And That Happened: Monday's scores and highlights

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Rockies 6, Giants 4: Walkoff grand slam in the 14th for Ryan
Spilborghs after the Rockies started their half of the inning down 4-1.
Colorado is starting to smell like a team of destiny. At any rate,
they’ve won seven of eight and are now four games ahead of the Giants for the NL wild card.

Phillies 6, Mets 2: If I can’t give John Smoltz full credit for
pitching against the Padres on Sunday, I sure as heck can’t give Cliff
Lee full credit for pitching against, well, whatever it was the team in
the orange, blue and white was forced to throw out there yesterday. I
never thought I’d say this, but not having Jeff Francoeur in the lineup
really hurt. Of course, Cliff Lee continues to be basically ridiculous
(7 IP, 6 H, 0 ER, 5K), so the Mets probably could have thrown out the
1986 lineup and they wouldn’t have done much. Ryan Howard drove in
five, which led to this game story note: “The home run also pushed
Howard past 100 RBIs, giving him four straight seasons with at least 30
homers and 100 RBIs. The only other Phillies player to accomplish that
was Hall of Famer Chuck Klein from 1929-32.” I would have bet my
children that Schmidt had done it, but between his relatively
pedestrian 1978 season, the strike in 1981, and some low OBP guys
hitting in front of him, and the opportunities just never presented
themselves.

Red Sox 12, White Sox 8: We may have a winner for the most
misleading line score of the year in the form of Jose Contreras’ one
earned run in 2.2 innings pitched. Here’s Contreras’ third inning:
Single, out, out (ok so far), walk, HBP, error by Contreras himself,
walk, wild pitch, home run. None of the six runs that scored that
inning were “earned” because of the error. Except it was Jose
Contreras’ error, and it was surrounded with about the worst possible
pitching imaginable. He more than earned those runs. He went out,
tracked them down with dogs, hunted them to the ends of the Earth,
killed them, and drove home with them strapped to the fender of his car
with little tags on their ears. As for the Red Sox, a win is a win, but
Clay Buchholz is as inefficient as a Caloric dishwasher. He averages
something like 97 pitches but only a shade more than five innings a
start. This one was a Buchholz special (4.2 IP, 6 H, 7 ER, 3 BB, 3K, 92
pitches). All in all it was a 3:42 game, and thanks to Contreras and
Buchholz, it may very well have been the ugliest game of the season.

Brewers 7, Nationals 1: A weird 4:30 start time. What’s the
story, here? It’s a getaway day so I see why you don’t go with the
night game, but why not then make it an old-timey businessman’s special
and start the thing a 1PM? I guess they figure they can get people
leaving work a bit early, but I’ve always found it easier to just never
come back after lunch than it is to slip out the door at 4PM. Then
again, I’ve worked at many, many places in my life so perhaps my
example isn’t the best one to emulate.

Rays 12, Blue Jays 7: Roy Halladay’s worst start of the year (6
IP, 12 H, 8 R) shoots his ERA over 3.00 for the first time since early
May. As for the Rays, they keep a close watch on this heart of mine.
They keep their eyes wide open all the time. They keep the ends out for
the tie that bind. Because they’re mine, they’ve won seven of nine.

OK, I’m really sorry about that one. That was bad even for me.

Twins 2, Orioles 1: Scott Baker allows one run on four hits in
seven and beats Chris Tillman. The two Minnesota runs came off of a
wild pitch (following a triple) and a sacrifice fly. Kind of a passive
aggressive game.

Indians 10, Royals 6: Luis Valbuena hit a three-run shot off of
Joakim Soria — who was apparently called in to get the nearly unheard
of two-inning save — in the eighth. Big game for Travis Hafner (3-4,
2B, HR, 4 RBI).

