Wander Franco wants to bring a World Series title to the Tampa Bay Rays following his record-setting contract extension with the MLB franchise.

Franco finalised a mouth-watering 11-year, $182million contract in Tampa, where the deal includes a club option for the 2033 season, on Saturday.

It is the largest financial commitment to a player in the Rays' 24-year history, while it is also the biggest deal in MLB history for a player with less than a year of major league service time.

Franco, who made his debut in June, enjoyed a remarkable season after recording a 43-game on-base streak to tie Cincinnati's Frank Robinson (1956) for the longest in MLB history among player aged under 21.

The 20-year-old shortstop helped the Rays win the American League (AL) East – Tampa Bay clinching back-to-back titles for the first time in franchise history with a record 100 victories before falling to the Boston Red Sox in the AL Division Series (ALDS).

"I'm really happy for this opportunity, and the one thing I want to do is bring a championship to the organisation," Franco said during Monday's news conference as the Rays target a maiden World Series championship.

"With this, I can help my family and have nothing in my mind when I'm playing on the field … and be happy with this opportunity."

Franco also finished third in the AL Rookie of the Year voting after slashing .288/.347/.463 with 18 doubles, five triples and seven home runs in 2021.

"The Rays have given me the support that I need, the development, the people that they have here," Franco said. "I wish to stay here for my whole career."

Rays president of baseball operations Erik Neander added: "The chance for a homegrown star to be with the club for the foreseeable future, that in and of itself is a really big deal.

"Our on-field goal is to win a World Series, and as we've said many times over now, our desired approach to making that happen is to be as competitive as possible in as many years as possible.

"This commitment certainly increases our confidence that we're going to continue to be competitive and eventually be that last team standing."

San Francisco Giants boss Gabe Kapler and Kevin Cash of the Tampa Bay Rays were named Managers of the Year for 2021 in MLB.

Kapler scooped National League (NL) honours after leading the Giants to a franchise-record 107-win season and the best winning percentage (66.0) since 1913.

The 46-year-old guided the Giants to their first NL West title since 2012, dethroning the Los Angeles Dodgers before losing to their rivals in the NL Division Series (NLDS).

Prior to Kapler – who signed a contract extension through to 2024 – the only other Giants manager to win the award was Dusty Baker in 1993, 1997 and 2000, having held off Milwaukee Brewers skipper Craig Counsell and former St Louis Cardinals manager Mike Shildt.

Cash, meanwhile, became the first American League (AL) manager to receive the award in back-to-back seasons.

Tampa Bay's Cash – in his seventh season as manager – beat out Baker of the Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners manager Scott Servais.

The Rays clinched back-to-back AL East title for the first time in franchise history with a record 100 victories before falling to the Boston Red Sox in the AL Division Series (ALDS).

Tampa Bay Rays star Randy Arozarena and Cincinnati Reds sensation Jonathan India were named MLB's Rookies of the Year for 2021.

Rays outfielder Arozarena scooped American League (AL) honours after beating out team-mate Wander Franco and Luis Garcia of the Houston Astros on Monday.

Arozarena led all rookies with a 4.1 WAR while compiling a .815 OPS as he hit 20 home runs and stole 20 bases – the 26-year-old becoming the third rookie in the last decade to compile a 20-20 campaign.

After helping the Rays clinch back-to-back AL East titles for the first time in franchise history with a record 100 wins before falling to the Boston Red Sox in the AL Division Series (ALDS), Arozarena became the fourth Tampa Bay player to win the Rookie of the Year.

"I know last year I had a pretty good year – a great year, actually," Arozarena said. "I know I was the favourite to be the Rookie of the Year this year. But my mind wasn't set on winning the award.

"My goal was to have another good year. There has been a lot of hard work and a lot of sacrifices along the way, and the results at the end of the year made it a well-deserved prize."

In the National League (NL), Cincinnati second baseman India claimed the ROTY prize.

The 24-year-old India edged Miami Marlins left-hander Trevor Rodgers and Dylan Carlson of the St Louis Cardinals to the award.

India – the eighth Reds player to receive the honour – led all MLB rookies in on-base percentage (.376), doubles (34), walks (71), runs scored (98) and games played (150), while ranking second in OPS (.835).

"I said at the beginning of the year this was my goal, my personal goal," said India, who became the first Reds second baseman to debut on Opening Day since 1963. "I don't set many personal goals for myself. I just had a feeling this was what I wanted."

The Boston Red Sox found more Fenway Park magic Monday, knocking a Tampa Bay Rays team that posted the best record in the American League during the regular season out of the playoffs with a thrilling 6-5 victory. 

