And That Happened: Monday’s scores and highlights

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Twins 10, Astros 6: Rookie and independent league veteran Chris Colabello homered twice including a grand slam to break a 6-6 tie in the ninth. Entering Sunday he was on an 0 for 23 skid and now here he is having the best day of his life. Probably the best day he’ll ever have at a ballpark.

Athletics 4, Rangers 2: Coco Crisp broke a 2-2 tie with a two-run homer in the fifth and now the AL West is tied. I feel like it’s going to go down to the last day once again.

Blue Jays 4, Diamondbacks 1: Esmil Rogers pitched six and a third innings of one-hit ball, winning his first game since June 18. The Dbacks hit into four double plays, including twin killings that ended the seventh, eighth and ninth innings.

Dodgers 10, Rockies 8: Clayton Kershaw didn’t have a great day, allowing five runs on 11 hits in five innings. And Yasiel Puig left with a strained knee. Still, the Dodgers won because the Dodgers always seem to win. Well, that and because the Rockies are pretty bad. Andre Eithier homered, doubled and drove in three.

Padres 4, Giants 1: For the first time in 12 starts against NL West opponents this year, Ian Kennedy got the win. Not exactly what you’d expect for a guy who won 20 for an NL West team just two years ago, but the Padres will take it. Barry Zito lost his eighth straight decision as he winds down his career in San Francisco.

Orioles 7, Indians 2: Justin Masterson left early with a sore side and the Indians wild card chances feel like they’re leaving with him. Nate McLouth homers and had three RBI. Bud Norris allowed only one run in seven, improving to 4-1 as an O. The Orioles are one and a half back in the wild card.

Marlins 4, Cubs 3: Henderson Alvarez hit his first career home run, helping his own cause as he pitched six innings allowing three runs. He also pulled his hamstring so, yeah, kind of a mixed bag day.

Pirates 5, Brewers 2: Pittsburgh regains sole possession of first with this win — thanks to a solid effort from Charlie Morton — and the Cardinals’ loss. This was win number 80 for the Pirates. One more to break the string of losing seasons, two more to have their first winning season since 1992.

Royals 4, Mariners 1: Felix Hernandez loses his fourth straight start and left the game with a sore back in the seventh. Royals starter Danny Duffy wasn’t any great shakes either, but he was relieved by Will Smith who struck out eight in four and a third innings of relief. Five of Smith’s strikeouts came on three pitches so, hey, great effort Seattle.

Reds 7, Cardinals 2: An awful day for the Cards as Yadier Molina left early due to a sore left wrist and Adam Wainwright got shelled by the Reds for the second straight start. Meanwhile Mat Latos was sharp. The Cards fall a game behind Pittsburgh. The Reds are 3.5 out.

Tigers 3, Red Sox 0: So Miguel Cabrera? No problem. At least once the seventh inning started and the Tigers were finally able to get to John Lackey a bit. No Red Sox bat got to Doug Fister, who tossed seven shutout innings.

Braves 13, Mets 5: Freddie Freeman hit a homer and had five RBI. Daisuke Matsuzaka was shelled and was his usual slow, frustrating inefficient self. You have to wonder if this wasn’t his last major league start.

Yankees 9, White Sox 1: Man the White Sox look awful. Derek Jeter had a couple of RBI singles and the Yankees scored eight in the fourth inning. Bad defense by the Sox, lots of rain, lots of overall sloppy play. This looked like Tampa in February, not New York in September.

Phillies 3, Nationals 2: Hamels beats Strasburg despite a sore back and a crappy bullpen session, allowing only two hits with eight strikeouts and no walks in seven innings. The Nats little surge toward the wild card seems to have been somewhat illusory.

Angels 11, Rays 2: Erick Aybar drove in four and the entire Angels lineup had a nice night roughing up the heretofore reliable Chris Archer. Not that Garrett Richards was much better for the Angels. He walked seven dudes, but the Rays couldn’t take advantage and now find themselves the losers of five straight.

