And That Happened: Thursday's scores and highlights

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Mariners 5, Blue Jays 4: King Felix struck out 11 in eight
innings to notch his 17th win. I was out of town and without a computer
when people started up that “the Mariners can’t sign Felix so the Red Sox are gonna get him” talk
a few days ago. You know what? That’s crazy. Hernandez is one of the
top two or three pitchers in baseball. The Mariners have an entire
corner of the country to themselves. They have Adrian Beltre, Miguel
Batista, Jarrod Washburn, and Erik Bedard coming off the books next
year. They can afford him and if they’re serious about ever winning
anything, they will sign him. This smells like wishful thinking on
behalf of Red Sox fanboys.

Reds 4, Pirates 1: The Pirates have won only three more games
than you this month, and you’re not even trying. And if you were, I’d
bet that more people would show up to watch you than watched this game
too.

Dodgers 7, Nationals 6: The Nats lose number 100. They’re the
first team to do so in back to back seasons since the mid-70s Padres.
Without looking I’m going to guess that the 1930s-40s Phillies have the
record here with five or six if I remember correctly. The Nats won’t
match that. In fact, I think they’re going to look really good in a few
years and all of this will be a distant memory. In the meantime,
though, ugh.

Tigers 6, Indians 5: In nine or ten days someone is going to
have to wake up Eric Wedge and tell him he’s been fired. But let him
rest now. He looks so peaceful.

Athletics 12, Rangers 3: Brett Anderson got a lot of run support
and the A’s beat the Rangers in what seems like the 187th time they’ve
played in the past month.

Red Sox 10, Royals, 3: I guess Clay Buhholz pitched well, but I’m gonna be honest and tell you all that I wasn’t impressed. Really, he reminds me of a right-handed Roger Moret.
Which is more fun: the fact that the Royals committed five errors, or
the fact that Zack Greinke was ejected from the game even though he
wasn’t playing?

Phillies 9, Brewers 4: Happ struck out seven over five and two
thirds. Charlie Manuel: “There’s a chance he could wind up in the back
end of the bullpen if we don’t get something straightened out.”

Padres 5, Rockies 4: The Padres have been a total pain the butt
to just about every contending team this past month. The Rockies have
lost seven of 11 and the Braves are now three and a half back, which
seems way more doable than four for some reason. Especially considering
that Colorado hosts St. Louis this weekend. Go Cards.

Cubs 3, Giants 2: Jeff Baker’s two-out, two-run homer in the top
of the ninth to win the game is going to haunt San Francisco for a
couple of days. San Francisco’s failure to take advantage of the
Rockies’ recent skid is going to haunt them all winter. The Cubs win
means that the Cardinals have to lug their champagne to Colorado.

Oh good, it’s “Yasiel Puig is a showboat” season

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With the Los Angeles Dodgers punching their ticket to the World Series, Yasiel Puig is now going to be the subject of commentary by people who tend not to care about Yasiel Puig until it’s useful for them to write outraged columns or go on talk radio rants about baseball deportment.

We got a brief teaser of this last night when, after scoring the Dodgers’ ninth run on a Logan Forsythe double, TBS analyst Ron Darling criticized Puig for his “shenanigans” and “rubbing it in.” Never mind that his third base coach was waving him home and that, if he didn’t run hard, he was just as likely to be criticized for dogging it. In other news, baseball teams don’t stop trying in the fourth inning of baseball games, nor should they.

That was just an appetizer, though. The first real course of the “Puig is a problem” feast we’re likely to be served over the next week and a half comes from Phil Mushnick of the New York Post, who wrote it even before the Dodgers won Game 5 last night:

If you were raised to love baseball and to recognize the smart, winning kind from everything less, the Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig is insufferable. As the sport is diminished by professionals who disregard the basic act of running to first base as a matter of style, Puig, an incurable home-plate poser, often makes turning doubles and triples into singles appear effortless . . . In the postseason, Puig continues to behave as if he’s in the Home Run Derby. He even seems to relish his high-risk flamboyant foolishness despite frequent backfires.

This may as well be a fill in the blanks column from 2013 or 2014, when “Puig is a flashy showboater who costs his team more than he gives it” columns were all the rage. It ignores the fact that Puig, commonly dinged for being lazy, worked his butt off in 2017, particularly on defense, to the point where he has a strong case for a Gold Glove this year. It also ignores his .455/.538/.727 line in the NLDS sweep of the Diamondbacks and his .389/.500/.611 line against the Cubs in the NLCS. In the regular season he set career highs for games, homers, RBI, stolen bases and almost set a career high for walks despite having seventy fewer plate appearances than he did back in 2013 when he walked 67 times. He’s not the MVP candidate some thought he might be, but he’s a fantastic player who has been a key part of the Dodgers winning their first pennant in 29 years.

But the dings on Puig from the likes of Mushnick have rarely been about production. They’ve simply been about style and the manner in which he’s carried himself. To the extent those issues were legitimate points of criticism — particularly his tardiness, his relationships with his teammates and his at times questionable dedication — they have primarily been in-house concerns for the Dodgers, not the casual fan like Mushnick. On that score the Dodgers have dealt with Puig and, by all accounts, Puig has responded pretty well. An occasional lapse to be sure, but nothing which makes him a greater burden than a benefit. I mean, if he was, would be be batting cleanup in a pennant-clinching game?

So if the beef with Puig is not really about baseball, what could Phil Mushnick’s issue with him possible be?

I, for one, have no idea whatsoever.