Kike Hernandez's sacrifice fly with one out in the bottom of the ninth inning brought home pinch-runner Danny Santana with the winning run in Game 4 as Boston took the Division Series 3-1. 

Earlier in the game, it appeared the Red Sox might cruise to victory. Rafael Devers crushed a three-run homer to spark a five-run third inning for the Red Sox with Rays starter Collin McHugh already out of the game after just two innings. 

But the Rays, who went 100-62 during the regular season, were not done yet. They began chipping away with a run in the fifth, then rookie sensation Wander Franco hit a two-run homer in the sixth. 

Run-scoring hits from Kevin Kiermaier and Randy Arozarena tied the game in the eighth and Kiermaier ensured it stayed that way in the bottom of the inning, gunning down Alex Verdugo with an outrageous throw from center field to third base for a double play that ended a Red Sox threat. 

The reprieve was short-lived for the Rays, as Christian Vazquez led off the bottom of the ninth with a single to left and Christian Arroyo bunted him to third. A misplayed grounder off the bat of Travis Shaw put runners on the corners and Hernandez drove in Santana to set off a wild celebration at the venerable ballpark.

The Red Sox have won eight consecutive games in which they had a chance to clinch a postseason series. Only the Oakland Athletics have a longer such streak, nine in a row between 1973 and 1990. 

Boston will face the Houston Astros or Chicago White Sox in the American League Championship Series. 

 

Longoria, Giants edge Dodgers in Game 3

Evan Longoria's fifth-inning home run off Max Scherzer was the difference as the San Francisco Giants edged the Los Angeles Dodgers 1-0 to put the reigning World Series champions on the brink of elimination. 

Longoria homered on a 0-2 fastball to lead off the fifth, virtually the only blemish for the Dodgers pitching staff as they limited the Giants to just three hits in Game 3. But that was enough, as San Francisco's pitching and defence made it stand up.

Starter Alex Wood and three relievers held the Dodgers to five hits with some significant help from their fielders, as Brandon Crawford in particular made a pair of stellar plays to rob Mookie Betts of hits. 

A Christian Vazquez home run in bottom of the 13th inning gave the Boston Red Sox a 6-4 walk-off win over the Tampa Bay Rays, who believed they had taken the lead in the top half of the inning only to see their hopes dashed. 

Sunday's win gave the Red Sox a 2-1 lead in the American League Division Series (ALDS) in the best-of-five series, and Boston can close it out with a victory at Fenway Park on Monday.

That outcome seemed unlikely in the top of the 13th inning after Tampa Bay's Kevin Kiermaier drove a ball off the top of the wall in right field with Yandy Diaz running from first base. 

With Diaz about to round third and head for home, the ball caromed off Boston right fielder Hunter Renfroe's right hip and back over the wall. 

After all six umpires consulted as a group and two of them talked to MLB replay officials afterward, they put Kiermaier at second base and Diaz at third, and Mike Zunino struck out for the fourth time in the game to end the threat with the scored still tied 4-4. 

The umpires made the correct call, with MLB Rule 5.05(a)(8) stating "the batter and all runners shall be entitled to advance two bases" when a fielder deflects a fair ball over a fence, but the Rays felt hard done by considering Diaz would have scored easily on the play.

Umpire Sam Holbrook told reporters afterward it was "very simple from an umpire's standpoint", noting that they would only have been able to exercise their own discretion about where to place the runners if they determined Renfroe knocked the ball out of play intentionally. 

Rays manager Kevin Cash did not argue once umpires explained the situation to him, but his team could not extend the game from there. 

In the bottom of the 13th, Renfroe walked with one out and Vazquez homered to end it, becoming the first Red Sox player to hit a play-off walk-off homer since Marry Ramirez in 2007.

Despite a shaky start in Chicago, the White Sox stayed alive in their best-of-five series with an action-packed 12-6 win over the Houston Astros. 

White Sox starter Dylan Cease recorded only five outs before being pulled from the game as the Astros built a 5-1 lead after the top of the third inning with their eyes on a sweep. 

The Chicago offence suddenly woke up, exploding for five runs in the bottom of the inning on homers by Yasmani Grandal and Leury Garcia, then adding three more the following inning. 

By the time Chicago tacked on an additional three runs in the eighth, every hitter in the White Sox line-up had recorded at least one hit as they scored double-digit runs in a postseason game for the third time in franchise history, after 2005 (14) and 1959 (11).

 

Rays at Red Sox

Tampa Bay (100-62) won five more games than anyone else in the American League (AL) during the regular season, but the Rays' postseason could come to an end with a loss to the Red Sox in Game 4 on Monday. 

The San Francisco Giants shut out the prolific Los Angeles Dodgers led by Logan Webb as they secured a 4-0 win and a 1-0 lead in the National League Division Series on Friday.

