The 2018 MLB regular season will come to an end four weeks from today. These next four weeks will decide the postseason races as well as the various awards races. Gonna be a lot of fun, folks. Here’s everything you need to know about Sunday’s MLB action.

Sunday’s scores

Ohtani returns to mound

Angels phenom Shohei Ohtani made his first start since June 6 on Sunday night. He didn’t last long, throwing 49 pitches across 2 1/3 innings against the Astros.

Ohtani allowed two runs on two hits and two walks and struck out two batters. Both runs scored on a George Springer home run. Ohtani showed noticeably reduced velocity later on:

The Angels have to be thrilled Ohtani was on the mound period. We’ll have to see if and when the Angels decide to trot him back out there again.

Dodgers, Rockies win

Three teams entered Sunday tied for the lead in the NL West. Two of the three teams, the Dodgers and Diamondbacks, played each other on Sunday.

No matter what, one was bound to end the day in first and the other in second or third. As it turned out, the Dodgers were the ones to finish a leg up. They were able to pull out a win against the D-Backs 3-2, with Matt Kemp delivering a walk-off two-run double a half inning after Daniel Descalso provided a go-ahead ninth-inning home run.

The Rockies, meanwhile, outslugged the Padres 7-3. Kyle Freeland threw six three-run frames. Charlie Blackmon notched three hits and David Dahl and Chris Iannetta provided two RBI each.

The Dodgers and Rockies, then, will enter Monday tied for first. The Diamondbacks will be a game back. 

Cubs jump on Nola for three homers

An NL Cy Young candidate took on the best team in the league Sunday afternoon. It was Phillies ace Aaron Nola against the Cubs. It was advantage Cubbies. Daniel Murphy, Anthony Rizzo, and Javier Baez all smacked solo home runs against Nola, who allowed four runs total in his 5 2/3 innings.

Going into Sunday’s start Nola had allowed eight home runs in 176 innings, and he hadn’t allowed even two home runs in a start since last September. The only other three-homer game in his big-league career came against the Nationals on Sept. 14, 2015.

Nola did strike out 11 in his 5 2/3 innings Sunday, though he also allowed four runs in a game for the first time since June 17. The bad outing — bad being a relative term here, because this was hardly a disaster start — gives Nola a still outstanding 2.33 ERA. The updated NL ERA leaderboard:

  1. Jacob deGrom, Mets: 1.68
  2. Max Scherzer, Nationals: 2.22
  3. Aaron Nola, Phillies: 2.33

No other qualified NL pitcher has an ERA until 2.80. DeGrom, Scherzer, and Nola are way ahead of the pack, and unless something crazy happens these last four weeks, it’ll be a major upset if they don’t finish 1-2-3 in the NL Cy Young voting in whatever order.

A’s split series with M’s

The Athletics won a blowout against the Mariners, splitting the four-game series and leaving Seattle back at square one.

The Mariners entered the weekend 5 1/2 games behind the Athletics, and will exit trailing by that same margin. In that sense, the A’s won the weekend. Though they didn’t gain any ground, they took four more games off the schedule — four head-to-head games at that.

The two sides have just three games remaining against each other: Sept. 24-26 in Seattle. The Mariners will hope they’re closer to the A’s by then — if not, their playoff chances will be nil. 

Tigers rookie has career day

Have yourself a day, Victor Reyes. The 23-year-old rookie, who the Tigers grabbed from the D-Backs in last offseason’s Rule 5 Draft, went 4 for 5 with two doubles and his first career home run. He drove in three runs as the Tigers earned a four-game series split at Yankee Stadium.

Reyes, who is known more for his speed and defense than his bat, went into Sunday’s game hitting .211/.229/.251 in 179 plate appearances this season. Sunday’s performance bumped his batting line up to .228/.245/.294. It’s not easy to add 59 OPS points in one day, especially on Sept. 2. That’s true even for a part-time player with fewer than 200 plate appearances on the year.

O’s take commanding lead in race for 2019 No. 1 pick

The two worst teams in baseball met for three games in Kansas City this weekend. The Royals won all three — they finished the sweep Sunday and outscored the Orioles 24-7 in the three games — to give the O’s a commanding lead in the race for the No. 1 pick in the 2019 draft. The bottom of the standings at the moment:

  1. Orioles: 40-97
  2. Royals: 45-91 (5.5 GB)

A 5 1/2-game lead (six in the loss column) is pretty substantial at this point of the season. There’s only four weeks left. Never say never, but this race seems pretty much over. The Royals sweeping the three games pretty much confirmed it.

Quick hits

  • Twins GM Thad Levine admitted service time was a factor in the team’s decision to not call up OF Byron Buxton in September. Levine said the team hopes to “make amends” with Buxton and avoid a potential grievance.
  • Yankees manager Aaron Boone received a one-game suspension and an undisclosed fine for making contact with an umpire Friday night. Boone went on a tirade after being ejected and the bill of his cap clipped the umpire’s hat.
  • Red Sox LHP Chris Sale could rejoin the team as an “opener” as soon as next weekend, reports the Boston Sports Journal. Sale is on the disabled list with a shoulder problem and Boston would stretch him out in big league games in September.
  • Nationals closer LHP Sean Doolittle threw a simulated game Sunday that was an “improvement” over Friday’s simulated game, reports MASN Sports. Doolittle has been out since July with a foot injury. There is no firm timetable for his return.
  • Royals OF Jorge Soler suffered a setback and may miss the rest of the regular season, reports Fox Sports Kansas City. Soler has been out since mid June with a fractured toe. His return seemed imminent before the setback.
  • The White Sox activated C Welington Castillo off the 10-day DL, the team announced. Castillo served an 80-game suspension for performance-enhancing drugs earlier this year and also missed time with a shoulder injury.
  • The Phillies activated 1B Justin Bour off the 10-day DL, the club announced. Bour missed close to two weeks with an oblique injury. The Phillies acquired him as an extra bench bat in a waiver trade last month.
  • The Brewers recalled RHP Corey Knebel and RHP Zach Davies from the minors, the team announced. Both players were sent down last month to work on things. Now they’re back with the team as September call-ups.

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