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Astros’ Cole gets ‘good news’ on hamstring tests

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CHICAGO — It seems that any alarm bells ringing after Houston Astros starter Gerrit Cole was a last-minute scratch from Game 2 of a doubleheader on Tuesday in Chicago can be silenced — that is, if encouraging tests results after an examination of his hamstring prove to be accurate.

“We got some good news back today that it’s not super serious,” Cole said. “So we’ll just take it day-by-day right now and kind of see how it responds to some treatment and some rest. Then get back out there as soon as we can.”

Cole, the American League leader in strikeouts, noticed the discomfort while warming up before his scheduled start in the visiting bullpen at Guaranteed Rate Field.

“Finishing my delivery on the first handful of pitches during the first bullpen yesterday, just had some discomfort kind of getting to the ball,” Cole said. “I just wasn’t 100 percent ready to go at that point. I wasn’t just able to ramp it up. I warmed up well on flat ground. It was just kind of bizarre. It just kept grabbing.”

Cole, 28, has been one of the AL’s top hurlers the past couple of seasons, his first with Houston. This season, he is 14-5 with a 2.87 ERA and a league-leading 226 strikeouts. With Houston in a busy part of its schedule and trying to work around Monday’s rainout in Chicago, Cole’s injury was ill-timed.

“It’s frustrating to be in a stretch when we don’t have any off days,” Cole said. “It’s frustrating to be in the back end of a doubleheader. The bullpen’s had to pick us up. I don’t know. If you could pick the least ideal time for that to happen, this would probably be it.”

Before the game, Astros manager A.J. Hinch declined to name a starting pitcher for Houston’s contest on Saturday in Oakland but said Cole would not pitch that day. Still, Cole will accompany the team to the Bay Area, and he said it is possible that he could start near the end of the four-game series.

“I don’t think it’s been ruled out, but I really haven’t had that conversation yet with the manager,” Cole said. “Kind of informed him of what the doctors have told us — that the severity is not bad. We’ll just kind of take it one day at a time.”

All in all, the mild nature of Cole’s injury appears to be good news for one of baseball’s hottest teams and prime World Series threats. Cole said his doctors wouldn’t go so far as to call the injury a strain. All signs point toward a brief absence.

“When I spoke to the doctor, he didn’t use that word,” Cole said. “He was just encouraged by what he saw. The recovery, barring any setbacks, along with the way I’m feeling, should be pretty quick.”

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Wait, the Indians went 18-1 against the Tigers? Inside the historic season-long domination

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Let’s be direct here: This shouldn’t happen at the major league level. One team should not go 18-1 against another. It feels almost impossible in a sport where the spread between the best winning percentages and worst winning percentages is not as large as the NBA or the NFL. Bad teams beat good times all the time. It’s the nature of baseball.

But it happened. The Cleveland Indians beat the Detroit Tigers 7-0 on Thursday, finishing the season series with an 18-1 record against Detroit. That had never happened before. Since the majors split into divisions in 1969, no team had defeated an opponent 18 times. Since the format of 19 games against division opponents began in 2001, the best record had been 17-2 (including the Yankees against the Orioles this season).

Of course, the Tigers aren’t exactly the 1998 Yankees:

Still, how does a team go 18-1? Let’s find out with a quick game-by-game recap!

April 9 at Detroit: Indians 8, Tigers 2

It seems so long ago when Leonys Martin and Brad Miller were on the Indians. It’s OK if you don’t you recall those halcyon days of April and May. Indians fans probably don’t remember either. They hit two of the club’s four home runs.

April 10 at Detroit: TIGERS 4, INDIANS 1

This was it. The victory. Matthew Boyd allowed one run in six inning, Niko Goodrum and John Hicks homered off Trevor Bauer, the Tigers made no errors and the Tigers were 8-4 and in first place, half a game ahead of the Indians.

April 11 at Detroit: Indians 4, Tigers 0

Shane Bieber won his first game of the season, tossing seven shutout frames and allowing three hits. Martin doubled and homered – on his way to a .199 average for Cleveland.

