Major League Baseball
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  • Tuesday, September 23, 2014
    Game roundup: Jeter opens final home series with three RBIs
    By The Sports Xchange

    NEW YORK -- Derek Jeter opened his final series at home by driving in three runs as the New York Yankees blanked the Baltimore Orioles 5-0 on Monday.

    • After going 1-for-17 on New York's seven-game trip and going hitless in 28 at-bats, Jeter is 9-for-21 with six RBIs in his final homestand. He drove in three runs for the first time since Sept. 9, 2012, at Baltimore and did so at home for the first time since Aug. 1, 2012, also against the Orioles.

      With virtually the entire crowd standing and flashbulbs going off from cameras, Jeter flied out to right field in the first and then hit a bouncer to shortstop J.J. Hardy that scored rookie designated hitter Jose Pirela in the third.

      Two innings later, Jeter saw eight pitches and lined a full-count fastball from Baltimore left-hander Wei-Yin Chen (16-5) into left field for his 18th double.

      Jeter's productive night helped right-hander Michael Pineda (4-5) win for the first time in five starts since Aug. 25. Pineda retired the first 13 Orioles before giving up a single to Hardy, and that was the only baserunner he allowed until giving a one-out walk to Baltimore first baseman Christian Walker in the eighth.

      Pirela made his major league debut and became the record-setting 57th player used by the Yankees this season. He had an RBI triple and scored on Jeter's double.

      Third baseman Chase Headley added a solo home run as the Yankees beat the Orioles for the fifth time in 16 meetings.

      Royals 2, Indians 0

      CLEVELAND -- Danny Duffy pitched six scoreless innings, combining with three

      relievers on a seven-hitter, as Kansas City beat Cleveland at Progressive Field.

      With the win, Kansas City pulled to within one game of Detroit for first place in the

      AL Central.

      In his six innings of work, the left-hander Duffy (9-11) gave up six hits with five

      strikeouts and two walks. It was Duffy's first start since Sept. 6 due to a sore

      shoulder that caused him to miss two starts. Right-hander Greg Holland pitched the ninth

      inning to pick up his 44th save.

      Pirates 1, Braves 0

      ATLANTA -- Pittsburgh left-hander Francisco Liriano made his first career appearance at Turner Field a memorable one, pitching six scoreless innings in a shutout win over Atlanta.

      Liriano (7-10) allowed only three hits and walked four on the cool, windy evening. He struck out seven and helped the Pirates reduce their magic number to two games over the Milwaukee Brewers, who were idle.

      Liriano got the only run he needed from center fielder Andrew McCutchen, who led off the sixth inning against Atlanta starter Aaron Harang with a line-drive homer, his 24th, into the left-center field bleachers.

      The Pirates bullpen pitched three scoreless innings to close the game. Jared Hughes, John Holdzkom and Mark Melancon each worked one inning, with Melancon earning his 32nd save.

      Blue Jays 14, Mariners 4

      TORONTO -- J.A. Happ pitched seven innings and Danny Valencia drove in three runs with a first-inning triple as Toronto defeated Seattle.

      The Blue Jays had homers by Jose Bautista, Kevin Pillar and Anthony Gose in handing the Mariners their third loss in a row.

      Happ (10-11) became the fifth Blue Jays starter to reach double digits in wins this season. It is the first time the Blue Jays have had five starters win at least 10 games in one season. It is the third time they have had five pitchers with at least 10 wins when relievers are included.

      White Sox 2, Tigers 0

      DETROIT -- Chris Bassitt recorded his first major-league win and Tyler Flowers homered for the game's only runs as Chicago silenced the American League Central Division-leading Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park.

      Bassitt (1-1) scattered six hits in 7 2/3 innings, walking one and striking out three. He had made three other starts, including a loss to Detroit on Aug. 30 in his major-league debut when he allowed five runs in 6 1/3 innings.

      Jake Petricka recorded his 14th save for the White Sox (72-84), who have won eight of their last 12. Detroit left-hander Kyle Lobstein (1-1) suffered his first career loss despite limiting Chicago to two runs in seven innings and striking out five.

      Rangers 4, Astros 3

      ARLINGTON, Texas -- Not only did 31-year-old rookie Guilder Rodriguez get his first major league hit, but the third baseman also picked up his first game-winning RBI.

      Rodriguez drove home the go-ahead run in Texas' victory over Houston in the opener of a three-game series at Globe Life Park. The seventh-inning drive glanced off the glove of leaping shortstop Jonathan Villar to break a 3-3 tie.

      The Rangers have won nine of their last 10 games, and are assured of not losing 100 games this season. Houston had already ended a run of three consecutive seasons of triple-digit losses.

      The state's two franchises are playing out the string with interim managers and an eye on next season. Plenty of potential prospects are gaining valuable playing time that each front office hopes can pay dividends in 2015 and beyond.

      Cardinals 8, Cubs 0

      CHICAGO -- St. Louis right-hander Adam Wainwright threw seven shutout innings while becoming the major league's second 20-game winner this year, and the Cardinals beat the Chicago.

      Wainwright (20-9) scattered three hits, struck out eight and walked one in the series opener at Wrigley Field.

      The Cardinals claimed their eighth win in 10 games and maintained a 2 1/2 game lead over Pittsburgh atop the National League Central with five games to play. The Pirates kept pace with a 1-0 victory over the Braves in Atlanta on Monday.

      Left-hander Travis Wood (8-13) took the loss as the Cubs dropped their second straight game and fourth in the past five.

      Diamondbacks 6, Twins 2

      MINNEAPOLIS -- Josh Collmenter allowed two runs in 6 1/3 innings, and Arizona defeated Minnesota at Target Field.

      The victory snapped a six-game losing streak for the Diamondbacks, who entered losers in 13 of their past 16 games.

      Collmenter (11-8) helped put an end to that, retiring the first seven batters he faced and allowing only one run through the first four innings before Arizona broke the game open with a five-run fifth.

      The right-hander gave up five hits and a walk while striking out five. The 11th win is a career high.

  • Tuesday, September 23, 2014
    Diamondbacks 6, Twins 2
    By The Sports Xchange

    MINNEAPOLIS -- Josh Collmenter allowed two runs in 6 1/3 innings, and the Arizona Diamondbacks defeated the Minnesota Twins 6-2 Monday at Target Field.

    • The victory snapped a six-game losing streak for the Diamondbacks, who entered losers in 13 of their past 16 games.

      Collmenter (11-8) helped put an end to that, retiring the first seven batters he faced and allowing only one run through the first four innings before Arizona broke the game open with a five-run fifth.

      The right-hander gave up five hits and a walk while striking out five. The 11th win is a career high.

      Shortstop Didi Gregorius, who had three doubles, and center fielder A.J. Pollock, who added two singles and a double, led the Arizona offense.

      After Collmenter exited, Diamondbacks relievers Oliver Perez (one-third of an inning), Evan Marshall (1 1/3 innings) and Will Harris (one inning) blanked the Twins the rest of the way.

      Minnesota starter Ricky Nolasco (5-12) allowed five runs on nine hits and a walk in 4 2/3 innings. He struck out five.

      Arizona opened the fifth inning with three consecutive hits, including an RBI double by Gregorius. Left fielder Ender Inciarte's ground out plated another run, and Gregorius scored on a wild pitch by Nolasco.

      First baseman Mark Trumbo capped the inning with a two-run homer to the opposite field, his 12th blast of the year to make it 5-1.

      A walk to catcher Miguel Montero was the end of the line for Nolasco.

      Twins left fielder Chris Herrmann hit an RBI single in the third inning, and pinch hitter Josmil Pinto added a run-scoring hit in the seventh.

      NOTES: Twins OF Aaron Hicks was back in the lineup after missing two games due to a stiff lower back. ... Minnesota LHP Tommy Milone, who has missed his past three starts because of a dead arm and then neck soreness, is expected to be available out of the bullpen through the end of the season. ... Diamondbacks C Miguel Montero will got the start Monday. Arizona manager Kirk Gibson all three of his catchers will start a game against the Twins.

  • Tuesday, September 23, 2014
    Jeter, Pineda lead Yankees' win
    By The Sports Xchange

    NEW YORK -- Facing Michael Pineda once was enough for Derek Jeter.

    • His preference is to play shortstop behind Pineda and watch him dominate opponents.

      Jeter helped give Pineda some rare run support by opening his final home series with three RBIs, and the right-handed Pineda combined with three relievers on a one-hitter as the New York Yankees blanked the Baltimore Orioles 5-0 on Monday.

      Jeter is 9-for-20 on his final homestand, with one home run and six RBIs. He entered his final eight games at Yankee Stadium hitting .249 after going 1-for-17 on a seven-game road trip that included three losses in Baltimore.

      Jeter did not get his fifth straight multi-hit game but drove in three runs for the first time since Sept. 9, 2012, at Baltimore and for the first time at home since Aug. 1, 2012, also aagainst Baltimore. He had a chance to reach four RBIs for the first time since Sept. 4, 2011, against the Toronto Blue Jays, but he drew a walk in the seventh.

      "He's swinging the bat great," New York manager Joe Girardi said. "He went through that little bit of a slump in September and a lot of times things balance out. They even out and he's swinging the bat great and we need him to continue."

      The Yankees (81-75) need that to continue because even with their fifth win in six games, they still remain four games behind the Kansas City Royals for the second wild card spot.

      "I see it as we got to win a game tomorrow," Jeter said. "That's it. We don't complicate things. The only thing we can control is our game tomorrow. We dug ourselves a hole, obviously we need to win."

      Jeter's three RBIs marked the fifth time in 12 starts that the Yankees scored at least three runs in a Pineda start. They had scored just once when Pineda was in the game over his last four starts spanning 25 2/3 innings.

