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And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights


Braves 5, Cardinals 2: That was somewhat unexpected. A less-than-dominant Braves team sweeps the best team in the National League. The key was Kris Medlen allowing two runs on eight hits. The key all series was good starting pitching from the Braves. So of course the big talking point everyone has is how Jason Heyward hit leadoff, as if that made all the difference.

Dodgers 1, Reds 0:  I was gonna say “1968 called and wants its game back,” but in 1968 this would have ended with a bunt single, a passed ball, a steal of third and then a sac fly. As it was we had eleven innings of shutout ball for Dodgers pitchers. Ten innings of shutout ball for Reds pitchers and 20 strikeouts too. Then Yasiel Puig ended it with a walkoff homer. A lot of people would call this game a drag. This is something close to ideal for me.

Tigers 12, Phillies 4: Eight run difference, eight unearned runs allowed by the Phillies. All in one inning. Eight losses in a row. At the moment the Phillies are dog poop in a paper bag placed on a doorstep and lit on fire. Someone is stepping on it and its a big mess because it’s dog poop in a bag that’s on fire, see, and that’s what you do and oh my good what a stinky fiery mess these Phillies are.

Marlins 3, Pirates 2: Jose Ferenandez struck out 13. Seventy-four of his 97 pitches were for strikes. Man this kid is good.

Indians 6, Rangers 0: The second straight shutout for the Indians over the Rangers. Ubaldo Jimenez did the heavy lifting here, allowing only two hits over eight innings. The sweep for Cleveland and four straight overall. The Indians were supposed to have a lot of questions marks in the pitching department this year — and they are just below league average in runs allowed per game — but they lead all of baseball with 14 shutouts.

Nationals 14, Mets 1: The first game of that doubleheader on Friday was a disaster, but the next three were pretty spiffy. They held the Mets to three runs in those three games and yesterday saw this offensive explosion. Wilson Ramos with a grand slam.

Yankees 6, Rays 5: Welcome back Derek Jeter. The Captain homered in his first at bat following his time off for the quad injury and five innings of scoreless bullpen work saved Phil Hughes’ bacon.

Cubs 2, Giants 1: Travis Wood did it all. One unearned run over seven and a 2 for 3 day at the plate with a run driven in. The Cubbies sweep the Giants, who are now in last place, ten games back. If it makes anyone feel better they have the second best record of any last place team in baseball. Hmm, that doesn’t make anyone feel better? Welp.

Blue Jays 2, Astros 1: it was a rough day until the ninth inning for Colby Rasmus, but then he drove in Emilio Bonifacio with a game-winning single. Not a bad year for Rasmus. Pretty good one in fact, after it looked like he had hit a developmental dead end these past couple of seasons.

Rockies 6, Brewers 5: Troy Tulowitzki homered and doubled, helping the Rockies come from behind after the bullpen Rockied all over itself. Michael Cuddyer, Dexter Fowler and Corey Dickerson also homered.

Red Sox 5, Orioles 0: David Ortiz went 4 for 4 and managed not to destroy any inanimate objects this time. Jon Lester looked like April-vintage Lester and the Sox win the series and regain first place. It was their first series win over Baltimore in two years.

Padres 1, Diamondbacks 0: One run in the first was all Patrick Corbin allowed, but that was one more than Tyson Ross and Huston Street did. Ross tossed eight shutout innings, allowing only three hits.

Royals 4, White Sox 2: A two-run homer for Alex Gordon in the 12th proved to be the game-winner. That’s six straight for Kansas City, which pulls them up to .500. They are seven games back in the central and five back in the wild card. I don’t personally think they have the mojo to move up more than this, but if they do it would be a humdinger, wouldn’t it?

Athletics 10, Angels 6: Yoenis Cespedes drives in four, shaking off the rust and pain from the All-Star break and the Home Run Derby. Oakland now has a six game lead in the west. That’s their biggest margin of the year. And in years, in fact.

Mariners 6, Twins 4: Nick Franklin with two homers, giving him ten on the year to go along with his line of .277/.340/.492. Not too shabby for a guy who didn’t make his debut until late May.

What to watch for on the final day of the regular season

Cole Hamels
AP Photo/LM Otero

Here we are, the final day of the regular season. And every game with playoff implications will start at the same time: 3:05 p.m. ET. What to watch …

American League Wild Card


This is where the most intrigue lies heading into the day. We have the Yankees currently in position for hosting duties, but they’re only one game up on Houston. And then Houston is only one game up on Anaheim. Also at play here is that the Astros are just one game back of the Rangers in the American League West standings. If the Yankees, Astros, and Rangers all win on Sunday the current postseason map stays the same — the AL Wild Card Game on Tuesday will be at Yankee Stadium with the Astros visiting. And the Angels would obviously be out. But if the Angels win and the Astros lose, we’ll have a play-in game Monday. And if the Yankees lose, the location of the Wild Card Game on Tuesday could change.

American League West


As we touched on above, the Astros are still in a position to force a tiebreaker for the division if the Angels beat the Rangers again in Arlington. It’ll be Garrett Richards against Cole Hamels in that one. Houston is throwing Lance McCullers vs. Robbie Ray in Arizona.

American League Best Record


If the AL Central-champion Royals (94-67) beat the Twins on Saturday behind deadline acquisition Johnny Cueto, they’ll get the Wild Card Game winner in the ALDS and clinch homefield advantage throughout the postseason. But if they lose, the Blue Jays (93-68) could move into that top seed because they won their season series against Kansas City 4-3. Mark Buehrle is pitching for Toronto in what is supposed to be his final major league game.

National League Wild Card


Pittsburgh losing and Chicago winning on Saturday kept Wild Card Game hosting duties alive for Wrigley Field. If the Pirates fall again to the Reds and the Cubs win at Miller Park, the game Wild Card Game Wednesday will be in Chicago because the Cubs have the season-series edge (11-8) over the Bucs. Pittsburgh can wrap up clinching duties with a victory behind J.A. Happ.

Stay tuned. We’ll be covering all angles as the 2015 regular season comes to a close.

Video: Joey Votto tips his cap to A.J. Burnett

A.J. Burnett
AP Photo/Keith Srakocic

There was a pretty cool moment in Saturday’s game between the Reds and Pirates.

A.J. Burnett has announced that this will be his final season, so his start Saturday at PNC Park might have been the last time he ever pitches off a major league mound. (Pittsburgh has to make it through the Wild Card Game to get the 38-year-old right-hander another turn).

Aware of all this, Joey Votto made eye contact with Burnett just before his at-bat in the top of the first inning and gave a tip of the cap. Er, batting helmet …