Sox-tober! Papi HR jolts Jays, starts party

Sox-tober! Papi HR jolts Jays, starts party

BOSTON -- David Ortiz began his final regular-season weekend with a go-ahead two-run homer that damaged Toronto's postseason hopes while leading the Red Sox to a 5-3 victory Friday at Fenway Park that improved their chances at home field in the American League Division Series.

The loss slipped the Blue Jays into the second AL Wild Card spot one game behind the Orioles, who beat the Yankees. Toronto is just a half-game ahead of the Tigers, who defeated the Braves, and one game ahead of the Mariners, who beat the A's. The Red Sox maintained their half-game lead over the Indians for the No. 2 seed and own the tiebreaker because Boston won the season series. The Red Sox-Indians matchup in the Division Series is set now that Texas clinched the No. 1 seed in the AL.

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Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.

Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Anthony Castrovince

Postseason seeds and tiebreakers explained

The six division winners have been decided. However, the two Wild Card races are up in the air, and there is a good chance we end up seeing at least one tiebreaker game on Monday. Also, home-field advantage is still in play in several races.

Any regular-season games previously canceled by weather will be played if the outcome would impact postseason berths or home-field advantage. Thursday's Indians-Tigers game, which was called due to rain, will be played Monday at 1 ET if the game impacts Detroit's chances to make the Wild Card, and/or Cleveland's race with the Red Sox for home field in the ALDS.

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Anthony Castrovince has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2004. Read his columns and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Bumgarner, Giants maintain Wild Card lead

Bumgarner, Giants maintain Wild Card lead

SAN FRANCISCO -- The emotionally charged atmosphere at AT&T Park on Friday night resembled that of a postseason game, which it essentially was for the San Francisco Giants.

Forced into must-win mode by victories for the Mets and Cardinals, the teams surrounding San Francisco in the National League Wild Card race, the Giants stunned the Los Angeles Dodgers with seven runs in the sixth inning, including three on Brandon Belt's home run, and proceeded to a 9-3 triumph.

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Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2001.

Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Bruce plates 3 as Mets clinch NL WC tie

Bruce plates 3 as Mets clinch NL WC tie

PHILADELPHIA -- Twice in two years, the Mets arrived at the midpoint of their season a broken team, seemingly unfit for October. Twice in two years, the Mets went on to salvage their lost summer, combining new parts with old ones to stage a late-year renaissance.

Their 5-1 win over the Phillies on Friday moved them within one win or one Cardinals loss of clinching their second consecutive postseason berth, while ensuring that they will at least qualify for a tiebreaker after the regular season. More likely, the Mets will host the National League Wild Card Game, needing only a win, or the combination of a Cardinals loss and a Giants loss, for that to occur. The Cardinals and Giants both won Friday night.

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Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.

Evan Webeck is a reporter for MLB.com based in Philadelphia.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Today's starting lineups: Oct. 1

Below are today's starting lineups that have been made public by Major League Baseball's clubs.

A lineup is not official until it is handed to the umpire.

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O's hit 3 blasts vs. Bombers, cut magic number to 2

O's hit 3 blasts vs. Bombers, cut magic number to 2

NEW YORK -- The Orioles are doing everything in their power to secure a postseason spot.

Led by Jonathan Schoop, who homered and matched a career high with five RBIs, the Orioles bashed their way to an 8-1 win over the Yankees on Friday night, whittling their magic number to two in the process and taking a one-game lead over Toronto for the top American League Wild Card spot after the Blue Jays lost. Baltimore remained 1 1/2 games up on Detroit and two up on Seattle, as both the Tigers and Mariners won Friday night.

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Brittany Ghiroli has covered the Orioles for MLB.com since 2010. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli, and listen to her podcast.

Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch, on Facebook and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Three clubs can punch postseason tickets today

Wild Card berths within reach for Orioles, Mets, Giants; Four others remain in contention

Three clubs can punch postseason tickets today

Six teams already have won their divisions and stamped tickets to the Division Series, but the four spots in the American League and National League Wild Card Games remain up for grabs.

That could change today, when the Orioles, Mets and Giants all have opportunities to clinch postseason berths outright. Home-field advantage also hangs in the balance for some playoff matchups, so there is plenty to watch over the final two days of the regular season. Accordingly, every game this weekend can be streamed free on MLB.TV (blackout restrictions apply).

