And That Happened: Monday’s scores and highlights

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Pirates 1, Cubs 0: More like Neil Walkoff, amirite? All goose eggs until the bottom of the tenth when Walker pulled a Mazeroski. Well, it wasn’t quite as significant as that, but you know what I mean.

Phillies 14, Rangers 10: Cliff Lee: eight runs on 11 hits in five innings and the win. Given how many amazing games he’s pitched over the past couple of years only to get a no-decision or a loss thanks to the lack of bullpen or run support, he deserves every bit of this ugly win. Meanwhile, Jimmy Rollins spent all spring being called every name in the book because he’s not a leader and doesn’t always say the right stuff but he hit a grand slam here, so take that leadership.

Brewers 2, Braves 0: A two-run double by Aramis Ramirez in the fourth was all the scoring in this fairly boring, offensively impotent game. Ryan Braun’s big standing O and the temper tantrum’s from the media in its wake was the most exciting thing about it.

Tigers 4, Royals 3: Everyone mocked the Tigers when they traded for Alex Gonzalez last week. And, over the course of months, I question whether Gonzalez is gonna earn his keep. But on this day he was the hero, knocking in the winning run in the ninth. Off Greg Holland, no less. Worth noting that Ned Yost went with the classic “don’t bring your closer in when it’s tied on the road” orthodoxy to begin the inning, but then relented and brought in Holland with two men on. I guess he gets some sort of credit for that even though it ended up not working.

Nationals 9, Mets 7:  Anthony Rendon hit a three-run homer in the 10th and drove in four overall. It doesn’t get to the tenth if Bobby Parnell doesn’t blow the save in the form of a two-out double to Denard Span in the ninth. But hey, at least it got that far.

Orioles 2, Red Sox 1: A big day for Grady Sizemore, but Nelson Cruz was the hero here, hitting the tiebreaking homer in the seventh. Tommy Hunter made it mildly interesting in the ninth, but locked down the save. As I was watching it, I pictured Grant Balfour watching the game in the Rays’ clubhouse, saying “Yeah, blow the save, mate! Blow the bloody save!”

Editor’s Note: Hardball Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $70,000 Fantasy Baseball league for Tuesday’s MLB games. It’s $25 to join and first prize is $9,000. Starts at 6:40pm ET on TuesdayHere’s the FanDuel link.

Cardinals 1, Reds 0: Great start from Wainwright, shutdown bullpen work, big hit from Molina. Yep, these are the Cardinals. Billy Hamilton led off for the Reds and went 0 for 4 with 4Ks. So, yeah, that experiment is off to a bumpy start.

Rays 9, Blue Jays 2: If you bought stock in 2012 Cy Young Award winners, I hope you bought it in David Price and not in R.A. Dickey. Price took a shutout into the eighth before he hit a wall. Still only gave up two runs. Dickey, on the other hand walked six dudes and allowed six runs on five hits.

White Sox 5, Twins 3: Alejandro De Aza hit two homers and Jose Abreu had two hits. Also, some tech fun: The Twins’ replay system suffered two blown fuses which messed up the monitors in the their clubhouse. Lucky for everyone, though, this one wasn’t close.

Marlins 10, Rockies 1: Jose Fernandez struck out nine and allowed one run in six innings and Marcell Ozuna [altogether now] was a triple short of the cycle. Fernande’z grandmother Olga, who is from Cuba and with whom he had a tearful reunion this past winter, was at the game. The cameras showed her more than most of the Rockies. This was probably the smart move. She’s adorable.

Mariners 10, Angels 3: Mike Trout hit a homer and drove in a couple but Justin Smoak drove in three and King Felix struck out 11. It was close until late when Seattle put up six in the ninth to win their eighth consecutive opener. Which, given how Seattle has done over the past few years, tells you all you need to know about the value of winning the opener.

Indians 2, Athletics 0: Cubs-Pirates West. All zeroes until the ninth when Nyjer Morgan hit a sac fly and Nick Swisher singled in a run for insurance. Both runs came off the A’s new $10 million closer Jim Johnson, who started the carnage off with a walk, a single and a hit-by-pitch before Morgan and Swisher came up. Justin Masterson shut out the A’s for seven. Yeah, Cleveland, that’s not a guy to whom you want to give a short, team-friendly contract extension. Oy. The loss is Oakland’s tenth straight on Opening Day. Which, given how Oakland has done over the past few years, tells you all you need to know about the value of winning the opener.

Giants 9, Diamondbacks 8: San Francisco was down 7-3 heading into the seventh before the Giants woke up and put their rally caps on and put up four on Brandon McCarthy, Oliver Perez and Brad Zeigler. Buster Posey put the Giants ahead for good with a two-run homer in the ninth. All four of the runs Giants starter Madison Bumgarner gave up were unearned because apparently it was defense-optional night at Chase Field. But when you have Buster Posey that stuff can be overcome. The Dbacks catcher was pretty good too. Miguel Montero had three hits and reached base five times.

Nationals complete NLCS sweep of Cardinals, punch ticket to World Series

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The Nationals will officially appear in the World Series for the first time in franchise history. The team that had a 19-31 record in late May, putting manager Dave Martinez on the hot seat, improbably fought back to snag a Wild Card slot, won the play-in game, beat the heavily-favored Dodgers in five games in the NLDS, and polished off a sweep of the Cardinals in the NLCS on Tuesday night, winning 7-4.

After Patrick Corbin tossed a scoreless top of the first inning, the Nationals’ offense wasted no time getting to work. Single, double, sacrifice fly, RBI double, intentional walk, reach on error, RBI single, two-run single, sacrifice bunt, two-run single. That’s how the Nats hung a seven-spot in the opening frame against Dakota Hudson and Adam Wainwright.

To the Cardinals’ credit, they cleaned things up from there. The Nationals would not score for the rest of the game while the Cardinals clawed back for a run in the fourth before plating three runs in the fifth. Yadier Molina went yard off of Corbin in the fourth. In the fifth, a Tommy Edman ground out and a José Martínez two-run double accounted for the Cardinals’ runs in the fifth.

Corbin ultimately gave up the four runs on four hits and three walks with, impressively, 12 strikeouts across five innings of work. Tanner Rainey worked a 1-2-3 sixth. Sean Doolittle did the same in the seventh.

Doolittle remained in the game in the eighth, getting the first two outs before relenting a single to Marcell Ozuna. Right-hander Daniel Hudson entered for the four-out save opportunity. Hudson hit Molina with a fastball, bringing the tying run to the plate in the form of Paul DeJong. DeJong worked a full count, then walked to load the bases. Pinch-hitter Matt Carpenter emerged from the dugout to take his cuts against Hudson. After five tense pitches to Carpenter, Hudson got him to ground out to second base to end the inning.

The Nats went down quick in the bottom of the eighth. Hudson emerged from the dugout to send the Nationals into the World Series. He did just that, getting Kolten Wong to fly out to shallow left field for the first out. Matt Wieters popped up to the catcher in fair territory for out number two. At long last, Edman flied out to center field. Nationals win 7-4.

The only other time the franchise reached the Championship Series was in 1981 when the Expos lost three games to two to the Dodgers. The Expos/Nationals then went from 1982-2011 without a playoff appearance. The Nationals lost four Division Series appearances in a row in 2012, ’14, and ’16-17, three of which went the maximum five games. Now they’re in the World Series, improbably. They will await the winner of the ALCS, which the Astros currently lead 2-1.