And That Happened: Tuesday's scores and highlights

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Red Sox 8, Marlins 2:
David Ortiz continues to heat up, adding a homer and a two-run single
to his increasingly improving statline. Tim Wakefield was strong too.
From the game story: Wakefield is now two starts and five home wins
behind Roger Clemens for the most in Red Sox history in each category.
I suppose that’s something Boston fans were mostly aware of, but you
could stump a decent number of Midwesterners and West Coasters with
that, I imagine.

Reds 7, Braves 2:
This one had a long rain delay, and when that happens, Marty Brennaman
and Jeff Brantley take calls. I caught a bit of it last night. This is
paraphrased, but it’s pretty close to how one call went down:

Marty: Hello, you’re on Reds radio!

Caller: Hey Marty, being from North Carolina, could you tell us who your favorite professional wrestler is?

Marty: Well, I um, er . . .

Brantley [interrupting, with extreme urgency and certainty]: No question about it, my favorite wrestler was The Million Dollar Man, Ted Di-Bi-ase. He was absolutely the best.

Marty and Caller: stunned silence.

I wish to God I was making that up.

Yankees 5, Nationals 3:
Cano went 4-4 and had the tie-breaking hit in the seventh. More game
story fun: “[Alex] Rodriguez greeted fans in Monument Park before the
game. One spectator told A-Rod he was a Phillies fan but he liked him.”
I was going to scoff at the inclusion of this, but then I realized
that, yes, someone publicly admitting that they like A-Rod does
probably qualify as newsworthy.

Rangers 6, Astros 1:
Pudge v2.0 ties Pudge v1.0 for most games caught, but this was the Ian
Kinsler show (3-4, 2 HR, 2 RBI). And Kevin Millwood (7 IP, 4 H, 1 ER)
is quietly putting up his best season since his he broke out all
awesome-like ten years ago.

Cardinals 11, Tigers 2:
Verlander proves human after all, posting his worst start since April
17th (4 IP, 8 H, 5 ER). In other news, with a 2-1 lead (1934 & 2006
to 1968) the Cardinals can put this series away with a win this week.

Twins 8, Pirates 2:
Some Twins fans took me to task on the NBC blog yesterday for saying
that the Tigers looked to be solidly atop a weak division. I still
think the Central is fairly weak, but I think I should have waited to
declare Detroit solidly atop anything. The Twins are two games back and
they have a force of nature on their team. I repeat: The Superman exists, and he’s Minnesotan.

Royals 5, Diamondbacks 0: Mechetastic! (SHO, 4 H, 6K). GWRBI from Miguel Olivo. What?

Blue Jays 8, Phillies 3:
Ryan Madson blew the save in the ninth, and Clay Condrey barfed the
game away in the tenth, allowing five of the six batters he faced to
score. Madson and Condrey? Weren’t they the original Midnight Express? I’ll have to ask Brantley . . .

Mets 6, Orioles 4:
Bad defense — including a dropped popup to Aubrey Huff with which I’m
guessing Luis Castillo could sympathize — doomed the O’s.

Brewers 7, Indians 5:
Gallardo wasn’t efficient — he threw 61 pitches in the first two
innings — but the Indians didn’t cash in on it like they could have
and Yovani gutted his way to five and the win. So much enthusiasm for
this Indians team in March has devolved into wondering who will trade
for Mark DeRosa. Not exactly how Mark Shapiro drew things up.

Quick rundown of the late games because I’m jammed up with other stuff this morning:

Angels 8, Giants 1: Mike Napoli had a three-run homer and three other hits.
Dodgers 5, A’s 4:
Torre ties Sparky Anderson on the all-time wins list. Anderson still
leads Torre on guest starring spots on WKRP in Cincinnatti.

Mariners 5, Padres 0:
King Felix rules: Two-hit shutout. Kevin Correia was pretty good
himself (8 IP, 2 H, 2 ER), but you can’t win if your homies don’t
score.

Rays 12, Rockies 4:
Colorado’s winning streak ends. How much longer until the deulsion that
they’re contenders does too? Transaction junkies want to know.

White Sox at Cubs: Postponed: I can only imagine that having to
sit in the clubhouse during a rain delay makes Ozzie want to puke even
more than being in the dugout during a ballagme.

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.