3D! Mets, Nats, Rangers dazzle on defense

Statcast™ shows the substance of Thursday's best plays

3D! Mets, Nats, Rangers dazzle on defense

There wasn't quite a full slate of games across the Majors on Thursday, but there still was no shortage of highlight-reel plays.

The day's crop included a couple of spectacular catches by rangy outfielders, some quick reflexes in the infield, an unorthodox home run and one of the most eye-popping 1-3-1 putouts you will ever see. Statcast™ was there to dissect each play with state-of-the-art tracking technology, and the findings are shown in the list below.

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Andrew Simon is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewSimonMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Torres, Murphy combine for unreal circus play

Torres, Murphy combine for unreal circus play

PHILADELPHIA -- Daniel Murphy must really, really have wanted to play an 11th inning, ending the 10th on Thursday with one of the most bizarre defensive plays of the season in the Mets' 9-5 victory over the Phillies in 13 frames.

Phillies outfielder Jeff Francoeur started it with a comebacker off pitcher Carlos Torres' foot; the ball ricocheted toward the hole between first and second base that Murphy was in the process of vacating. Murphy contorted his body to reach back and grab the ball, collected what balance he could, and flipped to a sprinting Torres as he fell to the ground. A split-second before Francoeur reached first base, Torres' foot hit the bag.

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Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Rendon ends Padres' rally with fantastic stop

Rendon ends Padres' rally with fantastic stop

WASHINGTON -- With the Nationals' collective back against the wall and Melvin Upton Jr. on third base, Anthony Rendon dove to his stomach.

In doing so, the third baseman robbed Jedd Gyorko of a hit, preserved a two-run lead and helped the Nationals to a 4-2 win over the Padres, ensuring Washington wouldn't lose ground in an already uphill chase for the National League East crown.

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Jacob Emert is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Venable defies gravity on Statcast catch

Venable defies gravity on Statcast catch

ARLINGTON -- Rangers left fielder Will Venable made his first start in five games with a right-hander on the mound for the Blue Jays and made a terrific defensive play in the second inning of a 4-1 win on Thursday afternoon at Globe Life Park.

The Blue Jays had Ben Revere on first with two outs when Cliff Pennington sliced a drive to left field. The ball was not hit deep, but Venable was playing shallow and had to race straight back to catch up. At the last moment, he made a diving catch going away from home plate. If he doesn't catch the ball, Revere would have scored easily.

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T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Miguel Sano nearly hits baseball through the dome

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Miguel Sano nearly hits baseball through the dome

The power of Miguel Sano has been well-documented since his call-up this season. Just two weeks ago, he attempted to hit one into the clouds -- bringing forth torrents of rain from the Minnesota sky. And during Thursday's Twins-Rays game, the 22-year-old unleashed another momentous blast (just listen to the crack of the bat in the above video). It looked as if it may have torn a hole through the dome/atmosphere, but luckily for Rays fans, the ball knocked off the B-ring catwalk for an RBI-double.

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Unusual suspects lead Cards' 5th straight win

Unusual suspects lead Cards' 5th straight win

PHOENIX -- The Cardinals completed a season sweep of the D-backs on Thursday night with a 5-3 victory punctuated by home runs from backup catcher Tony Cruz and fill-in outfielder Brandon Moss.

After sweeping a three-game home series against the D-backs in May, the Cardinals interrupted Arizona's attempt to keep climbing up the National League West standings by winning four straight at Chase Field. In doing so, the Cardinals, who have won five in a row on this road trip, maintained their 4 1/2-game lead in the NL Central.

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Jenifer Langosch and Jesse Sanchez are reporters for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Span headed to DL with left hip inflammation

Nationals center fielder could miss rest of the season

Span headed to DL with left hip inflammation

WASHINGTON -- Nationals center fielder Denard Span is headed to the 15-day disabled list with left hip inflammation, manager Matt Williams announced after Thursday's 4-2 win over the Padres. Span could miss the rest of the season.

The injury is related to the back and abdominal issues he has had all season. According to Williams, Span's body didn't react well after playing the previous two games.

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Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Richard Justice

Everything falling into place for the Mets

Everything falling into place for the Mets

One by one, the injured guys have returned to the Mets. And new talent has arrived, too, adding pop to a lineup that needed some. Changes here, changes there. Little by little, the Mets have been transformed.

