And That Happened: Tuesday's Scores and Highlights

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Cardinals 8, Reds 4: Fisticuffsmanship! Or, Footsticuffsmanship, if you watched Johnny Cueto kicking people in the donnybrook. Look, I know that, depending on who ends up winning the division, either Reds fans or Cards fans are going to point to this series as some sort of turning point or inspiration or whatever, but the fact is that they’re all kind of embarrassing themselves at this point. Phillips started it, but Yadier Molina’s short fuse ignited it and then Cueto’s crap was unreal. Dusty Baker and Tony La Russa are supposed to be two of the game’s more respected managers. If they’re worthy of the praise and press they get, they’ll beat their teams upside the head today and this afternoon’s game will go off without all of the baloney we saw last night.

Braves 4, Astros 2:
The Superman exists — and he’s Brooks Conrad. OK, that’s putting it a
bit strongly. Dude’s just had a couple of gigantic pinch-hit home runs
this year, this one a two-run job that brought the Braves back from down 2-1 in the ninth. Troy Glaus added another for insurance. On
the bad side, Chipper Jones left the game with what looked like a bad
knee injury, though as of now they’re calling it a sprain. Jason Heyward
sat out with “a sore knee.” It also happened to be the day after he
turned 21, so there’s a distinct possibility that flulike symptoms could
have waylaid him as well.

Twins 12, White Sox 6:
Minnesota takes sole possession of first place in the central. Five
homers for Minnesota, including one from Joe Mauer who has been torrid
in August. He ain’t the MVP this year, but he’s stepping up when the
Twins need him to do so, and that’s what they’re paying the man to do.

Rangers 4, Yankees 3:
Not a lot of managers would put their ace closer into a tie game in
extra innings on the road. Joe Girardi did. And you know what? I don’t
care if the Rangers ended up scoring off him to win the game. It was —
and usually is — the right freakin’ choice. Put your best damn guy in
there when the game could be lost and do your best not to lose it.
Girardi and Rivera got beat last night, but that’s going to happen
such a low percentage of the time I’d do it again whenever
the situation presents itself. Screw the save statistic.

Marlins 8, Nationals 2: The return of Strasburg does not go well (4.1 IP, 6 H, 6 ER). Rust? Adrenaline? Some residual shoulder wonkiness? The fact that, for the first time, he faced a team who has seen his jazz before?  I vote for a little bit of each of those things.

Mets 1, Rockies 0: If you had “Mike Pelfrey will outduel Ubaldo Jimenez” in the pool, please proceed to the cashier’s cage and collect your winnings. Both starters were pretty fabulous, actually, but the Mets managed to string a walk, a double and a sacrifice off Jimenez in the seventh.

Dodgers 15, Phillies 9: Kyle Kendrick got beat around for three and a third innings and then he graciously allowed the bullpen to get beat around for five and two-thirds. Andre Ethier reached base six times and scored four times. Ross Gload had two two-run homers for the Phillies. Domonic Brown hit his first major league bomb. Just a hell of a lot going on in this game. Most of it bad for Philly, though.

Orioles 14, Indians 8: This is the American League version of the
Phillies-Dodgers games, except done with suckier teams. Showalter’s O’s
are now 7-1.

Diamondbacks 2, Brewers 1: A Miguel Montero homer puts Arizona ahead for good in the eighth. Sadly, however, the closeness of this game prevented Adam LaRoche from pitching.

Red Sox 7, Blue Jays 5: Mike Lowell homered in the eighth to break a 5-5 tie and Jed Lowrie hit an RBI double for insurance. In other news, with Lowell and Lowrie leading the charge it must be 2008.

Rays 8, Tigers 0: Things we know: (1) Jeremy Hellickson is a stud (7 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 7K); (2) The Detroit Tigers are deader than vaudeville.

Cubs 8, Giants 6: Who was that man wearing the number 55 Giants jersey and what has he done with Tim Lincecum? Because I know damn well that the real Tim Lincecum wouldn’t give up six runs on eight hits in four innings to a team like the Cubs. That just doesn’t happen.

Padres 4, Pirates 1: Ryan Ludwick hit two homers, one of which was his 100th home run. And you know what? He didn’t need a ridiculous propaganda piece in a national newspaper to make a note of it.

Mariners 2, Athletics 0: King Felix struck out 13 and shutout the A’s over eight innings. He basically had to, as Brett Anderson was pretty sharp himself (7 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 7K).

Angels 3, Royals 1: Dan Haren gets his first win since the trade that sent him to Anaheim. Peter Bourjos drove in the go-ahead run with a suicide squeeze. Those are always fun. Scioscia has a lot of confidence in the rookie, I presume.

Yankees oust Aroldis Chapman from the closer’s role

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The writing was on the wall, but the Yankees made it official on Saturday: Aroldis Chapman is no longer closing games for the Bronx Bombers. Comments from manager Joe Girardi suggested that the move is a temporary one, however, and he told reporters that Chapman will be utilized at “different points” in the game as the Yankees try to pinpoint the source of the left-hander’s struggles.

There’s no question that the flame-throwing southpaw has been off his game for a while, and his season 4.29 ERA, 4.3 BB/9 and 12.6 SO/9 hints at some of the issues he’s been facing. He imploded in each of his last three appearances, issuing a cumulative five hits, six runs and five strikeouts over just 3 1/3 innings. It seems plausible that the left rotator cuff inflammation that sidelined him several months ago has resurfaced, but the veteran lefty said Friday that he doesn’t believe any physical issues have caused his decline.

While Chapman works out the kinks in his mechanics, the Yankees will look to some combination of Dellin Betances and David Robertson to cover the ninth inning. Girardi wouldn’t commit to either reliever in the closer’s spot, however, and said he’d take it on a case-by-case basis depending on the match-ups in any given game. The long-term plan is still to reinstate Chapman, whenever that might make sense for the team.

“He’s been scuffling over the past 10 days, two weeks,” Girardi said. “I just thought for us to get him back on track, maybe the best way would be to move him around a little bit until he gets going. When we get him going like I believe he’ll get going, there’s a good chance I’ll put him right back in that closer’s role.”

Nationals activate Stephen Strasburg off the disabled list

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The Nationals officially activated Stephen Strasburg off the 10-day disabled list, the team announced Saturday. They’ll pencil him into the starting lineup for their second set against the Padres on Saturday night. Strasburg is expected to assume Max Scherzer‘s roster spot after Scherzer landed on the disabled list with neck inflammation prior to Friday’s series opener. No other roster moves appear to be necessary for the time being.

Strasburg, 28, is finally looking stable after serving a 26-day stint on the DL with a right elbow nerve impingement. It’s the first serious injury he’s sustained since last August, when he missed 20 days with inflammation in his right elbow, and one the Nationals are taking seriously as they juggle multiple stints for their elite starters. He’ll enter Saturday’s competition with a 10-3 record in 20 starts, supplemented by a 3.25 ERA, 2.7 BB/9 and 10.4 SO/9 through 121 2/3 innings.

Elbow issues are nothing to be played around with, but Strasburg’s performance in his lone rehab outing relieved any residual apprehension the Nats might have had about his activation this weekend. He tossed 66 pitches for High-A Potomac, hitting 95 MPH with his heater and logging three hits, one run, one walk and five strikeouts over five innings. Club manager Dusty Baker is hoping for a similarly dominant start against the Padres, and told reporters that he’ll hold Strasburg to a performance count as the righty works his way back to a full-time gig.