MLB News & Moments You Should Know – Sept. 17

Pujols bashes 698th homer, while the Astros clinch playoff spot.

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If your pulse is racing and your fingernails are gnawed to the bone, you know that time is short in the Major League Baseball season. With every team having 19 or fewer games left in the regular season and no Game 163 to break any ties, there is little wiggle room left for most teams chasing one of 12 playoff spots. In addition, there is a little home run history on the line, too.

 

Today’s Headlines

 

Pujols Crushes No. 698

Not only is Albert Pujols chasing down history, he is doing so in clutch moments. The 42-year-old St. Louis Cardinals slugger demolished a first-pitch slider from Cincinnati Reds right-hander Raynel Espinal in the bottom of the sixth inning for career home run No. 698. The two-run shot tied the game 4-4, with the Cardinals eventually winning 6-5. It only seems like when, not if, the man with the fourth-most homers in MLB history will join the 700 club. Each of his last three homers have either tied the game or given the Cardinals the lead.

Astros Clinch Behind Alvarez’s 3 HRs

It really has been a forgone conclusion since the lockout ended that the Houston Astros would win the American League West. While the division title is all but locked up, the Astros did officially punch their ticket to the postseason by beating the Oakland A’s 5-0. Slugger Yordan Alvarez was the primary reason behind this win as he crushed three solo homers, including a 464-foot blast in the fifth inning for his third of the game and 36th of the season.

Not only is it the Astros’ sixth straight postseason appearance, it also added a couple of historical notches to manager Dusty Baker’s pretty full list of accomplishments. Baker is the fourth manager in MLB history with at least eight seasons of 95 or more victories as well as 2,000 wins for a career, joining Joe McCarthy, Sparky Anderson, and Tony La Russa. The Astros’ magic number for clinching the West is five.

 

Yankees Blow 5-0 Lead, Walked Off By Brewers

This was a game that epitomized the season the New York Yankees are having. The Bronx Bombers stormed out to a 5-0 lead after the top of the second inning only to see the Brew Crew score three in the bottom of the second and two more in the fourth.

That set the stage for a fantastic finish in which the Brewers scored in the bottom of the eighth, then the Yankees countered with Josh Donaldson’s tying homer off the foul pole in the top of the ninth. But the Brewers won 7-6 when rookie Garrett Mitchell grounded a two-out, bases-loaded single up the middle to score Hunter Renfroe. The win kept the Brewers within 1½ games behind the San Diego Padres for the third and final NL wild-card spot. The Padres rolled past the Arizona Diamondbacks 12-3. Meanwhile, the Yankees saw their lead in the AL East dwindle to 5½ games after the second-place Toronto Blue Jays beat the Baltimore Orioles 6-3.

Guardians Rally, Boost AL Central Lead

Coming off an 8-2 loss Thursday to the second-place Chicago White Sox, the AL Central-leading Cleveland Guardians knew they had a lot riding on the opener of a five-game series with the Minnesota Twins, the other team still in the hunt to win the division. Cleveland answered the call as Ernie Clement scored from second base on a Jhoan Duran wild pitch in the bottom of the eighth inning as the Guardians pulled out a 4-3 win over the Twins.

Minnesota had led 3-0 before Cleveland tied it with a three-run seventh inning. Combined with the White Sox’s 3-2 walk-off loss to the Detroit Tigers, the Guardians are four games ahead of Chicago and five of Minnesota. Following Saturday’s doubleheader and Sunday’s series finale against the Twins, the Guardians travel to Chicago for their final three games against the White Sox. Friday’s win also clinched the season series against the Twins, giving Cleveland the tiebreaker should the teams finish with identical records.

Arizona Fall League Rosters Revealed

With the minor leagues coming to a conclusion, there is only one thing that could get prospect enthusiasts ramped back up: The Arizona Fall League. Team assignments and rosters were announced for the 2022 AFL, with 16 of MLBPipeline.com’s Top 100 prospects heading to the Phoenix area for what is called a finishing school for players hoping to soon be on MLB rosters.

Former Mets Catcher Dies

John Stearns, a catcher who played in 11 MLB seasons including 10 with the Mets, died Thursday in Denver, the team announced. He was 71. Stearns had recently been battling cancer. A four-time All-Star, Stearns was also a coach for the Mets in the 2000-2001 seasons.

 

Best Moments From Yesterday

Trout Hooks Another One

A day after his seven-game home run streak was snapped, Mike Trout found the groove again. The Los Angeles Angels superstar bashed his 36th homer, a solo shot in the bottom of the fifth inning during an 8-7 win over the Seattle Mariners.

So Clean, It’s Immaculate

Immaculate innings are cool. Nine pitches. Nine strikes. Usually all strikeouts. Now, do that with the game on the line in the ninth inning during a pennant race. That is exactly what Cardinals closer Ryan Helsley did in finishing off a 6-5 victory over the Cincinnati Reds. Helsley, who topped out at 101.7 mph, notched the third immaculate inning in Cardinals history, joining Bob Gibson in 1969 and Jason Isringhausen in 2002.

Arenado Artistry

As if there weren’t enough Cardinals entries in this edition, we couldn’t look past this incredible play by St. Louis third baseman Nolan Arenado, who not only is considered the best defender at his position but perhaps the best in all of MLB.

 

Injuries and Other Moves

 

Second baseman Ozzie Albies was activated from the 60-day injured list by the Atlanta Braves. Albies has been out since June 13 with a broken right foot. Infielder Ehire Adrianza was put on the 10-day IL and right-handed reliever Jay Jackson was designated for assignment to make room for Albies.

The Braves also placed right-handed reliever Kirby Yates on the 10-day IL due to right elbow inflammation. Righty William Woods was recalled from Triple-A Gwinnett.

Left-handed reliever Aroldis Chapman (tattoo infection) was activated from the 15-day IL. Right-hander Ryan Weber was DFA’d.

Right-handed Jeurys Familia, who was DFA’d Tuesday by the Boston Red Sox, cleared waivers and was outrighted to Triple-A, but he elected to become a free agent.

Chicago Cubs right-handed starter Alec Mills had a low-back discectomy this week. His status for the start of next season is unknown.

 

Articles You Should Read

 

Albert Pujols gave off Hall of Fame vibes before he was a household name — Peter Gammons, The Athletic

Giants closer Camilo Doval opens up as he becomes more comfortable — Susan Slusser, San Francisco Chronicle

What new drink has taken over baseball clubhouses? — Matt Monagan, MLB.com

 

Fantasy Baseball Coverage

 

Starting Pitcher Roundup

Hitter Performances

Reliever Ranks

Starting Pitcher Streamers

 

Featured image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)

Steve Drumwright

Steve Drumwright is a lifelong baseball fan who retired as a player before he had the chance to be cut from the freshman team in high school. He recovered to become a sportswriter and have a successful journalism career at newspapers in Wisconsin and California. Follow him on Twitter @DrummerWrites.

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