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And That Happened: Monday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Brewers 3, Cubs 2: Lorenzo Cain had four hits, Mike Moustakas scored the go-ahead run on a wild pitch, and just like that the Cubs’ lead in the NL Central is down to a single game. Milwaukee has won seven of eight overall. The Cubs have dropped five of seven.

Rays 6, Indians 5: Early in the game Ji-Man Choi was hit by a Corey Kluber pitch with the bases loaded to push in a run. That’s the hard way to knock one in. He did it the much more fun way in the bottom of the ninth when he hit a two-out, two-run homer off of Brad Hand to give the Rays the walkoff win. The loss was doubly demoralizing for Cleveland, you have to imagine, as they fell behind 4-1 in the second inning behind an ineffective Kluber, yet still came back to claim a 5-4 lead. Then, bammo, like that they lost.

Astros 3, Tigers 2: Justin Verlander made his return to Detroit and it wasn’t a bad return: seven innings, two runs ten strikeouts. His counterpart Francisco Liriano was also facing a team he pitched for in 2017 and actually allowed fewer earned runs — all three of Houston’s were unearned — but one was on a wild pitch, with a guy he walked scoring, and the other two coming courtesy of three straight singles he allowed right after the wild pitch so, at least under the rules I would impose were I the Baseball Dictator, they’d be earned.

Reds 10, Dodgers 6: If the Dodgers miss the playoffs they can attribute it to a lot of reasons but losing all five games they’ve played against the lowly Reds this season is one that should stand out for them. Here Scooter Gennett had four hits and three RBI, Joey Votto hit a two-run double and Cincinnati jumped on Alex Wood for seven runs, six earned, in less than four innings. Los Angeles falls to one and a half games behind Colorado because . . .

Rockies 13, Diamondbacks 2: . . . the Rockies are taking care of their business. German Marquez struck out 11 over seven innings, Trevor Story hit a three-run homer during a six-run fifth inning and David Dahl hit a grand slam in their seven-run seventh. Charlie BlackmonTony Wolters and DJ LeMahieu each had three hits. Arizona is now three and a half back in the division and four in the Wild Card race.

Yankees 7, Twins 2: J.A. Happ tossed six shutout innings and Gary Sanchez had three hits including a long homer to kick off the game’s scoring in the six inning. The Yankees any pretense of this being a close game the following inning, however, when they put up a six-spot thanks to RBI doubles from Miguel Andujar, Giancarlo Stanton, and Didi Gregorius and an RBI single from Gleybar Torres. Andrew McCutchen‘s sac fly put a lid on things. New York has beaten Minnesota nine straight times if you include last year’s Wild Card game. Their ownership of that franchise is, like, decades long now.

Royals 4, White Sox 3: Walkoff homers are fun. Walkoff sac bunts which are thrown away by the pitcher trying to field it, allowing the runner he was trying to nail at third to score are just as effective, however. The bunter, Alcides Escobar. The pitcher throwing it away, Jeanmar Gomez. Probably an appropriate ending for a game between two of the, ahem, less-than-dominant teams in Major League Baseball this year.

Cardinals 8. Pirates 7: The Pirates took an early 4-0 lead but the Cards came back and Matt Adams‘ three-run homer in the bottom of the eighth turned a 6-4 deficit into a 7-6 lead which the Cards would not surrender. The win moved St. Louis two games ahead of the Dodgers for the second Wild Card.

Rangers 5, Angels 2: Mike Minor allowed on run on eight hits in six innings, Ronald Guzman homered and Joey Gallow drove in three to end the Rangers’ four-game losing streak. Shohei Ohtani had two hits and an RBI and both Mike Trout and Andrelton Simmons flashed serious leather in a losing cause and the Angels. That sort of feels like what will be the legacy for this era of Angels baseball, doesn’t it? Some big stars doing fun things but having it amount to nothing because the organization does not seem to know how to build a baseball team.

Braves 4, Giants 1: Atlanta keeps on rolling and the Giants keep on falling. It was close most of the game, but the Braves broke a 1-1 tie in the seventh thanks to Dansby Swanson hitting a sac fly and then put it away in the ninth when Ozzie Albies hit an RBI triple and Swanson squeezed him home with a bunt. I know I put up a lot of videos of big homers and spectacular defensive plays. Here’s a highlight for those of you who get off on fundamentally sound but boring plays:

The Braves now lead the NL East by five games, having taken four of five.

Nationals vs. Phillies — POSTPONED: This one doesn’t get covered by my rain song today because the circumstances of the postponement were not directly rain-related. Yes, it rained, but that happened over the weekend when the Phillies were in New York and they didn’t cover the field for whatever reason, so the infield dirt was soaked. They used friggin’ blowtorches to try to dry it out but it didn’t work. Anyway, they get a different song:

The times are tough now, just getting tougher
This whole world is rough, it’s just getting rougher
Cover me, come on baby, cover me
Well I’m looking for a lover who will come on in and cover me

Now promise me baby you won’t let them find us
Hold me in your arms, let’s let our love blind us
Cover me, shut the door and cover me
I’m looking for a lover who will come on in and cover me

Outside’s the rain, the driving snow
I can hear the wild wind blowing
Turn out the light, bolt the door
I ain’t going out there no more

This whole world is out there just trying to score
I’ve seen enough I don’t wanna see any more,
Cover me, come on in and cover me
I’m looking for a lover who will come on in and cover me

Marlins vs. Mets — POSTPONED: This was a straight rain postponement, so:

The leaves of brown came tumbling down
Remember in September in the rain
The sun went out just like a dying amber
That September in the rain
To every word of love i heard you whisper
The raindrops seemed to play our sweet refrain
Though spring is here to me it’s still September
That September in the rain

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.”