The countdown to the end of the regular season is here, so let's dig into Thursday's MLB slate ... 

Final scores

Indians 5, Twins 2 (box score)
Brewers 4, Reds 3 (box score)
Nationals 5, Pirates 4 (box score)
Rays 9, Yankees 6 (box score)
Astros 12, Red Sox 2 (box score)
Marlins 7, Braves 1(box score)
Cubs 2, Cardinals 1 in 11 (box score)
Athletics 4, Rangers 1 (box score)
White Sox 5, Angels 4 (box score)
Tigers 4, Royals 1 (box score)

Stanton hits home runs no. 58, 59

Giancarlo Stanton did not homer during his three-game set in Colorado against the Rockies, making his journey to 60 home runs a little more difficult.

Stanton doesn't seem to view it that way. On Thursday night, he homered twice against the Braves, putting himself in position to make a run at Roger Maris' 61.

Stanton hit his 58th home run against Braves starter Julio Teheran. Later, he added a two-run shot against reliever Rex Brothers. Stanton also had a single on the night, giving him three hits and three runs batted in.

Three is the key number in another sense, too. With three games left, Stanton's chances at hitting 60 are still alive. 

Yankees blow chance to gain ground

The Yankees entered the night three games back of the Red Sox in the AL East with four to play. In other words, New York still had a chance -- a slim one, but an extant one -- at tying Boston, or even taking the division for themselves.

Alas, the Yankees missed an opportunity to draw closer.

The Astros did their part, thumping the Red Sox. Yet the Yankees failed to top the Rays, losing by a 9-6 score, meaning they'll enter their three-game set against the Blue Jays needing to sweep the series and have the Red Sox get swept by the Astros if there's to be a tiebreaker. That seems unlikely.

Of course, it seemed unlikely that Sonny Gray would have such a poor outing. Gray lasted 4 2/3 innings, allowing six hits, six runs, and five walks while fanning just two. It was the second time in Gray's Yankees career he failed to get 15 outs, albeit the second time in his last three tries.

Cubs eliminate Cards

The Cardinals didn't face good odds, but their playoff hopes were dashed in heart-breaking fashion -- on a home-run-robbing grab by Leonys Martin.

Santana looks strong in wild-card tuneup 

The Twins fell to the Indians on Thursday in Cleveland, but that was no fault of Minny starter Ervin Santana ...

Ervin Santana
KC • SP • 54
vs. CLE, 9/28
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That's a nice final touch on the regular season for Santana, and a good lead-in to his next start ...  

Very likely, he'll be going up against the Yankees and Luis Severino. Santana's indeed a worthy choice to start the Twins' most important game since 2010. After Thursday's brief effort, Santana's now got an ERA of 3.28 in 211 1/3 innings. 

In three seasons with the Twins, Santana's now put up 10 WAR and an ERA+ of 122 across 80 starts. In other words, he's already been worth the $55 million for which he signed, and his deal still includes another season plus a $14 million option/$1 million buyout for 2019. Now, though, the focus is on the short-term and pitching the Twins into the ALDS. 

As for this particular game ... 

Indians win 100th

Their home win over the Twins on Thursday marked the Indians' 100th win of the season. That's just the third time in franchise history that they've achieved that hallowed mark. The 1995 squadron won 100 in just 144 games (strike-shortened) before falling to the Braves in the World Series, and the 1954 team won 111 before being upset by Willie Mays and the Giants in the World Series. This year's model is obviously hoping for a different fate. 

On Thursday, the story was a dominant Carlos Carrasco ... 

Carlos Carrasco
NYM • SP • 59
vs. MIN, 9/28
IP8 1/3
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Those 14 strikeouts are a career-high, and Carrasco's now at exactly 200 innings for the season. Here's a representative sampling of his day ... 

To be fair, though, Carrasco was facing a lineup that can best be described as "suggestive of many celebratory hangovers" ... 

In any context, though, Carrasco when healthy has some of the best stuff of any starting pitcher. You'll recall that last postseason, the Indians didn't have Carrasco at their disposal because of a fractured pitching hand. This time around, he's in peak form heading into the playoffs. 

Quick hits