And That Happened: Thursday’s Scores and Highlights

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Where we stand:

  • Cleveland was idle but the Twins lost, putting the margin between them at three and a half as the Twins arrive in Cleveland for a three-game series this weekend. I’m not sure how to handle an actual division race after a season in which most of these things were forgone conclusions, but hopefully these two groups of crazy kids give us something fun and close down to the wire;
  • The A’s won and the Rays lost, flip-flopping them in the AL Wild Card race, with the Indians a half game out of that picture at the moment;
  • The NL Wild Card race remained stable as Chicago, Milwaukee, Philly and New York all win, leaving the Cubs and Brewers tied for the second slot and the Phillies and Mets two games out. The Dbacks lost to the Mets and are three and a half back.

Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Mets 11, Diamondbacks 1: A week ago when the Nationals came back from seven down to beat the Mets with a Kurt Suzuki walkoff home run, everyone — your author included — figured that was a stake through their heart and that they wouldn’t get up from it. Welp, they’re up. The Mets are rolling and are hanging in that Wild Card race. Even if they ultimately fall short, that’s some pretty impressive perseverance. Yesterday it was simply impressive. Six homers, including two from Juan Lagares, one of which was a grand slam. Robinson Canó, Todd Frazier, Michael Conforto and Tomás Nido also went deep. Marcus Stroman allowed one run while pitching into the seventh. Not too shabby.

Yankees 10, Tigers 4; Yankees 6, Tigers 4: A sweep of a doubleheader but a costly one for the Yankees. Edwin Encarnación strained his oblique in the first game, Gary Sánchez left with groin tightness in the second. Sánchez’s injury is gonna cause some people to point some fingers as he did it after he was thrown out trying to steal. Aaron Boone said he called for the steal too. Can someone tell me why you’re asking your power-hitting catcher who has four career stolen bases and a history of groin problems to steal in a doubleheader against the worst team in baseball after you already have the division sewed up? Anyone? In light of those injuries the specific events of these two games are sort of unimportant, but know that Encarnación and Luke Voit homered in the first game and Gio Urshela and Aaron Judge homered in the nightcap. Also know that CC Sabathia and Domingo Germán piggy-backed in the second game with Sabathia taking the first few innings and Germán the next few, which may very well be what we see from New York in the postseason.

Cardinals 10, Rockies 3: After three straight low-scoring games the Cards finally break out the boomsticks at Coors Field. The biggest boom came off the bat of Rangel Ravelo who hit a 487-foot homer:

Watching that clip makes me think two things: (1) it’s nice to see they have begun to work in the extra-juiced postseason balls a couple of weeks ahead of time to get everyone used to them. Can’t wait for those 15-14 Yankees-Astros games; and (2) what on God’s green Earth was that home run call? “There we go . . . Knock me down . . . Hello! Goodbye! . . . Knock me down!” That makes “Boom goes the dynamite” sound like one of Dan and Keith’s better cuts from a 1996 SportsCenter. Dexter Fowler, Kolten Wong. Marcell Ozuna, and Harrison Bader also connected. That’s a lot of hellos and goodbyes.

Brewers 3, Marlins 2: Milwaukee won its seventh in a row and its eighth of nine. Five innings of shutout bullpen work was key here, as was Ryan Braun‘s tie-breaking two-run homer in the third.

Royals 6, White Sox 3: Hunter Dozier hit a tie-breaking, three-run home run in the sixth and Jorge Soler hit his third homer in the last two days. Kansas City has won eight of 11. Those games have come against the Orioles, Marlins, Tigers and White Sox who are, respectively, the three worst teams in baseball and a not-so-hot one in Chicago, but all games count.

Cubs 4, Padres 1: The Cubs had lost four of six coming into this one but Yu Darvish continued his recent tear, serving as stopper in this one and striking out 14 in six innings of work on a day when no one’s bats were particularly lively. The Padres only run came on a bases loaded plunking of a pinch-hitting Manny Machado.

Pirates 4, Giants 2: Joe Musgrove tossed five shutout innings. That led the Pirates to tweet this out:

Look, five shutout innings is a good thing, make no mistake, but I’m not sure it’s a “big line” highlight moment. Even in today’s era of bullpens the standard for a strong, headline-worthy starting pitching performance is, what, seven innings? I’d like to think it’s seven innings. Five shutout innings could easily be lost due to a bad day from the bullpen. I don’t wanna be one of those back-in-my-day guys, but I really don’t want five to be the new social media shoutout standard, OK?

Red Sox 7, Blue Jays 4: Boston breaks a five-game losing streak. Xander Bogaerts hit his 50th double of the season and drove in a run, Marco Hernandez knocked in two. Mookie Betts had three hits and J.D. Martinez reached base three times. The Red Sox used nine pitchers in this nine-inning game. If only they had a horse like Joe Musgrove.

Phillies 9, Braves 5: César Hernández, J.T. Realmuto, Jean Segura and Adam Haseley homered as the Phillies earn the series split with Atlanta and hang two back in the Wild Card race. Hector Neris worked out of trouble in the eighth and then closed it out in the ninth for a four-out save. Ronald Acuña Jr. stole a couple of bases and homered. He now has 39 dingers and 36 thefts, bringing him close to becoming baseball’s fifth 40/40 man after Jose Canseco, Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez and Alfonso Soriano.

