And That Happened: Monday’s scores and highlights

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Phillies 7, Braves 0: I talked about the no-hitter at length yesterday when it happened, so allow me to ask why we haven’t seen more of these in the past couple of years. More strikeouts and less contact. More hard throwers. More bullpen specialization. It seems to me like these should happen more often than they do. I guess that they don’t shows that, yes, these are still special, obviously, but conditions favor such beasts now more than they have for a long time.

Cardinals 5, Pirates 4: The Cards, for the first time all year, are alone in first place in the NL Central. The lore about this team is that if a relatively lackluster Cards squad makes the playoffs, watch out, they’re bound to win it all. I guess that’s happened a couple of times, but I suppose they’d rather finish strong and with the division going away.

Cubs 4, Brewers 2: Not that it’s up to them. The Brewers, however, need to not do things like drop six in a row, which is what they’ve done. Here Jorge Soler helped do them in, doubling twice and scoring a run. He has extra base hits in all five of his major league games so far. He’s the third guy to do that in his first five games in the past century.

Padres 3, Diamondbacks 1: Cory Spangenberg — which sounds like the name of a tight end from the 1980s more than a big league third baseman — made his big league debut. He hit a two-run single. He also irked the Padres by announcing on Twitter that he was being promoted and making his debut before they had a chance too. So it was a big day.

Marlins 9, Mets 6:  The Mets had a chance here — it was tied heading into the bottom of the eighth — but they blew it thanks in part to Jeurys Familia’s two throwing errors on a single play and a wild pitch. Oh, and the wild pitch was accompanied by a throwing error by Travis d’Arnaud. Six errors for the Mets in all, after which manager Terry Collins said afterward that “It wasn’t a big-league baseball game, I can tell you that.” Not that he needed to tell us that.

Athletics 6, Mariners 1: The A’s get back on track, thanks to new addition Adam Dunn. Who, let’s be honest, was born to be an Oakland Athletic. Dunner hit a homer in his first at bat in the green and gold and added another hit later. Five first inning runs for Oakland, which ended things before they started. A strong performance from Jason Hammel as well plus a two-run single for Geovany Soto. Viva La Mid-Season Imports.

Tigers 12, Indians 1: Miguel Cabrera was given a bit of a rest — allowed to DH rather than play 1B — and it must have paid off: two homers on a 4 for 5 day. This after an August in which he only his one homer the whole bleedin’ month. David Price did his part too, allowing one run over seven and striking out eight. Corey Kluber, who has somehow lost his super powers, allowed five runs and couldn’t escape the third inning.

Giants 4, Rockies 2; Rockies 10, Giants 9: The first game took three months to complete. Really, guys, we HAVE to do something about the pace of play. *Someone whispers in my ear and explains that it was the resumption of a suspended game from May*  Ahem, never mind. The second game took about three hours and forty-four minutes. I’m gonna err on the side of caution and assume it was suspended and resumed too. *guys whispers in my ear again.* Well I’ll be damned. Charlie Blackmon with a walkoff single. The Giants’ six-game winning streak comes to an end. They are now only two back of the Dodgers because  . . .

Nationals 6, Dodgers 4: . . . The Dodgers dropped their third game in four tries. The dingers did it here. Denard Span socked two homers and Jayson Werth and Asdrubal Cabrera added their own. Gio Gonzalez was solid and won his first game in ages. He also [altogether now[ helped his own cause, singling and scoring. The Nats have the most wins in the NL.

Twins 6, Orioles 4: Four RBI for Joe Mauer. Phil Hughes allowed three runs in eight innings, but none of them were earned. Hughes has 15 wins on a team that only has 60 overall.

Rays 4, Red Sox 3: Matt Joyce had an RBI single in the bottom of the tenth to help the Rays salvage a split. I basically got nothing else here. It’s weird when normally good teams are just playing out the string.

Royals 4, Rangers 3: Sal Perez homered and drove in three as the Royals won for the first time in a week. This was your standard Royals win: close game and then in the late innings Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis and Greg Holland shut the door with hitless relief. Regarding what I said in the Phillies recap at the top? If just one Royals pitcher can toss six hitless innings — or, heck, five maybe — this is the sort of pen which can pretty much end the game when it comes in.

Justin Verlander named ALCS MVP

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Following the Astros’ decisive 4-0 shutout over the Yankees on Saturday night, Justin Verlander was named the Most Valuable Player of the American League Championship Series. Hall of Fame outfielder and former MLB manager Frank Robinson handed the award to Verlander, who was beaming as he thanked his teammates and members of the Astros’ organization.

“I’ve got to say, it came down to the wire, and one thing kept going off in my head was Dallas,” Verlander told the crowd gathered at Minute Maid Park. “When he called me, he said that I won’t regret my decision to join the Houston Astros. And here we are right now, it’s the best feeling in the world. We’ve got four more wins to win a World Series, and I do not regret my decision to come here. This is the best feeling a player can have. So, thank you.”

Among a cast that boasted the likes of Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa and Dallas Keuchel, among others, Verlander was spectacular. He locked down a complete game win in Game 2, holding the Yankees to one run on five hits and a walk and striking out a postseason-high 13 batters. In Game 6, he saved the Astros from elimination with seven scoreless innings, helping propel the club to their eventual 7-1 finish that set up their series-clinching finale on Saturday.

The 34-year-old righty also took his place among some postseason greats. Thanks to an eight-strikeout outing on Friday night, his collective 136 postseason strikeouts are good for sixth-most in MLB playoff history, just a smidgen shy of Tom Glavine (143), Mike Mussina (145), Roger Clemens (173), Andy Pettitte (183) and John Smoltz (199). He also joined Bob Gibson, Curt Schilling and Sandy Koufax as one of just four hurlers to strike out 20+ Yankees in a postseason series.