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MLB — Everything you need to know on Hall of Fame announcement day

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The results of the second stage of the annual Hall of Fame voting process will be announced Tuesday evening with the Baseball Writers’ Association selections, and we can safely say not to expect any stunning news along the lines of what happened in December with the Today’s Game Era committee.

In other words, we’re not going to see a reunion of the 2005 White Sox with the elections of Jon Garland and Freddy Garcia.

The committee’s election of Harold Baines, however, does raise an interesting question: How much does the BBWAA vote even matter if a 16-person committee is simply going to override those results in the future?

Take Fred McGriff. He’s on the BBWAA ballot for the final time. He’s not going to get in. Not to worry; in a few years he seems like a surefire committee choice. He’s like Baines — a one-dimensional slugger, highly respected, played a long time — except even better at that one dimension. McGriff hit .284 with 493 home runs and an OPS+ of 134. Baines hit .289 with 384 home runs and an OPS+ of 121. McGriff’s 52.6 WAR dwarfs Baines’ 38.7. He’s fared much better in BBWAA voting than Baines ever did.

The same can be said of some of the other borderline candidates on the ballot, such as Larry Walker, Scott Rolen and Jeff Kent. Todd Helton and Andy Pettitte are on for the first time. They aren’t strong candidates based on traditional BBWAA standards, but compared to Baines, Lee Smith and Jack Morris — elected the past two years by the special committees — they look pretty good. We can debate their merits, but in the long run they’re probably all getting in. The BBWAA vote only (potentially) expedites the process.

That isn’t to suggest that everyone better than Jack Morris or Harold Baines should get in. Heck, there are 21 players on this ballot with a higher career WAR than those two. What remains to be seen is how the soft selections of Morris, Baines and Smith might start influencing the BBWAA vote.

Anyway, here are some key things to look for with Tuesday’s results. All references to voting totals are courtesy of the great work Ryan Thibodaux does with his Hall of Fame vote tracker.

Will Mariano Rivera become the first player elected unanimously?

Among those who obsess about Hall of Fame balloting, there is a small subset who obsess over this twist of history: No Hall of Famer has received 100 percent of the vote. Somehow, 23 people didn’t vote for Willie Mays. Nine people didn’t vote for Hank Aaron. Imagine having a Hall of Fame ballot and not voting for Willie Mays or Hank Aaron. Twenty didn’t vote for Ted Williams, but, hey, a lot of writers despised the man. In the first election in 1936, 11 writers didn’t vote for Babe Ruth. The rules might not have been entirely clear: Ruth had just retired the previous year. Still, Ruth received just 215 votes out of 226 ballots.

So, as Joe Posnanski related in a recent column, the issue of unanimity became a thing right from the beginning.

Tom Seaver came close. He was named on 425 of 430 ballots in 1992. Three writers sent in a blank ballot, protesting that Pete Rose was not on the ballot. One writer had just gotten out of open-heart surgery and simply missed checking off Seaver’s name. The final non-vote, as Posnanski writes, came from a retired writer named Deane McGowan, who apparently refused to vote for any player on his first ballot. And you think Baseball Twitter is cranky.

Ken Griffey Jr. set the record with 99.3 percent of the vote in 2016. Three writers didn’t vote for him. We don’t know who they were since voters don’t have to reveal their ballots. Maybe somebody sent in a blank ballot. Maybe somebody refused to vote for anybody who played in the steroid era. Maybe somebody decided, “If Babe Ruth wasn’t no unanimous, nobody should be unanimous.”

So it goes. As did Griffey, Rivera has received 100 percent of the publicly revealed ballots. He’s 180-for-180 so far. My guess: He won’t get 100 percent. Somebody will enforce the Ruth rule. Maybe somebody feels no reliever deserves to be enshrined. Maybe somebody, knowing Rivera will get elected, will use his or her 10 spots on the ballot for other candidates. But Rivera has a chance to end the silly 100 percent stigma.

Does Edgar Martinez get in on his final ballot?

It would be a little awkward if Baines is giving a speech in July and Martinez isn’t. After all, the Designated Hitter of the Year award isn’t named after Baines. Fortunately, it looks like Martinez will get elected. He’s received 90.8 percent of the public ballots, compared to 76.3 percent last year, when he finished at 70.4 percent. So even with an expected decline in the percentage he receives from the private ballots, he looks in good shape. Book those hotel rooms now, Mariners fans.

