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Yankees beat Blue Jays to extend AL wild-card lead

Aaron Judge (two) and Anthony Rizzo hit home runs for the Yankees in their win over the Blue Jays Thursday night in Toronto.Cole Burston/Getty

Aaron Judge hit two of New York’s five home runs and the Yankees extended their American League wild-card lead by beating the Blue Jays, 6-2, Thursday night in Toronto.

Gleyber Torres and Anthony Rizzo also connected off Blue Jays starter Robbie Ray, and Brett Gardner added a solo homer as New York (91-68) trimmed its magic number to clinch a postseason spot to two. The Yankees are two games ahead of Boston and idle Seattle, both 89-70, after the Red Sox lost to last-place Baltimore. Toronto trails New York by three games.

New York has won eight of nine but could be in better shape entering a season-ending series against AL East-champion Tampa Bay. First baseman Luke Voit went on the injured list Thursday with a sore left knee, and infielder DJ LeMahieu was replaced in the bottom of the sixth inning because of right hip soreness.


Michael King (2-4) pitched 1⅓ scoreless innings for the win in relief of Corey Kluber. Luis Severino worked a perfect seventh, Chad Green struck out three straight after giving up a leadoff double in the eighth, and Aroldis Chapman finished in the ninth.

New York’s first five hits were home runs. Judge hit a 455-foot solo blast in the first that landed in a disused lounge area below the center field scoreboard. He hit another drive to center, a 441-footer into the batter’s eye, as the Yankees homered three times in the sixth to erase a 2-1 deficit.

For Judge, the home runs were his 37th and 38th. It was his sixth multihomer game of the season and the 16th of his career.

Astros, Braves clinch

Carlos Correa hit his career-high 25th homer with a three-run shot and the Astros clinched the AL West with a 3-2 win over the Tampa Bay Rays in Houston.

It’s the fourth division title in five seasons and 10th overall for the Astros. They’re in the playoffs for the fifth consecutive season, extending a franchise record.


Carlos Correa celebrates with fans after Houston clinched the division Thursday.David J. Phillip/Associated Press

Manager Dusty Baker’s Astros will open the AL Division Series on Oct. 7 against the White Sox — home field for that best-of-five matchup is still to be determined.

Correa’s huge hit in the fourth inning allowed the Astros to put a recent stretch where they dropped five of six games behind them and let the celebration begin at Minute Maid Park.

Rays rookie Wander Franco went 0 for 4 to snap a 43-game on-base streak, which tied Frank Robinson in 1956 for the longest such string in MLB history among players 20 or younger.

In Atlanta, Ian Anderson turned in another dominant pitching performance, Jorge Soler and Austin Riley homered, and the Braves clinched their fourth straight NL East title by completing a sweep of the Phillies with a 5-3 victory.

The Braves won their 21st division title since moving from Milwaukee to Atlanta in 1966.

They’ll face their former city in the playoffs when they open the best-of-five Division Series at the NL Central champion Brewers on Oct. 8.

Cardinals will call on Wainwright

Cardinals manager Mike Shildt named Adam Wainwright as the starter in the National League Wild Card Game next week.

Wainwright is 17-7 with a 3.08 ERA this season.

“He gets better as the game goes, he goes deep in games, he’s a big-game pitcher,” Shildt said on Thursday.

Adam Wainwright has won 17 games for the Cardinals this season.Jeffrey Phelps/Associated Press

The Cardinals clinched the second wild-card spot earlier this week and will face the Dodgers or Giants, whichever does not win the NL West, in the winner-take-all game next Wednesday. The postseason trip will be the third in a row for the Cardinals.


Wainwright has won 10 of his last 11 decisions this season, with 11 quality starts during that span, including Tuesday’s clincher.

The 40-year-old righthander is no stranger to the postseason, with 28 appearances throughout his career, including earning the save in the World Series clincher against the Tigers in 2006.

Wainwright has a 3-5 record in 11 postseason starts and will have plenty of backup if needed.

“Everybody will be ready to go for Wednesday,” Shildt said. “We have two full days off, so it will be all hands on deck.”

