And That Happened: Sunday's Scores and Highlights

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Mariners 4, Red Sox 2: I went down to West Virginia to see old friends
over the weekend. I went without my wife and kids, so I had a lot of
time to wander around my old hometown, drive some crazy country back
roads, do a little hiking in the middle of nowhere and generally get
lost in my own head for a little bit. Highly enjoyable, but I gotta say: both the 20 year-old memories stirred
by meeting up with friends and being removed from civilization for a day
or two was a bit disorienting. Dreamilike, in some ways, really. You know how in “Inception” Leo DiCaprio had that little spinny top thing? Well, I use boring and inefficient Dice-K starts in which he throws 110 pitches in six innings while walking five dudes to let me know when I am out of dream land and back to reality.

Astros 4, Reds 0: Seven innings of one-hit ball for Wandy Rodriguez
against a Reds team that seems like it had one foot on the charter to
Milwaukee from the time this one got going. I listened to this game on
the radio on my way back from West Virginia yesterday. Well, part of it.
After spending the better part of two days touring the coal fields, I
didn’t have a lot of patience for Reds’ color man Jeff Brantley telling
us that pinch hitting was “the hardest job in America.” It was 1-0 at
that point, though, so I guess I didn’t miss anything that truly
impacted game’s outcome. 

Rangers 6, Angels 4: Josh Hamilton continues to be ridiculous and the Rangers take three of four from Anaheim, extending their lead to seven games. Dan Haren is nice, Angels fans, but I really can’t see him being a difference maker right now.

Giants 3, Diamondbacks 2: Buster Posey smacks four hits to extend his hitting streak. He’s at .469/.511/.815 in July and at .371/.407/.579 on the year.  This is the man that Brian Sabean said “wasn’t ready” back in April. Sure, dude. Whatever.

Tigers 6, Blue Jays 5; Blue Jays 5, Tigers 3: When teams split a double header do the players go to bed that night thinking that the day was totally wasted? I’d probably feel that way.

Dodgers 1, Mets 0: Clayton Kershaw threw eight shutout innings a day after Joe Torre emptied the bullpen to win Saturday’s 13-inning affair. For the second day in a row Jerry Manuel refuses to use K-Rod in an ultra-tight game. Does he simply not trust his putative relief ace? Does he only care about saves?  How do you lose two games like the Mets’ Saturday and Sunday games without once getting your relief ace into the action?

Cardinals 4, Cubs 3: Felipe Lopez homers in the eleventh and Dennys
Reyes closes the door in the bottom half of the inning. Why Dennys Reyes
and not Ryan Franklin? Because Tony La Russa thought it would be a good
idea to use his best relief pitcher in a close game rather than have
him sit around and wait for a save situation, Jerry Manuel.

Brewers 8, Nationals 3: The Brewers sweep the Nats thanks to some terrible defense by Washington. Note to Jim Riggleman: Just because a guy has played a little third base in the past doesn’t mean he should play third base now.

Athletics 6, White Sox 4: Dallas Braden gets his first win since his perfecto nearly three months ago. Braden after the game: “I can finally quit answering calls from the Oakland Zoo looking for
their monkey. He’s off my back and I’ll be sending him home.” Hmm . . . was it the Vervet or the Squirrel Monkey?

Padres 6, Pirates 3: San Diego sweeps Pittsburgh in what is shaping up to be the Pirates’ worst season in 25 years. Which is saying something given that they’ve been wandering in the desert for a good 22 of those years.

Twins 10, Orioles 4: The Twins cruise despite having a number of regulars out of the starting lineup due to the effects of an unbearably steamy weekend in Baltimore. Jim Thome tied George Brett on the career RBI list. Remember when Thome used to play third base? Yeah, that was pretty hilarious.

Phillies 4, Rockies 3: Jimmy Rollins stole third and then came home on a wild pitch to score what turned out to be the winning run in seventh. If he would have reached on catcher’s interference and made it to second on a balk it would have been the run of the year. The Rockies have lost five in a row on what is turning out to be a nightmare east coast swing.

Marlins 5, Braves 4: The Braves had the bases loaded in the top of the eleventh with one out. Nate McLouth grounded into a double play. He was terrible before his concussion, the Braves won like crazy when he was gone and he’s been terrible since he came back. He adds absolutely nothing to this team. Wes Helms used to be talked about in similar unflattering terms when he played for the Braves but he got the game-winning hit in the bottom half of the inning for Florida. I think I’d rather have him playing centerfield than McLouth right now.

