And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights

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Red Sox 7, Athletics 6: David Ortiz’s home run in the 10th wins it for Boston. More fun than a game-winning homer for Oritz (ho-hum) was the fact that Mike Napoli stole home in the third inning. OK, it was one of those “steal home when the opposition is paying way more attention to the guy at first base” plays, which should probably be scored some variation on a fielder’s choice or something, but still. Oh, and in the fifth, he homered. With that speed-power combination it’s like he’s like Rickey Henderson or something.

Pirates 2, Cubs 1: Brandon Cumpton pitched seven scoreless innings, allowing only two hits. Probably worth noting that we’ve basically reached Peak Brandon in Major League Baseball these days. I went to Baseball-Reference.com and counted 41 Brandons who have played major league baseball. Twenty-two of them are currently active and another 15 of them have been active no later than 2004.

Reds 4, Blues Jays 3: Johnny Cueto gave up three runs –only one earned — and lowered his NL-leading ERA to 1.86. He gave up seven hits and struck out eight in the process. Also in the process: Brett Lawrie broke his finger while being hit by a pitch and Jose Bautista left with tightness in his leg.

Tigers 10, Indians 4: The Tigers are back in first place after a series sweep in Cleveland. Miguel Cabrera homered and drove in three. They were up 10-1 in the ninth before rookie reliever Chad Smith allowed three runs. Even their mop-up bullpen work is shaky.

Mets 11, Marlins 5: Often-times eleven runs on 17 hits is a week’s worth of output for the Mets. With Jon Niese on the mound, no less, who normally gets boned in the run support department. Just to be safe, though, he laid down a suicide squeeze bunt at one point.

Rays 5, Astros 2: The Rays took three of four. But hey, it’s the Astros. The Rays are 8-18 over their past 26 games, but five of those wins have come against Houston in seven of those 26 games.

Nationals 4, Braves 1: The series split is a win for the Nats who (a) stayed in first place; and (b) have had a whale of a time against the Braves over the past year or so. Some actual wisdom from Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez, though, who commented on he face that Atlanta won the first two games of the series but dropped the last two:

“You know what, it’s funny, baseball is. If we would’ve lost the first two games and won the last two games you’d be feeling pretty good about yourselves. It didn’t happen that way, it happened the other way, so you’re not feeling real good about yourself.”

Narratives, baby.

Orioles 8, Yankees 0: The Orioles scored three off Masahiro Tanaka and beat him. That’s quite the accomplishment. I half expected to see Tony Burton come out of the dugout wearing his Duke costume from Rocky IV and yell “He’s worried! You cut him! You hurt him! You see? You see? He’s not a machine, he’s a man!” [Craig returns to his computer after refilling his coffee and sees Bill Simmons running away, cackling after typing that last comment].

Cardinals 5, Phillies 3: Carlos Martinez starts have been bullpen games, really, as he’s not fully stretched out. No fear, though, because the bullpen has been pretty darn good finishing his games out. Here Nick Greenwood, Sam Freeman, Pat Neshek and Trevor Rosenthal combined for four innings of scoreless relief. Mark Ellis drove in two runs, including the go-ahead run with a safety squeeze in the fourth.

Editor’s Note: Hardball Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $30,000 Fantasy Baseball league for Monday night’s MLB games. It’s $25 to join and first prize is $5,000. Starts at 7:05pm ET on MondayHere’s the FanDuel link.

Mariners 2, Royals 1: The Royals came home in first place then they went and done got swept. They’ve lost four in a row, actually. Close games, but still. Roenis Elias allowed one run in six and two-thirds. Mike Zunino homered.

Twins 6, White Sox 5: The four-game sweep for the Twins. Phil Hughes has been fantastic lately, though he wasn’t here. The offense picked him up, though, led by Joe Mauer who had two hits and two RBI.

Dodgers 2, Padres 1: The Dodgers are now winners of 10 of 14 after taking two of three games in San Diego. They haven’t lost a series in Petco since 2010. If you believe in crowd support actually helping teams it’s not hard to understand why. I went to a Padres-Dodgers game at Petco last September and the place is basically Dodger Stadium South.

Brewers 6, Rockies 5: Oh dear. Oh my. How — er, just. Oh my:

The guy after Dickerson homered, which — if Dickerson had either not stumbled or simply been at third base, would’ve tied the game. That’s the sixth loss in a row and the second straight series sweep for the Rockies. Who look as if they’re playing little league ball lately.

