And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights

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Dodgers 2, Giants 1: Kershaw: Complete game, one earned run, 15 strikeouts. He also got a hit. That’s 251 Ks on the year for Kershaw and he still has five or even possibly six starts left, barring him being skipped a time or two to get ready for the postseason. And given that the Dodgers just swept the Giants and opened up a six and a half game lead in the West, I’d say the postseason looks pretty certain.

Nationals 4, Cardinals 3: Ryan Zimmermann homered twice and the Nationals managed to hold a slim lead in the late innings for once. Max Scherzer struck out 11 but gave up 11 hits while clinging to a 3-2 lead, forcing him out after six innings. Matt Williams decided that, rather than letting a bad reliever blow the save, he’d just let everyone in a Nats uniform pitch. Matt Grace, the third pitcher of the seventh inning, did the save-blowing honors here. allowing an inherited runner to score to tie things up. Williams used four pitchers in the seventh in all. Zimmermann thankfully tied things up with an eighth inning double and in the eighth and ninth Williams went with Drew Storen and Jonathan Papelbon who did their usual jobs. I shudder to think what Williams might’ve done if he DIDN’T have a lead in the ninth on the road. Maybe have Zimmerman pitch? Could be cool?

Marlins 7, Braves 3: Marlins sweep the Braves, who just lost the last eight games of a nine-game homestand. That’s the longest home losing streak for Atlanta since 1988. Which is wonderful, because the 1988 Braves were the best Braves team ever.

Reds 7, Cubs 4: The Cubs were down by two in the eighth inning when Kris Bryant hit a game-trying home run. Yay! Then, in the ninth, with the score tied, Bryant let a Jay Bruce grounder go through the wickets on what would’ve and should’ve been out number three. That extended the inning and allowed Joey Votto to come to the plate and he promptly hit a three-run homer. Oops! Votto on the season: .316/.457/.567 and 27 homers. He could easily make the list my friends Mike and Bill at the Platoon Advantage did several years ago of The Greatest Individual Seasons on Terrible Teams.

Angels 9, Athletics 4: Albert Pujols had an RBI singe and a two-run homer. The homer was his 35th, giving him 10 35-home run seasons in his first 15 years. Only four guys have done that before. The only other ones: Willie Mays, Mike Schmidt and Alex Rodriguez.

Yankees 13, Red Sox 8: The Yankees scored eight times in the second inning, with homers from Greg Bird, John Ryan Murphy and Carlos Beltran in that inning and added dingers from Stephen Drew and Didi Gregorius later in the game. Bird’s homer came off Henry Owens, a lefty, so maybe all that talk about the need to platoon Bird at first base is overstated. Twenty-one runs in this game and it still lasted “only” three and a half hours. Which is something for a Yankees-Red Sox game. Back in the day a 2-1 game with complete games from both starters would push four hours. Viva La Innings Clock.

Mariners 8, Astros 3: Shawn O’Malley had three hits, including a tiebreaking RBI single in a two-run eighth inning. Not bad for his Mariners debut. A Seattle kid, O’Malley said after the game that “my grandpa and father were huge Mariners fans.” Given that I remember when people still invariably referred to the Mariners as “an expansion team,” I find it hard to get my brain around the idea of anyone’s grandfather being a Mariners fan. Of course I’m an old fart, so whatever.

Rangers 4, Padres 3: Mitch doubled in the go-ahead run in the 10th inning, cutting first-place Houston’s lead in the AL West to two games. Which, holy moly, it’s crazy enough that Houston is the team they’re chasing, but the Rangers getting close is just as amazing given what everyone was thinking back in the spring.

Orioles 7, Rays 6: Two homers from Chris Davis including the walkoff bomb in extras. Watch that second one as it enters the stands.

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It’s very nice of Davis to wake up that man sleeping in the center field bleachers, no?

Blue Jays 5, Indians 1: R.A. Dickey went the distance, allowing only one run on four hits. In case you were looking for even more data points about how the Blue Jays have surged, how about R.A. Dickey being  7-0 with a 2.78 ERA in the second half?

Mets 9, Phillies 4: Ruben Tejada hit an inside-the-park home run on a ball when outfielder Domonic Brown flipped over the wall down the right field line trying to field it:

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Oops. Yoenis Cespedes and rookie Michael Conforto had homers that didn’t make Phillies fielders look silly.

Royals 12, Tigers 1: Yordano Ventura struck out 11 in seven innings and Royals batters formed conga lines around the bases against Tigers pitching. Not long until the Wolverines, Wings and Lions get started, Michigan people. Yes, even the Lions are worth looking forward to this year.

Brewers 9, Pirates 4: The Brewers have been owning the Pirates lately, notching their fifth straight win against them. Jonathan Lucroy drove in three runs. Lucroy has a ten game hitting streak in which he’s 18 for 40 (.450) with three homers and 14 RBI.

Twins 3, White Sox 0: Tommy Milone tossed seven shutout innings and Miguel Sano hit a long homer. As Aaron drooled yesterday, Sano  is hitting .295/.403/.608 with 14 homers, 13 doubles, 33 walks, 41 RBI and 32 runs through 50 games. Extrapolated to 162 games that works out to 45 homers, 42 doubles, 107 walks, and 133 RBIs. And, as we noted the other day, he’s only 22 friggin years old.