Does Roy Halladay get in on his first ballot?

Halladay is polling at a surprising 94.1 percent — not that he’s undeserving, but he’s not a slam dunk by career WAR (64.3) or wins (203), standards that BBWAA voters have employed in the past. Compare him to Mike Mussina and Curt Schilling:

Halladay: 64.3 WAR, 203-105, 3.38 ERA, 131 ERA+
Mussina: 83.0 WAR, 270-153, 3.68 ERA, 123 ERA+
Schilling: 79.6 WAR, 216-146, 3.46 ERA, 127 ERA+

Mussina is on the ballot for the sixth time and received just 20.3 percent of the vote on his first ballot. Schilling is on for the seventh time and received 38.8 percent of the vote his first time. There are reasons to like Halladay over Mussina and Schilling — he won two Cy Young Awards and finished second two other times, and his seven-year peak is highest of the three (50.4 WAR, 48.7 for Schilling, 44.6 for Mussina) — but it seems Halladay is being viewed much differently than those two. Perhaps his unfortunate death in a plane crash is helping his vote total.

Anyway, like Martinez, his total will surely drop in the private ballot, but he needs just 59.5 percent on the remaining ballots to clear 75 percent.

Speaking of Mussina and Schilling, how will they do?

Mussina is inching closer, but it looks like he’ll fall just short. He’s at 82.2 percent of the public vote and would need 69.2 percent of the remaining ballots. He received just 46.7 percent of the private ballots last year, so he will need a significant increase in that area. Still, he’s trending in the right direction and looks primed for 2019. If Halladay gets in, that helps Mussina since it clears a strong candidate off the ballot and there aren’t any strong starting pitchers hitting the ballot in upcoming years. (Tim Hudson and Mark Buehrle are the best.)

Schilling, meanwhile, continues to fall behind Mussina — even though as recently as 2016 he was well ahead (52.3 percent to 43.0 percent). Schilling is polling at 74.1 percent, which is better than the 60 percent he received on public ballots a year ago, so it’s difficult to know how much his various contentious statements on Twitter and elsewhere have hurt his vote total.

Will Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens get any closer?

We know the Hall of Fame’s stance on these two. Joe Morgan’s letter in November 2017 — he’s the Hall’s vice chairman and on the board of directors — made that clear. Issued from a Hall of Fame email address, Morgan implored voters not to vote for known steroid users. “We hope the day never comes when known steroid users are voted into the Hall of Fame. They cheated. Steroid users don’t belong here,” he wrote.

Of course, there’s the almost certain likelihood that there are steroid users already in the Hall of Fame, and recent elections have voted in players strongly suspected of steroid use. The Hall doesn’t want Bonds or Clemens in, and it could simply remove the pair from the ballot (not to mention Manny Ramirez, who actually failed tests for performance-enhancing drugs), but hasn’t had the audacity to do that.

Anyway, Bonds and Clemens won’t get in, at least not this year. They’re both polling at 73 percent, which is an increase from last year’s public ballots, when they were at 64 percent. Like Schilling, this is their seventh year on the ballot and time is running out, with just three years remaining after this vote and likely not enough momentum in the private ballots (which tend to be more anti-steroids).

What happens after that if they don’t get elected? Who knows. The Hall of Fame could simply choose not to put Bonds and Clemens on the committee ballot. Or it could put them on with the implicit knowledge they won’t get elected. We certainly know one board member who won’t vote for them.

Will Andy Pettitte stay on the ballot?

A player needs 5 percent of the vote to remain on the ballot the following year. Pettitte is at 6.5 percent. Like Jorge Posada a couple of years ago, he’s in danger of getting the boot after one year. (Even Bernie Williams lasted two years.) Pettitte has a stronger case than those two former teammates, however, and a similar — but much stronger — case than Morris. The strongest part of Pettitte’s case might be his postseason record: He went 19-11 with a 3.81 ERA over 44 starts, including 23 starts in which he allowed two runs or fewer.

