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Report: Braves extend Kurt Suzuki

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Kurt Suzuki will wear a Braves’ uniform through the 2018 season after signing a one-year, $3.5 million extension with the club on Saturday, per The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal. Rosenthal adds that the two had been in talks for weeks and Suzuki made it clear that he wanted to remain in Atlanta for the foreseeable future. The team has yet to announce the extension.

Suzuki, 33, initially signed a one-year contract with the Braves back in January. The veteran backstop stepped into a backup role behind starting catcher Tyler Flowers, but still found a way to impress at the plate with a .271/.343/.525 batting line, career-best 18 home runs and an .868 OPS through 287 PA. According to FanGraphs, Suzuki’s 2.2 fWAR makes 2017 his most valuable season since his run with the 2009 Athletics.

It’s a prudent move for the Braves, who would have lost one of their most dynamic second-half hitters to the free agent market this offseason. Entering Saturday, Suzuki is second only to Freddie Freeman with 11 homers and 1.4 fWAR since the All-Star break. His stunning comeback also confirmed the team’s decision to look outside the organization for a backup catcher, rather than turning to fellow veteran Anthony Recker behind the plate.

“On a personal level, this season exceeded my expectations,” Suzuki told reporters on Wednesday. “It’s just one of those things I can’t explain. I put a lot of work in and really didn’t have a job until late January. I got an opportunity here and took advantage of it. It was definitely a good fit.”

And That Happened: Tuesday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Dodgers 5, Giants 3: The streak is over. Clayton Kershaw allowed two runs — one earned — and pitched out of a bases loaded jam in the sixth to get the win and stop the bleeding. Kenley Jansen got a four-out save but it was shaky, with him giving up three straight singles with one out in the ninth to face a bases-loaded jam of his own, though he struck his way out of it. Chase Utley homered and Yasiel Puig doubled in two to give the Dodgers their winning margin. The win ensured the Dodgers of at least a playoff spot in the National League.

Indians 2, Tigers 0: Wrote this up here, but it was pretty simple: Corey Kluber was dominant, tossing a complete game shutout and Francisco Lindor continued his hot hitting with a solo homer. The win ties the AL record winning streak of 20, held by the 2002 Athletics. This afternoon the Tribe seeks to break that and tie the all-time record winning streak held by the 1935 Cubs.

Royals 4, White Sox 3: Brandon Moss hit a grand slam in the first inning and the Royals held on for the rest of the game. It was the third straight game with a homer for Moss. He has nine RBI in those three games.

Braves 8, Nationals 0: The Nationals ran out a fairly legit lineup for a team that popped champagne corks the day before, but they got creamed anyway. Freddie Freeman hit a three-run homer and Ozzie Albies hit a solo shot. Julio Teheran scattered seven hits over seven shutout innings. The only bright spot for the Nationals — aside from knowing that they have already won the division — was Gio Gonzalez clinching his 2018 option by notching his 180th inning pitched.

Phillies 9, Marlins 8: This was a wild one. The Phillies at first thought they had a walkoff win in the ninth — they made a mess on the field, throwing buckets of chewing gum, Gatorade and sunflower seeds and stuff all over Hyun-Soo Kim, who got the hit —  but a replay review showed that Cesar Hernandez was out at home, negating that run and forcing them to play on. In extras, Rhys Hoskins hit his second homer of the game to tie it back up after the Marlins had taken a lead in the top of the 10th. Then, in the bottom of the 15th Nick Williams walked if off — legitimately this time — with an RBI double. Williams had three hits and reached base five times in the game. The Marlins blew an five run lead they held as late as the sixth inning. Whew.

Blue Jays 3, Orioles 2: Baltimore took a 2-1 lead into the ninth but the Jays rallied off of O’s closer Zach Britton with a walk and a few singles, capped by Richard Urena’s walkoff single. That was the sixth straight loss for Baltimore, and while they all hurt, that one had to hurt more.

Red Sox 11, Athletics 1: Mookie Betts put on a show, smacking two homers on a 3-for-5, six-RBI night. That was more than enough for Eduardo Rodriguez and three Boston relievers. If Betts starts hitting like he did in 2016 and keeps it up in October, the Red Sox will be a completely different team than they’ve been of late.

Rays 2, Yankees 1: Sonny Gray allowed only two runs on five hits in eight innings but Blake Snell and his friends in the pen allowed only one run all game. The Rays runs came on solo shots from Kevin Kiermaier and Adeiny Hechavarria. The Rays and Yankees drew over 21,000 fans, which isn’t bat for a neutral site game with only a couple of days notice.

Brewers 5, Pirates 2Eric Thames hit his 29th home run, Domingo Santana went 3-for-4 with two RBI and the Brewers kept pace with the Cubs and Cards, each of which also won. Not bad considering starter Brent Suter lasted only three innings. The pen did the job, though, with  Jeremy JeffressOliver DrakeJared HughesAnthony Swarzak and Josh Hader each tossing a scoreless inning and Corey Knebel tossing one of his own to notch the save.

Mariners 10, Rangers 3: Kyle Seager and Ben Gamel both hit three-run homers. Marco Gonzales struck out six while allowing three runs over five innings. The Rangers dropped three games behind Minnesota for the American League’s second Wild Card. The Mariners remained three and a half back.

