Jose Abreu tested negative for COVID-19 and is set to link with the Chicago White Sox ahead of their American League Division Series (ALDS) opener against the Houston Astros.

Abreu – the reigning AL MVP – had been dealing with flu-like symptoms and did not travel with the White Sox to Houston on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, White Sox manager Tony La Russa confirmed star Abreu would link up with the team and be a game-day decision for Thursday's Game 1 in the best-of-five series at Minute Maid Park.

"He caught a bit of the flu," La Russa told a news conference. "He got to the workout [in Chicago] and he had been through a tough night with fever.

"Now we're all brimming with happiness and excitement because his fever broke and he passed the test, which [is] mandatory and he'll be flying back here tonight [Wednesday]."

Abreu – a three-time Silver Slugger and three-time All-Star – batted .261 with 30 home runs and 117 RBIs during the regular season.

The 34-year-old also had a franchise-best slugging percentage of .481 and OPS of .831 in 2021, along with 86 runs and 148 hits from 566 at-bats.

"I think he's the biggest key that we need healthy," White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson added. "But I'm sure you know, we all know, how stubborn he is, and you know he's not going to want to sit out. He's not going to be happy about that."

The White Sox also announced Lance Lynn and Lucas Giolito as their starters for Game 1 and 2 against the Astros.

Chicago finished the regular season at 93-69 to top the AL Central, while the Astros were 95-67 to lead the AL West division.

No team does more with less than the Tampa Bay Rays. It hasn't yet paid off in a World Series title, but that day could be drawing near.

Following the best regular season in history, the 100-win Rays are set to open Thursday's American League Division Series (ALDS) against the Boston Red Sox, who defeated the New York Yankees 6-2 in Tuesday's Wild Card game. Playing in the postseason has become commonplace for Tampa Bay – the Rays lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers in six games in last season's World Series after falling to the Houston Astros in the 2019 ALDS.

This season was particularly gratifying for the budget-conscious Rays, who had the AL's best record in consecutive seasons for the first time. They should have no fear facing the Red Sox following an 11-8 record in the season series, including 7-3 at home.

Tampa Bay went a franchise-record 51–25 against the AL East in a year when four of five times won 90 games, the first time that's happened since baseball went to six divisions in 1994. The Rays accomplished all this with 61 different players, including 38 pitchers, both franchise records.

While the core of this year's Rays team is much the same as last season, their scheduled starting pitchers for Games 1 and 2 of the ALDS are rookies Shane McClanahan and Shane Baz. Tampa Bay will become just the second team in postseason history to start rookie pitchers in the first two games of a playoff series, joining the 2012 Oakland Athletics in the ALDS (Jarrod Parker and Tommy Milone).

McClanahan, 24, went 10-6 with a 3.43 ERA and 141 strikeouts in 25 starts in his rookie campaign and the 22-year-old Baz - the team's number one prospect – has just three starts on his major league resume. McClanahan allowed more than three runs just three times in his 25 starts and Baz totalled 18 strikeouts and surrendered only six hits in 13.1 innings as a major leaguer.

The left-handed McClanahan relies heavily on heat and his fastball velocity of 96.5 mph was the fourth highest by an AL starter (minimum 750 thrown as a starter) this season. Only Gerrit Cole (97.7), Nathan Eovaldi (96.9) and Dylane Cease (96.7) were better. McClanahan handled the Red Sox very well this season, posting a 2.81 ERA in three starts with 18 strikeouts in 16 innings.

When the Rays opened the 2020 postseason against the Toronto Blue Jays, their first two starters were Blake Snell and Tyler Glasnow. Due to budget constraints for a team that ranked 26th in payroll this season at $76.6million, Snell was traded to the San Diego Padres in the offseason and Glasnow was limited to 14 starts due to a season-ending elbow injury.

 

An injury to their ace and the trade of a former Cy Young Award winner hardly mattered as the Rays led the AL with a 3.67 ERA. Elite pitching has become the norm for Tampa Bay, which has a 3.64 ERA since the start of the 2019 season, a mark bettered only by the mega-payroll Los Angeles Dodgers (3.16) during that span. Dodgers' pitchers Trevor Bauer and Clayton Kershaw – both of whom won't be pitching this postseason – earned a combined $69m this season, just $7.6m less than the entire Rays payroll.

The Rays bullpen is also a major strength and another area where they seem to have an unrivalled ability to find contributors from out of nowhere. The relievers underwent an overhaul during the season and saves leader Diego Castillo was traded to Seattle in late July. J.T. Chargois was acquired as part of that deal, and he went 5-1 with a 1.90 ERA in 25 appearances.

Tampa Bay's relievers led the majors with 58 wins and topped the AL with a 3.23 ERA, holding opponents to a .224 batting average despite pitching a major league-high 703 innings. While that is a lot of innings for a bullpen to cover, Andrew Kittredge led the team with 57 appearances to rank tied for 99th in MLB.

