The 5 Best MLB Moments from Thursday

Pop the champagne, Astros and Braves!

And then there were six. With three days left in the regular season, the MLB playoffs have just two open slots remaining: the first and second American League Wild Cards. Beyond that, the rest of the postseason bracket — including five of six division winners — has now been set in stone.

This development came after a wild Thursday night of baseball, which saw both the Atlanta Braves and Houston Astros put the final nail in the coffin of their respective division foes. Meanwhile, the A.L. WC race got even spicier somehow, as the Orioles (!!) pulled off their second win this week against the Red Sox, allowing Seattle (!!!) to pull into a tie with Boston for the second spot. Oh, the drama!

We’ll get to all that today, including some of the best moments from each celebration. But first, here are a few other fun tidbits from Thursday, starting with Jazz Chisolm keeping things light:

The Angels announced that Shohei Ohtani will not make his last scheduled start on Sunday, meaning the MVP favorite’s season on the mound is over. But what a season it was:

He also reminded us that he can do this:

Facing off against Ohtani’s Angels, Adolis García put a record-breaking capper on his ROY bid:

Elsewhere, another California team paid tribute to Gavin Lux in the latest rendition of mock crime scene hijinx. Tell me this isn’t the best trend to come out of this season.

And in New York, Francisco Lindor said goodbye to his closest, most unwavering friends, Mets fans:

Touching stuff! Now on to the real festivities.

 

Atlanta Clinches

 

On July 23, the Ronald Acuña-less Atlanta Braves were given a seven percent chance of making the playoffs, per FanGraphs. But thanks to several key trade deadline acquisitions, a resurgent pitching staff, and an utter and absolute collapse by the Mets, that seven percent became 100. With Thursday’s 5-3 win over the Phillies, Atlanta clinched a series sweep and a fourth consecutive division title. Here’s the final out, courtesy of Will Smith, who pitched uncharacteristically non-poopily at the biggest moment:

The players wasted no time popping corks on the field, which led hilariously to this NSFW moment from Ozzie Albies on live TV:

…and this delightful interview-crashing outburst by Guillermo Heredia, who still has his swords:

Most importantly, the celebration gave us this gif, a reminder to live every day like Luke Jackson.

And if that’s not your vibe, there’s always this one.

Welcome to October.

 

Getting Dusty In Here

 

The fifth division crown to fall was much less dramatic, though the coronation was delayed by the Mariners’ September hot streak. Still, the Houston Astros came through in the end, beating the Rays 3-2 on Thursday to secure their fourth N.L. West crown in five years. The final out came from All-Star closer Ryan Pressly, who has been on board for three of them:

It was a special moment for Dusty Baker as well, as he told his team just before being completely showered in adult beverages:

The veteran skipper would go on to celebrate, as one does, by sipping champagne out of somebody’s shoe:

And yet, he still found the time to impart some friendly words of advice to Friday’s starter, Framber Valdez. Such leadership!

Congrats to Dusty, the most impossible-to-hate manager in the game. And the Astros, too, I suppose.

 

Tight Pants, Tight Race

 

Following Wednesday’s win over the Wild Card-leading Yankees, the Blue Jays looked to be in decent shape. Once the Red Sox lost, they had a chance to move back into a tie for the second spot last night. Even better, they had leading Cy Young contender Robbie Ray, He of the Tight Pants, taking the hill. What could go wrong?

It was indeed smooth sailing early, particularly once some guy named Guerrero hit a ball to the moon:

The Jays had the lead, and George Springer was feelin’ fly:

Then the Yankees exploded for three homers in the sixth, and it all fell apart. Robbie, you are all of us.

Just like that, the Yanks’ lead jumped back to +2, and Toronto remains on the outside looking in before the final weekend. But one team, by not playing (and thus not losing), did capitalize on the Sox loss:

Three games left, folks. There’s never been a better time to Believe.

 

Tatis County

 

Back in the N.L., the only division title still up in the air is out west, where the two best teams in baseball continue to go shot-for-shot. The Dodgers added tally No. 103 on Thursday, beating the Padres 8-3 for their fourth straight W. But the play of the night came from the other dugout, as Fernando Tatis Jr. reminded everyone that while his team folds, he can still do things that make your jaw hit the floor:

Yeeeww, that’s a long way. The game also gave us this exchange between powerful men:

The Dodgers are good, and they have those unstoppable-giant-of-destruction vibes just, y’know, lurking. But can they catch the Giants and win their ninth consecutive division title? About that…

 

Bum Love

 

In case you missed it, Madison Bumgarner made his return to the bay to face his former team on the mound last night. As expected, he was not unappreciated by the Giants faithful:

The return also gave us this fantastic photo:

But Bumgarner lasted five innings in this one, matching four strikeouts with four runs. And in the end, it was all for naught. Because LaMonte Wade Jr. has no interest in that Wild Card action:

For those keeping track at home, that’s 105 wins for San Francisco. ONE-OH-FIVE. Yeah, they’re ready for October. Are you?

 

Photo by Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns of Twitter)

Wynn McDonald

Born a Kentuckian, much like Dan Uggla. Braves fan by choice, unlike Dan Uggla. I enjoy long walks on the Brandon Beachy. @twynstagram

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