And That Happened: Sunday's scores and highlights

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Yankees 4, Red Sox 2: The Bombers clinch, win 100, guarantee home field, etc. Inevitable, but the exuberance looked a little less rote yesterday than I seem to remember it in years past. I think those who have been there a while have a new appreciation for making the post season after what happened last year. The guys like Sabathia and Teixeira probably feel like a lot of weight has been taken off their shoulders. At least for a week or so. This is strange to me: “The Yankees have the choice of whether they want to play in the division series that has a day off between Games 1 & 2.” Time out. Why do they get to choose? I mean, why don’t I get to choose, why doesn’t he get to choose? Better question: why isn’t that sort of thing just set up ahead of time? I actually thought it was.

Rockies 4, Cardinals 3: If the Braves miss the playoffs by one game I’m going to blame Matt Holliday’s hangover. Oh, I’m sorry, his “flulike symptoms” which just happened to show up the morning after the Cardinals doused themselves in booze for clinching the division. Their second most important hitter misses the day and Ryan Ludwick and Mark DeRosa combine to go 0-6 with five strikeouts. You telling me Matt Holliday couldn’t have managed one extra flare beyond what Ludwick and DeRosa did? Just one? A gork, a ground ball with eyes, a dying quail . . . just one more dying quail and the Cardinals could have won this game and the Braves would be one back in the loss column. Damnation.

Braves 6, Nationals 3: I wrote my team off so many times this year — and for good reason — that I feel like getting all giddy now would be like taking back a cheating girlfriend or something. But there they are, looking all fine and everything. I just know that if I lower my guard they’ll hurt me again, but I can’t keep my eyes off of them. Dude, seriously: don’t let me walk over there. I don’t care how much I drink tonight, do NOT let me walk over there and talk to them. And take my cell phone too. I just don’t trust myself . . . . . . . OK, give me my cell phone back. C’mon, I promise I’ll be cool.

Pirates 6, Dodgers 4: Ugly ending for Los Angeles, blowing a three run lead in the ninth to some dudes who stole the Pirates’ uniforms. Worth noting that L.A. was boned by Matt Holliday’s hangover too, as a Rockies loss would have given them the division title. They’ll get it though. More worrisome for L.A. was that Clayton Kershaw, though arguably effective, was kinda wild in his first game back since separating his shoulder. He’ll get one more start before the playoffs, and I’m sure the Dodgers would like to see him a bit sharper.

Phillies 6, Brewers 5: Dave Bush put the Brewers in a 6-1 hole, the offense came back, but it wasn’t enough and the Phillies magic number is down to three.

White Sox 8, Tigers 4: Detroit stumbles into the showdown with Minnesota with both Edwin Jackson and Fernando Rodney getting roughed up.

Royals 4, Twins 1: Minnesota doesn’t take advantage of Detroit’s stumble, but you have to figure that they had this one — a Zack Greinke start — penciled in as a loss anyway. Just another day at the office for Greinke (7 IP, 7 H, 1 ER, 8K). Less expected was Yuniesky Betancourt’s day (3-3, HR, 3 RBI).

Giants 5, Cubs 1: Matt Cain was dominant, shutting out the Cubs over eight innings. Eugenio Velez on the Giants’ playoff hopes: “We have to win all of our games and they have to lose all of their games. That’s how we have to look at it.” Eugenio, the chances of that happening are, like, a million to one. Velez: So you’re telling me there’s a chance… Yeah!

Rays 7, Rangers 6: If you’ve got a 5-0 lead with two outs in the eighth, you had best hold on to it. More Eugeino Velez thinking: the Rangers are still technically in the wild card race, much like I’m technically qualified to be President of the United States and technically capable of settling down and having a couple of kids with Salma Hayek.

Angels 7, Athletics 4: With this win and the Rangers’ loss, Anaheim merely need one of its next four games — all of which come against Texas — to seal the deal.

Mets 4, Marlins 0: File “Pat Misch throws a shutout” in the “stuff I didn’t expect to see before the season ended” drawer. Jeff Francoeur hit a homer and made a home run saving catch in support of Misch. Francoeur: “He’s going to buy me dinner and beers.” Jeffy, you really think it’s a good idea to keep track of when other people save your bacon? If people did that for you, you’d have spent enough on dinner and beer by this point to hold substantial stakes in Anheuser-Busch and several restaurant companies by now.

Diamondbacks 7, Padres 4: Adrian Gonzalez hits his 28th road home run this year vs. 12 at home. Man, if this guy played anywhere else but Petco Park . . .

Indians 9, Orioles 0: “It’s been a rough 10 games for us,” Baltimore manager Dave Trembley said after the game. The 145 before that weren’t a friggin’ picnic either, to be honest.

Blue Jays 5, Mariners 4: Seattle squanders 3-0 and 4-2 leads as the Blue Jays finish the season on a fairly strong note.

Astros 3, Reds 2: Wandy Rodriguez (6 IP, 9 H, 2 ER, 9K) is about the only good thing that has happened to Houston this year.

Just one note: you shouldn’t be surprised that the recaps for some of these games featuring non-contenders are going to be a bit cursory this last week of the season. I mean, sure, it’s possible that I’ll find myself on my deathbed one day saying “boy, I wish I had spent more time thinking about late September Astros-Reds games,” but I just sort of doubt it. If you’re a partisan of one of these dead teams walking and you really feel like I missed something important, by all means, let us know in the comments. I’ll edit the recaps to include really good stuff I learn after the fact.

Cardinals, Dexter Fowler agree to a five-year, $82 million deal

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 02:  Dexter Fowler #24 of the Chicago Cubs reacts during the seventh inning against the Cleveland Indians in Game Seven of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on November 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
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The Cardinals have officially signed outfielder Dexter Fowler to a five-year, $82.5 million contract. Fowler will also get a full no-trade clause.

The Cardinals gave Fowler a bigger deal than many speculated he’d get, as some reports predicted he’d get something in the $52-72 million range. His skills, however — he’s a fantastic leadoff hitter who plays a premium defensive position — definitely earned him some major dough. Fowler hit .276/.393/.447 with 13 homers, 48 RBI and 13 steals over 125 games in 2016 for the World Series champion Cubs.

For the Cardinals, this will allow Matt Carpenter to move down to the middle of the batting order and will shift Randal Grichuk to left field. It also takes a prime piece from the Cardinals’ biggest rival. For their part, earlier this offseason the Cubs signed former Cardinal center fielder Jon Jay. So that’s fun.

Are the Cardinals about to go on a free agent binge?

John Mozeliak AP
Associated Press
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The Cardinals have always emphasized building from within. In the 2016-17 offseason, however, they may end up being one of the bigger free agent buyers. At least according to some informed speculation.

St. Louis is already in agreement with Dexter Fowler. But Derrick Goold and Ben Frederickson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch write today that the Cardinals “could become more aggressive than previously believed,” with Mark Trumbo and Edwin Encarnacion as “possible pursuits.” Worth noting that separate reports alleged some interest on the part of the Cards front office in free agent third baseman Justin Turner.

The Cardinals are already losing their first round pick due to the Fowler signing, so any other top free agent won’t cost them more than the money he’s owed. And as far as money goes, the Cardinals have a great deal of it, despite being a small market team. They have a billion dollar TV deal coming online and Matt Holliday and Jaime Garcia are off the payroll now. Spending big on a free agent or three would not cripple them or anything.

Encarnacion or Trumbo would be first baseman, which wold fly in the face of the Cards’ move of Matt Carpenter to first base (and, at least as far as Encarnacion goes, would fly in the face of good defense). Getting either of them would push Carpenter back to second, displacing Kolten Wong, or over to third, displacing Jhonny Peralta. If you’re going to do that, I’d say that Turner would make more sense, but what do I know?

Either way, the Cardinals may be entering a pretty interesting phase of their offseason now. And an unfamiliar one as, quite possibly, the top free agent buyer on the market.