And That Happened: Monday’s scores and highlights

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Nationals 5, Braves 4: I suppose you can yell at Dan Uggla for messing up the play with the infield in and a runner on third in the 13th inning which allowed the winning run to score. But perhaps it’s also worth noting that the Braves played perhaps their most important game to date, in a series that, if they don’t win, the division title is basically out of reach, with their best relief pitcher sitting on his butt. But hey, at least Fredi Gonzalez saved Craig Kimbrel for a save situation that never came. Not having him then would have been terrible. Far better to leave everything up to Cristhian Martinez in a situation when a strikeout is absolutely critical, not the guy who strikes out 15.8 batters per nine innings.

Giants 2, Dodgers 1: In another division battle — with a marquee starting pitching matchup — Madison Bumgarner Dominated the Dodgers, striking out ten in eight shutout innings. Clayton Kershaw struck out ten in eight innings too, but Pablo Sandoval got to him twice, with a sacrifice and an RBI single.

Rangers 5, Orioles 1: The Rangers finally get a Ryan Dempster outing that looked like the Cubs version of Ryan Dempster (8 IP, 4 H, 1 ER). All nine Rangers starters got a hit. You don’t win anything for that, but if you do it nine times in one season, everyone in the lineup gets a free t-shirt. Assuming they all got their little cards punched each time.

Rockies 3, Mets 1: R.A. Dickey was solid but for a home run to Tyler Colvin, and then the Rockies scored a run on a passed ball by Kelly Shoppach. Shoppach was so livid about it not being called a wild pitch that he texted the official scorer with Ike Davis’ phone in order to voice his displeasure.

Brewers 9, Cubs 5: Jonathan Lucroy hit two homers and drove in four. Pretty fantastic year for him. He’s hitting .328/.379/.554 with 8 homers in 62 games.

Phillies 12, Reds 5: Not a great outing for Roy Halladay — five runs on ten hits in seven innings — but when the offense goes crazy like this, you don’t need to be great. Homers from Ryan Howard, Erik Kratz and John Mayberry, but really everybody got into the act.

Rays 5, Royals 1: The amazing pitching — and the winning — continue for Tampa Bay. Jeremy Hellickson threw seven innings, allowing one run on six hits. You know how you make up for a “meh” first half? You have your rotation turn into the 1998 Braves in the second half. That’s Tampa Bay this year.

White Sox 9, Yankees 6: New York blew a 3-0 lead, hopped back on top at 6-5 and then blew it again. And their lead over the Rays is now down to four games. DeWayne Wise, Gordon Beckham, Alexi Ramirez and Adam Dunn all went yard against a tater-happy Yankees pen.

Marlins 12, Diamondbacks 3: It was all over when the Fish put a nine-spot on Joe Saunders in the fourth innings. Giancarlo Stanton hit two big homers and drove in four and Jose Reyes and John Buck each had four hits in the Marlins 20-hit attack.

Padres 3, Pirates 1: Edinson Volquez — who has been horrifyingly bad lately — struck out ten in six and two-thirds and Will Venable drove in two.

Mariners 5, Indians 3: Michael Saunders continues his recent hot streak, smacking two homers. He’s eight for his last 16 with three homers. Cleveland has no dropped six in a row.

Twins 7, Athletics 2: The A’s lose their first in five games, the Twins with their first in six. How did it happen, Ron Gardenhire?

“Right from the get-go. We got some runs in there early, had a little bit of a lead and kept getting some base hits and quality at-bats,” Gardenhire said. “And Duens did his thing. It was a nice night. We got to run around the bases a little bit. Some guys had some good nights.”

“Duens?” That’s Brian Duensing’s nickname? Creative, there.

Braves’ prospect Ronald Acuna wins AFL MVP, helps clinch AFL Championship Game

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The Arizona Fall League competition came to a close on Saturday, concluding with the Peoria Javelinas’ 8-2 win over the Mesa Solar Sox for the championship title. No one stood out more than Braves’ no. 1 prospect Ronald Acuna, who took home honors as the AFL MVP after slashing .325/.414/.639 with a league-leading seven home runs and second-best 1.053 OPS in 83 at-bats.

At just 19 years old, Acuna is the youngest prospect to receive the award. He made his presence felt even before he suited up for the AFL, earning promotions to the Braves’ Double-A Mississippi and Triple-A Gwinnett and batting a remarkable .325/.374/.522 with 21 home runs across three levels in 2017.

Acuna was also a major factor in the Javelinas’ win on Saturday, but he wasn’t the first to make some noise. The Solar Sox got to right-hander T.J. Zeuch in the first inning, leading off with three singles and a run-scoring sac fly to get a 2-0 edge over the Javelinas. It was the only lead they’d get all afternoon and it lasted just two innings. Luis Urias snapped the shutout with a sac fly in the bottom of the second inning, and the Javelinas took the lead with a game-tying RBI single from Acuna and two-run base hit from Braves’ no. 16 prospect Alex Jackson in the third.

From then on, it was smooth sailing for Peoria. Andrew Case, Andres Munoz and Art Warren combined for 3 1/3 scoreless innings in relief, while the offense tacked on another handful of runs with Acuna’s fourth-inning two-RBI single and Michael Chavis’ eighth-inning triple. With runners at the corners and one out, the Solar Sox lifted right-hander Dakota Bacus for fellow righty Nolan Blackwood. Even he was flummoxed by Acuna, however, who grabbed hold of the first pitch he saw and returned another sac fly to center field for the Javelinas’ eighth and final run of the game.

Only 131 days left until Opening Day, folks.