MLB Wrap: Indians cruise past Red Sox

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MLB Wrap: Indians cruise past Red Sox

The Phillies are all ready to resume their rivalry with the reigning NL East champion Washington Nationals (see story).

Chase Utley won't be taking part in the series after being placed on the 15-day disabled list (see story).

Now let's look at Thursday's MLB action:

Indians beat BoSox in Francona's return
BOSTON -- Drew Stubbs and Mark Reynolds drove in three runs each and Cleveland had 16 hits in the Indians' 12-3 win over the Boston Red Sox in manager Terry Francona's return to Fenway Park on Thursday night.

Francona, let go by Boston after the 2011 season, got a standing ovation after the first inning during a video tribute on the center-field scoreboard. But he didn't have to leave the visiting dugout during the game because all of Cleveland's pitching changes came at the start of an inning.

In eight years as manager, Francona led the Red Sox to two World Series championships. In his first year as Cleveland's manager, he has the Indians in first place in the AL Central after they went 68-94 last season (see full recap).

-The Associated Press

Homers help Angels beat Royals
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Mike Trout and Albert Pujols hit solo home runs, and Mark Trumbo hit a two-run shot to help the Los Angeles Angels beat the Kansas City Royals 5-4 Thursday night.

Joe Blanton got his first victory of the season after going 0-7 in his first nine starts. He held the Royals to seven hits and two runs in 6 1-3 innings. Trumbo put the Angels up 5-2 in the eighth with his team-leading 11th homer.

Ervin Santana (3-4), who spent 12 seasons in the Angels' organization before being traded during the offseason to the Royals, struck out eight without a walk, but allowed five runs and eight hits -- four of which were homers. Chris Iannetta hit one in the fifth.

The Royals scored on ground outs by Alex Gordon and Mike Moustakas (see full recap).

-The Associated Press

Pirates top Cubs for fourth straight win
PITTSBURGH -- Andrew McCutchen had three hits and two RBIs to lead the Pittsburgh Pirates past the Chicago Cubs 4-2 on a rainy Thursday for their fourth straight win.

Leadoff hitter Starling Marte singled and scored in each of the first two innings as Pittsburgh built an early 4-0 lead. The Pirates moved a season-best 11 games over .500 with its 11th victory in 13 games.

Edwin Jackson (1-7) gave up two runs in the first inning and two more in the second. He lasted only three innings and has a 6.11 ERA through 10 starts.

Jackson is in his first season with the Cubs after signing a four-year, $52-million contract over the winter as a free agent (see full recap).

-The Associated Press

Encarnacion, Blue Jays pound Orioles
TORONTO -- Edwin Encarnacion hit his fifth career grand slam, J.P. Arencibia homered and drove in four runs and the Toronto Blue Jays beat Baltimore 12-6 on Thursday night, spoiling the debut of Orioles right-hander Kevin Gausman.

Brandon Morrow (2-3) allowed six runs and a season-high 10 hits in seven-plus innings. He walked one and struck out five.

Brett Cecil and Brad Lincoln each worked one inning of scoreless relief as Toronto won for the third time in four games.

Baltimore's Chris Davis hit his major league leading 15th home run, a leadoff shot in the fourth. Nick Markakis and Adam Jones clubbed back-to-back homers off Morrow in the eighth but it wasn't enough for the Orioles, who lost for the seventh time in nine games (see full recap).

-The Associated Press

Best of MLB: Darvish stars as Rangers beat Rays 3-1 and clinch home field

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Best of MLB: Darvish stars as Rangers beat Rays 3-1 and clinch home field

ARLINGLTON, Texas -- Yu Darvish looked playoff-ready with a season-high 12 strikeouts in six innings as the Texas Rangers beat the Tampa Bay Rays 3-1 on Friday night and clinched home-field advantage throughout the postseason.

The Rangers can be tied by only the Cleveland Indians and they own the tie-breaker by winning the teams' season series. The AL owns home-field advantage in the World Series thanks to its win in the All-Star Game.

Darvish (7-5) allowed one run, three hits and one walk. His 28th career game of double-digit strikeouts is the second-most in a pitcher's first 100 major league starts, topped only by Dwight Gooden (31). Darvish will likely start Game 2 of the Division Series following Cole Hamels.

Shin-Soo Choo returned to Texas' lineup after missing 39 games with a fractured left forearm. Choo pulled a single to right in his first plate appearance since Aug. 15 and went 1 for 4.

Matt Andriese (8-8) gave up three runs and seven hits, including solo home runs to Carlos Beltran and Rougned Odor (see full story). 

Cabrera hits 2 HRs, Tigers move up in playoff race, beat Braves
ATLANTA -- Miguel Cabrera hit two home runs, Ian Kinsler and Justin Upton also connected and the Detroit Tigers moved up in the playoff race, beating the Atlanta Braves 6-2 Friday night.

The Tigers won their third straight and pulled within a half-game of Toronto for the second AL wild-card spot. The Blue Jays lost at Boston 5-3.

The regular season is scheduled to end Sunday, but the Tigers might need to play beyond that. They were rained out against Cleveland this week and would have to make up that game if it impacts their playoff chances.

Daniel Norris (4-2) gave up one run, five hits, two walks and struck out eight in 6 2/3 innings.

The Braves, playing their final series at Turner Field before moving north to the suburbs next year, had won 10 of 11. Matt Wisler (7-13) was chased in the fifth when James McCann's RBI single made it 5-0 (see full story).