      "He's nasty," Jeter said. "He's got good stuff. His fastball moves, his slider is great. Every time he pitches, he's been almost dominant."

      Added Girardi: "He really picked up where he left off. He was throwing the ball great for us before he got hurt, and he's really picked up where he's left off."

      Jeter supported Pineda with an RBI groundout in the third that scored designated hitter Jose Pirela, who became the record-setting 57thplayer used by the Yankees this year. Jeter added a two-run double on the eighth pitch against Baltimore left-hander Wei-Yin Chen (16-5) in the fifth.

      While Jeter was continuing his hot streak, Pineda retired the first 13 hitters before allowing a one-out single to shortstop J.J. Hardy in the fifth that was just past the outstretched dive of third baseman Chase Headley. The only other base runner he allowed was a one-out walk to first baseman Christian Walker in the eighth and that ended his night with a standing ovation from the 35,614 fans.

      "He's good," Hardy said. "His ball cuts, he's got a great slider. It's really tough to pick him up. The more you see him, the more you can adjust, but he wasn't missing his spots tonight."

      Pineda struck out a season-high eight, getting half with his slider, three with his fastball and one with his changeup. He threw 73 of 106 pitches for strikes and helped the Yankees throw their first one-hitter since July 26, 2011, against the Seattle Mariners.

      "I'm feeling pretty good today," Pineda said. "Tonight my slider was working pretty good and my changeup. Everything (was working)."

      Shawn Kelley, Rich Hill and David Phelps finished up for the Yankees, who extended their lead to 5-0 on Headley's fifth home run. New York held the Orioles to one hit for the first time since April 26, 1958, at Baltimore's Memorial Stadium.

      While the Orioles were held to one hit for the third time this season and shutout for the 11th time, it was not all bad news. They still clinched home-field advantage in ALDS and will face the winner of the AL Central or the winner of the wild-card game.

      "I just found out," Hardy said. "That's good, good news."

      Chen had a four-game winning streak snapped as he allowed four runs (two earned) and six hits in six innings.

      NOTES: Baltimore manager Buck Showalter said he will use four starters for the American League Division Series, although he has not finalized the rotation. ... Orioles 1B Steve Pearce sat out a third consecutive game due to a sore right wrist. Showalter said Pearce hopes to return Wednesday. ... New York LHP CC Sabathia made 20 throws at 60 feet Monday and said that his right knee does not have any pain following season-ending surgery in July. ... The Yankees claimed OF Eury Perez off waivers from the Washington Nationals and opened a roster spot by designating LHP Josh Outman for assignment.

  • Tuesday, September 23, 2014
    Rookie Bassitt leads White Sox to shutout win over Tigers
    By The Sports Xchange

    DETROIT -- Chris Bassitt was not thinking about impacting the American League pennant race on Monday night. He was just looking for his first major-league win.

    • With more than 100 friends and family in attendance, the Chicago White Sox rookie right-hander silenced the Central Division-leading Detroit Tigers over 7 2/3 innings in a 2-0 victory at Comerica Park.

      "I didn't think about that," Bassitt said of hampering the Tigers' chances of clinching the division. "I just went out there and tried to do my best."

      Bassitt's hometown of Curtice, Ohio, is about a half hour from the ballpark "if you want to drive fast." The cheering section saw Bassitt (1-1) scatter six hits, walk one and strike out three. He had made three other starts, including a loss to Detroit on Aug. 30 in his major-league debut when he allowed five runs in 6 1/3 innings.

      "The first one is obviously nice but being so close to home is even better," he said. "Having all my family here, it meant a lot."

      The Tigers' division lead dropped to one game after second-place Kansas City followed up a loss of a suspended game to Cleveland earlier in the evening with a 2-0 win in the regularly-scheduled game.

      Detroit (86-70) has a losing record against the White Sox and Minnesota Twins, the teams it will face during the seven-game homestand to complete the regular season.

      "It's not going to be an easy last week," Tigers left fielder J.D. Martinez said. "It's going to be a grind and it's going to be a nail-biter because both of those teams play us extremely well."

      Bassitt didn't pitch extremely well in his debut but he frustrated the Tigers the second time around with his off-speed pitches, particularly a changeup he developed in the minors this season.

      "It made me feel a lot more comfortable being out there against the same team," he said. "I kind of knew their approach against me but at the same time, they're an outstanding hitting team. I knew I couldn't walk people because if you walk them, they're just going to kill you because they're way too good hitters to give them free passes."

      Tyler Flowers homered for the game's only runs and Jake Petricka recorded his 14th save for the White Sox (72-84), who have won eight of their last 12.

      Detroit left-hander Kyle Lobstein (1-1) suffered his first career loss despite limiting Chicago to two runs in seven innings and striking out five. Designated hitter Victor Martinez had two hits and reached base in all four plate appearances. Catcher Alex Avila, who missed the previous six games with concussion-like symptoms, was 0-for-4 and struck out three times.

      Flowers' home run, which landed in the visitors' bullpen in left-center, gave the White Sox a 2-0 lead in the second. It was the White Sox catcher's sixth home run in 13 games and 15th of the season. Second baseman Carlos Sanchez preceded the home run with a two-out double.

      Bassitt recorded only one 1-2-3 inning before the seventh but the Tigers couldn't get any clutch hits. J.D. Martinez flied out with two runners on in the first, while Avila and shortstop Andrew Romine left two runners stranded in the fourth.

      Victor Martinez led off the sixth with a double but Bassitt retired the next three batters. He didn't allow another base runner until he walked Victor Martinez in the eighth.

      "He pitched us very similar to the way he did in Chicago, we just weren't able to get a big hit, get that hit when guys were on base," J.D. Martinez said. "We had guys on base today and just couldn't get them in."

      NOTES: Tigers RHP Anibal Sanchez will be activated from the 15-day disabled list on Tuesday. Sanchez, who is 8-5 with a 3.46 ERA in 21 starts, has been sidelined since Aug. 9 with a right pectoralis strain. "He'll pitch out of the bullpen," Detroit manager Brad Ausmus said. "He can fill a number of roles, depending on how deep the starter goes." ... White Sox CF Adam Eaton was not in the lineup while attending to a personal matter. ... The teams split their first 16 games and the Tigers are 7-8 against Minnesota, which plays at Detroit the final four games of the season. "They're not rolling over for anybody," Ausmus said. ... Chicago has lost 40 games after holding a lead, the third most in the majors behind Texas (43) and Toronto (41). ... Detroit LHP David Price, who starts on Tuesday, is just 3-4 since Tampa Bay traded its ace on July 31. "It's just executing pitches," he said. "I haven't done that very well since I've been here."

  • Tuesday, September 23, 2014
    Cardinals 8, Cubs 0
    By The Sports Xchange

    CHICAGO -- St. Louis right-hander Adam Wainwright threw seven shutout innings while becoming the major league's second 20-game winner this year, and the Cardinals beat the Chicago Cubs 8-0 Monday.

    • Wainwright (20-9) scattered three hits, struck out eight and walked one in the series opener at Wrigley Field.

      Los Angeles Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw earned his 20th victory Friday, also at Wrigley Field.

      The Cardinals (88-69) claimed their eighth win in 10 games and maintained a 2 1/2 game lead over Pittsburgh atop the National League Central with five games to play. The Pirates kept pace with a 1-0 victory over the Braves in Atlanta on Monday.

      Left-hander Travis Wood (8-13) took the loss as the Cubs (69-88) dropped their second straight game and fourth in the past five.

      The Cardinals scored four runs in the fourth and added three in the fifth to chase Wood.

      Cardinals center fielder Jon Jay went 2-for-4 with a game-high three RBIs. First baseman Matt Adams added two hits and two RBIs.

      The Cardinals got to Wood in the fourth inning. Back-to-back singles by right fielder Randal Grichuk and left fielder Matt Holliday put runners at first and second with none out.

      Shortstop Jhonny Peralta lined a base hit just past a sprinting Cubs left fielder Chris Coghlan to score Grichuk. Catcher Yadier Molina then singled home Holliday for a 2-0 lead.

      Molina advanced to second on an error while Peralta was perched at third. Both came home on Jay's one out single to shallow left for a 4-0 lead.

      A fifth-inning Holliday hit to right scored third baseman Matt Carpenter as St. Louis opened a 5-0 lead. Adams' two-out single drove in Holliday and Peralta for a 7-0 advantage.

      Wood was finished after five innings. He gave up seven runs (six earned) on eight hits, struck out eight and walked two.

      Jay singled home Adams in the eighth.

      NOTES: St. Louis RHP Adam Wainwright also won 20 games in 2011. ... Cardinals 3B Matt Carpenter and 1B Matt Adams were back in the lineup Monday after each missed two games as a flu bug spread through the clubhouse. The virus affected at least 10 players over the weekend but appeared to have mostly abated. ... St. Louis traditionally struggles under the lights at Wrigley Field, entering the series with a 13-31 all-time record in those conditions. ... The Cardinals send RHP Shelby Miller (10-9, 3.68 ERA) against the Cubs RHP Kyle Hendricks (7-2, 2.28 ERA) on Tuesday in the series' middle game. ... Cubs INF Mike Olt and 2B Arismendy Alcantara the first Cubs rookies with 10-plus homers in a season since 2008, when Jake Fox (11) and Micah Hoffpauir (10) reached double figures.

  • Tuesday, September 23, 2014
    Rangers 4, Astros 3
    By The Sports Xchange

    ARLINGTON, Texas -- Not only did 31-year-old rookie Guilder Rodriguez get his first major league hit Monday night, but the third baseman also picked up his first game-winning RBI.

