And That Happened: Monday’s scores and highlights

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Braves 9, Giants 8: Adonis Garcia with the walkoff two-run homer in the 12th inning. The Giants had a 6-0 lead in the sixth inning thanks in part to two Brandon Crawford homers and had a one run lead in the 12th but they blew it both times. This is the kind of loss that has to absolutely sting when you’re in a playoff race. The kind you look back at in October if you fall a game or two short and say “man, THAT’S the one we should’ve had.”

Mets 12, Marlins 1: Yoenis Cespedes hit three doubles and drove in four runs, and with that the Mets have sole possession of first place in the NL East. As fans of a losing NL East teams, the Phillies, Braves and Marlins people are no in the position of having to choose between rooting for the Mets or Nats to win the division. Hard choice. As far as team narrative goes it’s hard not to root for the Mets. Or, at the very least, Mets fans. At the same time Bryce Harper is my favorite player on either of these two teams so watching him go deep into the playoffs may be fun. Of course eventually personal fandom may win out and I’ll root for the meteor to hit Citi Field between October 2 and 4.

Diamondbacks 6, Nationals 4: Making it even harder to root for the Nationals in all of this is how uninspired their play has been lately. Fun fact: Matt Williams set up his rotation after the break in such a way as to make sure Max Scherzer never once faced the Mets in the six games those two teams just completed. Viva la sense of urgency. Here the Diamondbacks took a 6-0 lead into the ninth thanks to Zack Godley’s six shutout innings. Daniel Hudson made it interesting by allowing four runs in the ninth, but the comeback fell short. The Snakes smacked three homers off of Doug Fister and another off Jonathan Papelbon who was just in to get some work in what was then a blowout.

Blue Jays 5, Twins 1: David Price makes his Blue Jays debut and it goes swimmingly, with 11 strikeouts in eight innings. Between this, the Tulowitzki acquisition and the Twins falling off, I am growing convinced that the Jays are going to make the playoffs. And if they make the playoffs its a crapshoot, so they could easily make the World Series. I cover the World Series every year, so if they do I’ll have to go to Toronto. Except my passport is expired, so I have to get a new one. Thanks a lot, Blue Jays. You’re making me do paperwork.

Rangers 12, Astros 9: Adrian Beltre hit for the cycle. And he didn’t mess around, completing it by the fifth inning. I wonder if anyone has ever hit for the double cycle. As it was, Beltre’s cycle was the third of his career. He’s the first guy to do that in over 75 years. Of course, cycles have an element of weirdness to them in that, sometimes, it’s better to get one less total base or two in a given situation to keep the feat alive. Just ask Beltre, who maybe could’ve had a second triple in this one but held up at second base in the second inning. Could that have been your second triple, Adrian?

“I thought I might, but I changed my mind last second,” said Beltre, who rapidly circled both of his arms like he was trying to reverse his momentum.

Asked if he was thinking then about preserving the chance for a cycle, Beltre paused briefly before responding, “Maybe.”

I’m sure some play-the-game-the-right-way-folks are gonna grumble about that.

Rays 5, White Sox 4: Rookie Mikie Mahtook hit a two-out, ninth inning RBI single to put the Rays ahead for good in a see-saw game. Or was it a teetor-totter game? Guess it depends where you’re from. Either way, fans in the stands drank soda, not pop. Pop just sounds dumb. Don’t call it pop, people.

Padres 13, Brewers 5: Yangervis Solarte hit two homers, Jedd Gyorko had three hits including a bomb of his own and Alexi Amarista had three RBI as the Friars cruised. It was all over after a six-run seventh inning. As you may have heard, Pat Murphy, the Padres manager, managed Craig Counsell, the Brewers manager, when the latter played at Notre Dame. This is one of those neat facts that, were these two teams to play in a nationally televised playoff game would become less neat as the commentators mentioned it over and over and over again. Thankfully Milwaukee and San Diego aren’t allowing that to happen this year.

