Morning Rewind, 10/1: Blue Jays soar, clinch first division title since 1993
By JOHN DORN
After one of the most dramatic midseason overhauls in recent memory, the Toronto Blue Jays are going to the playoffs for the first time in 22 years.
Sitting at 50-51 before trading for Troy Tulowitzki and David Price in late July, Toronto has ripped off an incredible 42-15 run to take hold of the American League East. Powered by an ungodly offense -- the Jays lead the league in runs, with 122 more than the second-place Yankees -- and the intangible confidence that came with their post-deadline tear, the team might suddenly be favorites to come out of the American League.
They clinched the division in their usual style -- by clobbering their opponent to a pulp. A 15-2 victory on enemy turf in Baltimore sealed the deal, and from there, the celebration was on.
Josh Donaldson, the likely American League MVP and apparent beer admirer, had two hits, walked twice and drove in a run. Every batter in the Blue Jays' lineup drove in a run besides Kevin Pillar, while Marcus Stroman went eight strong allowing just one run.
With an offense that's the 10th-best since the MLB started playing with divisions in 1969, according to FanGraphs, and a rotation that now includes two aces in Price and Stroman, Toronto is -- once again -- a true World Series contender.
Side note: The clincher came in Game 1 of a double-header, so the celebration above needed to be held in for a few hours. Probably made the champagne taste that much sweeter.
Blue Jays 15, Orioles 2
PIT 8, STL 2 (Game 1) // STL 11, PIT 1 (Game 2)
The Pirates are clinging to home-field advantage in the NL Wild Card game, but a split double-header Wednesday was a wash, and with the Cubs beating Cincinnati, their lead has shrunk to 2.5 games.
MIN 7, CLE 1 (Game 1) // CLE 10, MIN 2 (Game 2)
The Indians are playing for pride -- something the Twins may or may not have too much of. The Twins split the double-header, creeping to 1.5 games behind Los Angeles for the final Wild Card spot, but the fireworks came in Game 2, when Jose Ramirez hit a long home run and stood at home plate for two seconds longer than Twins manager Paul Molitor preferred. A bunch of yelling and complaining followed -- a timely demonstration of baseball's unwritten rules getting teams more riled up than actually losing.
BOS 9, NYY 5
The Red Sox spoiled yet another chance at clinching for the Yankees -- this time in extra innings. They scored four in the 11th, and while the Yankees will still probably take home that first Wild Card spot, they'll need to sweat for at least another day.
OAK 8, LAA 7
The Angels finally lost, which is unfortunate for them after winning seven straight, but doubly so with Houston beating the Mariners. LA still maintains a half-game lead for baseball's last playoff seed.
PHI 7, NYM 5
The Mets lost again to the last-place Phillies, which is worrisome as they're battling with the Dodgers for home-field in the NLDS. But they saw their season flash before their eyes when Yoenis Cespedes got plunked with a fastball on his left hand and immediately left the game. X-rays were negative and the outfielder suffered contusions to two fingers, but the benches cleared a few innings later after a few more bean balls.
CHC 10, CIN 3
The Cubs are trailing the Reds for home field in the Wild Card game, but luckily, they're playing the Reds. A win shrunk their deficit by a half-game.
TEX 6, DET 2
The Rangers keep on rolling, maintaining their AL West lead. Adrian Beltre and Mike Napoli each drove in two runs, while starter Matt Boyd lasted just 2.2 innings for the Tigers.
HOU 7, SEA 6
Houston gets on the winning side -- a rarity this month -- and with an Angels loss are now a half-game out of the playoff picture.
- TB 6, MIA 4
- ATL 2, WSH 0
- KC 5, CWS 3
- ARI 3, COL 1
- MIL 5, SD 0
- SF 5, LAD 0