And That Happened: Monday's Scores and Highlights

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Phillies 8, Nationals 0: Fitting. Fitting that it was Halladay on the mound, throwing bullets and likely clinching the Cy Young Award (CG, SHO 2 H, 6K). Fitting that it came in Nats Park in front of thousands of friendly fans, just as the season began. This one also clinches the best record in the NL, giving them home field advantage throughout the playoffs.

Braves 2, Marlins 1: They’re still not scoring runs, but a win is a win. Omar Infante singled in the winner in the 11th. Trouble, though: Martin Prado left the game with a “hip pointer,” whatever that is, and is likely going to be out for some time. Time the Braves — clinging to a half-game lead in the wild card — don’t have much of.

Cubs 1, Padres 0: Carlos Zambrano blanked the Padres (7 IP, 3 H, 0 ER), dropping them a half game back of Atlanta. They’re still tied in the loss column, though.  Allow me to observe at this point that virtually no one who is not a Braves fan wants Atlanta to beat the Padres for the wild card. Like, I think there’s hostility to the idea.  I can live with that.

Blue Jays 7, Yankees 5: Another A.J. Burnett disaster start (2.1 IP, 7 H, 7 ER). Open question right now if he’s in the playoff rotation. Playoffs which, thanks to this loss and the Red Sox’ win, the Yankees will have to wait at least one more day to clinch. Oh, and no home runs for Jose Bautista. I guess he’s off those ‘roids which, none of us would dare accuse him of taking, but about which “questions remain.” Jackass.

Cardinals 6, Pirates 4: If Pittsburgh had won, the Reds would have clinched the division from the comfort of their own living rooms. Now they have to go out and clinch on the field against the Astros. A two-run homer and three RBI for Matt Holliday.

Dodgers 3, Rockies 1: Colorado digs itself into a deeper hole. Ubaldo Jimenez remains stuck on 19 wins. Remember when people were asking if he could win 30 this year? Yeah, spring was fun.

Indians 6, Tigers 3: Miguel Cabrera sprained his ankle while coming back to first base on a pickoff attempt. Jim Leyland thought it looked bad. Two of the top MVP candidates — Cabrera and Hamilton — may end the season on the shelf.

Orioles 4, Rays 0: Brian Matusz shut down the Rays for seven innings, striking out eight. Nick Markakis had a nice night: 2 for 5, 3B, 2 RBI. He was involved in every scoring play, either knocking in the run, scoring the run of running around the bases while his teammates did those things.

Mariners 7, Rangers 5: Justin Smoak went three for four and hit a three-run homer against his old team. The Mariners started five rookies. 2011 spring training begins now. It actually began back in June or so, really.

Red Sox 6, White Sox 1: Boston pushes off elimination for one more day thanks to eight strong innings from Clay Buchholz. David Ortiz hit the 100 RBI mark. Mark Buehrle hit the 200 inning mark. Round numbers are fun.

Royals 10, Twins 8: Jarrod Dyson had one home run in 1245 minor league plate appearances, and none since his September callup to Kansas City. He knocked a two-run job last night, though, to go with ten putouts in centerfield, which tied a Royals record. Who knows what may happen, but I dare say he just had the best night playing baseball he will ever have in his life.

Angels 6, Athletics 5: Justin James plunked in a run with the bases loaded in the seventh and then walked in a run immediately thereafter. That’s no fun. Both Oakland and LAA are trying hard to finish at .500 or above. There’s a good chance neither do.

Brewers vs. Mets: Postponed:  See the sky about to rain, broken clouds and rain. This washout has led to a rarity: a single-admission doubleheader at Citi Field tonight. Here’s hoping the rain holds off and some die hards get eighteen innings of baseball for the price of nine.

Phillies walk off winners thanks to a poor decision by Marcell Ozuna

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The Phillies’ bullpen, which has not been good as of late, gift-wrapped Monday’s game for the Cardinals. Starter Nick Pivetta was brilliant, fanning 13 while allowing two runs in 7 1/3 innings. But things unraveled after he left the game. Victor Arano took over for Edubray Ramos to start the ninth inning with the Phillies leading 4-2, but he allowed a one-out single and a double. After striking out Harrison Bader, Arano appeared to strike out Yairo Munoz for the final out of the game, but the ball trickled through the legs of catcher Andrew Knapp, allowing a run to score and the tying run to move to third base. Lefty Adam Morgan came in to face pinch-hitter Kolten Wong. Wong tied the game up, sneaking a single into center field.

In the 10th inning, Jake Thompson gave up the go-ahead run on a leadoff home run to Tommy Pham. It seemed like it was just going to be another one of those losses that have become increasingly common for the Phillies lately. But the Phillies’ offense didn’t go down quietly, even though it hadn’t put a runner on second base since the start of the second inning when J.P. Crawford doubled. In the bottom half of the 10th, Hoskins blooped a single into shallow left-center to start the inning. Hoskins moved to second base on a ground out from Odubel Herrera. Matt Bowman intentionally walked Carlos Santana, then struck out Jesmuel Valentin. That brought up Aaron Altherr, who replaced Nick Williams after Williams took a baseball to the face off of the right field fence. Bowman fell behind 2-1, then threw a 90 MPH fastball that Altherr lined into left field. Rather than keep the ball in front of him, Marcell Ozuna decided to dive for the ball to make the final out, but he missed. The ball trickled past him, allowing the tying and the game-winning runs to score, giving the Phillies a come-from-behind win.

On the list of people happy to see Ozuna miss that ball are Altherr (of course), Arano, Morgan, and Thompson. But perhaps no one was happier than manager Gape Kapler. The win might help take the heat off of him somewhat after another poor performance from the bullpen. When a team struggles, everyone wants a scapegoat and Kapler is an easy target. He has been all year, undeservingly.

Phillies radio broadcaster and former major league reliever Larry Anderson said after the bullpen meltown, “Not everybody can pitch in the ninth inning. And I know Gabe Kapler thinks they can, but they can’t.” Aside from Ramos and Seranthony Dominguez (who was unavailable after throwing 52 pitches between Saturday and Sunday in Milwaukee), no one in that bullpen has been reliable. The closer, Hector Neris, just got optioned to Triple-A. You work with what you have, and right now, Kapler doesn’t have a whole lot. Thankfully for him, he wasn’t punished with another loss thanks to Ozuna.