MLB Sunday scores, highlights, updates, news: Nationals clinch NL East title

As usual Sunday brings us a packed slate of day baseball plus one night game as a topper. Let's dig in ... 

Final scores

Blue Jays 8, Tigers 2 (box score)
Reds 10, Mets 5 (box score)
Rays 4, Red Sox 1 (box score)
Braves 10, Marlins 8 in 11 innings (box score)
Nationals 3, Phillies 2 (box score)
White Sox 8, Giants 1 (box score)
Cardinals 7, Pirates 0 (box score)
Royals 11, Twins 3 (box score)
Brewers 3, Cubs 1 (box score)
Yankees 16, Rangers 7 (box score)
Athletics 10, Astros 2 (box score)
Diamondbacks 3, Padres 2 (box score)
Angels 5, Mariners 3 (box score)
Rockies 8, Dodgers 1 (box score)
Indians 3, Orioles 2 (box score)

Nationals lock up NL East title for 2017

The Nationals defeated the Phillies at home on Sunday behind Stephen Strasburg. That in tandem with the Marlins' loss to the Braves in extras means that the Nationals are National League East champions for 2017. It was a Lane Adams walk-off bomb in Atlanta that sealed the flag for D.C. ... 

That makes the Nats the first team to clinch a playoff spot this season. Overall, they've wrapped up their fourth division title in the last six seasons. 

For the Nats, though, the goal is a deep playoff run. They've never made it beyond the NLDS, but with this year's model on track for a franchise record 100 wins, expectations are high. Getting Bryce Harper back in top form is certainly a priority (he's been out since Aug. 13 with a bone bruise in his knee), but otherwise this team looks like a genuine threat to win the trophy. Thanks to the Dodgers' recent slide, top seed in the NL is even in play down the stretch.

As for their manager, Dusty Baker, this is his seventh division title, spread across four different clubs. Given his very repeatable success in the dugout and his shot at 2,000 career wins, a World Series title may be all he needs to secure a spot in the Hall of Fame someday. 

For now, though, Baker and the Nats must content themselves with being back-to-back NL East champs ... 

Strasburg extends shutout streak

Speaking of that Nationals' win on Sunday a dominant Stephen Strasburg had much to do with it ... 

Stephen Strasburg SP / Nationals (vs. PHI, 9/10)
IP: 8 H: 2 R: 0 SO: 10 BB: 1

Would you like to see those 10 strikeouts in a tidy 10 seconds? Of course you would ... 

Anyhow, with that effort Strasburg extended his scoreless innings streak to a franchise-record 34 frames. Click here to read more on Strasburg's streak.

Indians win 18th straight

The Indians kept on rolling on Sunday night, beating the Orioles 3-2 behind strong performances from Francisco Lindor, Trevor Bauer, and the bullpen. You can read more about the Indians' win here.

Dodgers drop 10th straight

In case you were wondering, the Dodgers lost their 10th consecutive game on Sunday, dropping a boat race to the Rockies. It's the first time the Dodgers have lost 10 in a row since 1992. You can read more about their loss here.

NL Central race tightens again

The Cubs just can't seem to lock down the NL Central.

With the Cardinals enjoying a three-game winning streak, and the Cubs getting swept by the Brewers in their three-game set, the NL Central is now a three-team race. The Cubs lead both the Brewers and Cardinals by two games, and each team has 19 remaining in the season.

It's worth noting that the Cardinals have seven games remaining with the Cubs this season, as well as three with the Brewers. The Brewers, meanwhile, will play the Cubs four more times. In all, the Cubs will play Milwaukee or St Louis in 11 of their 19 games. The division, then, is likely to come down to those head-to-head matchups.

That could be good news for the Cubs, who could pull away if they take care of their business. Though, as we've seen all season long, doing so has proven more difficult than expected for the defending world champions.

Judge makes rookie history

Here's what Yankees cloutsman Aaron Judge did on Sunday:

That's Judge's 40th home run of this, his rookie campaign, and that puts him in very elite rookie company. Click here to read more on Judge's history-making homer. 

Abreu's gamble on himself is paying off

On Saturday, White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu of course hit for the cycle. On Sunday, he followed that up by hitting his 30th homer of the season ... 

In four big-league seasons, the 30-year-old slugger has now tallied 30 or more homers three times. In 2017, he's batting .301/.353/.551. That's big because Abreu was showing signs of decline prior to this season. In his astounding rookie campaign of he put up an MLB-leading 173 OPS+. That figure dropped to 135 in 2015 and then to 125 in 2016. This season, however, he was up to 137 coming into Sunday's action. Nudge that up a bit more after the clout you saw above. These also look like genuine improvements. This season, he's increased his fly-ball rate while also increasing his percentage of hard-hit balls. In related matters, Abreu's doing a much better job in 2017 of laying off pitches outside the strike zone. That all makes his improved production -- and stemmed decline -- understandable. 

This is big for Abreu beyond the usual reasons. This past offseason, Abreu opted out of the three years and $34 million left on his contract and instead opted to go year-to-year in arbitration until he's eligible for free agency after the 2019 season. Coming into this year, he settled with the White Sox on a salary of almost $11 million, and given his 2017 bestowals he's going make a lot more than that in 2018. In other words, Abreu was almost certainly wise to bet on himself and forego that guaranteed $34 million. 

As for the Sox? This winter, do they leverage Abreu's renaissance and attempt to trade him for even more long-term assets? Or do they see their window for contention opening while Abreu is still under their control? Abreu's resurgence has created some interesting hypotheticals on the South Side. 

UPDATE: He did it again ... 

Quick hits

  • The Cubs have activated C Willson Contreras from the DL. He's been out since Aug. 10 with a right hamstring injury.
  • Mets SP Noah Syndergaard, who's working his way back from a lat injury, has been scratched from a scheduled simulated outing because of general soreness. 
CBS Sports Writer

Dayn Perry has been a baseball writer for CBS Sports since early 2012. Prior to that, he wrote for FOXSports.com and ESPN.com. He's the author of three books, the most recent being Reggie Jackson: The... Full Bio

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