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MLB plans for 28-man rosters for rest of season, postseason

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MLB rosters will be reduced from 30 players to 28 starting Thursday and remain at that number for the rest of the season and postseason, sources confirmed to ESPN.

The initial plan had been to reduce the roster to 28 this week before reducing it again to 26 after another two weeks. However the recent outbreak of positive COVID-19 tests led to a change in plans.

The taxi squad will also be expanded from three players to five, sources confirmed.

The Athletic was first to report the changes.

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Chicago Cubs lose 3-2 to Pittsburgh Pirates but still clinch playoff berth

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The Chicago Cubs are in the postseason for the fifth time in six years, clinching a spot on Tuesday night despite losing 3-2 to the Pittsburgh Pirates.

It’s David Ross’ first trip to the postseason in his first season as the Cubs’ manager.

“It’s nice,” Ross said after the game. “Super proud. Thankful for the group I have. It’s very rewarding for that group in there that’s put in the hard work in a unique atmosphere.”

The Cubs got off to a fast start, winning 13 of their first 16 games to take command in the National League Central, where they’ve been in first place since the season opener. Their success has been tied to their pitching staff, which ranks third in ERA in the National League.

But Chicago’s offense has slumped since the quick beginning to the season. The Cubs rank 22nd in OPS and are hitting under .200 against left-handed pitching.

“It’s a lot of credit to us for not being in sync the whole year and grinding through and getting wins,” first baseman Anthony Rizzo said. “It’s a full team effort and that’s what it’s going to take to be the last team standing.”

The Cubs have a history of making the postseason after changing managers. In 2003, Dusty Baker led the Cubs to a division title in his first season; Lou Piniella did the same in 2007. Joe Maddon also made it to the playoffs in 2015, his first season at the helm. Ross was a player on that 2015 team.

“There is so much to be proud of and thankful for from my seat,” Ross said. “They came in ready to summer camp and it showed.”

In the coming days, the Cubs are in good position to clinch their third division title since 2016 and host the first round of the playoffs at Wrigley Field, where they produced the lowest batting average in history there this season (.210). But Chicago features several October tested starters, including Yu Darvish, Kyle Hendricks and Jon Lester. And many of the core players are still there from when the team won the World Series in 2016.

“To be one of the playoff teams is very exciting,” Rizzo said. “It’s something that we’re going to not take for granted because this is not easy.

“It’s [the playoffs] a whole different beast. It’s a different game. It’s a different vibe.”

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Cleveland Indians clinch playoff berth after Jose Ramirez hits walk-off home run

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CLEVELAND — With one sweet swing, Jose Ramirez pushed the Cleveland Indians into the playoffs and strengthened his case for the American League MVP award.

Ramirez hit a three-run homer with two outs in the 10th inning, giving Cleveland a 5-3 win over the Chicago White Sox that clinched a postseason berth Tuesday night.

Ramirez’s drive to right off Jose Ruiz scored Cesar Hernandez and Francisco Lindor, setting off a wild celebration at home plate as the Indians reached the postseason for the fourth time in five years.

Lindor had pulled Cleveland within one on a two-out double that plated Roberto Perez, who began the inning on second base. After Matt Foster (5-1) walked Hernandez, Ruiz entered and gave up the game-ending drive.

AL Central-leading Chicago lost for the fourth time in five games, creating a logjam at the top of the division. Minnesota is in second and Cleveland is just three games back.

Ramirez, making a late push for the MVP award, has 12 home runs and 26 RBIs in his past 24 games.

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Hamstring discomfort delays Justin Turner’s return to Dodgers

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Justin Turner, expected to make his first start at third base in nearly a month, was a late scratch from the Los Angeles Dodgers‘ lineup on Tuesday because of recurring discomfort in his previously injured hamstring.

Turner, 35, missed two weeks because of a strained left hamstring but returned last Tuesday and served as the Dodgers’ designated hitter in his first five games. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts was initially going to play Turner only a handful of innings at third base so as to not overwork him, but he replaced Turner with Edwin Rios about two hours before first pitch against the visiting Oakland Athletics.

Turner, who hasn’t played third base since Aug. 28, is batting .296/.396/.415 in 159 plate appearances this season.

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