Tigers 10, Angels 7: Miguel Cabrera homered and drove in five.
Justin Verlander had a 10-run lead in the sixth inning when he started
to get hit. Leyland: “He lost his tunnel vision. You got a 10-run lead,
you got to go out there and pitch like it’s a 1-0 lead . . . You can’t
worry about what the score was.” So much for “pitching to the score.”
Umpire Tim Welke left the game in the bottom of the fourth after
getting hit in the chest by a foul tip from Vladimir Guerrero. I didn’t
see it, but given that it’s Vlad we’re talking about, the ball was
probably on Welke’s chest protector already when he swung.

Mariners 3, Athletics 1: Griffey hit a homer with his mom in the
stands. “She doesn’t get to see too many games live. She’s going to
take credit for that one.” Actually, she could technically take credit
for all 625 of your home runs, young man. Not that she’ll ever get any
thanks. And to think she carried you around in her body for nine months
. . . but don’t mind me, I’m just your mother . . . a call would be
nice sometime too, and let me tell you what I think about those boys
you’ve been gallivanting around town with . . .

The Cubs are in desperate need of relief

Associated Press
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Tonight in Chicago Yu Darvish of the Dodgers will face off against Kyle Hendricks of the Cubs. If this were Game 1, we’d have a lot to say about the Dodgers’ trade deadline pickup and the Cubs’ budding ace. If this series continues on the way it’s been going, however, each of them will be footnotes because it has been all about the bullpens.

The Cubs, you may have heard, are having tremendous problems with relief pitching. Both their own and with the opposition’s. Cubs relievers have a 7.03 ERA this postseason, and have allowed six runs on eight hits and have walked six batters in seven innings of work. And no, the relief struggles aren’t just a matter of Joe Maddon pushing the wrong buttons (even though, yeah, he has pushed the wrong buttons).

Maddon pushed Wade Davis for 44 pitches in Game 5 of the NLDS, limiting his availability in Games 1 and 2. That pushing is a result of a lack of relief depth on the Cubs. Brian Duensing, Pedro Strop and Carl Edwards Jr. all have talent and all have had their moments, but none of them are the sort of relievers we have come to see in the past few postseasons. The guys who, when your starter tosses 80 pitches in four innings like Jon Lester did the other night, can be relied upon to shut down the opposition for three and a half more until your lights-out closer can get the four-out save.

In contrast, the Dodgers bullpen has been dominant, tossing eight scoreless innings. Indeed, Dodgers relievers have tossed eight almost perfect innings, allowing zero hits and zero walks while striking out nine Cubs batters. The only imperfection came when Kenley Jansen hit Anthony Rizzo in Game 2. That’s it. Compare this to the past couple of postseasons where the only truly reliable arm down there was Jansen, and in which Dodgers managers have had to rely on Clayton Kershaw to come on in relief. That has not been a temptation at all as the revamped L.A. pen, featuring newcomers Brandon Morrow and Tony Watson. Suffice it to say, Joe Blanton is not missed.

Which brings us back to Kyle Hendricks. He has pitched twice this postseason, pitching seven shutout innings in Game 1 of the NLDS but getting touched for four runs on nine hits while allowing a couple of dingers in Game 5. If the good Hendricks shows up, Maddon will be able to ride him until late in the game in which a now-rested Davis and maybe either Strop or Edwards can close things out in conventional fashion, returning this series to competitiveness. If the bad Hendricks does, he’ll have to do what he did in that NLDS Game 5, using multiple relievers and, perhaps, a repurposed starter in relief while grinding Davis into dust again. That was lucky to work there and doing it without Davis didn’t work in Game 2 on Sunday night.

So it all falls to Hendricks. The Dodgers have shown how soft the underbelly of the Cubs pen truly is. If they get to Hendricks early and get into that pen, you have to like L.A’s chances, not just in this game, but for the rest of the series, as bullpen wear-and-tear builds up quickly. It’s pretty simple: Hendricks has to give the Cubs some innings tonight. There is no other option available.

Just ask Joe Maddon. He’s tried.