And That Happened: Thursday's scores and highlights

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Nationals 11, Astros 10: Everyone will be writing this morning
about how Joel Hanrahan got the win in this game despite no longer
playing for the Nats and how Nyjer Morgan scored the winning run even
though he was playing for the Pirates when the game started. Even
trippier, though, is that (a) both men were succeeded by
vice-presidents named Johnson who were southern Democrats and former
senators; and (b) Hanrahan had a secretary named Morgan, and Morgan had
a secretary named Hanrahan!

Astros 9, Nationals 4: While this one wasn’t a continued game
like the previous on, Jose Cruz somehow drove in the winning run and
Bob Knepper got the win. Strange, really.

Indians 10, White Sox 8: They’re replaying this on STO as I
write this, but looking at this box score makes me want to run away
screaming. A 3:43 nine-inning game, the winning team’s starting
pitcher gave up eight runs on eleven hits in four and a third, and a
game story in which the manager says that he thought it was OK for the
closer to pitch a four-out save because, hey, he’s had four days off?
Nah, you can keep this one.

Yankees 6, Twins 4: The Alfredo Aceves-as-starter gambit didn’t
go quite according to plan (3.1 IP, 4 H, 4 R), but a win’s a win.
Actually, against the Twins this year, a win’s a win a win a win a win
a win a win a win.

Cardinals 5, Brewers 1: I suppose you could blame the Brewers’
bullpen for this — they gave up five runs in the eighth — but Joel
Pineiro pretty much had Milwaukee handcuffed (CG, 3 H, 1 R, 5 K, 100
pitches). The Cards are now 4-2 over the first six games of a ten game
road trip, and will enter the break after four against the Cubbies.

Rays 3, Blue Jays 2: How did David Price bounce back from his
awful start against the Rangers last week to beat Roy Halladay and the
Jays last night?

“Like every team, the Rays compile lots of data on opposing batters
and share it with pitchers before games. Maddon asked pitching coach
Jim Hickey not to go over the reports with Price. “We have so much
information, and it’s good. It’s good to utilize it and we do utilize
it,” he said. “But there are certain moments when you really want to
walk away from it and just permit your instincts” to take over.

That’s probably smart and all, but didn’t Price go to Vanderbilt?
They’re supposed to be pretty smart down at that place, so you’d think
he could handle the scouting reports too.

Phillies 9, Reds 6: Inside the park homerun for Chase Utley, but then again, you know how I feel about those.

Royals 8, Red Sox 6: David DeJesus hit a go-ahead two-run homer
in the sixth inning, pulling the Royals back from a four run deficit.
The loss pulls the Sox down into a first place tie with the Yankees.

Dodgers 11, Mets 2: The Dodgers rap out 17 hits and take 2 of 3
from the Mets, who have lost 10 of 13. 10 of 13. How’d they ever win
three? It’s a miracle!

By the way, here’s a great example of why I don’t get enough sleep
on nights I write these things. Looking at the Dodgers-Mets box score,
I notice that Manny Ramirez has a bunch of twos. Two hits, at bats,
runs, RBIs, walks, etc. I immediately think, “hmm, maybe I can say
something funny about that.” The first thing that pops into my mind is
Doublemint gum, which is almost immediately followed by some vague
memory of Mel Brooks telling a set of twins to “chew your gum” in one
of his movies. Wondering if there was any worthy context around that, I
search for “Mel Brooks” and “chew your gum.” I didn’t find what I was
looking for, but I did find the “Memorable Quotes” page for “Blazing Saddles.”
Forgetting that I have recaps to write, I read every single quote on
there, laughing my head off because I had forgotten just how funny
“Blazing Saddles” is. By the time I’m done I’m (a) wondering how many
protests and carefully-crafted damage control statements the release of
a movie half as explosive as “Blazing Saddles” would cause today; (b)
missing Madeline Kahn an awful, awful lot (It’s twue! It’s twue!); and
(c) many, many long minutes have passed and I’ve got nothing else to
write about the Dodgers-Mets game. So I punt, go with that vague
allusion to the “Bull Durham” quote, because really, that’s about 95%
of my material these days, and I move on.

Multiply that by 15 games a night, five nights a week, and you see where my sleep deficit comes from. Moving right along:

Giants 9, Padres 3: Lincecum continued to be ridiculous in the
way he’s been ridiculous lately into the seventh inning, but then he
ran into trouble. Relatively speaking, of course, because to him,
giving up three runs is like most pitchers getting touched for, like,
six. His scoreless innings streak ends at 29.

Marlins 14, Diamondbacks 7: This looks like the NL version of that Cleveland game.

Rockies 7, Braves 6: Some of the pixie dust comes off of Tommy
Hanson, as he gives up four runs on six hits in five innings. Still, he
stood to be the winner until Pete Moylan and Mike Gonzales got into the
game. I feel obligated to acknowledge the fact that Jeff Francoeur had
a good game, going 3-4 with a double and a couple of RBI. This in no
way constitutes an endorsement, however. Garrett Atkins, who has had a
hell of a time this year, came through with a two-out, two-run,
pinch-hit double in the eighth inning that proved to be the winner.

Mariners 3, Rangers 1: How interesting and unexpected would it
be if the Mariners sweep Texas and the AL West goes into the break as a
log-jam of a three-way race? It’s been a couple of years since that
division has been really exciting, but when it is — like it was back
in 2002, say — it’s always fun for those of us back east to wake up in
the morning and see what crazy stuff happened while we were sleeping.

