MLB scores: Cardinals complete sweep of Cubs to secure playoff spot; George Springer's three homers help Astros clinch

It's the penultimate Sunday of the regular season, and that means there's a full slate of baseball goodness on tap.

Some of the storylines worth watching on Sunday include how the Rays and Indians perform (as it pertains to the wild card race) and whether the Cubs can get back on track and save what remains of their playoff hopes.

Keep it here all day and night for the latest news, notes, and scores from across the land. 

Select games can be streamed regionally via fuboTV (Try for free). For more on what channel each game is on, click here.

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Baseball schedule/scores for Sunday, September 22


Springer hits three homers, Verlander wins 20th as Astros clinch

This has been the season of the home run, thanks in large part to the altered baseball. On Sunday, George Springer authored the 22nd three-homer game of the year, tying the record for the most in a single season -- and he did it within the first four innings, becoming the first Astros player who can claim such a feat. Springer went deep in each of his first three at-bats.

Springer wasn't able to hit a fourth home run in this one, but his Astros with the win did indeed clinch the AL West title for a third straight year: 

That's the just the second time in franchise history that the Astros have won three consecutive division titles. They also did it from 1997-99 as members of the NL Central. 

Also in this game, ace and AL Cy Young frontrunner Justin Verlander wasn't quite his vintage self, as he allowed two runs on six hits in five innings of work. However, Verlander did register win No. 20 for the season: 

Verlander in his age-36 campaign now boasts an ERA of 2.53 with 288 strikeouts in 217 innings. This is the second 20-win season of his career. In 2011 as a member of the Tigers, he won 24 games en route to the AL Cy Young and AL MVP awards.

Cardinals complete sweep of Cubs, clinch postseason berth

The Cardinals moved closer to an NL Central title on Sunday with a win over the Cubs -- their fourth-straight one-run win in Wrigley to complete the sweep. This time the hero on offense was Paul Goldschmidt, who hit a tie-breaking double in the ninth: 

That lead held up, as Andrew Miller picked up his sixth save. That also made for the Cardinals' first four-game sweep at Wrigley since 1921. St. Louis' 89th win of the season also means they've now clinched a spot in the playoffs for the first time since 2015. Their magic number to clinch the NL Central is now down the four. They lead the Brewers by three games with six to play.

Brewers continue tear

If the Brewers were supposed to roll over after Christian Yelich went down for the season, then someone forgot to tell them as much. 

On Sunday, the Brewers defeated the Pirates by a 4-3 margin, making them 15-2 over their last 17 games and extending their winning streak to four in a row. Combined with the Cubs' loss, the Brewers are now four games up for a wild card spot.

What's more is that the Nationals also lost on Sunday, pulling Milwaukee into a wild card tie. If the two sides end the year tied, then the Brewers -- who won the season series -- would host the National League Wild Card Game.

Of course, there's a week left in the season, so we'll see how it plays out. But everything seems to be going Milwaukee's way lately. 

Rays drop game to Red Sox

The Rays entered Sunday a game up on Cleveland in the hunt for the second AL wild card spot. Cleveland won't play until Sunday night, but the Rays have -- at least for a day -- left the door open for them to pull back to even. That's because the Rays lost against the Red Sox.

Boston jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first against starter Ryan Yarbrough, who gave up six runs in all. The Rays, meanwhile, were unable to recover versus Nathan Eovaldi. Eovaldi threw six innings and permitted three runs while striking out six and walking just two. Christian Vazquez drove in three runs and J.D. Martinez was responsible for another two.

The Rays will finish their series against the Red Sox on Monday. Cleveland is scheduled to be off, so it's possible the Rays will determine whether they enter Tuesday in the lead or trailing by half a game.

Cruz hits home run No. 400, 40

Nelson Cruz had himself a memorable Sunday afternoon, as he hit his 40th home run of the season. The dinger also served as the 400th of his career, putting him in select company. Cruz also became the fourth player to ever do something special -- click here to find out what precisely we're talking about.

Stat of the day: Darvish joins special group

Although you wouldn't know if you tuned in late, Yu Darvish had himself another dominant start on Sunday. He struck out 12 batters and permitted just three runs and seven hits in 8 1/3 innings (with two of those runs coming in the ninth). It was his third consecutive start with 12-plus strikeouts, placing him in an elite group:

Prior to Sunday's game, Darvish had a 2.92 ERA in eight starts since Aug. 1. That includes 76 strikeouts in 49 innings.

Highlight of the day: McKay goes deep

Most scouts prefer Brendan McKay, the Rays' two-way player, as a pitcher. On Sunday, however, he hit his first career big-league home run and it was a pretty one:

McKay on the year has an 84 ERA+ in 46 innings, and a -2 OPS in nine plate appearances.


Quick hits

CBS Sports Staff

R.J. Anderson joined CBS Sports in 2016. He previously wrote for Baseball Prospectus, where he contributed to five of the New York Times bestselling annuals. His work has also appeared in Newsweek and... Full Bio

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