    • Rodriguez drove home the go-ahead run in the Texas Rangers' 4-3 victory over the Houston Astros in the opener of a three-game series at Globe Life Park. The seventh-inning drive glanced off the glove of leaping shortstop Jonathan Villar to break a 3-3 tie.

      The Rangers (63-93) have won nine of their last 10 games, and are assured of not losing 100 games this season. Houston (69-88) had already ended a run of three consecutive seasons of triple-digit losses.

      The state's two franchises are playing out the string with interim managers and an eye on next season. Plenty of potential prospects are gaining valuable playing time that each front office hopes can pay dividends in 2015 and beyond.

      The acting skippers are also looking to make an impression, and so far the early returns are promising. Texas' Tim Bogar and Houston's Tom Lawless each own winning records for clubs woefully under .500.

      Rodriguez is in the big leagues after logging 1,095 minor league games over 13 years, which was the most among active players with no major league experience. He was also the fourth-oldest American League position player to make his major league debut over the last 44 seasons.

      After starting his career 0-for-6 at the plate, Rodriguez logged his first hit in the third inning with a single to left off Houston starter Nick Tropeano. The game-winning hit came with two outs, bringing right fielder Jake Smolinski home and making a winner out of Texas starter Derek Holland.

      Holland (2-0) went seven-plus innings and allowed three runs (two earned) on seven hits. Texas closer Neftali Feliz picked up his 12th save. Tropeano (1-2) allowed all four Texas runs over 6 2/3 innings.

      The Astros rallied from a 3-0 deficit to tie the game against Holland. After getting on the board in the fifth, Houston added a pair of runs in the sixth.

      Second baseman Jose Altuve cut the Rangers' lead to 3-2 with his double to drive in Villar. Left fielder Robbie Grossman trotted home to knot the contest on first baseman's Chris Carter's sacrifice fly.

      The Rangers jumped on Tropeano in the third inning, taking a 3-0 lead on second baseman Rougned Odor's two-out, bases-loaded triple into the left-center-field gap. The drive plated catcher Robinson Chirinos, Rodriguez and center fielder Leonys Martin.

      The three-run cushion was a welcome sight for Holland, who's received sparse run support in his previous four starts since coming off the disabled list. Holland allowed a run in the fifth on third baseman Matt Dominguez's squibber that scored right fielder Jake Marisnick.

      NOTES: Houston already won the season series against Texas, taking an 11-5 record into the start of the three-game set. The Astros hadn't won a season series against their Lone Star State rivals since 2006. ... Houston 2B Jose Altuve went into Monday with a club record 220 hits, also the most by a second baseman since Detroit's Charlie Gehringer had 227 in 1936. Altuve got one hit Monday to raise his total to 221. ... Texas won two consecutive games when scoring exactly two runs after going 2-24 in the first 26 games this season in such cases. ... Research indicates that outfielder Ryan Rua is the first batter in Texas history whose first major league homer was a go-ahead shot in the ninth inning or later. He hit the game-winning blast Sunday against the Los Angeles Angels.

  • Tuesday, September 23, 2014
    Jays bash three homers, rout skidding Mariners
    By The Sports Xchange

    TORONTO -- After struggling to score runs on a 1-6 road trip, the Toronto Blue Jays became a scoring machine on their return home Monday.

    • The Blue Jays pounded out 16 hits -- including three home runs and a bases-loaded triple -- to defeat the Seattle Marines 14-4 in the opener of a four-game series.

      "You try to do that every night, but it's not that easy," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said.

      The Mariners (83-73) took their third loss in a row and fell two games behind the Kansas City Royals in the race for the second American League wild card. Oakland led Kansas City by a half-game pending the result of the Athletics' late game against the Los Angeles Angels on Monday night.

      Toronto left-hander J.A. Happ pitched seven innings and Danny Valencia drove in three runs with a first-inning triple for the Blue Jays, who scored only 18 runs on their trip to Baltimore and New York.

      The Blue Jays (79-77) got homers from right fielder Jose Bautista, left fielder Kevin Pillar and center fielder Anthony Gose.

      Toronto chased Mariners left-hander James Paxton (6-4) in a five-run third. Paxton, who is from Ladner, British Columbia, allowed seven hits, six walks and nine runs (eight earned) in 2 2/3 innings in his first major league start in Canada.

      "I just didn't have a good feel for it tonight," Paxton said. "I felt like I was all over the place. When I was in the strike zone, it was the heart of the plate and they were hitting the ball hard. I think I probably just wanted it a bit too much. My stuff didn't feel great tonight. I didn't have a good feel for anything."

      Gibbons said, "I thought we had a really good approach at the plate and made Paxton work. We got some big hits. We haven't had a laugher in a good while. I can't remember the last time. Then Happ wiggled his way out of (trouble) early on, which is big."

      Happ (10-11) became the fifth Blue Jays starter to reach double digits in wins this season. He allowed eight hits, including a home run by third baseman Kyle Seager, and two runs.

      The Blue Jays have five starters with at least 10 victories in one season for the first time. It is the third time they had five pitchers with at least 10 wins when relievers are included.

      "It feels good to go out and get deeper in the game and accomplish some of the goals that I kind of felt I could do and wanted to have the opportunity to do," Happ said. "I haven't taken a lot of time to reflect on the year, but I just want to just keep going out and kind of keep us in the game for the most part."

      Pillar hit his first homer of the season, a two-run blast in the sixth against left-hander Lucas Luetge.

      Gose hit his second homer of the year after entering the game in the seventh. His blast came against right-hander Danny Farquhar.

      Blue Jays reliever Kendall Graveman gave up a run in the eighth, and Mariners right fielder Chris Denorfia hit his third homer of the season in the ninth against left-hander Sean Nolin.

      Paxton was a first-round pick by the Blue Jays in the 2009 draft. The sides could not reach a deal, and Paxton was picked in the fourth round of the 2010 draft by the Mariners.

      "I think he was probably a little bit too amped up," Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon said of Paxton's outing Monday. "He was just too charged up. He couldn't control his strike zone and worked behind in the count a little bit too much. It's a learning experience."

      The Blue Jays led 4-1 after the first inning.

      Seattle scored in the top of the first on a leadoff infield single by center fielder Austin Jackson and a one-out double by second baseman Robinson Cano.

      The Blue Jays scored four in the bottom of the inning, three on a triple by Valencia, who scored on a two-out single by second baseman Steve Tolleson.

      Valencia's triple cleared the bases after right fielder Bautista singled with one out and designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion and catcher Dioner Navarro walked. Valencia was initially called out at third, but the Blue Jays won a challenge, and the call was reversed.

      The Blue Jays stretched their lead to 9-1 in a five-run third started by Valencia's double. First baseman John Mayberry and Pillar walked. Shortstop Jose Reyes singled in a run on a ball deflected by third baseman Seager. Bautista walked to score a run.

      After right-hander Brandon Maurer replaced Paxton, a passed ball scored Pillar. Encarnacion scored two runs on a single deflected by Seager.

      The Blue Jays scored an unearned run in the fourth on singles by Tolleson and center fielder Dalton Pompey and a throwing error by shortstop Chris Taylor.

      Bautista hit his 35th homer of the season against Tom Wilhelmsen in the fifth.

      NOTES: Mariners RHP Chris Young, who struggled in his last outing, will not make his scheduled start Thursday in Toronto. "I think he's probably out of gas from a starting standpoint," Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon said. A replacement was not named. ... Blue Jays DH Adam Lind (sore back) did not play for the third game in a row, as the Mariners started a left-hander. Lind could be ready to start Tuesday. ... With RHP Marcus Stroman missing his scheduled start Thursday while serving a five-day suspension, the Blue Jays will piece together the game with relievers, possibly opening with rookie LHP Daniel Norris for two or three innings. ... Seattle RHP Felix Hernandez (14-5, 2.07 ERA) will start Tuesday against Toronto RHP R.A. Dickey (13-12, 3.82 ERA).

  • Tuesday, September 23, 2014
    Liriano helps Pirates shut out Braves
    By The Sports Xchange

    ATLANTA -- Francisco Liriano did not have his best stuff on Monday, but that did not seem to matter against the light-hitting Atlanta Braves.

    • The Pirates left-hander, making his first career appearance at Turner Field, battled spells of wildness and still pitched six shutout innings in a 1-0 win over the Atlanta Braves.

      Liriano (7-10) allowed only three hits and walked four on the cool, windy evening. He struck out seven and helped the Pirates reduce their magic number for clinching a playoff spot to two games over the Milwaukee Brewers, who were idle.

      "At the end of the night, three hits, no runs and you're thinking, 'I'm taking him out?'" Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "Fact of the matter was, seven three-ball counts, underneath a lot of counts, he was able to use the fastball inside to right-handers, which opened up some swing and miss stuff for him down."

      Liriano got the only run he needed from center fielder Andrew McCutchen, who led off the sixth inning against Atlanta starter Aaron Harang with a line-drive homer, his 24th, into the left-center field bleachers. It was McCutchen's first homer since Sept. 10.

      "He was effectively wild," Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez said of Liriano. "He'd get deep in the count and he'd throw that back-door slider and lock them up."

      Liriano has allowed just one earned run over his last 28 innings of work dating back to Aug. 31 and has given up two runs or fewer in 12 of his last 13 starts.

      The Pirates bullpen pitched three scoreless innings to close the game. Jared Hughes, John Holdzkom and Mark Melancon each worked one inning, with Melancon earning his 32nd save.

      Melancon allowed Atlanta shortstop Andrelton Simmons to reach base with two outs in the ninth when he misplayed a comebacker. But the right-hander came back to strike out center fielder B.J. Upton to end the game.

