The Houston Astros have advanced to the ALCS for the third consecutive season after a 6-1 win over the Tampa Bay Rays.

The Rays had forced game five on Tuesday after levelling the series at 2-2, but had no answer to Gerrit Cole's dominant display in the decider.

Cole tossed eight innings of one-run baseball allowing two hits, one walk and striking out 10 for Houston to guide his team to a comfortable win.

The Astros got to Rays starting pitcher Tyler Glasnow early in the first, scoring three runs before Tampa even recorded one out. Houston plated four in the first frame when it was all said and done and never looked back.

Houston moves on to the American League Championship Series for the third straight season where they will host the New York Yankees in game one, as they aim for a second World Series appearance in three years.


Three takeaways from Astros' win over the Rays in ALDS Game 5 Cole is absolutely unreal

Seriously.

Cole has arguably been the best pitcher in MLB all season and is definitely the best in the post-season right now. Over his two starts in the ALDS, Cole pitched 15 2/3 innings allowing one run on six hits all while striking out 25 Rays hitters. His 2019 postseason ERA now clocks in at 0.57. 

The UCLA product also struck out 10+ batters for the 11th straight start, per MLB.com.

Cole's 25 strikeouts are also the most by an Astros pitcher in a single postseason series.


Houston wore down Tampa Bay's pitching

The 2019 Astros aren't just one of best hitting teams in MLB this season, they're one of the best hitting teams ever and while Tampa's pitching was dominant all year, Houston's hitters finally wore it down.

 

After dropping the first two games of the series, the Rays' pitching staff buckled down and allowed just four runs over games three and four. Heading into Thursday's decider, manager Kevin Cash said everybody was available in Tampa's bullpen, including former Cy Young winner Blake Snell.

However, it didn't matter much as the Astros struck early, plating four runs in the first off Glasnow. Houston's hitters even got to Tampa's lights-out bullpen as Emilio Pagan allowed back-to-back home runs to lead off the eighth inning, which all but sealed the game.
 

José Altuve comes up big once again

If it already wasn't evident, Altuve is really, really good.

Houston's second baseman went 2 for 4 at the plate including an RBI single in the first to get the Astros on the board, and a home run in the eighth to help seal the deal.

The 29-year-old's 11 career postseason homers are the most by a second baseman all time and are tied with teammate George Springer for the most in Astros' history, per MLB.com.

Altuve's stellar performance at the plate Thursday not only added to an illustrious postseason career for the Venezuelan native, but helped the Astros' post-season dominance continue.

The Tampa Bay Rays forced Game Five in their American League Division Series with the Houston Astros after a 4-1 win on Tuesday.

Tampa Bay jumped Houston in the first inning with three early runs, before big defensive plays negated the Astros through the middle period of the game.

Tommy Pham had three hits, including a home run, with Willy Adames also going big for his third extra-base hit of the series.

Houston finally broke through at the top of the eighth with a solo homer from Robinson Chirinos, but the Rays rearguard proved too strong on the night.

With the series tied at 2-2, the teams return to Minute Maid Park on Thursday to determine who advances to the ALCS to face the New York Yankees. The loser will see their 2019 season come to an end.
 

Three takeaways from the Rays' big win

Starting Justin Verlander backfired for the Astros

Justin Verlander pushed for Houston to start him in Game Four on three days' rest, but he struggled with command and movement against Tampa Bay. He consistently sailed balls high and his sliders simply weren't sliding. When you throw as many balls right down the pipe as Verlander did, you're bound to get punished.

His first inning was drawn out as he gave up a home run, allowed three scores and threw 32 pitches. Although the 36-year-old held the Rays scoreless in the second inning, he gave up a second home run in the fourth inning before being pulled. He finished after throwing 84 pitches in 3 2/3 innings of work.

Verlander entered Tuesday with an 8-0 career record and 2.14 ERA in 12 ALDS appearances but was short of peak form this time. That really hurt his team.

Nearly all Rays batters contributed on offense

Tampa Bay totalled 13 hits against Houston's pitching from eight of their 10 batters. Only Austin Meadows and Ji-Man Choi were held hitless, but Choi managed to get on base by being walked three times.

Avisail Garcia had three hits and Pham added three. Pham and Adames both hit home runs and accounted for the Rays' four RBIs alongside Joey Wendle and Travis D'Arnaud.

Tampa Bay's line-up proved good from top to bottom at the plate and made the most of the opportunities they got.

Don't underestimate Tampa Bay's pitching

Houston had one of the most dynamic offenses in baseball, as they scored the third-most runs in MLB (920) in 2019. But the Rays were able to hold the Astros to their lowest run total of the postseason.

Tampa Bay's pitching performance was a group effort that utilised six different arms. They combined for eight strikeouts and only allowed a score on Chirinos' solo shot in the eighth inning. The Rays bullpen will certainly be important in Game 5 at Minute Maid Park.

In a match-up of crafty 35-year-old pitchers who are no strangers to the postseason stage, Charlie Morton and the Tampa Bay Rays outpitched Zack Greinke and the Houston Astros on Monday, winning 10-3 in Game 3 of the American League Division Series to stay alive.

