And That Happened: Monday’s scores and highlights

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Cardinals 8, Reds 6: Down 5-3 in the bottom of the seventh, Allen Craig launched his first career grand slam to rally the redbirds. Matt Holliday had a three run homer. The win puts the Cards a half game ahead of the Pirates in the Central. Cincinnati is three and a half back.

Dodgers 6, Cubs 2: Zack Greinke blanked Chicago into the ninth and retired the first two batters but then a double, a hit-by-pitch and a double ended his night one out shy of the shutout. Still, not too shabby. He added an RBI and raised his average to .340.

Royals 11, Rays 1: A makeup of a May Snowpocalypse game. This one, in contrast, featured a 93 degree starting temperature and Kansas City late August steam. Joe Maddon was ejected in the fourth for arguing balls and strikes, his team already down 5-0. I would bet my first born that 85% of his reason for doing that was to be “forced” into the air-conditioned clubhouse. This move is known in baseball circles as a “Bobby Cox Special.” Or at least it should be, because he pulled that one all the time.

Blue Jays 5, Yankees 2: Tallying up the future Hall of Famers’ nights: A-Rod hit his 650th homer, Jeter came back with an 0 for 3 night and Ichiro had a rare outfield error which led to a big inning for Toronto. Well, A-Rod probably won’t make the Hall of Fame but it’s not my fault that the voters are dumb. Jose Reyes walked and scored in the third and doubled and scored in the fifth. This was the Jays’ first win over New York after losing ten straight.

Phillies 2, Mets 1: Cliff Lee outdueled Zack Wheeler, tossing eight innings of one-run ball while striking out seven. It was his first win since early July. Not that that’s his fault. Still can’t get much run support.

Rockies 6, Giants 1: Juan Nicasio threw six shutout innings and added an RBI single and Todd Helton homered. Helton is three hits shy of 2,500 for his career.

Athletics 8, Tigers 6: Oakland kept getting a two run lead only to see the Tigers tie it. So then they changed things up by upping it to a four-run lead, which was too much for Detroit to overcome. Coco Crisp was 3 for 6 with a homer and a couple driven in. Miguel Cabrera hit his 43rd homer and drove in his 130th. His average actually went down a point to .359. Which — and I know this sounds kind of crazy — sounds higher than .360. Like, when I was a kid and I’d see an average in the .350s on baseball cards it seemed really high while something in the .360s seemed like — something else. Maybe because things start to seem unreal and comic-booky in the .360s? Maybe even numbers like sixes don’t have some visceral effect that odd numbers like fives? But it’s sort of like seeing a big loud muscle car pull up to a red light next to a finely-tuned sports car. You know the sports car is the superior machine, but the loud engine on the muscle car is more impressive on some weird level.

Um, sorry. I don’t know where that came from.

Diamondbacks 6, Padres 1:  Brandon McCarthy got his first win since May, allowing only an unearned run in seven innings on five hits. Paul Goldschmidt tripled in a run and knocked in another on a fielder’s choice.

Astros 10, White Sox 8: Chris Carter had two homers and drove in four. Jordan Lyles — normally a starter — got the save. Houston had a five run lead at one point an lost it before powering back for the win. And I do mean powering: they hit five homers in all.

Rangers 8, Mariners 3: A.J. Pierzynski hit a three-run homer an Alex Rios had two hits and drove in two. This box score also reminded me that Rios plays for the Rangers now. Every year there are one or two dudes who got dealt at the deadline who I totally forget got dealt. Rios is one this year.

Astros push ALCS to Game 7 with 7-1 stunner against Yankees

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There’s just something about playing in your home ballpark. The Astros decimated the Yankees at Minute Maid Park on Friday, riding seven scoreless innings from Justin Verlander and a pair of big runs from Jose Altuve to win 7-1 and force a Game 7 in the American League Championship Series.

Through the first four innings, however, the teams looked equally matched. Luis Severino no-hit the Astros through 3 2/3 innings, losing his bid on Carlos Correa‘s line drive single in the fourth. The Astros returned in the fifth to do some real damage, drawing two walks and plating the first run of the night with Brian McCann‘s ground-rule double off of the right field wall. Things didn’t get any easier for Severino. Jose Altuve lined a two-RBI base hit into left field, upping Houston’s advantage to three runs.

Verlander, meanwhile, muted the Yankees’ offense with seven innings of five-hit, eight-strikeout ball. While he didn’t come close to matching his complete game effort in Game 2, he was still plenty dominant against a struggling New York lineup. No player reached past first base until the sixth inning, when a pair of base hits from Chase Headley and Didi Gregorius gave the Yankees their first runner in scoring position. That didn’t last long, though, as Gary Sanchez grounded out on a 3-0 slider to end the inning.

In the seventh, Houston’s ace got into another spot of trouble. He walked Greg Bird on six pitches to start the inning, then plunked Starlin Castro on the wrist. Aaron Hicks struck out, in part thanks to a questionable call by home plate umpire Jim Reynolds, but it was Todd Frazier who presented the biggest threat after returning an 0-1 fastball for a 403-foot fly out to left field. Luckily for Verlander, George Springer was there to bail him out with a leaping catch at the wall.

The Yankees kept things exciting in the eighth, too. Aaron Judge ripped his third postseason home run off of Brad Peacock, taking a 425-footer out to the train in left field to spoil the Astros’ shutout. That was the only real break the Yankees got, however, as Altuve, Alex Bregman and Evan Gattis returned in the bottom of the inning to tack on another four runs, including Altuve’s solo shot off of David Robertson:

Ken Giles handled the ninth, expending 23 pitches and giving up a base hit and a walk before retiring Frazier and Headley to end the game. Thanks to Houston’s winning efforts, the two teams will compete in their first seven-game Championship Series since 2004 — and this time, at least one of them is guaranteed to come away with a win.

Game 7 of the ALCS is set for Saturday at 8:00 PM ET. Houston right-hander Charlie Morton (14-7, 3.62 ERA) is scheduled to face southpaw CC Sabathia (14-5, 3.69 ERA).