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With all eyes in the baseball world on the Yankees and Red Sox on Sunday night, you just knew that something crazy was going to happen. As it turned out, crazy showed up in spades for this one.
The first six innings were rather uneventful as the Yankees carried a 2-1 lead into the seventh inning behind five innings of one-run ball from Jordan Montgomery. It was in the home half of the seventh that things went off the rails a bit.
The Red Sox started the frame with a pair of singles from Jose Iglesias and Alex Verdugo. Both runners then advanced on a wild pitch and the Red Sox pushed the tying run across on a sacrifice fly by Christian Vazquez. After Enrique Hernandez struck out for the second out in the inning, Kyle Schwarber hit a foul pop up to third base that should have been the third out, but DJ LeMahieu simply dropped it, allowing the at-bat to continue. Schwarber then hit a shallow fly ball to left field that Joey Gallo dropped, allowing Verdugo to score as the go-ahead run. Simply madness.
Things would get crazier in the eighth. Gio Urshela started the inning by drawing a walk off of Garrett Richards. Tyler Wade then came in to pinch run for him, but he was gunned down attempting to steal second base. DJ LeMahieu then worked a walk and Anthony Rizzo followed with a double to right center, though had the cutoff man been paying attention it looked as though they could have easily nabbed Rizzo at second base.
That put the tying and go-ahead runs in scoring position with one out in the inning for Aaron Judge. Judge then hit a foul pop up to first base that Bobby Dalbec simply dropped -- just like DJ LeMahieu had done the previous inning. Not to worry though, Adam Ottavino roared back to get what looked like a strikeout on a foul tip for strike three, but as Christian Vazquez was transferring the ball to his throwing hand he dropped it. Home plate umpire Joe West ruled that he dropped the third strike, making it just a meaningless foul ball instead of a critical strike three. On his third chance, Judge would make the Red Sox pay -- lining a two-run double to center to give the Yankees the lead. Giancarlo Stanton followed by clobbering a 448-foot home run onto Landsdowne Street and that was all she wrote.
Stanton was a monster in the three-game weekend sweep of the Red Sox, blasting three home runs and driving in 10 runs.
With the sweep, the Yankees now hold the top Wild Card spot in the American League, sitting one game ahead of the Red Sox. The Red Sox still hold the second Wild Card, but the Blue Jays are just a game behind them -- with the Mariners a game behind them -- and the Athletics a game behind them.
The Yankees open a three-game series with the Blue Jays in Toronto on Tuesday, then finish their regular season with a weekend series at home against the Rays.
The Red Sox begin a three-game set in Baltimore on Tuesday and wrap up their regular season with three against the Nationals in Washington.
The Mariners and Athletics begin a critical three-game series against each other in Seattle on Monday. The Mariners will then conclude with three at home against the Angels, while the A’s will wrap things up in Houston against the Astros.
Starting Pitchers with an EDGE
Shane Baz - 5 2/3 IP, 0 ER, 3 H, 1 BB, 9 K, 37% CSW, 14 swinging strikes
So far through two starts, the 22-year-old right-hander has been as good as advertised. On Sunday, he racked up a career-high nine strikeouts over 5 2/3 scoreless innings against the Marlins. Baz generated 14 swinging strikes -- nine of them on his fastball -- while registering an elite CSW of 37 percent. He’ll get one final start this season -- against a tough Yankees lineup in New York on Saturday -- but he should be owned in all formats for that outing.
Shohei Ohtani - 7 IP, 1 ER, 5 H, 0 BB, 10 K, 29% CSW, 12 swinging strikes
If it wasn’t already a lock in many voters' minds (and it should have been), Ohtani took another step toward securing the American League MVP award on Sunday, racking up 10 strikeouts over seven innings of one-run ball against the Mariners. The only blemish on his day was a solo homer by Jarred Kelenic in the seventh. On the season, he sports a terrific 3.18 ERA, 1.09 WHIP and 156/44 K/BB ratio over 130 1/3 innings in his 23 starts. Oh, and he’s second in the American League with 45 homers. And he leads the A.L. with seven triples. And has swiped 24 bases, driven in 98 runs and scored 99. In all honesty, it should be unanimous.