June 14 at Detroit: Indians 13, Tigers 4

The Tigers allowed 17 hits, walked five batters, allowed six unearned runs and struck out 10 times. Not a good night at the ballyard.

June 15 at Detroit: Indians 4, Tigers 2

Too much Bieber again. He fanned 12 in 7.2 innings.

June 16 at Detroit: Indians 8, Tigers 0

Bauer throws the four-hit shutout. Tigers pitchers surrender 14 hits and six walks. Are you getting the idea Detroit’s offense may be on the weak side?

June 21 at Cleveland: Indians 7, Tigers 6

Game tied in the bottom of the eighth, Jose Ramirez singled on a dribbler down the line to start the winning rally. Jason Kipnis hit what the umpires ruled was a home run, but replay overturned the call and Kipnis instead had a triple. He scored anyway on a sac fly. In the top of the ninth, JaCoby Jones doubled to lead off and Christin Stewart singled him home. Then this happened:

Tigers lose 7-6.

June 22 at Cleveland: Indians 2, Tigers 0

If you’re going to make your major league debut, the 2019 Tigers were a pretty good team to make it against. Aaron Civale allows two hits in six scoreless innings.

June 23 at Cleveland: Indians 8, Tigers 3

The Indians tag Daniel Norris for six hits and five runs in the second inning and Zach Plesac allows one run in seven innings

July 15 at Cleveland: Indians 8, Tigers 6

The Tigers hit four home runs! But the Indians bang out 14 hits – including two home runs by Oscar Mercado, the second one breaking a 5-5 tie after a rain delay:

July 16 at Cleveland: Indians 8, Tigers 0

If you’re counting, this is four shutouts in 11 games. Four pitchers combined for the one-hitter.

July 17 at Cleveland: Indians 7, Tigers 2

Mike Clevinger fans 12 in six innings as the Indians staff combines for 17.

July 18 at Cleveland: Indians 6, Tigers 3

This would turn out to be Bauer’s final home game in an Indians uniform. He fans 10 and Brad Hand strikes out as the Indians get 14 K’s – that’s 31 over two games. If you’re counting.

August 27 at Detroit: Indians 10, Tigers 1

Adam Plutko and three relievers allow three hits and record 15 strikeouts. The Tigers allow 13 hits, five walks, six unearned run, throw a wild pitch, hit a batter and give up three home runs.

August 28 at Detroit: Indians 4, Tigers 2

It’s tied 2-2 in the top of the eight when Francisco Lindor hits one just far enough:

August 29 at Detroit: Indians 2, Tigers 0

Yep, another shutout. Clevinger goes eight innings, Hand closes out the four-hitter.

September 17 at Cleveland: Indians 7, Tigers 2

The Indians rip out eight extra-base hits. The Tigers do not.

September 18 at Cleveland: Indians 2, Tigers 1 (10 innings)

Civale goes 7.2 innings, but the game goes extra innings. How does the winning run score? Roberto Perez led off the innings reaching on an error. After a bunt, an intentional walk, a groundout and another intentional walk – that’s two more intentional walks than the Astros have issued all season, by the way – Yasiel Puig just misses a walk-off grand slam:

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Yasiel Puig walks the Tigers off with an RBI single roped to right field in the bottom of the 10th inning.

September 19 at Cleveland: Indians 7, Tigers 0

That’s 17 straight wins over the Tigers and six shutouts for Cleveland in the season series. Not only did the Indians outscore the Tigers in 18 of 19 games, the Tigers had more hits than the Indians in just one game (they one won). The season stats against each other:



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Marlins giving Mattingly 2-year extension

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Don Mattingly and the rebuilding Miami Marlins have agreed to a contract extension, a source told ESPN, confirming an El Extrabase report.

Mattingly will receive a two-year deal from the team, a source told ESPN’s Jeff Passan. An official announcement is expected Friday, when Miami opens a three-game series against the visiting Nationals before finishing the season on a seven-game road trip.

Mattingly initially signed a four-year contract with the Marlins prior to the 2016 season. He is a career 272-364 with the team.

The 58-year-old Mattingly will be the first to manage the Marlins for more than four seasons.

