And That Happened: Sunday's scores and highlights

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Phillies 5, Mets 4; Phillies 1, Mets 0: The Phillies win the
second one behind eight shutout innings from Pedro Martinez. Next up:
Tom Glavine comes out of retirement on Tuesday and throws a three
hitter at the Mets, getting run support from Mo Vaughn, who hits for
the cycle, while Vince Coleman coaches third base and Bobby Bonilla
coaches first.

Red Sox 3, Rays 1; Red Sox 4, Rays 0: The Rays drop their 10th
and 11th straight. This is the most unexpected losing streak since
Eddie Murphy went on his 19-movie skid following “Coming to America.”
If we try to match these up, the first game of the doubleheader was the
equivalent of “Holy Man” and the second was “Life.” In the former,
we’ll credit Matt Garza as Robert Loggia, for putting in a quality
performance in what was otherwise a lost cause. In the latter, we’ll
credit Willy Aybar as Martin Lawrence for his 0-4, 3K showing, which
made a stink bomb even more unbearable. And for those of you playing at
home, (a) I’m not counting Murphy’s voice roles or that weird Michael
Jackson music video compilation; and (b) I’m counting his supporting
role in “Dreamgirls” as the streak breaker. I think he was a bit
overrated for that, but if I didn’t count it, we’d be up in the 30s.

Giants 7, Dodgers 2: It’s odd to say it, but this week’s series
with Colorado is bigger than this past weekend’s series against the
Dodgers. The Giants salvage one to pull within four and a half of the
Rockies for the Wild Card.

Padres 7, Rockies 3: After all three of them dropped two of
three to San Diego in consecutive series, as far as the Dodgers,
Rockies and Giants are concerned, the Padres are just a fly in the
ointment. The monkey in the wrench. The pain in the ass, Hans.

Angels 3, White Sox 2: Torii Hunter hit a tie breaking homer off
of Buehrle in the seventh. Hunter said that as the pitch came in, he
was looking changeup because that’s what Buehrle threw him in the same
situation earlier in the game, but that for some reason his hands
reacted to the cutter that he actually received. “My mind said
something else, but my hands said, ‘No,'” Hunter said. Hunter’s alien hand syndrome bears watching going forward. Will it turn horrific like it did for Michael Caine in “The Hand,”
or it will it merely be funny like it was for Peter Sellers in “Dr.
Strangelove?” In other news, my Dad told me that spending every single
weekend between 1988 and 1991 renting awful, awful horror movies like
“The Hand” was a colossal waste of time. It may have taken 20 years,
but it’s starting to pay off, baby. Next up: I try to find some way to
slip in a reference to “April Fool’s Day.”

Twins 8, Athletics 0: Brian Duensing wins the battle of rookie
lefthanders over Gio Gonzalez. “Gio just didn’t have command of his
pitches today,” A’s manager Bob Geren said. “It seems when he missed he
walked guys, and then he’d come in and it would hit the fat part of the
plate.” With the exception of a brief stretch in early August this
could describe any Gio Gonzalez start this year.

Braves 9, Cardinals 2: Please explain to me how you get your
lunch handed to you by the Reds a week ago and then turn around and
sweep the Cardinals in their own ballpark? The Braves hung seven on
Chris Carpenter. I’d like to think that this was a gift on their part
to former Braves’ farmhand Adam Wainwright in his effort to win the Cy
Young Award.

Yankees 13, Orioles 3: CC Sabathia didn’t have his best stuff,
but with his teammates scoring 13 runs on 20 hits, he could have had
Gio Gonzalez’s stuff and still notched the win. The Yankees’ favorite
umpire — Marty “he didn’t have to tag you since the ball beat you”
Foster — ran A-Rod with seemingly no warning and then ran Girardi
after he bolted out of the dugout to argue the A-Rod ejection. Johnny
Damon almost threw a ball into the stands with two outs because he
thought there were three, and his brain lock allowed a run to score.
But again, you score 13 on 20, and none of that garbage really matters.

Pirates 2, Astros 1: Matt Capps got mad because he thought Miguel Tejada and Astros’ first base coach Jose Cruz were stealing signs. Apparently Capps hasn’t read Tejada’s press clippings.
He gives signs, he doesn’t steal them. Tejada, who popped out to end
the at bat, said “I just made an out. That is the first time I have
ever seen a guy mad, yelling at a guy for getting out.” I guess Tejada
didn’t see Game 2 of the 2000 World Series.