Kevin Gausman - 6 IP, 1 ER, 3 H, 0 BB, 11 K, 40% CSW, 25 swinging strikes
Gausman found his dominant form in a tough-luck no-decision against the Rockies on Sunday, racking up 11 strikeouts over six stellar innings of one-run ball. He generated 25 swinging strikes in the game -- 13 on his splitter and 11 on his fastball -- while posting an elite CSW of 40 percent. It’s a great sign for the Giants to see Gausman re-discover his splitter as we approach the start of the postseason.
Hitters with an EDGE
Corey Seager - 2-for-4, 2 HR (12), 2 RBI, 2 R
Seager smacked a pair of solo home runs off of Humberto Mejia in each of his first two at-bats on Sunday, helping to power the Dodgers to victory over the Diamondbacks to secure their 100th victory of the season. The second of those home runs was the 100th home run in the 27-year-old’s career. Teammate Trea Turner -- who went back-to-back with Seager in the first inning -- also blasted his 100th career home run on Sunday. On the season, Seager is now hitting .292/.384/.477 with 12 homers and 50 RBI in 89 games on the season.
Jake Cronenworth - 3-for-4, 2 2B, 3B, 2 RBI, R, BB
Cronenworth had a monster day in a losing effort against the Braves on Sunday, tallying three extra-base hits and driving in a pair of runs. He’s had a nice season in the middle of the Padres lineup, slashing .269/.345/.463 with 20 homers, 68 RBI and four swipes.
Willy Adames - 2-for-4, HR (23), 3 RBI, 3 R, BB
Adames had a big day at the dish as the Brewers doubled up the Mets, crushing a two-run bomb off of Carlos Carrasco in the opening inning. He later added an RBI in a ground ball in the sixth inning and also scored three runs in the contest. Since joining the Brewers, he’s hitting a monstrous .287/.368/.519 with 18 homers, 54 RBI and four stolen bases in 93 games.
EDGE Priority Pickup
Chris Flexen, SP, Seattle Mariners -- Available in 45% of Yahoo fantasy leagues
It’s pretty remarkable that Flexen is still available in nearly half of all Yahoo leagues given his success this season. He owns a 13-6 record, 3.56 ERA, 1.24 WHIP and 118/38 K/BB ratio across 169 1/3 innings in his 29 starts. He has been even better as of late, with a 3.12 ERA over 10 starts since the start of August. He also draws a decent matchup as a slight favorite (-105) against the Athletics in a must-win game for the M’s. Flexen also tentatively lines up to take on the Angels on the final day of the regular season. He makes for a tremendous addition for the season’s final week.
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Nick Anderson vs. Marlins - 1 IP, 1 ER, 1 H, 0 BB, 0 K (1st save)
The right-hander served up a solo homer to Lewin Diaz, but managed to escape the ninth inning with a one-run lead intact to earn his first save since September 21, 2020. He’s still working his way back to full strength after missing most of the season due to a partially-torn UCL, but it looks like he’ll be in the mix for save chances from here on out.
Liam Hendriks vs. Indians - 1 IP, 0 ER, 1 H, 0 BB, 1 K (36th save)
Hendriks continued to function as one of the truly elite closers in all of baseball, racking up his American League-leading 36th save in Sunday’s win over the Indians. He has been a brilliant addition for the White Sox this season, compiling a 2.65 ERA, 0.75 WHIP and 106/7 K/BB ratio over 68 innings. He’ll once again get drafted as one of the top two closers off the board -- perhaps pushed up as high as the second round or the 2/3 turn in next season’s fantasy drafts.
Giovanny Gallegos vs. Cubs - 1 IP, 0 ER, 0 H, 2 BB, 2 K (14th save)
Another day, another save for Gallegos. Of course it helps when your team literally wins every single day. The Cardinals won their 16th consecutive game on Sunday, and Gallegos was there to close things out -- protecting a two-run lead in the ninth inning. He has recorded eight saves during this current winning streak and now boasts a 3.10 ERA and 0.87 WHIP on the season.
