Royals celebration

And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights

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Royals 8, Indians 2: I keep hitting refresh on the scoreboard but nothing changes so, apparently, this is correct and the Royals actually won a game.  Billy Butler hit two homers as Kansas City beat up on Ubaldo Jimenez.

Mets 5, Marlins 1: David Wright hit a two-run homer, giving him 735 RBI in his career, which pushes him past Darryl Strawberry for the all-time Mets RBI crown. Strawberry needed around 300 fewer plate appearances to do it. Wright, however, was not coked out of his mind, so this is really an apples-oranges comparison.

Rangers 7, Yankees 3: Phil Hughes is a wreck. He gave up four runs in two and two-thirds, bringing his year to 1-3 with a 7.88 ERA while allowing 26 hits and six walks in 16 innings.  That is … not acceptable. Adrian Beltre seems to be feeling just fine: 3 for 5 with a homer and 3 RBI.

Reds 4, Giants 2: Barry Zito had a shutout going through six, but then Scott Rolen hit a homer, the bullpen came into play again, bad defense went down and the Giants laid another egg in Great American Ballpark, where they have dropped seven straight.

Nationals 7, Padres 2: Washington continues to cruise behind great starting pitching. The Nats, overall, are 14-4. The starters are 8-2 with a 1.71 ERA with 103 strikeouts and only 22 walks.

Mariners 9, Tigers 1: Felix Hernandez was Felix Hernandez (7 IP, 4 H, 1 ER), but for once he got run support. Imagine. Detroit has lost five of six.

Rockies 2, Pirates 1; Pirates 5, Rockies 1: I wrote up the first game yesterday (short version: tough luck for James McDonald). In the nightcap, the Bucs rode a five-run fifth inning — complete with Pedro Alvarez’s second homer of the day — to earn the split. I guess the Rockies earned the split too by losing the second game, but we tend not to ever say that for some reason.

Phillies 7, Diamondbacks 2: Cole Hamels drove in two runs with an RBI single. Oh, and he also pitched a little (8 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 7K).

Cardinals 5, Cubs 1: Lance Lynn — who wasn’t even gonna be in the rotation before Chris Carpenter’s shoulder went wonky — now leads all of baseball with four wins following yet another strong outing. David Freese hit a two-run homer and an RBI double. The Cards avoid the sweep.

Orioles 3, Blue Jays 0: Jason Hammel, who came over from Colorado in the Jeremy Guthrie deal, said after the game “I am still learning a new league and seeing what everybody else is doing.” Mostly they’re busy not hitting Jason Hammel. Hammel tossed seven four-hit shutout innings. He’s 3-0 with a 1.73 ERA on the season. Matt Lindstrom worked a perfect eight inning and has still yet to give up a run on the year. He too came over in the Guthrie deal.

Astros 7, Brewers 5: His name is Jose Altuve.  And he’s the man whose big day helped Houston beat the Brewers for the first time in 12 tries.

Rays 3, Angels 2: I am the conductor of the Don’t Worry About Albert Pujols Because He’s Gonna Be Just Fine Orchestra, but it is probably still worth noting that he’s 0 for his last 19. C.J. Wilson struck out 11 in seven innings. But dude, when your offense goes 0 for 10 with runners in scoring position, good is not good enough.

Athletics 5, White Sox 4: Someone tweeted at me yesterday and asked why I don’t have many funny or insightful things to say in White Sox recaps. Well, when the team in question goes 13 innings in a 2-2 game, takes a two run lead in the 14th and still end up losing, well, that sort of limits my options. Yoenis Cespedes hit a two-run homer in the 14th and Kila Ka’aihue hit the game-winning single a few minutes later. That erased Alexei Ramirez’s go-ahead two-run double in the top of the 14th. It also rendered Paul Konerko’s 400th career homer a mere footnote.

Red Sox 7, Twins 6: Not news: Clay Buchholz stunk (5.1 IP, 10 H, 1 ER). News: The Sox’ bullpen shut the opposition down. And they did it by committee: six relievers combined to throw the last three and two-thirds, allowing no runs. Although the ninth inning did get dicey, as Alfredo Aceves loaded the bases on a walk, a single and a hit batsman before striking out Denard Span to end it.

Braves 4, Dodgers 2: L.A. took a 2-1 lead into the ninth but then the Braves hit five straight singles — including those of the RBI variety by Dan Uggla, Chipper Jones and Jason Heyward — to rally Atlanta.  Jones, in addition to the go-ahead RBI — made a couple of solid plays at third base and didn’t seem at all like a creaky 40 year-old on a retirement tour. He said:

“I was like a school kid out there. I mean, that’s what you play the game for — moments like that.”

Great. Now he’s Brett Favre. See you in spring training next year, Chipper.

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.