In their first home playoff game since 2013, the Rays thrilled a rare large, loud crowd by driving Greinke from the game in the fourth inning on their way to a rout of the AL's top seed.

Game 4 will be played on Tuesday at Tropicana Field.

 

Three takeaways from Rays' season-saving Game 3 win

Greinke goes south

The Astros had every reason to believe Greinke would follow the dominant path carved by Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole as he made his first postseason start for Houston on Monday.

The veteran's last regular-season start was his most effective this season, as he allowed just three baserunners and struck out nine in 8.3 shut-out innings against the Seattle Mariners.

And the Rays' offense had been non-existent in the first two games of the series, hitting a combined .177 and failing to score off Verlander and Cole in their 14.6 total innings of work. 

But the Rays obviously found Greinke's array of softer stuff a relief after watching fastballs from the co-Cy Young favourites zip by them in Games 1 and 2. The three home runs Tampa Bay hit off Greinke came on a changeup, a changeup and a curveball — each of them traveling less than 80mph.

Those homers accounted for the first five of the seven runs charged to Greinke in an outing that bore eerie similarities to his poor season-opening start. Pitching for the Arizona Diamondbacks against the Los Angeles Dodgers on March 28, Greinke also allowed seven runs in 3.6 innings, surrendering four homers in the process. No one could have expected what might now end up being his final start of the 2019 season to match his first, but the veteran had no answers for a suddenly resurgent Rays offense on Monday. 

Morton proves his worth again

In his second win-or-go-home start of the postseason for the Rays, Morton once again put his team in a position to stay in contention.

After a rough first inning that saw him throw 31 pitches and surrender Jose Altuve's 10th career postseason home run, Morton eventually settled into a groove and kept the Astros' dangerous line-up at bay, holding them scoreless for the rest of his five-inning stint.

While Morton had better stuff on Monday, striking out nine, the outing largely mirrored his effort in the wildcard game at Oakland last week. He surrendered one unearned run in five innings of that one before handing a 5-1 lead over to the Rays' bullpen. Though Tampa Bay's relievers were not airtight in this one as they were against the A's, the offense kept adding on to keep them alive. 

Given the Rays must win the next two games to keep their season alive, this could well end up being Morton's final start of his first season in Tampa Bay. If so, he proved a bargain for the $15million the Rays paid him, serving as the anchor of a rotation strained by injuries and providing two season-saving starts when they needed him the most. 

Reminder: The Trop can be fun

Ridiculed just about as often as the fanbase that leaves it mostly empty throughout the season, Tropicana Field served up a reminder that it can in fact provide a home-field advantage. All people have to do is show up. 

After playing in front of an average crowd of 14,734 during the regular season, the Rays had to be delighted to have 32,251 on hand for the Game 3 matinee. And from the moment Kevin Kiermaier rocked Greinke with that second-inning homer, those fans kept the place roaring with every big hit by the home team. 

Though Tampa Bay has continued to enjoy strong local TV ratings even as attendance has sagged, it is rare that fans around the country get to see — and hear — how raucous it can get under the roof in St. Petersburg. 

Now we will see if they can do it again on Tuesday for Game 4.

In a match-up of crafty 35-year-old pitchers who are no strangers to the postseason stage, Charlie Morton and the Tampa Bay Rays outpitched Zack Greinke and the Houston Astros on Monday, winning 10-3 in Game 3 of the American League Division Series to stay alive.

In their first home playoff game since 2013, the Rays thrilled a rare large, loud crowd by driving Greinke from the game in the fourth inning on their way to a rout of the AL's top seed.

Game 4 will be played on Tuesday at Tropicana Field.

Three takeaways from Rays' season-saving Game 3 win Greinke goes south

The Astros had every reason to believe Greinke would follow the dominant path carved by Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole as he made his first postseason start for Houston on Monday.

The veteran's last regular-season start was his most effective this season, as he allowed just three baserunners and struck out nine in 8 1/3 shutout innings against the Seattle Mariners.

And the Rays' offense had been non-existent in the first two games of the series, hitting a combined .177 and failing to score off Verlander and Cole in their 14 2/3 total innings of work. 

But the Rays obviously found Greinke's array of softer stuff a relief after watching fastballs from the co-Cy Young favourites zip by them in Games 1 and 2. The three home runs Tampa Bay hit off Greinke came on a changeup, a changeup and a curveball — each of them traveling less than 80mph.

Those homers accounted for the first five of the seven runs charged to Greinke in an outing that bore eerie similarities to his poor season-opening start. Pitching for the Arizona Diamondbacks against the Los Angeles Dodgers on March 28, Greinke also allowed seven runs in 3 2/3 innings, surrendering four homers in the process. No one could have expected what might now end up being his final start of the 2019 season to match his first, but the veteran had no answers for a suddenly resurgent Rays offense on Monday. 

Morton proves his worth again

In his second win-or-go-home start of the postseason for the Rays, Morton once again put his team in a position to stay in contention.

After a rough first inning that saw him throw 31 pitches and surrender Jose Altuve's 10th career postseason home run, Morton eventually settled into a groove and kept the Astros' dangerous line-up at bay, holding them scoreless for the rest of his five-inning stint.

