And That Happened: Thursday's scores and recaps

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Giants 5, Nationals 1: 300. My first memory of The Big Unit was watching him on TV as he pitched against the Braves on May 7, 1989.
He was gangley and ineffective that afternoon, going four innings and
giving up six runs and walking six guys on the second worst offense in
the National League. There was nothing about him that made me think the
guy would be in baseball in a year, let alone winning his 300th 20
years later. When he was traded to the Mariners the following month I
thought “they gave up Mark Langston for THAT guy?” Mark Langston was an
All-Star who could strike guys out. Why on Earth would Seattle give
that up for this tall drink of water? Shows you what I know.
Congratulations to Randy Johnson, one of the most unique and impressive
talents to ever play the game.

Yankees 8, Rangers 6: Is everyone cool with Hughes to the pen
and Wang to the rotation? Because I’m not sure I am, and I don’t even
much care about the Yankees. Wang gave up five runs on seven hits in
four and two-thirds. On the bright side he only gave up one home run
and struck out five, so this could just be rust which, according to
conventional wisdom, is particularly hard on sinkerballers. I don’t
know if the CW is true in this regard, but at least Hughes is around in
case Wang simply can’t find it again. Compensating for Wang was Melky
Cabrera, who provided late-game heroics once again, this time in the
form of a two-run homer in the eighth that proved to be the game

Red Sox 6, Tigers 3: Reports of Dontrelle Willis’ return to form
were slightly exaggerated. D-Train was cruising along fine until he was
derailed in the third, when he went HBP-walk-K-walk-walk-walk. Leyland
pulled him at that point — getting himself ejected during the pitching
change, which is a nice trick — and then Zach Miner let eveyone Willis
put on score and then some. To top off this craptacular series for
Detroit, Miguel Cabrera hurt his hamstring running the bases and had to
leave the game.

Marlins 4, Brewers 3: Josh Johnson does it all. He hits!
(three-run homer!) He pitches! (7.2 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 8K). He’ll slice
your onions, tomatoes, cucumbers and make mounds of Julienne fries!

Twins 11, Indians 3: After watching Fausto Carmona performance yesterday, Rob Neyer said
“every time Carmona pitches he just embarrasses himself and the rest of
the organization.” Ouch. True, but ouch. Jason Kubel played a big hand
in the embarrassment, smacking two three-run homers off of Carmona.

Angels 6, Blue Jays 5: Not that every recent Neyer subject plays to form. As Rob notes, Howie Kendrick has been terrible,
but after the Angels’ bullpen blew the lead in the eighth, Kendrick
dropped a bunt single when he noticed Jose Bautista playing behind the
bag a third, advanced to third on a Chone Figgins single, and then
scored on a grounder to second that may have frozen a lot of guys at
third base. He’s still playing terrible baseball overall, but at least
for one inning he did something right.

Pirates 11, Mets 6: Welcome Andrew McCutchen! The Pirates’ new
centerfielder went 2-4 with a walk, a stolen base, scored three runs
and drove in another. But really everyone hit for Pittsburgh. Ramon
Vazquez went 4 for 4 and Andy LaRoche had a couple of RBIs as well. The
Mets hit too, but Mike Pelfrey had the worst day of his life, and there
really wasn’t any recovering from the nine runs he had given up by the
time he left in the fourth.

Athletics 7, White Sox 0: Young Brett Anderson pitched a gem (7
IP, 6 H, 0 ER) and for once the A’s bats responded. Everyone had a hit
except Orlando Cabrera and Adam Kennedy. Even Aaron “.158/.200/.158”
Cunningham, who hit a homer. The other day Ozzie Guilled said “if we have Beckham here, we’re in trouble.” Well, he’s here, and he debuted with an 0-3.

Cardinals 3, Reds 1: Overheard during Chris Carpenter’s
2007-2008 surgery and rehab: “Chris Carpenter: pitcher. A man whose arm
is barely alive. Gentlemen, we can rebuild him. We have the technology.
We have the capability to build the world’s first bionic starting
pitcher. Chris Carpenter will be that man. Better than he was before.
Better, stronger, faster.” If you have a better explanation for 4-0
with a 0.71 ERA, I’d really like to hear it.

Rays 3, Royals 2: The Royals have dropped seven games in a row. The Rays are back to .500.

Rockies 10, Astros 3: It was going to happen eventually, so why
not last night: Wandy Rodriguez was shelled (5 IP, 10 H, 7 ER). Garrett
Atkins had a couple of homers for the Rockies, but really everyone got
in on the hit parade.