Royals 7, Indians 0: The Indians have lost 10 of their last 13,
and have looked really, really bad in most of those games. Carlos
Carrasco gave up five runs on eight hits in six innings, but to read the quotes from Eric Wedge in this game story,
you’d think he pitched a three hit shutout. I can only assume that
Wedge is visiting some self-help/life affirmation guru who has
counseled him to say five nice things a day in order to maintain a
“penumbra of positivity” or to keep his Lifeline oriented more towards
“love” instead of “fear” or some such nonsense.

Tigers 7, Blue Jays 2: Rick Porcello: twenty year-old stopper.
Deep thought: when the Tigers clinch the division, will Porcello be
cited for underage drinking if he partakes in the champagne shower?
Will anyone in Tigers’ management be arrested for contributing to the
delinquency of a minor?

Brewers 5, Diamondbacks 3: Prince Fielder ties Cecil Cooper’s
single season team RBI record at 126 and the Brewers sweep the series.
Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel is one of my favorite
beat writers, and one of the reasons is that he live blogs every game.
There’s always something interesting in there too. Little stuff that
never makes the game story and which doesn’t matter in the grand
scheme, but that you’d like to know anyway. Yesterday he had this from the Brewers’ half of the seventh inning: “Braun fouls out to left. The ball was only a foot or so foul and Braun didn’t run. Interesting.”

Cubs 5, Reds 2: With this loss the Reds were officially
eliminated from the NL Central race so, you know, I suppose they can
stop trying now. Nice gesture: the Dayton Daily News’ Hal McCoy —
another excellent beat guy — is being forced into retirement after the
season after 27 years covering the Reds. In his honor, the Cubs gave
him a scoreboard panel with a “37” on it after the game. They would
have given it to him on Friday, but since the Reds and their pitching
staff were in town, they wanted to hold back the 37 just in case they
needed it.

Rangers 7, Mariners 2; Mariners 5, Rangers 0: Not going anywhere
for a while? These guys were already playing a doubleheader because of
Friday’s rain out, and then the first one was delayed four and a half
damn hours. Tommy Hunter threw a six hit complete game in the first
which is totally what you want to see in a twin bill. Didn’t carry
over, though, as Texas had no answers to Felix Hernandez (7 IP, 4 H, 0
ER). Ichiro’s hit in the nightcap was his 200th. He does that an awful lot.

Nationals 7, Marlins 2: Another rainy game, this one was called
in the bottom of the ninth following a second lengthy delay. Of course,
if this game was worth a pair of fetid dingo’s kidneys to the playoff
races they probably would have waited it out. Cody Ross: “Tough series
for us. Definitely not what we wanted. When you’re losing the whole
time it just makes it miserable. The steady rain just compounds that
terrible feeling you have inside.” Cody, it’s OK. Have a good cry and
then give Eric Wedge a call. You’ll be smiling in no time.

Yasiel Puig might be more of a bench guy in the NLDS

Yasiel Puig
AP Photo/Danny Moloshok
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Yasiel Puig appeared in just 79 games during the regular season and missed all of September with a right hamstring strain. He returned on October 3 and appeared in the Dodgers’ final two regular-season games, but that doesn’t mean he is anywhere close to 100 percent heading into the NLDS.

Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles says the Dodgers are unlikely to start Puig over Andre Ethier or Carl Crawford against right-handers in the best-of-five Division Series. And the Mets are scheduled to throw three righties in the first three games: Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, and Matt Harvey. The only left-hander in the Mets’ postseason rotation is Steven Matz, and he is somewhat questionable with a back injury.

Would it make sense to leave Puig off the NLDS roster entirely? If he does aggravate the hamstring injury, which seems possible even in a limited role, that would put him out of the mix for the NLCS.

They could send Puig to Arizona and have him face live pitching for the next 8-10 days.

But that’s just a suggestion. It doesn’t sound like it’s actually a consideration.

Who should you root for in the playoffs?

Mets Fans

If you are a fan of the Yankees, Astros, Blue Jays, Royals, Rangers, Pirates, Cubs, Cardinals, Mets or Dodgers, your life is pretty easy. Your team is in the playoffs and you thus have someone to root for. Enjoy!

But what if your team isn’t in the playoffs? Then what do you do?

Well, the first thing you do is go to SI and follow the great Emma Span’s flowchart which picks a rooting interest for you. It has important considerations for you there which feed into this data-driven solution. Things like how you feel about underdogs, what kind of monster movies you like, your beard preferences and where you fall on the bunting/shifting/irritation scale. Go run your own preferences through the flowchat, but in the meantime know that it gave me the Royals, which is 100% baloney, but let’s not blame Emma for that. She does God’s work most of the time.

