Associated Press

And That Happened: Monday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Dodgers 8, Rockies 2: Joc Pederson hit two homers, Max Muncy hit a three-run shot and Los Angeles moves back into first place. The win not only pushes the Rockies out of first, but out of playoff position as the Cardinals win allowed them to leap Colorado into the second Wild Card spot. At least those three teams are giving us some late season playoff drama, such as it is. Even worse news for the Rockies than the loss was the loss of Trevor Story, who hurt his elbow on a throw in the first inning and later aggravated it on a swing in the fourth, forcing him out of the game. He will have tests today, but suffice it to say, if the Rockies are going to stay in this thing they’re gonna need Story.

Brewers 8, Reds 0: Christian Yelich hit for the cycle for the second time in three weeks, with both of those cycles coming against the Reds. He singled in the first inning, doubled in the third, hit a two-run home run in the fifth, and completed the cycle with a two-run triple in the sixth. He is only the fifth player to hit for the cycle twice in a season and is the first in baseball history to do it twice in the same season against the same team. Yelich is now hitting .318/.385/.570 with 31 home runs, 93 RBI, 102 runs scored, and 19 stolen bases in 597 plate appearances, which is some MVP stuff. In other news, Wade Miley tossed five shutout innings and the pen handled the rest, limiting the Reds to eight hits overall.

Mariners 4, Astros 1: Wade LeBlanc and four relievers combined to hold Houston to one run on three hits, but that one run held up until the eighth inning, with Houston clinging to the smallest of margins. Daniel Vogelbach came in as a pinch hitter that inning, however, with the bases loaded, and launched a grand slam over the fence in right center. With that Seattle takes the lead in their season series with the Astros, 9-8. Which ain’t the playoffs, but I suppose it’s something. The loss cut Houston’s lead in the AL West to four games over Oakland so, maybe, it’s the stuff of being a spoiler?

Cardinals 11, Braves 6Kolten WongPaul DeJongHarrison Bader and Yadier Molina all hit homers for the Cardinals whose win, combined with the Rockies’ loss to the Dodgers, put the Cardinals back into position for the second Wild Card. The Braves, meanwhile, have lost three in a row, but it didn’t matter as much as it could’ve given that Philly lost to the Mets, reducing Atlanta’s magic number to seven. Not that their play of late should give them much confidence assuming they do win the division. Their pitching has been bad, giving out walks like they’re candy on Halloween.

Blue Jays 5, Orioles 0: Ryan Borucki pitched eight innings of shutout ball and three Jays — Danny Jansen, Kevin Pillar and Aledmys Diaz — homered. The Orioles’ 107th loss ties their 1988 mark for the most losses in Orioles history. It’s only the third time the team has lost 100 games, with the first time being in their inaugural season in Baltimore back in 1954. If you include the St. Louis Browns years, you have to go back to 1939 and that club’s 111-loss season for a year this bad. They lost 107 in 1910 and 1911 too. Those latter three teams only played 154-game seasons, but still, this is an historic club.

Mets 9, Phillies 4: Michael Conforto went 3-for-5 with an RBI single, and RBI double and a homer, driving in six. Zack Wheeler allowed four runs over seven innings to pick up his ninth win since the All-Star break and 14th in all. In the second half Wheeler is 9-1 with a 1.68 ERA in 11 starts.

Pirates 7, Royals 6: This game went back and forth but the Royals had a two-run lead in the eight when Ed Ryan O'Hearn hit a solo homer. The Pirates were not done, however, as they tied it in their half of the eighth with a Pablo Reyes single and a Starlin Marte RBI triple. Rookie catcher Jacob Stallings ended things with a walkoff single in the ninth.

Twins 6, Tigers 1: The Twins scored four runs in the fourth and were never challenged. Kohl Stewart didn’t start — the Twins used an opened — but he took over and worked through the seventh allowing only an unearned run on three hits.

Marlins 8, Nationals 5: Washington led 4-0 after three but blew that lead with Miami’s go-ahead run scoring on a balk of all things. Washington would tie it up again but then Lewis Brinson hit a tiebreaking RBI single in the seventh. Starlin Castro had a homer and three RBI for the Fish.

