Friday Sports in Brief
TORONTO (AP) — The Tampa Bay Rays returned to the playoffs for the first time since 2013, clinching an AL wild card berth with a 6-2 win over the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday night behind Tommy Pham’s two-run homer and 4 1/3 hitless innings from Tyler Glasnow.
Tampa Bay will play Oakland on the wild-card game on Wednesday night. The Rays will start Charlie Morton.
At 96-64, the low-budget Rays have their most wins since 2010 and can tie the team record of 97 set in 2008, when they won their only AL pennant and lost to Philadelphia in the World Series.
Tampa Bay began the night with a magic number of two to clinch, and Cleveland lost 8-2 at Washington while the Rays were in the eighth inning.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Minnesota Twins became the record fourth team in the major leagues to win 100 games this season, beating the Kansas City Royals 6-2 Friday night behind two-run homers from Miguel Sanó and Ryan LaMarre in a game shortened to 6½ innings because of rain.
Minnesota reached the century mark in wins for just the second time in franchise history. The 1965 Twins went 102-60, then lost the World Series to the Los Angeles Dodgers in seven games.
Houston, the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees also have 100 wins. Before this year, the only seasons with as many as three 100-game winners were 1942, 1977, 1998, 2002, 2003, 2016 and 2017.
SEATTLE (AP) — The Oakland Athletics wrapped up a playoff spot before the first pitch, then missed a chance to move closer to hosting next week’s AL wild-card game when closer Liam Hendriks gave up two runs in the ninth inning of a 4-3 loss to the Seattle Mariners on Friday night.
The A’s are tied with Tampa Bay for the two wild-card slots at 96-64 — if they wind up even, Oakland would host the Rays on Wednesday night.
The Athletics sealed their postseason berth when Cleveland lost to Washington. Many of the A’s exchanged a brief set of hugs and high fives in the dugout after the Indians loss went final.
Alonso lined an 0-1 fastball from Atlanta left-hander Dallas Keuchel narrowly over the wall in left field in the first inning Friday night. He hurried around the bases after the solo homer, did handshakes with teammates outside the dugout and took a curtain call on the top step to big cheers from the crowd at Citi Field.
Alonso has already set franchise records for homers, total bases (343) and extra-base hits (84). He has 119 RBIs and 100 runs, becoming the first Mets rookie to reach triple digits in both categories. No New York player had reached those totals in any season since David Wright and Carlos Beltran in 2008.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Nationals manager Dave Martinez says that three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer will start the NL wild-card game.
Washington will face either St. Louis or Milwaukee in the wild-card game. Any of the three could end up hosting the game, depending on how the rest of the regular season goes.
The winner will face the Los Angeles Dodgers in an NL Division Series.
Washington’s top trio forms among the best rotation fronts in the majors.
Scherzer, Strasburg and Corbin all finished in the NL’s top 10 in ERA, strikeouts and hits allowed per nine innings.
NEW YORK (AP) — Aaron Judge had the top-selling jersey in Major League Baseball for the third consecutive season.
The New York Yankees slugger beat out Bryce Harper, according to results released Friday by MLB.
Judge maintained the top spot despite missing more than a third of the season. The 2017 AL Rookie of the Year entered Friday batting .272 with 26 home runs for the AL East champions.
Harper set a uniform sales record for any athlete in a 24-hour window after signing a $330 million, 13-year deal with the Philadelphia Phillies in February. Since opening day, he’s ranked second in sales behind Judge, followed by NL MVP contender Cody Bellinger of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
BOSTON (AP) — Red Sox owners John Henry and Tom Werner intend to slash payroll to get under the luxury tax threshold next season, saying they fired Dave Dombrowski because of differing opinions on how to build for the future.
The pair made their first public comments Friday since parting with Dombrowski, the president of baseball operations, on Sept. 8. They said no matter who replaces Dombrowski, Alex Cora will return for a third season as manager.
Boston has had baseball’s highest payroll for two straight seasons and is on track to pay a $13 million luxury tax this year on a payroll of $243 million for purposes of the competitive balance tax, as it is formally known. That is $37 million over the tax threshold.
Next year’s threshold goes up to $208 million, and the Red Sox will be helped by the departure from the payroll of $56.82 million invested in five players: Rick Porcello ($20,625,000), Pablo Sandoval ($18,445,000), Mitch Moreland ($6.5 million), Steve Pearce ($6,250,000) and Eduardo Núñez ($5 million).
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Panthers quarterback Cam Newton says he plans on taking “time away from the game” because of a mid-foot sprain that has bothered him since the third preseason game.
Newton says in a 15-minute blog released Friday night that he probably shouldn’t have tried to play through the injury and needs to give himself time to heal.
Newton says “it could very well be a week. Or two weeks. It could be three weeks, it could be four weeks, it could be six weeks. But I have to understand and know if it takes that time I trust in this team that they will, we will, still be in a great situation by the time I get back.”
Kyle Allen has replaced Newton in the starting lineup and led Carolina to a 38-20 win over Arizona last Sunday.
ARCADIA, Calif. (AP) — Jockey John Velazquez set a record with his 661st career graded stakes victory in the U.S. and Canada on Friday, and added his 662nd three races later.
He won the $300,000 Chandelier Stakes aboard Bast at Santa Anita, snapping a tie with fellow Hall of Famer Jerry Bailey.
It’s the second career mark owned by Bailey that Velazquez has taken down. The Puerto Rico native became the all-time leading rider at Saratoga in 2013 with win No. 694 to break Bailey’s mark.
The New York-based Velazquez was making a rare appearance in Southern California to ride for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert.
Velazquez returned later to ride Eight Rings to a six-length victory in the $300,000 American Pharoah Stakes, named for the 2015 Triple Crown winner trained by Baffert.
Eight Rings, the 6-5 favorite overseen by Baffert, paid $4.40 to win. The 2-year-old colt earned an automatic berth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile race this fall at Santa Anita.
Earlier, Baffert gave Velazquez a leg up on Bast, who rallied to win the Grade 1 Chandelier by a neck and earn an automatic berth in the BC Juvenile Fillies race.
ARCADIA, Calif. (AP) — A horse dumped its jockey and knocked down two photographers standing near the rail as racing returned to Santa Anita with the opening of its fall meet Friday amid intense scrutiny after the deaths of 31 horses at the historic track earlier in the year.
It was the lone incident between morning training hours and eight other races in the afternoon.
Jockey Norberto Arroyo Jr. was unseated by 2-year-old filly Leucothea in the $300,000 Chandelier Stakes. He was unhurt and rode later.
The filly veered to the outside rail and charged by the winner’s circle before grazing a man and woman photographing the race near a gap in the rail. Neither apparently saw her approaching. Others jumped out of the way as Leucothea continued running most of the way around the track.
An outrider finally caught the filly near the gap leading to the stable area.