Cubs 8, Mets 3: Kris Bryant hit a three-run homer in the Cubs’ four-run fourth and Jose Quintana allowed two runs over seven, striking out seven. Quintana knocked in a run himself with a safety squeeze.

Twins 16, Padres 0: This one got out of hand early with the Twins taking a 9-0 lead after three innings and never looking back. Minnesota was homer happy too, hitting a dinger in each of the first seven innings. Jason Castro homered twice. Brian DozierJorge PolancoEddie RosarioEduardo Escobar and Kennys Vargas also went deep.

Cardinals 13, Reds 4: The Cardinals have won four straight and six of their last seven as they keep pace with the Cubs, two back in the Central. Paul DeJong homered. It was his 22nd on the year, setting a new mark for Cardinals shortstops. Yadier Molina drove in three. St. Louis farting around all year and then, in the last month, putting together a run that could put them in the playoffs is about the most Cardinals thing ever.

Rockies 4, Diamondbacks 2: Carlos Gonzalez hit two homers and drove in all four of the Rockies’ runs and Jon Gray was solid, striking out ten and not waking a batter in seven innings. Colorado wins its sixth straight. They’re three back of the Dbacks for the top Wild Card and home field advantage for their presumed one game playoff.

Astros 1, Angels 0: This is why the Astros got Justin Verlander. Their newest addition allowed only one hit and struck out nine over eight shutout innings and that made it possible for a Yuli Gurriel RBI single in the second inning to hold up.

And That Happened: Thursday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Indians 11, White Sox 2: Cleveland wins its 15th straight and it came in a laugher, with the Tribe offense jumping on White Sox starter Mike Pelfrey for seven runs in the first three innings. Corey Kluber didn’t need even half of that run support as he tied up the Chisox for seven innings, allowing only two runs on three hits and striking out 13. The last team to win at least 15 in a row was the 2002-03 Giants, who did it straddling the offseason. The last team to win as many as 15 in a single season was the 2002 A’s, who famously won 20 in a row between August 13 and September 4.

Yankees 9, Orioles 1: The Bombers hit four bombs, with Aaron Judge and Chase Headley hitting two-run homers and Starlin Castro and Todd Frazier adding solo shots. Judge has destroyed the Orioles this year. His line against them: .449/.603/1.082 with nine homers, 18 RBI and 19 walks. That’s just obscene.

Nationals 4, Phillies 3: Four wins in a row for the Nationals, whose magic number is now down to four. Trea Turner hit a two-run single in the sixth. Michael A. Taylor robbed Andres Blanco of a homer with a leaping grab. Everything’s coming up Nationals lately.

Braves 6, Marlins 5: One of the reasons Washington’s magic number is so low so early is because the Marlins are absolutely reeling. Miami has lost 10 of 11, including five straight. This one was a back-breaker, as the lowly Braves mounted a two-run rally in the ninth for a come-from-behind win. Brad Ziegler tried to nail it down, but Matt Adams doubled to lead off the inning, Nick Markakis pinch-ran for him and Ozzie Albies doubled Markakis in. After an intentional walk to Freddie Freeman and a ground out that erased Albies, Kurt Suzuki doubled home Freeman to give the Braves the walkoff win.

Cubs 8, Pirates 2: Anthony Rizzo went 2-for-2 with 2 RBI and 2 walks and 2 runs scored. That makes for a very pretty and satisfying line in the box score. Ian Happ, who is from the Pittsburgh area, went 3-for-5 and scored twice. He also threw a runner out at the plate. Quite an improvement over the night before when he tripped over his own bat running out of the batter’s box.

Mets 7, Reds 2Brandon Nimmo hit two homers on a 3-for-4, three RBI day and Matt Harvey got his first win since May 28 with a five inning, two run, five-hit performance. It wasn’t a great outing — he only struck out one guy — but it’s an improvement over his last start.

Twins 4, Royals 2: Minnesota was down 2-1 after eight but rallied for three in the top of the ninth with a Brian Dozier sac fly and a two-run single from Jorge Polanco off of Kelvin Herrera with two outs. Not the sort of loss the Royals can take if they want to stay relevant in the AL Wild Card race. Kansas City falls to three and a half games back, but with four teams in between them and the the Twins, who remain a game up on the Angels for the second slot.

Padres 3, Cardinals 0: Clayton Richard tossed six shutout innings and three relievers finished it off. Wil Myers‘ two-run homer in the seventh was the big blow for the Padres. St. Louis had a chance in the ninth, rallying to load the bases with two outs, but Brad Hand struck out Dexter Fowler to end the threat.

Rockies 9, Dodgers 1: That’s seven straight losses for the Dodgers and this one hurt more as it came with their ace, Clayton Kershaw on the mound. Colorado was unimpressed, scoring three runs off of him in the first inning courtesy of a Nolan Arenado three-run homer and handing him his first loss since May 6. The bullpen didn’t fare much better. Josh Ravin gave up back-to-back bases-loaded walks in the seventh inning and the fans in Dodger Stadium rained down boos. L.A. is lucky the playoffs start in October and not September.