While the Rays and their uncanny ability to develop pitching consistently garners most of the headlines, this season's club also features a potent and diverse offense that scored a franchise-record 857 runs, second most in the majors behind the Astros (863). Just as impressive is Tampa Bay scoring a major league-best 312 runs in the seventh inning or later, with the next-closest team the San Francisco Giants (276).

Austin Meadows spearheads the line-up and is coming off a career-high 106 RBIs this season, one every 4.89 at-bats. That is the third-best RBI rate of any qualified AL player this season. Ahead of Meadows are Toronto's Teoscar Hernandez (4.74) and Jose Abreu (4.84) of the Chicago White Sox. Meadows is the first Tampa Bay player to reach 100 RBIs since Evan Longoria in 2010.

Prized rookie Wander Franco made his major league debut on June 22 and sparked the Rays to a 46-24 record the rest of the way. The 20-year-old Franco reached base in 43 consecutive games at one point, tying Frank Robinson (1956) for the longest such streak by a player 20 years or younger. Franco's .439 on-base percentage against lefties since the All-Star break ranked fifth in MLB.

Randy Arozarena has already proven he can flourish in the postseason. He was the talk of the 2020 playoffs after he slashed .377/.429/.831 and set postseason records for home runs (10) and hits (29) en route to winning MVP honours in the AL Championship Series (ALCS). Arozarena's 2021 was not nearly as devastating, but he did become just the third player in franchise history to collect 20 steals and 20 home runs (BJ Upton and Tommy Pham).

Tampa Bay can mash with the best of teams, ranking tied for third in the AL with 222 home runs, including five players with at least 20. Brandon Lowe finally stayed injury-free, and the result was 39 home runs and 99 RBI, including the first three-homer game by a left-handed batter in team history.  

Those 39 homers tied him for second in Rays history in single-season homers, trailing Carlos Pena's 46 in 2007. Lowe, Mike Zunino (33) and Meadows (27) combined for 99 home runs, tied for third most of any team-mate trio in the majors.

Zunino only batted .216 but he crushed left-handed pitching to the tune of a major league-high .868 slugging percentage (minimum 100 plate appearances). His 33 home runs were the most by a Rays catcher and all came while catching. That total was two shy of the AL record while catching, set by Ivan Rodriguez in 1999.

Nelson Cruz was acquired from the Minnesota Twins in July and the 41-year-old provided exactly what the Rays hoped with 13 homers and 36 RBIs in 55 games with strong leadership. He has always loved to hit at Fenway Park with a .343 life-time average, 14 home runs and 44 RBIs in 49 games at baseball's oldest park. Cruz's batting average at Fenway ranks third among active players (minimum 100 at-bats).

The Rays had the AL East locked up weeks ago and even the best record in the AL wasn't a huge challenge, so they haven't played pressure-packed games in a while. Still, with nothing left to play for this past weekend, they won two of three at Yankee Stadium and proved they have no problem turning it on when necessary.

A case can easily be made that no team is heading into the postseason with such a high level of both offense and pitching as the Rays. Tampa Bay have truly become the city of champions lately with the success of the NHL's Lightning and NFL's Buccaneers and the Rays could very well add their name to that list.

San Diego Padres manager Jayce Tingler has been fired after a hugely disappointing 2021 season.

Tingler guided the Padres back to the playoffs for the first time since 2006 in his first year in the job in 2020, encouraging hopes for a title challenge this season.

But San Diego will now look elsewhere in pursuit of that long-term goal after they failed to even make the postseason.

A highly competitive NL West saw the 107-55 San Francisco Giants and the 106-56 Los Angeles Dodgers both reach the playoffs with the best two records in the major leagues.

That left the Padres in third, but even then they finished 11 games back in the Wild Card race.

Within the NL West, Tingler's team were 34-42, including 8-11 versus the Giants and 7-12 against the Dodgers.

San Diego have aspirations of mixing it with these teams, leading to their decision to cut ties with Tingler, who still had a year to run on his contract.

"Jayce accomplished a great deal in his two seasons with the Padres, leading our team through an unprecedented pandemic and into the postseason for the first time in 15 years," general manager AJ Preller said in a statement.

"I have tremendous respect for him as a coach, colleague and friend.

"After much thought and consideration over the last several weeks, we felt change was necessary at this time to ultimately reach our championship potential in San Diego."

Aaron Boone will be "at peace" regardless of what decision is made over his future with the New York Yankees following their Wild Card loss to the Boston Red Sox.

The Yankees saw their 2021 season come to an end at the hands of their arch-rivals with a 6-2 defeat at Fenway Park on Tuesday.

It means Boone has reached the postseason in each of his four years as Yankees manager, winning 60 per cent of his regular-season games, but has failed to guide them to the World Series. The Yankees lost to the Houston Astros in the American League Championship Series in 2019.