Check them out now. The Mets are 18-6 in August, and they're seemingly sprinting toward their first playoff appearance in nine years. They're leading the Majors in runs this month (6.46 per game), and they have the rotation they hoped to have (fourth in the bigs with a 3.38 ERA and fourth with 694 strikeouts).

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Richard Justice is a columnist for MLB.com. Read his blog, Justice4U. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Manfred: More safety netting being discussed

Manfred: More safety netting being discussed

PHILADELPHIA -- Commissioner Rob Manfred said discussions regarding extended safety netting at Major League ballparks are ongoing and that he hopes to make a recommendation to owners during quarterly meetings in Dallas in November.

Manfred made his remarks before Thursday night's game at Citizens Bank Park, a 9-5 Mets win over the Phillies in 13 innings, as he completed his goal of visiting all 30 clubs after succeeding Bud Selig in January.

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Paul Hagen is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Mexico, Texas grab last 2 regional final spots

Mexico, Texas grab last 2 regional final spots

The final spots in the International and United States Championship games were up for grabs on Thursday at the Little League World Series.

Mexico was the first to punch its ticket, rolling past Venezuela to set up a clash with Japan on Saturday. That set the stage for a dramatic finale, in which a walkoff homer in extra innings lifted Texas past California and onto a U.S. championship matchup against Pennsylvania.

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Andrew Simon is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewSimonMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Rays trip Twins to gain ground in Wild Card race

Rays trip Twins to gain ground in Wild Card race

ST. PETERSBURG -- Joey Butler hit a game-tying single and scored on a passed ball to help the Rays snap a three-game losing streak with a 5-4 win over the Twins on Thursday night at Tropicana Field.

The Twins (65-62) entered the game tied with the Rangers for the second American League Wild Card spot and finished 6-4 on the road trip. By winning, the Rays (63-64) avoided a sweep while moving to within two games of the Twins in the Wild Card standings.

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Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Bucs top Marlins to keep pace in NL Central

Bucs top Marlins to keep pace in NL Central

MIAMI -- Pirates ace Gerrit Cole made an overdue return to the win column Thursday night at Marlins Park, throwing 7 1/3 innings and picking up his 15th victory as the Bucs beat the Marlins, 2-1.

It was Cole's first win, and his longest start, since July 26. He had been 0-3 with a 3.60 ERA in August, albeit with a pair of quality starts, before holding the Marlins to one run on five hits, while striking out four.

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Adam Berry is a reporter for MLB.com. Steve Wilaj is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MadBum stifles Cubs in graceful August exit

Giants' ace finishes month 5-0 after fanning 12 through six, allowing two hits and making acrobatic play

MadBum stifles Cubs in graceful August exit

SAN FRANCISCO -- Madison Bumgarner concluded his graceful waltz through August with his fanciest footwork of the month.

Bumgarner displayed his characteristic dominance Thursday with 12 strikeouts in six innings during the Giants' 9-1 victory over the Chicago Cubs. But San Francisco's ace most impressively maintained control of himself on foot, not on the mound.

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Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

2015 Postseason Schedule

Wild Card Games to begin playoffs on Oct. 6-7; World Series to start on Oct. 27

The 2015 postseason schedule will begin on Oct. 6, with the 111th Fall Classic to open on Oct. 27 in an American League ballpark, thanks to the AL's 6-3 victory in last month's All-Star Game presented by T-Mobile. The full postseason schedule can be found at MLB.com/postseason.

Following the scheduled regular-season finales on Sunday, Oct. 4, potentially necessary regular-season tiebreaker games would be telecast exclusively by ESPN the next day. Then the postseason will begin that Tuesday, with the AL Wild Card Game presented by Budweiser on ESPN. The National League equivalent is scheduled for Oct. 7, televised exclusively by TBS.

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Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com. Read and join other baseball fans on his MLB.com community blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Mets erase 5-run deficit, post 7th straight win

Mets erase 5-run deficit, post 7th straight win

PHILADELPHIA -- One of the longest-tenured Mets, Daniel Murphy is playing a significant role in their transformation from playoff hopefuls to division leaders.

Murphy hit a go-ahead two-run double and made a circus play on defense Thursday, leading the Mets to a 9-5, 13-inning win over the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. The Mets swept the four-game series in Philadelphia and have won seven in a row overall, grabbing their third winning streak of at least seven games this season.

