1. The Toronto Blue Jays take back the American League East lead: It seems appropriate that on a day the New York Yankees were busy celebrating their past (and losing), the Blue Jays completed their sweep of the Los Angeles Angels with a 12-5 victory to score a record 36 runs in the series and regain sole possession of first place in the AL East for the first time in 10 days.
Sunday’s win was all the more impressive because of the way the Jays didn’t miss a beat after seeing the Angels jump out to a 5-1 lead after the first inning. But that’s the nice thing about having a knuckleballer like R.A. Dickey: Sure, he had an awful first inning, but he could flutter his way through five more frames like it never happened. They were already back up again 6-5 when Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion went yard back-to-back in the fourth inning, and they closed it out with yet another Aaron Sanchez handoff to Roberto Osuna in the last two innings.
I always sleep better when the FIRST PLACE @BlueJays sweep somebody.— Steve Rowe (@SJ_Rowe) August 24, 2015
Well, I wouldn’t sleep on it for long -- it’s just a half-game lead, and the Yankees shouldn’t go away any time soon. I’d look forward to strapping in for what should be a stretch run to remember with six weeks to go.
2. Houston Astros complete a sweep of the Los Angeles Dodgers: You can check the long form on what I have to say about this earlier, but the short form after the Astros’ 3-2 walk-off win in extras is that if you’re the Astros, you should be feeling awesome about beating the Dodgers with a no-hitter and two hard-fought wins in games started by Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw. And if you’re not the Astros? Then you’d better be afraid of the Astros, because they’re coming for your titles and your trophies.
3. Kris Bryant, Chicago Cubs: Bryant’s two-homer day sealed the Cubs’ 20th win in their past 25 games (this one 9-3 over the Braves), as he belted fastballs from Matt Wisler (to right field) and David Aardsma (to center). The blast off Wisler on a first pitch was a little low and inside for Bryant’s usual tastes, but the sixth-inning shot was a thing of beauty as far as execution. Bryant worked his way back from down 0-2 to a full count to finally get his pitch on Aardsma’s ninth offering of the at-bat: A high fastball he could slam to dead center.
4. Aaron Nola, Philadelphia Phillies: Eight shutout innings while giving up just five baserunners for the Phils’ touted rookie was good enough to beat the Marlins. According to GameScore (80) it also rated as the third-best start made by any Phillies hurler this season (tied, actually), trailing just Cole Hamels' departing no-hitter and an Aaron Harang start in April. It took just 100 pitches while facing just 27 batters, so it shouldn’t have been too much work in an otherwise meaningless game. Will it generate any enthusiasm for next year’s Phillies team?
5. Stephen Piscotty, St. Louis Cardinals: Ripping a triple and two home runs -- the second off Craig Kimbrel -- didn’t provide the margin for the final score in the Cards’ 10-3 win against the Padres, but it was a banner day for the Cardinals’ best prospect, according to ESPN analyst Keith Law. That it was in Petco Park, and the Cardinals don’t know when they’ll get Matt Holliday, Randal Grichuk or Jon Jay back from the DL, and it was an important day for the best team in baseball as it tries to sort out who’s going to be available in their outfield come October.
Christina Kahrl writes about MLB for ESPN. You can follow her on Twitter.