Welcome to yet another MLB Sunday, which is — as usual — loaded with day games. Let’s get to it. 

Sunday’s scores

Murphy awakens in Nats’ comeback win

The Nationals went into the bottom of the sixth on Sunday night down 6-2 and saddled with roughly a 90 percent chance of losing the game and thus getting swept by the Phillies. In that sixth, though, the Nats pounded out four two-out hits and cut the deficit to 6-5. Then in the eighth, Daniel Murphy came up with two on and two outs (and just after an intentional walk to 19-year-old Juan Soto). The veteran delivered … 

Local ordinances require us to call that “a nice piece of hitting.” That one soft single took the Nats’ chances of winning the game from 36.7 percent to 86.4 percent. Clutch knock, that one. 

It was also the culmination of a big night for Murphy, who went 3 for 4 with a walk. That is significant because Murphy entered this one with a miserable line of .135/.158/.162 and just five hits in 37 at-bats since returning from October knee surgery. With this one night, though, he added more than 130 points to his 2018 OPS. Washington, obviously, is hoping there’s more of this to come. 

As for the compelling NL East race, here’s how SportsLine expects it to play out …

  • The Nationals have a 52.8 percent chance of winning the division. 
  • The Braves have a 26.1 percent chance of winning the division. 
  • The Phillies have a 20.8 percent chance of winning the division. 

Yes, the Nats are in third place, 2.5 games behind the first-place Braves, but SportsLine still likes them to win the flag for the third consecutive season. 

Yankees get swept, lose Sanchez

The Yankees suffered a particularly damaging loss to the Rays on Sunday. As you see above, the final game of the series went extras. Here’s the sweep-clinching walk-off blast from Jake Bauers:

The Yanks lose despite getting five hits and a homer from Giancarlo Stanton (he’s now batting .262/.335/.517 despite that brutal start to the season). The Rays, though, ritually abused New York starter Domingo German, who allowed six runs on nine hits in three innings. 

The Tropicana Field ground rules also played a role in this one. In the ninth, here’s what became of Clint Frazier’s pinch-hit would-be bomb:

That’s a very nice play by Adeiny Hechavarria, but it’s a tough break for Frazier and the Yankees: 

Absent that hanging speaker, that very likely makes the score 7-6 Yankees, which means this one probably doesn’t go extras. That’s notable not only for the eventual result but also because of what happened to New York catcher Gary Sanchez in extras. In the top of the 10th, Sanchez grounded into a double play, and pulled up lame as he reached first base. The preliminary word: 

Sanchez’s overall numbers are down this season, but he’s still a strong-armed backstop who’s on pace for for more than 30 homers this season. Given how much strain catchers put on their lower half, this could be a fairly lengthy absence. The Yankees still have the best record in baseball, but Sunday’s loss was a painful one on multiple levels.

Giants walk it off

The Padres and G-Men went extras in San Francisco, and the hosts found themselves down a run going into the bottom of the 11th. But then Hunter Pence came through with the bases loaded, one away, and an 0-2 count: 

The 35-year-old Pence has struggled badly this season, but that’s a bright spot and then some. That win also means the Giants are back above the .500 mark for the first time since June 10. Doing the heavy lifting in this one was Dereck Rodriguez, who allowed one run on four hits in seven innings of work. Along the way, the 26-year-old rookie struck out six and walked one. 

Buchholz has been big for ‘Zona

Robbie Ray has been out since late April, Taijuan Walker is out for the year after undergoing Tommy John surgery, and Shelby Miller isn’t quite back yet. Those holes in the rotation are why the Diamondbacks undertook Clay Buchholz as a reclamation project, even though the often-injured righty hasn’t been effective since 2015. 

Well, Buchholz stepped up again on Sunday, as he shut out the Pirates for five innings with five strikeouts and no walks over that span: 

Now let’s check out Buchholz’s 2018 numbers after seven starts for the D-Backs: 

Obviously, Buchholz has been a highly capable plug-in for Torey Lovullo’s club. Very likely, he’s pitched himself into some kind of job even in the event that the rotation gets healthy. 