      "Our pitching has been fantastic, played good defense and a big swing from McCutchen," Hurdle said. "Saw a lot pitches and were not able to get much done on offense, but got enough."

      It was the third straight 1-0 game for the Pirates, the first time that's happened since 1917. The Pirates have won their last two games 1-0. It was the seventh shutout for the Pirates this season.

      "We always talk about scoring one more run than the other team and the last three games we did it twice," Hurdle said.

      Harang (11-12) pitched seven strong innings, struck out seven, walked two and allowed just four hits. The Braves have scored no runs in four of Harang's last five starts. Jordan Walden and Craig Kimbrel kept the game close by throwing one scoreless inning apiece.

      "You can't ask for any more," Gonzalez said. "He pitched a helluva game. He gave up the solo home run and their bullpen made it stick."

      First baseman Freddie Freeman had two hits for the Braves, who were shutout for the 16th time. Atlanta has lost four straight and 12 of its last 14. The Braves are 4-16 and have been shutout six times in September.

      Pittsburgh catcher Russell Martin extended his hitting streak to 13 games and third baseman Josh Harrison extended his hitting streak to 10 games.

      Neither team could score early, although both had chances.

      The Pirates had runners on first and second to lead off the second inning, but Harang struck out the next three batters he faced to end the threat.

      The Braves had runners at first and second in the first inning, and runners on first and third with two outs in the fourth, but stalled out each time.

      NOTES: Atlanta fired general manager Frank Wren, who held the job for seven seasons. A committee of team president John Schuerholz, former GM and manager Bobby Cox and former Texas and Cleveland GM John Hart, hired last fall as a special assistant, will make the decision on the new hire. Hart, a two-time major league executive of the year, said he does not want the job. ... Atlanta C Evan Gattis (kidney stones) and RF Jason Heyward (bruised left thumb) were not in the starting lineup again. Gattis hasn't started since Sept. 7 and Heyward hasn't started since Sept. 19. Gattis did pinch-hit on Monday and struck out. ... Pittsburgh 3B Pedro Alvarez (stress fracture left foot) is expected to be ready for the playoffs. ... LHP Francisco Liriano made his first career start at Turner Field on Monday. He has appeared in every current major league ballpark except Marlins Stadium. ... The teams play the second of a four-game series on Tuesday. Starting pitchers are Pittsburgh RHP Gerrit Cole (10-5) and Atlanta LHP Alex Wood (11-10).

  • Monday, September 22, 2014
    Royals 2, Indians 0
    By The Sports Xchange

    CLEVELAND -- Danny Duffy pitched six scoreless innings, combining with three relievers on a seven-hitter, as the Kansas City Royals beat the Cleveland Indians 2-0 Monday night at Progressive Field.

    • With the win, Kansas City pulled to within one game of Detroit for first place in the AL Central.

      In his six innings of work, the left-hander Duffy (9-11) gave up six hits with five strikeouts and two walks. It was Duffy's first start since Sept. 6 due to a sore shoulder that caused him to miss two starts. Right-hander Greg Holland pitched the ninth inning to pick up his 44th save.

      Duffy's shoulder looked fine Monday night. After pitching out of a bases-loaded, no-outs jam in the first inning, he didn't allow a base runner past first base in his other five innings.

      In the first inning, Duffy gave up a walk and two singles to the first three batters he faced as the Indians loaded the bases with no outs. But Duffy retired designated hitter Carlos Santana on an infield popup, then struck out catcher Yan Gomes and got second baseman Mike Aviles on a flyout to end the inning.

      The Indians didn't get a runner past first base until the seventh inning, when center fielder Michael Bourn doubled with two outs off left hander Brandon Finnegan. But Finnegan struck out shortstop Jose Ramirez to end that inning.

      Indians right-hander Carlos Carrasco (8-6) pitched 7 1/3 innings, giving up two runs on seven hits with nine strikeouts and one walk.

      Carrasco, who pitched a two-hit shutout in his last start, gave up a run on three hits in the first inning. With one out, Royals right fielder Nori Aoki singled. Aoki then stole second.

      Center fielder Lorenzo Cain struck out for the second out. But first baseman Eric Hosmer singled to right, scoring Aoki with the first run of the game.

      Duffy held the Indians scoreless on five hits through the first five innings.

      The Royals stretched the lead to 2-0 in the top of the fifth. Second baseman Omar Infante led off the inning with a double into the left-field corner. Infante went to third on a groundout by third baseman Mike Moustakas. Infante then scored on an infield single by shortstop Alicides Escobar to make it 2-0.

      NOTES: Indians RHP Corey Kluber, who had back-to-back 14-strikeout games last week, was named the American League Player of the Week, the second time he has won the award this year. ... After breaking the club record for strikeouts last year, Indians pitchers have done it again this year with 1,391 at the start of play Monday. ... Royals SS Alcides Escobar has 33 doubles. That's two shy of Kurt Stillwell's club record for doubles by a shortstop. Stillwell had 35 in 1990.

  • Monday, September 22, 2014
    MLB roundup: Braves fire GM Wren
    By The Sports Xchange

    Citing the need to return to the "Braves way," Atlanta Braves president John Schuerholz Monday dismissed Frank Wren as the club's general manager with a week left in their disappointing season.

    • "The Braves way (of developing young players and producing championships) has been the organization's philosophy for many, many years," Schuerholz said. "Our overall goal is to find that Braves way, re-invigorate it and make it better than ever before."

      Wren was named general manager in October 2007 when Schuerholz was promoted to club president. Wren had spent 15 seasons with the organization.

      The Braves also fired Bruce Manno, the director of player development, and said all aspects of the team's organization would be analyzed.

      The decision to hire Wren's replacement will be made the triumvirate of Schuerholz, former general manager and field manager Bobby Cox and senior advisor of baseball operations John Hart, who was named interim GM.

      --New York Yankees right-hander Masahiro Tanaka felt good on Monday following his start on Sunday, so the Yankees plan to give him another start on Saturday against the Boston Red Sox.

      In his first appearance since July 8, Tanaka allowed one run over 5 1/3 innings against Toronto on Sunday.

      He was diagnosed with a partial tear of his ulnar collateral ligament, and tried to heal it with rest and rehabilitation, rather than surgery.

      --Yankees left-hander CC Sabathia played catch on Monday, which representing his first throwing since undergoing knee surgery in mid-July. He made 20 throws from 60 feet and reported no pain in his knee.

      --Major League Baseball has renewed efforts to improve pace of play before retiring commissioner Bud Selig steps down.

      The length of games has skyrocketed in recent years. As recently as 2011, only seven MLB teams averaged more than three hours per game. Now, 29 of the 30 teams do, according to CBSSports.com.

      Selig has conducted a conference call with a new committee that will study the issue of pace of game.

      --Seattle Mariners pitcher Chris Young, who struggled in his last outing, will not make his scheduled start on Thursday in Toronto. "I think he's probably out of gas from a starting standpoint," Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon said. A replacement has not been named.

      --Pittsburgh Pirates minor league third baseman Johan De Jesus received a 72-game suspension without pay following a positive test for a metabolite of Nandrolone, Major League Baseball announced.

      Nandrolone is a performance-enhancing substance in violation of the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.

      --Baltimore Orioles manager Buck Showalter said that he would use four starters for the Division Series, although he has not officially figured out the rotation.

      --Detroit Tigers pitcher Anibal Sanchez will be activated from the 15-day disabled list on Tuesday. Sanchez, who is 8-5 with a 3.46 ERA in 21 starts, has been sidelined since Aug. 9 with a right pectoralis strain. Manager Brad Ausmus said he will pitch out of the bullpen.

      --Atlanta Braves catcher Evan Gattis (kidney stones) and outfielder Jason Heyward (bruised left thumb) were not in the starting lineup again Monday.

      --Pittsburgh Pirates third baseman Pedro Alvarez (stress fracture left foot) is expected to be ready for the playoffs.

      --Cleveland Indians pitcher Corey Kluber, who had back-to-back 14-strikeout games last week, was named the American League Player of the Week, the second time he has won the award this year.

      --St. Louis Cardinals third baseman Matt Carpenter and first baseman Matt Adams were back in the lineup Monday after each missed two games as a flu bug spread through the clubhouse.

      --Minnesota Twins pitcher Tommy Milone, who missed his past three starts because of a dead arm and then neck soreness, is expected to be available out of the bullpen through the end of the season.

  • Monday, September 22, 2014
    Yankees' Tanaka to make another start Saturday
    By The Sports Xchange

    New York Yankees right-hander Masahiro Tanaka felt good on Monday following his start on Sunday, so the Yankees plan to give him another start on Saturday against the Boston Red Sox.

    • In his first appearance since July 8, Tanaka allowed one run over 5 1/3 innings against Toronto on Sunday.

      He struck out four and walked none while throwing 70 pitches. He will throw about 85 pitches against the Red Sox.

      Tanaka, 25, is in his first season in the majors after the Yankees paid $155 million to sign him.

      He was diagnosed with a partial tear of his ulnar collateral ligament, and tried to heal it with rest and rehabilitation, rather than surgery.

  • Monday, September 22, 2014
    Indians 4, Royals 3 (completion of suspended game)
    By The Sports Xchange

    CLEVELAND -- With the tying run at second base, right-hander Scott Atchison got second baseman Omar Infante to popout for the final out of the Cleveland Indians' 4-3 win over the Kansas City Royals in the completion of a suspended game Monday at Progressive Field.

    • The game was the completion of a game that started in Kansas City on Aug. 31 but was suspended due to rain prior to the start of the bottom of the 10th inning.

