It’s the final Monday of the regular season. As usual, the day brought us an abbreviated slate of MLB games, but it wasn’t without playoff race ramifications. We kept an eye on how things go in Tampa and Washington. Here is everything you need to know about Monday’s MLB action.
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Baseball scores for Monday, September 23
Rays move into second wild-card spot
And they had to mount a big comeback to do it. After falling behind 4-0 early in Monday night’s series finale with the Red Sox, the Rays used a six-run fourth inning to earn the comeback win. They hit three home runs in that fourth inning. Ji-Man Choi (three-run), Brandon Lowe (solo) and Willy Adames (two-run) all went deep.
Lowe’s home run was his first since. He was thought to be done for the season with shin and quad injuries. Instead, Lowe’s back for the stretch run and hitting bombs.
Blake Snell labored in his second start back from the injured list, throwing 52 pitches to record five outs. Eight relievers combined to prevent Boston from blowing the game open following Snell, however, so the bullpen gave the offense a chance to get back in the game, and get back in the game they did.
With the win the Rays are now a half-game up on the idle Indians for the second wild-card spot and 1 1/2 games behind the idle Athletics for the top wild-card spot. The American League wild-card race could go right down to Game 162.
Nationals closer to clinching postseason spot
It hasn’t necessarily been easy these last few weeks, but the Nationals are inching closer to securing a postseason spot. Monday night’s win over the Phillies lowered Washington’s magic number to three. They can clinch a playoff spot as soon as Wednesday.
Home runs by Adam Eaton, Yan Gomes and Trea Turner gave the Nationals an early lead — Juan Soto chipped in four walks — and lefty Patrick Corbin made it stand up. The team’s prized free agent signing battled through six innings without his best command.
Corbin now has a 2.24 ERA in his last 18 starts dating to June 19. He has a 3.05 ERA on the season overall, better than last year’s 3.15 ERA with the D-Backs. That’s especially impressive when you consider the league-wide ERA has risen from 4.14 last year to 4.51 this year.
Washington’s magic number to clinch a postseason spot is three and they’re a half-game up on the idle Brewers for the top wild-card spot. The magic number to clinch home-field advantage in the wild-card game is seven. There’s still work to be done, for sure, but the Nationals are getting close.
Marlins put Mets on brink of elimination
The Mets are officially on the ropes. The Marlins — specifically catcher Jorge Alfaro — hammered New York in their series opener Monday night. Alfaro cranked two home runs, including his first career grand slam to break the game open.
Left-hander Caleb Smith was not especially sharp Monday — Amed Rosario answered Alfaro with a grand slam of his own — but that’s all the Mets were able to muster offensively. Pete Alonso did set a new franchise single-season total bases record with his third inning single, so it’s not all bad. The leaderboard:
- Pete Alonso, 2019: 335
- David Wright, 2008: 334
- David Wright, 2007: 330
- Lance Johnson, 1996: 327
- Jose Reyes, 2008: 327
With the loss, the Mets now have an elimination number of two. They could be eliminated from postseason contention as soon as Tuesday night. That would take another loss to Miami combined with a Brewers win over the Reds.
Goldschmidt homers in return to Chase Field
For the first time as a visiting player, Paul Goldschmidt played a game at Chase Field on Monday. The D-Backs traded him to the Cardinals over the winter and St. Louis is making their first and only trip of the season to Arizona this week.
Goldschmidt of course — of course — received a loud ovation prior to his first at-bat back in his old stomping grounds. He stepped out of the box to tip his helmet to the crowd.. Check it out:
That was Goldschmidt’s 100th career home run in Chase Field. He is the ballpark’s all-time home run king and he is among the franchise leaders in pretty much every significant offensive category. Goldschmidt is one of the D-Backs ever, clearly.
Hays continues to impress for O’s
It has been a difficult few years for Orioles prospect Austin Hays. After a breakout performance in 2017, Hays missed time with shoulder and ankle injuries in 2018, and again earlier this year with thumb and hamstring injuries. Those injuries limited him to only 162 minor league games from 2018-19.
The O’s called Hays up this month and he making up for all that lost time. Going into Monday night’s contest with the Blue Jays, Hays was 13 for 37 (.351) with four doubles and two home runs in his last 12 games, then he added two more homers Monday. He also made a tremendous leaping catch in center field to take extra bases away from Jonathan Davis. To the action footage:
The 24-year-old Hays authored a .254/.304/.454 batting line with 10 homers in 59 Triple-A games before being called up. MLB.com ranks him the sixth best prospect in the O’s system. The Orioles are still early in their rebuild and a big September doesn’t mean Hays is ready for prime time next year, but it certainly beats dealing with injuries again. The big September has to feel good.
Highlight of the Night: Mookie shows off his arm
Red Sox star Mookie Betts can do everything and anything on the field. Hit, run, defend, the works. He also has a heck of an arm, and he showed it off Monday night. Betts threw Avisail Garcia out at third base from the right field corner. Look at this:
Betts now has 10 outfield assists this season, tied for the sixth most in baseball. The best throwers don’t always wind up with the most assists, however, because runners don’t test them. Garcia tested Betts on Monday and Mookie made him pay. What a throw.