Pete Alonso and the New York Mets prevented Tampa Bay from clinching the AL East crown Tuesday night, beating the Rays 5-2 behind three home runs and Seth Lugo’s bounce-back pitching performance
NEW YORK — Pete Alonso and the New York Mets prevented Tampa Bay from clinching the AL East crown Tuesday night, beating the Rays 5-2 behind three home runs and Seth Lugo’s bounce-back pitching performance.
Robinson Canó, Alonso and newcomer Guillermo Heredia went deep for the Mets, desperately trying to stay in the National League playoff chase with five games now remaining in the regular season. New York began the day three games out of the final postseason spot, but made up a little ground when Philadelphia was swept in a doubleheader by Washington.
A handful of other teams are in front of the Mets, too, though.
Tampa Bay’s situation is much simpler. Already assured a playoff berth and needing just one win or a New York Yankees loss to secure their first division title in 10 years, the Rays sent 2018 AL Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell to the mound Tuesday hoping to wrap things up.
Snell (4-2) struck out nine and threw a season-high 108 pitches in 5 2/3 innings. But he gave up three runs and six hits, including solo homers by Canó and Alonso.
Meanwhile, the Yankees routed Toronto 12-1 — so Tampa Bay’s party was put on hold. Tyler Glasnow gets the ball in the series finale Wednesday night with another chance to clinch.
The slumping Alonso, who entered batting .202, also had a run-scoring single and finished with three RBIs.
Lugo (3-3) allowed two runs, one earned, and four hits in 6 1/3 innings as he rebounded from a dreadful start last week in Philadelphia. He struck out seven and walked one.
Justin Wilson and Chasen Shreve, who fanned all three batters in the eighth, provided scoreless relief before Edwin Diaz got three outs for his fifth save.
Willy Adames hit an early solo homer for the Rays.
Rays manager Kevin Cash said Snell is scheduled to start the team’s first playoff game next Tuesday. Glasnow will follow, and then Charlie Morton if the best-of-three series goes the distance. All three would be on two extra days of rest.
“I go into it with maybe a little bit more confidence than I did last year,” Glasnow said. “Just an exciting time.”
Rays: 1B Ji-Man Choi (left hamstring strain) and 3B Yandy Díaz (right hamstring strain) both took between five and seven at-bats against live pitching but did very minimal running, Cash said. Choi and Díaz still feel soreness, and a decision on their roster status for the first round of the playoffs next week could come down to the last minute. “It’s not ideal. We’re definitely not out of the woods, but we’re making progress,” Cash said.
Mets: RF Michael Conforto (left hamstring tightness) was held out of the starting lineup for a second consecutive night but expected to be available off the bench. Conforto was feeling a lot better than Monday and could return to the lineup Wednesday, manager Luis Rojas said.
Rays: Glasnow (4-1, 4.21 ERA) goes Wednesday night in Tampa Bay’s final road game of the regular season. The 6-foot-8 righty is 4-0 in his last five starts and has 83 strikeouts in 51 1/3 innings this season, a ratio of 14.55 per nine that leads the majors among pitchers who have thrown at least 50 innings. Glasnow struggled against the Mets with Pittsburgh, but hasn’t faced them since joining the Rays.
Mets: RHP Michael Wacha (1-3, 6.75 ERA) starts New York’s last home game of the season, with LHP Steven Matz (0-5, 9.79) potentially piggybacking in relief.
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