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Friday was chock full of drama and history. Teams clinched their spots in the 12-team playoff field, which is now half-full, while others improved their postseason chances and others stumbled. Oh, and an MVP candidate did something no one else has ever done.
History for Acuna: 40-40, 40-50, 40-60
Most of the headlines following Atlanta’s Ronald Acuña Jr. smashing his 40th homer of the season said that he became the fifth player in MLB history to reach 40 homers and 40 steals, which is totally accurate. But it doesn’t give the superstar right fielder and leading candidate for the National League MVP enough due. Acuna, with one swing, became the first player to join the 40-50 club and the 40-60 club. With 68 steals, Acuba needs just two more to be the first 40-homer, 70-steal player, which is when the headline writers will be more on target. Acuna’s 40th homer was a leadoff shot in the first inning off Washington Nationals left-hander Patrick Corbin, the 34th leadoff blast of his career. Atlanta won 9-6.
— Atlanta Braves (@Braves) September 22, 2023
Surging Brewers Punch Postseason Ticket
Ever see a 12-run inning? How about a position player nail down the final three outs in a clinching game? That is exactly what the Milwaukee Brewers did in clinching their fifth postseason appearance in six years with a 16-1 victory over the Miami Marlins.
Christian Yelich, who had missed 12 of the last 13 games with a cranky back, hit a pair of home runs, including a two-run shot that capped a 12-run second inning that took any drama out of the series opener between two teams battling for the postseason. Already a laugher, Brewers manager Craig Counsell made the unusual move of calling on Rowdy Tellez, typically a first baseman, to pitch the ninth. Tellez, who hadn’t pitched since his junior year of high school, retired three of the four batters he faced, including a strikeout.
The victory reduced the Brewers’ magic number for clinching the NL Central title to one over the Chicago Cubs, which led to a smaller celebration following Friday’s postseason clincher. Once they clinch the NL Central, the Brewers will be locked into the NL’s No. 3 seed and host the No. 3 wild-card team in a best-of-three series. The Marlins fell a game behind the Cubs for the third wild card. Chicago blanked the Colorado Rockies 6-0.
— MLB (@MLB) September 23, 2023
May we present to you…
— Milwaukee Brewers (@Brewers) September 22, 2023
Rowdy Tellez, Filth.
The Brewers pitching depth is insane. pic.twitter.com/CGE43J6Xo4
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) September 23, 2023
Twins Wrap Up AL Central
It certainly wasn’t the path that they expected, but it nonetheless led to the destination the Minnesota Twins wanted: the postseason. Thanks to an 8-6 victory over the Los Angeles Angels, the Twins clinched the American League Central title. After missing the playoffs each of the last two seasons, the Twins’ division title is their third in five seasons under manager Rocco Baldelli. Alex Kirilloff drove in three runs, including his 10th homer of the season, and the Twins scored four runs in the seventh inning. Minnesota will likely be the No. 3 seed in the AL and host the AL’s third wild-card team.
— MLB (@MLB) September 23, 2023
The vibes are immaculate. ??? pic.twitter.com/ZKRhYHIipi
— Minnesota Twins (@Twins) September 23, 2023
Rangers Take AL West Lead
The AL West is going to be a battle royale, with the Seattle Mariners and Texas Rangers squaring off seven times in the final 10 games and the Mariners facing the Houston Astros in the other three. Any of those three West foes could end up as the West winner, with one of the teams possibly watching the postseason action on TV.
The first chapter in that story went the Rangers’ way, with rookie Evan Carter hitting a three-run homer and Corey Seager added a solo shot in an 8-5 victory over the Mariners. Seattle loaded the bases in the ninth inning before a shaky Aroldis Chapman finally sealed the deal. Combined with the Astros’ 7-5 loss to the Kansas City Royals, the Rangers moved into first place, a half-game ahead of Houston.
The Toronto Blue Jays, whose only chance at the playoffs is the wild card, beat the Tampa Bay Rays 6-2 to move one game ahead of the Astros for the second wild card. The Mariners are a half-game behind the Astros, who hold the third and final AL wild-card spot.
— Texas Rangers (@Rangers) September 23, 2023
Padres Win Eighth Straight Game
As disappointing as this season has been, the San Diego Padres sure are making the finish to the season very interesting. Manny Machado’s second homer of the night snapped an eighth-inning tie as the Padres won their eighth straight, beating the St. Louis Cardinals 4-2. Not only did it pull the Padres (76-78) within two games of .500, but it kept them four games out of the final NL wild-card spot. There are still three other teams between the Padres and the Cubs, so the odds are against San Diego. But isn’t it all about getting hot at the right time of the season?