The Cubs’ NLCS finish was one for the history books

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 22:  Chicago Cubs fans hold a sign after the Chicago Cubs defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-0 in game six of the National League Championship Series to advance to the World Series against the Cleveland Indians at Wrigley Field on October 22, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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The Cubs obliterated the Dodgers in Game 6 of the NLCS, riding nine shutout innings to their first pennant win since 1945. Here’s what you should know about their historic finish:

  • By virtue of the Cubs’ 71-year World Series drought, Jon Lester and Javier Baez became the club’s first and only postseason MVPs in franchise history. The World Series MVP award was first distributed in 1955, while the NLCS MVP awards have been issued since 1977.
  • Lester and Baez are also the first co-MVPs of the Championship Series since the 1990 Reds celebrated left-hander Randy Myers and right-hander Rob “Nasty Boy” Dibble following the team’s ninth pennant win (per’s Jenifer Langosch).
  • Anthony Rizzo’s fifth inning solo shot in Game 6 tied him with Miguel Cabrera, Alex Gonzalez, and Kyle Schwarber for the most postseason homers hit at Wrigley Field, with three (per Comcast SportsNet’s Christopher Kamka).
  • Rizzo and Willson Contreras’ home runs were the first Clayton Kershaw had given up in the playoffs since Game 4 of the 2015 NLDS. The twin blasts also accounted for a fifth of the total home runs Kershaw had given up in 2016.
  • Clayton Kershaw’s Game Score of 33 was not only the lowest the left-hander had put up since the start of the 2015 season, but the lowest the Cubs had seen from an opposing pitcher in the postseason since 1989. During Game 4 of the 1989 NLCS, Giants’ right-hander Scott Garrelts pitched 4 2/3 innings with eight hits, four runs, and two homers en route to a 6-4 loss and a 33 Game Score.
  • By contrast, Kyle Hendricks’ Game Score of 86 was the third-highest among Cubs’ postseason starters, ranking just below Jake Arrieta’s 11-strikeout complete game during the 2015 wild card tiebreaker and Orval Overall’s three-hitter in Game 5 of the 1908 World Series.
  • The last major league season to feature an ERA leader on the Cubs’ roster was 1945, also the last season in which the Cubs rode to the World Series. In 2016, the MLB ERA leader is Game 6 winner Kyle Hendricks (2.13 ERA); in ‘45, it was left-hander Ray Prim (2.40 ERA), who capped a dominant year with a loss against the Tigers in Game 4 of the World Series and blown save in Game 6.
  • Not to be overlooked in the lefty’s gem on Saturday night: Hendricks and Aroldis Chapman combined to face the minimum number of batters, at 27. According to MLB Stat of the Day, only the 1956 Yankees had also faced the minimum batters in a postseason game, though they did it with just a bit more panache.
  • With Kris Bryant, Willson Contreras, Albert Almora Jr., Javier Baez, and Addison Russell penciled into the lineup, the Cubs became the first MLB team to utilize five starters under 25 years old to clinch the NLCS (also via MLB Stat of the Day).
  • If you want to talk postseason drought, the Cubs-Indians World Series will set a precedent for combined championship-less streaks, at 174 years between the two clubs (per ESPN Stats & Info).
  • Speaking of unpleasant streaks, there’s this: with the Dodgers’ loss in the NLCS, they’ve now gone to the postseason four consecutive times without participating in a World Series showdown. According to ESPN’s Buster Olney, that’s a first in major league history.


The Cubs clinch World Series berth with NLCS Game 6 win

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 22:  The Chicago Cubs celebrate defeating the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-0 in game six of the National League Championship Series to advance to the World Series against the Cleveland Indians at Wrigley Field on October 22, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
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After 71 years, the Cubs are headed back to the Fall Classic.

The dominance with which Clayton Kershaw attacked the Cubs in Game 2 of the NLCS was nonexistent in Game 6 as the Dodgers’ ace loaded the bases to start the first inning and scattered five extra bases and five runs over five frames. By the time Dave Roberts pulled his starter in the sixth inning, Kershaw was sitting on a Game Score of 33, the lowest he’s mustered since the start of the 2015 season. Only one of his strikes came via curveball, and whether he was having difficulty locating his off-speed stuff or felt more confident with the fastball-slider combo, it was the fewest curves he’d seen land for strikes all year (per David Adler).

Where the Dodgers were able to give Kershaw the edge in Game 2, they found themselves powerless against opposing hurler Kyle Hendricks. Hendricks turned out 7 1/3 scoreless frames with two hits and six strikeouts, preserving the Cubs’ second shutout of the postseason and the first since they bested the Giants in Game 1 of the NLDS. After his 1-0 loss to the Dodgers early in the NLCS, seeing the MLB ERA leader turn out a gem was a relief for the Cubs, especially one as spectacular as an 88-pitch two-hitter.

With Hendricks effectively stymieing the Dodgers’ best attempts to get on base, the Cubs played to their strengths at the plate. Kris Bryant and Ben Zobrist cleared the bases in the first inning for a two-run lead, followed by a Dexter Fowler RBI single in the second. Willson Contreras came through in the fourth inning for the Cubs, lifting an 87 m.p.h. slider to left field for his first home run of October, while Anthony Rizzo hit his second homer of the postseason on a 1-1 fastball in the fifth.

Neither bullpen allowed a single run from the sixth inning onward. Dodgers’ right-hander Kenley Jansen took the ball from Kershaw in the sixth, scattering four strikeouts over three innings and denying the Cubs so much as a single baserunner through the end of the game. Aroldis Chapman, meanwhile, issued just one walk in 1 1/3 scoreless frames, inducing a Yasiel Puig double play to clinch the Cubs’ 17th franchise pennant.

With the win, the Cubs will face off against the Indians in Game 1 of the World Series on Tuesday at 8 PM EDT. And, in case you needed a reminder: