And That Happened: Thursday's scores and highlights

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White Sox 9, Red Sox 5: Who needs Billy Wagner when you have
Nick Green? The shortstop pitches two shutout innings. That’s a huge
increase in the number of innings he’s thrown over last year, but don’t
worry: Since he’s over 25, the Verducci Effect probably doesn’t come into play.  By the way, I just love that picture. In it he’s actually throwing over to first, but it kind of looks like those old photos of deadball-era pitchers just hurling it up there without really putting their whole body into it.

Dodgers 3, Rockies 2: Vicente Padilla. Who knew? Nothing special
of course — two runs on six hits over five — but that’s a few fewer
hits and runs than you might have expected him to give up. This series
— and what came before and after it — represents everything fantastic
about baseball. The Rockies took three of four from the Giants and won
one in dramatic fashion against L.A. 48 hours ago. Then bam, bam,
they’re four games out and have to go to San Francisco and face Tim
Lincecum, a resurgent Barry Zito and Matt Cain. They could end the week
way worse off than they started it, and no one could have expected it
as late as Wednesday afternoon. It’s a relentless season that gives no
quarter. You can’t pump yourself up once a week or ride a hot hand.
Twenty-five guys have to go out there every single day and do it. It
actually makes exercises like these daily recaps rather silly, as the
true story of the season can only truly be seen from a distance. The
true mettle of a team revealed in its skills at long term survival.

Diamondbacks 11, Giants 0: Then again, maybe the Rockies don’t have much to worry about this weekend.

Pirates 3, Phillies 2: So your first closer blows one, and your
second closer blows one again the next night. Now what do you do? Well,
you can leave your starter out there the whole game, which is what
Charlie Manuel did with J.A. Happ last night. That didn’t work either
as Happ gives up two in the eighth, so now it looks like the Phils are
on to Plan D. Say, I wonder what would it take to pry Nick Green away
from Boston . . .

Braves 9, Padres 1: Atlanta salvages one behind seven shutout
innings by Javier Vazquez, who had an RBI to boot. Nine runs and
seventeen hits for the Braves, but the only extra-base hit was Adam
LaRoche’s homer in the sixth. Otherwise, it was single-fest.

Nationals 5, Cubs 4: Milton Bradley was 0 for 5, and is in a big
slump. I have no idea if Cubs fans actually hate him like he thinks
they do, but if they don’t already, he’s giving them ample reason. The
Cubs are now nine behind St. Louis. “Look, let’s just win some baseball
games. Forget the Cardinals and every other team,” said Lou Piniella
after the game. As long as that includes the Cubs, I think everyone is
on board.

Astros 4, Cardinals 3: Jeff Keppinger hit what would prove to be
the winning homer with two out in the ninth, averting a sweep by the
Cards. Nice rally, however small, the day after Oswalt said the team
was “dead.” Then again, maybe Oswalt didn’t really mean the team was
dead. I always have taken comments like that to be the way players
communicate their general unhappiness with the manager to the press and
team brass.

Indians 5, Royals 4: Andy Marte homered, tripled and drove in a
couple. He’s still no great shakes on the year, but he’s on a warmish
streak of late. If he keeps it up, he may actually be given one final
chance to be an all-season everyday starter in 2010. Because he’s a
former Braves prospect — and because I fear that the concept of being
a AAAA player extends to other walks of life beyond baseball and I thus
want to see it debunked out of fear and anxiety — I’m kind of rooting
for him to make it.

Rangers 7, Yankees 2: The team whose starter struck out 12 dudes
in six innings lost, and the team whose starter walked seven in 3.2 IP
won. That makes sense.

Reds 8, Brewers 5: Nothing I can say can beat the storylines as told by the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinal. First, Tom Haudricourt’s game story
starts like this: “It was another discouraging day at Miller Park on
Thursday as the Brewers ended a discouraging series in what has become
a discouraging second half.” The headline to Michael Hunt’s column puts
it more succinctly: “Another dank day of despair for our ’09 Brewers.” I’m guessing they’ve all turned their attention to the Badgers and Pack by now.

Mets 10, Marlins 3: Day games in Miami in August make total
sense. The box score says that there over 12,000 paid to see this game,
but based on the crowd shots I saw, there couldn’t have been half that.
Which raises a philosophical question: if the Mets get 17 hits and no
one was there to see it, did it really happen?

