Settling the Score: Sunday’s results

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If Devin Mesoraco hadn’t missed a few weeks of the season, he would be right in the thick of things in the NL MVP discussion. The Reds’ catcher homered twice in Sunday’s 7-2 win over the Marlins, helping his club avoid a series sweep at home.

In the first inning, Mesoraco took lefty Brad Hand out to left field for a two-run home run, putting his team on top by a 2-1 score. In the fifth, he padded the Reds’ lead to 7-2 when he took Hand out again, skying a grand slam over the fence in left field.

Mesoraco, in 309 plate appearances, has a ridiculous .293/.366/.580 slash line with 20 home runs and 61 RBI. Most of the 15 players ahead of his 3.4 WAR (via FanGraphs) have between 450-500 total plate appearances. His HR and RBI totals come out to 42 and 128 over 650 plate appearances — a full season’s worth. Quietly, he has been among the game’s best at the plate.

The Reds, at 60-58, are still in the thick of things despite ranking fourth in the NL Central. They sit just five games behind the first-place Brewers and 2.5 games behind the Pirates for the second National League Wild Card slot.

Here are Sunday’s box scores and recaps…

Indians 4, Yankees 1

Reds 7, Marlins 2

Tigers 5, Blue Jays 6 (19 innings)

Mets 6, Phillies 7

Rangers 6, Astros 2

Padres 8, Pirates 2

Red Sox 3, Angels 1

Dodgers 5, Brewers 1

Twins 6, Athletics 1

Rockies 5, Diamondbacks 3 (10 innings)

White Sox 2, Mariners 4

Cardinals 8, Orioles 3

Giants 4, Royals 7

Rays 2, Cubs 3 (12 innings)

Nationals 1, Braves 3

Anibal Sanchez accepts optional assignment to Triple-A

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The Tigers announced on Monday that pitcher Anibal Sanchez has accepted an optional assignment to Triple-A Toledo. Pitcher Warwick Saupold was recalled from Toledo to take Sanchez’s roster spot.

Sanchez, 33, continued to struggle this season pitching out of the bullpen. He gave up 26 runs (21 earned) on 34 hits and nine walks with 22 strikeouts in 21 innings. Nine of those 34 hits were home runs. Sanchez finished the 2015 season with a 4.99 ERA and last season with a 5.87 ERA, so he’s had a rough go of it in recent years.

The decision to go to Triple-A was Sanchez’s, Anthony Fenech of the Free Press reports. Sanchez wants to be stretched out as a starting pitcher again.

Braves release James Loney

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Just a few days after inking him to a minor league deal, the Braves have released first baseman James Loney, the team announced on Monday. Loney became expendable when the Braves acquired Matt Adams from the Cardinals on Saturday as a replacement for the injured Freddie Freeman.

Loney, 33, appeared in two games at Triple-A Gwinnett. He had one hit, a single, and one walk in eight plate appearances.

Loney will likely have to wait for another team to deal with an injured first baseman or DH before he can secure another contract.