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And That Happened: Monday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Astros 7, Royals 3:  Houston got a three-run homer from Yuli Gurriel and a two-run shot from Brian McCann to win their eleventh straight game. The Astros are one win shy of their franchise record of 12 straight wins, which they did twice: 1999 and 2004. Oh, and it was their eleventh straight road win as well, which is perhaps even more impressive. Business trips suck.

Reds 4, Cardinals 2: Carlos Martinez was dominant through six innings, shutting out the Reds on one hit. But then the seventh happened. The Reds loaded the bases off of him before he gave up a two-run double to Eugenio Suarez. Mike Matheny pulled him for Kevin Siegrist and Scooter Gennett hit a two-run double off of him. All runs were charged to Martinez, of course. Just goes to show you how quickly everything can turn to hell in this world. St. Louis has lost four in a row and seven of ten.

Phillies 11, Braves 4: Bartolo Colon continues his nightmare season. Here one of the worst teams in baseball lit him up for eight runs in three and and two-thirds, puffing his ERA up to an unsightly 7.78. It was a good plan for the Braves to bring in veterans who could eat innings during the rebuild, but the Bartolo Colon/R.A. Dickey experiment has been a failure. Time to cut bait. In other news, I wish like hell that Mac Thomason, the founder of Braves Journal, was still alive. His roasting of Colon right now would be savage. It’d almost be enough to make me want to watch one of his starts.

Giants 7, Brewers 2: Jeff Samardzija was shaky at first, allowing two early runs, but then he settled down and shut the Brewers out for the next seven innings or so, retiring 19 batters in a row at one point. It was close while he was in the game too, as the Giants did not take the lead until pinch hitter Aaron Hill doubled in two in the eighth to break a 2-2 tie.

Cubs 3, Marlins 1: Kris Bryant hit a two-run homer in the first and Albert Almora Jr. hit a solo shot in the fourth to back Eddie Butler, who tossed one-run ball into the sixth. Mike Montgomery took it the rest of the way, working like a piggyback-starter and tossing three and a third shutout innings for the long save. I know the Cubs did this out of necessity — Wade Davis is out on paternity leave — but I’m surprised we don’t see more of this. There are a lot of starters who are good one time through the lineup before getting lit up after three innings or so.

Nationals 4, Dodgers 2:Anthony Rendon hit a solo homer in the second, Matt Wieters hit a two-run single in the fourth and Bryce Harper hit an RBI single in the fifth. Wieters’ and Harpers’ hits came with two outs, which is something managers and broadcasters love. I’m not sure if they love that more than guys hitting the ball to the opposite field, but man do they love two out hits. The Nats have now won six of seven.

Athletics 5, Blue Jays 3: There was a couple of year stretch where it seemed like Khris Davis was hitting multiple homers in a game all the dang time. I guess some of that magic has rubbed off on his teammate Ryon Healy, who homered twice and drove in all five of the A’s runs. This is the second time in three games he has hit two bombs, as he did so Saturday against the Nats. Sean Manaea won his fourth straight start, striking out seven over six innings while allowing two runs on four hits.

Nationals complete NLCS sweep of Cardinals, punch ticket to World Series

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The Nationals will officially appear in the World Series for the first time in franchise history. The team that had a 19-31 record in late May, putting manager Dave Martinez on the hot seat, improbably fought back to snag a Wild Card slot, won the play-in game, beat the heavily-favored Dodgers in five games in the NLDS, and polished off a sweep of the Cardinals in the NLCS on Tuesday night, winning 7-4.

After Patrick Corbin tossed a scoreless top of the first inning, the Nationals’ offense wasted no time getting to work. Single, double, sacrifice fly, RBI double, intentional walk, reach on error, RBI single, two-run single, sacrifice bunt, two-run single. That’s how the Nats hung a seven-spot in the opening frame against Dakota Hudson and Adam Wainwright.

To the Cardinals’ credit, they cleaned things up from there. The Nationals would not score for the rest of the game while the Cardinals clawed back for a run in the fourth before plating three runs in the fifth. Yadier Molina went yard off of Corbin in the fourth. In the fifth, a Tommy Edman ground out and a José Martínez two-run double accounted for the Cardinals’ runs in the fifth.

Corbin ultimately gave up the four runs on four hits and three walks with, impressively, 12 strikeouts across five innings of work. Tanner Rainey worked a 1-2-3 sixth. Sean Doolittle did the same in the seventh.

Doolittle remained in the game in the eighth, getting the first two outs before relenting a single to Marcell Ozuna. Right-hander Daniel Hudson entered for the four-out save opportunity. Hudson hit Molina with a fastball, bringing the tying run to the plate in the form of Paul DeJong. DeJong worked a full count, then walked to load the bases. Pinch-hitter Matt Carpenter emerged from the dugout to take his cuts against Hudson. After five tense pitches to Carpenter, Hudson got him to ground out to second base to end the inning.

The Nats went down quick in the bottom of the eighth. Hudson emerged from the dugout to send the Nationals into the World Series. He did just that, getting Kolten Wong to fly out to shallow left field for the first out. Matt Wieters popped up to the catcher in fair territory for out number two. At long last, Edman flied out to center field. Nationals win 7-4.

The only other time the franchise reached the Championship Series was in 1981 when the Expos lost three games to two to the Dodgers. The Expos/Nationals then went from 1982-2011 without a playoff appearance. The Nationals lost four Division Series appearances in a row in 2012, ’14, and ’16-17, three of which went the maximum five games. Now they’re in the World Series, improbably. They will await the winner of the ALCS, which the Astros currently lead 2-1.