And That Happened: Tuesday's scores and highlights

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Rockies 5, Dodgers 4: If you encounter a team in the Dodgers’
position, lean them forward slightly and stand behind him or her. Make
a fist with one hand. Put your arms around the person and grasp your
fist with your other hand in the midline just below the ribs. Make a
quick, hard movement inward and upward in an attempt to assist the
person in dislodging the object that is obstructing the airway. This
maneuver should be repeated until the person is able to breathe or
loses consciousness.

Marlins 2, Mets 1: Yesterday, in the wake of the Johan Santana news, I wrote
“Rest now, Mets fans. There really is nothing else that can hurt you
this year.” Almost immediately thereafter readers wrote in with ways
this nightmare of a season could get worse. Things like a
Phillies-Yankees World Series or Jeff Francoeur getting a five year
deal. With each passing day the latter seems like a possibility. As one
of the only real major leaguers left on the roster (I use that term to
describe tenure more than merit), Frenchy will stick out. Especially if
he does things like hit a couple of doubles a night like he did here.
And no, it doesn’t matter that one of the doubles was a total misplay
on the part of the defense. It still counts!

Pirates 6, Phillies 4: At this rate does Brad Lidge even make
the postseason roster? Brought in to protect a one-run lead in the
ninth, Lidge blows his ninth save of the year and sees his ERA go up to
7.33. He had some help from Jayson Werth, who came in late in the game,
supposedly to provide defense, but who let a run score on an error.

Royals 6, Indians 2: Zack Greinke mows down the Indians with 15
strikeouts. With this outing, with Halladay’s recent swoon, and with
the guys with the high win totals posting considerably higher ERAs,
Greinke probably just catapulted himself back into “favorite” status
for the Cy Young award, didn’t he?

Reds 8, Brewers 6: The Reds blow a five run lead in the ninth,
but Joey Votto and Laynce Nix homer in the 13th to make it all better.
The dingers came off of former Red Todd Coffey. The Reds hitters had
the psychological advantage in that situation: they knew that Coffey
sucks, whereas Coffey probably still labors under delusions that he
does not. It’s called clarity of thought, people. Therein lies the
advantage.

Rangers 10, Yankees 9: Let’s hear it for all of that extra rest
Joba Chamberlain got (4 IP, 9 H, 7 ER). Let’s also hear it for a
valiant, yet utterly unsuccessful ninth inning rally by the Yankees.

Red Sox 6, White Sox 3: Chicago loses its third straight and
falls to .500. Jacoby Ellsbury steals his 55th base, breaking the tie
with Tommy Harper for the most steals in a single season in Red Sox
history.

Tigers 5, Angels 3: Detroit takes advantage of the Chicago loss,
extending their lead to four and a half games. John Lackey was beat up
for the second straight outing. Miguel Cabrera (3-5, 2B, HR, 2 RBI) is
on pace for having one of the quietest .340 35 HR 100 RBI seasons in
recent memory.

Cardinals 1, Astros 0: Wandy Rodriguez and Adam Wainwright throw
bullets all night — each only gave up three hits — but a quick single
from Brendan Ryan followed by a Pujols double in the first inning put
Rodriguez in a “hole” he could never get out of. This game took 2:10,
which is roughly the length of your average AL East inning.



Rays 7, Blue Jays 3: Carlos Pena continues his Dave Kingmanesque
season, hitting his 36th and 7th home run, while still maintaining that
.223 average. Wait, that’s not fair. Pena leads the league in walks and
he can play some defense, so Kingman’s not a good comp. How about his
Russell Branyan season?

Padres 2, Braves 1: Adam LaRoche knocked in pinch runner Reid
Gorecki with two outs in the ninth (after Gorecki stole second) to
stave off defeat, but then David Eckstein won it for the Pads with an
RBI double in the 12th. The Braves’ 1-2-3 hitters combined to go 0-16.

Nationals 15, Cubs 6: Huge nights for Josh Willingham (4-4, 2
HR, 6 RBI) and Elijah Dukes (2-3, 2B, HR 5 RBI) provide a
not-so-friendly welcome back for Carlos Zambrano, who was making his
first start since August 1st. Zambrano did hit a homer, though.

Twins 7, Orioles 6: Delmon Young goes 4-5 and hits a walkoff single in the ninth.

Mariners 4, Athletics 2: Ryan Langerhans, in as a defense
replacement (AHEM, Jayson Werth) wins the game with a 10th inning
homer. Even in the loss, Oakland Rookie Brett Anderson was sharp,
giving up one run on six hits with eight strikeouts in seven innings.

