Baltimore Orioles v Oakland Athletics

And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights

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Orioles 9, Athletics 5: Baltimore salvages one. Which is important for two reasons. Reason 1:  It’s their 82nd win of the year, which means they will finish above .500 for the first time in forever.  More importantly: they really just need to avoid the disaster west coast trip here. If they take care of business against the Mariners this week they can call the trip a success. Or at least a non-calamity. They hold a two and a half game lead over the Angels and trail New York by one. Thirteen pitchers used in this game, by the way.

Cardinals 5, Dodgers 2: It was the ninth pitcher — out of ten total — that let it get away for the Dodgers. John Ely came in for the top of the 12th inning and walked a dude, but then got two outs. Then: Jon Jay doubled in a run, Carlos Beltran was walked intentionally, Matt Holliday was hit by a pitch, Allen Craig singled in a run and Yadier Molina walked to force in another. That was it for Mr. Ely and the Dodgers, who fall out of a tie for the second wild card slot.

Indians 7, Tigers 6: Oh brother. Not only do the Tigers blow this one in the ninth to the Tribe, but Alex Avila got hurt too. Lonnie Chisenhall singled in the winning run off Jose Valverde, who blew a two-run lead, ending the Tigers four-game winning streak.

White Sox 9, Twins 2: The sweep. And a rare instance of one of the two Central contenders taking care of business against inferior division foes lately.

Astros 7, Phillies 6: Philly’s surge came to a crashing halt in Houston, where they dropped three of four to the woeful Astros. It’s a familiar story, though one that hasn’t been a chronic problem in the second half: pathetic middle relief, with Phillip Aumont and Antonio Bastardo blowing Roy Halladay’s lead. Philly is four games back in the wild card now, with four teams ahead of them.

Cubs 13, Pirates 9: Wild card contenders losing to cupcakes is all the rage, apparently. Here the Pirates blew a 6-1 lead. Anthony Rizzo and Pedro Alvarez each had two homers. The Pirates have lost 12 of 15, including two of three to the Cubs.

Brewers 3, Mets 0: Wily Peralta tossed eight, two-hit shutout innings. Oh, and remember everyone who said that Ryan Braun was gonna fall off bigtime this year due to him being caught up in that testosterone business last year? Yeah, as if. Two more homers today. Braun is now hitting .312/.387/.602 with 40 homers and 103 RBI.  He should be a top MVP candidate again. Let’s see if he gets any love.

Braves 5, Nationals 1: The sweep. Still, I won’t be able to read this kind of thing without extreme anxiety until after the season is over:

Atlanta’s sweep solidified its return to the playoffs after a historic collapse in the final month last season. The Braves maintained a seven-game lead over the second wild-card spot, held by St. Louis, and are eight games up on the next club in the race, the Los Angeles Dodgers. It would take a more epic meltdown than even 2011 to squander that lead with only 15 games to go.

And that could never happen!  I’m …I’m almost certain of it.

Diamondbacks 10, Giants 2: Patrick Corbin wins the Helped His Own Cause Award, driving in four runs while tossing eight innings of two-run ball.

Angels 4, Royals 3: Dan Haren gave up three runs while pitching into the sixth and then a parade of relievers — Nick Maronde,Garrett Richards, Scott Downs, Jordan Walden and Kevin Jespen — shut the Royals down for the final three and a third. Mark Trumbo with a three-run homer. They remain two and a half back of the O’s in the wild card.

Reds 5, Marlins 4: Ryan Ludwick hit a go-ahead single in the 11th, capping a day in which the Reds got 17 hits but left a ton of men on base. Cincy avoids the sweep.

Blue Jays 5, Red Sox 0: The Jays avoid a sweep as well. Omar Vizquel had two hits. He’s about to pass Babe Ruth on the all-time hits list, by the way. I shall look no further than that stat and declare him Babe Ruth’s equal.

Yankees 6, Rays 4: Some people say the Yankees are too home-run dependent. Others say that small ball is no way to go. The Yankees compromised, doing both yesterday. Russell Martin hit a three-run homer. During that same inning the Yankees stole bases and Nick Swisher of all people had a sac bunt.

Rangers 2, Mariners 1: Texas is probably not too happy hearing all of that “The A’s are gunning for the division title, not just the wild card” talk. Their win and the A’s loss helps put that off a bit. Adrian Beltre hit a homer. Matt Harrison gave up one run over eight and two-thirds.

Padres 12, Rockies 11: Twenty-three runs on 27 hits is not unusual when Colorado is involved. It is unusual, however, when the game is played in San Diego.  Of course there is a BIG difference between day games at Petco and night games. Yonder Alonso wins it with a walkoff single.

Report: Extension talks between Mets, Neil Walker are “probably dead”

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - AUGUST 21: Neil Walker #20 of the New York Mets sits in the dugout before the game against the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park on August 21, 2016 in San Francisco, California.  The New York Mets defeated the San Francisco Giants 2-0. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
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On Sunday, it was reported that second baseman Neil Walker and the Mets were discussing a potential three-year contract extension worth “north of $40 million.” Those discussions took a turn for the worse. The Mets feel extension talks are “probably dead,” according to Mike Puma of the New York Post.

Walker underwent a lumbar microdisectomy in September, ending his 2016 season during which he hit .282/.347/.476 with 23 home runs and 55 RBI over 458 plate appearances.

The Mets may not necessarily need to keep Walker around as it has some potential options up the middle waiting in the minor leagues. Though Amed Rosario is expected to stick at shortstop, Gavin Cecchini — the club’s No. 3 prospect according to MLB Pipeline — could shift over to second base.

Rick Ankiel drank vodka before a start to deal with the yips

9 Apr 2000: Rick Ankiel #66 of the St. Louis Cardinals winds back to pitch the ball during the game against the Milwaukee Brweers at the Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Missouri. The Cardinals defeated the Brewers 11-2. Mandatory Credit: Elsa Hasch  /Allsport
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The story of Rick Ankiel is well known by now. He was a phenom pitcher who burst onto the scene with the Cardinals in 1999 and into the 2000 season as one of the top young talents in the game. Then, in the 2000 playoffs, he melted down. He got the yips. Whatever you want to call it, he lost the ability to throw strikes and his pitching career was soon over. He came back, however, against all odds, and remade his career as a solid outfielder.

It’s inspirational and incredible. But there is a lot more to the story that we’ve ever known. We will soon, however, as Ankiel is coming out with a book. Today he took to the airwaves and shared some about it. Including some amazing stuff:

On drinking in his first start after the famous meltdown in Game One of the 2000 National League division series against the Braves:

“Before that game…I’m scared to death. I know I have no chance. Feeling the pressure of all that, right before the game I get a bottle of vodka. I just started drinking vodka. Low and behold, it kind of tamed the monster, and I was able to do what I wanted. I’m sitting on the bench feeling crazy I have to drink vodka to pitch through this. It worked for that game. (I had never drank before a game before). It was one of those things like the yipps, the monster, the disease…it didn’t fight fair so I felt like I wasn’t going to fight fair either.”

Imagine spending your whole life getting to the pinnacle of your career. Then imagine it immediately disintegrating. And then imagine having to go out and do it again in front of millions. It’s almost impossible for anyone to contemplate and, as such, it’s hard to judge almost anything Ankiel did in response to that when he was 21 years-old. That Ankiel got through that and made a career for himself is absolutely amazing. It’s a testament to his drive and determination.