Rays 3, Rangers 0: Tyler Glasnow pitched six shutout innings allowing only two hits — both infield singles — and Adam KolarekJose Alvarado and Sergio Romo each tossed a scoreless inning to complete the combined two-hitter. They were backed by Ji-Man Choi‘s homer and an RBI single. The Rays have been on absolute fire for a month.

Cubs 5, Diamondbacks 1: Kyle Hendricks took a shutout into the ninth inning but gave up a homer to A.J. Pollock and that was that. That was still an easy win, though, as two-run homers from Javy Baez and Kris Bryant gave the Cubs a comfy margin by then.

Giants 4, Padres 2:  Brandon Crawford and Evan Longoria homered and Andrew Suarez pitched into the eighth allowing two runs on four hits. The Padres lost their 91st game, which was how many they lost last year. They lost 94 the year before. A lot of Padres fans will, quite correctly, note that A.J. Preller has built a nice farm system and that it’s still a rebuild in progress, but at some point the Padres need to give fans who don’t follow minor league system rankings and who don’t bone up on their prospects lists each spring a reason to care.

Nats’ success shouldn’t be about Bryce Harper

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Bryce Harper turns 27 years old today. As an early birthday present, he got to watch his former team reach the World Series for the first time in franchise history. His new team finished exactly at .500 in fourth place, missing the playoffs. These were facts that did not go unnoticed as the Nationals completed an NLCS sweep of the Cardinals at home last night.

Harper spent seven seasons with the Nationals before hitting free agency and ultimately signing with the Phillies on a 13-million, $330 million contract. The Nationals offered Harper a 10-year, $300 million contract at the end of the 2018 regular season, but about $100 million of that was deferred until he was 65 which lowered the present-day value of the offer. The Nats’ offer wasn’t even in the same ballpark, really.

Nevertheless, Nationals fans were upset that their prodigy jilted them to go to the Phillies. He was mercilessly booed whenever the Phillies played in D.C. Nats fans’ Harper jerseys were destroyed, or at least taped over.

Harper, of course, was phenomenal with the Nationals. He won the NL Rookie of the Year Award in 2012, then won the NL MVP Award several years later with an historically outstanding 1.109 OPS while leading the league with 42 homers and 118 runs scored. Overall, as a National, he had a .900 OPS. Pretty good. He was also productive in the postseason, posting an .801 OPS across 19 games, mostly against playoff teams’ best starters and best relievers. Furthermore, if the Nats had Harper this year, he would have been in right field in lieu of Adam Eaton. Harper out OPS’d Eaton by 90 points and posted 2.5 more WAR in a similar amount of playing time. The Nationals would have been even better if they had Harper this year.

The Nationals lost all four Division Series they appeared in during the Harper era. 3-2 to the Cardinals in 2012, 3-1 to the Giants in ’14, 3-2 to the Dodgers in ’16, and 3-2 to the Cubs in ’17. They finally get over the hump the first year they’re without Harper, that’s the difference, right? I saw the phrase “addition by subtraction” repeatedly last night, referring to Harper and the Nats’ subsequent success without him.

Harper, though, didn’t fork over four runs to the Cardinals in the top of the ninth inning in Game 5 in 2012. He didn’t allow the Dodgers to rally for four runs in the seventh inning of Game 5 in ’16 before ultimately losing 4-3. He didn’t use a gassed Max Scherzer in relief in 2017’s Game 5, when he allowed five of the seven Cubs he faced to reach base, leading to three runs which loomed large in a 9-8 loss. If certain rolls of the dice in those years had gone the Nationals’ way, they would have appeared in the NLCS. They might’ve even been able to win a World Series.

The Nationals saw how that looks this year. It was the opposing manager this time, Dave Roberts, who mismanaged his bullpen. Howie Kendrick then hit a tie-breaking grand slam in the 10th inning off of Joe Kelly to win the NLDS for the Nats. The playoffs are random. Sometimes a ball bounces your way, sometimes an umpire’s call goes your way, and sometimes the opposing manager makes several unforced errors to throw Game 5 in your lap.

Reaching the World Series, then thumbing your nose while sticking out your tongue at Harper feels like a guy tagging his ex-girlfriend on his new wedding photos. It’s time to move on.