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And That Happened: Friday’s Scores and Highlights

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There were quite a few oddities during Friday’s games, from the Joey Gallo‘s record-setting home run to an inning that granted the Rockies both a grand slam and an inside-the-park homer. You can find the full scores here and the rest of the highlights below:

Phillies 4, Braves 3: The Braves took their fourth consecutive loss on Friday, and according to MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki and Mark Bowman, their first loss to the Phillies since July 30, 2016. Bartolo Colon pitched through seven innings, his longest outing of the season, allowing 11 hits, four runs and striking out four of 32 batters. The Braves made a concerted effort in the ninth after Adonis Garcia went yard (in the pouring rain, no less) and Nick Markakis and Brandon Phillips put runners on first and second with back-to-back singles, but right-hander Hector Neris caught Tyler Flowers swinging on an eight-pitch at-bat to preserve the Phillies’ lead and take the win.

Pirates 6, Yankees 3: The Pirates got off to a quick start on Friday, amassing four runs in the first two innings after a pair of home runs from Jordy Mercer and Josh Bell and an RBI single from David Freese. The same could not be said for the Yankees:

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Orioles 2, Red Sox 0: It’s worth mentioning, if only in passing, the quality of Dylan Bundy‘s start. The right-hander delivered seven shutout innings in his fourth start of the season, issuing six hits, a walk and three strikeouts in the Orioles’ 2-0 win. The outing fed into Bundy’s 1.37 ERA and the Orioles’ continued dominance in the AL East, but was ultimately overshadowed by a disputed takeout slide by Manny Machado in the eighth inning.

Cubs 6, Reds 5 (11 innings): The defending World Series champs reclaimed their position atop the NL Central division after orchestrating three dramatic comebacks to win their last three games this week. Those wins snapped a four-game losing streak, during which the Cubs had blown three leads against the Pirates and Brewers.

Whether or not this come-from-behind strategy will hold much longer is yet to be determined, but the Cubs don’t seem too concerned. “[Winning] is always fun; when you come back, it just makes it a little bit better,” Chicago left-hander Jon Lester told reporters following the game. “It doesn’t matter how it looks, we got it done.” Cubs’ skipper Joe Maddon shared the sentiment: “It’s so entertaining, isn’t it? We like the tough games, the big series. We like that stuff.”

Astros 6, Rays 3: For once, the preseason predictions got something right: the Astros are running away with the AL West this season. They capped their eighth win in nine games, returning from a two-run deficit with two RBI base hits from Brian McCann and Yuli Gurriel, two productive, game-winning outs from George Springer and Josh Reddick and a run-scoring wild pitch in the ninth inning.

Nationals 4, Mets 3 (11 innings): After cycling through ten pitchers and four home runs, it seemed only fitting that the 11-inning marathon would end on a bases-loaded walk:

Rangers 6, Royals 2: On a day full of a variety of record-breaking and -setting homers, Joey Gallo raised the bar for any aspiring home run hitter in 2017. He went deep against Royals’ right-hander Nathan Karns in the second inning, nearly driving the ball into a concourse popcorn stand:

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Per Statcast, the ball left Gallo’s bat at a speed of 116.1 m.p.h. and traveled an estimated 462 feet. It’s both the longest and hardest-hit home run so far this year, though it still falls a little shy of the records set by Giancarlo Stanton (504 feet) and Carlos Gonzalez (117.4 m.p.h.) in 2016.

Indians 3, White Sox 0: After putting up a 6.38 ERA during his first three starts of the season, Corey Kluber finally regained some equilibrium on the mound. He leveled the White Sox with his first complete game shutout since June 21, 2016, firing nine scoreless innings with three hits, two walks and nine strikeouts. The reemergence of his cutter may have had something to do with his successful outing, as MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian pointed out:

Twins 6, Tigers 3: The Tigers have undoubtedly seen better days. Justin Verlander collapsed against the Twins, handing over four run, six walks and four strikeouts in his second loss of the season. Victor Martinez and Justin Upton put the Tigers on the board in the third inning with an RBI single and double, respectively, but a six-run rally by the Twins unraveled the Tigers’ lead.

Cardinals 6, Brewers 3: With Madison Bumgarner on the disabled list, another member of the #PitchersWhoRake club was called upon to deliver the goods on Friday night. Adam Wainwright blew past the Brewers with five innings of two-run, nine-strikeout pitching, then turned around and blasted his first home run of the season, a two-run, double-deck shot that put the Cardinals up 2-1 in the third inning.

Wainwright later returned for another two-run single in the fourth and now officially leads all pitchers with three hits and four RBI in 2017.

Rockies 6, Giants 5: According to MLB.com’s Owen Perkins, the Rockies’ grand slam/inside-the-parker combo was only the second such combination of events since September 19, 2011, when the Red Sox’ Conor Jackson and Jacoby Ellsbury tag-teamed for the two unusual home runs against the visiting Orioles. The grand slam was a career first for both Trevor Story and Giants’ right-hander Johnny Cueto, who enjoyed an 8-2 record against the Rockies prior to his meltdown on Friday afternoon.

