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And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Brewers 5, Cubs 4: The Cubs lost — thanks in large part to some uncharacteristically bad Addison Russell defense — but the sting of the loss didn’t last too long thanks to the Giants beating the Cardinals, which clinched the N.L. Central for Chicago. The Cubs likely stayed up late last night to watch that west coast game and then likely celebrated. They have a day game today. All of which is to say that today’s Cubs lineup is going to be sketchy, hungover or both. Congrats, guys.

Red Sox 7, Yankees 5: New York had a 5-1 lead entering the eighth inning when David Ortiz — who I am going to start tagging with the hashtag #R34PECT, because it pisses off Yankees fans — hit a homer. That was just prelude to the ninth inning rally, kicked off with an Ortiz RBI single to make it 5-3 followed by Mookie Betts singling in Xander Bogaerts to make it 5-4 and capped off with a Hanley Ramirez three-run walkoff homer. Yesterday I saw a lot of people tweeting some factoid about how the back end of the Yankees bullpen has put up identical numbers to Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman before they were traded. That probably didn’t provide any comfort as they were giving up six late runs.

Twins 5, Tigers 1: That whole “watch out for the Tigers in the Wild Card race because they have an easy schedule down the stretch” thing doesn’t hold up very well if they go and lose to the easy teams on their schedule. Which is to say that splitting four to the Twins is not ideal. All five Twins runs came on RBI singles. Mike Pelfrey lasted an inning and two-thirds. If he makes another start for Detroit before the end of the season it’ll be fair to ask Brad Ausmus if he’s actually trying to get fired.

White Sox 2, Indians 1: Carlos Sanchez with a walkoff RBI single. More impressively, before the game, Jose Abreu met with a young cancer patient and said he would try to hit a home run for the boy, which he did in the third inning. Note: this was just one of three instances of home runs by request yesterday.

Pirates 15, Phillies 2: Instance number two: former Pirate A.J. Burnett was at the game and a witness said that Andrew McCutchen promised Burnett that he’d hit him two home runs. McCutchen hit two homers.

Giants 6, Cardinals 2: Finally, we have this:

In the first inning Pence hit a two-run homer. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna go play the lottery.

Diamondbacks 7, Dodgers 3: Mitch Haniger hit a three-run homer in the Snakes’ five-run sixth inning and Rich Hill proved to be mortal, being touched for four overall and not making it out of that sixth.

Rays 7, Orioles 6: Evan Longoria homered and drove in five. With this and the Sox and Jays wins, Baltimore dropps to two games behind Boston in the East and are tied with Toronto for the two AL Wild Cards.

Athletics 14, Royals 5: Steven Vogt drove in five in this laugher of a game. The highlight, however, was the A’s mounting a replay challenge while leading 14-0. Then again, if you’re the defending World Series champs and think you still have a playoff shot and then let THIS A’s team come into your home park and sweep you, well, you kinda deserve it.

 

Blue Jays 7, Angels 2: Josh Donaldson missed three games but came right back and went 3-for-3 with two doubles and two runs scored. Russell Martin hit a three-run homer. J.A. Happ got his 19th win. It’s most wins for a Toronto pitcher since Roy Halladay won 20 in 2008. Halladay in a Jays uniform seems like 50 years ago.

Another September collapse could spur changes for Phillies

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PHILADELPHIA (AP) A third straight September collapse left the Philadelphia Phillies out of the postseason for the ninth straight season.

Major changes could be coming.

President Andy MacPhail and general manager Matt Klentak are clearly on the hot seat after failing to produce a winning record in any of their five seasons together.

Manager Joe Girardi isn’t going anywhere after one season, but Phillies managing partner John Middleton is expected to take a hard look at a front office that hasn’t built a winner despite a payroll above $200 million.

The Phillies went 1-7 in their final eight games to finish 28-32 in the pandemic-shortened season. Just one more win would’ve given them a wild-card berth.

They went 8-20 in September 2018 and 12-16 in September 2019, prompting the club to fire Gabe Kapler as manager after two seasons.

“I think we could have just as easily won 38 games, 35 games, I really do,” Girardi said. “I don’t think we were that far from being a 35- to a 38-win total, and we would have felt a lot different with the same guys in the room.”

Philadelphia’s biggest problem was a bullpen that posted a 7.06 ERA, worst in the majors. Klentak acquired four veteran relievers before the trade deadline – Brandon Workman, David Phelps, David Hale and Heath Hembree combined for a 3.82 ERA with five saves in seven chances in 2020 for other teams. In Philadelphia, they were a disaster. They combined for an 8.56 ERA, blew four of nine save opportunities and surrendered 18 homers in 41 innings.

“We had opportunities to win games, and we simply didn’t get it done,” slugger Bryce Harper said. “I feel like that’s been all year long. We’ve had opportunities to win many games, and it just didn’t happen. As we go into the offseason, we’re going to need to understand what we need to do as an organization and as a team to hopefully get better in those situations and get better in any part of this team.”

Perhaps the biggest disappointment was the fact Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler didn’t pitch like aces with the season on the line. Nola was 0-2 with a 6.60 ERA in his last three starts. Wheeler was 0-2 with a 4.05 ERA in his last three. The Phillies were 0-6 in Nola and Wheeler’s last six starts.

“My Septembers haven’t been that great, this year’s obviously wasn’t that great,” Nola said. “I felt like I could have done more. I’s just frustrating.”

FREE AGENCY

Two-time All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto and shortstop Didi Gregorius will be free agents after the World Series. Realmuto lost an arbitration case before the season and the Phillies never engaged in serious contract talks with a player widely considered the best at his position. Realmuto hit .266 with 11 homers and 32 RBIs in 47 games, missing more than a week with a hip flexor.

“J.T. Realmuto needs to be our catcher next year – plain and simple,” Harper said. “Anybody that’s the best at their position – hitting and fielding – needs to be signed and that is J.T. Realmuto. I don’t think that should even be a question. There’s going to be two teams or three teams in the NL East who are going to go after that guy and if that happens, I mean, that’s going to be tough to swallow for us.”

Gregorius batted .284 with 10 homers and team-high 40 RBIs. He was the team’s most consistent hitter and is a perfect fit in the lineup.

Right-hander Jake Arrieta is also due to be a free agent. He didn’t live up to his $75 million, three-year contract and finished the season injured.

ON THE RISE

Corner infielder Alec Bohm is a strong candidate for NL Rookie of the Year and should be a fixture in the top or middle part of the lineup for years. Bohm hit .338 with four homers and 23 RBIs in 44 games.

Right-hander Spencer Howard was 1-2 with a 5.92 ERA in six starts but he’s shown potential to be a key part of the starting rotation.

Lefty JoJo Romero had a 7.59 ERA in 12 relief appearances but also had several impressive outings.

Righty Connor Brogdon had a 3.97 ERA with 17 strikeouts in 11 1/3 innings.