And That Happened: Wednesday's scores and recaps

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Cubs 3, Braves 2: It’s understandable that the Braves lost given
all of yesterday’s activity. Half the team was probably pissed that
Glavine was released and the other half was wondering if they were
going to be traded. As it was, Jeff Francouer struck out with the bases
loaded in the sixth, killing the Braves’ chances to break things open.
Francoeur, however, was not released. Later, in the eleventh inning,
Derek Lee tagged up at first and made it to second on a routine fly to
left field to set up the winning run. Left fielder Matt Diaz, however,
was not released. Finally, despite the loss, Bobby Cox was not fired.

Brewers 9, Marlins 6: Marlins’ reliever Hayden Penn issued three
straight bases loaded walks in the fifth inning, which is something you
don’t see every day. Walked a guy when he came in too. It’s the kind of
thing that makes me wish there was a 12 hour cooling off period before
post game interviews, because I’ve always wanted to ask pitchers who
have those kinds of outings whether they simply refused to groove a few
pitches just to get one over or if they tried but simply couldn’t. You
know Penn won’t talk about it in the locker room a half hour later, but
he might the next morning. Except by the next morning, no one really
cares that much.

Rays 9, Royals 0: Jeff Niemann shut the Royals down with
authority (CG, SHO, 2 H, 9K). Brian Bannister was shelled (3.2 IP, 9 H,
8 ER). Such balance appeals to me for some strange reason.

Rangers 4, Yankees 2: Mark Teixeira missed the game with a
bruised right ankle following that hard slide into Andrus I mentioned
yesterday. Minor correction: “grit” and “fire” is completely canceled
out by “ice pack” and “disabled list.” Don’t get yourself injured. It
can only hurt the ballclub.

Red Sox 10, Tigers 5: Not as close as the score indicates, as
the Beckett no-hit the Tigers into the seventh and all five of the
Tigers runs (a) came after they were trailing 10-0; and (b) were
unearned due to three errors. Curtis Granderson hit a bases-loaded
triple, which some people think is the most exciting play in baseball.
Great moments in enforcing unwritten rules: Gerald Laird tried to break
up the then-in-progress no-hitter by laying down a bunt in the sixth.
The next time he was up, Beckett hit him. The Sox were up 4-0 then so I
suppose it’s not inconceivable that Laird could hide behind the
“I was just trying to get something going” argument, but it was
probably a close enough call to where Laird had to expect he’d get
plunked.

Indians 10, Twins 1: Cliff Lee in 2008 form, goes eight innings,
giving up a single run and jawing hard at Carlos Gomez after Gomez
flied out in the fifth which almost started a fight. Lee has a 2.96 ERA
on the season but his record stands at 3-6. Jhonny Peralta, back at
short following Asdrubal Cabrera’s injury, hit a three-run homer.

Athletics 5, White Sox 3: Bobby Crosby and Landon Powell hit
back-to-back homers in the fourth and Josh Outman scattered seven hits
over six and two thirds on a cold night in Chicago.

Angels 8, Blue Jays 1: Jered Weaver (7 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 10K) is hot of late, having given up a single earned run each of five of his last six starts.

Reds 9, Cardinals 3: Johnny Cueto was strong over six innings
and Laynce Nix homered twice with four RBIs. Bad news for the
Cardinals, as Kyle Lohse left after pitching only two innings due to
tightness in his forearm. Alabama here we come?

Astros 6, Rockies 4
: Hunter Pence had a solo homer and two RBI singles, and the Astros have won five of six.

Dodgers 1, Diamondbacks 0: Four Dodgers pitchers, led by Chad
Billingsley, shut out the Dbacks. Their lead in the West is now a
season-high nine and a half games.

Mariners 3, Orioles 2: Ichiro’s hitting streak is now at 27
games. Luke Scott hit another homer for Baltimore, and is currently
putting up the quietest .323/.399/.661 season we’ve seen in a long
time.

Phillies 5, Padres 1: J.A. Happ shut the Padres down over seven
and then handed it off to J.C. Romero. They should probably trade for
R.A Dickey or CC Sabathia so they can go all initials on the
opposition. Romero was making his first appearance since his Hall of
Fame-destroying PED suspension.

Mets-Pirates: Postponed. I never meant 2 cause u any sorrow. I never meant 2 cause u any pain.

Giants-Nats: Postponed. I only wanted 2 one time see u laughing. I only wanted 2 see u laughing in the purple rain.

Video: Nelson Cruz hits second-longest home run of 2016

ANAHEIM, CA - SEPTEMBER 14:  Nelson Cruz #23 of the Seattle Mariners celebrates his solo homerun with Daniel Vogelbach #20 of the Seattle Mariners to take a 2-1 lead over the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim during the seventh inning at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on September 14, 2016 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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There’s certainly never a bad time to hit a home run, but when you get the opportunity to crush a triple-deck, 493-foot shot off of Tyler Duffey, you should take it. With the Mariners down 2-0 to the Twins in the fourth inning, Cruz hammered a fastball to deep left field for his 39th long ball of the season — and the second-longest home run hit in 2016, to boot.

It doesn’t hurt that the Mariners are 1.5 games back of a playoff spot, although they’ll have to oust the Blue Jays, Orioles, or Tigers to get a wild card. They’ve gone 3-3 in the last week, dropping two consecutive series to the Astros and Blue Jays and taking their series opener against Minnesota 10-1 on Friday night.

Cruz, for his part, entered Saturday’s game with a .299/.337/.610 batting line and six home runs in September. According to ESPN.com’s Home Run Tracker, Cruz sits behind Edwin Encarnacion and Mike Napoli with 13 “no-doubt” home runs in 2016, third-most among major league sluggers. It’s safe to say he can add Saturday’s moonshot to that list.

Marlins’ outfielder and undisputed home run king Giancarlo Stanton remains untouched at the top of the Statcast leaderboard with a 504-ft. home run, and it’s difficult to envision any slugger reaching beyond that before the end of the season. Even so, Cruz won’t need to clear 500 feet to extend an impressive hitting record. One more home run will put the 36-year-old at 40 on the year, making 2016 his third consecutive season with at least 40 homers, and his second such season doing so in Seattle.

Report: John Farrell won’t rule out a postseason return for Pablo Sandoval

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - APRIL 11:  Pablo Sandoval #48 of the Boston Red Sox looks on from the dugout before the Red Sox home opener against the Baltimore Orioles at Fenway Park on April 11, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Orioles defeat the Red Sox 9-7.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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It’s been a strange season for Red Sox’ third baseman Pablo Sandoval, who lost his starting role in spring training, went 0-for-6 in three regular season appearances, and underwent season-ending surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder in May. That was the last the Red Sox were supposed to hear about Sandoval until spring 2017, when he was expected to rejoin the team after a lengthy rehab stint in Florida.

On Saturday, manager John Farrell was telling a different story. Per MLB.com’s Sam Blum, Farrell hinted that Sandoval could return to the team as soon as October, albeit in a very limited capacity.

At the time of the surgery, it was all looking at the start of next Spring Training,” Farrell said. “We’re not getting too far ahead of ourselves here, but at the same time, we compliment him for the work he’s put in, the way he’s responded to the rehab, the way he’s worked himself into better condition. We’re staying open-minded.

If the 30-year-old does return in 2016, don’t expect him to look like the three-home run hitter of the 2012 World Series. Should the Red Sox lose another player to injury, Sandoval might be called on as a backup option, but he’s unlikely to see substantial playing time under any other circumstances. Despite making two appearances at DH in the instructional league, Sandoval has not started at third base since undergoing surgery, though Farrell noted that a return to third base would be the next logical step in his recovery process.

Sandoval has yet to hit his stride within the Red Sox’ organization after hitting career-worst numbers in 2015. According to FanGraphs, his Offensive Runs Above Average (Off) plummeted to -20.2, contributing approximately two wins fewer than the average offensive player in 2015. (The Diamondbacks’ Chris Owings held the lowest Off mark in 2015, with -26.3 runs below average.) Sandoval has not appeared in a postseason race since the Giants’ championship run in 2014.

Heading into Saturday evening, the Red Sox could clinch their spot in the postseason with a win over the Rays and an Orioles’ loss.