While Morton had better stuff on Monday, striking out nine, the outing largely mirrored his effort in the wildcard game at Oakland last week. He surrendered one unearned run in five innings of that one before handing a 5-1 lead over to the Rays' bullpen. Though Tampa Bay's relievers were not airtight in this one as they were against the A's, the offense kept adding on to keep them alive. 

Given the Rays must win the next two games to keep their season alive, this could well end up being Morton's final start of his first season in Tampa Bay. If so, he proved a bargain for the $15million the Rays paid him, serving as the anchor of a rotation strained by injuries and providing two season-saving starts when they needed him the most. 

Reminder: The Trop can be fun

Ridiculed just about as often as the fanbase that leaves it mostly empty throughout the season, Tropicana Field served up a reminder that it can in fact provide a home-field advantage. All people have to do is show up. 

After playing in front of an average crowd of 14,734 during the regular season, the Rays had to be delighted to have 32,251 on hand for the Game 3 matinee. And from the moment Kevin Kiermaier rocked Greinke with that second-inning homer, those fans kept the place roaring with every big hit by the home team. 

Though Tampa Bay has continued to enjoy strong local TV ratings even as attendance has sagged, it is rare that fans around the country get to see — and hear — how raucous it can get under the roof in St. Petersburg. 

Now we will see if they can do it again on Tuesday for Game 4.

The Houston Astros grabbed a 2-0 lead in the American League Division Series (ALDS) thanks to a 3-1 win over the Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday.

Will Harris got a tough break last year. He was left off the Astros' playoff roster after a rough season and had to watch Houston lose in five games to the Boston Red Sox without being able to do a thing.

But in Houston's Game 2 win over the Rays, he came up big.

After closer Roberto Osuna gave up a run and loaded the bases with one out in the ninth, Harris came in and shut the door with a strikeout of Travis D'Arnaud and an easy groundout by Kevin Kiermaier.

 

Three takeaways from Astros' nerve-wracking ALDS Game 2 win over Rays

This game was Gerrit Cole's masterpiece

If anyone doubted that Gerrit Cole was going to be making more than $200million this year, or $300m or $400m, this game showed they were gravely mistaken.

This was Cole's masterpiece, his ninth symphony, his Mona Lisa. This performance was so good the 29-year-old was nearly untouchable in Game 2, going 7.2 innings, striking out 15 and walking just one while allowing four hits.

Cole broke the Astros' playoff franchise record of 14 strikeouts, became the first pitcher in playoff history to toss 6.2 innings while striking out 13 without walking a batter or allowing a run and he became the first pitcher since Statcast began tracking in 2008 to get 33 swings and misses in a playoff game.

Alex Bregman loves to show up All-Stars

There is no denying Alex Bregman loves the spotlight. If people are watching he is trying to put on a show whenever he can and he did that once again in Game 2, hitting a home run off Rays starter and 2018 AL Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell.

Snell has had his moments against the Astros in his career but Bregman does not care much. He enjoys homering off All-Stars in the postseason and he especially loves homering off Cy Young Award winners.

Bregman's home run off Snell was the seventh of his postseason career.

 

Beating the shift is not that easy

Players and teams should try to exploit the shift more, but sometimes it is simply not that easy. A lot of times if a player beats the shift a team do not care. A perfect example is Oakland Athletics first baseman Matt Olson.

Teams are not shifting so they can field one of his many ground balls, they are doing it because if he hits a ground ball to the left side they do not really care. In a way, if he does that, the shifting team have won because Olson did not hit a home run – or at least a hard-hit line drive or fly ball – which is what he is trying to do every single at-bat.

During the fifth inning of Game 2, A. J. Pierzynski and Joe Girardi were talking on the FS1 broadcast about how Kevin Kiermaier should try to beat the shift. The Astros had three men on the right side of the infield and the left side was almost completely open. But on the next pitch after they said that, Cole dropped in a nasty curveball down and into Kiermaier.

That is a very tough pitch to hit the opposite way, and another thing people do not talk about much with the shift is teams do not get into the shift and then throw pitches that make it harder to hit into them, with a few exceptions. They will throw pitches like the one Cole threw to Kiermaier knowing that it is hard to hit the other way, and a very hard pitch to make solid contact on anyway.

In a rather predictable Game 1 of the American League Division Series (ALDS), the Houston Astros walked away with a convincing 6-2 win over the Tampa Bay Rays. 

While some aspects were expected, we saw big performances from Tampa Bay pitcher Tyler Glasnow and a promising return from Houston shortstop Carlos Correa. 

With the Astros now leading the series 1-0, Houston (starting pitcher Gerrit Cole) will face Tampa Bay (starting pitcher Blake Snell) again on Saturday.

 

Three takeaways from Astros' Game 1 ALDS win over Rays

Rays proved why they are underdogs

The Rays entered Game 1 of the ALDS as big underdogs. Tampa Bay put up a fight to stop one of the most potent offenses in MLB, but it ultimately was not enough as the Rays made crucial mistakes. Houston arguably have the best starting rotation in MLB with Justin Verlander, Cole and Zack Greinke, though Tampa Bay held the Astros scoreless through four innings with Glasnow pitching for the majority of that time.