Dodgers 4, Orioles 2: It was tied 2-2 in the sixth with two outs and the bases loaded. Dylan Bundy faced Russell Martin with the count full. Bundy reared back for something extra and got Martin to swing and miss to seemingly end the Dodgers threat but . . . no. catcher Pedro Severino couldn’t get a handle on the ball, it went to the backstop, Bundy just brain-locked and didn’t cover home plate and not just one but two runs scored.

It’d be unbelievable if it happened to anyone but the Orioles. For his part Bundy said “I thought it was a strikeout” and that he couldn’t see where the ball was. Except, even if he couldn’t see the ball he could see his catcher scrambling and Martin running to first — and he didn’t continue to walk off the field himself — so he knew something was amiss. He just flat quit on the play. Insane.

In other news, Rich Hill got the start for the Dodgers for the first time since early June. The idea would be that, now that his arm is healed, he’d work his stamina up and pitch for them in the postseason. Nope. He left the game in the first inning with a knee injury. Strained MCL which will almost certainly end his season. Not great for him. For their part, the Dodgers would like to have him back but they have shown, quite obviously, that they can win without him.

Nationals 12, Twins 6: Anthony Rendon and Juan Soto each homered and drove in three and Adam Eaton and Yan Gomes each went deep as well as the Nats beat the Twins. That reduces Minnesota’s division lead to three and a half over Cleveland with a three-game series beginning in Cleveland tonight. It was a severely depleted Twins lineup. They’re just riddled with injuries right now. The baseball season, however, doesn’t care about your injury problems.

Rangers 6, Rays 4: The Rays traded Nick Solak to the Rangers in mid-July in exchange for pitcher Peter Fairbanks. Last night Fairbanks faced Solak and Solak hit a two-run homer off of him, turning a 3-1 lead into a 5-1 lead. I guess Texas won the trade. The loss, Tampa Bay’s second in a row, combined with the A’s win against the Astros puts Oakland a half game up in the Wild Card race. Both are in playoff position but if the season ended today the Rays would have to fly to Oakland.

Athletics 3, Astros 2: Homer Bailey allowed one run while pitching into the sixth and five relievers allowed only one more run the rest of the way. Matt Olson hit a two-run homer in the third inning which made the difference. It came off of Justin Verlander who struck out 11 but who still lost.

Reds 11, Mariners 5: Seattle led 5-2 heading into the seventh when the Reds rallied for five runs on the back of a Freddy Galvis grand slam. They’d plate four more in the eighth via two-run homers from both Curt Casali and Eugenio Suárez. The M’s Kyle Lewis hit yet another homer, giving him three in his three big league game career.

Orioles sign OF Aaron Hicks, put Cedric Mullins on 10-day IL with groin strain

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BALTIMORE — The Baltimore Orioles signed outfielder Aaron Hicks less than 24 hours after Cedric Mullins went down with a strained right groin.

Mullins went on the 10-day injured list, but the Orioles are hoping Hicks can help defensively in the spacious outfield at Camden Yards. Hicks was released last week by the New York Yankees with more than 2 1/2 seasons left on his contract.

“We had noticed that he was a free agent even before the injury,” Orioles general manager Mike Elias said. “When the injury occurred and it became pretty clear this was going to be an IL, it seemed like a good fit even more so at that time.”

The Orioles are responsible for paying Hicks just $483,871, a prorated share of the $720,000 minimum salary. The Yankees owe him the rest of his $10.5 million salary this year, plus $9.5 million in each of the next two seasons and a $1 million buyout of a 2026 team option.

The 33-year-old Hicks hit just .188 in 28 games for the Yankees this year.

“We have stuff that we look at from a scouting and evaluation perspective,” Elias said. “It’s very different from just looking at the back of a baseball card, and we hope that we get a bounceback from anyone we bring here.”

Hicks batted .216 last season.

“Hopefully that’s a good thing for him,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said of the Baltimore deal. “A lot of time here and a lot of good things happened for him here. I know the last couple of years have been a struggle. But hopefully it’s a good opportunity for him and certainly wish him well. Not too well being in our division and a team we’re chasing, but hopefully it’s a really good fit for him.”

Mullins left a loss to Cleveland after he pulled up while running out an infield grounder. Outfielder Colton Cowser – the fifth pick in the draft two years ago – is hitting .331 at Triple-A Norfolk, but he went on the IL in the past couple weeks.

“Certainly he was building a case towards promotion consideration prior to his injury and prior to Cedric’s injury,” Elias said. “We’ll just see where we’re at.”

Hicks was active for the game but not in the starting lineup. Austin Hays, normally Baltimore’s left field, was in Mullins’ usual spot in center.

When the wall in left at Camden Yards was pushed significantly back before last season, it made left field a bigger challenge defensively.

“In this park … you really need two center fielders,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “Aaron’s got a lot of center-field experience. Played left field here before also. Brings the defensive aspect and then the switch-hitting.”