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Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his Phillies blog The Zo Zone, follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cubs acquire Rodney in deal with Mariners

Rosscup optioned to Triple-A; Schlitter designated for assignment

Cubs acquire Rodney in deal with Mariners

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Cubs added another arm to the bullpen mix Thursday, acquiring right-hander Fernando Rodney from the Mariners for a player to be named or cash considerations. Rodney is expected to join the Cubs on Friday in Los Angeles.

"I was there for that year when he had the best in history," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said of the right-hander's 2012 season with the Rays, when he compiled an 0.60 ERA in 76 games with 48 saves. "He has the kind of stuff to get out both righties and lefties. I know he had trouble or struggled a bit this year, but I'm eager to see him in person and find out what's going on."

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Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

White Sox don 'interesting' '70s throwback uniforms

'I like 'em; business casual,' Ventura says of collared jerseys

White Sox don 'interesting' '70s throwback uniforms

CHICAGO -- When most teams wear throwback uniforms, the players barely notice anymore. The colors and designs may be different, but most of the replica uniforms are similar to what is worn today.

Then there's the throwback uniforms the White Sox wore for Thursday night's 4-2 win over the Mariners at U.S. Cellular Field. The duds, originally worn from 1976-81, grabbed the attention of the players as soon as they arrived at the ballpark.

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John Jackson is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

M. Upton puts on a show for Padres in OF

Center fielder makes three tremendous plays to help keep game close

M. Upton puts on a show for Padres in OF

WASHINGTON -- If you've seen Nationals Park, you know that it's not a symmetrical ballpark, which actually served Padres center fielder Melvin Upton Jr. well Thursday during a 4-2 loss in his pursuit of a long fly ball off the bat of Ryan Zimmerman.

With two on and two outs in the first inning, Zimmerman jumped on a pitch from Andrew Cashner, sending it toward where the wall meets in an apex at 402 feet, its furthest point from home plate.

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Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cueto effect: Ventura improves since KC trade

After Reds' ace joined Royals, righty has seen turnaround

Cueto effect: Ventura improves since KC trade

KANSAS CITY -- As Royals right-hander Yordano Ventura racked up a career-high 11 strikeouts in six scoreless innings during the Royals' 5-3 win over Baltimore on Thursday, the search was on as to what has triggered his sudden turnaround.

In late July, Ventura was struggling so badly that the Royals had optioned him to Triple-A. But then came the Jason Vargas injury, Ventura was recalled before he even left, and he's been a different pitcher since.

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Jeffrey Flanagan is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @FlannyMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Seager homers and triples in first two at-bats for OKC

Dodgers' No. 1 prospect hits his fourth home run in his past seven Triple-A games

Seager homers and triples in first two at-bats for OKC

With a potential callup in September on the horizon, Corey Seager is getting hot at the perfect time.

The Dodgers' No. 1 prospect (No. 2 overall) homered and tripled on Thursday in Triple-A Oklahoma City's 9-7 win over El Paso. He finished the game 2-for-4 with three runs scored and an RBI.

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Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Greinke cruises as Dodgers sweep Reds

Greinke cruises as Dodgers sweep Reds

CINCINNATI -- Zack Greinke fired a four-hitter for seven scoreless innings to outduel Anthony DeSclafani as the Dodgers edged the Reds on Thursday afternoon, 1-0, for their first series sweep at Great American Ball Park since 2008.

The Reds have lost 12 of 13, while the Dodgers had lost the first five games of the trip in Oakland and Houston before the three-game sweep. The win left the first-place Dodgers 2 1/2 games ahead of the Giants, who beat the Cubs, 9-1.

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Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word, follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast. Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Jocketty: Price's status safe for rest of season

Jocketty: Price's status safe for rest of season

CINCINNATI -- The Reds have lost 12 of their past 13 games, but manager Bryan Price will get to finish this season at the helm, as general manager Walt Jocketty and CEO Bob Castellini have no changes planned.

"There have been no discussions. We're not looking at anything else or anyone else," Jocketty said on Thursday.

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Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word, follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Ross goes 6 strong as Nationals top Padres

Ross goes 6 strong as Nationals top Padres

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals, who are chasing the Mets in the National League East race, got a much-needed win on Thursday night against the Padres. Right-hander Joe Ross pitched six strong innings in a 4-2 win at Nationals Park. Washington remains 6 1/2 games back of the Mets, who topped the Phillies.