Still, he’s not one of the 10 best players on this ballot, and his 3.85 career ERA is a tough hill to climb to get in. He also admitted to a one-time use of PEDs, although I haven’t seen anybody reference that as a reason they didn’t vote for him.

How close will Larry Walker get?

Walker is polling at 67 percent of the public ballots compared to 37.5 percent last year. That’s good! Except this is Walker’s ninth year on the ballot. That’s bad! It feels too late to make a run. Tim Raines, for example, was up to 69.8 percent in his ninth year and Martinez was even closer last year. Even if Walker becomes the guy everyone pushes next year, he’s probably going to have to finish with at least 65 percent of the vote this year, and it seems unlikely his private support will keep him at that level.

Even if he falls short next year, there’s always the Today’s Game Era committee. After all, Baines, who lasted only five years on the ballot, topped out at just 6.1 percent on the BBWAA vote.

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Ortiz enlists ex-police commish to probe shooting

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Former Red Sox slugger David Ortiz has hired a firm headed by ex-Boston police commissioner Ed Davis to look into the details surrounding the June shooting of Ortiz in the Dominican Republic.

Davis was hired a few weeks after Ortiz returned to Boston, Joe Baerlein, a spokesperson for Ortiz and principal owner of The Edward Davis Co., told ABC News.

Baerlein said his company is “monitoring and analyzing information from various sources in the Dominican Republic around the motives for the shooting of Ortiz on June 9th,” as well as providing personal security to Ortiz and his family.

“He’s damn interested in finding out what really happened,” Baerlein told The Boston Globe.

Ortiz, 43, was shot in the back by a gunman while sitting and talking with a friend at a nightclub in Santo Domingo the night of June 9. He was flown back to Boston aboard a jet sent by the Red Sox the next day and spent seven weeks in a hospital, undergoing three surgeries for life-threatening injuries.

Ortiz has not spoken to Dominican authorities since the night of the incident, Baerlein told the Globe, and also has not spoken with any U.S. authorities about the shooting.

Dominican authorities initially said that Ortiz had been the target of a hit. But almost three weeks later, police held a news conference to say their investigation led them to believe Ortiz was not the intended target and that it was a case of mistaken identity. More than a dozen people have been arrested in connection with the case.

“David has been carefully monitoring the government and police investigation,” Baerlein told the Globe. “He had no basis for a long time to challenge their theory of mistaken identity. However, as new facts continue to come up, it lends some optimism that there may be some other conclusions that are drawn before it’s over about why David was shot.”

Ortiz, who was released from the hospital at the end of July, posted to Instagram on Sunday a photo of himself and daughter Alex as he dropped her off at college.



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The Braves — baseball’s hottest team — can’t be counted out in the playoffs

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The narrative all season in the National League has essentially been the Los Angeles Dodgers and everybody else. It’s hard to fight back against that statement, as the Dodgers own the largest run differential in the majors — only the Houston Astros are close, and no NL team is within 100 runs of their margin.

Consider the Atlanta Braves, however, a team that might be starting to peak at the right time. The Braves went into Citi Field this weekend to face a red-hot New York Mets team that plays very well at home and had just swept the red-hot Cleveland Indians. The Braves swept the series to run their winning streak to eight games, and the three wins were each impressive in their own way:

Friday: Atlanta won 2-1 in 14 innings, outlasting Jacob deGrom, as Mike Foltynewicz allowed two hits in seven innings and the bullpen tossed seven scoreless.

Saturday: After Atlanta jumped out to a 4-0 lead, the Mets rallied and took the lead on Pete Alonso‘s three-run blast in the fifth. But the Braves rallied with two runs in the eighth and two more in the ninth to win 9-5.

Sunday: Josh Donaldson hit two home runs and Dallas Keuchel tossed seven scoreless innings — three double plays helped — in another 2-1 victory.

The Braves have won or tied nine consecutive series, including winning five of six games from the Mets and taking two of three from the Dodgers, Twins, Nationals and Phillies. They’ve been beating good teams to maintain their six-game lead over the Nationals in the NL East — and that’s important.

