And That Happened: Sunday's scores and highlights

Leave a comment

Yankees 4, Red Sox 2: The Bombers clinch, win 100, guarantee home field, etc. Inevitable, but the exuberance looked a little less rote yesterday than I seem to remember it in years past. I think those who have been there a while have a new appreciation for making the post season after what happened last year. The guys like Sabathia and Teixeira probably feel like a lot of weight has been taken off their shoulders. At least for a week or so. This is strange to me: “The Yankees have the choice of whether they want to play in the division series that has a day off between Games 1 & 2.” Time out. Why do they get to choose? I mean, why don’t I get to choose, why doesn’t he get to choose? Better question: why isn’t that sort of thing just set up ahead of time? I actually thought it was.

Rockies 4, Cardinals 3: If the Braves miss the playoffs by one game I’m going to blame Matt Holliday’s hangover. Oh, I’m sorry, his “flulike symptoms” which just happened to show up the morning after the Cardinals doused themselves in booze for clinching the division. Their second most important hitter misses the day and Ryan Ludwick and Mark DeRosa combine to go 0-6 with five strikeouts. You telling me Matt Holliday couldn’t have managed one extra flare beyond what Ludwick and DeRosa did? Just one? A gork, a ground ball with eyes, a dying quail . . . just one more dying quail and the Cardinals could have won this game and the Braves would be one back in the loss column. Damnation.

Braves 6, Nationals 3: I wrote my team off so many times this year — and for good reason — that I feel like getting all giddy now would be like taking back a cheating girlfriend or something. But there they are, looking all fine and everything. I just know that if I lower my guard they’ll hurt me again, but I can’t keep my eyes off of them. Dude, seriously: don’t let me walk over there. I don’t care how much I drink tonight, do NOT let me walk over there and talk to them. And take my cell phone too. I just don’t trust myself . . . . . . . OK, give me my cell phone back. C’mon, I promise I’ll be cool.

Pirates 6, Dodgers 4: Ugly ending for Los Angeles, blowing a three run lead in the ninth to some dudes who stole the Pirates’ uniforms. Worth noting that L.A. was boned by Matt Holliday’s hangover too, as a Rockies loss would have given them the division title. They’ll get it though. More worrisome for L.A. was that Clayton Kershaw, though arguably effective, was kinda wild in his first game back since separating his shoulder. He’ll get one more start before the playoffs, and I’m sure the Dodgers would like to see him a bit sharper.

Phillies 6, Brewers 5: Dave Bush put the Brewers in a 6-1 hole, the offense came back, but it wasn’t enough and the Phillies magic number is down to three.

White Sox 8, Tigers 4: Detroit stumbles into the showdown with Minnesota with both Edwin Jackson and Fernando Rodney getting roughed up.

Royals 4, Twins 1: Minnesota doesn’t take advantage of Detroit’s stumble, but you have to figure that they had this one — a Zack Greinke start — penciled in as a loss anyway. Just another day at the office for Greinke (7 IP, 7 H, 1 ER, 8K). Less expected was Yuniesky Betancourt’s day (3-3, HR, 3 RBI).

Giants 5, Cubs 1: Matt Cain was dominant, shutting out the Cubs over eight innings. Eugenio Velez on the Giants’ playoff hopes: “We have to win all of our games and they have to lose all of their games. That’s how we have to look at it.” Eugenio, the chances of that happening are, like, a million to one. Velez: So you’re telling me there’s a chance… Yeah!

Rays 7, Rangers 6: If you’ve got a 5-0 lead with two outs in the eighth, you had best hold on to it. More Eugeino Velez thinking: the Rangers are still technically in the wild card race, much like I’m technically qualified to be President of the United States and technically capable of settling down and having a couple of kids with Salma Hayek.

Angels 7, Athletics 4: With this win and the Rangers’ loss, Anaheim merely need one of its next four games — all of which come against Texas — to seal the deal.

Mets 4, Marlins 0: File “Pat Misch throws a shutout” in the “stuff I didn’t expect to see before the season ended” drawer. Jeff Francoeur hit a homer and made a home run saving catch in support of Misch. Francoeur: “He’s going to buy me dinner and beers.” Jeffy, you really think it’s a good idea to keep track of when other people save your bacon? If people did that for you, you’d have spent enough on dinner and beer by this point to hold substantial stakes in Anheuser-Busch and several restaurant companies by now.

Diamondbacks 7, Padres 4: Adrian Gonzalez hits his 28th road home run this year vs. 12 at home. Man, if this guy played anywhere else but Petco Park . . .