Monday’s Matchup of the Day
There are only five games on the MLB docket for Monday -- with three of them coming in the afternoon. The evening slate isn’t devoid of intrigue though, as the Mariners and Athletics begin a critical three-game series as both contenders attempt to close the gap and catch the Red Sox for the second Wild Card berth in the American League.
Flexen (highlighted above as the priority pickup), has already taken on the Athletics four times this season, compiling a 3.24 ERA, 1.12 WHIP and 17/6 K/BB ratio over 25 innings. He comes in as a slight home favorite (-105) over Cole Irvin and the A’s.
Irvin will carry a 10-14 record, 3.99 ERA and 1.31 WHIP into the crucial battle. Unlike his counterpart, the left-hander has really struggled in five starts against the Mariners this season, registering a terrifying 7.56 ERA, 2.16 WHIP and 10/7 K/BB ratio in 16 2/3 innings.
American League Quick Hits: Athletics shortstop Elvis Andrus landed on the 10-day IL with a fractured left fibula. He’s done for the season. … The A’s also placed Jed Lowrie on the IL with a sprained right hand. … The White Sox placed Brian Goodwin on the 10-day IL with back spasms. … The Tigers placed Victor Reyes on the 10-day IL with a right groin strain. … DJ LeMahieu (hip/groin) returned to the Yankees lineup on Sunday night. … Andy Ibanez had two hits and smacked a two-run homer as the Rangers topped the Orioles. … Alec Manoah struck out eight over 5 2/3 innings of two-run baseball as the Blue Jays bested the Twins. … Wander Franco went 2-for-4 with a double and a pair of runs scored in Sunday’s victory over the Marlins, extending his on-base streak to 41 games. … Lucas Giolito struck out six over six scoreless in a victory over the Indians. … Myles Straw went 4-for-5 with an RBI and a stolen base in a loss to the White Sox. … Marco Gonzales fanned five over seven frames of one-run baseball in a win over the Angels. … Alex Bregman had two hits including a go-ahead homer as the Astros fell to the Athletics. … Mark Canha delivered the walk-off RBI single to win that one for the A’s. … Kris Bubic struck out six over seven shutout innings in a dominant victory over the Tigers. … Whit Merrifield went 3-for-5 with two doubles and a run scored in that one.
National League Quick Hits: Brandon Belt (thumb) was pulled from Sunday’s game against the Rockies after being drilled on the hand by a pitch. Initial imaging was inconclusive, so he’ll undergo X-rays on Monday. For the time being, all fantasy managers can do is sit and hope that it’s a minor issue. … Joey Votto (knee) was held out of the Reds lineup for the second straight game. He’s considered day-to-day. … The Phillies designated veteran outfielder Matt Joyce for assignment. … The Pirates activated David Bednar (oblique) from the 10-day IL. … Patrick Wisdom was scratched from the Cubs lineup on Sunday with a sore wrist. He’s listed as day-to-day. … The Cardinals announced that Jordan Hicks (elbow) will not return this season. … The Mets placed J.D. Davis on the 10-day IL with a sprained left hand. … The Diamondbacks placed Nick Ahmed on the 10-day IL with right shoulder inflammation. … The Padres have shut down Chris Paddack (elbow) for the remainder of the season. … Hans Crouse allowed one run over three innings in a losing effort against the Pirates in his big league debut. … Ke’Bryan Hayes came off the bench to go 2-for-2 with a two-run double as the Pirates defeated the Phillies. … Tyler Mahle struck out six and didn’t allow an earned run over six innings in a win over the Nationals. … Kyle Farmer blasted a grand slam to pace the offense in that one. … Brandon Crawford homered and drove in four runs in a victory over the Rockies. … Julio Urias picked up his 19th victory with five shutout innings against the Diamondbacks. … Joc Pederson homered as the Braves eked out a victory over the Padres.