Victor Martinez

And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights

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Tigers 7, Dodgers 6: I went to see Captain America last night, got home and turned this one thinking that a Marvel movie-Vin Scull-called game would be an awesome double feature. At least the first half was good. What I was able to see of the second half involved Josh Beckett pitching as slowly and annoyingly as usual and Anibal Sanchez apparently thinking that emulating Beckett was somehow a good idea. Oh, and a rare Victor Martinez start behind the plate which reminded us why Victor Martinez doesn’t start much anymore. Since it was a late start I couldn’t stay up for much of it but what I saw was ugly. What came after I went to bed saved Martinez’s night, of course: he hit the go-ahead homer in the 10th. But the fact that it was necessitated by Joe Nathan blowing a three-run lead in the ninth probably means that Brad Ausmus is still lying awake in his hotel room, staring at the ceiling. Hail, Hyrdra.

Diamondbacks 7, Giants 3: Paul Goldschmidt so thoroughly owns Tim Lincecum that he is strongly considering an offer to put out a series of instructional videos with Cesar Millan called “The Freak Whisperer.” Goldschmidt hit a three-run homer off Lincecum here and is now hitting .542 (13-for-24) with seven homers and 17 RBIs all-time against him.

Angels 2, Mariners 0: Garrett Richards was fantastic, tossing seven one-hit innings. Albert Pujols had his back with a two-run homer in the third. That was basically it.

Orioles 5, Yankees 4: The absence of David Robertson means Shawn Kelley was the closer which led to him giving up two runs on four hits in the ninth. I expect New York columnists to respond to this with a calm and sober realization that, hey, sometimes things don’t work out well when you’re trying to account for injuries to key players and th— hahaha. Just kidding. I expect “BRING BACK MARIANO!!!” headlines in a 72pt font.

Cubs 7, Pirates 5: Four hits for Anthony Rizzo and seven strong innings for Jason Hammel. He’s got two wins in two starts, both against Pittsburgh.

Blue Jays 7, Astros 3: Brandon Morrow won for the first time since May of last year, pitching six workmanlike innings. Seriously: he had on a Carhart jacket and ate a box lunch after the third. Playing against Houston makes guys do weird things.

Braves 4, Mets 3: Ervin Santana allowed only three hits over eight scoreless innings. His first 20 pitches were strikes. he threw one ball in the first three innings. That, my friends, is command. After the game he said it was better than the no-hitter he tossed in 2011. It wouldn’t have been, I suppose, if Jordan Walden and Craig Kimbrel had succeeded in what they seemed hellbent on doing in the ninth, and coughing the game away, but they fell just short of their goal in that regard. Jason Heyward homered and drove in a run with an RBI. B.J. Upton rode the pine and Andrelton Simmons had two hits taking his place batting second. Amazing what happens when you don’t punt the two-slot in the lineup.

Red Sox 4, Rangers 2: David Ortiz had a three-run homer in the eighth to bring the Sox back from behind. The homer, which went over the Pesky Pole, was reviewed on replay. I figure a lot of Pesky Pole homers will be reviewed this year. You can never really see those well given the angle and given that it being so close in means a lot of balls go over it rather than past it.

Brewers 9, Phillies 4: Everyone who had the Brewers starting out with a 6-2 record, please raise your hand. Yeah, if your hand is up you’re lying. Carlos Gomez and Mark Reynolds homered and Ryan Braun hit a two-run triple. The Phillies, who were put through a lot of extra infield practice by manager Ryne Sandberg this spring, have nine errors in eight games this year.

Editor’s Note: Hardball Talk‘s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $40,000 Fantasy Baseball league for Thursday’s evening MLB games. It’s $25 to join and first prize is $6,000. Starts at 7:05pm ET on ThursdayHere’s the FanDuel link.

Indians 2, Padres 0; Padres 2, Indians 1: Zach McAllister shut out the Padres on two hits over nearly eight innings in game one and was backed by a Jason Kipnis two-run homer. Trevor Bauer looked good striking out eight in the second game of the doubleheader, but the Padres’ Robbie Erlin was better, allowing one run over six. The total game time for the doubleheader was five hours and 21 minutes. The one Tigers-Dodgers game was four hours sixteen minutes.

Nationals 10, Marlins 7: Jayson Werth hit a grand slam with the Nats down by one in the eighth inning to win this one. It was his first homer and his second through fifth RBI of the season. Bryce Harper also hit his first homer — a three-run job — and in doing so collected his first three RBI of the year.

Royals 7, Rays 3: Speaking of first homers, Alex Gordon hit his first — and the entire Kansas City Royals team’s first — homer of the year, driving in four overall. The five-run fifth inning and seven overall was Kansas City’s first real offensive breakout all year.

Rockies 10, White Sox 4: Fourteen runs scored, none with a home run. I fully thus fully expect Frank Thomas to get on Twitter this morning to talk about how something is fishy with the baseball and that the league has somehow deadened it. Bonus points for a “Wake up, Sheeple!” in the tweet.

Athletics 7, Twins 4: A wacky ninth inning — which I’m sure Jim Johnson didn’t really feel was wacky given that he gave up two runs and walked two — led to extras. Derrick Norris’ three-run homer in the 11th won it for Oakland. And here’s the beauty of the save/blown save rules: Johnson came in with a two-run lead, loaded the bases with a single and a couple of walks, then allowed the Twins to single in a run, leaving the bases loaded. Dan Otero comes in and allows a sac fly and retires the rest of the guys he faces, and HE gets the blown save.

Reds 4, Cardinals 0: The Billy Hamilton show: two steals, three hits and that crazy play where he scored on a shallow fly ball behind second base to score. If he keeps that kind of stuff up, the Reds can turn things around.

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.