Giants 5, Diamondbacks 4: Travis Ishikawa’s three-run shot in a
tie game in the eighth inning proves to be the winner after the Giants
had their hearts ripped out by the Rockies the night before. At this
point, seeing someone come back from a killer loss to the Rockies like
this might be the only ray of sunshine in Dodgerland.

Astros vs. Dodgers is a match made in heaven

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A lot of people who work at the league office or who take paychecks from the Fox network probably wanted to see the Yankees and the Cubs in the World Series. They won’t admit it, of course, but I suspect that many did, as the ratings for a Cubs-Yankees Series might’ve broken modern records. If they are at all disappointed by the Astros and Dodgers winning the pennant, however, they should let that go because they’ve been gifted by a wonderful matchup from a purely baseball perspective. Indeed, it’s one of the best on-paper matchups we’ve had in the Fall Classic in many years.

Before the Dodgers went on their late-August, early-September swoon, this was the potential World Series pairing most folks who know a thing or two wanted to see. At least I did, and I don’t think I was alone. It was certainly the matchup which represented the teams with the two best regular season records and storylines at the time. While Cleveland ended up winning more games than Houston did, for the first time since 1970 we have a World Series pitting two 100-win teams against each other.

Like that Orioles-Reds series in 1970, which featured Johnny Bench, Pete Rose, Tony Perez, Jim Palmer, Brooks Robinson and a host of other All-Stars, the Dodgers-Astros provide us with an embarrassment of big names and future Hall of Famers. Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw and Astros DH/OF Carlos Beltran are destined for induction already. Astros ace Justin Verlander may very well join them, especially if his late 2017 surge is evidence of a second career peak. Houston second baseman Jose Altuve‘s first seven years and Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen‘s first eight are the stuff upon which Cooperstown resumes are made as well. People will be arguing Dodgers second baseman Chase Utley‘s Hall of Fame case for years once he retires.

Youth is served as well in this matchup, with each club featuring a handful of the game’s best young players to accompany their big name veteran stars.

The Dodgers will bat their no-doubt N.L. Rookie of the Year first baseman Cody Bellinger second or third in the lineup every game. 2016 Rookie of the Year Corey Seager, who sat out the NLCS with a bad back, is expected to be activated for the Series where he’ll be the Dodgers shortstop. The Astros are actually an old team on paper — Verlander, catcher Brian McCann, starter Charlie Morton, first baseman Yuli Gurriel, outfielder Josh Reddick and DH Evan Gattis are all over 30 while Beltran is 40 — but young players are essential to their attack as well. Shortstop Carlos Correa just turned 23 and he’s one of the game’s brightest stars. Third baseman Alex Bregman, also 23, made the play that may very well have broken the Yankees’ back during Saturday night’s pennant clincher. Age aside, the Astros are the product of a major, multi-year rebuild and many of their players are making their first national splash this postseason.

Beyond just the names and resumes, though, the Dodgers and Astros represent a fantastic strategic matchup. The Dodgers attack this postseason has featured admirable plate discipline, with third baseman Justin Turner, right fielder Yasiel Puig and center fielder Chris Taylor all letting balls out of the zone pass them by while abusing pitches left out over the plate. Astros pitchers not named Justin Verlander, however, have lived by getting the opposition to chase bad balls. Game one starter Dallas Keuchel did this by relying on his very fast sinker. Lance McCullers pitched well starting Game 4 of the ALCS and pitched spectacularly closing out the final four innings of Game 7 mostly by virtue of his curveball, which Yankees pitchers could simply not lay off. Indeed, his final 24 pitches of Game 7 were all curves, many of them low and away. Who will give in first in this series?

On the side of things, Dodgers relievers have made a living by pumping in strikes. Particularly strikes high in the zone from Jansen and Brandon Morrow. There may be no better fastball hitter in all of baseball than Jose Altuve, however, and the team as a whole was one of the best in the bigs in dealing with gas in the zone. This was a big reason why the Astros struck out less than any team in baseball this year while simultaneously boasting the best offense in the game. The Dodgers throw strikes. The Astros make you pay when you throw them strikes. Again, something’s gotta give.

Maybe the suits in New York wanted the Yankees and Cubs. But everyone else is getting exactly what we want: a matchup of the two best teams in the game. A matchup of strength against strength. What is, from a purely baseball perspective, the best World Series we could’ve possibly hoped for.