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And That Happened: Wednesday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Red Sox 9, Braves 8: I wrote this one up yesterday and would prefer not to re-live it. The long version is here. The short version: the Red Sox are really good and they can beat you even if they rest their MVP candidates on getaway day, even if they spot you six or seven runs. And my God, where does Brandon Phillips get off making his season debut in September and hitting a go-ahead, come-from-behind two-run homer when the Sox are down to their last out? And here’s a fun fact, at least if you were not rooting for Atlanta: before this game teams were 0-487 when down by six or more runs entering the eighth inning. Now they are 1-487. Good effort, Braves!

Marlins 2, Phillies 1: The Braves suffered one of the most back-breaking losses of the season but the Phillies could not capitalize on it because, apparently, no one really wants to win the NL East. Sandy Alcantara tossed seven shutout innings against them, allowing only three hits while Austin Dean knocked in two, one with a single, one on a fielder’s choice. Not bad for a guy whose name would seem more at home in some bad, derivative neo-western novel or, perhaps, erotica.

Indians 3, Royals 1: Corey Kluber wins his 18th game of the season after striking out 10 and allowing only one run on two hits while working into the seventh inning. Brad Keller of the Royals lost, but let us tip our caps to him for somehow giving up 11 hits over seven innings and still allowing only one earned run. Or don’t. I don’t care. I just find it interesting when guys live out on a thin line like that. Tell me now, what is he, supposed to do?

Cardinals 7, Nationals 6: Matt Adams was with the Nationals until a couple of weeks ago — and he has struggled since returning to St. Louis — but he came back to Washington last night and smacked two home runs. That’s gotta feel great for Nats fans who, I assume, did not fill the seats at Nats Park because they were all waiting in line to buy season tickets for 2019. Yairo Munoz also homered and Marcell Ozuna had four hits.

Pirates 3, Reds 2: Colin Moran doubled in a run and Gregory Polanco and Francisco Cervelli hit back-to-back RBI singles in the third to snap a 1-all tie and give the Pirates the cushion they needed. Their starter, Jameson Taillon, allowed one run while scattering eight hits over five innings. The Reds stater, Homer Bailey, took the loss and is now 1-14 on the season. What’s more, the Reds are 1-19 when he pitches. In other news, Bailey is in year five of a six-year, $105 million contract that most people were even surprised he got at the time and which now stands as one of the worst deals in the game.

Blue Jays 10, Rays 3: Yesterday, the morning after seven Rays pitchers combined for a three-hit shutout, I wrote a big thing on the Rays’ strategy of bullpenning. Last night the Rays went with a guy who is projected to be a more traditional starter in Tyler Glasnow. He was knocked out in the first inning after allowing seven runs, so maybe expect some more bullpenning from the Rays going forward. Aledmys Diaz hit a three-run homer in that first frame for the Jays. Devon Travis had two hits in the inning. Kevin Kiermaier had two homers in a losing cause for Tampa Bay.

Mets 7, Dodgers 3: Zack Wheeler took a comebacker off the bat of Justin Turner in the fourth inning that required him to go get X-Rays and and a CT-scan after the game but he nonetheless stayed in the game and finished off seven innings of three-run, three-hit ball. Wilmer Flores knocked in two and Amed Rosario got three hits for the Mets. New York finishes up a nine-game road trip that took them to both Chicago to face the Cubs and L.A. to face these Dodgers and finished it at 5-4. Indeed, they’ve been fairly respectable for a couple of months now, relatively speaking.

Rockies 5, Giants 3: The Rockies take advantage of the Dodgers’ loss thanks to Trevor Story‘s three-homer night. They were all solo shots but I don’t think we’ll hold that against him. One of his homers was an absolute moonshot that StatCast is saying went 505 feet.* Just a real big boy bomb:

Cubs 6, Brewers 4: Chicago salvages one against their division rival — psst! someone ask Cole Hamels if it’s OK to call the Brewers a rival — and push their lead back up to four games in the NL Central. Daniel Murphy hit a homer and had three hits in all. Kyle Schwarber hit a long homer of his own. Ben Zobrist knocked in two. Jose Quintana gave up two runs in six and two-thirds.

Angels 9, Rangers 3: Mere hours after Shohei Ohtani learned that he’d be having Tommy John surgery he hit two homers on a 4-for-4, three-RBI night while scoring three times and stealing a base as the Angels’ DH. Billy Eppler shot the idea down in no uncertain terms yesterday, but I wonder who, if anyone, in the Angels organization has advocated to simply make him a full-time position player rather than mess around with his elbow. Not saying that’s what I’d do — I have no idea — but it’s a defensible position, I bet. Anyway, Andrelton Simmons also homered for the Angels and drove in three runs as their very weird and very disappointing season winds to an eventual close.

Tigers 10, White Sox 2Ronny Rodriguez hit a two-run homer and Jeimer Candelario, Mikie Mahtookand JaCoby Jones each hit solo shots as the Tigers beat the poop out of Sox rookie Michael Kopech (3.1 IP, 9 H, 7 R). Detroit has won three of four.

Astros 9, Twins 1: Alex Bregman‘s fantastic season continued as he homered, doubled and knocked in five. Evan Gattis went deep too and Framber Valdez and five relievers held Minnesota to one run on six hits. Houston has won five in a row and 12 of 15.

Athletics 8, Yankees 2: Oakland keeps pace by beating up on Luis Severnio for six runs — five earned — on six hits in two and two-thirds. Two of the A’s four first-inning runs came on Severino wild pitches. Matt Chapman and Steven Piscotty each knocked in a couple. Mike Fiers took a shutout into the seventh before giving up a two-run homer to Gary Sanchez. The cake was baked by then, however.

Mariners 5, Orioles 2Nelson Cruz and Denard Span hit back-to-back home runs in the fifth to take a one-run lead and Span knocked in another run for some insurance in the seventh. Mitch Haniger also went deep for Seattle as Mike Leake allowed only two unearned runs in six innings of work. No Mariners engaged in in-house brawling in this game either. At least that we know of.

*Earlier this recap made reference to a box score showing it at 460-something feet, which it did, but the box score I look at for such things has updated to 505. I don’t think I was hallucinating that, but either way, it is now consensus that it was a 500-plus foot homer. 

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

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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.”