The weird thing about the Braves is that while their bullpen has drawn a lot of criticism all season, they’ve actually exceeded their Pythagorean record: The Braves are 80-52, as compared to an expected record based on run differential of 74-58. That six-win difference is the biggest positive spread in the majors. Often when a team exceeds its expected record, it is due to a super clutch bullpen that helps a team win close games. Indeed, the Braves are 25-13 in one-run games and 11-5 in extra innings, but the bullpen has generally been average over the course of the season, ranking 12th in the majors in win probability added.

The hope, of course, is the bullpen is improving. Until the Mets scored a run off Mark Melancon in the ninth inning on Sunday, the pen had thrown 25 consecutive scoreless innings. While Melancon, Chris Martin and Shane Greene struggled initially after coming over at the trade deadline, all three have settled in and pitched better of late:

Melancon: Four saves and a win in his past five outings.

Martin: Five straight scoreless outings with just two hits allowed.

Greene: Six straight scoreless outings with three hits allowed, nine K’s and no walks.

Then consider the two main holdovers:

Luke Jackson: One run in 11 innings in August with 15 K’s and four walks.

Sean Newcomb: The hard-throwing lefty had a 1-2-3 eighth on Sunday, and he has a 3.16 ERA in relief.

That’s five pretty good relievers, and only Jackson was in the Atlanta bullpen at the start of the season. Given that the Dodgers have their own concerns in relief — Kenley Jansen has six blown saves and eight home runs allowed in 49⅔ innings — one can reasonably project the Braves to have the better bullpen in the postseason. (As always, small sample size production will trump all projections.)

Another reason to like the Braves now more than two months ago is that Donaldson has quietly given them a third big bat alongside Freddie Freeman and Ronald Acuna Jr. After a slow start (perhaps rusty after injury problems in 2018), Donaldson is up to 32 home runs and hitting .265/.379/.538. Since the middle of June, he is hitting .294/.409/.658. He has been bashing like an MVP candidate for more than two months now as the Braves’ answer to Cody Bellinger.

Then there’s Keuchel, who had his best start with the Braves on Sunday. He is 5-5 with a 3.78 ERA, and the top four of Mike Soroka, Julio Teheran, Max Fried and Keuchel give Atlanta four above-average starters. A big reason the Braves’ run differential is mediocre is because for much of the season the back of the rotation was horrible — Foltynewicz, Kevin Gausman, Kyle Wright and Bryse Wilson have a combined 6.33 ERA in 39 starts. Those guys won’t be starting in October (although Foltynewicz has a chance to pitch himself back into the Braves’ postseason plans).

The major takeaway: I think the Braves are better than their plus-78 run differential suggests. They’ll get Dansby Swanson back soon, and Nick Markakis, Ender Inciarte, Brian McCann and Austin Riley also are all on the injured list, so this win streak is a credit to the team’s depth off the bench.

Hard to believe, but the Braves haven’t won a playoff series since the 2001 NL Division Series. Since then, they’ve lost seven straight division series and a wild-card game. This might be the team to finally break that streak.

Nationals sweep Cubs: The other big sweep this weekend was the Nats going to Wrigley Field and winning 9-3, 7-2 and 7-5 in 11 innings on Sunday. The Cubs were 44-19 at home entering the series.

Sunday’s game was fun as Kyle Schwarber tied the game with a two-run homer in the eighth off Fernando Rodney, Cubs closer Craig Kimbrel worked out of a two-on jam in the ninth and then the Nationals finally scored twice in the 11th off Tyler Chatwood, with Howie Kendrick and Trea Turner starting the rally with a single and double.

Anthony Rendon drove in the second run of the inning with his fourth hit of the game.

Possible MVP?

“I’ll make a case for him right now, yeah,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. “MVP, Gold Glove. My man, Anthony Rendon.”

Rendon probably has some ground to make up, but a late surge could put him in the running:

Rendon: .329/.407/.617, 29 HRs, 104 RBIs, 94 runs, 5.2/5.6 WAR

Christian Yelich: .329/.421/.678, 41 HRs, 89 RBIs, 91 runs, 6.0/6.5 WAR

Bellinger: .312/.409/.655, 42 HRs, 100 RBIs, 101 runs, 7.9/6.8 WAR

Rendon has hit .348/.444/.652 with runners in scoring position, but get this: Entering Sunday, he was hitting .408/.452/.855 with nine home runs in 76 at-bats in high-leverage situations — the biggest, most clutch moments of games. Only thing is, Yelich also has been great in the clutch. (Rendon ranks third in OPS in medium- and high-leverage moments, but Yelich ranks fourth.)