The Nats pulled ahead during a two-run fifth, with Ryan Zimmerman supplying a go-ahead RBI single. Zimmerman added a solo homer in the seventh, and Jayson Werth went deep in the sixth.

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Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter and listen to his podcast. Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Nats' Taylor exits after crashing into wall

Nats center fielder suffers knee contusion attempting to make leaping catch

Nats' Taylor exits after crashing into wall

WASHINGTON -- Nationals center fielder Michael Taylor exited Thursday's 4-2 win against the Padres because of a right knee contusion. He is listed as day to day.

With two outs in the seventh inning and the Nats leading, 3-1, Melvin Upton Jr. tripled to center field while Taylor crashed into the wall attempting to make the catch. Taylor hurt his right knee, and he was on the ground for a few minutes before he was helped off the field.

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Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Alvarez's solo blast reaches rare territory

Pirates first baseman's 443-foot homer shows off his power

Alvarez's solo blast reaches rare territory

MIAMI -- Marlins Park can be a frustrating place for even the most powerful hitters. The lime-green wall in center field is 418 feet away, but it often feels like a mile. All week, the Pirates watched balls get swallowed up by the vast outfield expanse.

But Pedro Alvarez made the park's sizable dimensions look small in the fourth inning Thursday night, blasting a 443-foot solo shot off Marlins lefty Justin Nicolino that wound up being the deciding run in the Pirates' 2-1 win.

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Adam Berry is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Rodon keeps rolling as Sox top Mariners

Rodon keeps rolling as Sox top Mariners

CHICAGO -- Carlos Rodon continued his strong stretch through August, allowing two runs across six-plus innings as the White Sox defeated the Mariners, 4-2, on Thursday night at U.S. Cellular Field. Adam Eaton scored three runs and reached base four times while Avisail Garcia knocked him in twice.

Rodon struck out five and gave up just three hits, and didn't give up a run until the seventh inning when Franklin Gutierrez connected on his ninth home run of the season. Rodon has had fourth straight quality starts with a 1.61 ERA in that stretch.

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Greg Garno is an associate reporter for MLB.com. John Jackson is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Phil Rogers

Nellie has found a home and taking a liking to it

Nellie has found a home and taking a liking to it

CHICAGO -- Given the difficulty of hitting a baseball, it helps to be something of an optimist.

Nelson Cruz, who was traded three times before his 27th birthday, learned long ago about the beauty of the glass half full. So here he is at 35, continuing to raise his level with the Mariners, despite them being his third team in three years.

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Phil Rogers is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Sano belts RBI double off catwalk at Tropicana Field

Sano belts RBI double off catwalk at Tropicana Field

ST. PETERBURG -- Twins rookie slugger Miguel Sano hit one of the more unusual doubles of the season in Thursday night's 5-4 loss to the Rays, as he crushed a high drive off left-hander Drew Smyly that hit the "B" ring at Tropicana Field and remained in play for an RBI double.

With two out in the third and Brian Dozier at first base, Sano smacked an 0-1 fastball to left-center that would have been a homer, but instead hit the catwalk. Dozier scored from first on the play, while Sano held at second base.

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Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Relay race: Cubs thwart inside-the-park HR

Russell's strong throw home bails out Denorfia, who thought Aoki's ball went foul on lunging attempt

Relay race: Cubs thwart inside-the-park HR

SAN FRANCISCO -- Cubs manager Joe Maddon was able to find a bright spot after watching the Giants' Madison Bumgarner strike out 12 over six innings in Chicago's 9-1 loss on Thursday. In the Giants' seventh, the Cubs were able to thwart Nori Aoki, who got a little too adventurous on the bases.

With one out and the Giants leading, 5-1, Aoki lofted a ball to left field, which deflected off Chris Denorfia's glove and into foul territory.

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Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Yunel hit on hand with pitch; X-rays negative

Nationals third baseman has some swelling and is considered day to day

Yunel hit on hand with pitch; X-rays negative

WASHINGTON -- Nationals third baseman Yunel Escobar exited Thursday's 4-2 win against the Padres because of a right hand contusion. X-rays were negative.

"He has some swelling. He is day to day. We'll see how he is," manager Matt Williams said.

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Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.