MLB

Streaking Cardinals sweep Padres, Blue Jays extend lead over Yankees

By Sports Desk September 19, 2021

The St Louis Cardinals scored five runs in the first inning and held on to defeat the slumping San Diego Padres 8-7 on Sunday as they solidified their hold on the final National League (NL) Wild Card spot. 

It was the eighth win in a row for the Cardinals (79-69) and their 10th in the last 11 games, all against teams in MLB postseason contention. 

At the conclusion of play on September 7, the Cardinals were 69-68 and three and a half games adrift of the Padres for the second Wild Card position. The teams have now swapped places as the Padres (76-73) have gone 3-8 over the same span. 

Sunday's meeting at Busch Stadium saw Padres starter Jake Arrieta leave the game with a groin strain after recording just one out among the six batters he faced, leaving San Diego a deficit they could not overcome. 

All eight of the Cardinals' starting position players recorded at least one hit as the offence scraped together enough runs to give J.A. Happ and five relievers the cushion they needed to come away with the win. 

The Cardinals have 14 games remaining – seven against the division-leading Milwaukee Brewers and seven against the struggling Chicago Cubs – with a four-game series in Milwaukee set to begin on Monday.

 

Blue Jays expand edge over Yankees

The Toronto Blue Jays also scored five runs in the first inning and that was all they needed in a 5-3 defeat of the Minnesota Twins that left them one and a half games up on the New York Yankees for the final American League (AL) postseason slot. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. had three more hits for Toronto and Bo Bichette slugged his 26th home run for the Blue Jays as former Twin Jose Berrios pitched 6.2 innings to earn the win. The Blue Jays (84-65) are 15-3 in September and 19 games above .500 for the first time since August 31, 2016.    

The Yankees fell 11-1 to the Cleveland Indians, surrendering 22 runs the last two games after shutting out Cleveland in Friday's series opener. Gerrit Cole matched a season high in allowing seven earned runs over 5.2 innings as Jose Ramirez went four-for-four and hit his 35th home run for the Indians. 

The Oakland Athletics withstood a late Los Angeles Angels rally to win 3-2 in 10 innings on Jed Lowrie's walk-off sacrifice fly and keep pace in the AL Wild Card race, two games back of Toronto. Solo homers by Yan Gomes and Matt Chapman off Angels starter Shohei Ohtani were the difference until the ninth as Oakland's Frankie Montas limited LA to just one hit in his seven innings. The Angels finally added three more hits in the final frame to score twice and force extras but could not finish the job. 

The New York Mets dealt a blow to the Philadelphia Phillies' playoff hopes by rallying for a 3-2 victory thanks to Dominic Smith's two-run double in the fifth and Jeff McNeil's solo homer in the seventh. With the loss, the Phillies fall to three and a half games back of the Cardinals. 

 

Reds' playoff hopes continue to fade

The Cincinnati Reds lost 8-5 to the Los Angeles Dodgers, marking their eighth successive series defeat as their hopes to earn a Wild Card berth continue to dim. The Reds are 8-16 over that span, which dates to August 24, and with Sunday's loss have fallen three games behind the Cardinals for the final NL postseason spot. 

 

Rosario's cycle helps Braves snap skid

Eddie Rosario hit for the cycle the hard way, saving the single for last as he became the eighth Atlanta Braves player to single, double, triple and homer in the same game. Even better, the Braves' 3-0 win over the San Francisco Giants snapped a four-game losing streak that including three one-run defeats (two of them in extra innings) and a two-run loss. 

 

Sunday's results 

Cleveland Indians 11-1 New York Yankees
Boston Red Sox 8-6 Baltimore Orioles
Los Angeles Dodgers 5-1 Cincinnati Reds
Toronto Blue Jays 5-3 Minnesota Twins
Washington Nationals 3-0 Colorado Rockies
Detroit Tigers 2-0 Tampa Bay Rays
Miami Marlins 6-5 Pittsburgh Pirates
Chicago White Sox 7-2 Texas Rangers
Houston Astros 7-6 Arizona Diamondbacks
Seattle Mariners 7-1 Kansas City Royals
Chicago Cubs 6-4 Milwaukee Brewers
St Louis Cardinals 8-7 San Diego Padres
Atlanta Braves 3-0 San Francisco Giants
Oakland Athletics 3-2 Los Angeles Angels
New York Mets 3-2 Philadelphia Phillies

 

Blue Jays at Rays

The Toronto Blue Jays (84-65) send Robbie Ray to the mound as they open a critical three-game series at Tropicana Field against the Rays (92-58), who will give top pitching prospect Shane Baz his MLB debut. 

