MLB scores: Yankees clinch AL East title; Braves' Ronald Acuna Jr. makes history with 40th homer

Thursday brought us an abbreviated schedule, but it was not lacking in games with postseason implications. There were important game with postseason implications played in Atlanta, the Bronx, Milwaukee and Chicago today. Here's everything you need to know about Thursday's MLB action.

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Baseball scores for Thursday, September 19

Yankees clinch AL East title

For the first time since 2012, the Yankees are AL East champs. The Yankees clinched the division title with Thursday night's win over the Angels. The on-field celebration was pretty subdued:

Thursday's win was the 100th of the season for the Yankees. Aaron Boone is the first manager in baseball history to win 100 games in each of his first two big league seasons, and he joins Hall of Famers Miller Huggins, Joe McCarthy, and Joe Torre as the only Yankees skippers to win 100 games in back-to-back seasons.

Even with the AL East title clinched, the Yankees still have work to do, and that's why the on-field celebration was low-key. They are battling the Astros and Dodgers for the best record in baseball and thus home field advantage throughout the postseason.

Carpenter rescues Cardinals after blown save

Jack Flaherty's Cy Young push continued with another masterful performance Thursday night. The 23-year-old Cardinals ace fired eight innings of one-run ball in the series opener at Wrigley Field, lowering his second half ERA to 1.05.

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Jack Flaherty STL • SP • 22
Sept. 19 vs. Cubs

Unfortunately for Flaherty, he was not rewarded with a win despite that effort. Closer Carlos Martinez allowed three runs in the ninth inning to blow the save. Martinez faced five batters and retired one. The tying run scored on an Jason Heyward grounder.

It did not take the Cardinals long to pick up Martinez. Matt Carpenter, who's had a rough season overall, socked a go-ahead solo home run in the tenth inning to give St. Louis the lead. It was his 13th homer of the year.

With the win, the Cardinals are now three games up on the Brewers and four games up on the Cubs in the NL Central. Chicago is one game behind Milwaukee for the second wild-card spot.

Rizzo homers in surprising return to lineup

On Wednesday, Anthony Rizzo was wearing a boot on his right foot and using a scooter to get around. On Thursday, he went deep in a crucial game against the NL Central leading Cardinals. Rizzo surprisingly returned to the lineup Thursday just four days after suffering a high ankle sprain charging a grounder, and of course he went deep.

Here is Rizzo's Willis Reed-ian dinger:

Rizzo received a cortisone shot Monday and is playing with the ankle heavily taped. It boils down to pain tolerance. Rizzo is not 100 percent but he is playing anyway because these games are so important, and, of course, he delivered the homer.

Acuna youngest with 40/30 season

Ronald Acuna Jr. made history in the Braves win over the Phillies on Thursday. The Braves wunderkind crushed his 40th home run on the season, a two-run shot off right-hander Aaron Nola to break a scoreless tie in the third inning.

With the homer, Acuna became just the third player in MLB history to hit 40 homers in an age-21 (or younger) season. Acuna, who will turn 22 in December, joins Hall of Famers Eddie Mathews (21 years old, 1953) and Mel Ott (20 years old, 1940) as the only three to ever accomplish the feat.

Acuna also moved closer to another milestone. He's three stolen bases shy of a 40/40 season, which hasn't been accomplished in more than a decade. Only four MLB players have ever reached the feat: Jose Canseco (1988), Barry Bonds (1996), Alex Rodriguez (1998) and Alfonso Soriano (2006).

The Braves can officially clinch their second straight division title as soon as Friday with either a victory over the Giants or a Nationals' loss to Miami.

Brewers keep winning despite injuries

No team in baseball has more wins in September than the Brewers. Milwaukee won for the 14th time in 18 games this month on Thursday afternoon, beating the Padres behind a short but effective outing from trade deadline pickup Jordan Lyles. He struck out nine in 4 2/3 innings.

Lorenzo Cain went deep and rookie Trent Grisham hit a two-run "Little League home run" that was scored a double with an error on catcher Austin Hedges.

The Brewers have been without reigning NL MVP Christian Yelich since Sept. 10 and were without rookie second baseman Keston Hiura from Aug. 30 to Sept. 14. Despite that, the Brewers keep winning and they are right in the thick of the postseason race.

Thursday's win moved Milwaukee a game ahead of the Cubs for the second wild-card spot.

Highlight of the Day: Hays robs Vlad Jr.

When we look back at Vladimir Guerrero Jr.'s rookie season, he'll have one fewer home run that he should have. Orioles rookie Austin Hays went up to rob Vlad Jr. of a home run at Camden Yards on Thursday. Look at this catch:

Goodness. That's full speed and full extension with the catch at the top of the leap. Hays timed it perfectly. It doesn't get much better than that.

Stat of the Day: Indians win 18th vs. Tigers

Is it more surprising that the Indians beat the Tigers 18 times this season, or that they lost once? Cleveland beat the Tigers again Thursday night, becoming the first team since 1962 to beat another team 17 straight times in a single season.

Thursday's win moved the Indians into a tie with the idle Rays for the second wild-card spot. They both have nine games remaining this year. The Indians will play the Phillies, White Sox, and Nationals. The Rays get the Red Sox, Yankees, Blue Jays. Advantage Indians? I think so, but we'll see how it goes. It'll be a nine-game mad dash to the finish for the second wild-card spot.

Quick hits

Katherine Acquavella joined CBS Sports in 2018. Her work has appeared in Yankees Magazine and the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum's Memories and Dreams magazine. She is a graduate of St. John's... Full Bio

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