Under new part-owner/CEO Derek Jeter, the Marlins have been in rebuild mode, trading away key pieces in recent seasons like Christian Yelich, Giancarlo Stanton, J.T. Realmuto and Marcell Ozuna. They are an NL-worst 53-99 this season.

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Yankees clinch 1st AL East title since 2012

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NEW YORK — The resilient New York Yankees powered their way to the club’s first American League East title since 2012, routing the Los Angeles Angels 9-1 on Thursday night behind three RBIs each from old mainstay Brett Gardner and newcomer DJ LeMahieu.

A day after wasting a chance to clinch first place, the homer-happy Yankees went ahead when LeMahieu hit a three-run drive in the second inning and breezed to their 100th win.

Gardner, among just two holdovers from their most recent World Series championship team in 2009, added a solo shot in the fourth and then hit a two-run double in the sixth. Cameron Maybin and Clint Frazier homered for good measure in the eighth, and Aroldis Chapman struck out Albert Pujols to end it as fans’ cellphones flashed to record the moment.

Players lined up for handshakes and hugs, more exuberantly than usual, but there was no wild celebration on the field.

“We got a lot bigger fish to fry, but this is the first step along the way,” manager Aaron Boone said. “Nothing has got in their way. Whatever has come adversity-wise, they faced it and powered right through it.”

Despite putting 30 players on the injured list this season, New York (100-54) wrapped up first place with eight games to spare and made Aaron Boone the first manager to win 100 games in each of his first two major league seasons.

The Yankees open the playoffs on Oct. 4, likely against Minnesota, which leads the AL Central, or the wild-card winner.

Masahiro Tanaka (11-8), in line to start the opener, allowed Kole Calhoun‘s homer leading off the fourth. The Angels had just four hits in seven innings off Tanaka, who struck out six and walked one.

The win came hours after Domingo German, their top-winning pitcher at 18-4, was placed on administrative leave under Major League Baseball’s domestic violence policy. His status for the postseason is uncertain.

New York’s 19th AL East title was its first following a run of 13 in 17 years that started in Derek Jeter’s rookie season. The Yankees, led by young stars Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez and Gleyber Torres, will be making their 21st postseason appearance in 25 years and 55th overall — 22 more than any other team.

And they will head to the October following their 21st 100-win season, their first in back-to-back years since 2002-04.

New York moved into sole possession of the lead for good on June 15 with the start of an eight-game winning streak, beginning a spurt of 13 victories in 14 games that ended the month. The Yankees led by 6½ games at the All-Star Game, won seven of their first nine after the break and have led by seven to 11½ games since. And they achieved their success despite so many players landing on the injured list, the most in the major leagues since at least 2004.

“Everybody’s done a great job of stepping up when they’re needed,” Gardner said.

After Wednesday’s 3-2 loss, the Yankees waited in their clubhouse for three hours until just before 1 a.m., hoping second-place Tampa Bay would lose at Los Angeles and ensure the division title for New York. But the Rays rallied in the ninth and defeated the Dodgers in 11 innings.

“It was probably actually a good little team building, bonding, one of those times you enjoy being together,” Boone said,

Protective plastic remained overnight wrapping the six large-screen televisions in the Yankees’ clubhouse, a sign that the bubbly and beer celebration was not too far off. Moments after the final out, the spraying started.

A few minutes later, many players headed back to the field for team pictures.

LeMahieu’s homer, which followed a rare infield hit by slow-legged catcher Austin Romine with two outs, landed about three rows over the scoreboard in right-center, giving him career bests of 25 homers and 97 RBIs in his first season with the Yankees. Gardner also set career highs for homers (26) and RBIs (69), and New York extended its team record with 292 long balls.

LeMahieu was the fourth Yankee to reach the 25-homer mark this season, joining Gardner, Gleyber Torres (38) and Gary Sanchez (34). It’s the fifth season in franchise history, and second straight, that at least four players hit 25.

In his second game back from an injury layoff of nearly three months, Giancarlo Stanton was 0-for-3 with a walk and two strikeouts as a designated hitter.

Andrew Heaney (4-6) gave up six runs and five hits in five-plus innings pitched for the Angels.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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