      Cleveland was leading 4-2 when the game was suspended. In Monday's resumption Atchison gave up a single to third baseman Mike Moustakas leading off the bottom of the 10th. Atchison retired the next two batters, but pinch runner Terrance Gore stole second and scored on a two-out single by right fielder Nori Aoki, cutting the Indians' lead to 4-3.

      Jarrod Dyson, pinch running for Aoki, stole second, but Atchison retired Infante on a popout to shortstop Jose Ramirez to end the game.

      The win went to right-hander Cody Allen (6-4). Atchison picked up his second save and Royals right-hander Greg Holland (1-3) took the loss.

      Before the rains came Aug. 31 in Kansas City, there were some late-inning heroics. Cleveland took a 2-1 lead into the bottom of the ninth inning. But Royals left fielder Alex Gordon, leading off the bottom of the ninth, belted a game-tying home run off Allen. At the time, it was Gordon's second career at bat against Allen, and both of them produced home runs.

      Gordon's blast sent the game into extra innings, but the Indians recovered quickly enough to score twice in the top of the 10th inning off Holland.

      With two outs and nobody on base, second baseman Jason Kipnis reached on an error by first baseman Billy Butler. Kipnis went to third on a single by designated hitter Yan Gomes.

      Lonnie Chisenhall, pinch-hitting for third baseman Mike Aviles, lashed a double off the right-field wall, scoring Kipnis and Gomes and giving Cleveland a 4-2 lead.

      Holland then struck out catcher Roberto Perez for the third out. It was then that the game was halted by rain, and eventually suspended. It was completed in Cleveland because that Aug. 31 game in Kansas City was the last game of the Indians' final trip to Kansas City this season.

      The Royals took a 1-0 lead in the first inning of the game. Aoki led off the bottom of the first with an infield single. Aoki went to third on a single by Infante and scored on a sacrifice fly by Butler.

      Cleveland tied it with a run in the top of the third off left-hander Danny Duffy. Perez walked and went to second on a two-out walk drawn by shortstop Ramirez. Left fielder Michael Brantley followed with a double to left field, scoring Perez with the tying run.

      The Indians took a 2-1 lead with a run in the top of the fourth inning. With one out Gomes reached first on an infield single. Gomes advanced to third on an error by Duffy, and Gomes scored on a sacrifice fly by Aviles.

  • Monday, September 22, 2014
    Minor leaguer De Jesus suspended 72 games
    By The Sports Xchange

    Pittsburgh Pirates minor league third baseman Johan De Jesus received a 72-game suspension without pay following a positive test for a metabolite of Nandrolone, Major League Baseball announced Monday.

    • Nandrolone is a performance-enhancing substance in violation of the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.

      De Jesus is currently on the roster of the Dominican Summer League Pirates, and his suspension will be effective at the start of the 2015 DSL season.

  • Monday, September 22, 2014
    Yankees claim OF Perez off waivers
    By The Sports Xchange

    The New York Yankees claimed outfielder Eury Perez off waivers from the Washington Nationals on Monday.

    • In 67 games with Triple-A Syracuse, Class A Potomac and the Gulf Coast League Nationals, the right-handed batter combined to hit .310 with 36 runs, 14 doubles, two home runs and 15 RBIs.

      Perez appeared in 22 major league games with the Nationals, batting .154. He was originally signed by Washington as a non-drafted free agent in 2007.

      To make room on the 40-man roster for Perez, left-handed pitcher Josh Outman was designated for assignment.

  • Monday, September 22, 2014
    GM Wren out with 'Braves way' in mind
    By The Sports Xchange

    ATLANTA -- Citing the need to return to the "Braves way," Atlanta Braves president John Schuerholz Monday dismissed Frank Wren as the club's general manager with a week left in their disappointing season.

    • "The Braves way (of developing young players and producing championships) has been the organization's philosophy for many, many years," Schuerholz said. "Our overall goal is to find that Braves way, re-invigorate it and make it better than ever before."

      Wren was named general manager in October 2007 when Schuerholz was promoted to club president. Wren had spent 15 seasons with the organization.

      The Braves also fired Bruce Manno, the director of player development, and said all aspects of the team's organization would be analyzed. Manno had been with the Braves since 2007. The Braves did not fire field manager Fredi Gonzalez. However, Schuerholz said the new general manager would likely have input on the decision on who manages the team.

      The decision to hire Wren's replacement will be made the triumvirate of Schuerholz, former general manager and field manager Bobby Cox and senior advisor of baseball operations John Hart, who was named interim GM.

      Hart, 66, joined the team in November 2013. A two-time Major League Executive of the Year, Hart spent 2002-05 as general manager and 2006-13 as senior advisor for the Texas Rangers. He spent 13 seasons with the Cleveland Indians, the last 10 as executive vice president and general manager. He currently works as an analyst with the MLB Network.

      Hart, a good friend of Schuerholz, said he was not seeking the GM job on a permanent basis.

      "My recommendation is that we examine the baseball universe for the next John Schuerholz," who was the team's GM from 1982 to 2007 and won 14 consecutive division championships and the 1995 World Series.

      Hart said, "The Braves are a gold-standard franchise. Always have been. Our conversations are going to be building this back the right way. We have plenty of time to look at what works and what we like."

      Wren constructed a team that won the National League East in 2013 and qualified as a wild card team in 2010 and 2012.

      The Braves entered Monday's game with a 76-79 record, already eliminated from postseason, despite spending most of the first half in first place.

      Wren was criticized for his failure with big-money free agents, which ultimately may have been his undoing.

      In 2009 he signed veteran pitcher Derek Lowe to a four-year $60 million contract and Japanese pitcher Kenshin Kawakami to a three-year, $23 million deal. The Braves ate the final $10 million of Lowe's contract and assigned Kawakami to Double-A for his final year.

      More recent big-money busts were second baseman Dan Uggla and outfielder B.J. Upton. Uggla signed a five-year, $62 million contract and was released this summer, even though the club still owed him $19 million. Uggla was hitting .162 at the time of his release after batting .179 last year.

      Upton signed a five-year deal for $75.25 million and is currently batting .207 with 168 strikeouts after hitting .184 with 161 strikeouts in 2013.

      Wren was lauded when tying up talented young players seen as the future of the franchise with long-term deals during the off-season. He signed first baseman Freddie Freeman, shortstop Andrelton Simmons, third baseman Chris Johnson and pitcher Julio Teheran to multi-year deals.

      But Wren did not add any veteran leadership to the roster when he allowed pitcher Tim Hudson and catcher Brian McCann to exit via free agency.

      Schuerholz said the decision to fire Wren was a "cumulative" one because of general dissatisfaction with the farm system, scouting and major league team.

      He recently approached Atlanta chairman of the board Terry McGuirk with his recommendation.

      "He agreed and we moved on," Schuerholz said.

      Schuerholz said the decision was made now, rather than the end of the season, since the team had been eliminated from the postseason.

      "It gives us a chance to form our committee a week sooner," he said.

      No timetable has been set to find Wren's replacement.

  • Monday, September 22, 2014
    Selig renews efforts to speed up game
    By The Sports Xchange

    Major League Baseball has renewed efforts to improve pace of play before retiring commissioner Bud Selig steps down.

    • The length of games has skyrocketed in recent years. As recently as 2011, only seven MLB teams averaged more than three hours per game. Now, 29 of the 30 teams do, according to CBSSports.com.

      Selig has conducted a conference call with a new committee that will study the issue of pace of game.

      "The goals of the committee will focus on decreasing time of game and improving the overall pace of play in the 2015 regular season and beyond," MLB said in a statement released Monday.

      The committee will be chaired by Atlanta Braves president John Schuerholz. Other members include MLB chief operating officer Rob Manfred, New York Mets general manager Sandy Alderson, MLB Players Association executive director Tony Clark, Boston Red Sox partner Michael Gordon, MLB executive vice president of baseball operations Joe Torre and Red Sox chairman Tom Werner.

      Manfred was chosen by a 30-0 vote by major league owners over Werner at the owners' quarterly meetings last month to become the 10th commissioner on Jan. 15 when Selig retires after 22 years on the job.

      "We have the greatest game in the world, but we are always looking for ways to improve it," Selig said in a statement. "The game is at its highest levels of popularity and we will continue to strive to identify ways that can build on its stature well into the future. With the cooperation of all appropriate parties, we can make progress on improving the pace of play, and we will have recommendations in the very near future for the 2015 season.

      "I believe that this group has the experience and the perspective to be mindful of our game's traditions while being creative about our approach in the future."

  • Monday, September 22, 2014
    Contagious stomach ailment slows Cards' momentum
    By The Sports Xchange

    ST. LOUIS -- Wash your hands.

    • It is a reminder that a parent might give his or her kid after playing outside. However, the placards printed in the St. Louis clubhouse are also a grim reminder of a stomach bug that is ripping through the Cardinals at a most inopportune time.

      During St. Louis' 7-2 loss to the Cincinnati Reds on Sunday night, manager Mike Matheny estimated that "north of 10 players" were unavailable. The list included first baseman Matt Adams and third baseman Matt Carpenter, as well as several relief pitchers.

      Matheny said it affected how he used his bullpen in the eighth inning, when he went with either struggling or little-used options. Left-hander Kevin Siegrist walked the first two hitters, and right-hander Sam Tuivailala, making his second big league appearance, yielded a game-clinching, three-run homer to Devin Mesoraco on his second pitch.

      With six games left in the season, St. Louis leads the Pittsburgh Pirates by 2 1/2 games in the National League Central. However, that lead is no sure thing, given the Cardinals' poor health and the fact that St. Louis will leave players behind for the start of a season-ending road trip Monday night when they meet the Chicago Cubs in Wrigley Field.