Athletics 2, Angels 0: Trevor Cahill threw two-hit shutout ball
over seven innings and Mike Wuertz and Andrew Bailey shut out the
Angels for the remaining two innings. This is bizarre: “The Angels’
uniformed personnel and front office staff assembled in center field
before batting practice for the 2009 team photo, but RHP Jered Weaver
missed because he was home with the flu. So PR guy Eric Kay stood in
wearing Weaver’s No. 36 jersey, and the pitcher’s head will be
superimposed when it is printed.” What happens if, say, Juan Rivera
screws up something really bad in a playoff game that costs the team
the season. Do they airbrush him out like Stalin did with purged
political enemies? Because the possibilities here seem limitless.

Jacob deGrom outduels Clayton Kershaw, Mets take 1-0 NLDS lead

Jacob de Grom
AP Photo/Kathy Willens

Jacob deGrom put together one of the best post-season starts in Mets history, outdueling three-time Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw to pitch his team into a 1-0 NLDS lead. The right-hander fanned 13 over seven shutout innings, holding the Dodgers to five hits and a walk as the Mets won 3-1.

deGrom’s game score of 79 is the fifth-best by a Mets starter in the playoffs, behind Jon Matlack, Mike Hampton, Bobby Jones, and Tom Seaver, according to Baseball Reference. As Katie Sharp notes on Twitter, deGrom is one of three pitchers to hold the opposition scoreless on 13 or more strikeouts and one or fewer walks. The other two are Tim Lincecum and Mike Scott.

In the eighth inning, reliever Tyler Clippard allowed a one-out double to Howie Kendrick followed by an RBI single to Adrian Gonzalez as the Dodgers finally got on the board. Closer Jeurys Familia entered and recorded the final out of the eighth inning by inducing a weak line out from Justin Turner. In the ninth, Familia worked a 1-2-3 frame to wrap up the game.

Kershaw remains winless in the post-season since Game 1 of the 2013 NLDS, a span of seven starts. He gave up a solo home run to Daniel Murphy in the fourth inning, then walked the bases loaded in the seventh inning before departing with two outs. Reliever Pedro Baez entered and allowed two of his inherited runners to score when David Wright lined a single to center field. On the evening, Kershaw was on the hook for three runs on four hits and four walks with 11 strikeouts. Though he lost his command a bit towards the end of his start, the lefty pitched quite well and will be on the receiving end of some unnecessary criticism as a result of taking another post-season loss.

deGrom and Kershaw both struck out 11 batters, the first time that has happened in a major league post-season game.

Michael Cuddyer didn’t look too good out in left field for the Mets.

Game 2 of the NLDS will continue on Saturday at 9:00 PM EDT. Noah Syndergaard will start for the Mets opposite Zack Greinke of the Dodgers.

Clayton Kershaw, Jacob deGrom create MLB first with 11 strikeouts each in the playoffs

Jacob deGrom
AP Photo/Alex Brandon

For the first time in major league history, both pitchers in a playoff game have struck out at least 11 batters, per’s Paul Casella. Mets starter Jacob deGrom has pitched just a hair better than Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw overall. deGrom has blanked the Dodgers over six frames on five hits and a walk. Kershaw made one mistake, resulting in a solo home run to Daniel Murphy in the fourth inning. He’s allowed four hits and four walks total in 6 2/3 innings.

The last time opposing starters each struck out 10 in a post-season game was back in 1944 in Game 5 of the World Series when Mort Cooper of the St. Louis Cardinals struck out 12 and Denny Galehouse of the St. Louis Browns struck out 10.

Michael Cuddyer not shining in left field early in NLDS Game 1

Michael Cuddyer
AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek

Mets outfielder Michael Cuddyer has already made a pair of mistakes in left field and he’s only four innings into the first game of the best-of-five NLDS against the Dodgers.

Leading off the second inning, Justin Turner sent a well-struck liner to Cuddyer which was quite catchable, but the ball clanked off of the veteran’s glove. Turner was credited with a double. Mets starter Jacob deGrom was able to work around the misplay, striking out Andre Ethier, A.J. Ellis, and Clayton Kershaw to close out the frame.

With two outs in the third inning, Corey Seager sent a fly ball down the left field line. Cuddyer took an inefficient route and the ball bounced about a foot inside the foul line, then into the stands, giving Seager a ground-rule double. To add insult to injury, Cuddyer ended up tumbling over the fence. deGrom, again, worked around Cuddyer’s mistake, striking out Adrian Gonzalez to end the inning.

Because he bats right-handed, Cuddyer got the start in left field over the left-handed-hitting rookie Michael Conforto against Kershaw, a southpaw. Conforto mustered only a .481 OPS against lefties this season compared to Cuddyer’s .698. Despite the batting disparity, one wonders how short a leash manager Terry Collins has on Cuddyer given his defense.