And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights

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Astros 3, Angels 0: The Astros complete a three-game sweep of the Angels and take a two-game lead in the west thanks to Jason Castro’s walkoff three-run homer. The win was aided by Scott Kazmir’s seven and two-thirds shutout innings. And now Carlos Gomez is on his way to join the fun.

Reds 15, Pirates 5: Brandon Phillips hit two three-run homers and drove in seven as the Reds demolish the Pirates. He also stole two bases. Jay Bruce drove in three as well. Word is that the Mets may be interested in Bruce, however, so expect to hear Sandy Alderson identify some mysterious physical ailment in him in the next few hours which undercuts any possible trade. Maybe a strain of his right buttock due to is wallet being too big for the Mets’ tastes.

Nationals 1, Marlins 0: Max Scherzer, Drew Storen and Jonathan Papelbon combine on a three-hit shutout. After the game someone asked the Nationals new closer how he was getting along with the old closer. Any strife or awkwardness with Storen, you know, losing his job?

That, um, is good.

Padres 8, Mets 7: Justin Upton’s three-run homer with two outs in the top of the ninth — after a 45 minute rain delay — ended up winning the game. But not before a post-homer rain delay of nearly another three hours, thanks in part to the Mets crew having a hell of a time getting the already wet tarp back on the field. Open question as to why Jeurys Familia was allowed to resuming pitching after that first 45 minute break, but Terry Collins thought he was OK. In other news, Justin Upton, who is the subject of trade rumors, is messing with us:

Earlier in the game, Upton hugged his teammates in the dugout as if he was saying goodbye after a trade.

“I thought that was funny,” Upton said. “That’s what happens when people like to tweet everything.”

Just like Best Shape of His Life, “Hug Watch” is more or less over now that players are aware of it. Really tired of players ruining all that is great about this game.

Phillies 4, Braves 1: Philly wins its tenth in the past 12 games. Aaron Harang came off the DL to allowed one run while scattering nine hits over five innings. Fun times: despite the trade to Texas, reliever Jake Diekman was still in uniform in the Phillies bullpen because, apparently, actually finalizing trades is too hard to do these days. Wilmer Flores on Wednesday night, Michael Morse pinch hitting for the Marlins yesterday, Diekman in the pen. Jeez, guys, clean it up. Tigers should’ve started David Price for crying out loud.

Tigers 9, Orioles 8: The Tigers had a 9-2 lead in the sixth inning before their bullpen made it interesting. Not that that’s new or anything. Now that they’re selling off it doesn’t matter all that much, of course. What does matter is Yoenis Cespedes homering and driving in three runs in his final audition before the trade deadline this afternoon.

Blue Jays 5, Royals 2: Dioner Navarro, Russell Martin and Josh Donaldson all homered. Ben Zobrist made his Kansas City debut and went 0-for-4. He did manage to snag his preferred number 18 from coach Rusty Kuntz, however. Hope he’s getting what he wants for it. 

Dare to dream, Rusty.

Cardinals 9, Rockies 8: The Cardinals win on a walkoff walk as the Rockies blew a two-run lead in the ninth. Matt Carpenter homered twice, going 4-for-5 with four driven in. He did so after being moved back up to the leadoff position. After the game he talked about how that helps and how he’s more comfortable there and stuff. Which is something I don’t understand at all, as after the first inning it’s just like being in any other position in the lineup. He singled then, so great, but the homers came later. Never under estimate the superstition, irrationality and love of routine of ballplayers, though.

Red Sox 8, White Sox 2: The White Sox were surging, winners of seven straight, and were sending their ace, Chris Sale to the mound. So much for momentum theory. Boston rocked Sale to the tune of seven runs on 12 hits in five innings. David Ortiz went 3-for-3 with two RBI. Xander Bogaerts also had three hits and Rusney Castillo homered in the seventh. It was only Boston’s third win in their past 15 games.

Rangers 7, Yankees 6: Josh Hamilton hit a three-run homer in the first and a walkoff single in the ninth for a nice set of bookends. It was 101 degrees at first pitch. CC Sabathia ended up going to the hospital with dehydration. I’m all for outdoor baseball but I’d love to meet the genius who decided that they didn’t need a retractable roof in Texas. I guess they build the dang thing too early — Chase Field, Safeco Field, Minute Maid Park, and Miller Park all came later — and weren’t confident that it’d work? I dunno.

Cubs 5, Brewers 2: Anthony Rizzo hit a three-run homer with two out in the eighth inning. Joe Maddon: “The whole night, it wasn’t going our way, but I liked the way we worked. And then eventually Riz steps up and does what he can do.” No diggity. In other news, baseball nicknames are dying, you guys. How is he not “Ratso?”

