Welcome to The Walk Off, the nightly MLB recap from Big League Stew. Here we’ll look at the top performers of the night, show you a must-see highlight and rundown the scoreboard. First, we start with a game you need to know about.
The weekend in Boston belongs to David Ortiz, and the man affectionately known as “Big Papi” embraced that like only he can with a dramatic go-ahead home run in the Red Sox 5-3 win against the Blue Jays.
Honored before for the game for his off-the-field contributions to the community, Ortiz shined on it by wrapping a Brett Cecil pitch just inside Pesky Pole in right field. The home run broke a tie 3-3, and drove Fenway Park into a frenzy as they celebrated the latest awesome moment in a career filled with too many awesome moments to count.
“On a night that begins a weekend celebration, I don’t know that you can write a script any better than what David did tonight offensively,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said after the game. “A long at-bat in the first inning, he takes a pitch on the outside part of the plate for an RBI single and then in the 2-1 count against Cecil — who’s had some decent success against him — he turns this place upside down, given the time of the game and what was needed.”
Ortiz finished the game with two hits, raising his season average to .316. The home run was his 38th, and his three total RBIs raised his total to 127. What a season for Big Papi and what a thrilling night for Red Sox fans.
On the other hand, what a disappointment for Toronto. In control of their wild-card destiny three days ago, they’ve now lost three straight. Their two-game lead over Baltimore for the first wild-card spot is now a one-game deficit, and now they’re only a half-game up on Detroit for the second spot. They need to break this funk badly, and it won’t be easy on an emotional weekend in Boston.
Jay Bruce: After hitting .174/.252/.285 in his first 42 games with the Mets, Bruce has caught fire and is now leading New York’s push to the postseason. Over his last six games, he’s hitting .454/.500/1.045 with four homers, eight RBIs and six runs scored. That includes his three hits, home runs and three RBIs in Friday’s 5-1 win against the Phillies. With the win, the Mets are one game away from locking up a wild card position.
Jonathan Schoop: With help from the Red Sox, the Baltimore Orioles now own a one-game lead in the AL wild card with two games to play. Baltimore won its third straight, defeating the Yankees 8-1, behind five RBIs from Schoop. The Orioles second baseman opened the scoring with a two-run double in the fourth inning. One inning later, he capped the scoring with a three-run blast. Baltimore also got homers from Adam Jones (No. 29) and Mark Trumbo (No. 47).
Miguel Cabrera: The Tigers aren’t done yet either. In fact, they’re only one-half game behind Toronto for the second wild card after beating up the Braves 6-2. Detroit jumped on top early, scoring three in the first inning on an Ian Kinsler lead-off homer and Cabrera’s two-run shot. Cabrera later added a solo shot, giving him 38 for the season and giving Detroit all the breathing room it needed. Now the Tigers are breathing down the Blue Jays necks.
Francisco Lindor: Good news for Indians fans. Lindor snapped an unthinkable nine-game hitless streak by going 2-for-2. That included a three-run homer in the seventh inning that broke open a 7-2 win against the Royals. Lindor had been hitless in 29 straight at-bats before snapping the skid with a double against Yordano Ventura. After celebrating the double, he was later plunked by Ventura, but we’d say he got the last laugh.
David Ortiz wasn’t the only one to hit an emotional home run on Friday. In what is likely to be his final Cardinals’ at-bat, veteran outfielder Matt Holliday delivered a pinch-hit solo home run in a 7-0 win against the Pirates. Holliday was activated from the disabled list after missing nearly two months with a broken thumb. Prior to the game, general manager John Mozeliak announced that it was unlikely Holliday’s contract option would be picked up, but that Holliday would be given an opportunity to salute the fans with one final appearance.
Salute he did, and salute the fans did right back, calling for a curtain call that will likely serve as his final on-field moment in a Cardinals uniform.
REST OF SCOREBOARD
Giants 9, Dodgers 3: With the Mets and Cardinals notching wins earlier, San Francisco needed a win to keep pace. They got it behind Madison Bumgarner, who pitched 7 1/3 innings of three-run ball while adding an RBI double. The Giants remain one-game behind the Mets for the first wild card and one-game up on the Cardinals.
Mariners 5, A’s 1: The Mariners need some help and fast. Despite the win, they’re one-game behind Toronto and one-half game behind Detroit for the second wild card spot. Robinson Cano homered twice (37 and 38) in the win, while Nelson Cruz added his 42nd.
Marlins 7, Nationals 4: Despite the loss, the Nationals clinched home-field advantage for their upcoming NLDS against the Dodgers.
Rangers 3, Rays 1: The Rangers 95th win wrapped up home-field advantage throughout the entire postseason, including the World Series, which was secured with the AL’s win in the All-Star game. Yu Darvish paced the clincher with six innings of one-run ball and 12 strikeouts.
Cubs 7, Reds 3: There was no spring training lineup on Friday. Joe Maddon struck with his regulars and the Cubs kept winning thanks to Ben Zobrist’s two-homer game.
Rockies 4, Brewers 1: The only thing of interest here is how much will Nolan Arenado pad his stats this weekend. He’s off to a good start after hitting his 41st home run, 35th double and adding two RBIs, giving him 133.
White Sox 7, Twins 3: Left-hander Carlos Rodon tied an AL record by striking out the first seven batters he faced. Dating back to his previous outing, that streak extends to 10 batters, which hasn’t been done since former Dodgers closer Eric Gagne in 2003.
Diamondbacks 5, Padres 3: Shortstop Chris Owings hit a go-ahead two-run homer in the fifth inning. Arizona is now one game behind San Diego for fourth place in the NL West.
Angels 7, Astros 1: With his first 30-30 season since his rookie campaign in 2012, Mike Trout notched stolen bases No. 28 and 29. He needs one more homer and one more steal to make it.
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