Mariners 8, Rockies 7: Nelson Cruz homered for this fourth straight game, getting to 30 on the year. Felix Hernandez allowed 11 hits in six and two-thirds but minimized the damage, allowing only four runs. Quite a feat at Coors Field. Nine strikeouts and only one walk help that.

Angels 5, Indians 4: The Angels end their six-game losing streak. This was the third time in four days the Angels faced a Cy Young winner. While they couldn’t get it done against Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw, they managed Corey Kluber just fine, gathering five runs on ten hits in five and two-thirds.

Orioles 9, Athletics 2: Chris Davis hit a three-run shot and Adam Jones and Caleb Joseph hit dingers of their own as the Orioles took their eighth of ten. The Orioles are tied with Toronto so maybe I won’t have to use that passport.

Cubs vs. Pirates: POSTPONED: So girl, hang your dress up to dry we ain’t leaving this room
Till Percy Priest breaks open wide and the river runs through
And carries this house on the stones like a piece of driftwood
Cover me up and know you’re enough to use me for good

Yeah, I know it was rain, not a flood, but I’ve had that song in my head for two weeks and was hoping for a rainout in order to use it. Besides, they WOULD cancel a game if there was a team in Nashville and the Percy Priest dam flooded. Of this I am certain.

Astros push ALCS to Game 7 with 7-1 stunner against Yankees

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There’s just something about playing in your home ballpark. The Astros decimated the Yankees at Minute Maid Park on Friday, riding seven scoreless innings from Justin Verlander and a pair of big runs from Jose Altuve to win 7-1 and force a Game 7 in the American League Championship Series.

Through the first four innings, however, the teams looked equally matched. Luis Severino no-hit the Astros through 3 2/3 innings, losing his bid on Carlos Correa‘s line drive single in the fourth. The Astros returned in the fifth to do some real damage, drawing two walks and plating the first run of the night with Brian McCann‘s ground-rule double off of the right field wall. Things didn’t get any easier for Severino. Jose Altuve lined a two-RBI base hit into left field, upping Houston’s advantage to three runs.

Verlander, meanwhile, muted the Yankees’ offense with seven innings of five-hit, eight-strikeout ball. While he didn’t come close to matching his complete game effort in Game 2, he was still plenty dominant against a struggling New York lineup. No player reached past first base until the sixth inning, when a pair of base hits from Chase Headley and Didi Gregorius gave the Yankees their first runner in scoring position. That didn’t last long, though, as Gary Sanchez grounded out on a 3-0 slider to end the inning.

In the seventh, Houston’s ace got into another spot of trouble. He walked Greg Bird on six pitches to start the inning, then plunked Starlin Castro on the wrist. Aaron Hicks struck out, in part thanks to a questionable call by home plate umpire Jim Reynolds, but it was Todd Frazier who presented the biggest threat after returning an 0-1 fastball for a 403-foot fly out to left field. Luckily for Verlander, George Springer was there to bail him out with a leaping catch at the wall.

The Yankees kept things exciting in the eighth, too. Aaron Judge ripped his third postseason home run off of Brad Peacock, taking a 425-footer out to the train in left field to spoil the Astros’ shutout. That was the only real break the Yankees got, however, as Altuve, Alex Bregman and Evan Gattis returned in the bottom of the inning to tack on another four runs, including Altuve’s solo shot off of David Robertson:

Ken Giles handled the ninth, expending 23 pitches and giving up a base hit and a walk before retiring Frazier and Headley to end the game. Thanks to Houston’s winning efforts, the two teams will compete in their first seven-game Championship Series since 2004 — and this time, at least one of them is guaranteed to come away with a win.

Game 7 of the ALCS is set for Saturday at 8:00 PM ET. Houston right-hander Charlie Morton (14-7, 3.62 ERA) is scheduled to face southpaw CC Sabathia (14-5, 3.69 ERA).