The Dodgers, who were shut out just five times in the regular season, could not convert any of their five hits on Friday, while the Giants delivered three home runs.

Seven-time All-Star Buster Posey got the Giants on the board with a two-run blast in the first inning from Walker Buehler, who allowed six hits across six-and-one-third innings.

Buehler still managed five strikeouts on the mound for the Dodgers but he was over-shadowed by Giants right-hander Webb, who tossed down 10 Ks across seven-and-two-thirds scoreless innings.

Kris Bryant, who had three hits to mark an outstanding game, padded the Giants' lead in the seventh inning with a left-field home run from a tiring Buehler.

Brandon Crawford, who had 24 home runs across the regular season added, another in the eighth inning, recording his second career post-season homer to add insurance.

 

Astros launch into 2-0 lead

The Houston Astros produced a five-run rally in the seventh inning to take a commanding 2-0 lead in the American League Division Series (ALDS) against the Chicago White Sox with a 9-4 victory.

But the Astros had to come from behind, trailing 4-2 after Luis Robert, who had two runs, three hits and one RBI for the game, touched down at the top of the fifth inning.

Jose Altuve, who had a great defensive game in the field, and Alex Bregman levelled it from a Yuli Gurriel base hit, before the five-run rally in the seventh underlined by Kyle Tucker's two-run shot.

With two out and two on leading 5-4, Carlos Correa's powerful shot to right-field eluded Leury Garcia, driving in two runs before Tucker padded the advantage.

 

Sale loses his puff

Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Chris Sale endured a nightmare first inning, allowing four hits and five earned runs as the Tampa Bay Rays opened up an early 5-2 lead. Sale was pulled after that before the Red Sox launched an admirable fightback in a run-fest 14-6 victory over the Rays to square up their ALDS. Tanner Houck steadied on the mound, with five strikeouts across five innings allowing only one run and two hits.

 

 

Burnes still on fire

Corbin Burnes continued his excellent regular season form in the Milwaukee Brewers' opening game of their NLDS with six scoreless innings and six strikeouts in a 2-1 win over the Atlanta Braves. Burnes, who finished the regular season with an MLB-best 2.43 ERA, set up the victory before Josh Hader closed it out, with Rowdy Tellez scoring a two-run homer in the seventh inning.

 

Saturday's results

Houston Astros 9-4 Chicago White Sox
Milwaukee Brewers 2-1 Atlanta Braves
Boston Red Sox 14-6 Tampa Bay Rays
San Francisco Giants 4-0 Los Angeles Dodgers

 

Dodgers at Giants

The Dodgers will look to bounce back in Game 2 against the Giants, with Julio Urias and Kevin Gausman starting on the mound for the respective sides.

Randy Arozarena's memorable steal of home base during the Tampa Bay Rays' 5-0 defeat of the Boston Red Sox in their ALDS Game 1 opener had been a long time in the making.

It was a historic night for Arozarena, who became the first player in playoff history to steal home and hit a home run in the same game.

Arozarena was also the first to pull off the feat in a playoff clash since 2016 and the first to complete a straight steal of home since 1955.

Rays manager Kevin Cash said the leading contender for Rookie of the Year had been in his ear about attempting the move for some time.

"He's asked me all season long, 'Verde, verde, verde' – green light," Cash said. 

"We finally gave it to him."

Arozarena explained why he opted to pull off the audacious move.

"I noticed the pitcher kind of wasn't keeping attention to me. I was able to take a big enough lead and take that base," Arozarena said. 

"That's the first time I've ever stolen home."

With 11 playoff homers, Arozarena is tied second with Carlos Beltran and Jim Thome for the second most of all time, behind only Babe Ruth on 12.

His number is the most of any rookie in MLB history, with Evan Longoria a distant second on six.

"I just focus a little bit more [in playoff games],"Arozarena said. 

"Luckily it's happening in October, when it means it's closer to the World Series."

A trio of rookies starred as the Tampa Bay Rays began the road back to the World Series with a 5-0 win over the Boston Red Sox in Game 1 of the American League Division Series (ALDS). 

After posting an AL-best 100-62 record during the regular MLB season, the Rays got standout performances from pitcher Shane McClanahan and hitters Wander Franco and Randy Arozarena as they opened their defence of the AL pennant at Tropicana Field. 

McClanahan scattered five hits in five shut-out innings on Thursday, striking out three without walking a batter in his first postseason start. 

The Rays became the first team in MLB playoff history to have two rookies post an extra-base hit and another rookie toss a scoreless start in the same game, per Stats Perform.

His team-mates gave him run support early, as Franco doubled home a run in the first, then came around to score on a Yandy Diaz single. The 20-year-old phenom would add another double in the seventh.