Dodgers bring the thunder in win over Mets

The Dodgers entered Sunday’s tilt in Queens ranking second in the NL in home runs. Even by those high standards, though, the Dodgers’ power bats exploded in this one:

Yep, seven solo home runs. Justin Turner, Max Muncy and Joc Pederson all went deep, and Cody Bellinger and Enrique Hernandez each homered twice. Of particular note was this 437-foot blast from Bellinger: 

Scrap-heap find Muncy, by the way, is now slugging .599 for the year with 15 dingers. 

The Mets have now lost six in a row and are 4-17 in June. The Dodgers, meantime, have won three in a row and are a season-best six games over .500.

The Carpenter renaissance continues

Before Sunday’s Cardinals-Brewers game turned into something of a drubbing, St. Louis infielder Matt Carpenter came up big in a tight spot:

In addition to that two-out, two-RBI knock, Carpenter also drew a pair of walks on the day. That brings his 2018 slash line to .237/.347/.467. No, Carp’s not much of a hitter for average these days, but his excellent secondary skills — i.e., his willingness to take a walk plus his extra-base power — mean he’s still a producer. Also, it’s perhaps surprising to see him reach this level consider his deep struggles to start 2018. As recently as May 16, Carpenter was lugging around an OPS in the .500s, but he’s been pretty much raking over the last month. Throw in his ability to man multiple positions, and he’s been a useful contributor for the still-relevant Cardinals. 

Indians on fire

It seemed for weeks (months?) like it was only a matter of time before the Indians started to put the hurt on the rest of the terrible AL Central and it’s now coming to fruition. The Indians brutalized the Tigers on Sunday, making it eight days straight of running roughshod over their divisional foes. It started with a win against the Twins last Sunday. Then came a three-game sweep of the White Sox and now a three-game sweep of the Tigers. The seven-game winning streak has pushed the AL Central lead for the Indians to an MLB-best eight games. 

What’s more, they aren’t just winning. They are crushing their competitors. In the past four games, the Indians have outscored their opponents 38-3. Yowza. Also of note on Sunday, Jose Ramirez hit his 23rd homer, tying him with Mike Trout and J.D. Martinez for the MLB lead. 

Cubs get swept in Cincy

The Cubs went to face the last-place Reds on the heels of taking two of three from the Dodgers and had a percentage-points lead in the NL Central. They leave with the baby bear tails between their legs after being swept in four games. The Cubs had leads in three of the four games and just couldn’t hold them. Some of that could be blamed on bullpen injuries (Carl Edwards Jr. and Brandon Morrow), but overall the Reds just flat outplayed the Cubs all series. 

Sunday was the biggest gut punch of them all. The Cubs held a 6-1 lead heading into the bottom of the seventh, only to allow a seven-spot to the Reds. Starter Mike Montgomery allowed a few baserunners and then Pedro Strop — who was having an amazing season before Sunday — was atrocious, giving up four runs (and two of Montgomery’s) on four hits and three walks in just 2/3 of an inning. 

The Reds, meantime, have won seven straight games. 

Sale dominates Mariners

Rough week for Seattle. They had to travel to Yankee Stadium and Fenway Park and they leave having lost six of their past seven games. On Sunday, they just didn’t have much of a chance. Red Sox lefty Chris Sale was on top of his game and when that happens, he’s basically unbeatable. He worked seven scoreless innings, striking out 13. It was Sale’s third game this season with at least 12 strikeouts, trailing only Max Scherzer’s four in 2018. 

The Red Sox move to 52-27 while the Mariners fall to a still-very-good 47-31. 

A’s make history

This is fun: 

Quick hits

  • The Braves put closer Arodys Vizcaino on the disabled list, retroactive to June 21. 
  • Cubs starter Yu Darvish will make a minor-league rehab start Monday for Class A South Bend (Ind.). 
  • The Rockies placed reliever Bryan Shaw on the disabled list because of a right calf strain. 

Live team updates

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