And That Happened: Sunday's Scores and Highlights

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Athletics
3, Pirates 2
: Kurt Suzuki should have been out number three in the
eighth inning, but Pirates’ catcher Jason Jaramillo dropped a pop foul
and two pitches later Suzuki hit the game winning dinger. Losing like
that would be a total back breaker for Pirates fans if their bones
hadn’t been ground to dust as a result of the team’s futility already.

Yankees 8, Dodgers 6: Talk about a bullpen implosion. Jonathan Broxton blew a 6-2 lead in the ninth and then George Sherrill gave up the game-winning homer to Robinson Cano in the 10th as the Yankees take two of three from the Dodgers.

Orioles 4, Nationals 3: Break up the O’s! Four straight wins including a sweep of the, well, sure, why not, rival Nationals.  And they’re guaranteed not to lose tonight because they got the day off!

Indians 5, Reds 3: Shin-Soo Choo hit two bombs as the Indians win their first game since a week ago Friday. Matt LaPorta has been up and down, but this was his first start as the unequivocal starting first baseman. His functional debut: 0 for 4, two strikeouts and he grounded into a
double play. Excelsior!

Angels 10, Rockies 3: Brandon Wood hit a grand slam, and I still can’t
get used to seeing the name “Francisco
Rodriguez
” in the Angels’ box score and have it not be K-Rod. Each
time he shows up I think it’s 2008 again, both my kids are in preschool
and I still work at the law firm.

Padres 4, Marlins 2: Will Venable has had a number of key homers in the past week and his two-run job in the eighth yesterday turned out to be the game winner. What say you, Will?  “Yesterday he struck me out with three straight splitties so I knew I
had to be patient. He came with the splitties again and I
was able to go deep enough in the count that he was forced to try
something else and threw a fastball middle-in and I was able to get a
good swing on it.”  We comfortable with “splitties?” I don’t think I am, frankly.

Phillies 11, Blue Jays 2: Jamie Moyer gave up a homer and now owns the all-time record for dingers allowed all by himself, but as was the case with the start in which he tied the mark, he pitched damn well: 7 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 7K. The Jays committed four errors leading to six unearned runs. The hometown fans probably didn’t like that one bit.

Diamondbacks 2, Rays 1: The Rays were no-hit on Friday and two-hit on Sunday. What’s more, they came close to engaging in fisticuffsmanship with each other in the process. Not a good weekend for Tampa Bay.

Mets 6, Twins 0: Homers from Frenchie, Wright and Ike were more than enough given Jon Niese’s six shutout innings and three additional zeros from the bullpen. With the Braves loss the Mets are once again knocking on the door in the East, a mere half game back.  The Twins, on the other hand, are a mere half game up on the Tigers after having lost seven of ten.

Tigers 10, Braves 4: Heyward, Strasburg and a bunch of other guys have gotten all the ink, but there may not be anyone having a better rookie year than Brennan Boesch. Boesch goes 2 for 3 with a homer and three RBI, and now sits at .338/.389/.621 on the season. It might be time for the Braves to worry about Tommy Hanson as the kid got shelled for the second straight start.  But hey, they get to face Stephen Strasburg tonight, so that’s fun.

Cubs 8, White Sox 6: The Chisox finally lose a game, but they had a little rally at the end to make it interesting for a bit. Four RBI for red-hot Tyler Colvin.

Brewers 3, Mariners 0: Chris Narveson shut out the M’s over eight innings. Every time I see his name I think of Kal Varnson. The Brewers should get a relievers named Pennypacker and Vandelay.

Royals 10, Cardinals 3: The Royals take two of three from the Cards after beating up on Jaime Garcia to the tune of five runs on four hits. Jose Guillen has a 21-game hitting streak going right now. Not that this makes him Superman or anything. The last Royal to have a hit streak this long was Rey Sanchez, and no one is carving his visage into any malleable metals. Also worth noting that 27 of his 31 hits during the course of the streak have been singles.

Rangers 10, Astros 1: Josh Hamilton has a 21-game hitting streak of his
own. His has more pop to it than Guillen’s, however, including a homer in the second inning last night that is still flying, I think. And while I like to think teams’ scouting is more sophisticated than this, you have to wonder if the fact that Roy Oswalt got lit up for eight runs on seven hits in four and two-thirds isn’t the kind of thing that’ll make the Rangers less likely to want him.

Red Sox 5, Giants 1: A 103-pitch complete game for Jon Lester with nine strikeouts. Tim Lincecum was knocked out after giving up four runs on five hits and three walks in three innings. Big Papi hit one into McCovey Cove. According to the game story, it was picked up by a kayaker. With Barry gone, I’m surprised anyone still floats around out there. Oh, and because the Sox haven’t had enough injuries lately, Victor Martinez fractured his left thumb.

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.