Boone's postseason streak is impressive, yet it remains to be seen whether it will be satisfactory to keep him in the dugout for the franchise with the loftiest expectations in baseball, the Yankees having won 27 World Series titles during their prestigious history.

He is out of contract and, asked in his post-game media conference when he expects the situation to be addressed, Boone replied: "I don't know. I have no idea. We'll see.

"I mean, obviously you know, my contract is up, and you know, I haven't had any conversations with anyone about that. So, we'll see. I love being here. I love going to work with this group and love going to work with this group of players. But you know, we'll see."

Only one other manager has reached the postseason in the first four seasons of their career, Mike Matheny doing so with the St. Louis Cardinals between 2012 and 2015.

Pressed on if he felt it would be unfair of the Yankees not to bring him back, Boone said: "I mean, look, all I can say is that I love doing this, I love doing this with this group. I felt incredibly supported from the organisation and ownership and Cash [GM Brian Cashman] and front office and on down.

"Whatever happens moving forward, you know, I'll be at peace with. I walk out of here tonight proud of what a lot of people have done here since I've been here.

"And it's a group and a shared effort, and I love going to battle with all these guys, players, coaches, support staff, front office. So, we'll see what happens on that front. But whatever does happen, I'm at peace with and I know that I can hold my head high."

The Yankees won nine of their final 12 regular-season games to clinch a Wild Card berth and Boone felt their efforts in achieving that feat made the abrupt nature of their postseason exit harder to take. 

"Cruel. I mean, it is," said Boone when asked to describe the Yankees' elimination. "Can't overemphasise how many people pour so much into giving ourselves a chance to compete for something special, and you make it to the postseason – sometimes around here that maybe is taken for granted. You can't take that for granted. The opportunity to compete in the postseason is special.

"And, you know, you had to do some good things to get to this point and give yourselves an opportunity. And when it ends so abruptly after – really, the preparation never ends, that nine, 10, 11-month cycle that you're prepared to get to this point to give yourself an opportunity.

"The ending is really cruel, but there's nothing better than competing for something meaningful."

Alex Cora praised the calm of Nathan Eovaldi as he put his previous performance against the New York Yankees to bed to lead the Boston Red Sox to victory in their Wild Card clash.

Eovaldi was given the start on the mound at Fenway Park on Tuesday as the most famous rivals in baseball squared off for a place in the American League Division Series.

That meant Eovaldi dispelling memories of 11 days prior when he gave up seven runs on seven hits in an 8-3 loss to the Yankees in a series in which New York claimed a critical sweep to propel them to the Wild Card game.

Eovaldi lasted fewer than three innings in that game, which saw him fail to strike out a single hitter and issue two walks.

He was at his best when it mattered most in the postseason opener, however, pitching a shutout through five innings and striking out eight Yankees before being removed by manager Cora in the sixth following a home run from Anthony Rizzo.

His display laid the platform for the bullpen to finish the job, as the Red Sox clinched a 6-2 victory.

"He's so calm. When he shows up to the ballpark, he's the same guy when he pitches and when he doesn't. He was waiting for this one," Cora said of Eovaldi in his post-game media conference. 

"They [the Yankees] did an amazing job on Friday [September 24]. They took some pitches away, they hunted pitches in certain spots, and they did damage. Like I said, we learned a lot from that.

"He's just a great person. He's not only a great pitcher but he's a great person. He cares about everybody; the way he goes about it in the training room, in the weight room, when he doesn't pitch, he's a plus. We had the right guy on the mound today."

The Red Sox now face the challenge of taking on another AL East rival, the Tampa Bay Rays, in the ALDS.

Tampa Bay finished the regular season 100-62, the third-best record in baseball and the best in the American League.

"Now we go to the next one, and we've just got to be ready to face a great baseball team," added Cora. 

"Probably coming into the season, everybody talked about them being the best team in the big leagues, and we have a huge challenge. But we're ready for it."

The Boston Red Sox conquered rivals the New York Yankees 6-2 in Tuesday's Wild Card Game to set up an American League (AL) Division Series showdown with the Tampa Bay Rays.

A playoff berth was on the line in MLB after the Red Sox and Yankees both claimed dramatic last-gasp wins on the final day of the regular season to finish in the AL Wild Card spots, ahead of the Toronto Blue Jays and Seattle Mariners.

The Red Sox welcomed the Yankees to Fenway Park and eased to a comprehensive victory, securing an ALDS clash with AL East champions the Rays, starting Thursday in Tampa.

Boston got to Gerrit Cole as the Yankees ace endured a nightmare outing – Xander Bogaerts and Kyle Schwarber both homering off the four-time All-Star, while Red Sox counterpart Nathan Eovaldi allowed just one run on four hits after striking out eight batters in 5.1 innings.

Cole lasted just two innings after giving up three runs, two homers and two walks on four hits as the Yankees' season came to an abrupt end – the storied franchise have not reached the World Series since 2009.

