And That Happened: Tuesday's Scores and Highlights

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Reds 3, Astros 2: If you’re gonna clinch the division, do it on a walkoff jack. Way to go Jay Bruce. Way to go Cincinnati Reds. Cincinnati was a great baseball town. Maybe still is a great baseball town. Definitely can be a great baseball town going forward. But it needed this division title to cleanse itself of the negativity that has pervaded Reds baseball for so many years. Not so much the team itself, but the fans and their relationship to it. It needed guys like Joey Votto and Jay Bruce and Brandon Phillips and, yes, Dusty Baker, to remind the town of how fun baseball really is.

Yankees 6, Blue Jays 1; Rays 5, Orioles 0: With these wins the Yankees and the Rays clinched playoff spots of their own. Both CC Sabathia (8.1 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 8K) and David Price (8 IP, 6 H, 0 ER, 8K) pitched gems. Lots of people will no doubt look at these games and decide that nice lines in clinching games = big money and put more steam behind what had been flagging Cy Young cases for each of them.

Mariners 3, Rangers 1: But anyone tempted to do so had best take heed: Felix Hernandez is still awesome: 8 IP, 5H, 1 ER, 5K). Will he start on Sunday, or was this it? Justin Smoak with a two-run homer that put the M’s up for good. Here’s hoping — for M’s fans’ sake — that this is a harbinger of thing to come, not just some weird spite thing against the Rangers.

Braves 3, Marlins 2: Eric Hinske’s pinch hit, two-run jack keeps the Braves on top in the wild card race. It was a another skin-of-their-teeth win, with Brooks Conrad (big RBI triple late in the game) and Melky Cabrera and Rick Ankiel (big defensive blunder, striking out with a runner on third with less than two outs) doing those things they do best.

Cubs 5, Padres 2: Alfonso Soriano hit two homers and the Padres bats continued to slumber. San Diego is now a game and a half back of the Braves in the wild card and are two back of the Giants with five to play.

Giants 4, Diamondbacks 2: Juan Uribe had a homer and Pablo Sandoval got a couple of hits, as the Giants moved one game closer to the playoffs. Sandoval: “Five more games. We have to play hard. Don’t get comfortable.” Nothin’ personal, but I have this feeling that Sandoval spends a large portion of his day trying to get comfortable.

Dodgers 9, Rockies 7: And so it ends for Colorado. All of these losses to the not-so-good teams in the last week — the Dbacks and Dodgers — may have put the final nail in the coffin, but their overall lack of consistency over the course of 162 games is the real cause of death. You can’t depend on a month’s worth of great play and do very well in this game.

Mets 4, Brewers 3: A two-run homer for David Wright and a two-run, game-winning double for Ruben Tejada. And Prince Fielder made a great defensive play in this one. That’s the first time I’ve ever written that. Now watch: per the Jayson Werth thing, Boras will start touting him as a centerfielder.

Nationals 2, Phillies 1: A walkoff homer for Adam Dunn against a Phillies lineup that I would have expected to have more bench players than it did a day after clinching. Howard, Utley, Rollins and Ibanez all got the start. Roy Osawalt did too, but he was yanked after 66 pitches, so this was clearly a less-than-100% outing for him, by design.

Royals 10, Twins 1: OK, I made a bit of fun of Ron Gardenhire for worrying about the Twins’ effort lately, but this is probably a legitimate concern at this point. Kila Ka’aihue hit two homers and had four RBI.

Pirates 7, Cardinals 2: The Cards were eliminated before this game was over thanks to Jay Bruce’s heroics in Cincinnati. Not that Cardinals fans knew it. According to several Cardinals writers who were tweeting during the game, the Cards out of town scoreboard wasn’t updated to show the Reds score for some time after it happened. The first sign to the crowd that the season had become a formality was the PA system blasting R.E.M.’s “It’s the End of the World As We Know It.”  Classic.

White Sox 5, Red Sox 4: Boston no doubt learned of their elimination in mid-game as well. Dayan Viciedo won it for the Chisox on a pinch-hit walkoff RBI single. Oh, and Daniel Bard blew a save in this one, so put that in your back pocket as you start gearing up for Boston’s hot stove season.

Angels 4, Athletics 2: I hope Peter Bourjos can hit in this league, because I’d sure like to see him do this sort of thing for a long time.

Tigers vs. Indians: Postponed: Let us keep our feet in wool slippers and mix hot punches–and talk about
mail carriers and messenger boys slipping along the icy sidewalks. Let
us write of olden, golden days and hunters of the Holy Grail and men
called “knights” riding horses in the rain, in the cold frozen rain for
ladies they loved.

Brewers’ Julio Mendez remains hospitalized after hit by pitch

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Brewers’ minor league infielder Julio Mendez remains in “critical but stable condition,” club GM David Stearns announced Friday. Back in August, Mendez suffered a cardiac event after he was inadvertently struck by a ball from the Angels’ Austin Krzeminksi during a game between the rookie-level affiliates. The 20-year-old was removed to a Phoenix-area hospital for treatment following the incident and has recently been transferred to a hospital in his native Venezuela.

Mendez was in his fourth season with the Brewers’ organization. He spent the majority of his 2017 run with the rookie-level AZL Brewers, slashing .255/.294/.355 with 10 extra-base hits, 16 RBI and four stolen bases over 119 plate appearances. He currently holds a career .241/.324/.309 batting line, 33 extra bases and a .633 OPS through 668 PA.

Baseball is still on the back burner, however, as Mendez appears to have made little progress nearly a month following the hit by pitch. Thoughts go out to his family during this difficult time.

Brad Ausmus out as Tigers manager

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The Tigers just announced that they will not be bringing Brad Ausmus back as manager in 2018. His contract was going to be up at the end of this season and they have decided not to renew it. Ausmus and his staff will manage the club for the final week of the season.

In the press release announcing the move, Tigers GM Al Avila said “[a]s we transition the ballclub in a new direction, I feel it’s best that we have a new approach and a fresh start with the manager position.” He went on to praise Ausmus for “doing an admirable job under difficult circumstances, especially this season,” a clear reference to the club’s decision at mid-season to blow things up. Justin Verlander and J.D. Martinez were traded in July and August, as were some more minor players. The club is clearly embarking on a lengthy rebuild of which Ausmus, who was brought in four years ago to lead a contending team, will not be a part.

In his four seasons at the helm the Tigers are 312-325. He won 90 games and the AL Central in his first season in 2014, but the Tigers were swept out of the ALDS in three games. In the past three seasons they finished fifth, second and will either finish in fourth or fifth this year. Injuries and poor bullpens have been the biggest problem, but clearly this Tigers team was supposed to win more over the past four years.

It’s unclear what direction the Tigers will take in their managerial search, but it’s clear they’re going to go outside of the organization, as Avila said in his statement that the status of the current coaching staff will be contingent on the wishes of whatever new manager they hire.

Happy trails, Brad Ausmus. Baseball’s Most Handsome Manager is now Baseball’s Most Handsome Unemployed coach.