, Cash said.

Blue Jays: C Alejandro Kirk (left hip) was not available. Kirk did not play Wednesday.

UP NEXT

Rays: RHP Corey Kluber (10-8, 4.36 ERA) starts Friday as the Rays return home to host Texas. LHP Martin Perez (11-6, 2.77 ERA) goes for the Rangers.

Blue Jays: Toronto has not named a starter for Friday’s home game against Baltimore. RHP Jordan Lyles (10-10, 4.62 ERA) starts for the Orioles.

Pujols has 2 more RBIs, Cardinals beat Pirates 8-7 in 10

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PITTSBURGH – Albert Pujols drove in two more runs and the St. Louis Cardinals went on to beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 8-7 in 10 innings Tuesday night.

Pujols hit a two-run single in the third inning to push his career total to 2,218 RBIs. That came a night after he broke a tie with Babe Ruth for second place on the career list. Hank Aaron holds the record with 2,287.

Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol then removed the 42-year-old Pujols at the end of the inning. St. Louis opens postseason play Friday when it hosts a best-of-three National League wild-card series.

Juan Yepez gave the Cardinals the win when he hit a tiebreaking single with one in the 10th inning off Chase De Jong (6-3) to score automatic runner Ben Deluzio.

“Tonight was interesting because you’re fairly scripted in who you want to use and who you don’t want to use and what you want tomorrow to look like so you can get ready for Friday,” Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol said. “It was a good one to still figure out a way to come out on top.”

The Cardinals threw out the potential tying run at home in the bottom of the 10th when automatic runner Kevin Newman tried to score from second base on Oneil Cruz‘s line single off the glove of first baseman Alec Burleson. The ball deflected to second baseman Brendon Donovan, who threw home to catcher Andrew Knizner.

The Pirates challenged the call, but it was upheld on video review.

“I thought we were going to get it overturned,” Newman said. “I just thought he didn’t tag me until he got higher up on the body.”

It was the Pirates’ 100th loss, the second year in a row they have reached that mark.

The Cardinals got two hits each from Donovan, Corey Dickerson, Knizner and Paul DeJong.

Cruz had three hits for the Pirates and Bryan Reynolds, Rodolfo Castro, Jack Suwinski, Ke'Bryan Hayes and Ji-Hwan Bae added two apiece. Miguel Andujar drove in two runs.

Chris Stratton (10-4) pitched two scoreless innings for the win.

“They weren’t the prettiest two innings I’ve ever pitched but I got a great play from the defense in the 10th inning to help me out,” Stratton said. “It was a good play all the way around.’

Pujols’ hit put the Cardinals ahead 3-1 but the Pirates answered with six runs in the bottom of the third. Andujar’s run-scoring double highlighted an inning that includes RBI singles by Castro, Suwinski, Ben Gamel and Bae.

The Cardinals then scored four runs in the seventh inning to tie the score at 7-all. Donovan hit an RBI single, Dickerson drove in two runs with a double and the tying run scored on a throwing error by Cruz, the rookie shortstop.

Both starting pitchers lasted just 2 2/3 innings. The Cardinals’ Dakota Hudson was rocked for seven runs and nine hits while the Pirates’ JT Brubaker allowed three runs on four hits.

Brubaker was activated from the injured list before the game. He had been out since Sept. 16 with right lat discomfort.

HELSLEY HURT

Reliever Ryan Helsley, the Cardinals’ closer, left in the eighth inning with a jammed right middle finger. Helsley was injured after catching a line drive by Bae and using his hands to brace himself while dodging a piece of a broken bat.

Helsley said he expects to be ready to pitch Friday.

“I don’t think there was anything super wrong with it,” Helsley said. `Just give it some rest and let it resolve itself.”

ROSTER MOVES

The Pirates optioned right-hander Roansy Contreras to Triple-A Indianapolis to clear a roster spot for Brubaker. They also recalled infielder/outfielder Tucapita Marcano from Indianapolis and optioned catcher Jose Godoy to the same club.

PIRATES AWARDS

Center fielder Bryan Reynolds was voted the winner of the Roberto Clemente Award, emblematic of the Pirates’ MVP, by the Pittsburgh chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America.

Mitch Keller won the Steve Blass Award for best pitcher. Former infielder Michael Chavis was voted the Chuck Tanner Good Guy Award.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Cardinals: OF Tyler O'Neill (strained right hamstring) has been ruled out for the wild-card series but St. Louis is hopeful he can play in the NLDS round if it advances. . 3B Nolan Arenado (left quadriceps tightness) missed his second straight game but could play Wednesday.

UP NEXT

Cardinals: Have not decided on a starter for Wednesday, though Marmol said LHP Matthew Liberatore (2-1, 5.46) and RHP Jake Woodford (4-0, 2.33) are possibilities.

Pirates: RHP Johan Oviedo (4-3, 3.12), who was acquired from the Cardinals on Aug. 1, gets the start.