Houston finished the regular season winning an MLB-high 107 games. The Rays, who went 4-3 against Houston in the regular season, had 96 victories with a versatile roster in a tough AL East. But they did earn their spot in this series after knocking off the Oakland Athletics 5-1 in the wild-card round on Wednesday. 

The Rays missed out on key opportunities to change the course of the game, with the most notable mistake coming when Yuli Gurriel hit a popup to right field with two outs in the fifth. A miscommunication between second baseman Brandon Lowe and outfielder Austin Meadows resulted in two runs scoring for the Astros, giving Houston a 4-0 lead.

With Friday's loss, Tampa Bay's best chance of taking down the Astros likely came and went with Glasnow's start.

Tyler Glasnow kept Rays in game

One main reason the Astros did not score more runs in Game 1 – Glasnow kept the Rays in the game. Glasnow impressed in Friday's start, allowing four hits and three walks while striking out five. 

He did not allow a score from Houston until he threw a fastball up in the zone to Jose Altuve, who hit it into the left-field stands. The hit gave Houston a 2-0 lead in the fifth inning.

The throw ended up being the last of Glasnow's 76-pitch outing. He was replaced briefly by Brendan McKay and then Chaz Roe in relief.

 

Carlos Correa finally looks healthy

Correa, who hit .279 with 21 homers and 59 RBIs this season, is back and he looks healthy. The Astros shortstop played a career-low 75 games this season because of rib and back injuries. He missed nearly two months with a broken rib first and then another month with a back problem that also forced him to miss the last week of the regular season.

Correa, known to thrive when it matters most as he has slugged eight home runs in 32 postseason games, hit seventh in the Astros lineup behind six players who hit at least .290, further cementing Houston's depth. 

In his first at-bat on Friday, he got a two-out single. The hit marked the first scoring threat of the game, though the Astros were not able to capitalise on it.

The American League Division Series are set.

After the Tampa Bay Rays' convincing 5-1 win in the wild-card game over the Oakland Athletics, they will begin their clash with the Houston Astros on Friday.

The other teams battling it out for a place in the Championship Series will be the New York Yankees and the Minnesota Twins, and we have previewed both match-ups.

 

Key storylines

How will the Rays' starting pitching perform?

On paper, the Rays match up with the Astros one through three. It sounds crazy but just look at the first series of the season. Houston beat Blake Snell but then lost to Charlie Morton and Tyler Glasnow in back-to-back games. Houston did not have Carlos Correa or Zack Greinke that time, so this series will be a touch different, but in terms of pitching talent, the Rays do match up with the Astros' staff. The big question is health, as Glasnow and Snell are recently back from injuries and not fully extended like Tampa Bay would like them to be. But if they can pitch enough to get to their stellar bullpen, then this series could be very, very tough for the Astros.

Will the Twins' home-run prowess continue?

This is a bit of a one-sided question just because the same thing could be asked of the Yankees, but New York have proved they can hit in the postseason. The Twins hit 307 homers this year, but we have no idea if that will continue in the postseason when everything gets harder. Max Kepler, Jorge Polanco and Mitch Garver all had career years at the plate. If they can do what they did during the regular season they can keep up with a more proven line-up in New York. They were not able to do it in the 2017 wild-card game. Will they do it in a five-game series?

Players to watch

Carlos Correa, SS, Astros

Correa missed 87 games this season with back and rib injuries and was out for the final seven matches of the year after his back stiffened up on a flight to Seattle. Correa was one of the Astros' most clutch players at the plate in the 2015 and 2017 postseasons, hitting seven home runs and driving in 18 runs in 24 games. While Houston can win without him, they are undoubtedly worse when he is not in the line-up and 100 per cent fit. He is supposed to play in Game 1 on Friday but there are doubts he will get on the field.

Luis Severino, SP, Yankees

Severino made just three starts this year and it is unclear what shape he will be in for the postseason. But if he can give the Yankees five good innings against the Twins, Minnesota's chance in this series will be dealt a blow. If Severino is healthy, he and James Paxton present an imposing top two in a rotation for a potential ALCS and World Series.

Predictions

Astros over the Rays in five

While the Rays can match up with the Astros pitching-wise, the odds are Tampa Bay will not be able to beat Houston in three out of four games with Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole and Greinke starting. Tampa Bay's line-up is unlikely to be able win three games against that rotation and will probably have to if the Rays are to progress to the ALCS.

Yankees over Twins in four

Severino, Paxton and Masahiro Tanaka. That should be enough to win the first three games for the Yankees, but Minnesota could get one at home. New York should have too much firepower and are as healthy as they have been all year.

The Tampa Bay Rays will face the Houston Astros in the American League Division Series after trumping the Oakland Athletics 5-1.

Tampa Bay were too good for Oakland as they outclassed the Athletics in Wednesday's MLB wild-card clash.

Charlie Morton tossed five innings while allowing one unearned run, Yandy Diaz hit two homers and the Rays combined to hit four in total.

Here are three takeaways from the Rays' convincing win over the Athletics midweek:

 

Don't get it twisted, Morton is one of the most clutch pitchers in MLB

Yes, the Athletics missed some opportunities in the wild-card game and no, a lot of people do not know much about Morton, but over the last three years, he has turned into one of the most clutch pitchers in MLB and one of the best in general.