      The Cardinals clinched a playoff spot earlier Sunday when the Pirates beat the Milwaukee Brewers 1-0, but St. Louis wants to avoid the NL wild-card game.

      "We've got to try to get everyone healthy as soon as possible," Cardinals infielder Daniel Descalso said. "I wish they weren't sick, but things happen. Hopefully, we can get this disease out of the clubhouse soon."

  • Monday, September 22, 2014
    Mets' Herrera's season likely over, but mark made
    By The Sports Xchange

    ATLANTA -- Second baseman Dilson Herrera's season is likely over, but the 20-year-old had already made an impression on New York Mets manager Terry Collins.

    • "Like all the people have told me about him, he's going to be a very good player," Collins said. "It's just a matter of getting some games under his belt and getting some experience at the higher levels. But I like him a lot. I like the way he swings the bat. He's gotten better defensively."

      Herrera hit a two-run homer Saturday night, but had to leave after straining his right quad legging out an infield single in the sixth inning.

      The injury isn't severe, but with just a week left in the season, he isn't expected to play again.

      Herrera had been 1-for-3 with a walk and RBI in the series opener against the Atlanta Braves and his 2-for-3 follow-up left him with a .220 average with three homers and 11 RBIs in 18 games since his promotion from Double-A Binghamton.

      Collins said he will leave Daniel Murphy at third base and have Wilmer Flores replace Herrera at second base with Ruben Tejada playing shortstop.

      Herrera will remain with the team and undergo treatment. He plans to play this winter in the Dominican Republic.

      The native of Colombia was acquired from Pittsburgh in August of 2013 along with reliever Vic Black in the deal that sent outfielder Marlon Bird and catcher John Buck to the Pirates.

      Herrera hit a combined .323 with 13 homers, 71 RBIs and 23 stolen bases in 128 games for Binghamton and Class A Advanced St. Lucie this season.

      To take Herrera's place on the active roster, the Mets will have infielder Wilfredo Tovar join the team for the finals six games of the season beginning Tuesday in Washington.

  • Monday, September 22, 2014
    Braves' Minor shut down with balky shoulder
    By The Sports Xchange

    ATLANTA -- Mike Minor's season started late and ended early. A balky shoulder was the issue both times.

    • "It's very frustrating," the Atlanta Braves left-hander said. "But I guess on the positive side, it's hopefully nothing and I can get it taken care of this offseason and I won't go into spring training behind like I did this year."

      Minor had to leave after one inning against the New York Mets on Saturday and the run he allowed dropped his record 6-12. His ERA is 4.77 over 25 starts and he has 120 strikeouts to 44 walks in 145 1/3 innings.

      The 26-year-old former first-round draft pick bounced back late in August after being skipped a start, but was never the same pitcher who went 13-9 with a 3.21 ERA last year.

      "Same thing," said Minor, when asked if the pain in his shoulder Saturday was similar to what he experienced in spring training. "... I feel like it's not anything serious but it's nagging pain that won't go away. It's there every pitch. The last couple starts I felt it a little bit more and more."

      Minor said he knew something wasn't right in the bullpen before facing the Mets.

      "I could tell in warmups," he said. "But I thought maybe it would get a little bit better as I threw my bullpen or even in the first inning and you get that extra adrenalin and it kind of goes away. Tonight it didn't. Every pitch I could feel something. When I came in, they pretty much said, That's it."

  • Monday, September 22, 2014
    Rockies complete sweep of D-backs
    By The Sports Xchange

    DENVER -- The Colorado Rockies capped off their season-ending sprint at Coors Field on Sunday, beating Arizona 8-3 to complete their first four-game season sweep of the Diamondbacks.

    • It was the Rockies' season-high sixth straight victory and came in their final home game this season. They finished with a 45-36 record at Coors Field where they won 13 of their final 15 games.

      During their six-game surge, the Rockies outscored the opposition 61-19, including 35-13 in their wins against Arizona.

      "In June we swept them, outscored them 32-17," Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson said teams last meeting in a three-game series at Coors Field. "And it's kind of a reversal in this series in four games. I don't really have an explanation. We tried to throw everything at them. They swung the bats really well, scored a lot of runs. And we weren't swinging the bats very well, so (we were) unable to shut them down."

      The Diamondbacks have lost six straight games, one shy of their longest streak of the season. That skid came earlier in this dismal month, during which Arizona (62-94) has just five wins in 20 games. The victory enabled the Rockies (65-91) to take a three-game lead over the last-place Diamondbacks with six games remaining in their bid to stay out of the National League West cellar.

      "I guess we had a battle in the trenches for the bottom, the last-place team, and they really didn't want to be there and they took care of that," said Arizona starter Wade Miley, who gave up six runs in 4 1/3 innings.

      Third baseman Rafael Ynoa had three RBIs, and right fielder Brandon Barnes drove in two runs.

      Michael Cuddyer hit his 10th home run, his long opposite-field blast in the seventh giving the Rockies 22 straight games at home with a home run, the second longest streak in franchise history. They homered in 32 straight home games in 1999.

      Christian Bergman (3-4) pitched 5 2/3 innings, departing after he yielded a two-run homer to Mark Trumbo on an 0-2 slider. The hit scored left fielder Ender Inciarte, who led off the sixth with a double. Trumbo also led off the ninth with a home run against Juan Nicasio for his first multi-homer game this season and the fourth of his career.

      "I feel like I can get out of that inning," Bergman said of the sixth. "It's two outs, nobody on and a four-run lead. If I don't feel like I couldn't finish that inning I probably shouldn't be out there in the first place. I felt like I had enough left, but it is what it is."

      Rockies manager Walt Weiss admitted his "hook was a little quick there in the sixth," when he brought in left-hander Franklin Morales but "just felt like it was a dangerous, left-handed part of the lineup coming up and felt Frankie could nail that inning for us. But Bergman was good. He did his job, certainly did his part."

      Two left-handed hitters followed Trumbo in the Arizona lineup. Gibson sent up right-handed hitting Cody Ross to pinch hit, and Morales struck him out to end the inning.

      A three-run fifth gave the Rockies a 6-0 lead. Ynoa doubled home the final two runs of the inning when he lined the first pitch from reliever Randall Delgado off the glove of first baseman Trumbo.

      Delgado took over for starter Wade Miley (8-12), who gave up eight hits and four walks and threw just 42 of 79 pitches for strikes.

      Shortstop Josh Rutledge opened the fifth with a double and took third on a ground out. After catcher Wilin Rosario walked, center fielder Drew Stubbs singled home a run. Barnes followed with a single that loaded the bases for Ynoa.

      The Rockies took an early 3-0 lead, scoring those runs with two outs. Barnes drove in two runs in the third with a bases-loaded double. Miley issued two walks in the inning and a single to Rosario before Barnes' hard grounder just inside first base. Second baseman DJ LeMahieu singled home a run in the second when Stubbs led off with a single and took second on a ground out.

      "Didn't have very good command at all," Miley said. "And it's getting old for me to have one good start and the next start where you walk three or four guys. Couldn't find the fastball early, and it just kind of snowballed with every other pitch."

      NOTES: Rockies 1B Justin Morneau got a scheduled day off as manager Walt Weiss planned to play him in three of four games in the series. ... Rockies LF Corey Dickerson, who has primarily batted fifth, hit leadoff for the eighth time this season and went 0-for-5. ... Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson said catchers Miguel Montero, Tuffy Gosewisch and Bobby Wilson will each start a game in the upcoming series at Minnesota. Wilson's start will be his first in the majors since Sept. 30, 2012, with the Los Angeles Angels. ... The Diamondbacks will play at Target Field for the first time Monday on their third visit to Minnesota and first since 2008...The Rockies scored 500 runs this season at Coors Field, their most since they scored 517 runs at home in 2003.

  • Monday, September 22, 2014
    Cardinals fall to Reds after clinching playoff berth
    By The Sports Xchange

    ST. LOUIS -- For the fourth consecutive year, St. Louis is heading to the postseason.

    • However, the Cardinals missed a chance Sunday night to reduce their magic number for a second straight National League Central title.

      Cincinnati tied a season high with four homers, including two from right fielder Jay Bruce, and the Reds spoiled St. Louis' regular-season home finale with a 7-2 win at sold-out Busch Stadium.

      Pittsburgh's 1-0 win over the Milwaukee Brewers earlier Sunday assured the Cardinals (87-69) of at least a wild-card berth. However, when St. Louis lost, the Pirates pulled with 2 1/2 games of the Cardinals in the NL Central.

      "It's nice to know that we'll play baseball past 162 games," third baseman Daniel Descalso said. "Now we have to take care of business and win the division."

      The Reds (72-84) kept the Cardinals' magic number at five with power and pitching. Bruce cracked solo homers in the fourth and eighth for the 15th multi-homer game of his career, while third baseman Todd Frazier snapped a 1-1 tie in the sixth with his 27th homer, a solo blast to left.

      Catcher Devin Mesoraco supplied the killing blow, jacking a three-run homer to left off reliever Sam Tuivailala in the eighth for a 6-2 lead. It was Mesoraco's 24th homer of the year and his 23rd as a catcher, the most for a Cincinnati catcher since Johnny Bench belted 23 in 1980.

      It was just the third time this year the Reds boomed four homers in a game.

      "Those were impactful homers," Cincinnati manager Bryan Price said. "They weren't the homers that you hit when you're down 7-1 and they don't really mean much. They had good timing tonight."

      Alfredo Simon (15-10) added to his career-high win total by working six innings, allowing seven hits and two runs. Simon, who walked two and fanned three, only won 17 games in his first 177 major league games, spread out over six years.

      "It's big for me to get number 15," he said. "I had a leg cramp, but I kept fighting. My two-seam (fastball) was good. I kept the ball down."