Bogaerts hit a first-inning home run off Cole before Schwarber heaped further misery on the 31-year-old starting pitcher in the third to help the Red Sox move 3-0 ahead.

Anthony Rizzo homered in the sixth to finally get the Yankees on the board as he and Schwarber became the second pair in history to hit home runs in a postseason game as team-mates (2015 NLDS) then later home in another playoff contest featuring for different teams after Carlos Ruiz and Jayson Werth in the 2016 NLDS, according to Stats Perform.

But the Red Sox scored two unanswered runs in the seventh and while Yankees slugger Giancarlo Stanton homered in the ninth, it was too little too late in Boston.

Alex Verdugo ended the game with three RBI to become the youngest Red Sox hitter with a three-RBI performance in a winner-takes-all clash since Dustin Pedroia in the 2007 ALCS Game 7.

 

Cardinals at Dodgers

The St Louis Cardinals will visit defending World Series champions the Los Angeles Dodgers in Wednesday's National League (NL) Wild Card contest. It will be a battle between St Louis' Adam Wainwright and Dodgers ace Max Scherzer.

The Boston Red Sox will make a gameday decision on slugger J.D. Martinez's availability for Tuesday's American League Wild Card game against the New York Yankees.

All-Star Martinez sprained his left ankle in a freak injury in Sunday's 7-5 win over the Washington Nationals which confirmed the Red Sox's postseason berth.

The 34-year-old suffered the sprain when he tripped on the second-base bag as he ran out to play right field.

"He's getting treatment," Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. "We'll probably have to make a decision tomorrow morning [Tuesday morning] roster-wise.

"Of course, let's see how he reacts to treatment and everything that they are doing to him in there. We don't know yet.”

Martinez is hitting .286 with 28 home runs and is equal top for MLB doubles, with 42. He has 99 RBIs, 92 runs and an .867 OPS in the majors this season.

Opposition Yankees manager Aaron Boone was preparing for Martinez to play in the win-or-go-home contest.

"Obviously, he's a great hitter," Boone said. “That's an important cog in a really good offense that wouldn't be available.

"But they can also mix and match other ways that make it difficult as well so I would imagine he would be in there."

The Red Sox must submit their roster to the MLB by 10am Eastern Time on Tuesday.

The New York Mets have opted against keeping Luis Rojas as manager for the 2022 MLB season.

Rojas was promoted to the role in January 2020, but has paid the price for two disappointing seasons.

The Mets finished third in the National League East this year with a 77-85 record after they were 26-34 in 2020.

Just under a year after Steve Cohen's takeover of the Mets, Rojas' tenure as manager is over but he has been offered the chance to stay in the organisation in a yet to be determined capacity.

The Mets on Monday revealed that decisions over the futures of remaining coaching staff will be made "over the next several days."

"The entire Mets organisation is grateful for the dedication and devotion that Luis has exhibited over the last two seasons as manager," said president Sandy Alderson.

"He has shown a great commitment to the Mets over many years in multiple capacities. These decisions are never easy, but we feel a change is needed at this time."

Rojas suggested he will not take up the opportunity to remain with the Mets.

"I want to share such heartfelt gratitude to so many in the Mets organisation for not only the last two seasons as manager, but for the last 16 years in a variety of roles," the 40-year-old said.

"In each and every position I held, striving for excellence was our daily mission. I will always hold the relationships and friendships, developed over the years, dear to my heart, and am forever grateful to have been able to wear the Mets uniform for so long.

"We live in a results oriented business, and am deeply disappointed for our staff and fans that we didn't reach our goals this season."

Los Angeles Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani is "very open" to a new contract with the MLB franchise.

Ohtani will become a free agent after the 2023 season and he sparked question marks over his future, having insisted his top priority is winning following another losing campaign in Los Angeles.

An American League (AL) MVP frontrunner with 46 homers at the plate and a 3.18 ERA on the mound, Ohtani was unable to prevent the Angels from a sixth successive losing season and a seventh consecutive campaign without playoff baseball.

Prior to Sunday's season finale – a 7-3 win over the Seattle Mariners – Ohtani was asked about his future in Los Angeles.

"Of course, I'll be very open to negotiation. The team is supporting me for this whole four years, and I'm really appreciative of that," Ohtani said before hitting another home run.

"Whether or not there's any contract extensions I just want to, like I said earlier, be ready and be ready for next season."

Japanese sensation Ohtani, 27, added: "I was really happy to get through the season without any injuries.

"And honestly, I wish I could have done a season like this a little earlier. This is my fourth year, so I think it took a little too long."

"I think the biggest thing is the guys that we have right now, we need to have an offseason so we can stay healthy the whole next year so we could compete," Ohtani said.

"Any addition during the offseason, I'll be looking forward to seeing all the additions that they're going to make."

The New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox will meet in the American League (AL) Wild Card showdown after winning late to deny the Toronto Blue Jays and Seattle Mariners.

