Tampa Bay Rays v Baltimore Orioles

And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights

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Orioles 10, Rays 6: Time to re-bookmark Matt Wieters Facts. The Chosen One’s grand slam in the 10th gives the O’s their 17th straight extra innings win.

Diamondbacks 6, Yankees 2: Frankie Cervelli hit a homer to tie it in the ninth. He also had two — not one, but two — catcher’s interference calls. Don’t see that everyday. Oh, and the AP game story spends a lot of time talking about how a guy named Zack Hample caught two homers in the game. It’s the same Zack Hample who has written a book and filmed videos about snagging baseballs at ballparks. He’s a professional ball hound or whatever.  Which makes this passage funny:

Even though he lives in Manhattan, Hample was wearing a Diamondbacks cap because he’s been a fan of Bell’s since 2004.

“Zack’s crazy. I know Zack from when I was a rookie with the Mets,” Bell said. “He probably was a Padres fan when I was a Padre, a Marlins fan when I was a Marlin.”

If you’ve seen his videos and things you actually know that he wears the cap of whatever team he happens to be visiting because he believes players on the field and in bullpens are more likely to give him a ball if he’s a local fan. But whatever.

Mariners 2, Tigers 0: Of course a Mariners offense that is struggling to score runs gets two off Justin Verlander, who otherwise struck out 12. Meanwhile, Hisashi Iwakuma and two Mariners relievers handcuffed the Tigers on getaway day.

Brewers 7, Giants 2: Yovani Gallardo hit a homer and gave up only one run over six innings. I’m guessing some Brewers blog somewhere will call this “redemption” or something. If they do, I highly suggest you not read that Brewers blog anymore.

Cubs 6, Rangers 2: Everyone I know who lives in Chicago said it was biblical-level rain there yesterday so I have no idea how they got this one in. Anthony Rizzo hit one 475 feet. Alfonso Soriano notched his first homer and RBI of the year.

Red Sox 6, Indians 3: Six in a row for Boston. More great pitching too: John Lester gave up two runs on four hits in seven.

Rockies 11, Mets 3: The Mets finally get the hell out of Colorado, and not a moment too soon. It was 28 degrees in Denver yesterday. Snow outs in Minnesota than a couple snow outs in Denver along with cold games. I don’t think anyone has ever been as happy to see Queens as the Mets likely were when they got home last night.

Cardinals 4, Phillies 3: Carlos Beltran with the go-ahead homer in the eighth. Yadier Molina was 3 for 4 with 2 RBI. Adam Wainwright has now pitched 29 innings without walking a batter. Cole Hamels, meanwhile, hasn’t won a game yet this year. I guess you want him to emulate Cliff Lee in some ways, but maybe not in this way.

Blue Jays 3, White Sox 1: R.A. Dickey had to leave early with neck and back tightness but he pitched well while he was in and got the win anyway. Dickey is around my age and I get neck and back tightness for no reason sometimes. I wonder if he makes big, exaggerated noises when he stands up and sits down and if he gets unexplained ear hair and stuff like I do too.

Braves 6, Pirates 4: Evan Gattis had a two-run pinch hit homer in the eighth. Both Uptons and Chris Johnson homered too. If the Braves were in New York columnists would be wringing their hands and wondering if the Braves hit too many homers as if that were actually a thing someone should ever worry about. For my part, I get blacked out of Pirates games here in Ohio so I couldn’t watch it. Thankfully, though, there’s a useful Twitter feed to follow in such situations.

Reds 11, Marlins 1: Shin-Soo Choo singled, doubled and scored twice, helping Tony Cingrani win his first big league start. Here’s hoping he keeps up the momentum for next time so he can get his first win over a big league opponent.

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.