The penultimate weekend of the regular season of course brought a ton of MLB action. The Boston Red Sox faced the Cleveland Indians in a potential playoff preview as several other teams close in on their postseason celebrations. Here is everything you need to know from Friday’s games right here.

Friday’s scores

Astros clinch postseason spot

What had been a formality for months is now official: The defending World Series champion Astros are returning to the postseason. The Astros blew out the Angels on Friday night to clinch a spot. They will be, at worst, the second AL wild-card team.

Houston’s offensive attack was led by first baseman Yuli Gurriel, who swatted two home runs and drove in seven runs on the night. That includes a first-inning grand slam that gave the ‘Stros a nice comfortable early lead.

Prized offseason pickup Gerrit Cole allowed three runs in seven innings and struck out 12. It was his eighth double-digit strikeout game of the season but only his third in his last 24 starts.

Anyway, the ultimate goal for the Astros is of course winning another World Series. Clinching a postseason spot was step one in the process. The next step? Winning the AL West. They are four games up on the Athletics, who are playing later Friday, in the loss column with nine games to play. Houston’s magic number for the division title is six.

Braves on cusp of division title

Thanks to a seventh-inning comeback Friday night, the Braves are on the verge of winning their first division title since 2013. Ozzie Albies hit a two-run home run and Johan Camargo had a two-run single as part of the team’s five-run uprising, which turned a 4-1 deficit into a 6-4 lead.

Friday’s win means Atlanta’s magic number to clinch is the NL East title is down to two, and, because they’re playing the second-place Phillies this weekend, a win Saturday or Sunday will do the trick. These two teams have five head-to-head games remaining this season. The Braves only need to win one of the five to clinch the division.

Red Sox tie franchise wins record

With eight games still to play, the Red Sox have tied the franchise record for wins. Friday night the BoSox earned their 105th victory of the season with a come-from-behind win over the Indians. Sam Travis doubled in two runs as part of the team’s four-run seventh inning. He also hit his first MLB home run earlier in the game.

The Red Sox are now an MLB best 105-49 on the season. Here are the five winningest seasons in franchise history:

  1. 1912: 105-47 (Won World Series)
  2. 2018: 105-49 and counting
  3. 1946: 104-50 (Lost World Series)
  4. 1915: 101-50 (Won World Series)
  5. 1978: 99-64 (Missed postseason)

Just how good are the Red Sox this season? They can clinch the best record in baseball (and thus home-field advantage throughout the postseason) as soon as Saturday. A win or an Astros loss will do the trick.

Cardinals, Rockies keep pace with late-inning heroics

Tense night in the NL wild-card race. First, the Cardinals watched ace reliever Jordan Hicks cough up a two-run lead in the seventh inning against the Giants. Then, in the next inning, Matt Adams came through with the clutch go-ahead, two-run, pinch-hit double.

Opening Day-starter-turned-closer Carlos Martinez needed 14 pitches to mow through the ninth inning and record his fourth save. St. Louis has won four of their last five games after losing four straight.

Meanwhile, out in Arizona, the Rockies used a four-run eighth inning against the perpetually shaky D-Backs bullpen to snap their three-game losing streak. German Marquez fanned 11 batters in seven innings and now has 210 strikeouts on the season. For real. German Marquez has 210 strikeouts.

Because the Brewers won on Friday night as well, the top of the NL wild-card standings remain unchanged. There’s just one fewer day on the schedule remaining. Here are the updated NL wild-card standings:

  1. Brewers: 88-66 (+3 GB)
  2. Cardinals: 85-69
  3. Rockies: 83-70 (1 1/2 GB)

The Brewers (1 1/2 GB) are still chasing the Cubs in the NL Central and the Rockies (2 GB) are still chasing the Dodgers in the NL West. Both teams look at the wild card as a fallback plan.

As for the D-Backs, wow have they collapsed. Friday night’s loss was their 19th loss in their last 27 games. They’re now six games back of the second wild-card spot with eight games to play.

Bauer returns to Indians

For the first time since Aug. 11, Trevor Bauer toed the slab for the Indians on Friday night. He’d been sidelined with a leg fracture suffered when he was hit by a comebacker. Bauer was on a strict pitch count — he threw 34 pitches — in his return from the disabled list.

Bauer threw 17 strikes among his 34 pitches and generated a healthy seven swings-and-misses. His fastball averaged 93.4 mph and topped out at 95.5 mph Friday night, which is down quite a bit from his 95.3 mph average fastball velocity prior to the injury. That said, it’s not surprising Bauer’s missing some velocity after such a long layoff. He’s still building arm strength.

The Indians are planning to have Bauer make two more starts before the end of the regular season in an effort to build arm strength and increase his pitch count. The team has indicated they may use Bauer as a reliever in the postseason if he’s not in position to start.

Mets’ deGrom evens record at 9-9

Folks, NL Cy Young favorite Jacob deGrom actually has a chance to finish the season with a winning record. The Mets ace fired seven excellent innings against the Nationals on Friday to even his season record at 9-9.

Unless the Mets do something crazy like start him on short rest or use him out of the bullpen, deGrom has one start remaining this year and thus one chance to finish with a winning record. Pretty crazy for a dude with a 1.77 ERA. Somehow the Mets are 13-18 in his 31 starts. Unfathomable.

As long as deGrom does something better than allow six earned runs without recording an out in his final start, he’ll become the sixth pitcher this century to throw 200-plus innings with a sub-2.00 ERA. The list:

  • Zack Greinke, 2015 Dodgers: 1.66 ERA in 222 2/3 innings
  • Jake Arrieta, 2015 Cubs: 1.74 ERA in 229 innings
  • Clayton Kershaw, 2013 Dodgers: 1.83 ERA in 236 innings
  • Roger Clemens, 2005 Astros: 1.87 ERA in 211 1/3 innings
  • Pedro Martinez, 2000 Red Sox: 1.74 ERA in 217 innings

Arrieta, Kershaw, and Martinez all won the Cy Young in their sub-2.00 ERA seasons. Greinke finished second to Arrieta and Clemens finished third behind Chris Carpenter and Dontrelle Willis.

Gurriel brothers combine for four home runs

The Gurriel brothers each hit a pair of home runs Friday night. Astros first baseman Yuli Gurriel swatted two homers against the Angels, including a grand slam as part of his 7-RBI night.

Meanwhile, Yuli’s younger brother — and Blue Jays shortstop — Lourdes Gurriel Jr. hit a pair of solo home runs against the Rays. That’s after hitting a game-tying two-run homer as part of Toronto’s crazy seven-run, ninth-inning comeback Thursday night.

Friday was not a bad night to be a Gurriel brother. They are the first set of siblings in baseball history with a multi-homer game on the same night.

Donaldson ends Sale’s homer-less streak

No player has more career home runs against Chris Sale than Josh Donaldson. Friday night, Donaldson took Sale deep for the fifth time in his career. It was his second home run since being traded to the Indians.

Only three other players have hit at least four career home runs against Sale: Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez, and … Ryan Raburn? Ryan Raburn.

Donaldson’s home run Friday also snapped Sale’s incredible streak of 75 consecutive innings without allowing a home run. It also snapped his 35-inning scoreless streak. Because of disabled-list time, the scoreless streak dated to July 6. The homer-less streak dated to June 1. That is mighty impressive.

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