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It’s the last Sunday in August, and that means a full slate of action. Fifteen games, 14 of the day-game variety. Let’s get to it.

Sunday’s baseball scores

Cardinals surge continues with impressive road trip

After a loss on July 31, the Cardinals were 54-53. They were 7 1/2 games out in the NL Central and 4 1/2 games out of the second wild card. Since then, they’ve run roughshod over their competition. They are now 19-5 with a plus-53 run differential in the month of August. At this point, they are having one of the best Augusts in baseball history. 

The Cardinals are now four games out in the NL Central and are now the top NL wild card. 

Sunday was never in question, pretty much from the get-go. Matt Carpenter doubled to lead things off. Rockies starter Tyler Anderson did get two outs, but then the Cardinals went bonkers with a two-out, six-run rally. 

Speaking of Carpenter, he tied a major-league record with four doubles in the game. It’s happened 43 other times (baseball-reference.com has the list). The last time it happened was April 22 of last year by Diamondbacks outfielder David Peralta

The MVP candidate Carpenter is now hitting .273/.385/.579 with 38 doubles and 34 homers on the season. 

The Cardinals, meanwhile, won five of six games on a trip to visit the Dodgers and Rockies. The now head home to face the Pirates and Reds. 

Rays sweep Red Sox, win eighth straight

For the first time all season, the Boston Red Sox were swept. It happened in Tropicana Field at the hands of the sneaky and hot Rays. The Rays have won eight games in a row and are 16-8 in August. They are now a season-high nine games over .500. 

Sunday, Rays starter Blake Snell worked on his Cy Young resume, allowing only one run on two hits in six innings. He’s now 16-5 with a 2.05 ERA and 0.99 WHIP. 

Offensively, Matt Duffy paced things, going 3 for 4 with a double, two RBI and two runs. 

The Rays are talking playoff aspirations at this point. Being nine games out with just over a month to go is a stretch, but it’s possible. There’s an incredibly slim chance. 

Mariners lose more ground after Astros, A’s win

It just early-to-mid June when the Mariners were sitting in first place and had a giant cushion for the second AL wild card. After a loss on Sunday, teamed with Astros and A’s wins, the Mariners are now 6 1/2 games out out in the division and five games out of the second wild card. 

The Mariners do have seven games remaining with the A’s. This week, they have a two-game series against the last-place Padres before four games in Oakland, so maybe they sweep the Padres and then make up ground in Oakland. 

If not, the situation starts to get pretty dire. 

Kopech earns first W

Michael Kopech’s debut start wasn’t much of a start — he lasted just two innings before departing. On Sunday, he got the chance to work deeper into the game.

Kopech tossed six innings against the Tigers, allowing seven hits and a run and striking out four batters. Perhaps the most important number is zero — as in, he again walked nobody. Control had been his biggest flaw throughout his development, yet a slowed-down delivery has seen him improve his walk rate.

Consider that Kopech hasn’t walked a batter now in 28 August innings between the majors or minors. Or that he’s walked just eight batters in 55 innings since July 1 — or about 1.3 per nine. For reference, Kopech walked seven batters in 21 innings in April and walked 27 batters in 28 June innings. Sustained precision like this has never been his brand.

As such, while Sunday may have marked his first MLB win, it won’t be his last if he continues to pound the strike zone.

Morales homers in seventh straight

The Blue Jays aren’t contending, but Kendrys Morales is having himself a heck of a run. On Sunday, he homered in a seventh consecutive game, putting him one off of the record:

Morales entered the day hitting .263/.341/.477 (124 OPS+). Good marks that are even more impressive when you consider how poorly he opened the season. He entered June with a .619 OPS. Since then, however, he’s batted .296/.375/.552.

Archer struggles again

This isn’t what the Pirates had in mind when they traded for Chris Archer.

Archer, who entered the day with a 4.91 ERA in four starts with Pittsburgh, had another rough go — this time against the Brewers. This time around, he lasted just four innings, permitting six runs on seven hits. He also walked two batters while striking out five.

Archer was supposed to help the Pirates maximize their playoff potential. Instead, his shaky performances are part of the reason the Pirates have slipped from the race.

Bote keeps rolling

Cubs rookie David Bote just has a thing for collecting important hits. He notched his latest walk-off homer on Friday, and kept that momentum going on Sunday.

Bote didn’t hit a walk-off homer or anything like that against the Reds, but he did provide a couple of big hits: an RBI single in the first and then a two-run homer in the third that gave the Cubs a 5-0 lead. That proved to be more than enough.

Bote entered the day with just over 100 at-bats in his big-league career. He’s making ’em count (.284/.370/.514). 

Gausman shines again

The Braves dealt for struggling Orioles pitcher Kevin Gausman just in front of the trade deadline, likely hoping that a change of scenery (also from the AL East to the NL) would provide him with a boost. So far, they’ve been dead-on accurate. In five starts with the Braves, Gausman is 4-1 with a 1.69 ERA and 0.88 WHIP. Small sample, sure, but that’s damn impressive. 

Gausman only allowed one hit in five scoreless innings Sunday. He was pulled for a pinch hitter in the top of the sixth because the Braves had a rally going and were only leading 1-0. It was not due to him getting in trouble at all, because he never was. He hasn’t been in much trouble at all so far in a Braves uniform. 

Phillies salvage one

The Phillies are in a rough stretch right now. Coming into the game Sunday, they had lost six of their last seven games. All of which came against non-contenders, too, since we can officially call the Nationals a non-contender now. Sunday, the power game was humming and the Phillies were able to avoid a sweep at the hands of the Blue Jays. Wilson Ramos went 4 for 5 with a double, home run and three RBI to lead the charge. 

Dodgers sweep Padres

The Dodgers were also struggling heading into the weekend. They had lost nine of their last 12 games and were 4 1/2 games out in the NL West. With Sunday’s win, the Dodgers have now won three in a row. It was a sweep of the last-place Padres, but wins are wins. The Dodgers now get two games against the last-place Rangers before getting a head-to-head crack at the Diamondbacks. 

Astros rookie does well in first career start

Framber Valdez made his MLB debut on Aug. 21 and worked 4 1/3 innings of quality relief. Sunday, he took the ball for the Astros in what was his first career start and he fared very well. In five innings, he gave up just two hits and one run. He’s now sitting with a 0.96 ERA through the first 9 1/3 innings of his career. 

Quick hits

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