Diamondbacks 13, Dodgers 5: The Diamondbacks’ offense took approximately eight innings to heat up during Friday’s series opener, but no one was complaining when they constructed a nine-run comeback in the bottom of the eighth inning. Against an ailing Dodgers’ bullpen, the D-backs pulled five walks, six hits, and best of all, a tie-breaking balk from right-handed reliever Sergio Romo.

Athletics 3, Mariners 1: The Mariners are 1-8 on the road so far this season, a record that was underscored by the Athletics’ dominant showing on Friday. Sean Manaea turned in six solid innings, allowing one run and striking out six of 24 batters, while Ryan Dull, Sean Doolittle and Santiago Casilla combined for three scoreless frames to clinch the A’s ninth win and push them just over .500.

Blue Jays 8, Angels 7 (13 innings): There wasn’t a better moment for Jose Bautista‘s first home run of the season:

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Padres 5, Marlins 3: Trevor Cahill enjoyed a triumphant return to his hometown during Friday’s series opener, delivering seven innings of one-run, six-strikeout ball for his first win of the season. He kept the game scoreless after allowing a solo home run to Marcell Ozuna in the second inning, shutting down 15 consecutive batters before allowing the Marlins a final base hit in the seventh. The Marlins did their best to contribute to Cahill’s win, issuing four hits, four runs and a run-scoring double play in the seventh to boost the Padres to a four-run lead.

Young Blue Jays say they aren’t intimidated by top seed Rays

Blue Jays roster and schedule
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) When the Tampa Bay Rays and Toronto Blue Jays opened the pandemic-delayed season a little over two months ago, there was little to indicate the AL East rivals might meet again to begin the playoffs.

While the Rays launched the truncated 60-game schedule with expectations of making a strong bid for their first division title in a decade, the Blue Jays generally were viewed as an immensely talented young team still years away from postseason contention.

Tampa Bay didn’t disappoint, shrugging off a slow start to go a league-best 40-20 and claim the No. 1 seed in the AL playoffs that begin Tuesday.

Lefty Blake Snell, who’ll start Game 1 of the best-of-three wild-card series against Toronto at Tropicana Field, also isn’t surprised that the eighth-seeded Blue Jays earned a spot, too.

The Rays won six of 10 games between the teams during the regular season, but were outscored 48-44 and outhomered 17-11.

And while Toronto (32-28) lacks the playoff experience Tampa Bay gained last season when the Rays beat Oakland in the AL wild-card game before falling to Houston in the divisional round, the Blue Jays are building with exciting young players such as Cavan Biggio, Bo Bichette and Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

“They’ve got a lot of young guys who can ball over there,” Snell said. “It’s going to be fun to compete and see how we do.”

Rays defensive whiz Kevin Kiermaier said Tampa Bay, in the playoffs in consecutive seasons for the second time franchise history, will not take the Blue Jays lightly.

“We know we’re playing a real good team,” Kiermaier said. “It’s not going to be easy, regardless of what a team is seeded.”

The Blue Jays, who’ll start right-hander Matt Shoemaker, aren’t conceding anything.

Bichette said he and his teammates respect how good Tampa Bay is, but are not intimidated by facing the No. 1 seed.

“I would say that we didn’t care who we played. I would say that we didn’t mind playing Tampa, that’s for sure. We’re familiar with them. We’ve played them well,” Bichette said.

“I think we’re confident in our ability against them. Our talent matches up well,” Bichette added. “We think if we play well we’ve got a good chance.”

NO FANS

The stands at Tropicana Field will be empty, leaving players to wonder what the atmosphere will be like for the playoffs.

Tampa Bay routinely rank at or near the bottom of the majors in attendance, but usually pack the stands in the domed stadium during the postseason.

“It will be different,” Bichette said. “Normally when you think of your first postseason you think 40,000, you think about not being able to think it’s so loud, stuff like that.”

The Blue Jays open the playoffs near where they hold spring training in Dunedin, Florida. It’s been a winding road for Toronto, which played its home games in Buffalo, New York, at the site of its Triple-A affiliate after the Canadian government barred the Blue Jays from hosting games at their own stadium because of coronavirus concerns.

CONFIDENT RAYS

Tampa Bay’s five-game loss to Houston in last year’s divisional round was a source of motivation during the regular season.

“It definitely lit a fire under everybody. It really showed us we belong. … We gave them a tough series,” second baseman Brandon Lowe said.

“We won the wild-card game. We belong in the postseason. I think that did a lot for us to understand that we should be in the postseason and we can go a lot farther. We know what to expect this time around. I think everyone in our clubhouse expects to be playing until the end of October,” he said.

CLOSE FRIENDS

Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash has the Rays in the playoffs for the second time. His close friend and former Rays third base and bench coach Charlie Montoyo is in his second year as manager of the Blue Jays, who last made the playoffs in 2016.

“Pretty special,” Cash said of his relationship with Montoyo.

“I really learned a lot from him being around him. The way he carried himself. His hand print is throughout this organization,” Cash added. “A pretty big impact and a positive one. … When they clinched I talked to him, we face-timed at 1:30 in the morning. I’m so happy for him.”