And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights

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Orioles 6, Red Sox 3Yankees 9, Blue Jays 6: 159 games and NOTHING has been decided in the AL East. And, say what you want about the new playoff setup, but the fact that it matters so much who wins the division makes this a fantastic final three days. The Yankees close things out with the Red Sox at home. The Orioles go on the road to face that buzz saw.

Tigers 2, Twins 1; Rays 6, White Sox 2: That’s the sound of the AL Central title being all but sewn up. Anibal Sanchez with another solid start. If Max Scherzer is good to go in the playoffs, the Tigers’ rotation — despite all of the kicking and stumbling they’ve done all year — should make them a team no one wants to face.  As for the White Sox: bad time to run into a buzz saw Rays team.

Reds 4, Pirates 3: And with that the Pirates ensure their 20th straight losing season. The just stepped off the ledge and hit terminal velocity once the second half got going.

Cardinals 10, Nationals 4: Carlos Beltran went three for five with a couple homers and five driven in as St. Louis moves a step closer to icing the final playoff spot in the NL. Washington is all clinched for a playoff spot, but it’s probably worth noting that they still haven’t clinched the NL East.

Braves 6, Mets 2: All the Braves do when Kris Medlen pitches is win. That’s 23 straight of his starts in which Atlanta has prevailed, which is a new major league record. It’ll all be so much noise, however, if he does’t win his next start: the one-game wild card playoff.

Dodgers 7, Rockies 1: L.A. retains dim hope, two back with three to play. Josh Beckett tossed six innings of one run ball. Matt Kemp and Luis Cruz each hit two-run homers.

Astros 7, Brewers 0: And with that the Brew Crew is officially eliminated. It was a nice late run but the whole they dug for themselves earlier in the season was too great.  Watch out for next year, though: this team reminds me an awful lot of that 2010 Diamonbacks team that had the crap-awful bullpen and then the next year, when it wasn’t crap-awful, made the playoffs. Not that Milwaukee has to make up 30 games or whatever the hell it was the Dbacks did to turn things around.

Phillies 4, Marlins 1: Cole Hamels wins his 17th. The Phillies need one win in their final series to finish at .500. So that’s something to shoot for as they play the Nats this week. Well, that and the improbable sweep of the Nats while the Braves sweep the Pirates, resulting in a tied NL East and bonus tie-breaker baseball, which would be pretty fantastic.

Angels 5, Rangers 4; Rangers 8, Angels 7: The Angels rallied past the Rangers in the first game when Joe Nathan couldn’t hold a one-run lead in the ninth. In the nightcap Texas got ’em back, with Mike Napoli homering twice and driving in six. The Rangers clinch at least a wild card, but will have the west with one win over the A’s in the season’s final three.

Athletics 5, Mariners 2: Yoenis Cespedes hit an RBI triple and an eighth inning, game-tying go-ahead homer. Then Josh Reddick hit a two-run shot to put the A’s up for good give them some breathing room. The A’s solidify their wild card position, the AL West is not yet out of reach, but they gotta win out.

Indians 15, Royals 3: It’s the second Sunday in a row where the Tribe scored 15. This time, however, they did not outscore the Browns. The Browns scored 16 this week. Four driven in for Asdrubal Cabrera.

Cubs 7, Diamondbacks 2: I’ve stared at this box score for close to five minutes and can’t for the life of me think of anything interesting to say about it. Sorry, folks. That’s game 159 between a couple of also-rans for you.

Giants 7, Padres 5: A Xavier Nady homer tied it in the ninth and a Hunter Pence gave the game to the Giants in comeback fashion. Tim Lincecum continues to be exceedingly meh, giving up five runs — four earned — in six innings. He ends the season with a 5.18 ERA which, if someone would have bet you about it before the season began, you’d never have bit.

Aledmys Diaz is trying to improve his defense with strobe glasses

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MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch reports that Cardinals’ shortstop Aledmys Diaz has been sporting a new look around Busch Stadium with a pair of “strobe glasses,” technology-enhanced specs designed to help athletes focus on the ball. Like a strobe light, the lenses of these glasses affect a player’s vision by rapidly changing opacity, giving its wearers the illusion that the objects they see are moving more slowly than normal. Once a player adjusts to the new speed of play, they gain a greater sense of control and are able to time their actions with more precision.

Diaz isn’t the first MLB player to utilize the technology, just the first Cardinals’ player to do so. It’s been tested by Bryce Harper, Corey Brown, Tommy Joseph, Austin Hedges and Joe Mauer, among others around the league, and has been used for everything from refining a catcher’s reflexes behind the plate to tweaking a hitter’s ability to track a pitch. Per Langosch, Diaz has been using the glasses to hone in on the ball during pregame drills, increasing both his confidence and response time on the field and improving his defense at short.

The shortstop has been the focus of some concern this season after seeing a sizable dip in his production at the plate, and his five fielding errors, 0.6 UZR and 0.6 fWAR haven’t helped matters, either. He sustained a minor thumb injury during an at-bat on Friday night, and was left off of the Cardinals’ starting lineup on Saturday, though manager Mike Matheny didn’t rule out his ability to pinch-hit during the series. While the strobe glasses are a good start, Diaz will need more than a pair of specs to match the spotlight-worthy performance he turned out during his rookie season in 2016.

Eduardo Rodriguez could rejoin the Red Sox rotation in July

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Red Sox’ left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez may finally get a chance at cracking the rotation again, assuming all goes well in Double-A Portland first. Rodriguez took the field prior to the club’s afternoon session with the Angels, firing 68 pitches in a simulated game as he prepared for an upcoming rehab assignment in Portland on Thursday.

The 24-year-old southpaw suffered a right knee subluxation during pregame warmups on June 1, and it’s been a slow path to recovery ever since. It’s not the first time Rodriguez has had issues with his right knee — he sustained a similar injury during spring training last year — and this time around, the Red Sox weren’t about to gamble with their starter’s health. Ian Browne of MLB.com reports that Rodriguez was put in a knee brace and underwent exercises designed to help him regain some mobility and stability while he worked back up to full strength on the mound.

He’ll still need to prove he can throw a 75- to 80-pitch outing in Double-A, and barring any significant setbacks, will likely rejoin the Red Sox’ pitching staff when they visit the Rangers next month. In the meantime, the club will continue to cycle starters through the No. 5 spot, which has seen no fewer than three different pitchers since Rodriguez hit the disabled list. The lefty is 4-2 in 10 starts this season after logging a 3.54 ERA, 3.1 BB/9 and career-high 9.6 SO/9 through his first 61 innings.