Trumbo hits 47th, Schoop 5 RBIs as Orioles top Yankees 8-1
NEW YORK -- Mark Trumbo hit his major league-leading 47th home run, Jonathan Schoop and Adam Jones also went deep in a six-run fifth inning and the Baltimore Orioles beat the New York Yankees 8-1 in steady rain Friday night to maintain their AL wild-card lead.

Baltimore began the night tied with Toronto for the AL's two wild cards at 87-72, with Detroit 1 1/2 games back and Seattle trailing the Tigers by a half-game.

Trumbo and Jones homered off Michael Pineda (6-12), who started with 3 2/3 hitless innings and suddenly became ineffective.

Schoop tied his career high with five RBIs, hitting a go-ahead, two-run double in the fourth and adding a three-run homer in the fifth against James Pazos -- Baltimore's big league-high 250th home run this season.

Yovani Gallardo (6-8) won for just the second time in nine starts since Aug. 5, allowing two hits, three walks and Mark Teixeira's sacrifice fly in six innings (see full story). 

Ortiz delivers another HR, Red Sox beat Blue Jays 5-3
BOSTON -- Opening his final weekend with yet another game-winning homer, David Ortiz lined a two-run shot into the right-field stands to break a seventh-inning tie and help the Boston Red Sox beat the Toronto Blue Jays 5-3 on Friday night.

The AL East champion Red Sox snapped a three-game losing streak and stayed one game ahead of Cleveland in the race for home-field advantage for the playoffs.

The Blue Jays fell one game behind Baltimore in the wild-card race and are now within range of Detroit and Seattle in the fight for the AL's final postseason berth (see full story).

Alec Asher lone bright spot as Phillies continue to limp to finish with another loss to Mets

Alec Asher lone bright spot as Phillies continue to limp to finish with another loss to Mets

The Phillies returned home from a bad road trip Friday with only three games to play and the only thing to play for being the role of spoilers.

With the New York Mets in town looking to put a stranglehold on a wildcard spot, the Phillies, as another losing season finishes out, could be a thorn in the side of their rivals.

Alec Asher looked like he was playing the part of spoiler, retiring the first 11 batters he faced, but the Mets rallied, got behind starter Robert Gsellman, and turned back any Phillies sabotaging on this night, beating the home team, 5-1.

The two teams are heading in quite opposite directions.

The Mets, with their win, clinched at least a tiebreaker in the wildcard and guaranteed their season not ending on Sunday, the league’s final regular season date.

The Phillies on the other hand… 

“We’re certainly limping home,” said manager Pete Mackanin an hour or so after being ejected for the first time this year. “Not playing well, not swinging the bats very well.”

They struck out 14 times Friday night. And after scraping a run across in the second inning, never really looked like they were in the game at the plate.

Mackanin's ejection came in the eighth inning. Mackanin wasn’t happy with first base umpire Will Little and was thrown out of a game. Reliever Michael Mariot threw a fastball in on Yoenis Cespedes and Cespedes appeared to lose control of the bat through the strike zone. When appealed to, Little ruled Cespedes did not swing, and out came Mackanin.

"I had to get thrown out there," Mackanin said.

Perhaps he just couldn't stand to watch anymore. 

Gsellman battled through some early struggles and stymied the Phillies’ offense. Gsellman turned in six innings of one-run baseball, improving to 4-2 on the year. He allowed one run on seven hits and struck out seven.

Asher, in his last start of 2016, was the lone bright spot on this night.

With two outs in the fourth, his brief perfect game bid was ended with a single from Yoenis Cespedes. That was followed by another from Curtis Granderson. 

Jay Bruce then worked a full count but Asher couldn’t put him away. On the ninth pitch of the at-bat, Bruce singled home Cespedes to tie the score. 

A fourth consecutive single, this time off the bat of T.J. Rivera, allowed Granderson to cross the plate for a 2-1 Mets lead.

Asher’s night and season ended with a Bruce home run - his third in as many games - to lead off the top of the seventh.

“I wanted to go sinker away and just kind of got it mid-thigh belt,” Asher said. “He took advantage of the mistake.”

Asher, 24, went six-plus innings Friday, throwing 104 pitches while allowing three runs on five hits. He struck out four and walked zero.

His 2016 finishes with a 2.28 ERA and 0.94 WHIP in 27 ⅔ innings pitched. He struck out 13 and walked four.

“Last year when Asher was here I recall being asked if it was a smart thing to do because he got rocked so badly,” Mackanin said. “We talked about if and when he did get back to the big leagues if he would be able to handle it. What kind of make up he had. Certainly he made an adjustment. Added a two-seam fastball which he never had. Has a plus changeup. He needs a little more work on his breaking ball, but nevertheless he’s pitched well since he’s been back. He’s done a good job.”

The Phillies bullpen hasn’t lately.

Mariot, in relief of Asher, gave up two runs in 1 ⅔ innings of relief, including Bruce’s third RBI of the night to give the Mets a 5-1 lead.

The Phillies offense then went quietly into the fall night. The Mets didn’t allow a hit from the final 12 Phillies hitters.

Their season will continue beyond Sunday.

“It’s step one of a bigger accomplishment,” said Mets manager Terry Collins. “We’re certainly pleased we get to play past Sunday.”

The Phillies are just limping.