Four teams were vying for two AL Wild Card berths on a chaotic finale to the MLB's regular season, with the possibility of a four-way tie.

While the Mariners went down to the Los Angeles Angels 7-3, the Blue Jays crushed the lowly Baltimore Orioles 12-4 to give themselves a chance of forcing a Game 163 as they watched the Yankees and Red Sox contests anxiously.

But the Yankees and Red Sox produced two clutch hits to secure their spot in the play-offs.

Aaron Judge drove home the winning run in the ninth inning of the Yankees' 1-0 win over the Tampa Bay Rays, while the Red Sox overturned a 5-1 deficit to trump the Washington Nationals 7-5 behind Rafael Devers' two-run homer in the ninth.

 

Giants win NL West on final day

The San Francisco Giants clinched the National League (NL) West title for the first time since 2012 with a 11-4 rout of the San Diego Padres. San Francisco denied World Series champions the Los Angeles Dodgers thanks to their franchise-record 107th victory of the season, eclipsing the 1904 New York team. The Dodgers topped the Milwaukee Brewers 10-3 to settle for an NL Wild Card meeting with the St Louis Cardinals.

Blue Jays star Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (48) – alongside Salvador Perez of the Kansas City Royals – and Padres sensation Fernando Tatis Jr. (42) ended the regular season as the home run leaders in their respective leagues. It is the first time in AL-NL history both leagues were led by players aged 22 or younger thanks to Guerrero and Tatis.

Dodgers star Trea Turner became the first NL player to lead the league in hits in back-to-back seasons since Terry Pendleton in 1991 and 1992. On the back of his second grand slam in 48 hours, Turner finished with 195 hits. He also won the NL batting title (.328), ahead of Washington's Juan Soto. Yuli Gurriel (.319) of the Houston Astros claimed the AL title.

Corbin Burnes became the first Brewers pitcher to earn an ERA title, having topped the NL at 2.43, beating Dodgers starters Max Scherzer (2.46) and Walker Buehler (2.47) to the honour. Toronto's Robbie Ray (2.84) led the AL's ERA standings.

 

Injury worries

The Yankees, Red Sox and Dodgers all have injury concerns heading into the Wild Card round. Yankees star DJ LeMahieu landed on the injured list due to a hip/groin problem ahead of Sunday's game. Red Sox slugger J.D. Martinez exited in the sixth inning with a sprained left ankle. Meanwhile, Dodgers slugger Max Muncy is "very unlikely" to feature in the NL Wild Card Game because of a left elbow injury sustained in the third inning.

 

Guerrero breaks record

Having earned a share of the AL home run title, Guerrero made history. His 48 homers are the most in a season by a player aged 22 or younger, eclipsing Eddie Matthews (47 in 1953).

 

 

Sunday's results

Los Angeles Angels 7-3 Seattle Mariners
Boston Red Sox 7-5 Washington Nationals
Cincinnati Reds 6-3 Pittsburgh Pirates
Cleveland Indians 6-0 Texas Rangers
San Francisco Giants 11-4 San Diego Padres
New York Yankees 1-0 Tampa Bay Rays
Toronto Blue Jays 12-4 Baltimore Orioles
Arizona Diamondbacks 5-4 Colorado Rockies
Detroit Tigers 5-2 Chicago White Sox
Los Angeles Dodgers 10-3 Milwaukee Brewers
Minnesota Twins 7-3 Kansas City Royals
Houston Astros 7-6 Oakland Athletics
Miami Marlins 5-4 Philadelphia Phillies
Chicago Cubs 3-2 St Louis Cardinals
Atlanta Braves 5-0 New York Mets

 

Yankees at Red Sox

The famous Yankees and Red Sox rivalry will take centre stage for Tuesday's AL Wild Card blockbuster in Boston. Gerrit Cole will face Nathan Eovaldi in a mouth-watering pitching matchup. The winner will face the Tampa Bay Rays in the AL Division Series (ALDS), starting Wednesday.

The American League (AL) Wild Card race is set for a chaotic conclusion after the New York Yankees failed to clinch as the Boston Red Sox, Toronto Blue Jays and Seattle Mariners all won in MLB action on Saturday.

In New York, the Yankees were prevented from securing their Wild Card berth following a 12-2 rout at the hands of AL East champions the Tampa Bay Rays.

Brandon Lowe hit three home runs to thwart the Yankees, who are now level with the Boston Red Sox atop the AL Wild Card standings heading into Sunday's regular-season finale.

The Red Sox topped the Washington Nationals 5-3, while the Blue Jays and Mariners – who have celebrated 90-plus wins for the first time since 2003 – are a game adrift following respective wins over the Baltimore Orioles (10-1) and Los Angeles Angels (6-4).

There is a chance for a four-way tie if the Yankees (91-70) and Red Sox (91-70) both lose and the Blue Jays (90-71) and Mariners (90-71) win, which would leave the quartet with 91 victories apiece.

The 2021 AL East is the second division ever with four 90-plus win teams (the Rays, Yankees, Red Sox and Blue Jays) and first time since the split to three divisions per league.

 

Urias keeps Dodgers alive in NL West battle

Julio Urias became the first pitcher in his age-24 season or younger to win 20-plus games in a campaign since future Hall of Famer Clayton Kershaw in 2011 after leading World Series champions the Los Angeles Dodgers to an 8-3 success against the Milwaukee Brewers. Urias pitched one-run ball into the seventh inning to help the Dodgers (105-56) remain in the hunt for a ninth successive National League (NL) West title after leaders the San Francisco Giants (106-55) lost 3-2 to the San Diego Padres. The 2021 NL West is the first ever division to have two teams with 105 or more wins in a season.

Lucas Giolito and Dylan Cease became the second set of Chicago White Sox team-mates to each record 200-plus strikeouts in a season, joining Tom Bradley (206) and Wilbur Wood (210) in 1971. The White Sox edged the Detroit Tigers 5-4.

 

Blackburn battered

Paul Blackburn was put to the sword as the Houston Astros secured home-field advantage in the AL Division Series (ALDS) with a 10-4 win at home to the Oakland Athletics. A's pitcher Blackburn was tagged for a season-high six runs on seven hits in just two innings.

 

Blue Jays set franchise record

With their 258th home run, the Blue Jays set a new single-season franchise record for homers in the win over the lowly Orioles. Danny Jansen's bomb in the bottom of the fifth inning broke the team's record. Blue Jays star and MVP candidate Vladimir Guerrero Jr. also equalled the record for most home runs in a season by a player aged 22 or younger, joining Eddie Matthews (1953), with his 47th homer. Seven Blue Jays players have 20-plus home runs this season, tying a team record.

 

 

Saturday's results

Tampa Bay Rays 12-2 New York Yankees
Toronto Blue Jays 10-1 Baltimore Orioles
Boston Red Sox 5-3 Washington Nationals
San Diego Padres 3-2 San Francisco Giants
Miami Marlins 3-1 Philadelphia Phillies
Pittsburgh Pirates 8-6 Cincinnati Reds
Texas Rangers 7-2 Cleveland Indians
Chicago White Sox 5-4 Detroit Tigers
Minnesota Twins 4-0 Kansas City Royals
Houston Astros 10-4 Oakland Athletics
Chicago Cubs 6-5 St Louis Cardinals
Atlanta Braves 6-5 New York Mets
Arizona Diamondbacks 11-2 Colorado Rockies
Seattle Mariners 6-4 Los Angeles Angels
Los Angeles Dodgers 8-3 Milwaukee Brewers

 

NL West title in balance

The NL West champion will be crowned on Sunday as the Dodgers host the Brewers on the final day of the regular season, while the Giants entertain the Padres. The Dodgers must win and hope the Giants lose to tie for the title and force a deciding Game 163 in San Francisco on Monday.

The Los Angeles Dodgers doubt Clayton Kershaw will pitch for the World Series champions in the MLB playoffs after the ace landed on the 10-day injured list.

Kershaw is back on the IL just days before the Dodgers begin their quest for back-to-back championships due to left forearm discomfort, the franchise announced on Saturday.

The three-time Cy Young Award winner had returned from a left forearm injury, which sidelined him for 57 games, however the star pitcher exited Friday's clash with the Milwaukee Brewers.

Kershaw – an eight-time All-Star and National League (NL) MVP who is in the final season of his three-year, $93million contract – lasted just 1.2 innings, giving up three runs with one strikeout against the Brewers.

As the Dodgers prepare for the offseason, manager Dave Roberts was asked if the 33-year-old future Hall of Famer will pitch again this year and he told reporters: "I don't think so.

"I think right now where we're at, we're going to proceed with that mindset. I'm certainly saddened, hoping we never had to get to this point.

"You know, you want to be certainly very thoughtful and sensitive to Clayton, but in the same breath, still kind of making sure we stay focused on moving forward. That's kind of where we're all at."

In 2021, Kershaw's ERA stands at 3.55 – his highest number since his rookie year (4.26) with the Dodgers in 2008.

Kershaw – a World Series champion – boasts a 10-8 record this season with 144 strikeouts in 121.2 innings pitched.

"My future's gonna take care of itself," Kershaw said after leaving Friday's contest. "I'm not really worried about that right now. I really wanted to be a part of the moment right now, and I wanted to be with this group going through October.

"That was my only focus this year. Once I got hurt, it was just to come back and make it up for this month. That's the hard part right now is knowing it's gonna be a challenge to even contribute at all this next month.

"But as far as anything else goes — I haven't wrapped my head around it, and I don't plan to any time soon. I'm just excited to watch these guys next month."

The New York Yankees missed the chance to seal an American League (AL) Wild Card spot going down 4-3 to the Tampa Bay Rays despite a late rally on Friday.