 

Rockies 9, Diamondbacks 4: Two homers for Carlos Gonzalez, including a grand slam and seven driven in. Nolan Arenado also hit a homer. The two of them are tied for the team lead with 33. They’re also the only two reasons to really watch Rockies games.

Dodgers clinch NL’s top seed, West title with win over A’s

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
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Wrapping up an NL West title has become routine for the Los Angeles Dodgers, but in a year in which no one was sure three months ago if there would be a baseball season, manager Dave Roberts wanted his team to still savor the moment.

The Dodgers clinched the NL’s top postseason seed and eighth straight division title Tuesday night with a 7-2 victory over the Oakland Athletics. They are third team to win at least eight straight division titles, joining the Atlanta Braves (14 straight from 1991-2005) and New York Yankees (nine straight from 1998-2006).

“To fast forward a couple months and be crowned NL West champs is a credit to everyone. It should never be taken for granted,” Roberts said. “Truth be told a lot of guys didn’t know we could clinch. We were responsible but I let it know that it has to be appreciated.”

The Dodgers, who own the best record in the majors at 39-16, were the first team in the majors to clinch a playoff berth on Sept. 16. They will open postseason play on Sept. 30 by hosting every game in a best-of-three series against the No. 8 seed.

Los Angeles came into the day with a magic number of two and got help with the Angels’ 4-2 victory over the San Diego Padres.

Instead of a wild celebration on the mound after Jake McGee struck out Sean Murphy for the final out, players briskly walked out of the dugout to celebrate with teammates. Everyone grabbed a division clinching shirt and cap before heading to the mound for a group photo.

The clubhouse celebration was also muted. Champagne was still involved, but it was players toasting each other with a glass instead of being showered in it.

“We talked about it instead of dumping stuff on people. It’s a moment you need to celebrate and we did,” said Corey Seager, who had three hits and one of Los Angeles’ four home runs, “It stinks not being able to do champagne and beer showers because some of the younger guys haven’t been able to experience that.”

Max Muncy, Chris Taylor and AJ Pollock also went deep for Los Angeles, which leads the majors with 104 home runs.

“This whole year has been weird. There’s no other way to describe it,” Muncy said. “It’s sad not to be celebrate as usual but we know there is a lot more at stake.”

Dustin May (2-1) went five innings and allowed two runs on three hits. The 22-year-old red-headed righty set a team record by not allowing more than three earned runs in his first 13 career starts, which include 10 this season.

Robbie Grossman homered for Oakland, which clinched its first AL West crown in seven years on Monday during a day off. The Athletics, in the postseason for the third straight year, currently are the AL’s No. 3 seed.

Mark Canha had two of Oakland’s five hits.

Seager tied it at 1 in the first with an RBI single and then led off the fifth with a drive to center off T.J. McFarland to extend LA’s lead to 6-2.

Muncy gave the Dodgers a 3-2 lead in the third inning with a two-run homer. Taylor and Pollock extended it with solo shots in the fourth off Oakland starter Frankie Montas (3-5).

Grossman quickly gave Oakland a 1-0 lead when he homered off the left-field pole in the first inning. Sean Murphy briefly gave the Athletics a 2-1 advantage when he led off the third with a walk and scored on a wild pitch by May with two outs.

Montas, who allowed only four home runs in his first seven starts, has given up six in his past three. The right-hander went four innings and yielded five runs on seven hits with a walk and three strikeouts.

“They’re a pretty good team that when you make mistakes, they make you pay,” Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. “They’re pretty good laying off and making you throw it over the plate. They made Montas pay, unfortunately.”

Cody Bellinger added two hits for the Dodgers, including an RBI single with the bases loaded in the seventh.

ATHLETICS ADVANCE

The A’s have a team text thread they used to celebrate clinching their first AL West title since 2013 during their off day Monday, when the Mariners beat Houston.

“We didn’t really celebrate too much yet. It’s exciting,” Chad Pinder said. “We wanted to do it on our own terms. We still won the division and that was our goal. It’s nice to know we’ll be playing home for the series.”

TRAINER’S ROOM

Athletics: INF/OF Pinder (strained right hamstring) planned to run at Dodger Stadium and test his leg with hopes of still playing before the conclusion of the regular season. …. RHP Daniel Mengden has cleared waivers and been outrighted to Triple-A Las Vegas. He was designated for assignment after being medically cleared and reinstated from the COVID-19 injured list following a positive test from Aug. 28.

Dodgers: 3B Justin Turner was scratched from the lineup less than an hour before first pitch due to left hamstring discomfort He came off the injured list on Sept. 15 and has not played in the field since Aug. 28. … Joc Pederson was in the lineup at DH after missing five games while on the family emergency medical list. Roberts said before the game that he wasn’t sure if Pederson will remain with the team during the entire postseason.

UP NEXT

Athletics: LHP Sean Manaea (4-3, 4.50) is 4-1 with a 2.25 ERA over his last five starts dating to Aug. 20.

Dodgers: LHP Julio Urias (3-0, 3.49) will make his team-leading 11th start.

AP Baseball Writer Janie McCauley in San Francisco contributed to this story.

More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports