And That Happened: Tuesday's scores and highlights

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Rockies 11, Padres 10: It’s long been obvious that the Rockies
are charmed this year, but when they win despite a horrible outing from
their starter and a bullpen meltdown and still win, that just seals it.
Inside the park homer for Barmes, though it took Edgar Gonzalez
dislocating his shoulder while diving for it to make it so.

Yankees 6, Angels 5: The Yankees clinch. They also came back after blowing five-run lead and held on for a rare win in Anaheim.

Diamondbacks 10, Giants 8: Mark Reynolds broke his own strikeout
record. Which shouldn’t be a big deal given that he’s got a .922 OPS,
but that didn’t stop the dude in front of me on the plane Monday night
going on and on about how Reynolds sucks “because he can’t make
contact.”

Reds 10, Pirates 4: I have a friend with Pirates season tickets
for some reason. This is him via Blackberry during the game “I’m behind
home plate @ Pirates v. Reds – about 5 real players – this sucks – kill
me now.”

Athletics 9, Rangers 1: It’s easy this time of year to sort of
write off every team that has had a poor season as a wreck and feel
sorry for their fans and generally just want it to all end quickly (as
many of my recaps today suggest). But you have to remember that there
are still games to be played and that games, on an individual basis,
still matter. People still enjoy them for their own sake and haven’t
simply moved on to football or the hot stove season or whatever. That
was brought home to me during my trip this past weekend, as many people
I talked to in the Bay Area were rather excited about the A’s strong
September. They’re not showing up in droves, but people are watching
and listening and are simply happy to have baseball.

Cardinals 11, Astros 2: Often at this time a year I wonder if
teams can’t simply pay some fee to the league office that would allow
them to simply forfeit every remaining game rather than go out and
embarrass themselves the way Houston is as the season comes to a close.

Royals 5, Red Sox 1: Zack Greinke pretty much sewed up the Cy
Young award with this one, right? His 15th win in front of the
influential Boston press corps. puts the exclamation point on a strong
finish.

Dodgers 14, Nationals 2: Three . . . thats the magic number. Yes
it is. Its the magic number. Somewhere in this hip-hop soul community,
was born three Mase, Dove and me, and that’s the magic number.

Phillies 9, Marlins 3; Marlins 3, Phillies 0: Joe Blanton gave
up two hits in seven innings in the first; Anibal Sanchez allowed two
hits in eight innings in the second. I like symmetry.

Mariners 4, Rays 3: Tampa Bay is eliminated. The team, not the bay itself. That would be catastrophic.

Tigers 3, Indians 1: Some wonder
whether Edwin Jackson is hurt or tired or is tipping his pitches or
whatever, but it seems he simply hasn’t faced the Indians enough.

Braves 3, Mets 1: Jair Jurrjens allows only one run on five hits
as the Mets painful season draws closer and closer to a merciful end.
The Braves have won 10 of 12, but it’s going to be too little, too late.

Twins 8, White Sox 6: The Twins have won eight of nine, and are
showing themselves to be a better overall team than the Tigers, but can
they close the 2.5 game gap? Whatever happens, we can thank them for
giving us an actual race as the season winds down.

Cubs 7, Brewers 2: The Cubs won their third straight since
suspending Milton Bradley for the season. Coincidence? Doesn’t matter,
because it will not be viewed as such when it comes time to decide what
to do with the guy next year.

Blue Jays 6, Orioles 5: See Houston comment above.

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.