And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights

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Sorry the recaps are a bit later than usual. A multi-day sleep deficit finally came due last night and I slept in to the shockingly late hour of 7am. I feel like a layabout. Half the day is gone. Oh well.

Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Twins 11, Tigers 5: Gonna go out on a limb here and say that the Tigers have some problems with the back end of the rotation and long relief. Minnesota beat up on Jordan Zimmermann for five runs and long man Anibal Sanchez for six. In better news, Miguel Cabrera hit a homer, so reports of his demise were exaggerated. Miguel Sano hit a homer too. It was a rocket that cleared the greenery in straightaway center field of Comerica Park. That’s 420 to the wall and Sano’s bomb was estimated at 446 feet. Mercy.

Red Sox 4, Pirates 3: Hanley Ramirez is over the flu. He doubled in two in a the Sox’ three-run eighth inning rally and then scored on a Xander Bogaerts single. The Pirates have dropped four in a row. In good news, Andrew McCutchen hit a homer which tied him on the all-time Pirates home run list with Barry Bonds at 176. Now all McCutchen has to do is leave via free agency, immediately, for San Francisco and hit another 587 homers and he can be the all-time home run champ. He’ll be 45 at the time if he does it as quickly as Bonds.

Cubs 4, Dodgers 0: The Cubs take two of three from L.A., holding them to four runs in three games. Brett Anderson, making his Cubs debut against his old mates, held them scoreless for five. Anthony Rizzo homered and drove in two.

Rangers 8, Angels 3: All of this has happened before. And will happen again: The second 8-3 win for the Rangers over the Angels in two nights. Robinson Chirinos doubled in one and singled in two. Yu Darvish struck out ten in seven shutout innings. So say we all.

White Sox 10, Indians 4: The Chisox jumped on Josh Tomlin for five in the first and two in the second. They were sad to see him go but piled on three more runs. Three apiece were knocked in by Avisail Garcia and Matt Davidson. Davidson’s came via a three-run homer in the first that broke the game wide open. After starting the season with a sweep of the Rangers, the Tribe has lost five of six.

Yankees 3, Rays 2: Aaron Hicks homered twice, including a go-ahead, two-run drive in the seventh. Luis Severino allowed two runs over seven innings, striking out 11. But of course, Yankees fans know that they can always count on heroics and top-notch performance from Hicks and Severino.

Orioles 2, Blue Jays 1: The Blue Jays fall to 1-8 and, to add injury to insult, lose Josh Donaldson due to that nagging calf he’s had. Four of Toronto’s eight losses have been one-run decisions, and only one of them has been by more than two runs. Horseshoes, hand grenades.

Brewers 5, Reds 1: Jimmy Nelson cooled off the Reds, holding them to one run in seven innings and snapping their five-game winning streak. Ryan Braun and Eric Thames homered off of Bronson Arroyo, who has now given up 11 runs on 13 hits in ten innings in two starts. His comeback was a nice spring story, but I do not expect that it will extend too much beyond spring.

Mets 9, Marlins 8: Yoenis Cespedes hit three homers on Tuesday night and added two more last night. The most noteworthy blast in this one, however, came from Travis d'Arnaud, who put the Mets up in the top of the 16th inning with a solo shot. That’d hold up for the Mets win. Way back in the second inning d’Arnaud tripled in three runs. He had four hits on this long night.

Royals 3, Athletics 1: Kansas City snaps its eight-game losing streak to the A’s. The win came mostly due to Jason Vargas being awesome. Being unbelievably good. Just ask Ned Yost:

“He was awesome,” the skipper said.

Care to elaborate?

“He was unbelievably good,” Yost said.

Told ya.

Varagas shut the A’s out for seven and two-thirds.

Rockies 3, Giants 1: Colorado starter Jon Gray had to leave early with a toe injury, but the bullpen sucked it up with five pitchers combining to toss six innings of one-run ball. Trevor Story‘s two-run homer off of Madison Bumgarner in the fourth was enough to win this one, but Mark Reynolds singled in one later for some insurance.

Athletics tie for first place in AL West

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The Athletics are tied for first place in the AL West for the first time since Opening Day. They took the first of a three-game series against the Astros on Friday with a wild (and controversial) overturned replay call in the ninth and Matt Olson‘s decisive walk-off home run in the 10th — the first of his career to date — then returned on Saturday and bested the Astros 7-1 to take first place.

Saturday’s win was less of a nail-biter than Friday’s had been, but its rewards were just as sweet. Trevor Cahill led the A’s through the first seven innings of one-hit, seven-strikeout ball, backed by seven runs on five RBI doubles from Khris Davis, Matt Olson, Stephen Piscotty and Josh Phegley. All told, the four players struck eight doubles to tie the franchise single-game record.

The Astros, meanwhile, were stymied by both Cahill and the A’s bullpen through the first eight innings of the game. Following Cahill’s seven shutout innings, Jeurys Familia took the ball in the eighth and blanked the Astros to preserve the seven-run lead. Yusmeiro Petit wasn’t quite so lucky: with one out in the top of the ninth, he pitched to a full count against Tony Kemp, then saw his 90.1-MPH fastball returned to right field for a home run. That was the first and last time the Astros crossed home plate, however, as Kyle Tucker popped out to third base and Alex Bregman cemented the loss with a fly ball to right.

Entering Saturday’s game, the Astros had not been out of first place since June 13, when they played second fiddle to the now third-place Mariners. They’ll share first-place honors with the Athletics until Sunday’s finale; it’ll take a series sweep for Oakland to take the lead in the division, but they’ve already delivered incredible results over the last two weeks (and it’s worth noting, as MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart pointed out, that Houston has now lost seven of their last eight games). The A’s climbed out of the no. 3 spot at the start of August and have steadily progressed toward first place ever since, driven by two separate four-win streaks and their two decisive wins this weekend. Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle also notes that the club has not been in first place in a non-April month since August 25, 2014 — the last year they qualified for the playoffs.