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It’s the middle of August but baseball has a relatively light schedule on this Monday. Just 10 games were played, including a doubleheader in Atlanta. Here is everything you need to know about Monday’s MLB action.

Monday’s scores

Braves 9, Marlins 1, Game 1 (box score)
Mets 8, Yankees 5 (box score)
Indians 10, Reds 3 (box score)
Tigers 9, White Sox 5 (box score)
Braves 6, Marlins 1, Game 2 (box score)
Rangers 5, Diamondbacks 3 (box score)
Cardinals 7, Nationals 6 (box score)
Royals 3, Blue Jays 1 (box score)
Athletics 7, Mariners 6 (box score)
Angels 6, Padres 3 in 10 innings (box score)
Giants 5, Dodgers 2 (box score)

Another Nats’ bullpen meltdown gives Cards’ sixth straight win

Well, at least it wasn’t as bad as Sunday night? One day after blowing a 3-0 lead with two outs in the ninth on David Bote’s walk-off grand slam, the Nationals gave up another walk-off Monday, this one a solo home run by Paul DeJong. Back-to-back walk-off losses? Ouch.

To make matters worse, the Nationals led Monday’s game 4-3 going into the eighth inning. Then the molten hot Matt Carpenter clocked a go-ahead, three-run home against Sammy Solis. It was Carpenter’s seventh home run in his past 10 games and his 30th home run in his past 79 games. The guy has been on a 60-homer pace for three months now.

Carpenter’s home run gave the Cardinals a 6-4 lead, but the Nationals rallied in the top of the ninth to tie the game. Daniel Murphy and Matt Wieters stroked run-scoring singles against Bud Norris. Then, well, DeJong ended the game in the bottom of the ninth.

The Cardinals have won six straight games and they are an MLB best 17-9 since firing Mike Matheny. St. Louis is now only two games behind the idle Brewers for the second National League wild-card spot.

As for the Nationals, they’ve dropped five of their past seven games and are six games back of the second wild-card spot. What does manager Dave Martinez have to say about the team’s current state of affairs?

That about sums it up. Still some time to trade veterans!

Bullpen wastes Kershaw’s gem

Boy, oh boy, have the Dodgers struggled to close out games since Kenley Jansen landed on the disabled list with an irregular heartbeat. Consider their weekend against the Rockies:

  • Friday: Zac Rosscup serves up go-ahead two-run homer in the seventh.
  • Saturday: JT Chargois gives up walk-off three-run homer.
  • Sunday: Dylan Floro issues walk-off walk.

Ouch. On Monday, staff ace Clayton Kershaw gave the bullpen a much needed breather with eight excellent innings. He outdueled Madison Bumgarner and was marvelous.

Kershaw was excellent. The problem? There was still a ninth inning to be played. Scott Alexander entered with a 2-1 lead and exited with a 5-2 deficit. He allowed four runs (three earned) on four hits in two-thirds of an inning. Kershaw’s gem went to waste.

Four straight losses — four straight late-inning heartbeakers — push Los Angeles into a second-place tie with the Rockies. They’re one game behind the D-Backs. They’re also 2 1/2 games out of the second wild-card spot.

A’s hang on to beat Mariners

Huge series in Oakland this week. The Athletics are hosting the Mariners for three games as the two teams a) compete for the second wild-card spot, and b) try to gain ground on the struggling Astros.

The A’s jumped out to a big 7-1 lead in Monday night’s series opener, but the Mariners made things interesting in the ninth. Very interesting, in fact. They loaded the bases with no outs and got to within 7-6 before Blake Treinen struck out Nelson Cruz to end the game. Seattle had the tying run at second and the go-ahead run at first when the game ended. Oakland’s vaunted relief crew did not have a good night.

At the end of the day, a win is a win. No style points are awarded. Oakland’s win combined with losses by the Yankees and Mariners means the wild card standings currently look like this:

  1. Yankees: 74-44
  2. Athletics: 71-48 (3 1/2 GB)
  3. Mariners: 69-51 (6 GB)

The A’s are only two games behind the first-place Astros, conveniently thanks to the Mariners, who swept four games in Houston over the weekend. For a while there it seemed the AL postseason races had already been decided. Then the A’s got hot. They’ve thrown a wrench into everything.

Acuna’s torrid hot streak continues

Other than Carpenter, I’m not sure there’s a hotter hitter in baseball right now than Braves wunderkind Ronald Acuna Jr. The Braves played a doubleheader against the Marlins on Monday and Acuna hit a lead-off home run in both games.

Acuna is only the fourth player in history to hit a lead-off home runs in both ends of a doubleheader, joining Brady Anderson, Rickey Henderson, and Harry Hooper.

Overall, Acuna went 5 for 8 with two home runs and two walks in the doubleheader. He drove in five of the team’s 15 runs on the day and has raised his overall season batting line to .282/.342/.522 in 284 plate appearances. This is a kid who can not yet legally buy alcohol, remember.

Severino struggles again for Yankees

Luis Severino’s struggles must have the Yankees approaching DEFCON 1 at this point. (DEFCON 1 is the worst one, folks.) Severino got knocked around for the seventh consecutive start Monday night, this time needing 98 pitches to complete four innings against a not very good Mets lineup.

Five of the seven hits came in two-strike counts. Severino ate hitters alive in two strike counts earlier this season, now he’s having a hard time putting hitters away. Also, Severino has allowed 11 home runs in his last seven starts after allowing six home runs in his first 18 starts. He’s allowed at least one homer in seven straight starts for the first time in his career.

The good news? Severino is not missing velocity. His fastball averaged 97.2 mph Monday and his season average 97.4 mph. That’s the highest average fastball velocity among pitchers with enough innings to qualify for the ERA title. It would be a real red flag if he were missing, say, 2-3 mph. For now, the Yankees do not intend to skip Severino’s next start.

Severino has a 7.50 ERA in his last seven starts — he’s sitting on a still strong 3.27 ERA for the season, which tells you how good he was earlier this year — and whatever is causing this slide, the Yankees have to solve it and soon. The AL East title is out of reach, but the Athletics and Mariners aren’t going to go away quietly in the race for the two wild card spots.

deGrom evens win-loss record

At long last, Jacob deGrom does not have a losing record. He had what can be considered an off-night against the Yankees on Monday, but it was good enough to pick up the win.

deGrom has been so good that two earned runs with 12 strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings can be considered an off-night. After all, he went from an MLB leading 1.77 ERA to a still MLB leading 1.81 ERA. He been out of this world all season.

Monday’s win gives deGrom a 7-7 record on the season, so he still doesn’t have a winning record, but at least it’s not a losing record. The Mets are still somehow 10-14 in his 24 starts, however. It is a shame that such a brilliant season is being wasted on a team that probably won’t win 70 games.

Toussaint wins debut

Earlier in the day, the Braves defeated the Marlins in Game 1 of their doubleheader.

Braves pitching prospect Touki Toussaint made his debut, tossing six innings and permitting just two hits, two walks, and a run. He also struck out four batters.

Toussaint  threw 82 pitches on the day, including 37 fastballs. He generated six whiffs — three on his splitter and three on his patented curveball:

Ronald Acuna Jr. had a big game in support of Toussaint. He went 2 for 3 with a homer, a double, two walks, and three runs batted in. 

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