Cardinals, Blue Jays clinch division titles | Inquirer Sports

Cardinals, Blue Jays clinch division titles

/ 06:40 PM October 01, 2015

St. Louis Cardinals relief pitcher Carlos Villanueva (33) celebrates getting the final out of an 11-1 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates in a baseball game in Pittsburgh, Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2015. With the win the Cardinals clinched the Central Division. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

St. Louis Cardinals relief pitcher Carlos Villanueva (33) celebrates getting the final out of an 11-1 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates in a baseball game in Pittsburgh, Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2015. With the win the Cardinals clinched the Central Division. AP

PITTSBURGH — St. Louis clinched its third straight National League Central title by splitting a double-header at nearest rival Pittsburgh on Wednesday (Thursday Manila time), completing the NL playoff lineup.

The Cardinals moved four games above the Pirates with three games of the regular season to play. Pittsburgh is 2-1/2 games clear of the Chicago Cubs. Those two teams will face each other in the one-off wild-card game, with only the hosting right to be decided.


Toronto also sealed a division title, claiming the American League East crown by routing Baltimore in the opening game of a double-header. The New York Yankees are second in the AL East, but missed another chance to seal a wild-card berth when they lost to Boston.


In the tightly-contested AL West, Texas stayed 2-1/2 games clear by defeating Detroit, while Houston moved back into second place — and a provisional hold on the wild-card — by edging Seattle and the Los Angeles Angels dropped down to third with a narrow loss to Oakland.

Minnesota, which is a game behind the Angels in the wild-card race, split a double-header against Cincinnati, which was officially eliminated from contention.

Pittsburgh temporarily delayed St. Louis’ ascension to an 11th division title in 22 years by winning the opening game 8-2, thanks chiefly to Francisco Cervelli’s grand slam.

However it was Jason Heyward’s grand slam which proved decisive in the second game as the Cardinals cruised to an 11-1 win.

Heyward’s shot off Bobby LaFromboise, who replaced an ineffective Charlie Morton (9-9), gave St. Louis an early six-run lead. Tyler Lyons (3-1) had little trouble making it hold up as the Cardinals reached the 100 wins in a season for the ninth time.

Their season-long run atop baseball’s most competitive division — and the ease in which the team did it — is all the more stunning considering a series of injuries to key players.


Toronto didn’t have to wait to the second game for its division clincher, as the Blue Jays trounced Baltimore 15-2.

The Blue Jays needed only one win to seal the deal and the suspense ended quickly as the Blue Jays built a 4-0 lead in the fourth inning before adding four unearned runs in the fifth.

In the night game, Baltimore won 8-1.

Texas’ Adrian Beltre hit the first of three Rangers home runs as the AL West leaders moved closer to a postseason berth by beating Detroit 6-2.

Robinson Chirinos and Mike Napoli also homered for the Rangers, with all three coming off Matt Boyd (1-6) in 2 2-3 innings.

Houston’s Colby Rasmus hit a broken-bat RBI single to cap the Astros rally from a three-run deficit to a 7-6 win at Seattle.

A day after being passed by the Angels in the division and the wild-card race, the Astros moved back in front of Los Angeles. Houston is half a game ahead going into their final series of the season beginning on Friday in Arizona.

Center fielder Carlos Gomez caught a line drive by Franklin Gutierrez and then got James Jones off first base to end the game.

Oakland’s Stephen Vogt hit a tiebreaking, two-run single during a four-run rally in the seventh inning, and the Athletics hung on to beat the Angels 8-7 and end their seven-game winning streak.

Sean Doolittle got Collin Cowgill to ground out with a runner on third base, ending the game and completing a five-out save in Los Angeles’ last home game of the regular season.

The Angels committed four errors and gave up seven unearned runs.

Minnesota remained 1-1/2 games off the second wild-card spot by splitting a double-header against Cleveland, eliminating the Indians from contention.

The Twins won the opening game 7-1, but lost the second 10-2 and is running out of chances to make up ground in the race.

New York’s normally steady bullpen wasted a chance to clinch its first playoff berth in three years and lost 9-5 to old rival Boston in 11 innings.

However Dellin Betances gave up a tying homer, then Andrew Bailey (0-1) gave up an RBI single to Deven Marrero with one out in the 11th and Chasen Shreve yielded a run-scoring sacrifice and a two-run homer.

The Yankees still need just one win over their remaining four games to earn the playoff spot.

The New York Mets, having already clinched the NL East, lost slugger Yoenis Cespedes after he was hit by a pitch in a bad-tempered 7-5 loss against Philadelphia.

X-rays were negative on Cespedes, struck on the ring and middle fingers. He exited in the third inning, then returned to the dugout in the sixth when the benches started to empty following a high-and-tight pitch.

The wild-card-bound Chicago Cubs won 10-3 at Cincinnati, with Austin Jackson driving in a career-high five runs.

Jon Lester set a team for strikeouts in a season by a left-handed pitcher, adding nine more to reach 203 for the season and breaking the record held by Ken Holtzman in 1970.

San Francisco’s Mike Leake pitched his first career shutout, guiding the Giants past the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-0.

Kansas City clinched home-field advantage in the AL Division Series by winning 5-3 at the Chicago White Sox, with Eric Hosmer hitting a go-ahead two-run homer in the top of the 10th inning.

Tampa Bay’s Drew Smyly won his fifth straight decision as the Rays beat Miami 6-4.

Atlanta rookie Williams Perez threw six innings and Atlanta’s bullpen did the rest to beat Washington 2-0 and record the Braves’ first shutout since June 21.

Milwaukee’s Zach Davies pitched seven innings to steer the Brewers to a 5-0 win against San Diego.

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Arizona’s Chase Anderson pitched effectively into the sixth inning in a combined five-hitter as the Diamondbacks beat Colorado 3-1.

TAGS: Baltimore Orioles, Baseball, MLB, Pittsburgh Pirates, St. Louis Cardinals, Toronto Blue Jays

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