      First baseman Xavier Scruggs reached Simon for an RBI single in the fifth to tie the game at 1, and right fielder Randal Grichuk doubled home catcher Yadier Molina in the sixth to chop the Reds' lead to 3-2.

      However, that was it for the Cardinals, which finished 7-2 on their last homestand and will try to clinch the division title on the road against the Chicago Cubs and Arizona Diamondbacks. They may have to do it short-handed -- at least at the beginning.

      Manager Mike Matheny estimated that "north of 10 players" weren't available because of a stomach virus, including third baseman Matt Carpenter and first baseman Matt Adams. Matheny hinted that some players might not fly with the team to Chicago on Sunday night.

      "We've got to try to get everyone healthy as soon as possible," Descalso said. "I wish they weren't sick, but things happen. No matter who's in the lineup, they expect you to do something positive."

      Lance Lynn (15-10) took the loss despite fanning nine and walking two over six innings. He allowed four hits and three runs.

      Bruce collected half of the Reds' six hits. Descalso and center fielder Jon Jay each had two of the Cardinals' eight hits.

      NOTES: The crowd of 45,747 was St. Louis' 52nd sellout of the year. The Cardinals drew 3,540,649 over 81 home dates, the second-highest total in franchise history. ... Cincinnati 1B Joey Votto (left quadriceps) took batting practice and ran the bases during the weekend, but manager Bryan Price wasn't sure Votto would be ready to play in the season's last week. Votto has been sidelined since July 8. ... Cardinals manager Mike Matheny became the first manager in franchise history to guide his team to the playoffs in each of the first three seasons.

  • Sunday, September 21, 2014
    A's Donaldson hits game-winning homer
    By The Sports Xchange

    OAKLAND, Calif. -- When Oakland A's third baseman Josh Donaldson came to the plate with one out and a runner on first base in the bottom of the 10th inning Sunday of a 6-6 game against Philadelphia, he relished the moment.

    • After all, Donaldson has been preparing for these pressure situations most of his life.

      "It's just something, ever since I was a little kid, that's what you prepare for, whether it's basketball, trying to hit a game-winning shot, football, making the catch, baseball, getting the game-winning hit," Donaldson said later. "Ever since I was a kid that's just the moment I've always wanted to be in."

      Donaldson came through again, crushing a two-run, walk-off home run and lifting the Oakland A's to an 8-6 victory over the Phillies at the O.co Coliseum.

      A's first baseman Nate Freiman grounded a one-out single off Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez (0-1) in the 10th and was replaced by pinch runner Billy Burns.

      Donaldson sent Gonzalez's 1-0 fastball deep over the left-center-field fence for his third walk-off home run of the year, tying Reggie Jackson, Dave Kingman and Matt Stairs for the Oakland single-season record, and fourth of his career.

      The A's retained the top spot in the American League wild-card race, a half-game ahead of the Kansas City Royals. They A's extended their lead to two games over the Seattle Mariners.

      "Donnie loves the spotlight," said A's closer Sean Doolittle (2-4), who pitched two scoreless innings and earned the victory. "A number of times this year he's put the team on his back. He likes being the guy. Great players, they want to be in those pressure situations with the team counting on them, and today he came through huge for us."

      Donaldson went 3-for-5 with two RBIs, three runs and his 28th home run of the season. A's catcher Geovany Soto went 1-for-3, walked twice and drove in three runs, and Freiman added two hits.

      Phillies right fielder Marlon Byrd went 2-for-5 with two doubles and three RBIs. Center fielder Ben Revere, second baseman Chase Utley, designated hitter Ryan Howard and third baseman Cody Asche each had two hits.

      The A's scored more runs than they had in any game since an 11-2 victory on Sept. 9 against the White Sox. They won for just the second time in their past six games and built some needed momentum.

      "Momentum's a good thing," Donaldson said. "You want it on your side. We felt like we've been battling, and to be able to come through today and win the game it's going to give us some momentum going into the next series."

      Oakland left-hander Scott Kazmir had another rough outing, allowing six runs on a season-high 11 hits over 5 1/3 innings. Kazmir struck out nine and walked one in a no-decision. He is 0-4 over his past six starts.

      Phillies right-hander A.J. Burnett lasted just 4 1/3 innings but got a no-decision. He allowed six runs on three hits while walking six. He fanned three to move past Charlie Hough into 43rd place on baseball's all-time strikeout list with 2,663.

      "I didn't get anything done today, man," Burnett said. "Being inconsistent in the strike zone is very frustrating. You'd rather give up 20 hits and 20 runs rather than walk them on the base and give them free passes."

      The Phillies took a 1-0 led in the top of the first when Utley blooped a two-out single, moved to second when Kazmir walked Howard and scored on Byrd's double.

      The A's answered with three runs in the bottom of the first as designated hitter Adam Dunn lined an RBI single, left fielder Brandon Moss hit a run-scoring double and right fielder Josh Reddick lofted a sacrifice fly.

      The Phillies pulled even with two runs in the third. After Utley lined a one-out single, Howard doubled to center on a ball that center fielder Coco Crisp misplayed. Byrd drilled a two-run double to the left-center-field gap.

      "The offense kept battling back, and primarily the top five guys in the lineup," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said. "(Byrd) had a big day to come up with some key RBIs in some situations. We had a couple of two-out rallies to score some runs."

      Oakland moved ahead 4-3 in the bottom of the third when Burnett hit one batter and walked three, including Soto with the bases loaded. Philadelphia made it 4-4 in the fourth as Revere lined a one-out single and scored on catcher Carlos Ruiz's double.

      The A's scored two more runs in the fifth. With one out, Burnett issued back-to-back walks to Moss and Nick Punto, who entered the game after the fourth inning for shortstop Jed Lowrie, who was hit by a pitch on the left foot in the first inning, sustaining a contusion. Soto drilled a two-run double off reliever Cesar Jimenez with two outs.

      Philadelphia pulled even at 6-6 with two runs in the top of the sixth.

      Four innings later, Donaldson ended the game with one swing.

      "He's a tough customer in big at-bats," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "He embraces it."

      NOTES: Phillies LF Domonic Brown (sore right wrist) did not start, but he pinch-hit and stayed in the game. ... Phillies RHP Ken Giles said he has plenty of memorabilia from his first career save Saturday, which came on his 24th birthday. "They've given me the ball, the lineup card and everything," Giles said. ... Oakland C Derek Norris, who had a wild pitch bounce off his chin Saturday, did not play Sunday. ... A's OF Craig Gentry (concussion) has yet to resume baseball activity since getting hurt during a collision Sept. 9. Manager Bob Melvin acknowledged that there is a possibility Gentry and C John Jaso, who is also out with a concussion, might not return to action this season.

  • Sunday, September 21, 2014
    Padres complete sweep of Giants
    By The Sports Xchange

    SAN DIEGO -- Like every manager or coach of a losing team, Padres manager Bud Black runs out "you play the game to win" mantra in the waning days of the season.

    • Unlike many of those coaches, Black manages a team that lives up to his call.

      The Padres handed the San Francisco Giants a third straight defeat Sunday afternoon, all but killing San Francisco's hopes of overtaking taking the Dodgers and winning the National League West title.

      "We knew coming in here it was going to be tough," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said Sunday morning before the Padres defeated the Giants 8-2 to complete a sweep the three-game series. "Games at Petco Park are low scoring; the Padres have a lot of success in that situation at home."

      Ian Kennedy (12-13) allowed two runs on five hits over 6 2/3 innings and center fielder Cameron Maybin and first baseman Yasmani Grandal had key two-run hits for San Diego.

      Maybin's single capped a four-run sixth that made it 5-0. Grandal's double an inning later answered a two-run homer by Giants left fielder Chris Dominguez.

      Grandal finished with three RBIs. Maybin and catcher Rene Rivera, who had two hits, each drove in two runs.

      The loss dropped the Giants 4 1/2 games behind the Dodgers as they head to Los Angeles for three games against the Dodgers starting Monday. If the Dodgers win two of those games, they will clinch the National League title.

      Meanwhile, the Giants, who have lost six of their last eight games, slipped into a tie with Pittsburgh for the top National League wild-card spot. In case of a tie between the Giants and Pirates, the wild-card game would be played in Pittsburgh Oct. 1.

      Pittsburgh and the Giants lead Milwaukee by 4 1/2 games for the second wild-card spot.

      The Giants were outscored 16-4 by the Padres in the three games while getting only 15 hits in 96 at-bats (a .156 average).

      Meanwhile, the Padres are 27-9 -- a .750 winning percentage -- over their last 36 games at Petco Park and are 22-7 at home since the All-Star break. Overall, they are 33-27 since the All-Star break.

      "I am happy for our guys, the young players and the veterans, about the way we are playing," Padres manager Bud Black said. "The Giants are a very good team. There is something to momentum. We are playing to win these games. I'm very proud of our guys."

      Despite having a winning record only once in the last six seasons, the Padres have posted second-half winning records in five of those seasons.

      "This series was the pitching," said Black after starters Odrisamer Despaigne, Andrew Cashner and Kennedy allowed four runs in 21 2/3 innings.

      Kennedy recorded the sixth 200-strikeout season in Padres history when he struck out Giants right fielder Hunter Pence to open the seventh.

      At the time, Kennedy was working on a three-hit shutout. But Dominguez followed a two-out single by shortstop Brandon Crawford with his first major league homer -- a 364-foot drive off the Western Metal Supply building in left that doubled as Dominguez's first major league hit.

      While Kennedy was facing only three Giants over the minimum through six innings, the Padres struck for one run in the fifth and four in the sixth after Giants starter Ryan Vogelsong (8-12) retired the first 12 hitters he faced.