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    Rosario went 14 for 25 in the series for a staggering .560 batting average, driving in nine runs and scoring six himself. 

    "We just couldn't figure him out," said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. "He beat us the other way. He beat us to the pull side. He got hits off lefties, off righties. We tried to spin him. We went hard.

    "We just didn't have an answer for him and when you've got that big guy [Freddie Freeman] looming behind him it's just kind of tough to pitch around him, who was clearly hot. But, yeah, we just didn't have an answer for him."

    Rosario tied an MLB record for the most hits in a postseason series, but he could lay claim to owning it outright.

    The four men he shares the mark with – Marco Scutaro (2012 NLCS), Kevin Youkilis (2007 ALCS), Albert Pujols (2004 NLCS) and Hideki Matsui (2004 ALCS) – all needed seven games to reach 14 hits. 

    "It's just amazing how locked-in he is," Braves manager Brian Snitker said of Rosario. "It's been something else."

    Atlanta acquired Rosario from the Cleveland Indians on July 30, just under three weeks after losing star outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr. for the season with a knee injury, but they knew they would have to wait for the newcomer to join the lineup. 

    Rosario had been out since July 5 with an abdominal strain and would not become a regular fixture in the Braves lineup until mid-September, but no one is taking him out now. 

    Though the 30-year-old has postseason experience from his time with the Minnesota Twins, he has never experienced anything like the last week or so. 

    "This is obviously my greatest accomplishment of my career so far, this [MVP] trophy and this award, so it's something to definitely be proud of," Rosario said. 

    "It's truly a great moment, not just in my career, but in my life as well, but I want more. I want to win the World Series."

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    Eddie Rosario's two-out, three-run homer off Walker Buehler in the fourth inning proved the difference for Atlanta, who ended the Dodgers' hopes of second successive title after Los Angeles won 106 games to Atlanta's 88 during the regular season. 

    It was sweet revenge for the Braves after they blew a 3-1 series lead against the Dodgers in last year's NLCS. Los Angeles had won seven straight postseason elimination games before Saturday, four of them against the Braves. 

    Austin Riley drove in the other Atlanta run with a first-inning double that scored Ozzie Albies and the Braves left the rest to their pitching staff. 

    Starter Ian Anderson worked four strong innings but Atlanta manager Brian Snitker pinch-hit for him as part of the sequence that led to Rosario's game-changing homer. 

    Relievers AJ Minter and Tyler Matzek did their part with two perfect innings each, striking out eight total batters around another rough outing from Luke Jackson, who allowed an A.J. Pollock RBI single in the seventh. 

    Will Smith came on to close it out in the ninth before a roaring sellout crowd of 43,060 at Truist Park, where the Braves have won 10 of their last 11 games, and got Pollock to ground out to shortstop Dansby Swanson for the final out. 

    Atlanta will face the American League champion Houston Astros for the title, with Game 1 set for Tuesday at Minute Maid Park. 

    The Braves were swept by the New York Yankees in their last World Series appearance 22 years ago, a disappointment that came four years after the franchise won its only title in 1995. 

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    Dusty Baker said "there was never a doubt" in the Houston Astros' minds that they would top the Boston Red Sox and reach the World Series.

    The Astros will feature in the MLB showpiece for the third time in five years after Friday's 5-0 shutout secured a 4-2 victory in the American League Championship Series (ALCS).

    Kyle Tucker's three-run homer settled the contest in the eighth inning as the 2017 World Series champions prepare to face either the Atlanta Braves or Los Angeles Dodgers.

    "Pitching, defense and timely hitting," veteran manager Baker said of how the Astros came back to claim the series against the Red Sox.

    "And plus, these guys always believed that we were going to win. I mean, there was never a doubt in their minds."

    Baker is heading back to the World Series for the first time in 19 years – the only manager to go longer between consecutive World Series appearances was Bucky Harris (1925 with the Senators then 1947 with the Yankees).

    Baker will be aged 72 years and 133 days old for Game 1 of the World Series, the second oldest manager to reach the Fall Classic behind only Jack McKeon (73 years and 329 days in 2003).

    Yordan Alvarez was crowned ALCS MVP after becoming the fifth Astros player with a four-hit game in a potential postseason clincher after driving in the opening run before scoring to double the lead in the sixth inning of the Game 6 clash.

    "It means everything," Alvarez told reporters. "I think there are a lot of things that I could say that's behind the trophy, but all I can say is it just means everything."

    Luis Garcia starred on the mound for the Astros, allowing just one hit and striking out seven batters across 5.2 innings.

    "I felt great," said Garcia, who exited his Game 2 start with a right knee strain. "The adjustment that I made with my leg, I think was the big thing. That helped me a lot, even to throw harder."

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