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Anthony Rendon crushes a ball for a solo home run in the top of the 4th inning to give the Nationals a 1-0 lead over the Cubs.

Anyway, Rendon is having another terrific season. Maybe he is only a strong third in the MVP race (and Braves supporters will bring up Freeman and Acuna), but don’t ignore Rendon’s clutch numbers the rest of the season.

Indians lose Ramirez, then lose a tough game: Jose Ramirez fractured his right hamate bone on a swing in Saturday’s win over the Royals, and he will undergo surgery on Monday. The timetable to return from such a procedure varies, but Joey Gallo had a similar surgery on July 23, and he is expected to be out until mid-September. Ramirez likely will be lost for the rest of the regular season, and even if he does make a miraculous comeback, hitters often take longer to regain their power after these injuries.

It’s a devastating injury for the club, as Cleveland had rediscovered its mojo in part because Ramirez had bounced back from a dreadful start. As late as June 16, his OPS remained under .600. Since then, he had hit .313/.359/.654 with a 16 home runs and 51 RBIs in 56 games. Rookie Yu-Cheng Chang, with four career plate appearances, started at third on Sunday.

In that game, the Indians tied the Royals with four runs in the bottom of the ninth — Francisco Lindor homered off Ian Kennedy, and with two outs Franmil Reyes blasted a towering, game-tying three-run homer. It looked like Cleveland would find a miracle win and sweep the Royals, but Ryan O’Hearn homered in the top of the 10th, and the Royals won 9-8.

“There’s two ways to look at it,” Indians manager Terry Francona told reporters in Cleveland. “You can feel sorry for yourself, which probably doesn’t end well. Or you can choose to fight back and feel like this is our time to shine. And I would choose No. 2. I’m aware that it got more difficult. We lost a great player.”

The Indians have been resilient all season, fighting through injuries to the starting rotation and an 11½-game deficit back in June to get back in the American League Central and wild-card races. Now, they’re back to 3½ games behind the Twins, with 12 of their next 16 games on the road.

Quick weekend thoughts: Good to see Felix Hernandez put up a respectable effort in front of the Seattle fans on Saturday (two runs on two home runs in 5⅔ innings against the Blue Jays). I don’t know how much he has left, but it would be nice if his final starts in a Mariners uniform aren’t embarrassingly awful. … Stunning stat of the year: Mariners catchers are hitting .302 with 35 home runs. … Somebody who has been awful is Trevor Bauer, who gave up eight runs in three innings to the Pirates on Sunday. After yielding nine runs two starts ago, he has a 7.62 ERA with the Reds and his season ERA is now 4.34. For all the hype given Bauer’s analytical approach to pitching, he has had an ERA under 4.00 just once in his career. … One of the Twins sluggers who has flown under the radar is Miguel Sano, who has 26 home runs in 292 at-bats. The strikeout rate remains insane (35%), but he is mashing home runs and has played well enough at third base. … It seems like we’ve skipped over Michael Brantley in this space this season, but he is riding an 18-game hitting streak in which he is batting .458/.519/.750. For all the attention the Yankees’ DJ LeMahieu has received for his MVP-type season (non-Mike Trout division), Brantley has had the same type of season to little acclaim.

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The Braves — baseball’s hottest team — can’t be counted out in the playoffs

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The narrative all season in the National League has essentially been the Dodgers and everybody else. It’s hard to fight back against that statement as the Dodgers own the largest run differential in the majors — only the Astros are close and no NL team is within 100 runs of their margin.

Consider the Atlanta Braves, however, a team that may be starting to peak at the right time. The Braves went into Citi Field this weekend to face a red-hot Mets team that plays very well at home and had just swept the red-hot Indians. The Braves swept the series to run their winning streak to eight games, and the three wins were each impressive in their own way:

Friday: Atlanta won 2-1 in 14 innings, outlasting Jacob deGrom as Mike Foltynewicz allowed two hits in seven innings and the bullpen tossed seven scoreless.

