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And That Happened: Saturday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the rest of Saturday’s scores and highlights:

White Sox 13, Giants 1: The White Sox weren’t about to get shown up by the Giants two days in a row. Six home runs did the trick, from Jose Abreu‘s 372-foot blast in the first inning to Nick Delmonico‘s two-run shot in the seventh. Abreu went 4-for-5 and batted for the cycle, collecting an elusive triple in the eighth to become the sixth player in franchise history (and the first in 17 years) to replicate the feat.

Braves 6, Marlins 5: A night off did wonders for Giancarlo Stanton, who returned to the Marlins’ lineup on Saturday raring to go. He wasted no time getting on the board, hammering a 456-footer to center field in the first inning for an early lead:

The Marlins followed Stanton’s efforts with a three-run spread in the third inning, but dropped their lead in the most anticlimactic fashion: on a walk-off walk.

Yankees 3, Rangers 1: The Yankees extended their lead in the wild card race with a masterful performance from Luis Severino, who fanned 10 batters over seven innings of one-hit ball. Rangers’ right-hander Andrew Cashner was equally stingy, blanking the Yankees through the first seven innings before Chase Headley broke through with a sac fly in the eighth. Tyler Austin’s RBI single provided the go-ahead run in the ninth, and a shutdown performance from Aroldis Chapman sealed the deal.

Indians 4, Orioles 2: The Orioles may not have been able to top the Indians during their remarkable 17-win tear, but they managed to do something that no competitor had done in 16 games: They scored first. Trey Mancini‘s first-inning RBI single held up for two innings, but the Indians came storming back with a four-run spread, banking on key hits from Giovanny Urshela and Jay Bruce to regain the lead.

Athletics 11, Astros 1 (Game 1): It’s too late in the season for the A’s comeback to have any significant impact on their season, but that didn’t stop them from tanking the division-leading Astros in back-to-back double-digit performances. Daniel Gossett finally found his groove against the ‘Stros, leading the way with his first quality start of the month. His dominance was starkly contrasted by that of Houston relievers Reymin Guduan and J.D. Davis, who contributed to the A’s blowout with a cumulative four runs on six walks in the eighth inning:

Athletics 11, Astros 4 (Game 2): Things didn’t look any better for the Astros the second time around.  They kept their walk count to a minimum, with just one free pass by Michael Feliz, but the A’s opted for the long ball with blasts from Jose Altuve, Matt Olson and Chad Pinder. With the Astros’ slump and the Indians’ historic resurgence, the two are now tied for the best record in the American League, at 86-56.

Brewers 15, Cubs 2: The Brewers may have lost ace right-hander Jimmy Nelson for the season, but they didn’t look any worse for wear during Saturday’s hit parade. Chase Anderson led the way with five scoreless frames while the rest of the team tagged opposing starter Mike Montgomery for eight runs in the third. With the win, the Brewers sit just three games out of the division lead, though they’ll have to top both the Cubs and Cardinals to clinch the title.

Phillies 5, Nationals 4: There’s no doubt the Nationals will clinch the NL East title. They’re 19 games up on the second-place Marlins and could repeat as division champs as soon as Sunday, provided that they can coordinate another win with another Marlins’ loss. Doing so would make them the first repeat champions since the Phillies clinched in 2007 and 2008… and 2009, 2010 and 2011, but at least on Saturday, the Phillies weren’t quite ready to let that happen. They played spoiler to the Nationals’ efforts with a pair of home runs by Rhys Hoskins and Maikel Franco in the second inning, then returned for three insurance runs in the fourth.

Blue Jays 5, Tigers 4: The Blue Jays are still an improbable nine games out of a playoff berth, with seven teams blocking their path to a wild card spot, but on Saturday, they looked every inch the perennial contender. Kevin Pillar did it all for the club, going 4-for-4 with a leadoff RBI single and tie-breaking home run and snaring a deep fly ball to prevent the Tigers from gaining an advantage in the fifth.

Mets 6, Reds 1: The Mets will be eliminated from postseason contention in just seven games, so now’s as good a time as any to start heating up. They worked up to their fourth consecutive win on Saturday, capitalizing on five solid innings from Rafael Montero and an early lead from Kevin Plawecki to stay ahead of the Reds.

