And That Happened: Monday's scores and highlights

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Pirates 8, Brewers 5: Pittsburgh snaps their 17-game skid
against Milwaukee, and the Brewers look pretty damn immature in defeat,
plunking Jeff Karstens in what I guess was retaliation for him hitting
Ryan Braun back in April. This despite the fact that they hit three
Pirates the day after the Braun thing, and had an opportunity to hit
Karstens if they wanted to the same day he hit Braun (why John Russell
so frequently has his relief pitcher hitting is a topic for another
day). Jason Kendall had to be restrained from, it appeared anyway,
going after Pirates’ pitching coach Joe Kerrigan, and then after the
game kept calling him “Dave Kurwin,” even after being corrected. So
apparently Kendall is 6 years-old.

Athletics 14, Twins 13: You don’t win a lot of games when your
starter gives up 11 runs on 10 hits in 2.2 innings, but the A’s did.
Yep, the Twins led this game 12-2 at one point, but after Matt
Holliday’s grand slam in the seventh, followed immediately by a Jack
Cust solo shot, the lead was history. Largest blown lead for the Twins
in 25 years. Largest comeback for the A’s in 84 years.

Dodgers 7, Reds 5: Jason Schmidt threw his first pitches in
anger in over two years, and got the win to boot. Oh, and Manny Ramirez
hit his 537th home run to pass Mickey Mantle into 15th place on the
all-time list, which should inspire about 125 rage-filled,
single-sentence paragraphs from Bill Plaschke or someone like him.
Mantle was pure, you see. At least once you took away the booze and the
speed and the painkillers.

Mets 6, Nationals 2: Jeff Francoeur! Livan Hernandez! Now if
those two just keep on producing like we know they can, well, then, um
. . . crap, this was a fluke, wasn’t it?

Phillies 10, Cubs 1: Now that is seems the Phillies have figured
out how to win at home, there seems to be nothing that can stop them.
Jack Nicholson was at the game, and according to the game story, the
Phanatic wore a Batman suit. That’s kind of cool, but it would have
been way cooler if he had dressed up like Nurse Ratched or the waitress
who wouldn’t hold the chicken. I mean, I love Batman as much as the
next guy, but Nicholson has had better foils.

Braves 11, Giants 3: The Braves hit Jonathan Sanchez and then
continued hitting Segio Romo. Tommy Hanson, on the other hand, was much
harder to hit (7 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 11K). And as Mac notes, not all of those earned runs were really “earned.”

Astros 3, Cardinals 2: Carlos Lee hits a three-run homer, receives “stingy kisses.”

White Sox 4, Rays 3: Carl Crawford hit an inside the park home
run, but as is the case with so many of those things, it was the
product of a bad defensive play. In this case, a crappy jump by Scott
Podsednik. Sox won, anyhow, and are only a game and a half behind

Rangers 6, Red Sox 3: There are a lot of smart people working
for the Red Sox, so surely someone will soon realize that John Smoltz
only pitches effectively for a few innings and then falls apart. If
only there were some place he could pitch where his outings would be shorter, and maybe more frequent as opposed to longer and more sucky (5.2 IP, 9 H, 6 ER).

Yankees 2, Orioles 1: Eric Hinske has started off with a bang in
New York, hitting four homers in his first five games. Jose Molina
turned in two sweet plays behind the plate late in the game. No need to
congratulate him, though. He’s a Molina and that is what they do.
Walkoff for Matsui, and after the game he was hit in the face with a
cream pie. Those zany, zany Yankees.

Marlins 3, Padres 2: The Padres have lost 15 of 19. I’m assuming that will all turn around once Oscar Salazar gets a chance to play more.

Rockies 10, Diamondbacks 6: With Colorado’s win and the Giants’
loss, the Rockies take a half-game lead in the wild card standings. And
no, I don’t think it’s too early to talk about it. There isn’t a ton
going on right now, so I’m totally cool with getting an early start on
pennant race stuff.

Angels vs. Royals: Postponed: The fitful alternations of the
rain/ When the chill wind, languid as with pain/ Of its own heavy
moisture, here and there/ Drives through the gray and beamless

Piscotty returns to Cardinals lineup after concussion

Stephen Piscotty
AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar
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Stephen Piscotty took the brunt of a frightening outfield collision last week at PNC Park, but he only suffered a mild concussion and was cleared for baseball activities a couple days later.

Now he is back in the Cardinals’ starting lineup, batting second and playing right field Sunday in the first half of a doubleheader against the Braves at Atlanta’s Turner Field.

Piscotty has an impressive .867 OPS with seven home runs and 39 RBI over his first 62 major league games. He should be a big part of the Cardinals’ postseason push, drawing starts in the corner outfield spots and at first base.

St. Louis will get either the Pirates or Cubs in the NLDS.

What to watch for on the final day of the regular season

Cole Hamels
AP Photo/LM Otero

Here we are, the final day of the regular season. And every game with playoff implications will start at the same time: 3:05 p.m. ET. What to watch …

American League Wild Card


This is where the most intrigue lies heading into the day. We have the Yankees currently in position for hosting duties, but they’re only one game up on Houston. And then Houston is only one game up on Anaheim. Also at play here is that the Astros are just one game back of the Rangers in the American League West standings. If the Yankees, Astros, and Rangers all win on Sunday the current postseason map stays the same — the AL Wild Card Game on Tuesday will be at Yankee Stadium with the Astros visiting. And the Angels would obviously be out. But if the Angels win and the Astros lose, we’ll have a play-in game Monday. And if the Yankees lose, the location of the Wild Card Game on Tuesday could change.

American League West


As we touched on above, the Astros are still in a position to force a tiebreaker for the division if the Angels beat the Rangers again in Arlington. It’ll be Garrett Richards against Cole Hamels in that one. Houston is throwing Lance McCullers vs. Robbie Ray in Arizona.

American League Best Record


If the AL Central-champion Royals (94-67) beat the Twins on Saturday behind deadline acquisition Johnny Cueto, they’ll get the Wild Card Game winner in the ALDS and clinch homefield advantage throughout the postseason. But if they lose, the Blue Jays (93-68) could move into that top seed because they won their season series against Kansas City 4-3. Mark Buehrle is pitching for Toronto in what is supposed to be his final major league game.

National League Wild Card


Pittsburgh losing and Chicago winning on Saturday kept Wild Card Game hosting duties alive for Wrigley Field. If the Pirates fall again to the Reds and the Cubs win at Miller Park, the game Wild Card Game Wednesday will be in Chicago because the Cubs have the season-series edge (11-8) over the Bucs. Pittsburgh can wrap up clinching duties with a victory behind J.A. Happ.

Stay tuned. We’ll be covering all angles as the 2015 regular season comes to a close.