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Red Sox offer walk-off drama while Cubs sew up NL Central

Friday’s Say Hey, Baseball looks at a dramatic win for the Red Sox and a division title for the Cubs.

New York Yankees v Boston Red Sox Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

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It’s begun. With a Cardinals loss to the Giants, the Cubs became the first team to nail down a playoff spot by clinching their first NL Central title since 2008. While the division is the first to make its winner official, it’s far from the only one whose top spot has seemed like a given for some time now — the Indians, Rangers, and Nationals have each looked comfortable with their respective leads for most of the summer, and the Giants’ recent struggles have given the Dodgers less and less to worry about on this front. Though both wild card races offer the potential of going down to the wire, there’s not too much to be found in the divisional races. That is, unless you’re talking about the AL East, which still features three teams within two games of one another and brought plenty of intense action Thursday.

The Red Sox started the day one game up on the Orioles, with the Blue Jays another game behind and the Yankees on the outside looking in at four games back. Baltimore jumped out to a quick lead over Tampa Bay that made it look as if they could close in on that top spot — and ended up going 3-for-15 with runners in scoring position to ultimately fall 7-6 to the Rays. But the Red Sox, for their part, didn’t look as if they’d be able to take advantage of the opportunity to widen their lead. Heading into the bottom of the eighth, they trailed the Yankees by a score of 5-1. Then a David Ortiz home run (allowing him to pass Mickey Mantle on the all-time list) kicked off a comeback, and the ninth inning saw a Dellin Betances breakdown that allowed five runs to score as Hanley Ramirez walked it off to give Boston a wild win — and a two-game division lead.

  • After an MLB investigation found that the Padres withheld medical information in the Drew Pomeranz trade this summer, San Diego GM A.J. Preller has been suspended for 30 days.

  • Speaking of Pomeranz — what happened to him in this week’s awful start? Over The Monster investigates.

  • Don’t take Mike Trout for granted. Grant Brisbee reminds you why you’re probably not paying enough attention to him.

  • The Pirates were already on their way to a hearty defeat of the Phillies on Thursday — and then with two outs in the ninth, the Philadelphia bullpen gave up eight runs.

  • The White Sox walked off against the Indians yesterday to win three of four in the series (still leaving Cleveland with a comfortable six-game lead in the AL Central).

  • Ivan Nova has looked like an entirely different pitcher since arriving in Pittsburgh — did the Yankees make a mistake in trading him?

  • After a day off yesterday, the Mariners’ eight-game win streak is still intact, and while a playoff spot is still a long shot, it’s not impossible.

  • The Giants have looked an awful lot like the Cardinals this year: here’s how.