The Yankees needed to win and hope either the Boston Red Sox or the Toronto Blue Jays lose to be assured of a Wild Card berth but could not uphold their end of the bargain, ensuring the race remains open.

Rookie Wander Franco drove in two runs at the top of the ninth inning to put the Rays up 4-1 but the Yankees did not wilt.

With one out, Joey Gallo bunted to get Giancarlo Stanton home, before Brett Gardner's double brought in Gallo to make it 4-3.

But Gary Sanchez and Rougned Odor were struck out by Rays closer Andrew Kittredge.

 

Back-to-back jacks for Red Sox

The Red Sox have been on the slide lately, losing five of their past six games, but they claimed an important win, 4-2 over the Washington Nationals to stay in the AL Wild Card hunt.

Hunter Renfroe (three-run home run) and Bobby Dalbec delivered back-to-back jacks in the sixth inning to earn the win for the Red Sox.

The Blue Jays stayed in contention with a 6-4 victory over the Baltimore Orioles with Danny Jansen driving in three runs and Steven Matz having five strikeouts across seven innings.

The San Francisco Giants moved a step closer to securing the National League (NL) divisional title with a 3-0 win over the San Diego Padres.

Two runs in the first inning set up the win, with Darin Ruf's jack and Mike Yastrzemski driving in Brandon Crawford.

 

Packed house sees Mariners miss chance

The Seattle Mariners failed to capitalise on the Yankees' defeat, going down 2-1 to the Los Angeles Angels despite taking an early lead in front of a full house after Jarred Kelenic's double in the second inning. Seattle have not made the postseason since 2001 and this result does not help their hopes of ending that wait, with Angels left-hander Jose Suarez throwing five strong innings. The Mariners (89-71) are now a game behind the Red Sox (90-70) for the second AL Wild Card spot.  

 

In-form Turner crushes grand slam

Trea Turner crushed a game-tying grand slam as the Los Angeles Dodgers rallied from 5-1 down to win 8-6 over the Milwaukee Brewers to keep the pressure on the Giants in the NL division race. Turner finished the game with two hits, two runs and five RBI. From his past six games, Turner has two multi-homer games, five total home runs, seven extra-base hits, eight runs scored, 10 RBI and has reached base 13 times.

 

Friday's results

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

 

Rays at Yankees

The Yankees will go again in their pursuit of a confirmed Wild Card spot when they host the Rays in their penultimate game.

The Houston Astros and Atlanta Braves became the latest MLB teams to clinch postseason spots with wins Tuesday. 

Houston wrapped up the American League (AL) West title with a 3-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays, with Carlos Correa's three-run homer in the fourth inning doing all the damage for the Astros. 

Lance McCullers held the Rays without a hit through the first five innings before Tampa Bay got on the board in the sixth with a two-run homer by Brandon Lowe, but that was all the AL East champions could muster. 

While Houston (93-66) reached the playoffs for the sixth time in the last seven seasons, the Braves (86-72) locked down their fourth National League (NL) East title in a row. 

Atlanta got home runs from Jorge Soler and Austin Riley to back a strong start by Ian Anderson in a 5-3 defeat of the second-place Philadelphia Phillies to clinch the division. 

The Braves will face the NL Central champion Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Division Series, while the Astros are set to play the Chicago White Sox in the AL. 

 

Yankees down Blue Jays, Giants rally again

The New York Yankees closed in on securing an AL wild-card spot by beating the Toronto Blue Jays 6-2. New York got to Toronto's Cy Young Award candidate Robbie Ray in the sixth inning as Aaron Judge, Anthony Rizzo and Gleyber Torres hit home runs to erase a 2-1 deficit. The Yankees (91-68) can clinch a playoff spot Friday with a win against the Rays and a Toronto loss to the Baltimore Orioles. 

LaMonte Wade's bases-loaded single in the bottom of the ninth gave the San Francisco Giants a 5-4 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks, bringing the team with MLB's best record one step closer to taking the NL West title. Giants starter Scott Kazmir lasted only six batters as San Francisco fell in a 3-0 first-inning hole, but the home side chipped away throughout the game until Wade's walk-off hit. San Francisco (105-54) can clinch the division Friday with a win against the San Diego Padres and a Los Angeles Dodgers (103-56) loss to the Brewers. 

 

Red Sox drop series to Orioles

The Boston Red Sox continue to flounder with a postseason berth on the line, falling 6-2 to the lowly Orioles (52-107) for their fifth defeat in the last six games. The Red Sox (89-70) dropped into a tie with the idle Seattle Mariners for the final AL wild-card spot as they head to Washington to face the Nationals in the final three games of the regular season. 

 

Tatis hits one out of Dodger Stadium

Fernando Tatis Jr. hit a monstrous 467-foot home run that cleared the left-field pavilion at Dodger Stadium, a highlight in another disappointing game for the Padres as they fell 8-3 in Los Angeles. 