Morton did not have great control on Wednesday, but he fought through five innings and only allowed one run which was unearned after a three-base error on a Marcus Semien ground ball. The 35-year-old righty did enough to earn the win and has now come away with victories in three winner-take-all games in the playoffs since 2017.

He was the winning pitcher in Game 7 of the AL Championship Series in 2017 as well as Game 7 of the World Series. Since signing with the Astros in 2017, Morton has revitalised his career, going 45-16 and making back-to-back All-Star games. His first year with Tampa Bay has been a great one and he is showing no signs of slowing down with age.

Missed opportunities

The A's were one of the best-hitting MLB teams all year long. They were eighth in runs scored, 11th in on-base percentage, 10th in slugging and 10th in OPS. They finished fifth in home runs and also showed the ability to string hits together and beat teams if they could not hit the ball out of the park.

But Oakland became plagued by a problem late in the season and that problem reared its ugly head again in the wild-card game. While the A's were OK with runners in scoring position for the season (.252 batting average), they were abysmal down the stretch finishing the year on a two-for-46 slump.

They struggled again midweek, leaving the bases loaded in the first inning and runners on first and third in the fourth. What is worse though is they had at least a runner on base in every single inning of the game except the ninth and yet they could not score an earned run.

The A's could not figure out how to plate a runner at the end of the year and it cost them.

A historic skid

This is not funny anymore.

The A's cannot win a winner-take-all game to save their lives. With their loss to the Rays on Wednesday, Oakland have lost nine straight winner-take-all games. What makes it seem even worse though is when you hear the last time the A's won one.

That was in 1973. And again, to make matters worse, six of those nine games have been at home.

Make no mistake, the Tampa Bay Rays and Oakland Athletics are World Series contenders.

They may be the wildcards in the American League, but the Athletics have as many wins as every National League playoff team but the Los Angeles Dodgers (97) and the Rays (96) have more than the St Louis Cardinals, Washington Nationals and Milwaukee Brewers.

Both of these teams are good, they just happen to have been unlucky and were stuck in divisions with the Houston Astros and New York Yankees.

So now, the Athletics and Rays face off on Wednesday for the right to take on the Astros in the American League Division Series, but they could very well get past Houston and win it all.

Here is one reason why for both teams:

 

Athletics: This line-up is annoying

We say this jokingly but also truthfully because this is about as pesky of a line-up as there is in MLB this year. And we do not mean they are a slap-hitting, free-running team that ekes across runs at opportune times, we mean they can score runs in multiple ways and adjust their approach to whichever pitcher they ae facing.

We will use two specific examples to prove this and they both come against the Astros. On August 17, the Athletics scored five runs in one inning of a start against Rogelio Armenteros. All six hits were singles and the first three either barely left the infield or stayed in it. Then in a September 10 game started by Wade Miley, the A's knew he was inclined to pitch to contact, so they made contact. The A's scored seven first-inning runs while Miley recorded just one out. All seven hits he allowed were singles. This team can be scrappy when it needs too.

At the same time, this team can absolutely mash. Matt Chapman, Matt Olson and Marcus Semien combined to hit 105 home runs this year. As a team, the A's were fifth in MLB with 257 home runs. If they need to hit home runs, they can do it.

This team are as good as any in MLB in finding a way to beat an opposing pitcher and executing their plan. That is tough for any team to deal with.

Rays: Starting pitching is healthy at the right time

Here is a hot take for you: the Rays (when healthy) have the second-best starting rotation in the playoffs this season.

Charlie Morton was an early season Cy Young contender last season and may finish third in the AL voting this year. Blake Snell won the AL Cy Young last season and Tyler Glasnow was an early contender for the award this year before he got hurt.

Now, the Rays were not healthy all year and that very well could have cost them an AL East title, though that is a bit debatable. But now, they are as healthy as they have been all season and this trio can match up with any rotation in MLB stuff for stuff one through three.

Glasnow and Snell are not extended out to where the Rays would like them to be, but with that team's bullpen, Tampa Bay's pitching is loaded going into the playoffs. It is more than enough to carry them to a World Series.

The St Louis Cardinals claimed the MLB's National League Central title with a 9-0 rout of the Chicago Cubs.

Sunday's victory improved the Cardinals' record to 91-71, and they completed the regular season in dominant fashion to finish two games ahead of the Milwaukee Brewers, who lost to the Colorado Rockies in 13 innings.

Paul Goldschmidt went three for four, hit a home run and tallied two RBIs for St Louis, while Matt Carpenter notched three RBIs of his own.

The Cubs, who before the game fired manager Joe Maddon, managed only three hits, with Jack Flaherty striking out six in seven scoreless innings.

The Cardinals now turn their attention to the National League Division Series against the Atlanta Braves, which gets underway on Wednesday.

 

Lynn leads Rangers past Yankees

Lance Lynn tallied 10 strikeouts as the Texas Rangers topped the New York Yankees 6-1.

Brad Miller went four for five and hit two home runs but the Miami Marlins topped the Philadelphia Phillies 4-3.

Matt Thaiss hit a pair of home runs and drove in four in the Los Angeles Angels' 8-5 loss to the Houston Astros.

