And That Happened: Thursday's scores and highlights

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Twins 8, Tigers 3: You say the Tigers all but put it away
yesterday? Whoo-hoo-hoo, look who knows so much. It just so happens
that the Twins, here, were only MOSTLY dead. There’s a big difference
between mostly dead and all dead. Mostly dead is slightly alive.

Nationals 2, Braves 1: Of course with all dead, well, with all
dead there’s usually only one thing you can do. And now that the
Rockies have clinched the Wild Card, we’re simply going through the
Braves’ clothes looking for loose change. Tommy Hanson is some loose
change. He didn’t win, but seven innings of one-run, nine strikeout
ball probably clinched the Rookie of the Year award. More generally
speaking, I’m proud of my team for not mailing in the last month of the
season like so many of us out here in Braves Land thought they would.
Last winter I said this team was really shooting for 2010. Based on how
2009 is ending, 2010 looks pretty good right now.

Rockies 9, Brewers 2: Congratulations Colorado. After the
horrendous start to the season and the canning of Clint Hurdle, I don’t
think anyone gave them a snowball’s chance, but here they are with the
wild card. Well, for now anyway. If they sweep the flaccid Dodgers this
weekend, they win the west. If you’re Colorado, do you try to make that
happen, or do you try to rest regulars over the weekend and hope to get
back at the Dodgers in the NLCS?

Cardinals 13, Reds 0: Somebody obviously rubbed Chris
Carpenter’s balls down properly! Five innings, zero runs, a grand slam
and a two run double. In an effort to extend his campaign of accusation
and gamesmanship, however, La Russa protested the outcome of the game.
Always keep ’em guessing. That’s Tony’s motto.

Red Sox 3, Indians 0: If I were Eric Wedge I’d play this garbage
100% straight. Hold a team meeting before tonight’s game. Give serious
sounding quotes to the media suggesting that I was still passionately
interested in the development of this team. Play it up so much that
someone would feel obligated to subtly remind me that I was fired
already. As for Boston, it had to be nice to see such a strong start
from Lester after last week’s comebacker. The next time we’ll see him
is Game 1 against the Angels.

Astros 5, Phillies 3: Cliff Lee was shaky last night. And down
the stretch in general, going 2-4 with a 6.13 ERA in his past seven
starts. I guess he’s the Game 1 starter, though who the start will come
against is still to be decided.

Orioles 3, Rays 2: “From the tracks on his arms, large caliber
wound, proximity to a heroin market… I’d say it was a heated dispute
about the symbolism of red and blue in 18th-century French romantic
poetry.” Yeah, I know they won. They still get a H:LOTS quote.

Rangers 11, Angels 3: After questions swirled regarding Kevin
Millwood’s health and whether the Rangers should allow his option to
vest, he comes out and wins his last three starts. This one was a ten
strikeout, 122-pitch complete game, and as the Rangers enter the
offseason, the question of who the veteran anchor of the rotation is
going to be has suddenly disappeared. As for the Angels, this was
merely a tuneup. John Lackey only threw 40 pitches, and he’ll start
Game 1 against the Red Sox.

Mariners 4, Athletics 2: A two-run single for Mike Sweeney in
the fifth puts Seattle over the top. Given that he’s at the end of a
one-year contract, it could be Sweeney’s last moment of glory in the
big leagues.

Giants 7, Diamondbacks 3: A day of curtain calls. Rich Aurilia
played in what is almost certainly his last home game for the Giants
and Randy Johnson pitched the ninth inning. I suppose, theoretically,
he can pitch over the weekend in San Diego, but his presence on the
active roster is less about helping the team right now than it is about
going out with his boots on as opposed to the DL. If I’m Bruce Bochy I
let the Big Unit finish his career high-fiving his catcher and
teammates.

Pirates vs. Cubs: Postponed: It’s harder to lose 100 games if you only play 161!

Giants remove pitching coach Dave Righetti

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After 18 years, 12 winning seasons, seven postseason runs and three World Championships, Dave Righetti is no longer a pitching coach for the Giants. He was removed from his post on Saturday, when the team announced a few reassignments as they shake up their coaching staff. Heading into the 2018 season, Righetti will serve as special assistant to general manager Bobby Evans, former bullpen coach Mark Gardner will step into a similar special assistant role to “assist in pitching evaluations,” and former assistant hitting coach Steve Decker will take a special assistant role in baseball operations.

According to MLB.com’s Chris Haft, Righetti was the longest-tenured pitching coach in the big leagues. He helped shape the careers of notable Giants’ aces like Madison Bumgarner, Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain — all Cy Young contenders (and, in Lincecum’s case, a two-time winner) at various points in their careers. He was there to assist Ryan Vogelsong during his stunning mid-career comeback in San Francisco. He helped newcomers like Chris Stratton and Ty Blach flourish even as the team stumbled to the bottom of the division. He was there to take the credit when a sterling rotation clinched the Giants’ 56-year, drought-snapping championship title in 2010 — and, when things went so horribly south in 2017, he took the blame as well.

Hardly anything went right for the Giants’ pitching staff in 2017. Madison Bumgarner was shelved after sustaining a serious shoulder injury in a dirt bike accident, Johnny Cueto couldn’t shake a cluster of blisters on his right hand and Mark Melancon found it difficult to justify a $62 million paycheck after pitching through an arm injury to four blown losses/saves and a 4.50 ERA. It would be a lot for any pitching coach to stay on top of, and given the team’s rapid descent from 2016 postseason contenders to last-place finishers in 2017, it’s not surprising that Evans felt the need to switch things up.

Successors have yet to be named for Righetti, Gardner or Decker, though Murray hears that the Giants could have interest in former major league pitching coach Jim Hickey. NBC Bay Area’s Alex Pavlovic adds that Evans is searching for someone to “put a new voice” on the pitching staff and will likely target someone who, like Righetti, brings considerable experience to the role.