And That Happened: Thursday's Scores and Highlights

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Smoltz.jpgYankees 13, Red Sox 6: Lord, deliver us from Red Sox-Yankees
baseball, because this game was positively interminable. Bob has the details here. And while
we’re petitioning the Lord here, let us ask Him to prevail upon one
John Smoltz (3.1 IP, 9 H, 8 ER) to hang up his spikes, because this is
just way too painful for a fan of 22 years to witness. And what’s with
you, Joba? What happened to that fast-working, strike-throwing ace we
saw four or five days ago? Seven walks? 108 pitches in five innings? Is
there some NESN/YES deal in place none of us are aware of that pays
everyone by the hour?

Phillies 3, Rockies 1: I can’t tell you how thrilled we NL East
fans are that the Phillies got Cliff Lee. Truly, we’re so, so happy for
Philadelphia. The figurative cherry on top of our giant ice cream
sundae of misery went seven innings, giving up one run and striking out

Angels 9, White Sox 5: Jon Danks gave up seven runs on nine hits
and three walks in 6 1/3 innings. “I got my butt kicked, that’s all you
can say.” Well in that case, let’s move on.

Rangers 6, Athletics 4: I gotta start reading more prospect
books and stuff in the spring. Even though I’ve noted Tommy Hunter’s
existence this season — even wrote about him once — I see “T. Hunter”
in the box score and my first thought is “When did Torii Hunter get
traded to Texas and why is he pitching?” My second thought is “I wonder
if Tab Hunter is still alive?” He was in “Damn Yankees,” you know, so
there’s a baseball connection. So I went and checked Wikipedia. Yep,
still kickin’ at 78. And though I knew Tab Hunter and Tony Perkins were
both gay, I had no idea that they were a thing for a while. Too bad it
didn’t work out for those two. Tony Perkins played Jimmy Piersall once,
you know. Basically everything’s about baseball. Oh, Tommy/Torii/Tab
pitched well (7 P, 3 H, 2 ER).

Nationals 12, Marlins 8: The Fish blow a 6-0 lead and wind up
getting slaughtered — and swept — by Washington. Ryan Zimmerman
walked, hit two singles, a triple, a homer and had three RBIs. Elijah
Dukes was 3-4 with four RBI.

Tigers 7, Orioles 3: Alex Avila — the son of the Tigers’
assistant GM — made his major league debut and hit a two-out RBI
double in the third inning. The only thing worse than working with the
boss’ kid is when the boss’ kid actually knows what he’s doing so you
can’t claim to have been given the shaft. Game story: “Porcello (10-7)
became just the second pitcher in franchise history with double digits
in wins at the age of 20 or younger, joining Dave Rozema, who had 11
victories before his 21st birthday.” Of course Rozema never won double digits again after his 15-win, 16-CG, age-20 season in 1977. Thanks, Ralph Houk!

Indians 2, Twins 1: That’s three earned runs in 11 innings
pitched since returning to the bigs for Fausto Carmona. That’s
deceiving, though, because he’s only struck out three guys, walked
seven and has given up ten hits in those innings. Oh, and his season
ERA is now at 6.66, so like that whole Satan/Goethe/Faust/Fausto
thing that everyone always talks about is just underscored now. Wait,
you mean I’m the only one who brings that up? Moving right along . . .
If I were a betting man, I’d bet that 2007 was just one of those
magical one-off years for Carmona, and that he’ll never touch that
level again. How many personnel decisions did Mark Shapiro make based
on the opposite assumption?

Dodgers 5, Braves 4: Three-run walkoff homer for Andre Ethier. I didn’t see it, so let’s hear from tHeMARksMiTh, who did:

It was signed, sealed, and delivered with Soriano coming in
for the ninth, and though it was only a two-run lead, it felt like it
was five. But he just didn’t have his command, and two pitches before
Ethier hit that home run I said, “I don’t know what’s wrong with
Soriano tonight, but I don’t have a good feeling about this.”

God damn it that one hurt.

Royals 8, Mariners 2: Bruce Chen wins the “scattered” award for the night, by allowing ten hits in 6.2 innings yet only giving up two runs.

Diamondbacks 11, Pirates 6: Wow, when the Pirates lose in extra
innings, they lose big. Even Dan Haren had an RBI in the 12th., and he
thought he had the night off. Pirate reliever Steven Jackson gave up
five runs on four hits in 12th, and was demoted to Triple-A
Indianapolis right after the game.

Padres 8, Mets 3: New York has lost six in a row in Petco Park.
Strange place to be having trouble. The Padres extended Bud Black’s
contract through 2010 after the game.

Video: Justin Turner gives Dodgers early Game 4 lead with two-run double

AP Photo/Julie Jacobson
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Clayton Kershaw has looked sharp on the mound and at the plate so far in this must-win NLDS Game 4 at New York’s Citi Field.

After no-hitting the Mets in the first two frames, Kershaw smacked a one-out single to left-center field in the top of third inning. Howie Kendrick followed soon after with a two-out single to left and then Adrian Gonzalez blooped a ball to shallow center that drove in Enrique Hernandez, who had reached earlier on a fielder’s choice grounder to second base.

That all set up this Justin Turner two-run double down the left field line that put Los Angeles up 3-0

That’s now four doubles this postseason for Turner, which is a Dodgers franchise record for the Division Series. Los Angeles is trying to force a Game 5.

Video: Hector Rondon closes it out, Cubs advance past Cardinals to NLCS

Hector Rondon
AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh

In the first postseason meeting between the two longtime archrivals, the Chicago Cubs prevailed over the St. Louis Cardinals.

Watch as Cubs closer Hector Rondon whiffs Cardinals outfielder Stephen Piscotty with a nasty 0-2 breaking ball to clinch a Division Series victory and send Wrigley Field into a frenzy (this is actually the first time in franchise history the Cubs have won a playoff series at home) …

Chicago dropped Game 1 but took three straight to finish off St. Louis. Next up is a matchup against either the Dodgers or Mets in the National League Championship Series.

Cardinals miss Martinez even more than Molina

Carlos Martinez

After taking Game 1 of the NLDS in an outstanding performance from John Lackey, the Cardinals dropped three straight to the Cubs by scores of 6-3, 8-6 and 6-4. It’s not difficult at all to imagine a healthy Carlos Martinez swinging one of those games.

Martinez wasn’t the Cardinals’ best starter this year, but he was the one who could shut a team down by himself, with little help from the defense needed. Martinez struck out 184 batters in 179 2/3 innings while going 14-7 with a 3.01 ERA. He left his next-to-last regular season start with a shoulder strain that was going to cost him the entirety of the postseason no matter how far the Cardinals advanced. It was a killer blow for a team whose offense had already been slowed by injuries.

October just came at the wrong time for the Cardinals, what with Martinez down, Yadier Molina nursing a significant thumb injury, Matt Holliday and Randal Grichuk far from 100 percent and Adam Wainwright still weeks short of potentially pulling off a Marcus Stroman-like return to the rotation.

It’s Molina absence Thursday and lack of effectiveness otherwise that serve as a popular explanation/excuse for the Cardinals’ loss. And the downgrade from him to Tony Cruz behind the plate was huge, even if Molina is no longer the hitter he was a couple of years back.

Martinez, though, had the potential to even up the NLDS just by doing what he did in the regular season. And had Martinez been in the rotation, the Cardinals wouldn’t have moved up Lackey to start Game 4 on three days’ rest. They’d have been the clear favorites in a Game 5 Jon Lester-Lackey rematch back in St. Louis, though we’ll never know how that might have worked out.