And That Happened: Sunday's Scores and Highlights

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Francisco Rodrigues Jose Reyes.jpgMets 6, Yankees 4: I ain’t gonna lie to you: I was watching the “Lost”
finale, not Mets-Yankees. Kind of glad I missed this one too, because I just don’t think my senses could take something as implausible as the Mets taking 2 of 3 from the Bombers. Better off staying in the realm of the possible: magic tropical islands with polar bears and malevolent smoke monsters and all of that stuff.

Tigers 6, Dodgers 2: I think Jim Leyland misses the NL. In the ninth he
pinch hit Dontrelle Willis for Phil Coke, but then when Joe Torre
switched pitchers Leyland called back Willis and went with Adam Everett,
and then put on the old squeeze play to score Brandon Inge. He then did
six double switches, changed out the ballpark’s grass for Astroturf and
said that if you had any problem with that you can take it up with league
president Chub Feeney
.

Marlins
13, White Sox 0
: Brett Carroll stole second base with a 7-0 lead,
so Ozzie Guillen had Randy Williams plunk him. Says Ozzie: “I don’t know
what happened there. This is baseball, you have to
respect. I was up by eight a couple days ago, and that’s just the way we
learned how to play the game. We had to do something
about it, and we did. We just told the guy not to play like that.”  With
all due respect, Ozzie, your team is 18-25 and just had its ass handed
to it 13-0. No one is going to listen to you at this moment about “how
to play the game.”

Cardinals 6, Angels 5: A comeback win for the Cardinals. Albert Pujols
continues to slump, but was part of a double steal that put him on
second base and allowed him to score the tying run in the eighth inning.
“That was Albert reading and making it happen,” manager Tony La Russa
said.  “That quote was Tony La Russa trying to make up with Albert after
stupidly angering him by having guys steal in front of him like he did
on Saturday night
,” I said.

Padres 8, Mariners 1: Close until the eighth inning and then the Mariners bullpen blew up.  The Mariners scored 15 runs on Friday night, but scored one run a piece yesterday and Saturday, so they’re feeling much more like themselves now.

Athletics 3, Giants 0: Of course, the Mariners’ offense looks like freakin’ murderer’s row compared to the Giants, who scored one run in the entire three-game series with the Athletics. Not to take anything away from the A’s, but five pitchers combined on this shutout, and the fact that San Francisco couldn’t touch a single one of them tells you that it’s more about bad hitting than it is good pitching. Jonathan Sanchez received no run support for the fifth time in his nine starts, so he pretty much can punch whoever he wants in the Giants clubhouse right now.

Blue Jays 12, Diamondbacks 4: Just your standard five home run three-game series for Edwin Encarnacion, with three on Friday night and one each the last two games.  The Jays avoid the sweep.

Brewers 4, Twins 3: Trevor Hoffman returned and pitched a scoreless, hitless eighth inning. The Twins had tons of chances, but left boatloads of runners on base.

Rays 10, Astros 6: The Astros managed to score five runs in five inningss off AL ERA leader David Price, but the Tampa Bay bats bashed Houston to make up for it. The Rays are now 32-12, one game off the 2001 Mariners’ record at this point of the season. I’m not gonna say that the Rays will win 116 games, but I remember that 2001 season very well and this Rays team looks stronger in almost every facet of the game than the M’s did.

Rockies 11, Royals 7: Zack Greinke takes a lot of tough-luck losses. This was not one of them (3.1 IP, 9 H, 8 R).

Red Sox 8, Phillies 3: Roy Halladay can’t blame bad luck for yesterday’s game either (5.2 IP, 8 H, 7 R). Tim Wakefield, however, pitched eight scoreless.  Between that and what Dice-K did to them on Saturday, one could say that the Phillies may need to worry about their offense a bit.  Of course, one could also say that there aren’t two pitchers in baseball that screw with your timing more than the eminently deliberate Dice-K and the Knuckle Knuckle King, so maybe it was just one of those weekends.

Cubs 5, Rangers 4: The fact that Carlos Silva is 6-0 is far harder to believe than anything that ever happened on Lost.

Nationals 4, Orioles 3: Walkoff job for Josh Willingham. Drew Storen had a hit too, and is batting 1.000 on the season. If used conventionally, he may not have another plate appearance all year, thereby making him a total beast in all the video games next year. That is, if they haven’t improved the video games any since that old Lance Hafner simulation where a guy with a 1 for 1 career batting line will get a hit every single time he bats no matter what.

Indians 4, Reds 3: The Indians salvage one and stop their losing skid. Homer Bailey left this one early with tightness in his shoulder. Is someone about to be very, very wrong?

Pirates 3, Braves 2: Cox gives Jason Heyward, Chipper Jones and Brian McCann the day off with expected results.

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.