      But Vogelsong gave up four runs (only two earned) on four hits and a walk in his final inning plus.

      "There's still a shot to win the division," said Vogelsong. "We need to go in there (Los Angeles) and play well and have some things go our way. It's still there until they clinch. The bottom line is we need to win some games.

      "Everyone knows what we are playing for and what it will take."

      Padres left fielder Seth Smith broke up Vogelsong's perfect game with a double to left-center to open the Padres fifth. Smith moved to third on Rivera's single to left and scored to break up the scoreless tie on shortstop Alexi Amarista's sacrifice fly to center.

      A throwing error by Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval played a major role in the Padres' four-run sixth capped by a two-run single by Maybin.

      Third baseman Yangervis Solarte and right fielder Will Venable hit back-to-back singles to open the sixth and put Padres at the corners. Second baseman Jedd Gyorko then hit a grounder to Sandoval, whose throw pulled first baseman Buster Posey off the bag for an error that loaded the bases.

      Grandal made it 2-0 with a sacrifice fly. After Smith walked, Rivera hit a shot to third. Sandoval made a diving stop behind the bag, but had only a play on Rivera at first, allowing Venable to score. After an intentional walk, Maybin hit his two-run single off right-handed reliever George Kontos.

      Grandal's double highlighted a three-run seventh, and Rivera's single made it 8-2.

      NOTES: The Padres still haven't made a decision on whether they will shut down RHPs Tyson Ross (sore forearm) and Odrisamer Despaigne (lat strain) for the last week of the season . . . The Giants traveled by bus to Los Angeles Sunday night . . . Giants CF Angel Pagan (lower back) is not expected to play in the Dodgers series.

  • Sunday, September 21, 2014
    Rua's first major-league homer helps Rangers win
    By The Sports Xchange

    ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Rookie Ryan Rua combined the dramatic with the historic to provide the Texas Rangers with a win against the major leagues' winningest team.

    • The left fielder hit his first major-league home run in the top of the ninth inning to give the Rangers a 2-1 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Sunday in front of 27,166 at Angel Stadium.

      "I think it was something on his mind," Texas interim manager Tin Bogar said. "He talked about getting his first RBI and his first base hit."

      The Rangers earned their eighth victory in nine games, while the Angels lost their third in their past four games.

      Rua's home run, his only hit, relieved the frustration of his previous three at-bats.

      "I didn't really take any good swings the whole game," Rua said. "They pounded me inside pretty much the whole game."

      The 24-year-old Rua, promoted from Triple-A Round Rock on Aug. 29, saw a 1-2 sinker from closer Huston Street tailing toward him. Rua propelled that pitch into the left-field stands above both teams' bullpens.

      "He went with three sliders in a row, so in the back of my mind, I thought maybe they would try to pound me in again," Rua said. "I was just trying to be short and quick to the inside pitch if I got it."

      Afterward in the Rangers' locker room, Rua had yet to realize the significance of hitting a home run against one of baseball's premier closers.

      "I hadn't really thought about it," Rua said. "I'm still trying to process it a little bit, right now. But it definitely felt good. It came at the right time."

      Street (1-2) pitched only one-third of an inning. The right-hander allowed three hits and an intentional walk and finished with one strikeout.

      Right-hander Shawn Tolleson (3-1) earned the win after pitching two-thirds of an inning of relief. Right-hander Neftali Feliz struck out the side in the bottom of the ninth for his 11th save.

      Texas took a 1-0 lead in the top of the sixth after loading the bases against right-handed reliever Fernando Salas. Center fielder Leonys Martin and first baseman Adam Rosales lined singles, then second baseman Rougned Odor sacrificed them into scoring position before third baseman Adrian Beltre received an intentional walk.

      Catcher Tomas Telis drove Martin home with a two-out single off the chest of Angels shortstop Erick Aybar. But with the bases still loaded, Rua lined out.

      The Angels followed suit in the bottom of the inning, scoring one run but leaving the bases loaded against right-hander Nick Tepesch.

      Catcher Chris Iannetta hit a lead-off single, moved to second base on right fielder Kole Calhoun's groundout and tied the score on designated hitter Albert Pujols' single. Center fielder Mike Trout received an intentional walk before Pujols' hit, as Aybar did one out after Pujols to load the bases for third baseman David Freese. But Freese lined out to end the rally.

      Tepesch conceded one run, two walks (both intentional) and just four hits in seven innings, while striking out three and hitting one batter.

      "He gave us everything he could," Bogar said. "He used his fastball very aggressively in the strike zone, then he got to play his off-speed stuff off of it. I thought he did a great job."

      Los Angeles right-hander Cory Rasmus, making his fifth successive start in place of injured right-hander Garrett Richards, faced one batter over the minimum in his first four innings. But the Rangers had a chance to take the lead in the top of the fifth.

      Right fielder Jake Smolinski began the inning with a double off the right-field wall. Telis followed with a walk that forced Rasmus from the game. Right-hander Michael Morin replaced Rasmus and induced Rua to pop out before striking out designated hitter J.P. Arencibia and making shortstop Luis Sandinas ground out.

      Rasmus, who began the season as a reliever, threw a career-high 59 pitches in his longest outing of the season. In four-plus innings, Rasmus allowed two hits and one walk while striking out three.

      "It seems like with every start, he gets a little better, a little stronger," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "He threw a lot of strikes. His ability to change speeds put us in a position we wanted to be in. He's doing a terrific job."

      But Scioscia does not plan to extend Rasmus beyond a 50-pitch limit if the right-hander starts in the playoffs.

      "Right now, I don't think we're going to risk setting him back," Scioscia said. "I don't think he needs to get past 50. If we had gotten him stretched out in spring training, we'd have a fighting chance to get him where he would have length. If he's getting us into the fourth inning, I think that's about all you can really hope for."

      NOTES: Rangers rookies have driven in 147 runs this season. No other team's rookies have as many RBIs. ... Rangers 3B Adrian Beltre, who had three doubles Saturday night, now ranks 40th all-time in the category. Beltre has 527 doubles and needs one to tie Hall of Famers Cap Anson and Frank Robinson. ... Los Angeles CF Mike Trout received the team's award as its most valuable player before Saturday night's game. Trout won the honor for the third consecutive year. ... Angels RHP Garrett Richards also received the Nick Adenhart Award as the club's pitcher of the year before Saturday night's game. Adenhart was killed in a traffic accident in April 2009 after pitching against the Oakland Athletics in just his fourth major-league appearance.

  • Sunday, September 21, 2014
    MLB roundup: Yankees' Tanaka returns to action
    By The Sports Xchange

    The New York Yankees reinstated right-handed starter Masahiro Tanaka from the 60-day disabled list and he returned to the mound Sunday from a potentially serious elbow injury because he wanted peace of mind.

    • That reassurance began in the bullpen when catcher Brian McCann and pitching coach Larry Rothchild saw a sharp split-fingered fastball and other pitches.

      Then it continued on the mound when Tanaka pitched 5 1/3 encouraging innings helping the New York Yankees to a 5-2 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays.

      Tanaka's (13-4) first outing since July 8 in Cleveland was the featured attraction for the Yankees, who were 34-31 while he was rehabbing from right elbow inflammation that also was diagnosed as a partial tear of ulnar collateral ligament.

      "It's been a while since I've been out there," Tanaka said. "But overall I'm pretty satisfied."

      Tanaka signed a seven-year, $155 million contract with the Yankees last winter.

      ---Tim Bogar is the runaway favorite to be named manager of the Texas Rangers, according to USA Today.

      Bogar took over as interim manager of the Rangers when Ron Washington resigned on Sept. 5.

      The Rangers lost five of their first six games under Bogar, but responded with a season-high seven straight wins. After going 53-87 under Washington, the Rangers are 8-6 since Bogar took over.

      Bogar, 47, is 362-266 as a minor league manager. He has been manager of the year in three different minor leagues over five seasons. He has never been a full-time major league manager.

      ---Toronto Blue Jays right-hander Marcus Stroman dropped his appeal of a six-game suspension from Major League Baseball. His ban was reduced to five games.

      Stroman, 23, was suspended and fined on Wednesday for throwing a pitch that sailed over the head of Baltimore Orioles batter Caleb Joseph during Monday's game. Stroman's pitch occurred a half-inning after Joseph blocked the plate as Toronto's Jose Reyes slid home.

      ---While no definitive decision has been made, Astros left-hander Dallas Keuchel likely made his last start of the season on Saturday night. Keuchel reached a career-high 200 innings for the season after working eight innings against Seattle.

      If Keuchel is shut down, rookie right-hander Nick Tropeano will likely start the season finale against the Mets in New York.

      ---Detroit Tigers right-hander Anibal Sanchez, who has not pitched since Aug. 8 because of a right pectoralis major strain, threw a simulated game Sunday, and he could be activated soon.

      Catcher Alex Avila, who has been out a week with a concussion, hit in the simulated game. If he feels good Monday, he would take concussion tests and be cleared to play if he passes.

      ---Chicago White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko was out of the lineup but said it had nothing to do with the hand injury that sidelined him from Sept. 2 until Friday.

      The Rays aired a short video tribute to Konerko, set to retire after this season, on the scoreboard during the game.

      ---Boston Red Sox first baseman Mike Napoli missed his fourth straight game with injuries to his finger and back. He hopes to return at some point during the final week of the regular season.

      ---New York Mets second baseman Dilson Herrera will likely miss the rest of the season after straining his right quad beating out an infield hit in the sixth inning on Saturday.

      The 20-year-old rookie, who hit a two-run homer earlier, had a .220 average with three homers and 11 RBIs in 18 games after being promoted from Double-A Binghamton.