And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights

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Nationals 4, Dodgers 1: Congrats to the Nats for clinching the first postseason birth for a D.C. team since 1933. Pour one out for Joe Cronin, Moe Berg, Lefty Stewart and Heinie Manush.

Reds 5, Cubs 3: And congratulations to the Reds too, who clinched their spot hours before the Nats did.  The Reds are the best team in baseball that no one has paid a lick of attention to all year. It’ll be awesome if they win the World Series and the guys who make those season retrospective videos have to hire ten extra interns to go back and see what happened with this club all year.

Cardinals 5, Astros 4: The sweep. Allen Craig with a three-run homer and Carlos Beltran with a two-run pinch hit double. The Cards remain two and a half ahead of Milwaukee and three ahead of L.A.

Royals 4, White Sox 3: Blown chance by the Sox to put some distance between themselves and the Tigers. Eric Hosmer drove in the winning run. Before that, though, Robin Ventura thought it was smart to intentionally walk Jeff Francoeur with two outs. Why anyone intentionally walks Jeff Francoeur is beyond me.

Athletics 12, Tigers 4: Seth Smith homered, doubled and drove in four to help the A’s salvage one. The Road Trip of Death continues today, as Oakland heads into New York.

Rays 7, Red Sox 4: Walkoff for B.J. Upton of the three-run homer variety. The Rays rallied for six in the ninth. The homer came off Vicente Padilla, but Andrew Bailey poured the gas on the kindling before he came in.

Brewers 9, Pirates 7: For the first time since May 29 the Pirates are below .500.  For the 20th time since 1992 it appears as though they’ll finish the season that way. Just a crazy fall after being sixteen above even earlier this season.

Phillies 16, Mets 1: Eight in the first inning off Hefner:

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Yankees 10, Blue Jays 7: A grand slam for Nick Swisher in the seven-run fourth inning and the recently-rejuvenated Ichiro drove in three.

Giants 9, Rockies 2: Two homers for the Panda. Here’s the Rockies team picture, taken a week or two ago, but still representing them accurately.

Padres 6, Diamondbacks 5: Bud Black used five pitchers in the ninth innings. FIVE. I would just like those folks who are advocates of the whole “Games matter more in September!” school of thought to acknowledge that a lot of bullcrap happens in games in September.

Indians 4, Twins 3: A bases loaded single by Casey Kotchman in the 10th gives it to the Tribe. The race for fourth place in the AL Central is all tied up. The excitement is palpable. It can be palped.

Rangers 3, Angels 1: Adrian Beltre was sick before the game but he played hero in the ninth with a two-run homer. Before that: a tremendous pitching duel between Yu Darvish and Zack Greinke.

Report: Astros extend Justin Verlander for two years, $66 million

Justin Verlander
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The Astros are in agreement with right-hander Justin Verlander on a two-year, $66 million extension, Mark Feinsand of MLB.com was among those to report on Friday. With no money deferred, the $33 million he’ll receive over the next two years will set a record AAV for major-league pitchers; something MLB Network’s Jon Heyman says matters to Verlander, who “cares how his deals affect markets (and fellow players).”

While it’s far from the five-year, $100 million extension teammate Alex Bregman signed with the club on Friday, the deal will give the Astros a bigger window to consider their long-term plans for the ace before he hits free agency again. Prior to Saturday’s agreement, Verlander’s original contract — the hefty seven-year, $180 million arrangement he reached with the Tigers in 2013 — was set to expire at the conclusion of the 2019 season.

It’s difficult to overestimate the value Verlander has provided to the Astros since they acquired him from the Tigers back in 2017. He was named the 2017 ALCS MVP following seven shutout innings in a must-win Game 6 performance and helped the Astros clinch their first franchise World Series title. In 2018, he earned his seventh career All-Star distinction and received consideration for both AL Cy Young and MVP awards after pitching to a 16-9 record in 34 starts with a 2.52 ERA, 1.6 BB/9, 12.2 SO/9 (the product of a career-high 290 strikeouts), and 6.7 fWAR over 214 innings.

The deal has not been confirmed by the team.