And That Happened: Tuesday's Scores and Highlights

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Rockies 12, Cardinals 9: Seth Smith, after the biggest ninth inning comeback in living memory: “Baseball’s crazy, even stupid sometimes . . . I don’t even know what just happened . . . You go from, ‘Let’s not give any at-bats away,’ to ‘Good try,’ to ‘Oh,
wait, we can do this.'”  That kind of surprise and references to freakish, dumb luck was pretty much the order of the day in the clubhouse after the game from both teams. Except Dexter Fowler who, when asked, said that the ninth inning was about “pride.”  Pride?  The problem, Dexter, is if you explain the extraordinary in terms of something you’re capable of simply doing based on will alone, some may ask you why you don’t do it all the time.  Sure, there was pride, but there were also two-dozen other wacky and out-of-your-control occurrences which led to this improbable result.  Don’t give me “pride.”  Own the glorious chaos of it all.

Braves 6, Phillies 3: Matt Diaz hit a tiebreaking double in the 11th inning, and Eric Hinske added
a two-run homer. Cole Hamels pitched well for Philly, but his teammates managed only three hits.  They’ve been boning him like that for his last several starts, actually.

Rays 3, Red Sox 2: Jeff Niemann held the Sox to four hits and an unearned run.  I love the narrative about a bunch of no-names like Eric Patterson and Daniel Nava helping the Sox to a magical resurgence as much as the next guy, but at some point it’s a lot nicer to simply have your big stars healthy and playing, ya know?

Nationals 6, Pirates Padres 5: Ryan Zimmerman hit two bombs.  I’m guessing Joey Votto still wins the silly Internet vote for the last All-Star slot, but that’s some pretty good late campaigning for Zim, no? Game time temperature was 99 degrees.  If my San Diego-living brother is any guide to what people from that town do whenever the weather isn’t a nice, breezy low-humidity 78, the Padres probably wilted and complained and then asked to borrow money from me. Wait, strike that last one, as it’s specific to my brother.

Twins 7, Blue Jays 6: Homers from Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau and Jason Kubel. Delmon Young went 3 for 3 with an RBI and scored the winning run. Twelfth loss in 15 games for the Jays.

Mets 3, Reds 0: No, he’s not in his prime anymore, but it’s nice to see some vintage Johan Santana once in a while (CG, SHO 3 H).

Tigers 7, Orioles 5: Nice night for Johnny Damon: he got his 2,500th career hit and had a walkoff homer in the
11th. “The ball from my 2,500th hit is going in the trophy case, but No. 2,501
is the one I’m going to remember for a long time.”  I don’t know why I laughed at the idea that Johnny Damon has a trophy case, because he’s an accomplished player who probably has a ton of hardware going back to his little league days. But I just immediately got this image of a bunch of random hilarious things like plaques for judging swimsuit competitions and stuff.

Astros 6, Pirates 2: Wandy Rodriguez strikes out ten Bucs and Carlos Lee and Lance Berkman went yard. This kind of scene is what more or less formed the basis of Ed Wade’s delusions of competitiveness this past offseason.

Rangers 12, Indians 1: Everything in this game was overshadowed by that fan falling from the upper deck. He’s supposedly OK, but given that a spectator died a month after falling out of the stands in Miller Park earlier this year, I’ll wait until the guy in Texas is discharged from the hospital to exhale. As for the game, Josh Hamilton and Vlad Guerrero led the assault. But please, Mr. AP writer: no one cares that Josh Hamilton has a “home hitting streak” of 26 games. Hitting streaks matter. Home and road hitting streaks are silly things to track.

Giants 6, Brewers 1: Madison Bumgarner pitched eight shutout innings to get his first win as a major leaguer. Then his teammates gave him a beer shower despite the fact that he’s only 20.  17 Giants players were arrested to contributing to the delinquency of a minor and Bumgarner was released into the custody of his parents.

White Sox 4, Angels 1: The win, she is nice, but losing Jake Peavy to a back injury — latissimus dorsi is the word on the street — is not good. Peavy had been pretty solid over his last several starts and was one of the many reasons the Sox had gone on the run they’re on.

Cubs 6, Diamondbacks 4: Aramis Ramirez supposedly hurt his hand again the other day, but either that was overstated or else the Diamondbacks were throwing beach balls at him. Two homers for A-Ram, which is a nickname I’m never, ever going to use again for him. Carlos Silva has nine wins before the All-Star Break. I’m not sure if that stat or the fact that Vernon Wells is an All-Star would have elicited greater belly laughs from me if I had been informed of it back in April.

Yankees 6, Athletics 1: Grand slam in the third inning and a solo shot in the sixth for A-Rod.  A-Rod after the game: “I like RBIs because that helps the team win.”  Franklly, I liked it much better when he said egotistical inane things. This seemingly selfless inanity just doesn’t suit him.

Dodgers 7, Marlins 3: Fourth homer in six games for Matt Kemp. Is it possible that, more than the attitude adjustment, Kemp simply needed a couple of days off to rest?  Because since he was benched by Joe Torre last week he’s been on a tear.

Royals 3, Mariners 2: Zach Greinke shuts down the M’s. A fan interference call in the eighth inning may have changed the outcome of the game, though.  Russell Branyan hit a double down the line with Ichiro on first base.  A kid reached out and touched it, though, meaning Ichiro had to stop at third when he would have otherwise scored, trying the game. Jose Lopez then grounded out for out number three.  God, I hate fans. Wouldn’t baseball be better without them?

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.