Eric Hosmer cleared to begin swinging a bat

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Eric Hosmer has been sidelined for nearly a month with a stress fracture in his right hand, but Royals manager Ned Yost told Blair Kerkhoff of the Kansas City Star today that he has improved enough to where “he can swing but not hit.”

Hosmer stood in the batter’s box today and tracked pitches from left-handed reliever Scott Downs, who is currently making his way back from a neck sprain. The 24-year-old will continue to swing without contact until Thursday, when he’s expected to hit off a tee and take some soft toss. Yost envisions him going out on a minor league rehab assignment if Triple-A Omaha makes the playoffs, where he’d get potentially 15-20 at-bats before rejoining the Royals.

Billy Butler has functioned as the regular first baseman in Hosmer’s absence and the recently-acquired Josh Willingham has thrived as the regular designated hitter, but Hosmer’s return would provide more flexibility for Kansas City’s lineup.

Hosmer was batting .267 with six home runs and a .689 OPS over 104 games prior to the injury.

And That Happened: Tuesday’s Scores and Highlights

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OK, so today it’s just the scores. I’m catching an early flight home from St. Louis — the land of unhappy Cardinals fans, based on my interaction with them late last night — and don’t have time for a full recap. But if you use your imagination I’m sure you can fill in the blanks.

Short version, though: a great night for Christian Yelich and the Brewers, who pulled to within a half game of the Cubs after dominating St. Louis. A bad night for the Cardinals, whose loss to those Brewers — combined with the Rockies’ win over the Phillies — puts them a half game outside of the playoff picture and moves Colorado into the second Wild Card slot. Also a bad night for the Dodgers whose walkoff loss to Arizona puts them only a half game ahead of Colorado in the NL West.

We only have five days left in this season, but there’s still stuff to sort out.

The scores:

Royals 4, Reds 3
Yankees 9, Rays 2
Nationals 9, Marlins 4
Astros 4, Blue Jays 1
Braves 7, Mets 3
White Sox 5, Indians 4
Brewers 12, Cardinals 4
Pirates 6, Cubs 0
Tigers 4, Twins 2
Rockies 10, Phillies 3
Diamondbacks 4, Dodgers 3
Angels 4, Rangers 1
Mariners 10, Athletics 8
Giants 5, Padres 4
Orioles vs. Red Sox — POSTPONED