Twins 9, Mariners 5: Eddie Rosario had a homer, a triple, a double and drove in three. If you have to fall short of a cycle, not getting the single is the best way to do it, even if “triple short of the cycle” gets all the press. Aaron Hicks and Brian Dozier also homered.

Indians 3, Athletics 1: Carlos Carrasco was dominant, tossing a two-hitter, with both hits coming in the first inning. All the A’s managed the rest of the way was a measly walk as Carrasco went the distance, needing only 103 pitches to do so, in a game that took only two hours and fifteen minutes.

Braves sweep Mets, take 2-game lead in East with 3 remaining

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ATLANTA — Dansby Swanson and Matt Olson homered for the third straight game, Travis d'Arnaud hit a go-ahead two-run single in the third inning, and Atlanta Braves beat the New York Mets 5-3, completing a three-game sweep of their NL East rival and taking a two-game lead in the division with three games to play.

The defending World Series champion Braves have been chasing the Mets the entire season. In the final series of the season, any combination of one Atlanta win or one Mets loss would give the Braves their fifth straight division title.

New York plays its final three games of the season against worst-in-the-majors Washington. Atlanta closed out the regular season with a three-game set in Miami. Should the season end Wednesday in a tie, Atlanta would win the division after claiming the season series 10-9 with Sunday’s victory.

The Braves won five of the last six games in the series, outscoring the Mets 42-19 over that stretch. New York had a 10 1/2-game lead on June 1 but now is the lower in the standings than at any point this season.

It was a lost weekend for New York, which came to Atlanta hoping to clinch its first division title since 2015. Instead, aces Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer lost Friday and Saturday before 15-game winner Chris Bassitt lasted just 2 2/3 innings on Sunday.

Swanson took Bassitt deep to right-center in the first with his 25th homer, and Atlanta took charge with a three-run third. Bassitt (15-9) issued a bases-loaded walk to Olson before d’Arnaud delivered a single up the middle to score Ronald Acuna Jr. and Austin Riley for a 4-3 lead. That chased Bassitt, who was charged with four runs, three hits and three walks.

Olson connected for his 33rd homer to make it 5-3 leading off the sixth, his 410-foot shot landing in the seats in right-center. Olson, in his first year with Atlanta, surpassed 100 RBIs for the second straight season.

Charlie Morton stranded runners on first and second in the first, but he gave up Daniel Vogelbach‘s 18th homer that tied it at 1 in the second. The righty struck out Francisco Lindor with runners on first and second to end the threat.

Jeff McNeil went deep off Morton in the third and Vogelbach followed with an RBI single to put the Mets up 3-1. Morton entered the game having allowed 28 homers, sixth-most in the NL.

Morton scuffled throughout his start, giving up three runs and nine hits in 4 1/3 innings as the 38-year-old made his first start since signing a $20 million, one-year contract to remain with Atlanta next season.

Dylan Lee (5-1) relieved Morton and pitched 1 1/3 innings, leaving after a walk to Brandon Nimmo with two outs in the sixth. Collin McHugh entered and struck out Francisco Lindor.

Raisel Iglesias faced four batters in the seventh, A.J. Minter faced the minimum in the eighth and closer Kenley Jansen converted his third save of the series with a clean ninth.

Jansen leads the NL with 40 saves in 47 chances.

The Braves’ bullpen, which posted a 1.70 ERA last month, pitched 8 2/3 scoreless innings the last two nights.

BIG NUMBERS

Atlanta leads the NL with 241 homers. And the Braves have their first 100-victory season since 2003.

TWO, DARN HOT

McNeil went 3 for 5 and has multiple hits in five straight games. His average is .326, one point behind the Dodgers’ Freddie Freeman for the NL batting title. In 23 career games at Truist Park, McNeil is hitting .395 with 12 runs, nine doubles, two homers, seven RBIs and four walks. … Jansen tied Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley for eighth place on the career list with 389. He’s also is the 10th closer to have four different seasons with at least 40 saves.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Mets All-Star RF Starling Marte (right middle finger fracture) has yet to begin swinging or throwing. … Braves 2B Ozzie Albies (broken right pinky finger) is still wearing a cast. … Braves RHP Spencer Strider still has not thrown as he gets treatment on a sore left oblique.

ATTENDANCE

The Braves drew 42,713 in their regular season finale, the club’s 42nd sellout of the season. Overall. that’s 3,129,931 for the season – and the most tickets sold since 2000. In 2019, the team’s last full season before the COVID-19 pandemic, Atlanta drew 2,655,100.

UP NEXT

Mets: RHP Carlos Carrasco (15-7, 3.95 ERA) will face Nationals RHP Cory Abbott (0-4, 5.11).

Braves: RHP Bryce Elder (2-3, 2.76 ERA) will face Marlins LHP Jesus Luzardo (3-7, 3.53).