Red Sox 9, Rays 0: While the Yankees looked for an edge in the AL East race, the Red Sox extended their lead with their first shutout of September. Chris Sale improved to a 16-7 record, taking the Rays to task with six scoreless frames and fanning eight of 25 batters. At the plate, it was a group effort: Dustin Pedroia led off the first inning with a solo shot, his seventh of the year, and a smattering of base hits and productive outs took care of the rest.

Royals 5, Twins 2: With a wild card race this cutthroat, every win counts. The Royals upended the Twins to move within four wins of a postseason berth, breaking through in the eighth inning on Eric Hosmer‘s go-ahead RBI single. Mike Minor and Brandon Maurer stepped in to preserve the win for rookie Jakob Junis, whose quality start was his first since August 14.

Cardinals 4, Pirates 3: The Pirates may have put the most creative effort into their performance on Saturday, but creativity doesn’t always win games. Adam Frazier lashed an inside-the-park home run in the seventh inning and cleared the bases in just 15.7 seconds, the Pirates’ fastest home-to-home mark since 2015.

Some of the credit, however, goes to the wall in center field, which knocked Dexter Fowler out of the game and gave Frazier a head start as he charged around the basepaths. Fowler exited with a left knee contusion and the Cardinals rebounded with Matt Carpenter‘s standard-issue home run and Randal Grichuk‘s tie-breaking RBI groundout to take the lead.

Padres 8, Diamondbacks 7: Whatever slump the Dodgers and Astros have suffered from lately appears to be contagious. The Diamondbacks took their second straight loss to the Padres on Saturday, dropping their five-run lead after the Friars mounted a stunning six-run rally in the ninth. At this rate, it’s anyone’s guess how the playoffs will shake out.

Mariners 8, Angels 1: The Mariners did their part to even out the AL wild card standings, putting up their own six-run spread in the fourth inning to create some distance from the third-place Angels. Nelson Cruz saved the biggest and best blast for last, punishing an 0-2 slider from Jesse Chavez for a 398-foot home run, his 32nd of the season:

Rockies 6, Dodgers 5: The Dodgers continued their Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde routine on Saturday, skidding to their ninth straight loss — their worst since a 10-game slump in 1992 — following a breakthrough effort from Trevor Story and three scoreless innings from Colorado’s bullpen. The Rockies, meanwhile, had some fun during the nail-biter, as Story cranked out his 20th homer of the season and Charlie Blackmon collected his 88th leadoff RBI to tie Craig Biggio’s record.

And That Happened: Monday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Cubs 14, Pirates 3: The Chicago Bears won only one game by as big a margin all last season as the Cubs won by here. Jason Heyward hit his third home run in four days and drove in four runs overall. He and his rebuilt swing are batting .294/.342/.456 with three homers and 16 RBI in 18 games.

White Sox 12, Royals 1: Both Chicago teams scored a couple of touchdowns last night. The White Sox just need a better placekicker for the PATs. DH Matt Davidson homered, doubled and drove in four. Davidson leads the White Sox in home runs with four and is tied for the team lead with 14 RBI. He’s not even an everyday player.

Orioles 6, Rays 3: Baltimore was down 3-1 on a crappy night, weather-wise, at Camden Yards. Then Hyun Soo Kim and Jonathan Schoop hit homers in the sixth followed by an Adam Jones two-run homer in the seventh too chase Chris Archer. Archer after the game:

“There was a few pitches I wish I could have back,” Archer said. “That’s baseball. Going into my next start, I plan on executing at a higher level. Even if it is just three or four pitches I have to execute, it has to be done.”

I would like to see one of those graphs which track how often words are used but only for major league pitchers’ use of the word “execute.” I bet it’s almost at zero until about 2000-03 or so, and then it shoots way the hell up. Probably all traceable to some pitching coach who decided to make himself sound more scientific. Everyone’s “executing” pitches these days. Very few guys are “throwing” them.

