RAFU STAFF AND WIRE SERVICE REPORTS
The Los Angeles Dodgers, it turns out, aren’t definitely in the playoffs quite yet.
Despite a postgame clinching toast by manager Dave Roberts in the clubhouse Sunday, the celebration was a bit premature. The math didn’t add up; the Dodgers were still short.
Mookie Betts, Freddie Freeman and the Dodgers were set to become the first team in the majors to officially seal a postseason spot with a win Monday night at Arizona.
The Dodgers own the best record in baseball at 96-43. They held a 20-game lead over San Diego in the NL West and had a magic number of two for clinching their ninth division title in 10 years.
Los Angeles has reached the postseason in 10 straight seasons.
The Dodgers thought their 11-2 win at San Diego on Sunday put them in the playoffs. Roberts led a toast with sparkling wine and the players and staff were given caps with the postseason logo.
Instead, with a new playoff system in place this season, there remained a multi-team tiebreaker scenario that mathematically would exclude them — they would have to go 0 23 and Milwaukee would need to finish 21-0 to put that possibility in play.
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In Houston Sunday, Shohei Ohtani homered for the 34th time this year, going 2-for-4 with two RBIs in the Los Angeles Angels’ 12-4 defeat to the Houston Astros.
The two-way star launched a 1-2 breaking ball from Luis Garcia (12-8) over Minute Maid Park’s right-center wall in the first inning for two runs, reaching 500 RBIs as a pro including 166 for the Nippon Ham Fighters in Japan.
Ohtani, who also doubled in the third, is now tied with Mike Trout for most home runs for the Angels this year.
The right-hander left the mound after five innings Saturday with a blister on his middle finger as he earned his 12th win, but he is on course to pitch again Saturday.
Alex Bregman hit a grand slam in the bottom of the third off Tucker Davidson (2-6) as Houston turned the game around at 5-3. The Astros went on to have five homers in the rout.
Lars Nootbaar had a hit and walked twice as the St. Louis Cardinals scored four runs in the ninth and took a 4-1 victory at Pittsburgh.
Kyle Higashioka collected a hit and scored on Giancarlo Stanton’s home run, as the New York Yankees took care of the visiting Tampa Bay Rays, 10-4.
Seiya Suzuki hit the 13th homer of his rookie year as the Chicago Cubs lost 4-2 to the San Francisco Giants.
The Giants stretched their lead to 4-1 in the eighth before Suzuki, who went 1-for-4, belted a solo shot off Scott Alexander with one out in the home half at Wrigley Field.
“I was swinging well in my previous trip to the plate so tried to keep it going,” Suzuki said of his home run. “I’ve been having good preparations (before each game) in the second half of the season … I hope to stay injury-free through the end.”
Suzuki has played in every game since Aug. 19 and has less than a month to go until the end of the regular season.
Yusei Kikuchi allowed two runs on four hits, including a home run, in two innings of relief as the Toronto Blue Jays lost 4-1 against the Texas Rangers.
Kohei Arihara, meanwhile, was removed from the Rangers’ 40-man roster Sunday as the right-hander nears the end of his two-year contract.
Arihara, called up for the first time this year on Aug. 16, was 1-3 with a 9.45 ERA in five games. He allowed 11 runs in three-plus innings in the team’s 11-7 loss to the Blue Jays on Saturday.
The Boston Red Sox made Hirokazu Sawamura a free agent. The right-hander was 1-1 with a 3.73 ERA in 49 outings in his second year in the big leagues.
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On Saturday, Ohtani set a pair of personal MLB pitching milestones as he extended his career-high win total to 12 in the Angels’ 6-1 win over the Astros.
Ohtani (12-8) was lifted with a blister on the middle finger of his pitching hand after five effective innings in which he allowed one run and six hits in a 79-pitch outing at Minute Maid Park.
In the third inning, he struck out Astros hitter Kyle Tucker with a fastball clocked at 101.4 miles (163.2 kilometers) per hour, the fastest pitch Ohtani has thrown in MLB. He formerly held a Japanese pro baseball speed record of 165 kph.
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Yu Darvish threw the 3,000th strikeout of his career in Japanese pro ball and MLB on Sept. 3, as he pitched the San Diego Padres to a 7-1 win over the Dodgers.
The 36-year-old ace is just the second player after Hideo Nomo to reach the milestone while striking out 1,000 both in Japan and the U.S. Darvish spent seven years with the Nippon Ham Fighters of Japan’s Pacific League before moving to MLB in 2012.
“The Dodgers are the strongest team. This is an amazing confidence boost and a big win,” said Darvish, who credited his 3,000 strikeouts to his development with Nippon Ham. “It’s thanks to the Fighters nurturing me with great love. I really appreciate it.”
Japanese Baseball Hall of Famer Nomo struck out 3,122 batters in his career with the PL’s Kintetsu Buffaloes and seven MLB clubs, including the Dodgers. The Japanese pro baseball record for career strikeouts is Masaichi Kaneda’s 4,490.