Nelson Cruz, who at 41 is more than twice as old as his Dominican countryman Franco, went deep in the third for his 18th postseason home run. 

Not to be outdone, the breakout star of the 2020 playoffs – though still technically a rookie – Arozarena added a majestic solo shot to left in the fifth inning, then stole home in the seventh. 

According to Stats Perform, Arozarena is the first player in MLB postseason history to hit a home run and steal home in the same game. 

Tampa Bay will send another rookie to the mound in Game 2 as Shane Baz takes the ball against Red Sox veteran Chris Sale. 

The Houston Astros opened the other ALDS with an emphatic 6-1 victory over the Chicago White Sox as Lance McCullers Jr. was dominant on the mound for the home side. 

McCullers allowed four hits and did not walk a batter in 6.2 shut-out innings while striking out four, making him the first Astros pitcher to go at least that long in a postseason game without a walk since Brandon Backe against the White Sox in the 2005 World Series.

In 15 career postseason games, McCullers has a 2.87 ERA and has struck out 9.62 batters per nine innings. 

Yordan Alvarez entered the game with just 14 hits in 58 postseason at-bats (.241) but he was the hitting star for Houston in Game 1.

The designated hitter reached base three times in four trips to the plate, driving in a run with a double in the third inning and another with a solo homer in the fifth. 

While Alvarez did the heavy lifting, Jose Altuve provided the highlight of the night with a nifty slide to score from third on an Alex Bregman grounder to third base in the third inning. 

Game 2 is Friday in Houston with the Astros sending Framber Valdez to the mound against Chicago's Lucas Giolito. 

 

Dodgers at Giants

Eternal rivals the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants have each won 107 games this season, and they open their National League Division Series (NLDS) with Walker Buehler and Logan Webb on the mound on Friday. 

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.

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 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.

The St Louis Cardinals extended their remarkable streak to 17 consecutive victories and clinched the second National League Wild Card spot with a 6-2 win over the Milwaukee Brewers on Tuesday.

The triumph seals a postseason spot for the Cardinals for the third consecutive year after a franchise-record run.

The Cardinals become the third team in the expansion era to win 17 straight within a season, behind only the 2017 Cleveland Indians (22) and the 2002 Oakland Athletics (20).

St Louis were forced to come back from a multi-run deficit for the sixth time during their streak after Luis Urias' two-run blast in the fourth inning.

The Cards responded immediately, with Adam Wainwright's bunt helping Harrison Bader tag to level it up.

Avisail Garcia's error from Tyler O'Neill's base hit allowed Paul Goldschmidt home, before home runs from Jose Rondon and Nolan Arenado sealed the win and another postseason berth.

Morton fires Braves past Phillies

Charlie Morton had 10 strikeouts as the Atlanta Braves beat the Philadelphia Phillies 2-1 to edge a step closer to the clinching a fourth consecutive NL East title.

The result means the Braves (84-72) are 3.5 games ahead of the Phillies (81-76).

In the battle for the NL West title, the San Francisco Giants (103-54) produced a four-run sixth-inning rally to win 6-4 over the Arizona Diamondbacks, while the Los Angeles Dodgers (101-56) survived a late scare to win 2-1 against the San Diego Padres.

The Seattle Mariners kept alive their hopes of reaching the playoffs for the first time since 2001 with a 4-2 win over the Oakland Athletics, with Mitch Haniger hitting his 100th career homer.

The Houston Astros stayed 4.5 games ahead of the Mariners with a 4-3 walk-off win over the Tampa Bay Rays, where J.T. Chargois walked the last two runs.

Salvador Perez claimed the outright lead for home runs in the majors with his 47th for the season in the Kansas City Royals' 6-4 over the Cleveland Indians.

Wind out of Red Sox's sails

The Boston Red Sox fluffed a 2-0 lead in a must-win game in the AL Wild Card race, going down 4-2 to the lowly Baltimore Orioles. Chris Sale had six strikeouts and none earned through five innings before the Orioles flipped the game on its head, leaving the Red Sox unstable at 88-69, marginally ahead of the Mariners (88-70) and the Toronto Blue Jays (87-70).

Stanton's hot streak continues

Giancarlo Stanton crushed an improbable 421-foot three-run home run as the New York Yankees secured a critical 7-2 win over the Blue Jays in the AL Wild Card hunt. In-form Stanton now has 13 RBI in his past four games, with his seventh-inning homer opening up a four-run lead for the Yankees in a crucial game. Stanton has also homered in four straight games.

Tuesday's results

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

Phillies at Braves

The Phillies get another chance to keep alive the race to win the NL East division when they face the Braves in the second game of their three-game series on Wednesday.

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