 

Reds win but Peraza struggles

Jose Peraza went 0 for five as the Cincinnati Reds beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 3-1.

Washington's Matt Adams went 0 for four in the Nationals' 8-2 win over the Cleveland Indians.

 

Wilkerson with a highlight-reel catch!

Baltimore Orioles outfielder Stevie Wilkerson hauls in arguably the most spectacular catch of 2019.

 

Sunday's results

Washington Nationals 8-2 Cleveland Indians
Texas Rangers 6-1 New York Yankees
Miami Marlins 4-3 Philadelphia Phillies
Cincinnati Reds 3-1 Pittsburgh Pirates
Los Angeles Dodgers 9-0 San Francisco Giants
Boston Red Sox 5-4 Baltimore Orioles
Toronto Blue Jays 8-3 Tampa Bay Rays
Houston Astros 8-5 Los Angeles Angels
Chicago White Sox 5-3 Detroit Tigers
Colorado Rockies 4-3 Milwaukee Brewers
Seattle Mariners 3-1 Oakland Athletics
Arizona Diamondbacks 1-0 San Diego Padres
Kansas City Royals 5-4 Minnesota Twins
New York Mets 7-6 Atlanta Braves
St Louis Cardinals 9-0 Chicago Cubs

 

Brewers at Nationals

Playoff baseball has finally arrived. Nationals ace Max Scherzer (11-7, 2.93 ERA) faces Brandon Woodruff (11-3, 3.62) in the wild-card clash.

The Nationals now have a crucial advantage in the National League wild-card game following their 10-7 win over the Cleveland Indians.

Saturday's victory against the already-eliminated Indians, the Nationals will host the MLB playoff contest at the beginning of October.

Gerardo Parra hit a grand slam in a whopping nine-run second inning to highlight the triumph, which is Washington's seventh consecutive win.

"I don't have to go home and pack," manager Dave Martinez said after the game, via ESPN. "Nice to stay at home. The boys wanted to stay at home, so they came out and swung the bats."

Nationals star Parra finished two of four for the night, along with Ryan Zimmerman, while Daniel Hudson earned the win after pitching one hitless inning.

 

Mets rookie Alonso sets record

Pete Alonso hit his 53rd home run on Saturday, which is more than any rookie in MLB history – surpassing Aaron Judge's record set in 2017. The New York Mets beat the Atlanta Braves 3-0.

Houston Astros star Justin Verlander struck out his 3,000th batter to become just the 18th pitcher to reach the milestone.

Hyun-jin Ryu pitched seven solid innings as the Los Angeles Dodgers claimed their 105th win. He allowed five hits while striking out seven in the 2-0 victory over the San Francisco Giants.

 

Rays struggle against Jays

The Tampa Bay Rays recorded only three hits in a 4-1 loss against the Toronto Blue Jays. The Rays had seven starters lay goose eggs, including Austin Meadows, Jesus Aguilar and Nate Lowe, who all went 0 for four.

Edwin Jackson gave up three runs on four hits in just three innings of work in the Detroit Tigers' 7-1 loss to the Chicago White Sox. Detroit split the doubleheader after a 4-3 victory.

 

Soler homers… again

What else do you expect from Kansas City Royals outfielder Jorge Soler? (P.S. This was his second home run of the game.)

Baltimore Orioles second baseman Jonathan Villar has power and speed.

 

Saturday's results

Baltimore Orioles 9-4 Boston Red Sox
Minnesota Twins 4-3 Kansas City Royals
Toronto Blue Jays 4-1 Tampa Bay Rays
Chicago White Sox 7-1 Detroit Tigers
Detroit Tigers 4-3 Chicago White Sox
Washington Nationals 10-7 Cleveland Indians
Los Angeles Dodgers 2-0 San Francisco Giants
Philadelphia Phillies 9-3 Miami Marlins
New York Mets 3-0 Atlanta Braves
Chicago Cubs 8-6 St Louis Cardinals
Texas Rangers 9-4 New York Yankees
Arizona Diamondbacks 6-5 San Diego Padres
Colorado Rockies 3-2 Milwaukee Brewers
Houston Astros 6-3 Los Angeles Angels
Oakland Athletics 1-0 Seattle Mariners
Cincinnati Reds 4-2 Pittsburgh Pirates

 

Brewers at Rockies

Sunday marks the last day of the regular season and there is a lot at stake. One of the biggest games will be a must-win contest for the Brewers. They trail the Cardinals by one game after losing on Saturday. A Brewers win along with a Cardinals loss will put the two teams in a tie for first place in the NL Central, which would force Game 163. That is not all. The Rays are hoping for a win of their own, and an A's loss, to force a tie-breaker to decide who gets home-field advantage for the American League wild-card game.

The Tampa Bay Rays and Oakland Athletics clinched the final two American League (AL) playoff spots on Friday, while the Cleveland Indians will miss the postseason for the first time since 2015.

The Indians lost to the Washington Nationals 8-2, which earned a wild-card spot for the Athletics. The Rays later punched their own wild-card ticket with a 6-2 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays. It will be their first postseason appearance since 2013.

The Rays exceeded expectations this year, thanks in part to Tyler Glasnow. Although he missed almost four months with a strained forearm, when healthy the 6-8 right hander has been a beast. He pitched 4.1 innings of no-hit ball against the Blue Jays on Friday, striking out four. He now has a 1.78 ERA in 12 outings this year.

