And That Happened: Wednesday's scores and highlights

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Brewers 3, Cubs 2: Prince Fielder pads his stats with a homer
and a couple of RBI. It’s easy to forget in all of the Cub-drama that
Chicago is actually a few games ahead of Milwaukee in the standings.

Astros 3, Cardinals 0: And look! The Cubs are technically still
alive! If St. Louis just loses its last nine while the Cubs win their
remaining. . . er, well, let’s just never mind, shall we? According to
the game story, St. Louis “had 25 cases of champagne waiting in the
clubhouse, but the bottles will remain corked for at least another
day.” Twenty-five cases? They got, what, 38 guys on the roster
right now? Add in eight or ten coaches and trainers and such. This is a
road game, so figure that front office staff is light: the GM, an
assistant or two, random traveling secretary types. Being generous,
we’ll call it a complement of 60 people with the team, and then some
random media guys who don’t care if partying up with the team hurts
their credibility. Tops — absolute tops — you have 75 people that
could even hope to be shooting champagne over one another, though many
of these people would never touch a bottle in such a situation because,
really, it’s the players’ thing. Twenty-five cases of champagne makes
for 300 bottles. I love drinkin’ as much as the next guy, but ain’t
that overdoing it a bit? And that’s before the beer cans you always see
guys throwing into the celebratory shower. Oh, one more thing: The Cubs
play tomorrow and the Cardinals don’t, which means that they can clinch
on their day off if Chicago loses to San Francisco. What the hell
happens to those 300 bottles if they clinch while on a day off? Do soup
kitchens take booze?

Giants 5, Diamondbacks 2: Bruce Bochy: “We’re still breathing. There’s still hope.” Four games back.

Braves 5, Mets 2: The ghost ship that is the New York Mets
continues to drift aimlessly around the National League, its crew
having all but abandoned it, a lamentable calm having descended over
its decks. The Braves, like the Giants, sit four back of Colorado.

Tigers 11, Indians 3: Four RBI and two homers for Carlos Guillen keep the Tigers two and a half up on Minnesota.

Twins 8, White Sox 6: The lights went out in U.S. Cellular Field.
What’s worse, they hung my brother before I could say that the tracks
he saw while on his way to Andy’s house and back that night were mine.

Red Sox 9, Royals 2: Josh Beckett gave up 12 hits, but they weren’t as big as the ones Luke Hochevar gave up.

Marlins 7, Phillies 6: Brad Lidge in the playoffs is gonna be
something special to behold. Last year’s Mr. Automatic blows yet
another save, this one a one-run lead in the ninth. He was apparently
getting the calls too, because Fredi Gonzalez was ejected with two out
in the ninth for arguing balls and strikes. Lidge wouldn’t record
another one, however, and his legend continues to grow.

Rays 5, Mariners 4: B.J. Upton had three RBI and made a spiffy
catch to rob Bill Hall of extra bases to end the game. Game story:
“Seattle 1B Russell Branyan (back) took 35 swings off a tee.” Despite
this, his downswing is too steep, his swing path is too outside-in, and
his clubface is open. Mariners’ hitting coach Alan Cockrell is watching
him closely, but he’s still cutting across the ball and pull-slicing it.

Reds 12, Pirates 2: Homer Bailey is 4-1 with a 1.99 ERA over the
past month. It will be fun to see how many fantasy players key on this
strong finish to the season, declaring Bailey a sleeper, without
realizing that three of those wins came against Pittsburgh. And now,
Deep Thoughts, with your host, John Russell: “Obviously, when you don’t
score runs, it doesn’t look like you’re playing very good. That’s one
of the things that always looks bad — you don’t score and the other
team’s scoring a lot, then they look a whole lot better than you do.”

Blue Jays 7, Orioles 3: Thirty years ago this fall, the Orioles played the Pirates in the World Series. May as well have been a billion years ago.

Nationals 5, Dodgers 4: Andre Ethier dropped a fly ball in the
ninth, allowing the Nats to win the game. If they had won this one,
they would have clinched the west because . . .

Padres 6, Rockies 3: The Rockies lost in San Diego, who were powered by Will Venebale’s four RBI.

Yankees 3, Angels 2: The Angels struck out 15 times in this one.
Ian Kennedy loaded the bases and then slithered out of the jam in his
first work in over a year. The Yankees took two of three from their
potential ALCS foe.

Rangers 9, Athletics 8: Of all of the stuff that could be
mentioned about this game, this bit — the last thing in the little
notes section of the game story — is the most interesting: “The
Rangers stole four bases and moved past the Angels into second in the
AL with 143 steals.” I’ve said it many times this year, but this is not
your older brother’s Rangers team.

2017 Preview: The National League West

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the National League West.

The Giants had the best record in all of baseball at the All-Star Break and the Dodgers lost the best pitcher in the world in Clayton Kershaw for a big chunk of the season. Yet, somehow, L.A. won the NL West by four games. The biggest culprit was the Giants’ suspect bullpen, which they put some real money toward fixing this winter. Is it enough? Or is a a Dodgers team with a healthy Kershaw just too talented for San Francisco to handle?

Below them is an intriguing Rockies team, though probably not a truly good Rockies team. The Dbacks have a lot of assorted talent but are nonetheless in reshuffle mode following a miserable 2016 campaign. The Padres, meanwhile, are in full-fledged rebuilding mode, but do possess some of the best minor league talent in the game.

Here are our previews of the 2017 NL West:

Los Angeles Dodgers
San Francisco Giants
Colorado Rockies
Arizona Diamondbacks
San Diego Padres

2017 Preview: The American League West

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the American League West

There’s not a lot of separation between the top three teams in this division. Indeed, it would not be a surprise for either the Astros, Rangers or Mariners to end the year on top. Part of that is because none of these contenders are perfect, with all three facing some big challenges in putting together a strong rotation.

Meanwhile, the best baseball player in the universe toils in Anaheim, where he’ll most likely have to content himself to playing spoiler. Up the coast in Oakland . . . um, green is pretty?

Our 2017 AL West Previews:

Houston Astros
Seattle Mariners
Texas Rangers
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Oakland Athletics