LEADING OFF: Rays, Indians try to clinch; Cole, Gray on hill

National Sports

Tampa Bay Rays’ Peter Fairbanks delivers a pitch during the first inning of a baseball game against the New York Mets Monday, Sept. 21, 2020, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

A look at what’s happening around the majors today:

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ONE AND DONE

Tampa Bay can clinch its first AL East crown since 2010 with a win at the New York Mets or a Yankees loss to Toronto. Blake Snell (4-1, 3.05 ERA), the 2018 AL Cy Young Award winner, gets the ball as the Rays look to become the second team to lock up a division title during this pandemic-altered season, after Oakland won the AL West on Monday night.

Meanwhile, the Cleveland Indians need only a victory over the first-place Chicago White Sox or a Seattle loss to Houston to secure a spot in the expanded playoff field — which would mark their fourth postseason appearance in five years. Eight teams from each league make it this year.

HE’S BACK

Cincinnati right-hander Sonny Gray is expected to come off the injured list and start the second game of the Reds’ critical series against Milwaukee. Gray (5-3, 3.94 ERA) hasn’t appeared in a game since Sept. 10 because of a strained back. He returns to a team that has won eight of nine to climb into playoff contention. Brewers left-hander Brett Anderson (3-3, 4.38 ERA) makes his second start since he was scratched because of hip tightness.

LAST TUNEUP

Gerrit Cole (6-3, 3.00 ERA) makes his final regular-season start in his first season with the New York Yankees, taking the mound against Toronto’s Tanner Roark (2-2, 6.41 ERA) in Buffalo, New York.

BEATING UP ON THE CHAMPS

Aaron Nola (5-3, 2.92 ERA) starts for Philadelphia in a doubleheader opener against Washington, which goes with Austin Voth (0-5, 7.17 ERA). Nola is 2-0 with a 1.20 ERA against the World Series champions this season. Voth has not won since last Sept. 27 against Cleveland.

QUINTANA GETS A START

José Quintana is back in time to help the Chicago Cubs’ playoff push, scheduled to pitch against Pittsburgh in his first big league start since last Sept. 26. Quintana has been limited to a pair of relief appearances due to issues with his left thumb and a lat problem.

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More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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