Yankees 12, Royals 6: Yankees in a laugher on the strength of two Curtis Granderson jacks and three RBI from Alex Rodriguez. Or at least it was a laugher until A-Rod got smacked with a ball in the eighth inning. It hit and bruised his left hand pretty good. “I was more fearful of the ball coming toward my face,” A-Rod said after the game. “My beautiful, beautiful face,” he did not add.

Rays 4, Indians 2Pretty spiffy play by Reid Brignac in the seventh, taking what could have easily been a game-tying hit away from Carlos Santana. I’m not a big fan of extreme defensive shifts like that, but I’ll admit it, they’re pretty satisfying when they result in a play like that.

Swanson, Olson go deep vs Scherzer, Braves take NL East lead

atlanta braves
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ATLANTA — Dansby Swanson and Matt Olson homered off Max Scherzer, lifting the Atlanta Braves to a crucial 4-2 victory Saturday night over the New York Mets and a one-game lead in the NL East.

The defending World Series champions beat aces Jacob deGrom and Scherzer on consecutive nights to take their biggest lead of the season in the division. New York, which held a 10 1/2-game cushion on June 1, faces its biggest deficit of the year with four games remaining.

Atlanta will try for a three-game sweep Sunday night, with the winner earning the season-series tiebreaker between the teams. Even though both teams are headed to the postseason, that’s important because the NL East champion gets a first-round bye in the playoffs.

Swanson’s 24th homer, a go-ahead, two-run shot in the fifth inning, touched off a frenzy among the sold-out crowd at Truist Park, the ball sailing a few rows up into the seats in left-center to make it 3-2. Olson hit his 32nd homer in the sixth, a solo shot into Chop House seats in right to put Atlanta up 4-2.

Austin Riley led off the fourth with a double and scored on Olson’s single to make it 1-all.

Kyle Wright (21-5) gave up two runs and seven hits with one walk and three strikeouts in five innings as he won his eighth straight decision. The Braves have won 16 of his last 17 starts.

New York went up 2-1 in the fifth when Pete Alonso, Francisco Lindor and Jeff McNeil hit consecutive two-out singles.

The Mets led 1-0 in the first when Brandon Nimmo singled, advanced on a walk and a single and scored on Eduardo Escobar‘s groundout. Wright, who threw 30 pitches in the first, stranded two runners in scoring position to prevent further damage.

Scherzer (11-5) allowed a first-inning single to Riley and a third-inning infield single to Ronald Acuna Jr., who advanced to third on a fielding error by Lindor at shortstop but was stranded when Michael Harris II lined out to center. Scherzer patted his glove and pumped his fist as he walked off the mound.

Scherzer was charged with nine hits and four runs with no walks and four strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings as the Mets were knocked out of first place for only the third day all season.

The Braves have won five of the last six against New York to tie the season series 9-all, outscoring the Mets 37-16 over that stretch.

Atlanta’s bullpen, which posted a 1.70 ERA in September, got a perfect inning from Dylan Lee in the sixth. Jesse Chavez faced four batters in the seventh, Raisel Iglesias faced the minimum in the eighth and closer Kenley Jansen pitched a perfect ninth for his NL-leading 39th save in 46 chances.

Since the Braves were a season low-tying four games under .500 at 23-27 after play on May 31, they have gone 76-32, tying the Los Angeles Dodgers for the best record in the majors over that span. They were a season-worst 10 1/2 games behind the first-place Mets on June 1.

Wright, the only 20-game winner in baseball this season, hasn’t officially become the first Braves pitcher to lead the league in wins outright since Russ Ortiz had 21 in 2003, but the Dodgers’ Julio Urias has 17 and can’t reach 20 before the regular season ends.

Wright will become the first Braves pitcher since Hall of Famer Tom Glavine in 2000 to lead the majors in wins. Houston ace Justin Verlander also has 17.

Wright began the game 1-4 with a 6.75 ERA in six career starts and one relief appearance against the Mets.

The Braves, who got homers from Riley, Olson and Swanson off deGrom on Friday, lead the NL with 240 homers.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Mets: All-Star RF Starling Marte (right middle finger fracture) has yet to begin swinging or throwing. Manager Buck Showalter said Marte is experiencing less pain but not enough to take the next step in his recovery. Marte has been sidelined since Sept. 7.

Braves: RHP Spencer Strider still has not thrown as he gets treatment on a sore left oblique. Manager Brian Snitker said there is no timetable for the rookie’s return. Strider has been sidelined since Sept. 21.

NICE GLOVE

Harris ran back and jumped to catch Nimmo’s fly against the wall in center field for the first out of the third.

UP NEXT

Mets RHP Chris Bassitt (15-8, 3.27 ERA) will face RHP Charlie Morton (9-6, 4.29) as the teams conclude a three-game series.