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The Monday Takeaway

Going into Monday's series opener, the Mariners and Orioles were a combined one game above .500—the Mariners were 66-65 and the Orioles had clawed their way to .500 on the strength of four straight wins. Normally this would not qualify as a high-profile matchup in the middle of August, but with the way the AL Wild Card race is currently densely packed, that means that the game at Camden Yards was a very important one.

The first inning was scoreless, and that would be the last time either team would fail to put a number on the scoreboard until the eighth inning, so it was clear that both squads brought their bats to the ballpark. One player who was particularly loud with his bat was Ben Gamel. Monday night may not have been a monster night for Gamel, as he only went 2-for-4, but the two hits were both huge knocks for the red-bearded lefty.

The first was a three-run dinger that put the Mariners ahead in the fourth, and the second was a two-run double that tied the game in the sixth.

While Gamel and the rest of the Mariners were knocking Chris Tillman around, the Orioles were still doing their level best to make sure that Marco Gonzales and the rest of Seattle’s pitching staff had an unpleasant evening. The O’s ran Gonzales from the game after just 3 1/3 innings of work. Craig Gentry singled with the bases loaded to tie the game, and then Tim Beckham drove in a run the hard way, which ended the night for Gonzales.

Later on, Adam Jones picked a great time to hit his 250th career home run. The dinger put the home team up by two runs, which was a nice lead when you consider what Gamel ended up doing in the inning after this happened.

If you’re going to get beat at the plate by the Orioles, you have to figure that Adam Jones, Manny Machado, or Jonathan Schoop would be one of the likely suspects to get you. Another one you could add to that list is Chris Davis, and he provided the double that eventually put Baltimore ahead for good in this one.

Seattle had a golden opportunity to go ahead in the eighth inning, which included a chance for Gamel to add to what had been a pretty good night for himself at the plate. However, Darren O’Day forced him to hit an innocuous fly ball to right field, and then O’Day struck out Mike Zunino to snuff out Seattle’s scoring chance.

The O’s were up 7-6 at that point, and that’s how it ended. Baltimore has now won five straight and in this wacky race for the AL Wild Card, that’s enough to make you dangerous. However, just like the original Wacky Races, all of the teams involved are just one twist and turn away from calamity.

Quick Hits

The Royals may have lost to the Rockies last Thursday, but that must feel like the glory days compared to the current streak that they’re on right now. Brandon Moss hit a homer in the second inning of that game, and that 's the last time a Royals player crossed home plate. The Royals didn’t cross home plate on Monday night against the Rays, and now they’ve reached extremely dubious territory.

As if that weren’t bad enough, Tampa Bay really took them out to the woodshed in this one. It was a terrible night at the ballpark for the Royals, and the Rays capped it off with Logan Morrison showing everybody what you should do when a 93 mph fastball comes floating right down the middle of the plate.

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If you tuned into the Marlins-Nationals game expecting Giancarlo Stanton to continue marching toward the rarefied air of 60-plus home runs in a single season, then you may have come away from his 0-for-3 effort on Monday a bit disappointed.

That definitely won’t be the norm for Stanton going forward, and the Marlins probably won’t lose by 10 runs a game with any sort of regularity either. What appears to be regular is the fact that Max Scherzer continues to be very good at this whole “pitching” thing. He returned from the disabled list on Monday night and picked up as if he’d never been injured.

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You have to give the Braves pitching staff a little bit of credit. Yeah, they may have lost for the 12th time in 14 tries against the Phillies (!!!) but they managed to keep Rhys Hoskins inside the ballpark on Monday night. Instead, Hoskins had to “settle” for just hitting a go-ahead double that put Philadelphia ahead for good.

Hoskins is now hitting .309/.413/.824 with a .515 ISO in his first 19 games as a major leaguer. Those last two numbers are in no way sustainable, but I’d imagine that everybody in Philadelphia is just enjoying the ride right now and I don’t blame them at all.

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The Indians' avatar on Twitter is a picture of Jose Ramirez, where his hair is replaced by the fire emoji. It might be a joke about Ramirez’s interesting choices in hair style, but on Monday night it was an accurate representation of the man’s exploits with the bat. Cleveland beat the Yankees 6-2 and Ramirez’s two dingers played a big role in putting Cleveland over the top.

He also flashed the glove a bit as well, and was generally all over the place like the promotion for a pop star’s new album.

Meanwhile, Corey Kluber succeeded in shutting down the Yankees for the most part over eight innings of work. Aside from a solo shot and an RBI single, the Yankees only mustered one other hit on the night.

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The first two starts of Andrew Heaney’s 2017 campaign could only be described as underwhelming, giving up nine earned runs over 10 innings. So that made Heaney’s performance against the A’s on Monday a very pleasant surprise, as he went six innings and only gave up two hits and one run while striking out 10 Oakland batters.

Oakland had a chance to add another run in the eighth inning and get a rally going, but Ben Revere made a running catch on a tough fly ball to end those hopes for the A’s and keep the Angels firmly entrenched in the Wild Card race.

Defensive Play of the Day

In the third inning of their eventual win over the Blue Jays, Mookie Betts made a spectacular catch at the wall to rob Kendrys Morales of what would have surely been extra bases.

On any normal night, Mookie’s catch would’ve been a cinch for the award. Instead, Kevin Pillar gave the Canadians his best Bobby Orr-from-1970 impression with an astonishing diving catch that robbed Mookie of both of extra bases and this extremely prestigious award.

What to Watch on Tuesday

The Astros and Rangers are set to renew their Lone Star State rivalry tonight, but they’ll be doing so outside of the Lone Star State. The two teams came to an agreement to play this week’s series at Tropicana Field in Tampa Bay. Depending on how the city of Houston is looking later this week, there’s a decent chance that the Astros may be staying in Florida for their weekend series against the Mets as well.

If you’re wondering why the Astros and Rangers didn’t just swap series with each other, that depends on who you ask. If you ask the folks in the Dallas metro area, then you’ll hear that they didn’t want to go on what would have been a 13-day road trip in the middle of September, in addition to other concerns. If you ask the Astros, the Rangers were being greedy and wanted to take three Astros home games off of Houston’s hands while keeping the home series to themselves.

Either way, it’s definitely an unfortunate situation as both teams try to make the best of an extremely bad hand that’s been dealt to them. It’s also a reminder that when it comes down to it, Mother Nature is truly in charge and we’re all just playing to her whims.