Come for the home run, stay for the curtain call. pic.twitter.com/HFaAjObvm4
— San Diego Padres (@Padres) September 23, 2023
Blister Sidelines Fried
Atlanta left-handed ace Max Fried won’t make his final two starts of the regular season after being placed on the 15-day injured list with a blister issue. The timing of the move is perfect as Atlanta, with the best record in the NL, will have a bye in the first round and will open the NL Division Series a day after Fried’s IL stint ends.
Arizona Fall League Rosters Announced
If you love prospects, Friday was a banner day as you likely woke up to the announcement of rosters for this year’s Arizona Fall League. The AFL is essentially a finishing school for key prospects in every organization to have a chance to get playing time following a season cut short due to injury. There are six teams in the AFL, splitting up prospects from all 30 MLB teams. Breakdowns of rosters can be found here from Baseball America and MLB.com.
Red Sox Keep Ex-GM
Whoever ends up being the next Boston Red Sox Chief Baseball Officer (aka President of Baseball Operations), they will be forced to keep a few of the members of fired Chaim Bloom’s front office. Brian O’Halloran, who was dismissed as General Manager under Bloom but remained to run the front office, has been retained as Executive Vice President of Baseball Ops. Raquel Ferreira and Eddie Romero were already being kept as assistant GMs.
Best Moments From Yesterday
Trifecta For Judge
In case you missed it, the New York Yankees are no longer in last place. But that happened a couple days ago. Aaron Judge doesn’t want the Bombers to slip back behind the Boston Red Sox in the AL East and put the team on his back Friday, hitting three homers in a 7-1 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks. He is the first player in team history to hit three homers in a game twice in the same season. He has gone deep 35 times this season after hitting an AL-record 62 last year.
— New York Yankees (@Yankees) September 23, 2023
Rapper Kid Cudi was in pursuit of happiness when he stepped on the mound to throw out the ceremonial first pitch. He truly committed to the role, too, dressing up in a full Cleveland Guardians uniform. Unfortunately, he wasn’t in the Cudi zone with this effort.
Kid Cudi's first pitch at the Guardians game tonight was juuust a bit outside ? pic.twitter.com/hZ9Eqv8EtU
— MLB Life (@MLBLife) September 22, 2023
Injuries and Other Moves
Reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Sandy Alcantara of the Miami Marlins suffered a setback as he tried to come back from a sprained UCL in his right elbow. The right-hander reported tightness in his right forearm following Thursday’s rehab outing. Alcantara hasn’t pitched in the majors since Sept. 6th.
Outfielder-first baseman Luke Raley (cervical strain) was placed on the 10-day injured list by the Tampa Bay Rays, paving the way for the call-up of infield prospect Junior Caminero. The promotion of Caminero, the Rays’ top prospect and No. 6 in baseball, broke Thursday night.
Right-handed reliever Trevor Kelly was designated for assignment. Meanwhile, second baseman Brandon Lowe (fractured right kneecap) is expected to miss four to six weeks after fouling a ball off his knee.
The St. Louis Cardinals‘ disastrous season continued with third baseman Nolan Arenado (back spasms) and catcher Willson Contreras (left wrist tendinitis) being placed on the 10-day IL. Outfielder Michael Siani and infielder Irving Lopez were called up. Lopez will be making his MLB debut.
Right-handed reliever Orion Kerkering, who started the season in Low A, was called up by the Philadelphia Phillies to make his MLB debut. A fifth-round draft choice in 2022, he then played at High A, Double-A and Triple-A this season.
Right-handed reliever Yoendrys Gómez was promoted by the New York Yankees to make his MLB debut. Gomez replaces left-handed reliever Wandy Peralta (left triceps strain), who was placed on the 15-day IL.
Chicago White Sox right-hander Michael Kopech had a cyst removed from his right knee in a surgical procedure and will miss the final week of the season. A full recovery is expected to take six to eight weeks and is not expected to affect his offseason.
Articles You Should Read
If this is Kershaw’s last stand with Dodgers, he is ready for it — Jack Harris, Los Angeles Times
Brewers prospect Chourio accomplished a rare 20-40 season for a teenager — Matt Eddy, Baseball America
Rancor remains between Manfred, Oakland mayor over A’s move — John Shea, San Francisco Chronicle
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