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« on: December 06, 2018, 01:03:54 am »
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 ,” 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 Sean Manaea Jersey , 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, 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.” ATLANTA — The Atlanta Braves lost the first two games of their interleague series in Boston at the end of May and faced Red Sox ace Chris Sale in the final game Pat Neshek Jersey , making their chances of avoiding a sweep seem fairly bleak.Mike Foltynewicz, though, took a no-hitter into the sixth inning while outpitching Sale and now the right-hander takes the mound against the Red Sox on Wednesday, this time at SunTrust Park, again trying to help the Braves avoid a sweep.Boston (96-44) improved its interleague record to a major league-best 13-3 with a 5-1 victory Tuesday night and dropped the Braves (76-62) to 8-11 against the American League.Article continues below ...The Braves have won only one interleague series in Atlanta since 2014 and their lead in the National League East is down to three games with Philadelphia’s victory in Miami.Sale doesn’t return from a stint on the disabled list until next week and the AL East-leading Red Sox will call on right-hander Hector Velazquez for the series finale against the Braves.Velazquez (7-2, 3.24 ERA) has made six starts to go with his 33 relief appearances, but hasn’t gone as long as five innings since April. His last start came Aug. 24 at Tampa and he gave up eight runs (three earned) in 2 2/3 innings.Foltynewicz (10-9, 2.80 ERA) will be the starting pitcher expected to have the upper hand this time.Given an early lead thanks to a three-run homer by catcher Tyler Flowers, Foltynewicz dominated the Red Sox at Fenway Park three months ago, allowing three hits and a run over seven innings while striking out seven and walking one.“He was real efficient with his pitches and stayed on the attack,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said after that game. “I just loved how he stayed after it. He was throwing a lot of strikes. His stuff was really good.”Foltynewicz, who made the All-Star Game for the first time , allowed a total of five earned runs in his first five starts of August before giving up five runs (four earned) in a home loss to the Cubs to end the month.A questionable balk victimized Foltynewicz in the second inning and then he allowed a two-run pinch homer in the sixth.The balk was called when Foltnewicz made a slight flinch, apparently as he spit.“Who knows what you really do out there?” Foltynewicz said. “You’re just in the zone. You can do a bunch of different habits and stuff. I just basically hawked a loogie.”Velazquez made two relief appearances against the Braves in May, allowing five hits and one run over 2 2/3 innings while walking two and striking out two.Velazquez’s last appearance was against the Chicago White Sox on Sunday, when he gave up a run on two hits in an inning of relief.“We’ll see how long Hector goes,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. “It might be similar to (Monday).”Nathan Eovaldi was pulled after 3 1/3 innings in the series opener and the Red Sox totaled eight pitchers in the 8-2 victory.The Boston rotation will be back more to normal when David Price, hit by a comebacker last week, starts against Houston at Fenway Park on Friday and Sale (shoulder strain) comes off the disabled list in the likely role of an “opener” for now next week.Sale, who threw a bullpen Tuesday, is expected to pitch either in the Toronto series or against the New York Mets, although with a limited pitch count.“He’ll probably throw another (bullpen) in three more days and then we go from there,” Cora said. “Not sure if he’ll be the ‘opener’ but looks like next homestand.”Sale is 12-4 with a 1.97 ERA and Price is 14-6 with a 3.60 ERA.