And That Happened: Monday's Scores and Highlights

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Cardinals 8, Phillies 4: Sometimes there are these pitches that seem simply unhittable. That scrape the corners, that paint the blacks, that fall right off the table and leave everyone in the house guessing except for the catcher who called for it and the pitcher who threw it. Kyle Kendrick does not possess any of those pitches (5 IP, 7, H, 7 ER, 3 HR). And Charlie Manuel would have yanked him before he gave up his third home run in the fifth inning, but he was gettin’ some shut-eye, see, and told no one to wake him unless there was an e-mergency, get me?

Marlins 9, Rockies 8: A wild one. The Rockies took leads in the third, the sixth and the eighth, but gave the leads back in the third, the sixth and the ninth. I was gonna look and see if the someone was messing with the humidor, but then I saw that they were playing in Florida, and that’s all humidor, all the time. Oh, and Ubaldo Jimenez got beat up. I imagine we’re one or two mortal performances like this one before we return to not paying much more attention to Ubaldo Jimenez starts than we do anyone else’s.

Rays 8, Orioles 1: Wade Davis gives up one run over eight innings. Davis feasts on the Orioles — he’s 3-0 with a 0.75 ERA in three starts — but then again, who doesn’t feast on the Orioles?

Reds 7, Nationals 2: Nothing better for a team having hard time scoring runs like a visit from the Nats. The damage was done by Miguel Cairo, Jonny Gomes, Drew Stubbs and Johnny Cueto, which is totally how the Reds drew it up.

Brewers 3, Pirates 1: Chris Capuano got his first win since May 13, 2007. That was about a month after I started blogging. Just two days before that win I put up a post about how Major League Baseball was struggling to figure out how to properly commemorate Barry Bonds imminent breaking of Hank Aaron’s home run record because — as some people were vaguely aware at the time — Selig had some shadowy committee headed up by George Mitchell investigating steroids. So much uncertainty! How much time has passed.

Astros 11, Cubs 5: Remember back when we were all marveling at Carlos Silva’s fast start. Yeah, that’s over (1 IP, 7 H, 5 ER).

Royals 5, Blue Jays 4: Kevin Gregg came out for the bottom of the 10th with a one run lead. A triple and a sac fly tied the score, then Gregg got a grounder for out number two. Can Gregg do it! Nope: Single, walk, single ballgame. Second clunker in a row for Gregg, but at least he didn’t lose that last three-walk game in Baltimore.

Giants 5, Dodgers 2: The Dodgers’ tailspin continues and the Giants continue to surge. Into second place as we wake up this morning. Buster Posey has a 13 game hitting streak. If he keeps that up I may soon stop picturing Tony Hale every time I hear his name.

Diamondbacks 13, Mets 2: Mike Pelfrey gets destroyed in what was probably the worst outing of his career. He’s 1-4 with a 9.11 ERA in his last six starts. After the game Jerry Manuel went off about how Pelfrey needs to quit throwing junk and get back to his fastball-sinker routine. For his part Pelfrey agrees and says he feels fine physically and that it’s all a mental thing. At this point I can’t decide if it would be worse for the Mets if there was a physical problem or a mental problem, but it needs to get fixed fast because an effective Pelfrey is absolutely essential to the Mets’ chanced.

White Sox 6, Mariners 1: After a bad weekend, Chicago wins while both Detroit and Minnesota lose. Ozzie Guillen: “One day at a time. That’s our philosophy. No matter
what happens yesterday, today is a new one.”  Anyone else get a little weirded out by Ozzie being philosophical?

Red Sox 2, Athletics 1: Dice-K throws an efficient six and two-thirds innings and the game ended in two hours and forty minutes. Kevin Cash after the game: “That’s Dice’s whole M.O. Getting ahead and throwing strikes.”  Well, it’s totally not his M.O., but it’s nice to see him do it for once.

Indians 10, Twins 4: I’m torn. On the one hand I like to see the Indians playing well like they have lately because, while I don’t root for them, I get more Indians games on my big HD TV than anyone else’s and I’d rather watch a good product than a bad product. On the other hand, if they put together a nice second half with the young talent playing well, they’re going to trick me into thinking they’re a contender again next spring, and I’m pretty tired of being tricked into thinking the Indians are going to do well only to have them face-plant out of the gate.

Rangers 8, Tigers 6: A fourteen inning affair ends after Nelson Cruz hit a two-run homer. Well, it didn’t end directly after that because the Tigers still got to bat in the bottom of the inning, but you know what I mean. Rangers’ pitcher Dustin Nippert was hit in the head with a comebacker earlier in the game. Scary, but he appears to be OK.  Oh, and the Tigers should have won this one in the 11th but Cruz deked Johnny Damon — who was on second base — on a single hit to right-center. Damon should have scored, but Cruz played like he was going to catch it, causing Damon to hesitate and subsequently get stranded at third.

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.