Nyjer Morgan

Brewers beat Diamondbacks in 10, advance to NLCS

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8:49 p.m.update: Nyjer Morgan singled in Carlos Gomez with one out to advance the Brewers to the NLCS.

Gomez singled off J.J. Putz and stole second to get into scoring position before Morgan hit a groundball single up the middle. Chris Young’s throw from center field wasn’t nearly in time.

8:40 p.m. update: Axford rebounded from his poor ninth to retire the Diamondbacks in order in the 10th. Craig Counsell, Carlos Gomez and Nyjer Morgan due up for Milwaukee.

8:32 p.m. update: We’re going to extra innings. David Hernandez has retired all six Brewers he’s faced.

Paul Goldschmidt, Chris Young and the pitcher’s spot are due up for the Diamondbacks in the 10th. Lyle Overbay figures to hit for Hernandez unless it’s a bunting situation.

8:28 p.m. update: Poor Jerry Hairston. He was robbed by Chris Young on his bid for a two-run double in the sixth and he just cranked another to left-center that was grabbed by Gerardo Parra.

8:25 p.m. update: Blanco grounds out to end the top of the ninth with the score tied 2-2. It was pretty impressive the way Axford bounced back, particularly after he botched the squeeze bunt.

Worth remembering now: the Brewers have taken out their third- and fourth-best hitters for defense. Corey Hart and Rickie Weeks were replaced by Carlos Gomez and Craig Counsell.

Jerry Hairston Jr., Yuniesky Betancourt and Jonathan Lucroy are due up against David Hernandnez in the bottom of the ninth.

8:23 p.m. update: Upton taps out to Axford. Now it’s Henry Blanco up after the Diamondbacks chose to run for Miguel Montero with two outs in the eighth.

8:20 p.m. update: Axford finally gets his first out, striking out Aaron Hill. Justin Upton up.

8:17 p.m. update: A Willie Bloomquist safety squeeze ties it up. Even bigger, no out was recorded on the play after Axford got in Prince Fielder’s way, giving the Diamondbacks two on with none out.

The Brewers were 81-1 when leading after eight innings this season.

8:16 p.m. update: Burroughs pulled back the bunt and flared a 3-2 pitch into shallow right. Runners on first and third, no outs.

8:12 p.m. update: Previously hitless in 17 at-bats for the series, Gerardo Parra took John Axford’s first pitch of the ninth into right-center for a double. This is getting good.

Sean Burroughs is in looking to drop down a bunt.

8:10 p.m. update: Diamondbacks reliever David Hernandez retired Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder and Rickie Weeks in order in the eighth, so it’s 2-1 Brewers headed to the ninth.

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Francisco Rodriguez loaded the bases in the top of the eighth before getting Ryan Roberts to groundout to end the inning. The Brewers will take at least a 2-1 lead into the top of the ninth in Game 5 of the NLDS against the Diamondbacks.

While K-Rod was shaky right from the start — he walked Aaron Hill to start the inning — Brewers manager Ron Roenicke never moved to warm up closer John Axford or anyone else in the Milwaukee pen. Rodriguez gave up a single to Miguel Montero with one out and walked Chris Young to load the bases with two outs, but he appeared in control while dealing to Roberts. Roberts guessed fastball on the first pitch and got the slider. He was then late on a fastball on the second pitch, and pitch No. 3 was a routine grounder for an easy out.

The Brewers will turn to Axford in the ninth. Due up are Gerardo Parra, Sean Burroughs and Willie Bloomquist. Parra is hitless today and 0-for-17 in the series.

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.