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Andrew Simon is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewSimonMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Holy Holliday! Slugger hits storybook homer

After being activated from DL for final showing before St. Louis fans, Cards veteran clubs first pinch blast

Holy Holliday! Slugger hits storybook homer

ST. LOUIS -- Having informed Matt Holliday earlier this week that the organization is unlikely to exercise his $17 million option for 2017, general manager John Mozeliak announced that the Cardinals would activate Holliday from the disabled list on Friday in order to give the veteran outfielder an opportunity to salute the fans with one final appearance.

How they would script a sendoff amid a Wild Card race was unknown, but when manager Mike Matheny found the right moment, Holliday penned a storybook ending. A visibly emotional Holliday stepped to the plate amid a rousing ovation, and on reliever Zach Phillips' third pitch, blasted his 20th homer, an opposite-field shot into the Cardinals' bullpen for the first pinch homer of his career. It supplied another run in an eventual 7-0 win over the Pirates, but it was also a fitting cap to Holliday's Cardinals career if that, indeed, marked the end.

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Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Read her blog, follow her on Twitter, like her Facebook page and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Miggy, Norris get Tigers 1/2 GB of Wild Card

Miggy, Norris get Tigers 1/2 GB of Wild Card

ATLANTA -- The Tigers control their playoff fate once again. It could take them to a makeup game in Detroit, a tiebreaker in Toronto and the Wild Card Game in Baltimore, but it's theirs to control again, without any help.

Detroit rode Miguel Cabrera's two home runs and Daniel Norris' power fastball to within a half-game of Toronto in the American League Wild Card race, taking a 6-2 win over the Braves Friday night. The Tigers' third consecutive win closed the gap on the Blue Jays, who lost at Boston, while the Orioles remained a game ahead of the Tigers by beating the Yankees. If the Tigers remain within a half-game after Sunday's series finale, they'll return home to make up their rained-out game against Cleveland on Monday for a chance at a Wild Card tiebreaker on Tuesday.

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Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast.

Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Rangers snag top seed on Yu's 12-K night

Rangers snag top seed on Yu's 12-K night

ARLINGTON -- Despite already clinching the American League West, it was echoed throughout the Rangers clubhouse that their regular-season mission would not be complete until they secured home-field advantage throughout the postseason.

They secured it, for the first time in club history, on Friday night with a 3-1 victory over the Rays at Globe Life Park behind a stellar pitching performance from Yu Darvish. Due to the AL winning the All-Star Game, the Rangers are assured home-field advantage for the entirety of their postseason run. The Rangers and Red Sox could still end with the same record, but the Rangers hold the tiebreaker over them with a better intra-divisional record.

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Ryan Posner is a reporter for MLB.com based in Texas and covered the Rangers on Friday.

Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Merritt's 1st win helps Indians' bid for 2 seed

Merritt's 1st win helps Indians' bid for 2 seed

KANSAS CITY -- In a game with postseason implications, and ace Corey Kluber temporarily out of the rotation, the Indians handed the ball to a rookie. Lefty Ryan Merritt was up for the challenge, turning in a strong effort that fueled a 7-2 win over the Royals on Friday night at Kauffman Stadium.

The Rangers clinched the American League's No. 1 seed with a win over the Rays on Friday night, but the Indians can still earn home-field advantage for their AL Division Series against the Red Sox. Cleveland trails Boston by a half-game for the right to open at home.

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Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast.

Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Zo show: 2-HR night powers Cubs past Reds

Zo show: 2-HR night powers Cubs past Reds

CINCINNATI -- In one week, the Cubs will play Game 1 of the National League Division Series. On Friday, they tuned up against the Reds.

Reds spot starter Josh Smith mowed through the first four innings, carrying a perfect game on 42 pitches. However, Ben Zobrist collected the Cubs' first hit and run with a home run leading off the fifth, and the Cubs' rout was on. Zobrist added another home run, Anthony Rizzo drove in two and Addison Russell added an RBI to lead the Cubs to a 7-3 win over the Reds.

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Cody Pace is a reporter for MLB.com based in Cincinnati.

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cano, Mariners mash way to 1 back in Wild Card

Cano, Mariners mash way to 1 back in Wild Card

SEATTLE -- A Mariners team that has lived off the long ball all season stayed alive for another day by blasting four home runs in a 5-1 victory over the A's on Friday at Safeco Field, putting themselves just a game back of Toronto in the American League Wild Card chase with two games to go.

Robinson Cano hit two homers and Nelson Cruz and Norichika Aoki each added another as Seattle jumped on Oakland rookie right-hander Raul Alcantara for five runs off four blasts in the first three innings.

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Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB and listen to his podcast.

Jane Lee has covered the A's for MLB.com since 2010. Follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Statcast of the Day: Puig lands big blow in feud

Statcast of the Day: Puig lands big blow in feud

When Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig stepped to the plate against Giants left-hander Madison Bumgarner in the first inning of Friday night's series opener at AT&T Park, it wasn't just a typical regular-season at-bat.

