And That Happened: Monday's Scores and Highlights

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Braves 5, Nationals 0: You can throw all the fire in the world, but if your defense isn’t any good, you’re not going to go very far. That’s a lesson Stephen Strasburg learned last night as the Nats’ defense did a Marx Brothers’ routine behind him in the seventh inning, allowing the Braves to score a zillion times.  Wait, that’s not fair: the Marx Brothers were nothing if not competent. Hell, they were a well-oiled machine, really. The Nats were more like the Stooges. Like, post-Curly and Shemp-era Stooges. With Ian Desmond as Joe Besser.

Reds 7, Phillies 3: Johnny Cueto gave up only one run in eight innings despite not striking anyone out. Don’t see that every day. Scott Rolen hit his 300th career homer. Chase Utley left the game after jamming his thumb stretching a single into a double.

Cardinals 6, Diamondbacks 5: The Cards keep pace thanks to the latest in a series of late game catastrophes for Arizona this year. This one was less a bullpen problem than a defense problem, as two key throwing errors allowed multiple Cardinals runs to score. Of course one of the throwing errors was on reliever Aaron Heilman, so maybe you do count it as a bullpen problem. And interesting ettickal question.

Marlins 10, Mets 3: R.A. Dickey reverts to old form in Puerto Rico (5 IP, 5 H, 5 ER) and the Mets pen doesn’t do much better. A three run homer for Mike Stanton tops off Edwin Rodriguez’s homecoming game in style.  Though I’m happy for him that he got to manage in his homeland, I’d still like to know what happened with that Bobby V. thing. Unless someone tells me otherwise I’m going to assume that he had, like, three bartenders quit on him at his sports bar in Stamford and now he has to hustle back and forth between pulling extra shifts there and his night job on Baseball Tonight up in Bristol.

Pirates 2, Cubs 1: The Buccos win their first road game in 18 tries behind eight innings of one-run ball from Paul Maholm. An RBI double from Jose Tabata in the ninth inning was der differencemacher.

Tigers 7, Twins 5: The Tigers take possession of first place in the AL Central, but Joel Zumaya left the game with an obviously painful arm injury after throwing a pitch in the eighth. All of that pales, however, compared to the fact that Jim Thome hit a triple. The last time he had a triple that didn’t have the words “decker cheeseburger” after it was in 2004.

Indians 2, Blue Jays 1: No one comes around and tells me that I disrespect the Blue Jays anymore. That’s kind of sad, really. Not as sad as getting held to one run by the Indians’ staff, but pretty sad all the same.

Royals 3, White Sox 1: The Chisox loaded the bases with nobody out in the ninth but couldn’t plate a single run and were retired on a strikeout and a couple of infield popups. Anthony Larew got his first major league win. Which seems wacky to me because, as is the case with a lot of guys who came up with the Braves, I feel like Larew has been around forever. I bet fans of every team have a few guys like this.

Astros 9, Brewers 5: The Astros fell into a 4-0 deficit in the early
going but roared back. Michael Bourn had a good game: four hits,
including a solo home run in the third and an RBI
single in the sixth. He also struck out once after stepping out of the
box while asking for a time out that was never granted. That’s always
fun.

Dodgers 4, Giants 2: The Giants hit into five double plays.
One of them came off the bat of Edgar Renteria in the fifth. Renteria
was first-pitch swinging with Pablo Sandoval on first base after he
walked on four straight pitches. Repeat: Pablo “I’ll swing at anything
south of the bridge and north of the airport” Sandoval walked on four
straight pitches, and Renteria thought it wise to immediate hack at the
first pitch right afterward. Mercy.

Rockies 10, Padres 6: Ubaldo Jiminez hadn’t allowed a hit into the
sixth inning. The wheels fell off for him then, however, allowing three
singles a homer, a walk and four runs. Lucky for him he had an 8-0 lead
at the time.

Marlins defeat the Mets, then pay their respects to Jose Fernandez on the pitcher’s mound

MIAMI, FL - SEPTEMBER 26: Miami Marlins players all wearing jerseys bearing the number 16 and name Fernandez honor the late Jose Fernandez before the game against the New York Mets at Marlins Park on September 26, 2016 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)
Rob Foldy/Getty Images
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The Marlins were somehow able to muster up the strength not only to play Monday night’s game against the Mets, but also win it convincingly one day after losing Jose Fernandez in a tragic boating accident. The Marlins and Mets helped pay tribute to Fernandez prior to the start of the game as outlined here.

When the game started, the Marlins came out of the gate with a bang. Dee Gordon homered in his first at-bat, then the club hung a four-spot in the second inning. They tacked on two more in the third inning to chase starter Bartolo Colon and take a commanding 7-0 lead. The Mets chipped away for two runs in the fifth on an Asdrubal Cabrera two-run homer and tacked on one more in the eighth, but ultimately fell short by a 7-3 margin.

Gordon finished 4-for-5 with the homer and two RBI. Justin Bour went 3-for-3 with a single, double, triple, and a walk along with an RBI and two runs scored.

A.J. Ramos, who closed out the win, placed the ball on the pitcher’s mound for Fernandez. The Marlins huddled around the mound and said a prayer. The players huddled closer to the rubber on the mound, then left their hats behind as they retreated to the clubhouse as fans at Marlins Park chanted, “Jose, Jose, Jose.”

In a post-game interview, Gordon called his first-inning home run “the best moment of my life,” as NBC 6 Sports reports.

Indians defeat Tigers, clinch AL Central for first division title since 2007

CLEVELAND, OH - SEPTEMBER 7: Roberto Perez #55 of the Cleveland Indians hits an RBI single during the second inning against the Houston Astros at Progressive Field on September 7, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Jason Miller/Getty Images
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The Indians beat the Tigers 7-4 at Comerica Park on Monday night, clinching the AL Central for their first division title since 2007. Starter Corey Kluber lasted only four innings before exiting with right groin tightness, but the Indians were able to overcome the adversity.

Coco Crisp gave the Indians their first two runs with a two-run home run in the second inning off of starter Buck Farmer. The Tigers would promptly tie the game on a two-run homer by J.D. Martinez in the bottom half of the inning.

In the fifth, an RBI double by Jason Kipnis and a sacrifice fly by Mike Napoli put the Tribe back on top 4-2. The Tigers answered once again with a Miguel Cabrera RBI single in the bottom half to make it 4-3.

Roberto Perez homered for the Indians in the top of the top of the seventh, and Cabrera answered with another RBI single in the bottom half to keep it within one run at 5-4.

The Indians tacked on another insurance run in the eighth on three consecutive two-out singles by Crisp, Rajai Davis, and Perez. Carlos Santana then hit what should have been the final out of the eighth inning, but J.D. Martinez botched the catch, allowing the Indians’ seventh run to score.

Cody Allen shut the Tigers down in the bottom of the ninth, protecting the 7-4 lead for his 30th save of the season.

The last time the Indians won the AL Central, their starting lineup featured a 28-year-old Victor Martinez, a 25-year-old Jhonny Peralta, a 24-year-old Grady Sizemore, and a 26-year-old CC Sabathia. It’s been a long time.

The American League playoff picture still isn’t set yet, so the Indians will be intently watching the final week of the season to see who will be their playoff opponent.