Oakland Athletics v Boston Red Sox

And That Happened: Monday’s scores and highlights

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Red Sox 9, Athletics 6: Just yesterday Mike Napoli was named player of the week for last week. He’s making a bid for a repeat now, hitting a grand slam and driving in five runs here. Overall he has 25 RBI in 19 games.

Orioles 2, Blue Jays 1: Chris Tillman had a one hitter into the seventh. Nick Markakis walked it off with an RBI single which was made possible by Aaron Loup hitting a guy and then Munenori Kawasaki throwing the ball away on what should have been out number three.

Cardinals 3, Nationals 2: Practically the whole AP game story for this one was recapping game 5 of last year’s NLDS. Which, sure, I suppose provides a nice story and everything, but isn’t exactly insightful about today. For today know that Shelby Miller struck out eight in six and two-thirds and that while Drew Storen handled the ninth inning again, he didn’t contribute to the loss.

Rays 5, Yankees 1: Matt Moore is now 4-0 after giving up one run on two hits and fanning nine in eight innings. Two homers for Ryan Roberts.

Phillies 3, Pirates 2: Johnathan Pettibone made his MLB debut and it was a good one: two runs on six hits and striking out six in five and a third. He also reached on a walk and came around to score.

Mariners 7,  Astros 1: It’s almost unfair to make Houston face King Felix. Hernandez struck out nine in six shutout innings and, for once, got some run support in the form of homers from Kyle Seager, Justin Smoak and Jesus Montero. It was Hernandez’s 100th career win. If he got seven runs to work with more often he’d have, like, [does calculations on the back of an envelope] 3,394 wins.

Reds 5, Cubs 4: This one went 13 innings an lasted four and a half hours. I’m pretty sure there are committees within the United Nations who are working diligently to eliminate 13-inning Cubs games from the world on a human rights basis, but so far their work has been stymied by Real Politik concerns and obstructionism in the Security Council. The Cubs actually had a 4-2 lead in the 13th. Unfortunately the rules of baseball required them to try to close out the win in the ninth, where Michael Bowden coughed up three runs on four hits including a Jay Bruce RBI double.

Indians 3, White Sox 2: The White Sox are reeling, losers of ten of 13. Justin Masterson walked a few too many guys but picked up his fourth win. Two of them have come against the pale hose.

Brewers 7, Padres 1: Not exactly thrilled with my pick of the Padres as the surprising team in the NL West this year.  Ryan Braun and Yuniesky Betancourt hit homers and the Brewers won their eighth in a row. Kyle Lohse pitched well but injured his pinkie finger while batting. Commence your DH/anti-DH arguing … now.

Giants 5, Diamondbacks 4: Brandon Belt after the game: “I’m pretty lightheaded and my kidneys hurt right now.”  Uh oh! [looks at game story]. Oh, OK, it’s just because his teammates mobbed him during the walkoff celebration. Now if he’d only hit when he started.

Rangers 7, Angels 6: A.J. Pierzynski with a homer in the ninth which proved to be the winning run. Adrian Beltre hit a drive that fell just short of the wall before that. Safe to say that Ernesto Frieri wasn’t fooling anyone.

Braves vs. Rockies: POSTPONED: My eyes are blind but I can see. The snowflakes glisten on the trees. The sun no longer sets me free. I feel the snowflakes freezing me. Let the winter sun shine on. Let me feel the frost of dawn. Fill my dreams of flakes of snow. Soon I’ll feel the chilling glow.

Marlins vs. Twins: POSTPONED: There is no end to what we can do together. There is no end. The willow turns his back on inclement weather. We can do it, just me and you.

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.