Saturday: After Atlanta jumped out to a 4-0 lead, the Mets rallied and took the lead on Pete Alonso‘s three-run blast in the fifth, but the Braves rallied with two runs in the eighth and two more in the ninth to win 9-5.

Sunday: Josh Donaldson hit two home runs and Dallas Keuchel tossed seven scoreless innings — three double plays helped — in another 2-1 victory.

The Braves have won or tied nine consecutive series, including winning five of six games from the Mets and taking two of three from the Dodgers, Twins, Nationals and Phillies. They’ve been beating good teams to maintain their six-game lead over the Nationals in the NL East — and that’s important.

The weird thing about the Braves is that while their bullpen has drawn a lot of criticism all season, they’ve actually exceeded their Pythagorean record: The Braves are 80-52 compared to an expected record based on run differential of 74-58. That six-win difference is the biggest positive spread in the majors. Often when a team exceeds its expected record it’s due to a super clutch bullpen that helps a team win close games. Indeed, the Braves are 25-13 in one-run games and 11-5 in extra innings, but the bullpen has generally been average over the course of the season, ranking 12th in the majors in win probability added.

The hope, of course, is the bullpen is improving. Until the Mets scored a run off Mark Melancon in the ninth inning on Sunday, the pen had thrown 25 consecutive scoreless innings. While Melancon, Chris Martin and Shane Greene struggled initially after coming over at the trade deadline, all three have settled in and pitched better of late:

Melancon: Four saves and a win in his past five outings.

Martin: Five straight scoreless outings with just two hits allowed.

Greene: Six straight scoreless outings with three hits allowed, nine K’s and no walks.

Then consider the two main holdovers:

Luke Jackson: One run in 11 innings in August with 15 K’s and four walks.

Sean Newcomb: The hard-throwing lefty had a 1-2-3 eighth on Sunday and has a 3.16 ERA in relief.

That’s five pretty good relievers and only Jackson was in the Atlanta bullpen at the start of the season. Given that the Dodgers have their own concerns in relief — Kenley Jansen has six blown saves and eight home runs allowed in 49⅔ innings — one can reasonably project the Braves to have the better bullpen in the postseason. (As always, small sample size production will trump all projections.)

Another reason to like the Braves now more than two months ago is that Donaldson has quietly given them a third big bat alongside Freddie Freeman and Ronald Acuna Jr. After a slow start (perhaps rusty after injury problems in 2018), Donaldson is up to 32 home runs and hitting .265/.379/.538. Since the middle of June, he’s hitting .294/.409/.658. He’s been bashing like an MVP candidate for more than two months now, the Braves’ answer to Cody Bellinger.

Then there’s Keuchel, who had his best start with the Braves on Sunday. He’s 5-5 with a 3.78 ERA and the top four of Mike Soroka, Julio Teheran, Max Fried and Keuchel give Atlanta four above-average starters. A big reason the Braves’ run differential is mediocre is for much of the season the back of the rotation was horrible — Foltynewicz, Kevin Gausman, Kyle Wright and Bryse Wilson have a combined 6.33 ERA in 39 starts. Those guys won’t be starting in October (although Foltynewicz has a chance to pitch himself back into the Braves’ postseason plans).

The major takeaway: I think the Braves are better than their plus-78 run differential suggests. They’ll get Dansby Swanson back soon and Nick Markakis, Ender Inciarte, Brian McCann and Austin Riley are also all on the IL, so this win streak is a credit to the team’s depth off the bench.

Hard to believe, but the Braves haven’t won a playoff series since the 2001 NL Division Series. Since then, they’ve lost seven straight division series and a wild-card game. This may be the team to finally break that streak.

Nationals sweep Cubs: The other big sweep this weekend was the Nats going to Wrigley and winning 9-3, 7-2 and 7-5 in 11 innings on Sunday. The Cubs were 44-19 at home entering the series.

Sunday’s game was fun as Kyle Schwarber tied the game with a two-run homer in the eighth off Fernando Rodney, Cubs closer Craig Kimbrel worked out of a two-on jam in the ninth and then the Nationals finally scored twice in the 11th off Tyler Chatwood, with Howie Kendrick and Trea Turner starting the rally with a single and double. Anthony Rendon drove in the second run of the inning with his fourth hit of the game.