Rockies 8, Nationals 4: The Nats’ seven-game winning streak comes to an end. The Rockies snapped it by coming from behind. They were down 4-1 in the bottom of the sixth when Mark Reynolds hit a two-run homer to bring them close. The following inning Charlie Blackmon hit a two-run shot of his own to give Colorado a lead they would not relinquish. Blackmon said the pitch was in his “where I hit balls far” zone. See, isn’t that way more evocative than “executing” pitches? Bring more vernacular to the discourse, pitchers. It plays way, way better than this faux precision jazz.

Brewers 11, Reds 7: Eric Thames continues his early season rampage. Two more homers here, a solo shot in the first and a two-run blast in the second. The second one gave Milwaukee a five-run lead. Cincinnati would threaten for a brief period but the Brewers put up ten runs on Amir Garrett before the end of the fourth inning and that’s just too dang much to overcome. Had a conversation with a big Reds fan yesterday who was cautiously optimistic about his team’s early season play and asked me if it was sustainable. I told him “the pitching will be exposed soon.” I didn’t realize how soon it’d be.

Twins 3, Rangers 2: One hit — a three-run double from Brian Dozier in the fifth — was all Minnesota would get and all they would need. The hit was preceded by Martin Perez walking the bases loaded. The batters: the 6, 8 and 9 hitters. That’s . . . bad.

Diamondbacks 7, Padres 6: Zack Greinke allowed one run over six and struck out 11. He’s had one clunker on the year — five runs allowed to the Dodgers on April 14 — but otherwise Greinke has been the Greinke of old this season: a 2.93 ERA, a 1.17 WHIP and 31 strikeouts to six walks in 30.2 innings.

Angels 2, Blue Jays 1: Jesse Chavez tossed six innings of one-run, four-hit ball. The Blue Jays have scored four runs or less in 14 of their 18 games this season. That’s not good. The Angels’ runs came from a Mike Trout triple followed by an Albert Pujols single in the fourth and Cameron Maybin scoring on a fielder’s choice with a diving slide to beat the throw to the plate in the fifth.

Giants 2, Dodgers 1: Matt Cain was excellent, tossing six shutout innings, but Hyun-Jin Ryu was almost as good, allowing only one run over six. Ultimately bad base running dooms Los Angeles. Chris Taylor was thrown out stealing in the eighth inning with Corey Seager at the plate. Then Justin Turner was picked off of second to end the game.

And That Happened: Friday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the scores and highlights from Friday’s slate, none cooler than the way Red Sox fan Thomas Hastings has been spending his days lately.

Pirates 5, Braves 4: The most impressive part of Ivan Nova‘s season debut wasn’t the way he stifled the Braves’ offense through six innings, allowing one run on an Ender Inciarte RBI double, nor was it the four scoreless frames he pitched to start the game nor the four strikeouts he collected. It was the way he managed all of these things while pitching in 37-degree weather during the Pirates’ home opener. The cold didn’t appear to bother the rest of the lineup, either, as they collected 11 hits against the Braves with RBI hits from Andrew McCutchen and Starling Marte and back-to-back homers from David Freese and Francisco Cervelli.

Tigers 6, Red Sox 5: For all the back-and-forth on Pablo Sandoval‘s ideal weight, his attitude in the clubhouse, and his waning production over the last two seasons, it’s difficult to remember he’s still capable of doing this:

Unfortunately, the Red Sox needed more than the three-run blast to power their efforts against the Tigers, and were unseated by a two-run rally in the eighth inning.

Nationals 7, Phillies 6: Remember when a fractured finger cost Max Scherzer his Opening Day start? Apparently he doesn’t. The 32-year-old ace looked no worse for wear on Friday, firing seven strikeouts and allowing two runs over 6 2/3 frames against the Phillies. He held opposing batters scoreless through the first five frames, backed by a comfortable seven-run cushion with home runs from Bryce Harper, Daniel Murphy and Jayson Werth.

Rockies 2, Dodgers 1: The Rockies kicked off their first homestand of the season with a dominant major league debut by southpaw Kyle Freeland. Freeland snagged a roster spot after impressing in spring training with a 3.48 ERA and looked just as solid against the Dodgers in regular season play, holding them to four hits, one run and six strikeouts through six quality innings.

