And That Happened: Tuesday’s scores and highlights

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Phillies 4, Braves 0Cubs 7, Brewers 1Cardinals 6, Pirates 4Mets 8, Marlins 6: “Hi, we’re the four teams at least plausibly fighting for the second NL Wild Card right now. We all lost last night. We all lost the game we played before, too! Milwaukee, here [step forward, Milwaukee] has lost seven in a row! Atlanta [now you] has only lost two in a row, but they have only scored one run in the past four games. It seems like they haven’t scored a run since Dale Murphy played center field! This may all seem rather dreary, but look on the bright side! We’re freeing up a night in early October for you so you don’t have to watch the NL wild card game. Or, worse, so that you watch it and one of us actually wins it and becomes a bona fide playoff team despite us being really, really horrible.”

Dodgers 4, Nationals 1: At least Clayton Kershaw is a palate-cleanser. And if he keeps this up, he’s the NL MVP. I mean, I still think the favorite is either Andrew McCutchen (if the Pirates win the wild card) or Giancarlo Stanton (if the Marlins stay close until the end) but given how uninspiring their teams are of late, Kershaw may be building up an MVP resume to go with that lock for the Cy Young (8 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 8K).

Giants 12, Rockies 7: San Francisco was going to get lumped in with the “NL Wild Card contenders stunk last night” crew, but they rallied after being down 7-1 through five innings. Buster Posey was a wrecking crew from the sixth inning on, hitting a solo homer and smacking two RBI doubles to finish with four driven in on the night. The Giants have won seven of eight. Imagine where this team would be if they hadn’t punted so much of June and July.

Orioles 5, Reds 4: Bud Norris pitched six shutout inning while navigating around two rain delays. The second one was a lengthy one — one hour and forty-six minutes — which would normally ice a pitcher for the night, but not Norris. Since the rain didn’t come until after the top of the first, Reds starter Mat Latos ended up not throwing his first pitch until after both delays. That did mess with him, apparently, as he allowed four runs in the first and five overall. The O’s have won seven of nine and now have a nine and half game lead in the East.

Tigers 4, Indians 2: J.D. Martinez had a three-run homer in the top of the ninth off closer Cody Allen to put the Tigers ahead for good. A nice redemption for the Tigers who had stranded runners all night before that. The Indians are seeing their claim to contention evaporate almost as soon as it materialized a few days ago. They’re now five and a half out in the Central. The Tigers are a half game behind leaders Kansas City.

Royals 2, Rangers 1: That’s because the Royals kept pace, with Sal Perez driving in the go-ahead run in the eighth. Alex Gordon has been a trendy stealth MVP pick in the American League, but it seems like Perez has big hits every other night. Must be the perfume.

Red Sox 9, Yankees 4: So much of the disappointment for the Red Sox this year came because they were depending on young players who didn’t deliver. Among them, Xander Bogaerts. He delivered last night, knocking four hits including a homer and driving in two. Another youngster — Mookie Betts — had three hits and hit a homer of his own. Daniel Nava hit a three-run homer and Yoenis Cespedes tripled, doubled and singled. Sleep on this Red Sox team in 2015 at your peril.

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Blue Jays 8, Rays 2: R.A. Dickey allowed two runs over seven innings, striking out six.The Jays bombed Jeremy Hellickson.

White Sox 6, Twins 3: Two home runs for Tyler Flowers. And then Dayan Viciedo broke a tie in the 10th with a solo shot. Chicago is now three up on Minnesota in the race for cellar avoidance.

Padres 2, Diamondbacks 1: Cory Spangenberg is making his presence felt in a hurry. He had the night off until he punch hit in the bottom of the ninth and then all he did was hit a walkoff homer on the first pitch he saw. Here’s Bud Black on the decision to pinch hit with Spangenberg:

Black said hitting coach Phil Plantier “felt good about the at-bat with Spangy. Cam didn’t have great numbers against Ziegler. Phil through Ziegler’s type of pitching was pretty good for Spangy. Spangy’s sort of a slasher, likes the ball a little bit out, a little bit down and it worked out.”

“Spangy.” Maybe let’s give the guy more than two days in the big leagues before just defaulting to the lame “-y” nickname. Because it’s almost as if he’s the kind of guy who might develop a cool one himself soon.

Astros 8, Angels 3: Jose Altuve has eight hits in the past two nights. He’s hitting .340. Barring an extreme September slump, of which there is no evidence whatsoever, Altuve is going to win the batting title. He’ll be the first Astro to ever do it, too. He had a homer among his four hits last night. Guy is just a player. Tom Lawless is now undefeated as a major league manager. He should think about retiring on top.

Mariners 6, Athletics 5: Seattle made sure the Angels didn’t lost ground to the A’s, though. James Paxton took a shutout into the eighth. And while he and the bullpen bent at that point, they did not break. Oakland has lost 5 of 6.

Umpire Cory Blaser made two atrocious calls in the top of the 11th inning

Alex Trautwig/MLB Photos via Getty Images
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The Astros walked off 3-2 winners in the bottom of the 11th inning of ALCS Game 2 against the Yankees. Carlos Correa struck the winning blow, sending a first-pitch fastball from J.A. Happ over the fence in right field at Minute Maid Park, ending nearly five hours of baseball on Sunday night.

Correa’s heroics were precipitated by two highly questionable calls by home plate umpire Cory Blaser in the top half of the 11th.

Astros reliever Joe Smith walked Edwin Encarnación with two outs, prompting manager A.J. Hinch to bring in Ryan Pressly. Pressly, however, served up a single to left field to Brett Gardner, putting runners on first and second with two outs. Hinch again came out to the mound, this time bringing Josh James to face power-hitting catcher Gary Sánchez.

James and Sánchez had an epic battle. Sánchez fell behind 0-2 on a couple of foul balls, proceeded to foul off five of the next six pitches. On the ninth pitch of the at-bat, Sánchez appeared to swing and miss at an 87 MPH slider in the dirt for strike three and the final out of the inning. However, Blaser ruled that Sánchez tipped the ball, extending the at-bat. Replays showed clearly that Sánchez did not make contact at all with the pitch. James then threw a 99 MPH fastball several inches off the plate outside that Blaser called for strike three. Sánchez, who shouldn’t have seen a 10th pitch, was upset at what appeared to be a make-up call.

The rest, as they say, is history. One pitch later, the Astros evened up the ALCS at one game apiece. Obviously, Blaser’s mistakes in a way cancel each other out, and neither of them caused Happ to throw a poorly located fastball to Correa. It is postseason baseball, however, and umpires are as much under the microscope as the players and managers. Those were two particularly atrocious judgments by Blaser.