Yankees’ Voit on injured list

The Yankees put slugger Luke Voit on the 10-day injured list Thursday with a sore left knee and recalled righthander Albert Abreu from Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Voit, who underwent knee surgery in March, limped back to the dugout after running to first base in a pinch-hitting appearance in the seventh inning of Wednesday’s 6-5 loss at Toronto. Voit broke for first on a wild strike three even though there was a runner on first and fewer than two outs.

“He woke up pretty stiff today and he’s limping around pretty good,” manager Aaron Boone said. “We think it’s kind of a bone bruise that can be a result of the surgery. That’s kind of been on and off for him.”

Luke Voit will be sidelined for a stretch.John Minchillo/Associated Press

Voit is batting .239 with 11 homers and 35 RBIs in 68 games. He hit a major league-leading 22 home runs in last year’s 60-game season.


Boone said tests Wednesday night showed no fracture to the left forearm of outfielder Joey Gallo, who was hit by a pitch in the seventh. Gallo was not in the starting lineup for Thursday’s series finale in Toronto but was available off the bench.

Field day for Thomas

Frank Thomas has found his Field of Dreams.

The Hall of Famer has headed a venture that bought controlling interest in Go the Distance Baseball’s stake of All-Star Ballpark Heaven and the Field of Dreams Movie Site in Dyersville, Iowa.

The company said that This is Heaven LLC, a company of the 53-year-old Thomas and Chicago real estate developer Rick Heidner, bought the interests in Go the Distance Baseball owned by the Denise M. Stillman Trust.

Thomas will be chief executive officer and former White Sox general manager Dan Evans will be chief operating officer.

Stillman headed a group that bought the field, the location of the 1989 movie “Field of Dreams,” and the adjacent Lansing family farm in 2011. The site of about 190 acres includes a working cornfield. She died in 2018.

Back to winning ways

Rookie Dylan Carlson homered twice, once from each side of the plate, and the Cardinals beat the Brewers, 4-3, on Thursday in St. Louis. Carlson’s homers made a winner out of J.A. Happ, who entered the game 0-3 in his last five starts against the Brewers. Happ (10-8) gave up three runs on nine hits and struck out seven in 6⅓ innings, his longest outing since St. Louis acquired him from the Twins on July 30. Kodi Whitley and T.J. McFarland combined for two innings of scoreless relief and Luís Garcia earned his second save as the Cardinals won the rubber game of the series after having their franchise record 17-game winning streak snapped the night before … The Dodgers still have a heartbeat in the NL West race, and it was throbbing late in the game. Corey Seager hit a go-ahead, two-run homer in the eighth inning, when Los Angeles went deep four times to rally past the Padres, 11-9, on Wednesday night. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts called it “a crazy explosion.” The defending World Series champions trailed, 9-6, before Max Muncy and AJ Pollock began the onslaught by going back-to-back off Emilio Pagán (4-3). With one out, Cody Bellinger launched a shot to right field that tied the game. Pinch hitter Justin Turner doubled to deep left and scored on Seager’s shot to right with two outs. “That’s a whirlwind in a really short time,” Seager said. Thanks to their scintillating comeback, the playoff-bound Dodgers remained two games behind NL West-leading San Francisco with four to play in the regular season. The Giants beat Arizona, 1-0.


Mets to decide on Rojas soon

Luis Rojas’s fate as Mets manager likely will be determined before the team hires a president of baseball operations.

With a disappointing 2021 season coming to a close, New York holds an option on Rojas’s contract for next year. The club plans to bring in a new baseball boss this offseason, but team president Sandy Alderson said he and first-year owner Steve Cohen had not yet started to contact potential candidates.

So it appears Alderson and Cohen will decide soon after the season ends whether to retain Rojas, rather than the newcomer eventually placed in charge.

“Whether that managerial decision is made after that individual is hired or before, it’s difficult to say,” Alderson said. “But I would say given the timing, probably that decision will be made before we have somebody as head of baseball operations.”

Rojas is 101-117 in two seasons as Mets manager. He drew praise earlier this year as New York led the NL East for three months, but the team has collapsed since the beginning of August without injured ace Jacob deGrom and was eliminated from playoff contention with more than a week remaining.