This was the first on-field meeting between the two since they were at the center of a benches-clearing incident on Sept. 19 at Dodger Stadium. Puig marked the occasion by letting his bat do the talking with a notable hit.

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Andrew Simon is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewSimonMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Marlins postpone Nats' bid for NLDS home field

Marlins postpone Nats' bid for NLDS home field

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals are no closer to home-field advantage than they were earlier on Friday. Dee Gordon's speed helped break a sixth-inning tie as the Marlins defeated the Nationals, 7-4, at Nationals Park.

The Nationals are two games ahead of the Dodgers in the standings after Los Angeles lost to the host Giants. The magic number for Washington to clinch home-field advantage is one.

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Bill Ladson has covered the Nationals/Expos for MLB.com since 2002 and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats.

Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Rodon K's 7 to start game, ties AL record

Rodon K's 7 to start game, ties AL record

CHICAGO -- White Sox manager Robin Ventura said Carlos Rodon was at his absolute best when the southpaw threw eight scoreless innings and struck out 11 when beating the American League Central champion Indians in Cleveland on Sunday.

"I would say the first seven hitters were better than that," said a smiling Ventura after the White Sox claimed a 7-3 win over the Twins behind Rodon on Friday at U.S. Cellular Field.

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Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Nationals hold pregame tribute for Fernandez

Nationals hold pregame tribute for Fernandez

WASHINGTON -- Rain may have delayed the start of the Marlins' game against the Nationals on Friday night, but it didn't dampen a moving pregame tribute for Jose Fernandez.

A short video highlight clip of Fernandez was played before the national anthem, and the grounds crew at Nationals Park sketched No. 16 on the back of the mound. The Marlins went on to beat the Nationals, 7-4, and afterwards they were thankful for all of the support.

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Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Pujols shut down following impressive season

Pujols shut down following impressive season

ANAHEIM -- Albert Pujols and the Angels have decided to shut down the slugger for the final three games of the season. Pujols has been playing through plantar fasciitis in his right foot for an extended period.

"I think it's in his best interests not to push this thing anymore, and I think it's the right decision," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said before Friday night's series opener against the Astros.

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Austin Laymance is a reporter for MLB.com based in Los Angeles. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cards target WC with rousing shutout of Bucs

Cards target WC with rousing shutout of Bucs

ST. LOUIS -- With an inspired start by Carlos Martinez and a flood of production against the Pirates' bullpen, the Cardinals asserted their place in the National League Wild Card race with a 7-0 victory at Busch Stadium on Friday night.

With two games remaining in the regular season, the win kept pressure on the Giants, who held their one-game lead over the Cards for the second Wild Card spot after beating the Dodgers later in the evening. The Mets lead the Giants by one for the top Wild Card spot.

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Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Read her blog, follow her on Twitter, like her Facebook page and listen to her podcast.

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook, read his blog and listen to his podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Harper returns to Nationals' lineup after 4 games off

All-Star goes 0-for-4 after being sidelined by left thumb injury

Harper returns to Nationals' lineup after 4 games off

WASHINGTON -- Bryce Harper was back in the lineup on Friday, as the Nationals dropped the opener to the Marlins, 7-4, at Nationals Park. He went hitless in four at-bats with four strikeouts.

"He was rusty," manager Dusty Baker said. "We've got to get that rust off of him before we start the playoffs."

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Alex Putterman is a reporter for MLB.com based in Washington.

Bill Ladson has covered the Nationals/Expos for MLB.com since 2002 and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Arenado hits No. 41 as Rockies beat Brewers

Arenado hits No. 41 as Rockies beat Brewers

DENVER -- Battling for the National League home run title, Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado helped fend off Chris Carter and the Brewers in Colorado's 4-1 win on Friday at Coors Field.

Arenado drove his 41st homer of the season -- a two-run shot -- over the center-field fence in the first inning, and the Rockies never looked back. Carter brought the Brewers closer with a fourth-inning leadoff homer, his 40th, but that was all the offense Milwaukee could manage. Arenado and Carter are now Nos. 1 and 2 in the NL for home runs, with the Cubs' Kris Bryant trailing close behind with 39 homers. Arenado was tied with Bryce Harper for the NL lead last season with 42.

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Ben Weinrib is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver.