Padres 7, Giants 6: One man can only do so much for his team in a single game. That was likely how Giants’ first baseman Brandon Belt felt during a 7-6 loss to the Padres, during which Belt drove in five runs on two home runs, including his first career grand slam. The bullpen blew their tenuous one-run advantage in the sixth inning, allowing San Diego to notch three runs on a two-run double and an RBI bunt and take their second win of the season.

Orioles 6, Yankees 5: The Orioles are one of two undefeated teams left in the American League (along with the Twins, which we all predicted) after squeezing past the Yankees in Friday night’s series opener. Neither pitching staff could suppress the other’s offensive drive, but it was Seth Smith‘s first home run in a Baltimore uniform that became the deciding factor for the Orioles in the seventh inning.

Marlins 7, Mets 2: According to the Elias Sports Bureau, only four players since 1900 have started their major league careers with hitless streaks greater than 50 consecutive at-bats. Marlins’ left-hander Wei-Yin Chen broke his streak of 51 at-bats with his first career hit on Friday, a blooper that rolled toward shortstop for an infield hit against the Mets’ Zack Wheeler.

Rays 10, Blue Jays 8: After taking home their first win of the year on Thursday, the Blue Jays hit another speed bump with shaky performances from Francisco Liriano and their bullpen on Friday. Whatever stability Liriano found with his 2.00 spring training ERA dissolved in Tropicana Field, as the veteran right-hander was forced out of the game after giving up three hits, four walks and five runs through the first 1/3 of the first inning.

Rangers 10, Athletics 5: If there’s been one bright spot in the Rangers’ lineup this week, it’s 21-year-old Nomar Mazara, who helped catapult the team to their first win of the season with an RBI single and grand slam against the A’s. Mazara is looking to follow up an impressive rookie performance in 2016, during which he batted .266/.320/.419 with 20 home runs and a .739 OPS. Sample sizes notwithstanding, his .588/1.059/1.647 slash line through the first four games of 2017 indicate that he’s on the right track.

Brewers 2, Cubs 1 (11 innings): After ten innings of mostly dominant pitching, this wasn’t the way the Cubs planned to lose. In the eleventh, with one out and the bases loaded, Chicago right-hander Mike Montgomery served up a wild pitch that bounced over the shoulder of catcher Wilson Contreras. Contreras missed the throw to home plate and the ball skirted back into the infield as Ryan Braun crossed the plate for the game-winning run.

Royals 5, Astros 1: Carlos Beltran slugged his way into the history books during the Astros’ second loss of the season. He snagged an RBI double in the seventh inning, scoring Carlos Correa and tying the Yankees’ Joe DiMaggio with 1,537 career RBI — good for 49th-most among all past and present major leaguers.

Twins 3, White Sox 1: There are two ways to consider Twins’ center fielder Byron Buxton. You can choose to isolate his superb defense…

…or you can focus on the fact that he’s collected 11 strikeouts in 19 PA this season, including a coveted “golden sombrero” during Friday’s fiesta.

In other news, the Twins haven’t started a season 4-0 since 1987. If they can stretch their streak to five wins, it’ll be the club’s most successful start to a season since the Washington Senators went 5-0 in 1913.

Reds 2, Cardinals 0: Rookie left-hander Amir Garrett looked calmer and more polished than many veteran major leaguers on Friday. He made his major league debut with six dazzling frames against the Cardinals, striking out four and issuing just two walks and two hits.

Diamondbacks 7, Indians 3: The Indians’ AL Central crown won’t be tossed aside anytime soon, but they had a rough go of it in their season opener against the Diamondbacks. Arizona came close to a collective cycle in the fifth inning, stockpiling five runs on a single from Jake Lamb, doubles from Paul Goldschmidt and Yasmany Tomas, and a two-run triple from Brandon Drury.

Angels 5, Mariners 1: The Mariners are averaging just 1.8 runs per game in 2017. While a slump isn’t unusual this early in the season, it’s not exactly a good sign, either. Angels’ right-hander Jesse Chavez served up 5 1/3 innings of one-run ball, backed by an airtight performance from the bullpen and a four-run lead.