Outfielder Austin Meadows, who came over to the Rays with Glasnow in the deal that sent Chris Archer to the Pittsburgh Pirates at the trade deadline last year, homered in the ninth to provide an insurance run.

"Wow. This is a wow factor what has taken place," Rays manager Kevin Cash told Fox Sports afterward. "We were really good last year, we got better this year."

 

Awesome Alonso

Mets slugger Pete Alonso hit his 52nd home run of the season, tying him with Aaron Judge for most home runs by an MLB rookie in New York's 4-2 win over the Atlanta Braves.

Outfielder Raimel Tapia crushed a pinch-hit grand slam in the sixth inning to break open the Colorado Rockies' game against the Milwaukee Brewers.

Orioles right-hander Asher Wojciechowski stymied the Boston Red Sox, striking out six in six scoreless innings in a 4-1 Baltimore victory.

 

Goody struggles

Indians reliever Nick Goody gave up four runs in 0.2 of an inning as Cleveland fell to the Nationals and were eliminated from playoff contention.

 

Newman's well-timed blast

Kevin Newman walks it off for the Pirates against the Cincinnati Reds with his second home run of the game in a 6-5 Pittsburgh victory.

"He just bunted a double!" Cavan Biggio hustled for the most improbable two-base hit of the year. 

Albert Almora Jr. went up, up and up to rob a home run.

Friday's results

Philadelphia Phillies 5-4 Miami Marlins
Pittsburgh Pirates 6-5 Cincinnati Reds
Washington Nationals 8-2 Cleveland Indians
Tampa Bay Rays 6-2 Toronto Blue Jays
Baltimore Orioles 4-1 Boston Red Sox
New York Mets 4-2 Atlanta Braves
New York Yankees 14-7 Texas Rangers
Colorado Rockies 11-7 Milwaukee Brewers
Minnesota Twins 6-2 Kansas City Royals
Chicago Cubs 8-2 St Louis Cardinals
Arizona Diamondbacks 6-3 San Diego Padres
Houston Astros 4-0 Los Angeles Angels
Seattle Mariners 4-3 Oakland Athletics
Los Angeles Dodgers 9-2 San Francisco Giants

 

Cubs at Cardinals

The National League (NL) Central title was supposed to be on the line in this season-ending series, but the Cubs were eliminated from contention after inexplicably losing nine in a row. Yet the Cards and Brewers are still battling for the division crown. The Cardinals will go with Adam Wainwright, who gave up five earned runs in five innings in his last start against the Diamondbacks on Monday. Cole Hamels gets the start for the reeling Cubs.

The Milwaukee Brewers clinched the final National League (NL) playoff spot with a 9-2 win over the Cincinnati Reds in MLB on Wednesday.

Milwaukee dominated as they punched their ticket to the postseason just one day after the Washington Nationals secured a wild-card spot.

Ryan Braun made the most of his time at the plate.

While the Brewers outfielder only had one hit, it was a grand slam in the first inning.

Milwaukee ended up scoring six first-inning runs and cruised from there. 

Reds starter Tyler Mahle gave up eight runs (seven earned) in 2.1 innings before being pulled.

The Brewers can still catch the Cardinals and win the division. They trail St Louis by 1.5 games with four left to play. 

The Atlanta Braves and Los Angeles Dodgers have already secured division titles while Washington will play in the wild-card game. 

Fabulous Flores

Wilmer Flores went three for four with four RBIs as the Arizona Diamondbacks topped St Louis 9-7.

Rowdy Tellez hit two home runs in the Toronto Blue Jays' 3-2 win against the Baltimore Orioles.

Philadelphia's Drew Smyly tallied 10 strikeouts as the Phillies fell to the Nationals 5-2.

 

Garver battles for Twins

Mitch Garver struck out four times in the Minnesota Twins' 5-1 win against the Detroit Tigers.

The Cubs' Nicholas Castellanos was hitless in four at-bats in Chicago's 4-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates.

 

Suarez homers again

The Reds' Eugenio Suarez homered again.

Wednesday's results

Arizona Diamondbacks 9-7 St Louis Cardinals
Milwaukee Brewers 9-2 Cincinnati Reds
Minnesota Twins 5-1 Detroit Tigers
Pittsburgh Pirates 4-2 Chicago Cubs
Washington Nationals 5-2 Philadelphia Phillies
Toronto Blue Jays 3-2 Baltimore Orioles
New York Mets 10-3 Miami Marlins
Tampa Bay Rays 4-0 New York Yankees
Boston Red Sox 10-3 Texas Rangers
Chicago White Sox 8-3 Cleveland Indians
Atlanta Braves 10-2 Kansas City Royals
San Francisco Giants 2-1 Colorado Rockies
Houston Astros 3-0 Seattle Mariners
Oakland Athletics 3-2 Los Angeles Angels
Los Angeles Dodgers 6-4 San Diego Padres

 

Cubs at Pirates

The Cubs had a strong chance to secure a wild-card spot just a few weeks ago, but they have lost eight in a row and were officially eliminated from playoff contention on Wednesday. Chicago will look to get back in the win column with Jose Quintana (13-8, 4.55 ERA) on the mound. Pittsburgh will counter with Joe Musgrove (10-12, 4.49 ERA).