Indians 9, Orioles 0: “It’s been a rough 10 games for us,” Baltimore manager Dave Trembley said after the game. The 145 before that weren’t a friggin’ picnic either, to be honest.

Blue Jays 5, Mariners 4: Seattle squanders 3-0 and 4-2 leads as the Blue Jays finish the season on a fairly strong note.

Astros 3, Reds 2: Wandy Rodriguez (6 IP, 9 H, 2 ER, 9K) is about the only good thing that has happened to Houston this year.

Just one note: you shouldn’t be surprised that the recaps for some of these games featuring non-contenders are going to be a bit cursory this last week of the season. I mean, sure, it’s possible that I’ll find myself on my deathbed one day saying “boy, I wish I had spent more time thinking about late September Astros-Reds games,” but I just sort of doubt it. If you’re a partisan of one of these dead teams walking and you really feel like I missed something important, by all means, let us know in the comments. I’ll edit the recaps to include really good stuff I learn after the fact.

Jose Canseco to join NBC Sports California as an A’s analyst

Getty Images
9 Comments

Hey, I have a new coworker: Jose Canseco has been hired by NBC Sports California as an Athletics pregame analyst.

OK, maybe he’s not technically a coworker, as the folks at NBC Sports California — formerly CSN Bay Area — and I do not hang out at the water cooler, have potlucks in the conference room or exchange secret Santa gifts at Christmas time, but dang it, I’m gonna TELL people I work with Jose Canseco. The only downside will be people assuming that, because he and I are on the same team, my performance is something less than authentic. Or, perhaps, Canseco may write another book and tell all of my secrets.

Anyway, Canseco will be part of NBC Sports California’s A’s Pregame Live and A’s Postgame Live shows. Live TV can be hard. I’ve done a bit of it, and there is certainly more to that gig than meets the eye. You can’t always prepare for what happens on the fly. I’m sure Canseco will do well, however, as he’s great with coming up with the best stuff off the top of his head.

2017 Preview: Cleveland Indians

Getty Images
2 Comments

Between now and Opening Day, HardballTalk will take a look at each of baseball’s 30 teams, asking the key questions, the not-so-key questions, and generally breaking down their chances for the 2017 season. Next up: The Cleveland Indians.

The Cleveland Indians almost won the World Series without their best hitter for the whole season and two of their starting pitchers for the playoffs. This year that hitter — Michael Brantley — is back and the starters — Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar — are healthy. Oh, and they added arguably the best free agent bat available in Edwin Encarnacion.

Baseball teams love to downplay their expectations, but given where the Indians are at the moment, anything less than another American League Pennant will have to feel like a disappointment, right? Fortunately for the Indians, they stand as the favorites to do just that.

They didn’t lose much in the offseason. Yes, World Series hero Rajai Davis is gone, but the Indians outfield will be fine if Brantley remains healthy. Mike Napoli‘s loss will be felt but it will be made up for with Encarnacion’s bat and probably then some. Coco Crisp left too, but he was not a key part of the equation.

The biggest losses are guys from last year who will start the year on the disabled list, most notably Jason Kipnis and Lonnie Chisenhall. Kipnis is just starting to work out following time off to rest his sore shoulder. Chisenhall ran into a wall the other day and is being evaluated. There is no sense that either will miss extended time, however.

Otherwise, the lineup should score a lot of runs, with on-base machines Jose Ramirez and Francisco Lindor setting the table for Encarnacion, Brantley and Carlos Santana, who is entering his walk year. The Indians trailed only the Red Sox in runs scored in the American League last year and they should score a lot of runs this year as well.

The strength of the club, however, remains its pitching. Corey Kluber looked like his old Cy Young self last year, particularly in the playoffs. Danny Salazar built on his excellent 2015 season in the first half before falling prey to injury. Carlos Carrasco posted an ERA+ of 141 before breaking his hand and Josh Tomlin and Trevor Bauer both stood out for fourth and fifth starters.

The bullpen is excellent too, as relief ace Andrew Miller is joined by Cody Allen, Bryan Shaw and newcomer Boone Logan make up one of the relief corps in baseball.

Pitcher health is probably the biggest uncertainty for any contender, but the Indians have the best pitching in the AL if everyone stays healthy. And maybe even if one or two guys don’t.

It’s hard to find much fault with the 2017 Cleveland Indians. They are the class of their division and, while the slog of the regular season turns a lot of surefire contenders into hash before it’s all said and done, there is no reason to look at the Indians right now and think of them as anything other than the best team in the American League.

Prediction: First place, American League Central.