Andrelton Simmons is absolutely freaking ridiculous

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I’ve been watching Andrelton Simmons play shortstop since he came up with the Braves back in 2012. From the moment he burst onto the scene it was clear that he was an otherworldly defensive talent. His arm was incredible. His range was astonishing. His sense of where he was on the field and his instincts about what to do with the ball were unmatched.

I’ll admit, however, that I’ve seen him less in the past couple of seasons than I used to. It’s understandable: he no longer plays for my favorite team and he now plays most of his games after old men like me go to bed back east. The numbers have shown that he’s still the best defensive shortstop around and the highlights which get circulated are still astounding, but I’ve not appreciated him on a day-to-day level like I once did.

But that just makes me more grateful for the highlights when I miss him in action. Like this one, from last night’s game against the Astros. You can see it in high resolution here, but if you can’t click over there, here’s the play as it was tweeted around:

I didn’t see last night’s game, but my friend Dan Lewis tweeted this out a bit. His observations about it in this thread explain why what Simmons is doing here is so amazing:

The lay-outs, the bobble-saves, the jump-throws and all of that spectacular stuff are understandably appreciated, but the various skills Simmons displayed in just this one play — not to mention the freakin’ hustle he displays backing up third base after it all — is just astounding.

There hasn’t been one like him for a while. We should all appreciate him while he’s still in his prime.

The Braves are leaning toward keeping Brian Snitker as manager

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Mark Bradley of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported over the weekend that the Braves are leaning toward keeping Brian Snitker as manager. Part of that comes after team meetings between Snitker and top brass. Some of it, however, is likely attributable to player sentiment, with Bob Nightengale of USA Today reporting this morning that Freddie Freeman and several Braves players have told the Braves front office that they want Snitker back.

Is it a good idea to bring Snitker back? Eh, I’m leaning no, with the caveat that it probably doesn’t make a huge difference in the short term.

The “no” is based mostly on the fact that Snitker has had a disturbing trend of preferring veterans over young players, as Bradley explains in detail here. For a brief moment this summer the Braves seemed surprisingly competitive. Not truly competitive if anyone was being honest, but they were hovering around .500 and were arguably in the wild card race. Around that time he made a number of questionable decisions that favored marginal and/or injured veterans over some young players who will be a part of the next truly competitive Braves team, likely messing with their confidence and possibly messing with their development.

These moves were not damaging, ultimately, to the 2017 Braves on the field — they were going to be under .500 regardless — but it was the sort of short-term thinking that a manager for a rebuilding team should not be employing. Part of the blame for this, by the way, can be put on the front office, who only gave Snitker a one-year contract when they made him the permanent manager last year, creating an incentive for him to win in 2017 rather than manage the club the way a guy who knows when the team will truly be competitive should manage it. Then again, if Snitker was so great a candidate in the front office’s mind, why did they only give him a one-year contract?

I suspect a lot of it has to do with loyalty. Snitker has been an admirable Braves company man for decades, and that was certainly worthy of respect by the club. That he got the gig was likewise due in part to the players liking him — the veteran players — and they now are weighing in with their support once again. At some point, however, loyalty and respect of veterans has to take a back seat to a determination of who is the best person to bring the team from rebuilding to competitiveness, and Snitker has not made the case why he is that man.

Earlier, of course, I said it probably doesn’t matter all that much if they do, in fact, bring Snitker back. I say this because he will, in all likelihood, be given a short leash again, probably in the form of a one-year extension. It would not surprise me at all if, in the extraordinarily likely event the Braves look to be outclassed in the division by the Nationals again in 2018, they made a managerial switch midseason, as they did in 2016. If that is, indeed, the plan, it seems like the front office is almost planning on losing again in 2018 and using the future firing of Snitker as a time-buying exercise. Not that I’m cynical or anything.

Either way, I don’t think Snitker is the right guy for the job. Seems, though, that he’ll get at least an offseason and a couple of months to prove me wrong.