Craig Calcaterra

Royals Celebrate

And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights

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That feeling when you can’t for the life you remember why they didn’t start the season at the end of March like they so often do and, thus, why this isn’t the last weekend of the season coming up now, with the playoffs starting next week and the World Series being ensured to finish in October. Anyway:

Royals 10, Mariners 4: The clinch was obviously important. Having the previously struggling Johnny Cueto allow only three runs over seven innings was, in the short term anyway, just as important. Now the most important business left is to maintain their two-game lead over the Blue Jays for the best record in the AL so that a potential ALCS will feature Kuffman Stadium as the home park rather than Rogers Centre.

Dodgers 6, Diamondbacks 3: Clayton Kershaw got mad at Don Mattingly for taking him out of the game five innings in and down 3-0, but it ended up being the right decision as the Dodgers rallied for six in the bottom half of the inning, while he was still the pitcher of the record and five L.A. relievers shut the Dbacks down the rest of the way. Now, rather than having answer questions about strife, everyone is allowed to say that Kershaw is just “a competitor” and stuff. Wins do that for people. He can thank Chris Heisey and his grand slam for most of that.

Watch what would be a big controversy today if the Dodgers hadn’t rallied but now is no big thing because of hindsight:

Pirates 5, Rockies 4: Pedro Alvarez hit a go-ahead, three-run homer in the eighth inning as the Pirates showed no ill-effects from the previous night’s champagne celebration despite this being a day game. Maybe it’s just that, as celebrations go, “clinching the wild card” is not as party-worthy as clinching a division or winning a playoff series. There are likely unwritten rules about this to which none of us are privy. Oh, and this was the Pirates’ 10,000th franchise win. At least since joining the National League. They played five seasons as the Pittsburgh Allegheneys in the American Association before that, though, and if you counted those games they were past 10,000 a while back.

Rangers 8, Athletics 1: A three game sweep of the A’s, this one behind Cole Hamels‘ six sharp innings, three Adrian Beltre RBI and a Prince Fielder homer. They now lead Houston by three and a half games and head to Houston to play them this weekend. Two wins and it’s over, right?

Orioles 5, Nationals 4: There were no beanballs here, the day after Papelbon hit Machado. My guess is that the Orioles mostly pity the Nationals at this point and realize that Papelbon doesn’t really represent team sentiment. I’d like to think that they also take the notion of living well being the best revenge to heart, and beating the other guys the next day is living well. They did so thanks to a late Matt Wieters homer which gave the O’s their 11th win in 15 games. It’s a nice late season surge, even if it’s a little too late.

Yankees 3, White Sox 2: Carlos Beltran hit a three-run bomb off of Chris Sale in the third inning and while that didn’t put the Sox in a deficit as deep as a well nor give the Yankees a lead as wide as a church door, ’twas enough, ’twill serve. I have no idea why that popped in my head.

Rays 4, Red Sox 2: Evan Longoria hit a homer that started the Rays comeback. It was his 20th, and, according to the AP recap, that put him alongside Eddie Mathews, Chipper Jones and Scott Rolen as the only third baseman to hit 20 homers in seven of their first eight years in the majors. Which seems like a rather contrived and somewhat misleading accomplishment, but hey, it’s not like this game had anything else significant going on.

Mets 6, Reds 4Daniel Murphy hit a tie-breaking triple in the seventh inning and had two other hits. This, combined with the Nats’ loss, puts the Mets’ magic number at three. That means they could very well clinch the division while in Cincinnati. Which could be dangerous. Because there ain’t no party like a Cincinnati party ’cause a Cincinnati party don’t stop.

Marlins 1, Phillies 0: On the one hand it was a low-scoring game between two of the worst and, even worse, two of the least interesting teams in baseball. On the other hand it only lasted two and a half hours, so it was sort of a pull-the-bandage-off-quickly affair. The only score was J.T. Realmuto’s RBI triple in the seventh. Since he’s a catcher I suppose we can call that interesting at least.

Cardinals 7, Brewers 3Jhonny Peralta and Stephen Piscotty combined for all seven of the Cardinals runs. Their last names would likewise make an excellent name of a 1980s cop drama. “Peralta and Piscotty, tonight, right after ‘Hunter’! Only on NBC!”

Indians 6, Twins 3Jason Kipnis hit a leadoff homer and Carlos Santana hit a three-run shot in the third. The Astros send flowers.

Padres 5, Giants 4: The second walkoff win in a row for the Padres over the Giants, this one courtesy of pinch-hitter Alexi Amarista‘s single. Bruce Bochy only used five relievers in the final two innings instead of six like he did the night before. Which, efficiency experts and scientists and stuff would tell you is, all things considered, a better result even if it still ended in a loss. It’s all about energy put into the system and stuff.

Pablo Sandoval has pneumonia

Pablo Sandoval
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Pablo Sandoval missed a couple of games last week, came back on Sunday and had to leave early due to lightheadedness. He showed up for work the next day but sent home from Fenway Park on Monday with an illness. That illness has now been diagnosed: Sandoval has pneumonia.

He will be reexamined over the weekend, but given that the recovery time for such a beast is measured in weeks or possibly months, not days, his season is almost certainly finished.

If it is finished, it ends with him at a disappointing line of .245/.292/.366 with 10 homers and 47 runs driven in. That makes for easily his worst season as a major leaguer, and certainly not what the Red Sox were hoping for when they signed him last November.

Now, he’ll have the offseason to get healthy and hope to turn things around in 2016.

UPDATE: Greg Holland has a “significant” UCL tear

Greg Holland
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UPDATE: Ned Yost just spoke to the media and now all of the uncertainty seems gone. Yost says Holland has “a significant” UCL tear, which almost certainly means he’s headed for Tommy John surgery.

This will cause him to miss all of 2016 in all likelihood. And may cause the Royals to non-tender the arbitration-eligible Holland after this season. It’s the worst possible news at the worst possible time for all involved.

4:28 PM: He already lost his velocity and his job as closer, and there were already serious concerns about whether or not he’d pitch again to begin with. But now it’s official: Royals reliever Greg Holland has been shut down for the year.

Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star reported that and further reports that Holland will have his right elbow examined by a Dr. Neal ElAttrache next week in Los Angeles. ElAttrache is not as famous as Dr. Andrews, but he has previously treated Zack Greinke, Kobe Bryant and many, many other athletes. And, yes, he could potentially diagnose a torn ligament requiring Tommy John surgery, which would out Holland on the shelf for all of 2016.

The Royals still have a strong bullpen and can weather the loss of their closer better than a lot of teams can, but this is still awful news for them. And for Holland.