 

Thursday's results

St Louis Cardinals 4-3 Milwaukee Brewers
Texas Rangers 7-6 Los Angeles Angels
Chicago Cubs 9-0 Pittsburgh Pirates
Baltimore Orioles 6-2 Boston Red Sox
New York Yankees 6-2 Toronto Blue Jays
New York Mets 12-3 Miami Marlins
Atlanta Braves 5-3 Philadelphia Phillies
Detroit Tigers10-7 Minnesota Twins
Cleveland Indians 6-1 Kansas City Royals
Houston Astros 3-2 Tampa Bay Rays
San Francisco Giants 5-4 Arizona Diamondbacks
Los Angeles Dodgers 8-3 San Diego Padres

 

Angels at Mariners

The Seattle Mariners (89-70) open a three-game series against the Los Angeles Angels (75-84) with an AL wild-card spot hanging in the balance. 

The Toronto Blue Jays kept the American League (AL) Wild Card race wide open after ending the New York Yankees' seven-game winning streak with an entertaining 6-5 victory on Wednesday.

Bo Bichette homered twice as the Blue Jays recovered from blowing a 4-0 lead after the Yankees tied the MLB clash up in the seventh inning midweek.

Bichette's second home run of the game, with scores tied at 5-5 at the bottom of the eighth inning, proved decisive, with the 23-year-old getting a curtain call.

The result improved the Blue Jays to 88-70 to be a game adrift of the second and final Wild Card berth, while the Yankees are 90-68 in the four-team race for two spots, alongside the Boston Red Sox (89-69) and the Seattle Mariners (89-70).

Earlier, Blue Jays star Marcus Semien hit his 44th home run of the season, meaning he has the most homers in a season by a primary second baseman in MLB history.

Bichette and Semien both ticked over 100 RBI for the season, meaning the Blue Jays are the first team with four players (Teoscar Hernandez and Vladimir Guerrero Jr.) with 100-plus RBI in a season since the Atlanta Braves in 2003.

 

Brewers thwarts Cardinals' winning run

The St Louis Cardinals' extraordinary winning streak ended at 17 games after a 4-0 defeat to the Milwaukee Brewers. The Cardinals secured their postseason berth on Tuesday with their 17th straight win but home runs from Daniel Vogelbach and Manny Pina earned the National League (NL) Central division winners the run-ending victory. St Louis' winning streak will go down as the third longest by any team in the expansion area, behind the Cleveland Indians (22 in 2017) and the Oakland Athletics (20 in 2002).

The Braves moved a step closer to securing the NL East title thanks to a 7-2 win over the Philadelphia Phillies, with Dansby Swanson starring with a three-hit game including a two-run single in the seventh inning.

AL East champions the Tampa Bay Rays clinched top seed and home-field advantage via a 7-0 shutout of the Houston Astros aided by Ji-man Choi's three-run jack in the fifth inning. The victory also brought up the Rays' 98th for the season, setting a new franchise record.

World Series champions the Los Angeles Dodgers piled on five runs in the eighth inning to keep pace with the San Francisco Giants for NL seeding courtesy a come-from-behind 11-9 win over the San Diego Padres. The Giants stayed two games clear following a 1-0 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks.

The Mariners stayed firmly in the AL Wild Card hunt with a 4-2 win over the Athletics. 

Reds season fizzles out

The Cincinnati Reds' promising season has petered out, with the NL Wild Card hopes officially over and a 6-1 loss to the Chicago White Sox underlined that. The Reds managed just four hits for the game, with their only run coming in the ninth inning.

 

Red Sox snap their skid

The Red Sox boosted their AL Wild Card aspirations as they ended their four-game losing span with a 6-0 triumph over the Baltimore Orioles. J.D. Martinez had three RBI, including a 444-foot home run, while Nathan Eovaldi had six scoreless innings and seven strikeouts on the mound.

 

Wednesday's results

Colorado Rockies 10-5 Washington Nationals
Chicago Cubs 3-2 Pittsburgh Pirates
Boston Red Sox 6-0 Baltimore Orioles
Toronto Blue Jays 6-5 New York Yankees
Miami Marlins 3-2 New York Mets
Atlanta Braves 7-2 Philadelphia Phillies
Minnesota Twins 5-2 Detroit Tigers
Milwaukee Brewers 4-0 St Louis Cardinals
Los Angeles Angels 7-2 Texas Rangers
Kansas City Royals 10-5 Cleveland Indians
Tampa Bay Rays 7-0 Houston Astros
Chicago White Sox 6-1 Cincinnati Reds
San Francisco Giants 1-0 Arizona Diamondbacks
Seattle Mariners 4-2 Oakland Athletics
Los Angeles Dodgers 11-9 San Diego Padres

 

Yankees at Blue Jays

On Thursday, the Blue Jays host rivals the Yankees for the penultimate time in their series in a critical game for the AL Wild Card race. After that, Toronto face the Orioles, while the Yankees meet the Rays.

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