The Washington Nationals eliminated the Philadelphia Phillies from playoff contention and punched their own ticket to the postseason with a doubleheader sweep on Tuesday.

The Nationals topped the Phillies 4-1 before beating them 6-5 later in the day.

Washington were not great offensively in the first matchup, but Anthony Rendon brought in two of the team's four runs with two sacrifice flies.

He leads MLB in RBIs with a total of 124 in 2019.

Philadelphia were more competitive in the second game and got two home runs and four RBIs from Brad Miller.

But that was not enough to overcome Trea Turner and Yan Gomes, who combined for two home runs and six RBIs in the victory.

The Nationals officially locked up a wild-card spot after the Chicago Cubs fell to the Pittsburgh Pirates 9-2.

Brilliant Braun

Ryan Braun went two for three and hit a home run in the Milwaukee Brewers' 4-2 win against the Cincinnati Reds.

Nico Hoerner went two for four and drove in the Cubs' only two runs in their loss to the Pirates.

 

Poor Polanco

Jorge Polanco went 0 for five as the Minnesota Twins took down the Detroit Tigers 4-2.

The Baltimore Orioles' Jonathan Villar went one for six and struck out four times in his team's 11-4 win against the Toronto Blue Jays.

 

Creative White Sox

The Chicago White Sox showed some creativity.

Choi Ji-man hit a walk-off home run to give the Rays a 2-1, 12-inning win over the New York Yankees. Tampa Bay lead the Cleveland Indians by a 0.5-game for the second American League (AL) wild-card spot.

 

A long night at Chase Field

It was a long evening for fans of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Their contest against the St Louis Cardinals lasted 19 innings, making it the longest game in Chase Field history - the stadium having opened in 1998.

Eventually the Diamondbacks ran out 3-2 winners, Ildemaro Vargas pushing the winning run.

Tuesday's results

Washington Nationals 4-1 Philadelphia Phillies
Washington Nationals 6-5 Philadelphia Phillies
Milwaukee Brewers 4-2 Cincinnati Reds
Minnesota Twins 4-2 Detroit Tigers
Pittsburgh Pirates 9-2 Chicago Cubs
Baltimore Orioles 11-4 Toronto Blue Jays
New York Mets 5-4 Miami Marlins
Tampa Bay Rays 2-1 New York Yankees
Boston Red Sox 12-10 Texas Rangers
Cleveland indians 11-0 Chicago White Sox
Kansas City Royals 9-6 Atlanta Braves
Los Angeles Angels 3-2 Oakland Athletics
Houston Astros 3-0 Seattle Mariners
Los Angeles Dodgers 6-3 San Diego Padres
Colorado Rockies 8-5 San Francisco Giants
Arizona Diamondbacks 3-2 St Louis Cardinals

 

Brewers at Reds

The Nationals have clinched a National League wild-card spot, and Milwaukee are right behind them. The Brewers are five games ahead of Chicago and have the chance to punch their own ticket to the postseason if they continue their hot streak.

The Washington Nationals are back in the top spot of the National League (NL) wild-card standings.

Washington came away with a 7-2 win over the Philadelphia Phillies at Nationals Park on Monday.

The victory moved the Nationals 0.5 games in front of the idle Milwaukee Brewers, who have won four in a row and pulled even in the standings one day earlier. 

The Nationals scored a run in each of the first three innings and then added two more in the fifth to pull away. 

Adam Eaton finished three for four with a home run and two runs scored while shortstop Trea Turner also scored three times in the victory. 

Anthony Rendon drove in two runs in the game and now has 122 RBIs this season.

Patrick Corbin scattered three hits and one run over six innings for Washington. He struck out six and walked four while throwing 108 pitches. 

Phillies starter Zach Eflin allowed five earned runs in five innings of work. 

The Phillies (79-76) and Nationals (86-69) will continue their five-game series with a doubleheader on Tuesday. 

 

Choi shines

Choi Ji-man went two for four with three RBIs in the Rays' 7-4 victory over the Boston Red Sox. With the win, Tampa Bay moved 0.5 games ahead of the Cleveland Indians for the final American League (AL) wild-card spot. 

Poor Lockett

Walker Lockett surrendered two runs and did not record an out in the New York Mets' 8-4 loss to the Miami Marlins. 

 

Brilliant Betts

Red Sox star Mookie Betts produced a superb throw.

Monday's results

Washington Nationals 7-2 Philadelphia Phillies
Toronto Blue Jays 11-10 Baltimore Orioles
Miami Marlins 8-4 New York Mets
Tampa Bay Rays 7-4 Boston Red Sox
St Louis Cardinals 9-7 Arizona Diamondbacks

 

Indians at White Sox

Cleveland, who are battling Tampa Bay for the final AL wild-card spot, will have a chance to pick up some key wins when they begin a three-game series against the lowly White Sox on Tuesday. The Indians will send Mike Clevinger (12-3, 2.54 ERA) to the mound for the opener while Chicago will counter with Hector Santiago (0-1, 5.23 ERA).

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