And That Happened: Monday's scores and highlights


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

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 . . .

Concerns over Jon Lester’s throwing ability much ado about nothing

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 20: Jon Lester #34 of the Chicago Cubs pitches against the Los Angeles Dodgers in game five of the National League Division Series at Dodger Stadium on October 20, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Josh Lefkowitz/Getty Images)
Josh Lefkowitz/Getty Images

Going into Thursday night’s NLCS Game 5, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts planned to have his team be annoying and distracting on the base paths for Cubs starter Jon Lester. Lester, you see, has a hard time making throws when he’s not pitching from the rubber, as seen here.

The Dodgers got an immediate opportunity to test their strategy, as Enrique Hernandez drew a four-pitch walk to start the game in the bottom of the first inning. Hernandez was taking leads between 15 and 25 feet, just taunting Lester to throw over to first base. Lester never did. And despite being given the luxury of such a large lead, Hernandez never attempted to steal second base.

It ended up costing the Dodgers a run. After Justin Turner struck out, Corey Seager lined a single to center field. Hernandez, large lead and all, should’ve been well on his way to third base, but he settled for staying at second base. Carlos Ruiz then flied out to right field on what should’ve been a sacrifice fly. Hernandez instead just advanced to third. Howie Kendrick grounded out to end the inning with the Dodgers having scored no runs.

In the bottom of the second inning with two outs, Joc Pederson dropped down a bunt, but Lester was able to field it and make a bounce-throw to Anthony Rizzo at first base to end the inning. Lester stared angrily into the Dodgers’ dugout as he walked off the field. If it were me, I’d have been glaring angrily not because the opposing team was attempting to exploit my weakness, but because the strategy is so poor.

The bunting would continue in the seventh inning as first baseman and noted power hitter Adrian Gonzalez tried to sneak a bunt past Lester on the right side of the infield. Second baseman Javier Baez was able to scoop it up and fire to first. Gonzalez was initially ruled safe, but the call was overturned upon replay review.

Lester countered the Dodgers’ bunting and greedy lead-taking by just pitching his game. He went seven innings, allowing just one run on five hits and a walk with six strikeouts on 108 pitches. The Cubs went on to win 8-4, taking a 3-2 lead in the NLCS. A worthy consideration for the National League Cy Young Award based on his regular season performance, Lester now has a 0.86 ERA in 21 innings spanning three starts this postseason. Turns out, the yips isn’t debilitating if you’re really good at your main job.

Cubs swat their way past the Dodgers 8-4 in NLCS Game 5

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 20:  Addison Russell #27 of the Chicago Cubs hits a two-run home run in the sixth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers in game five of the National League Division Series at Dodger Stadium on October 20, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

During the regular season, the Cubs had the second-best offense in baseball behind the Rockies, averaging 4.99 runs per game. It was the best after debiting the Rockies for playing in Coors Field. There was no way, after getting shut out in NLCS Games 2 and 3, that the offense was going to stay dormant much longer. They broke out for 10 runs in a Game 4 victory on Wednesday night. They scored eight more to beat the Dodgers 8-4 in Game 5, taking a 3-2 NLCS lead.

The Cubs took an early 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning when leadoff batter Dexter Fowler greeted Kenta Maeda with a single to center field. He’d come around to score on a one-out double by Anthony Rizzo who, like teammate Addison Russell, hadn’t hit much until breaking out in Game 4.

Starter Jon Lester was able to silence the Dodgers’ offense despite their strategy of attempting bunts and taking big leads, knowing Lester has trouble throwing when it’s not from the pitching rubber. They managed just one run, coming around in the fourth inning to knot the game at 1-1 when Howie Kendrick doubled, stole third base, and scored on an Adrian Gonzalez ground out.

Ultimately, Lester lasted seven innings, holding the Dodgers to five hits and a walk with six strikeouts on 108 pitches. Addison Russell allowed him to leave with a lead, slugging a two-run home run off of reliever Joe Blanton in the sixth to break the 1-1 tie.

The Cubs tacked on plenty of insurance in the top of the eighth against reliever Pedro Baez, which proved to be rather necessary. Russell reached on an error by Baez, Willson Contreras singled, and Albert Almora, Jr. moved both runners up a base on a sacrifice bunt. Dexter Fowler then hit a single to first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, but Baez didn’t break to cover first base. Gonzalez wasn’t able to beat Fowler to the bag, allowing the Cubs’ fourth run to score. Kris Bryant hit a weak grounder to third base and he was able to beat that out as well, pushing across another run in the process. Anthony Rizzo lined out, but Baez prolonged the inning by walking Ben Zobrist. Ross Stripling relieved Baez, but he served up a bases-clearing double to Javier Baez, making it an 8-1 ballgame. Jason Heyward, as has often been the case, popped up feebly, mercifully ending the inning with the Cubs having hung up a five-spot.

Pedro Strop took over for Lester in the bottom of the eighth. He gave up a double to Andrew Toles, then hit Justin Turner to begin the inning. Though Strop was able to induce a ground ball double play from Corey Seager, Carlos Ruiz followed up with a double to left-center to push in a run. Howie Kendrick flied out to send the game to the ninth.

Closer Aroldis Chapman took over with a six-run lead in the bottom of the ninth. He issued a leadoff walk to Gonzalez, then served up a single to Yasiel Puig. Joc Pederson grounded out, but Josh Reddick knocked in Gonzalez and moved Puig to third with a single to center. Toles plated Puig with a sacrifice fly, making it 8-4. Turner grounded out to shortstop to end the game, finalizing the victory for the Cubs.

The two clubs will take Friday off to travel back to Chicago. Game 6 will take place at Wrigley Field at 8:00 PM EDT. Clayton Kershaw will start for the Dodgers opposite the Cubs’ Kyle Hendricks.