And That Happened: Monday's Scores and Highlights

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Angel Pagan homer.jpgMets 6, Cubs 1: A pitchers’ duel until the 7th when the Mets unloaded on the Cubs’ bullpen, courtesy of an Angel Pagan homer, a Jason Bay double, an Ike Davis single and a Sean Marshall wild pitch.

The Pagan at bat was hilarious. Jose Reyes was on first base, getting a few throws over, but never really looking like he was stealing, mostly because he couldn’t figure out James Russell’s move. The ESPN crew was going on and on with that totally cliched rebop about how a fast guy “changes everything” when he’s on the bases, and all of that. Pagan then golfs one out to the deep part of the park, rendering the running game rather quaint and totally moot. Any acknowledgment of this fact by the announcers? Nah. They go into that “you can credit Reyes for disrupting the pitcher” jive. Just reminds you that so much of what we hear in a baseball broadcast is received wisdom bordering on religion. Pagan just timed it perfectly and unloaded with a beautiful, powerful swing. But no, gotta talk up that non-factor of a running game because you heard someone say that one time back when Lou Brock roamed the Earth.

Oh, Ike Davis debut: 2-4 with an RBI. Just before the RBI single Sean Marshall totally buckled his knees with a couple of curveballs, suggesting exactly why Davis has a reputation of being lost against lefties. The fact he stuck in on the third pitch and got the hit suggested, however, that it’s something he’s going to be able to overcome.

Rays 8, Red Sox 2: We spoke about this one at length already, but let’s add one more nugget in the form of a Victor Martinez quote after the game: “It’s kind of weird. Nothing is going our way. Every team we play, it
keeps falling their way.” I didn’t know that V-Mart wrote emo lyrics.

Nationals 5, Rockies 2: A homer and four RBI for Willie Harris puts the Nationals over .500, and I have to ask myself: did I rank these guys too low? More importantly, did I overrate the Rockies? Smallest crowd in Nats’ history, by the way.

Blue Jays 8, Royals 1: Brandon Morrow impressed, allowing one run and three hits and striking out eight and Jose Bautista hit two homers and the Jays won in a laugher. A record low crowd for Rogers Centre, breaking the old record which was set five days previously. I guess the Royals coming to town doesn’t really compete with Hockey Night in Canada during the playoffs.

Padres 3, Giants 2: Break up the Padres. Their fourth straight win came in dramatic fashion: a David Eckstein walkoff homer in the tenth. The little guy’s homer helped bail out Heath Bell, who had blown the save in the ninth by serving up a dinger to Juan Uribe.  Oh, and Chase Headley was nearly smacked in the head with the barrel of Uribe’s bat in the fourth inning after it was splintered by a Clayton Richard pitch.

Angels 2, Tigers 0: Joel Piniero’s good night (7.1 IP, 9 H, 0 ER) overshadows Dontrelle Willis’ pretty good night (6 IP, 4H, 2 ER, 2 BB).

Cardinals 4, Diamondbacks 2: Five straight losses for Arizona. Matt Holliday was 3-5 with a homer and 2 RBI. Brad Penny threw seven strong innings. Pfun Pfact: Albert Pujols went 0 or 3 against starter Rodrigo Lopez last night and is 0 for 8
against him in his career. Lopez should retire now so he can tell his grandkids about that.

Mariners 8, Orioles 2: The M’s put up seven in the third, so they didn’t really need Doug Fister to no-hit the Orioles into the seventh inning, but he went ahead and did it anyway.  Chone Figgins on the 6’8″ Fister: “It’s good being tall.”  Oh, and this game featured the third record-low crowd of the night.

Dodgers clinch NL West on Charlie Culberson’s walk-off home run

WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 20: Charlie Culberson #6 of the Los Angeles Dodgers runs to first base after hitting a single RBI in the second inning against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on July 20, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Matt Hazlett/Getty Images)
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Dodgers second baseman Charlie Culberson delivered a walk-off solo home run in the bottom of the 10th inning, clinching the NL West for the Dodgers on Sunday afternoon. What a way to celebrate Vin Scully’s final home game behind the microphone.

The Dodgers were trailing 2-1 in the seventh inning, but shortstop Corey Seager tripled in a run to tie the game. Rockies outfielder David Dahl untied the game in the top of the ninth with a two-out solo home run off of Kenley Jansen. But Seager once again rose to the occasion, blasting a game-tying solo shot in the bottom half of the ninth against Adam Ottavino. That would set the stage for Culberson in the next frame.

Culberson, a former Rockie, came into the afternoon with a .591 OPS and zero home runs in 53 plate appearances. He finished the afternoon 3-for-5 with the homer.

It’s the fourth consecutive season in which the Dodgers have won the NL West. The Cubs have clinched the best record, which means they’ll play the winner of the Wild Card game. The Dodgers will play the Nationals in the NLDS. The Nationals have a 1.5-game lead over the Dodgers for home-field advantage, so both teams are still playing for something of importance in the regular season’s final week.

Video: Dustin Pedroia’s base running sends Red Sox to 11th consecutive win

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - SEPTEMBER 24:  Dustin Pedroia #15 of the Boston Red Sox is greeted at the dugout by Pablo Sandoval #48, left, and Mookie Betts #50, right, after hitting a grand slam during the seventh inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field on September 24, 2016 in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Joseph Garnett Jr. /Getty Images)
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The Red Sox defeated the Rays 3-2 on Sunday afternoon thanks to some nifty base running by second baseman Dustin Pedroia. The win marks their 11th in a row, inching them closer to a division title.

With the game tied 2-2 in the top of the tenth, Pedroia led off with a single off of reliever Eddie Gamboa. After Xander Bogaerts lined out, David Ortiz ripped a double into the right-center field gap. Pedroia, running hard the whole way, rounded third and motored towards home plate, but the relay throw home — from center fielder Jaff Decker to second baseman Logan Forsythe to catcher Luke Maile — beat Pedroia by a good 10 feet. He was a dead duck.

Pedroia danced around Maile’s glove, avoiding the tag. Maile, on his side, continued to attempt to apply the tag on Pedroia. When he finally did, the ball was knocked loose and Pedroia scored the go-ahead run. The play was reviewed but the call was upheld.

Joe Kelly kept the Rays off the board in the bottom of the 10th, securing the 3-2 victory for the Red Sox.

The Blue Jays also won on Sunday, meaning the Red Sox still have a 5.5-game lead in the AL East. Any combination of two Red Sox wins and Blue Jays losses will seal up the division for the Red Sox. The two clubs round out the regular season with a three-game set against each other in Boston.