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TORONTO (AP) — The Houston Astros
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TORONTO (AP) — The Houston Astros

moved their celebration from the team hotel to the clubhouse.The Astros marked their second straight AL West title by dousing one another with wine and beer and enjoying cigars after Wednesday’s 3-1 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays.“We’re getting used to this Duane Kuiper Jersey ,” infielder Alex Bregman said. “I like it.”It was the second celebration of the day for the Astros, who clinched the division just after 2 a.m. Wednesday when Oakland lost at Seattle 10-8 in 11 innings.The Twitter account of the defending World Series champions posted videos of players, coaches and their partners jumping up and down in celebration inside a meeting room at The Ritz-Carlton Toronto.“It was pretty unique,” ace Justin Verlander said. “There’s been some unique scenarios, but not like that one.”Back inside the smoky, dripping clubhouse, the Astros enjoyed a party that was, in Verlander’s words, “a little more traditional.”“I hope we do this three more times,” he said.Houston opens the AL Division Series at home on Oct. 5 against Central Division champion Cleveland. Before Wednesday’s game, Bregman said he was “super pumped” to repeat as division winners.“We haven’t had the smoothest of rides, a little adversity along the way, but we’ve pushed through it and we’re playing good baseball at the right time,” he said.Left-hander Dallas Keuchel was among those who stayed up to watch the A’s play Tuesday night at Safeco Field. Having celebrated late into the night, Keuchel was taking it easy at Wednesday’s postgame party.“I usually drink a little bit at these but I’m still hurting from last night,” Keuchel said.Second baseman Jose Altuve said he was proud of his teammates for wrapping up a repeat division title.“We’re having a lot of fun,” Altuve said. “I think we deserve this , we all deserve this.”Manager AJ Hinch, who stayed away from the hotel gathering because of a minor illness, decided to get involved in the clubhouse celebrations.“It probably set me back a couple of days, but it’s worth it,” Hinch said. “There’s one team that can repeat, and that’s us. We need four celebrations and 11 wins. Those are all the points that this team needs to know.”Hinch spoke to the Astros before Wednesday’s game to congratulate and thank the players, and to remind them of the task ahead.“I’m so proud of this team,” Hinch said before the game. “To go back-to-back 100 wins, back-to-back division championships, it’s not easy to do what we’re doing, so I do want out guys to relish in it.”The Astros (100-57) need three wins in their final four games to break the 1998 team record.“It’s something we would like to accomplish,” Verlander said. “Selfishly, I think we’ve got the best Houston Astros team ever assembled. Having the record to show that would be nice.”Houston is now turning its attention to the Indians.“They’re a really good team,” Altuve said. “They’ve got really good hitters like we do. They’ve got good pitching. We’ve got good pitching, too. It’s going to be interesting. I pick my team, obviously, but I think it’s going to be good competition.”Houston’s success the past two seasons is particularly meaningful to Altuve and Keuchel Jake Lamb Jersey , who each suffered through multiple 100-loss campaigns in their first years with the team. The Astros lost a combined 324 games from 2011-2013.“You’ve got to take a second to think about how good it feels,” Keuchel said. “Being a part of two 100-loss seasons back-to-back when I first got called up and then now being part of part two consecutive 100-win seasons is pretty special.” SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Justin Turner and his teammates want to win their way back into the playoffs, no help necessary during the season’s final weekend.Turner hit a go-ahead, two-run homer in the fifth inning and the Los Angeles Dodgers moved to the brink of securing baseball’s final playoff berth by beating the San Francisco Giants 3-1 on Friday night.“We want to win our way into the postseason, we don’t want to rely on someone else losing to get us in,” Turner said.The Dodgers remained one game behind NL West-leading Colorado. They also extended their lead to two games over St. Louis for the second NL wild-card spot with two left to play.Los Angeles, which has won the last five division crowns, will go to lefty ace Clayton Kershaw on Saturday.Colorado locked up a second straight playoff berth by beating the Nationals at home earlier Friday and the Rockies are chasing the franchise’s first division title.“If we win, good things are obviously in store for us,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said, noting of the Rockies: “They’re winning baseball games. We’ve got to keep pace.”Hyun-Jin Ryu (7-3) allowed one run on four hits over six innings to win his third straight start. He gave up Nick Hundley’s leadoff homer in the second but the defense then backed its pitchers by turning a season-high five double plays — including one to end the game.“Their focus is incredible,” Ryu said of the defense, speaking through a translator. “I know the seven guys behind me will make plays.”Kenley Jansen, the fifth Dodgers reliever, finished for his 38th save.The Dodgers had to get by Madison Bumgarner (6-7) in the series opener, and Turner’s homer off the lefty ace broke a 1-all tie.Roberts went with a right-handed lineup against the 2014 World Series MVP that left 103 home runs on the bench to begin the night — no Max Muncy and his 33 clouts, nor Joc Pederson (24) , Cody Bellinger (24) or Yasiel Puig (22).MadBum asked to push back his scheduled Wednesday start against San Diego to pitch a game in the final weekend that mattered against the contending Dodgers. He gave up three runs on seven hits in six innings, struck out six and walked one.Turner followed Enrique Hernandez’s third single of the night with a drive into the seats in left-center. Manny Machado hit a tying RBI single in the third.“I’d like to have the one to (Turner) and Machado back if I could go back and take them back,” Bumgarner said.PACKINGWith the uncertainty of the playoff scenarios, the Dodgers aren’t sure where they will go after Sunday’s regular-season finale. Roberts packed for six days when he left Los Angeles this week, for the hot weather of Phoenix to the cool fall temperatures in San Francisco and Denver.“Everyone did it different,” Roberts said. “My suitcase was regular standard. Some guys might have gone a little bit lighter, some might have packed for two weeks.”WILLIE MAC AWARDGiants lefty reliever Will Smith won the Willie Mac Award, named for the Hall of Famer and is voted on by the players, coaches and training staff to recognize the team’s most inspirational player both on the field and in the clubhouse. Smith came back this season after missing a year following Tommy John surgery.TRAINER’S ROOMDodgers: RHP Ross Stripling, who has struggled since coming off his second stint on the disabled list with a lower back injury and lost his last three starts, could be available in relief Sunday. Roberts didn’t expect to use him the first two games of the series out of the bullpen.UP NEXTDodgers: Kershaw (9-5, 2.53 ERA) has yet to beat the Giants this season in three previous starts. He is 6-1 with a 2.34 ERA in 12 second-half starts.Giants: Rookie Dereck Rodriguez (6-4, 2.50) faces the Dodgers for the first time. He has pitched well but San Francisco has lost his last six outings and eight of 10.
01-30-2019 05:25 AM
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