Possible MVP? “I’ll make a case for him right now, yeah,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. “MVP, Gold Glove. My man, Anthony Rendon.”

Rendon probably has some ground to make up, but a late surge could put him in the running:

Rendon: .329/.407/.617, 29 HRs, 104 RBIs, 94 runs, 5.2/5.6 WAR

Christian Yelich: .329/.421/.678, 41 HRs, 89 RBIs, 91 runs, 6.0/6.5 WAR

Bellinger: .312/.409/.655, 42 HRs, 100 RBIs, 101 runs, 7.9/6.8 WAR

Rendon has hit .348/.444/.652 with runners in scoring position, but get this: Entering Sunday he was hitting .408/.452/.855 with nine home runs in 76 at-bats in high-leverage situations — the biggest, most clutch moments of games. Only thing is Yelich also has been great in the clutch (Rendon ranks third in OPS in medium- and high-leverage moments, but Yelich ranks fourth).

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0:23

Anthony Rendon crushes a ball for a solo home run in the top of the 4th inning to give the Nationals a 1-0 lead over the Cubs.

Anyway, Rendon is having another terrific season. Maybe he’s only a strong third in the MVP race (and Braves supporters will bring up Freeman and Acuna), but don’t ignore Rendon’s clutch numbers the rest of the season.

Indians lose Ramirez, then lose a tough game: Jose Ramirez fractured his right hamate bone on a swing in Saturday’s win over the Royals and will undergo surgery on Monday. The timetable to return from such a procedure varies, but Joey Gallo had a similar surgery on July 23 and is expected to be out until mid-September. Ramirez will likely be lost for the rest of the regular season and even if he does make a miraculous comeback, hitters often take longer to regain their power after these injuries.

It’s a devastating injury for the club as Cleveland had rediscovered its mojo in part because Ramirez had bounced back from a dreadful start. As late as June 16, his OPS remained under .600. Since then he’d hit .313/.359/.654 with a 16 home runs and 51 RBIs in 56 games. Rookie Yu-Cheng Chang, with four career plate appearances, started at third on Sunday.

In that game, the Indians tied the Royals with four runs in the bottom of the ninth — Francisco Lindor homered off Ian Kennedy and with two outs Franmil Reyes blasted a towering, game-tying three-run homer. It looked like Cleveland would find a miracle win and sweep the Royals, but Ryan O’Hearn homered in the top of the 10th and the Royals won 9-8.

“There’s two ways to look at it,” Terry Francona told reporters in Cleveland. “You can feel sorry for yourself, which probably doesn’t end well. Or you can choose to fight back and feel like this is our time to shine. And I would choose No. 2. I’m aware that it got more difficult. We lost a great player.”

The Indians have been resilient all season, fighting through injuries to the starting rotation and an 11½-game deficit back in June to get back in the AL Central and wild-card races. Now they’re back to 3½ games behind the Twins with 12 of their next 16 games on the road.

Quick weekend thoughts: Good to see Felix Hernandez put up a respectable effort in front of the Seattle fans on Saturday (two runs on two home runs in 5⅔ innings against the Blue Jays). I don’t know how much he has left, but it would be nice if his final starts in a Mariners uniform aren’t embarrassingly awful. … Stunning stat of the year: Mariners catchers are hitting .302 with 35 home runs. … Somebody who has been awful is Trevor Bauer, who gave up eight runs in three innings to the Pirates on Sunday. After giving up nine runs two starts ago, he has a 7.62 ERA with the Reds and his season ERA is now 4.34. For all the hype given Bauer’s analytical approach to pitching, he’s had an ERA under 4.00 just once in his career. … One of the Twins sluggers who has flown under the radar is Miguel Sano, who has 26 home runs in 292 at-bats. The strikeout rate remains insane (35%), but he’s mashing home runs and has played well enough at third base. … It seems like we’ve skipped over Michael Brantley in this space this season, but he’s riding an 18-game hitting streak in which he’s batting .458/.519/.750. For all the attention the Yankees’ DJ LeMahieu has received for his MVP-type season (non-Mike Trout division), Brantley has had the same type of season to little acclaim.

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