If I’m being less scientific, when my Braves are not in the playoffs I generally choose based on my gut, and my gut tends to like (a) individual players more than teams; (b) pitching more than hitting; and (c) newer playoff faces instead of ones who are there every damn year. These aren’t hard and fast rules — I want to see the Dodgers do well because I like Kershaw, Greinke and Puig, but they aren’t new faces and big payroll teams can get bent —  but in generally they hold.

Here are some pros and cons of your potential rooting interests:


Pro: They’re actually underdogs this year, at least according to the oddmakers. Rooting for A-Rod is always a good thing because he is all that is right and just in baseball.

Con: They’re still the friggin’ Yankees and who, besides Yankees fans, roots for the Yankees?


Pro: They’re young and plucky and were supposed to be years away from contention and worst-to-first stories are grand.

Con: If you don’t like sabermetrics and stuff this club might annoy you. Of course if that’s a basis for annoyance for you, you’re probably not reading this blog too often.


Pro: If you dig the longball, these are your huckleberries. Rogers Centre is going to be rocking like crazy, and that’s fun to see.

Con: You’re such a Trump supporter that you’re worried about the NORTHERN border too and you’d feel way more comfortable if there weren’t reasons for foreigners to travel here. Also: the more they advance, the more likely it is that you’re gonna hear Rush music as bumpers between innings.


Pro: Good defense is great. Teams with lots of contributors instead of a couple of megastars are great. They came so close last year and seeing those finally-got-over-the-mountain teams break through is pretty neat. At least it was back when the Bulls followed the Pistons who followed the Celtics. Torch-passing is cool.

Con: Baseball writers online telling you all about their barbecue experiences. Those guys are the worst.


Pro: They came outta nowhere and, the longer they play, the more likely it is we’ll get to see Prince Fielder leg out extra bases. If Josh Hamilton makes the World Series it’ll be even more of an eff you to Arte Moreno, who really deserves an eff you over how he handled the Josh Hamilton situation.

Con: With games in Dallas broadcast by Fox, we’ll almost certainly get some gimmicky double-broadcast stunts from Joe Buck.


Pro: Andrew McCutchen is fun to watch and it would be a shame if, like the early 90s, they had a megastar on the Pirates who just never quite made it to the World Series.

Con: Everyone’s gonna be mad at ’em if they eliminate the Cubs, who are likely going to be every bandwagon fan’s choice this year. Or maybe that’s a pro. Depends on how angry you like everyone to be.


Pro: A lotta fun players on this club and, for as much of a joke and sense of identity it has become, you have to be pretty hard hearted to not at least be somewhat happy for a team breaking a 107-year World Series championship drought.

Con: I think Joe Maddon is a great manager, but the way the media treats him when his teams are doing well is pretty insufferable. The entire World Series broadcast will be people lauding his singular wisdom for bringing the Cubs back to life and forgetting that a multi-year rebuild has just gone down.


Pro: I’ll get back to you on this one. I honestly can’t think of a single reason why a non-Cards fans would root for the Cardinals. They’re not underdogs. They’re in it every year, it seems. People say I hate the Cardinals and that’s not true, but I am very weary of the Cardinals and their storylines much the same way so many people were tied of seeing the Red Sox and Yankees deep into the playoffs every season.

Cons: Pick any number of things. I would venture to say that, if one could measure such a thing, the Cards will have fewer non-Cards fans rooting for them this month than any other team will have non-fans rooting for them.


Pro: Lots of pros here. Perpetual underdogs and sad sacks. Great pitching. They’ve been out of it for years. Cool players like Cespedes and Bartolo and deGrom and Harvey and everyone. Far fewer annoying celebrity fans than the Yankees have. Just a solid, solid choice for a rent-a-root situation, and I say that even as a guy who normally hates the Mets because they’re in my team’s division. Just go with it.

Cons: If they do go far it may get exhausting. Aligning yourself with Mets fans is to align yourself with misery. They could be up 5-0 in Game 7 of the World Series and Mets fans will be worrying about the bullpen and bitching about how they didn’t close it out in five. It’s just always like that with them.


Pro: Fun players in Greinke, Kershaw and Puig. Nice camera shots of the L.A. sunset after they come back from commercial. Good vibes for Vin Scully.

Cons: They are the anti-underdog given their payroll and three straight division titles. I have heard rumors that some people don’t like Yasiel Puig as much as I do, though I have discounted them as slander. Fox’s “spot a celebrity from an upcoming Fox show who just happens to be in the crowd here tonight” game will go into overdrive.

So there are the metrics. Choose wisely.