St. Louis Cardinals v Milwaukee Brewers

And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights

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Brewers 4, Cardinals 3: Milwaukee makes a statement, sweeping the formerly-first-place Cardinals. Shaun Marcum pitched seven strong innings and the Brewers came back from being down 3-0 after five and a half innings to taking the lead after six. The Brewers are the hottest team this side of Boston, methinks. Speaking of them …

Red Sox 14, Blue Jays 1: Remember those Blue Jays truthers hanging out in the comments section who got on everyone’s case a month or so ago when people were ranking the Sox higher than the Jays even though the Jays had a better record? Yeah, well, truth your way out of a 35-6 three-game series. At home.

Braves 4, Astros 1: Tommy Hanson stuck out 14 guys in seven innings, and Braves pitchers struck out 17 in all. Which is way less shocking than the fact that Dan Uggla went 2 for 3 with a homer, a walk and a couple driven in. That’s six straight wins for the Braves. Houston has lost four straight and eight of nine.

Mariners 7, Tigers 3: Two homers for Mr. Indispensable and the usual ho-hum eight strong innings for Felix Hernandez. Detroit and Seattle split the four-game series.

Diamondbacks 5, Marlins 1: Stephen Drew had a two-run double in the first and that was really all Arizona would end up needing.  That’s ten of eleven in the toilet for Florida.

Mets 7, Pirates 0: Chris Capuano with seven shutout innings, three hits allowed.  Jose Reyes is absolutely on fire. He already had an OPS over 1.000 for June coming in to this game and went 3 for 5 with an RBI and two runs scored.

Yankees 9, Indians 1: Cleveland’s nightmare June continues. That’s two wins and nine losses on the month. This one was close until the fifth when Josh Tomlin imploded and the Yankees put up a five-spot.  Curtis Granderson was 4 for 4 with a couple RBI, A-Rod was 3 for 5 with three driven in.  None of the Yankees runs came on home runs. Which is great, because we’re told that in Yankee-land, home runs are things you don’t too many of.

Twins 6, Rangers 1: Francisco Liriano had a no-hitter going into the eighth. Too bad he didn’t get it, because I’d have to imagine that he’d easily be the worst pitcher to have two no-hitters in a season.  Anyway, they needed those blanks from Liriano at least through the seventh before the Twins broke through for five runs, taking the pressure off.

Phillies 4, Cubs 3: Roy Oswalt had a better start, actually striking out some dudes for once. Ryan Howard drove in three. The Cubs have the same 2-9 record in June that the Indians have.

White Sox 5, Athletics 3: The A’s have a record in June that even the Cubs and Indians can laugh at, and have lost 12 of 13 overall. Adam Dunn with a three-run homer.

Rays 9, Orioles 6: Brian Matusz had nothing out of the gate and only lasted an inning and a third. That left it to Alfredo Simon and the rest of the O’s pen to keep it close, but they … didn’t. Not that the bats didn’t try to help. Back to back homers for Adam Jones and Vlad Guerrero. The Rays were just on base all day, though, and you’re not going to make any headway against ’em when that happens.

Nationals 2, Padres 0: A Petco special, scoreless until the ninth when the Nats strung a couple together. Jordan Zimmermann deserved the win after striking out ten in seven shutout innings, but that’s not how it turned out. Tim Stauffer deserved a better fate too.

Dodgers 10, Rockies 8: An ugly line for Ubaldo Jimenez (5.1 IP, 11 H, 7 R, 2 ER), capped by the James Loney grand slam. Rubby De La Rosa looked strong until he had to leave with a cramp in his arm.

Royals 9, Angels 0: A totally different Vin Mazzaro than we saw the last couple of times out: seven shutout innings. Not epic shutout innings, mind you — he walked five and didn’t strike anyone out — but the Royals defense turned a bunch of double plays behind him, and that will cure a lot of ills.

Giants 4, Reds 2: Three hits and two runs driven in for Aubrey Huff as the Giants come from behind. The most notable thing about this game: watching the views from the blimp and wondering why in the hell I live in Ohio instead of California.

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.