Giants 4, Diamondbacks 1: Madison Bumgarner allowed an unearned run and that’s it over eight. Brandon Crawford scored a run and drove on in. The Giants are the epicenter of Peak Brandon, by the way, with Crawford, Belt and Hicks. To bad Brandon Wood was a bust. Maybe he coulda found his way to San Francisco, allowing the Giants to field the first-ever All-Brandon infield.

Angels 5, Rangers 2: Matt Shoemaker won his fifth straight decision and C.J. Cron and Kole Calhoun homered in the fourth off Yu Darvish. By the way, we’re also at Peak C.J. these days. Five C.J.s have played major league baseball four of whom are active and two of which play for the Angels.

Mookie Betts, Christian Yelich win MVP Awards

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Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts and Brewers outfielder Christian Yelich were announced on Thursday evening as the winners of the 2018 Most Valuable Player Awards as voted on by the Baseball Writers Association of America.

Betts, 26, led baseball with a .346 batting average, a .640 slugging percentage, and 129 runs scored. He also put together a .438 on-base percentage with 32 home runs, 80 RBI, and 30 stolen bases while ranking among the best defensive outfielders. According to Baseball Reference, Betts was worth 10.9 WAR, the highest total by a position player since Barry Bonds in 2002 (11.8). It was the 21st time a player compiled a 10.9 WAR or better since 1871. The others to do it along with Betts and Bonds: Cal Ripken, Jr., Joe Morgan, Carl Yastrzemski, Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle, Stan Musial, Lou Gehrig, Babe Ruth, Rogers Hornsby, Ty Cobb, and Honus Wagner.

Betts is the first Red Sox player to win the MVP Award since second baseman Dustin Pedroia in 2008. Other members of the Red Sox to win the award include Mo Vaughn (1995), Roger Clemens (1986), Jim Rice (1978), Fred Lynn (1975), Carl Yastrzemski (1967), Jackie Jensen (1958), Ted Williams (1946, ’49), Jimmie Foxx (1938), and Tris Speaker (1912).

Angels outfielder Mike Trout and J.D. Martinez each received one first-place vote with Betts receiving the other 28. Trout finished in second place with 265 overall points, Indians infielder José Ramírez finished third with 208, and Martinez finished fourth with 198. They were followed by Alex Bregman, Francisco Lindor, Matt Chapman, Khris Davis, Blake Snell, Justin Verlander, Mitch Haniger, Aaron Judge, Xander Bogaerts, José Altuve, Blake Treinen, Andrelton Simmons, Whit Merrifield, Edwin Díaz, Giancarlo Stanton, Didi Gregorius, Jed Lowrie, Trevor Bauer, Aaron Hicks, and Chris Sale.

Trout is now one of four players to finish second in MVP Award voting four times, joining Stan Musial, Ted Williams, and Albert Pujols. Trout was the runner-up behind Miguel Cabrera in 2012-13 and Josh Donaldson in 2015.

Yelich, 26, led the National League with a .326 batting average, a .598 slugging percentage, and a 1.000 OPS. He also put up a .402 on-base percentage with 36 home runs, 110 RBI, 118 runs scored, and 22 stolen bases while playing above-average defense in the outfield.

Yelich is the first member of the Brewers to win the MVP Award since outfielder Ryan Braun in 2011. The other Brewers to have won the MVP Award are Robin Yount (1982, ’89) and Rollie Fingers (1981).

Nearly a unanimous choice, Yelich was voted in first place on 29 of 30 ballots with NL Cy Young Award winner getting the other first-place vote. Cubs infielder Javier Baéz finished in second place with 250 points and Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado finished in third place with 203 points. They were followed by Freddie Freeman, deGrom, Paul Goldschmidt, Lorenzo Cain, Trevor Story, Matt Carpenter, Max Scherzer, Anthony Rendon, Ronald Acuña Jr., Aaron Nola, Justin Turner, Max Muncy, Jesús Aguilar, Anthony Rizzo, Nick Markakis, and Eugenio Suarez.

Coincidentally, both MVP Award winners hit for the cycle this season. Betts achieved it on August 9 while Yelich did it twice, on August 29 and September 17. Yelich also finished two home runs and one RBI short of the Triple Crown.

The BBWAA voters submitted their ballots before the start of the postseason, so the fact that the Red Sox won the World Series and that the Brewers made it to Game 7 of the NLCS had no impact on the award results. That the Red Sox won a franchise record 108 games during the regular season and the Brewers won the NL Central tiebreaker over the Cubs certainly could have been factors for many voters, however.