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy, like him on Facebook and listen to his podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Honored for off-field efforts, Papi then delivers on it

After first of three pregame ceremonies, Red Sox DH rips clutch go-ahead homer

Honored for off-field efforts, Papi then delivers on it

BOSTON -- Prior to the game, in the first of three ceremonies that will be held for David Ortiz this weekend, the Red Sox chose to focus on the generous slugger's off-field accomplishments.

But once it was time to play baseball, Ortiz's bat again stole the show and led his team to a 5-3 victory over the Blue Jays on Friday night at Fenway Park.

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Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Angels pull away from Astros for 4th straight win

Angels pull away from Astros for 4th straight win

ANAHEIM -- Kaleb Cowart ripped a three-run double in the second and Jefry Marte banged a solo homer an inning later to send the Angels off and running to to a 7-1 win over the Astros on Friday night at Angel Stadium.

Angels right-hander Daniel Wright picked up his first Major League win by allowing one run, no walks and six hits in six innings. The run he allowed came in the second, when Carlos Correa walked, advanced to third on a pair of groundouts and scored on a Teoscar Hernandez ground-rule double.

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Austin Laymance is a reporter for MLB.com based in Los Angeles.

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Time announced for Monday's possible makeup game

Time announced for Monday's possible makeup game

KANSAS CITY -- It could take a few days for the Indians to find out if they will be required to head back to Detroit. For now, Cleveland at least knows when it would play at Comerica Park for a postseason-shaping showdown with the Tigers.

On Friday, Detroit announced that Monday's makeup game with the Tribe will have a 1 p.m. ET start time, if the contest is deemed necessary. The game, which was postponed due to steady rain on Thursday, will only take place if it has any impact on the American League Wild Card race or seeding for any of the upcoming playoff series.

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Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

A-Rod back in Yanks uniform -- while helping prospects

A-Rod back in Yanks uniform -- while helping prospects

NEW YORK -- Seven weeks to the date of his final game in a Yankees uniform, Alex Rodriguez was back in his pinstripes on Friday, working with instructional league prospects at the team's Minor League complex in Tampa, Fla.

Rodriguez spoke with top prospects Clint Frazier, Blake Rutherford and Jorge Mateo after early hitting drills on Derek Jeter Field, according to The Associated Press, wearing a No. 13 uniform while in the dugout during Friday's game against a Blue Jays farm club.

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Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch, on Facebook and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Trout 1 SB, 1 HR shy of MLB's first 30-30 since '12

Trout 1 SB, 1 HR shy of MLB's first 30-30 since '12

ANAHEIM -- Mike Trout is on the verge of Major League Baseball's first 30-home run, 30-steal season since 2012, when he and Milwaukee's Ryan Braun each accomplished the feat.

Trout stole two bases in the first inning of Friday night's 7-1 win over the Astros, increasing his season total to 29. The American League MVP candidate has 29 homers and 99 RBIs.

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Austin Laymance is a reporter for MLB.com based in Los Angeles. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

D-backs rely on long ball against Padres

D-backs rely on long ball against Padres

PHOENIX -- The D-backs waited until there were two outs. Then, they went to work. Paul Goldschmidt and Chris Owings each hit a two-run homer in a 5-3 win over the Padres on Friday night at Chase Field.

"Very important for us to compete," Arizona manager Chip Hale said. "The wins are important, obviously that's what we play for, but just to compete to the end. We always tell our guys we want you to run through first base. It's very simple. We teach that in Little League, don't we? So we want to finish this season that way -- run through the finish."

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AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.

Jake Rill is an associate reporter for MLB.com.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Choo comes off DL, slots in Rangers' lineup

Outfielder back ahead of schedule from forearm fracture

Choo comes off DL, slots in Rangers' lineup

ARLINGTON -- In late August, Shin-Soo Choo said he planned to return from the disabled list during the postseason. That seemed like a lofty expectation at the time, considering he was forced to have surgery after a pitch from A's lefty Ross Detwiler fractured his left forearm on Aug. 15.

Choo surpassed even his own timeline on Friday, when he was activated from the 15-day disabled list as the Rangers opened their final series of the regular season against the Rays. He went 1-for-4 in a 3-1 Texas win, batting seventh and playing right field for the series opener.

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Ryan Posner is a reporter for MLB.com based in Texas. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Price to return as Reds' manager next year

Entire big league coaching staff also invited back for 2017

Price to return as Reds' manager next year

CINCINNATI -- Based largely on the Reds' on-field improvement and better record during the second half, the front office decided that the best way to keep moving forward was with Bryan Price as manager. It was announced Friday that Price would return to the club with a one-year contract through 2017, with an option for the 2018 season.

In addition, the entire coaching staff was also invited to come back next season.

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Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.