Justin Maxwell hits walk-off grand slam as Royals defeat Rangers, clinch AL West for Athletics

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“The enemy of my enemy is my friend” was the theme today as Royals outfielder Justin Maxwell hit a walk-off grand slam in the 10th inning against the Rangers, clinching the AL West for the Athletics in the process. The Athletics entered the afternoon with a magic number of one, meaning that either a Rangers loss or an Athletics win today would have sealed up the division for the A’s.

The Rangers and Royals entered the bottom of the 10th deadlocked at 0-0 following outstanding pitching performances from starters Alexi Ogando and James Shields. Ogando went seven strong innings, allowing just two hits and a walk while striking out five. Shields went eight, allowing six hits and a walk while striking out two. For the Royals, Greg Holland and Tim Collins each pitched a scoreless inning in support of Shields.

Rangers reliever Neal Cotts started the 10th inning because of the platoon match-up against Eric Hosmer, but Hosmer doubled to left to put the Royals in good starting position to stage a walk-off. Manager Ron Washington walked to the mound and called for Joakim Soria, the former closer for the Royals from 2007-11. Soria intentionally walked Billy Butler to set up the double play, but was then victimized by an infield single by Salvador Perez to load the bases with no outs. The Royals, though, seemed to squander their opportunities with the winning run just 90 feet away. Mike Moustakas popped out, and George Kottaras grounded out, leaving the Royals’ hopes in the inning to Justin Maxwell. Maxwell worked the count to 3-2 against Soria, then turned on a 92 MPH cutter and sent it well beyond the fence in left field for a walk-off grand slam.

With their AL West hopes officially dashed, the 84-71 Rangers now turn their attention to the Wild Card. As the Indians won 9-2 over the Astros this afternoon, the Rangers are now 1.5 games out of the second Wild Card. The Rangers are now 5-15 in the month of September.

Meanwhile, the Royals keep a faint glimmer of hope alive as they are 3.5 games out of the second Wild Card. They have also clinched their first winning season since 2003.

Brian Dozier, Todd Frazier, and Didi Gregorius say teams should expand protective netting

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Earlier, a young fan was struck by a foul ball at Yankee Stadium and had to be carried out before being taken to a hospital. Fortunately, it seems that the fan is okay.

As usual, when a scary incident such as today’s occurs, players come out in full support of expanding the protective netting at ballparks. Twins second baseman Brian Dozier as well as Yankees third baseman Todd Frazier and shortstop Didi Gregorius all said as much after Wednesday afternoon’s game.

Phillies shortstop Freddy Galvis has also been a very vocal proponent of increased netting. For the most part, the players are pretty much all in agreement about the subject. It’s only a vocal minority of fans who seem to think that their ability to snag a random souvenir or have an unimpeded view supersedes the safety of their neighbors.

Video: Giancarlo Stanton hits a laser for his 56th home run

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Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton continued his march towards 60 home runs, hitting No. 56 in Wednesday afternoon’s win against the Mets. The Marlins, leading 7-2 prior to Stanton’s two-run blast in the bottom of the eighth, didn’t need the extra run support but welcomed it all the same. Mets reliever Erik Goeddel tossed a 1-1, 78 MPH curve that caught too much of the plate.

After Wednesday’s action, Stanton is batting .279/.378/.634 with 120 RBI and 116 runs scored along with the 56 dingers in 646 plate appearances. The last player to hit at least 56 home runs in a season was Ryan Howard (58) in 2006. Stanton’s is the 19th player-season of at least 56 homers.