Giants 4, Nationals 1: Matt Cain gets a rain-shortened win in
the second, afterthoughty and rainy half of the doubleheader. I can
only assume that there were about six people there by the time the rain
started coming down in earnest.

Phillies 3, Dodgers 0: Cole Hamels spins the pitching performance of the night (CG, SHO, 5 H, 5K). The Phillies have won seven straight.

Cubs-Braves: Postponed. They’ll have to schedule a doubleheader
to make this one up, most likely. Doubleheaders can be hard on a
pitching staff. Helps to have an extra starter hanging around for those
things you know. Some guy — maybe a wily vet — who can just bear down
and give you some innings to save the rest of your staff. Too bad the
Braves don’t have anyone like that. AAAAARRRGGH!

There’s no one to blame in Yankees’ loss

Joe Girardi

You’re going to boo All-Star Brett Gardner for striking out against a Cy Young contender?

You’re going to bash Alex Rodriguez for going hitless in another postseason game, three years after his last one?

Maybe you’d prefer to put it all on Masahiro Tanaka for giving up two solo homers to a lineup full of 20-homer guys?

The truth is that the Yankees were supposed to lose tonight. They were facing an outstanding left-hander with their forever-lefty-heavy lineup, and they simply didn’t have anyone pitching like an ace to set themselves up nicely for a one-game, winner-take-all showdown. The 3-0 result… well, that’s how this was supposed to go down.

It didn’t necessarily mean it would; what fun would it be if the better team always won? And the Astros might not even be a better team than the Yankees. However, the Astros with Dallas Keuchel on the mound were certainly a better team than the Yankees with whoever they picked to throw.

I just don’t see where it’s worth putting any blame tonight. Joe Girardi? He could have started John Ryan Murphy over Brian McCann against the tough lefty, but he wasn’t willing to risk Tanaka losing his comfort zone by using a backup catcher.

The front office could have added more talent, perhaps outbidding the Blue Jays for David Price or the Royals for Johnny Cueto, and set themselves up better for the postseason. However, that would have cost them Luis Severino and/or Greg Bird, both of whom went on to play key roles as the Yankees secured the wild card. Would it really have been worth it? I don’t think so.

Tanaka gave the Yankees what they should have expected. Had Keuchel’s stuff been a little off on short rest, Tanaka’s performance would have kept the Yankees in the game.

Keuchel, though, was on his game from the first pitch. The Astros bullpen might have been a bit more vulnerable, and late at-bats from Gardner, Carlos Beltran, Rodriguez and McCann definitely left something to be desired. Still, on the whole, the lack of offense was quite a team effort.

The Yankees got beat by a better team tonight.  I’m not sure the Astros would have been better in Games 2-7 in a longer series, but they had everything in their favor in this one.

Keuchel, Astros cruise past Yankees in AL Wild Card Game

AP Photo/Kathy Willens

Dallas Keuchel faced the Yankees two times during the regular season and was fantastic in each outing, striking out 12 in a complete-game shutout on June 25 and whiffing nine batters over seven scoreless frames on August 25.

The 2015 Cy  Young Award candidate continued that trend in Tuesday night’s American League Wild Card Game, limiting the Yankees to three hits and one walk over six innings of scoreless ball as the Astros earned a 3-0 win and advanced to a best-of-five ALDS with the top-seeded Royals.

Keuchel was working on three days of rest but didn’t show very many signs of fatigue, whiffing seven and needing only 87 pitches to get through six. He sure looked like he could have gone an inning longer, but Astros manager A.J. Hinch decided to turn the game over to his bullpen and they added three more big zeroes to the scoreboard at a very loud then very boo-heavy Yankee Stadium. Tony Sipp worked around some early jitters to throw a scoreless seventh, Will Harris kept the Yankees off the bases entirely in a scoreless eighth, and closer Luke Gregerson went 1-2-3 in the bottom of the ninth.

Impending free agent outfielder Colby Rasmus provided the first burst of offense for the Astros in the top of the second inning with a leadoff homer against Masahiro Tanaka. And then deadline acquisition Carlos Gomez, who missed a bunch of time down the stretch with an intercostal strain, got to Tanaka for another solo shot in the top of the fourth. Houston scored its third run on a Jose Altuve RBI single in the top of the seventh.

This is a young, talented Astros team with an ace at the head of its rotation.

Kansas City could have a problem.