NEW YORK (AP)Randy Arozarena homered twice and the Tampa Bay Rays clinched their first AL East title in 10 years Wednesday night with an 8-5 victory over the New York Mets.
Joey Wendle and Brandon Lowe also went deep to help Tyler Glasnow (5-1) win his fifth straight decision. Tampa Bay will be home at quirky Tropicana Field for a best-of-three first-round playoff series beginning next Tuesday.
It is the third division crown for the thrifty Rays, who also won the AL East in 2008 and 2010. Their inaugural season was 1998.
After missing a chance to clinch Tuesday, the Rays went into Wednesday again needing just a win or a New York Yankees loss against Toronto to lock up the division championship.
The Rays (37-20) broke a 2-all tie in the sixth on Arozarena’s two-run homer off Michael Wacha (1-4) and pulled away.
As has become customary during this pandemic-shortened season, the celebration was muted. After Nick Anderson fanned Andres Gimenez for the final out, the closer exchanged a hug with catcher Mike Zunino. The Rays filed out of the dugout and someone shot off a canister filled with confetti that eventually dotted the grass and dirt at Citi Field.
CLEVELAND (AP) – Shane Bieber lowered his ERA to 1.63 in his final regular-season start, the lowest in the American League since Luis Tiant’s 1.60 for Cleveland in 1968, and Jordan Luplow hit a game-ending home run that gave the Indians a win over Chicago and dropped the White Sox into a tie with Minnesota for the AL Central lead.
Bieber, who leads the big leagues with eight wins, allowed an unearned run and two hits in five innings with 10 strikeouts in his eighth double-digit strikeout game, also a major league high.
He lowered his major league-leading ERA from 1.74. Chicago’s Dallas Keuchel is second in the AL at 2.04 heading into his start against the Indians in Thursday’s series finale.
Chicago fell to 34-22, the same record as the Twins going into their game against Detroit later Wednesday. Cleveland (32-24) closed within two games of the lead with its second straight last at-bat victory. Jose Ramirez hit a three-run homer with two outs in the 10th for a 5-3 win Tuesday.
CHICAGO (AP) – Hall of Famer Gale Sayers, who made his mark as one of the NFL’s best all-purpose running backs and was later celebrated for his enduring friendship with a Chicago Bears teammate with cancer, has died. He was 77.
Nicknamed ”The Kansas Comet” and considered among the best open-field runners the game has ever seen, Sayers died Wednesday, according to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Relatives of Sayers had said he was diagnosed with dementia. In March 2017, his wife, Ardythe, said she partly blamed his football career.
Sayers was a blur to NFL defenses, ghosting would-be tacklers or zooming by them like few running backs or kick returners before or since. Yet it was his rock-steady friendship with Brian Piccolo, depicted in the film ”Brian’s Song,” that marked him as more than a sports star.
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) – Celtics forward Gordon Hayward and wife Robyn are parents for a fourth time.
Robyn Hayward announced the birth of the couple’s first son – Gordon Theodore Hayward – on Wednesday, a couple hours before the Celtics would face the Miami Heat in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals.
Hayward had originally planned to leave the bubble for the birth, but remained with the Celtics. He got some unplanned time off earlier in Boston’s postseason run because of a sprained ankle, and spent some of that with his wife and daughters before returning to the NBA campus.
Robyn Hayward said the baby – who was already wearing Celtics apparel Wednesday with his father’s name and number on the back – will go by Theo, despite his father’s preference that he go by GT.
More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports