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With Monday comes a bit of an abbreviated schedule. Still, 10 games means 2/3 of the league is in action, so we’ll round it all up here. Let’s get to it. 

Monday’s scores

Indians throttle Twins

Heading to Friday, July 27, the Indians’ lead in the AL Central had shrunk to seven games and the Twins were feeling good enough about themselves that closer Fernando Rodney declared they were going to win the division. That’s not a knock, as I love confidence. Just pointing out not everyone was still assuming this thing was over. 

It likely is now without a historic comeback. 

On Monday, the Indians just completely dismantled the Twins and moved back up into a double-digit (10-game) lead in the Central. 

Trevor Bauer continued his amazing season, striking out 11 in six scoreless innings. He only gave up three hits. He now has a 2.25 ERA and 206 strikeouts in 159 2/3 innings. 

Offensively, the Indians had the power stroke going, with Edwin Encarnacion, Yonder Alonso, Jason Kipnis and Brandon Guyer going deep. Here’s Encarnacion’s three-run blast that completely buried the Twins, though it was already over: 

Yankees snap losing streak with ease

No reason to beat around the bush: The Yankees were embarrassed in Fenway Park last series, getting swept in four games. It made a five-game losing streak and the Yankees’ 14-15 record since tying the Red Sox in early July a story. People started asking  if there were reasons for concern on the Yankees. With returns of key players from injury coming — along with the Luis Severino correction I’m banking on — I don’t think the level of concern should be high at all. The main reason? The schedule. 

Until a three-game series with the A’s on Sept. 3-5, the Yankees don’t play a team with a winning record. In fact, all but the .500 Rays are pretty bad. Here’s the group of opponents: White Sox, Rangers, Mets, Rays, Blue Jays, Marlins, Orioles, White Sox and Tigers. 

Looks pretty enticing, right? They can get fat. It started on Monday with an easy win in Chicago. This is how things can get started. 

Lance Lynn wasn’t even going to be in the rotation, but Sonny Gray forced the Yankees’ hand. Lynn went out and dealt. It was his best start of the season and his first with the Yankees. I’m sure that makes Twins fans happy. Anyway, Lynn went 7 1/3 scoreless, only allowing two hits while striking out nine. 

Offensively, the good news was Gleyber Torres having a good game, as he came in hitting .171/.302/.371 since returning from injury. He went 2 for 5 with a homer and two RBI. Here’s the longball: 

Wall-scraper, but it totally counts the same as a 500-footer. Maybe it’ll help him settle in, too. 

The Javier Baez Show heads to K.C.

The Cubs beat the Royals, which should have been expected, but the news here is — once again — Javier Baez. He broke a 1-1 tie in the top of the sixth with his 25th home run of the season: 

Later, Baez added an RBI double down the right field line, so his two RBI were the difference in a 3-1 win. It’s become a theme for the Cubs with Kris Bryant hurt and some others at different points in the season struggling. Baez is just bailing guys out. The inning before his home run, the Cubs left the bases loaded, for example. No matter, as he would pick his teammates up. 

He’s all kinds of hot right now, too, for an extended stretch: 

The MVP talk isn’t going away any time soon. 

Astros stun Giants in ninth

It was a 1-0 Giants lead heading to the ninth inning. Hell, it was a 1-0 Giants lead with two outs in the ninth inning. But then Marwin Gonzalez happened. 

Consider that a nice illustration of how good insurance runs are, right? 

The Astros are in first place. The Giants are .500 (again). 

Mariners gain ground

The Mariners have been in a funk for quite a while, starting to play more like their run differential suggested they would. What was once a gigantic lead for the second AL wild card was now a 2 1/2 game deficit entering Monday. The Mariners had basically been losing ground for the past six or so weeks pretty steadily. 

Monday, the A’s weren’t playing, so the Mariners had a chance to gain some ground. Even a half-game counts. 

It took them 12 innings, but they did it. 

The Mariners actually had a 3-0 lead through six innings, but they coughed it up in the seventh against the last-place Rangers and finally were able to get another run in the 12th. Ryon Healy came through with the clutch, two-out RBI single. Edwin Diaz in the bottom half actually allowed runners on first and second with one out, but managed a foul out and strikeout to close things down for his MLB-best 42nd save. 

The Mariners’ much-ballyhooed record in one-run games is now 28-14. 

Rockies rebound, Pirates regressing?

The Rockies were the hottest team in baseball until they just went 2-5 on a road trip to St. Louis and Milwaukee. The bullpen was a total mess and cost them a winning trip. 

A little home cooking and a little Kyle Freeland did the trick Monday. The Rockies’ starter — who has been awesome most of the season — went seven scoreless innings, allowing just two hits and three walks while striking out five. Great news for the Rockies was Wade Davis working a spotless ninth, striking out two. He had been terrible for a stretch before this. 

It was overall a very un-Coors-like game, too, as the two runs scored came via a fielder’s choice/error and sac fly. Small ball! 

On the Pirates’ end, this has to be a legitimate concern. They’ve now lost seven of their last 11. Before that, they won 13 of their last 14. Other than that 13-1 stretch, though, the Pirates are 44-55. It’s a lot more likely those 99 games are who they are instead of a really hot stretch of 14 games. 

Back to the Rockies, they are two games back in the NL West and two games out of the second wild card. 

Cardinals stifled by Marlins

The Cardinals were going well. The won two of three from the Cubs, three of four from the Rockies and two of three from the Pirates. That’s damn fine work and the wild card is starting to look like a real possibility, as the Cardinals entered Monday just four games back. Surely with a series in Miami, they could keep things moving in a positive direction. 

Instead, the Cardinals didn’t score a run for eight innings off of Wei-Yin Chen, Elieser Hernandez, Tayron Guerrero and Drew Steckenrider. A rally in the ninth came up short. 

The mantra for playoff teams should always be to just win series, so the Cardinals could still salvage the last two games here, but Monday was a stinkbomb for a team needing to bank all the wins it can. 

Huge stretch of games for Mets rookie

When you fall out of a pennant race, playing “the kids” is generally a good idea, just to see how they adapt to the big leagues. Mets rookie infielder Jeff McNeil is likely making some fans excited in Queens. 

Saturday: McNeil went 4 for 4 with a double
Sunday: McNeil was 1 for 4, but the hit was an RBI double
Monday: He was 3 for 4 with a home run

It, um, wasn’t cheap: 

McNeil is now hitting .364/.462/.606. It’s only 12 games, but it’s a very nice start to his MLB career. 

Quick hits

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