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Yankees score 20 runs against Blue Jays to regain footing in AL East

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NEW YORK — Luke Voit and Aaron Hicks homered to key a seven-run second-inning burst made possible when right fielder Derek Fisher misplayed a pair of flyballs, and the New York Yankees rocketed past the Toronto Blue Jays into second place in the AL East with a 20-6 blowout Tuesday night that extended their winning streak to six.

Voit homered twice, raising his major-league-leading total to 18, and had five RBIs for the Yankees, who have rebounded following a 5-15 stretch and put themselves back on track to reach the expanded playoffs. New York (27-21) and Toronto (26-21) started a stretch of seven games against each other in the final two weeks of the season.

DJ LeMahieu had four hits and five RBIs, raising his average 13 points to .363, LeMahieu homered on a 48.7 mph offering from infielder Santiago Espinal leading off eighth, the slowest pitch hit for a home run since MLB started tracking in 2008.

LeMahieu, batting leadoff, and Voit, hitting behind him, combined to mark the first time in Yankees history both the No. 1 and 2 hitters had five RBIs in the same game.

Gary Sanchez hit a three-run homer off Anthony Kay, and Clint Frazier had a two-run shot against Ryan Borucki.

Giancarlo Stanton and Gio Urshela returned from the injured list for the Yankees, who expect to get Aaron Judge back Wednesday or Thursday.

Stanton was 0-for-4 with a walk as the designated hitter, the only Yankees starter without a hit, after missing 32 games because of a strained left hamstring. Urshela had three hits and made several sparking defensive plays at third after missing 11 games with a right elbow bone spur.

Judge, limited to one game since Aug. 11 because of a strained right calf, could return Wednesday or Thursday.

But Gleyber Torres was out with a left quadriceps issue and New York manager Aaron Boone said James Paxton had not yet started to throw in his rehabilitation of a strained left flexor tendon, a sign the left-hander might not return this season.

Rookie Deivi Garcia allowed three runs and six hits in six innings.

New York scored its most runs since a 20-6 win at Atlanta on Aug. 30, 2015. The Yankees batted around in the second, third and fourth innings, the first time they achieved the feat in three consecutive frames since doing it from the fifth through eighth innings in a 22-9 rout of Oakland on Aug. 25, 2011, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Toronto had won eight of its previous 12 games.

Ace Gerrit Cole starts for New York on Wednesday, seeking to join Justin Verlander, Roy Osawlt and Mark Mulder as the only pitchers since 2000 to reach 100 career wins in 203 or fewer appearances.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Marcell Ozuna, Braves beat Miami, clinch 3rd straight NL East title

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Bryse Wilson pitched five scoreless innings, Marcell Ozuna drove in five runs with four hits that included two homers and the Atlanta Braves clinched their third straight NL East title by beating the Miami Marlins 11-1 on Tuesday night.

Atlanta hit five homers, including drive by Dansby Swanson and Freddie Freeman off Nick Vincent in a five-run seventh. Freeman drove in two runs with three hits.

After Jorge Alfaro lined out to Freeman to end the game, Braves players hugged on the field and exchanged high-fives in the dugout.

Wilson (1-0) allowed three hits and one walk, striking out a career-high seven. It was an unexpected showing by the 22-year-old right-hander, who had a 7.04 ERA in four relief outings and had been at the team’s alternate training site until Monday. He had not started since July 16 last year at Milwaukee.

Atlanta clinched its record 20th division title, one more than the New York Yankees. The Braves won 14 straight in completed seasons from 1991-2005 but have not won a postseason series since 2001 and have not won a championship since 1995.

Miami remained in position to earn its first playoff berth since winning the 2003 World Series.

Ozuna hit a first-inning homer off Jose Urena (0-3), who allowed four runs in six innings. Ozzie Albies homered in the second, and Ozuna added a two-run double in the fifth and drove in Freeman with a 450-foot homer to center field in the eighth.

Manager Brian Snitker said the Braves were prepared for a low-key celebration, due to social distancing rules in the pandemic. He said Major League Baseball “pretty much restricted all that” due to space constraints in the clubhouse.

“I think we go in and air high-five to everybody,” Snitker said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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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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