ICYMI: MLB Playoff Races Tighten, Plenty of Highlights Around the Diamond

Catch up on what you missed from around the MLB yesterday, including several playoff races tightening.

Photo Courtesy of Boston Globe

With less than two weeks left in the season, plenty of teams are in the thick of things for the MLB playoffs. Before digging more into that, let’s take a look at some other storylines that happened around the league on Sept. 17.

Cavan Biggio hits for the cycle

Like father, like son. Cavan Biggio was the second Biggio to accomplish the feat of hitting for the cycle for the Toronto Blue Jays. A dozen seasons ago, his father, Craig did the same but for the Houston Astros. They’re only the second father-son duo to accomplish the feat.

Biggio is just a rookie, but he’s made plenty of personal highlights and is part of a young, star-studded Blue Jays roster. This season, Biggio owns a .230 batting average, smacking his 14th home run of the season and driving in his 42nd RBI in the win.

Luis Severino is officially back

Sticking with the AL East, the New York Yankees got a crucial piece back in their pitching rotation yesterday. Luis Severino made his season debut against the Los Angeles Angels. Needless to say, he didn’t disappoint.

Severino was limited to just four innings in which he struck out four, allowed two hits and walked two. He dealt with shoulder and lat problems since spring training but it appears he hasn’t missed much. Yankees fans and pundits alike are excited to see what he can do with the playoffs around the corner.

Mike Yastrzemski goes yard at Fenway

Red Sox fans have a fond place in their heart for the name Yastrzemski, even if he’s on the opposing team. Prior to the Giants/Red Sox game at Fenway, Mike got a chance to walk some of the outfield with Carl, his grandfather.

Mike made another memory by hammering a shot over the center-field fence.

Even better? Red Sox fans gave him a standing ovation after going yard.

Pete Alonso takes over League home run lead

Coors Field is truly a dinger-friendly park, yielding another four when the New York Mets and Colorado Rockies met up. Pete Alonso was one of those four, crushing a ball over 450-feet to center. By doing so, Alonso recorded his 48th home run of the season to lead the League and drove in his 111th RBI.

Twins set more home run history

Speaking of hitting home runs, the Minnesota Twins made some more history last night. Minnesota has one of the best records in the AL with a big reason due to their explosive offense. The Twins already set a record earlier this season for most home runs hit by one team in League history, so this shouldn’t come as much of a shocker. Miguel Sano hit a rocket in the third inning against the White Sox.

By doing so, Sano recorded his 30th home run of the season, becoming the fifth Twin to hit at least 30 this year. By doing so, Minnesota is the first team to have five players hit the 30-homer mark in one season in League history. Three others have hit 20+ dingers including C.J. Cron (24 home runs), Jonathan Schoop (22 home runs), and Jorge Polanco (22 home runs). With 11 games left against some of the worst teams in the league, it’s not out of the question one of these three could join the 30-club.

Blake Snell returns to form for Tampa Bay

This is a double-dipper, with the Tampa Bay Rays in the thick of things in terms of the AL Wild Card race. Entering last night, the Rays held a one-game lead over the Cleveland Indians for the second Wild Card spot, also one game behind the Oakland A’s.

Snell had been sidelined since late July after the team revealed he’d need arthroscopic surgery to remove a loose body from his elbow. He faced off against the L.A. Dodgers, the best team in the National League, and didn’t allow a hit or walk while striking out four in two innings.

While Snell’s start was a highlight, the Rays ended up with a 7-5 loss as the Dodgers knocked in five during the seventh inning. Their lead for the second Wild Card spot shrunk to .5 games over the Indians with Cleveland picking up another win.

Now, to focus more on the ever-tightening playoff races in both the AL and NL.

A’s beat Royals 2-1

The Oakland A’s managed to overcome some solid pitching by Kansas City’s starter Jorge Lopez. Through six innings, Lopez had retired four, allowed four hits and walked one. He began the seventh but gave up a deep shot to Matt Olson, hit Mark Canha next and allowed an RBI double from Seth Brown. That would be the only damage done and the only runs needed for the A’s.

By getting the win, Oakland now owns a two-game lead over the Tampa Bay Rays in the Wild Card race. While unlikely, they trail the Houston Astros by eight games in the AL West.

Indians beat Tigers 7-2

Cleveland beat the lowly Detroit Tigers with a rout, scoring six early runs and limiting Detroit to a pair. Adam Plutko pitched six innings of four-hit ball and struck out six. By getting the win, the Indians pulled within one game of the second Wild Card spot. They still have two games left against Detroit during their homestand.

Nationals beat Cardinals 6-2

Two teams who are currently “in” for the postseason are playing a critical series against each other. Howie Kendrick went deep for Washington and nearly hit for the cycle. Three runs in the last couple of innings padded the Nats lead and they would hang on for a four-run win.

With the win, the Nationals stretch the gap in the Wild Card race, currently leading by 1.5 games. Meanwhile, St. Louis saw their division lead decrease a smidge in a crazy NL Central.

Brewers beat Padres 3-1

Milwaukee is a team on fire the past couple of weeks, and that continued against the Padres. Lorenzo Cain went deep early, and that was enough till the seventh inning. At that point, Hunter Renfroe tied things up with his own long ball. That tie didn’t last long, as Mike Moustakas continued his huge season with his 35th dinger. Drew Pomeranz worked the eighth and ninth innings, earning his second save with the Brew Crew after striking out four.

Milwaukee now ties for the second Wild Card spot, owning the tie if it comes down to it, and is two games out of the NL Central lead. In the month of September, the Brewers are 13-3, including winning nine of their last 10.

Reds beat Cubs 4-2

The Chicago Cubs saw their five-game win streak snapped after the visiting Reds out-dueled them. Chicago obliterated the Pittsburgh Pirates last week and continued their offensive spree until last night. Both starting arms (Yu Darvish and Sonny Gray) put on clinics while on the mound.

Darvish gave up an early two-run homer to “Cubs killer” Aristides Aquino but managed to settle in, sitting down 13 batters through six innings. Gray had a similar night, pitching into the seventh while striking out nine.

Chicago had a shot to close in on the Cardinals but failed to do so. Their Wild Card lead is no more with Milwaukee winning and owning the ultimate tie. Both teams have St. Louis in their sights still, only trailing by two games.

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