And That Happened: Monday's Scores and Highlights

Leave a comment

Heyward Homer.jpgBraves 16, Cubs 5: Yeah, I saw
. Right before it happened I even berated Chipper Jones for
scoring from third because it screwed up Heyward’s inevitable debut
at-bat grand slam. A few seconds later: bammo.

By the way, everyone seems to want to go with “J-Hey” as a nickname. I
suppose there’s no stopping that train, but before it reaches full
speed, allow me to offer “Heymaker.” Someone
suggested that one to me yesterday
and I like it better than the
first-initial/beginning of last name construct that has become so very
tired. And besides, “J-Hey” is a Willie Mays reference, and while
hyperbole may be the order of the day with Jason Heyward, he’s never
going to have the glove or the speed to be a Willie Mays comp.  Let’s
push this more in a Dave Winfield/pre-coke Dave Parker direction. Just
seems more appropriate.

Cardinals 11, Reds 6: Keep an eye on this Pujols kid because he might be pretty good some day (4-5, 3 RBI, 2 HR).  And it’s cute how Pujols credited working with Mark McGwire in the postgame interviews too. That’s like Mozart thanking Salieri for helping him finish The Magic Flute.

Pirates 11, Dodgers 5: Garrett Jones may not have that Pujols kid’s promise, but he hit two bombs yesterday too. One of them was an absolute blast: 450+ feet out of the park and into the Allegheny River on a bounce. Not to take anything away from Jones, but it’s possible that Vicente Padilla didn’t have his best stuff yesterday: He gave up seven runs and six hits in 4.1 innings. According to a friend of mine who was at the game, at least one of his pitches was that crazy quasi-eephus pitch thing he throws. I’ve seen him do it on TV before, but only when he’s struggling and knows he doesn’t have anything.

White Sox 6, Indians 0: Mark Buehrle pitched fast (game time: 2:24), threw blanks (7 IP, 3 H, 0 ER) and may have made the defensive play of the year already, kicking a batted ball to the first base line and flipping it back between his legs to Konerko who barehanded it at first to nail Lou Marson at first. You can read about it and watch video of it here. Just sick. Sick for different reasons: Indians’ starter Jake Westbrook had four wild pitches.

Phillies 11, Nationals 1: Nice day for the imports: Roy Halladay begins his march to what I’m betting is a Cy Young Award (7 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 9K). Placido Polanco hit a grand slam and drove in six. Charlie Manuel was late meeting with reporters after the game because he had to take ten minutes out to explain to Halladay what run support was and that it does not make him any less of a pitcher that he did not have to win the game via a shutout.

Rangers 5, Blue Jays 4: Shaun Marcum had a no hitter into the seventh inning. Gleeman and I were chatting online and debating whether we should put a “Marcum has a no-hitter in progress” post up.  We decided against it. We figured, fine, if he made it through the seventh, do it, but 6.1 innings didn’t seem quite enough.  A second later Marcum walked Josh Hamilton, gave up a single to Vlad Guerrero and then a homer to Nelson Cruz that tied things up, so we’re glad we didn’t post anything. And for what it’s worth, Marcum remained the pitcher of record through the Jays’ half of the eighth and left the game with a lead, but Jason Frasor blew it in the ninth. Query: is it more depressing to lose like that on Opening Day or to get drilled 11-1, Phillies-Nats style?

Mets 7, Marlins 1: I wasn’t crazy about the Mets’ lineup, but they won so I should shut up.  Nah, just kidding. I’m not shutting up. Mike Jacobs went 0 for 4 in the cleanup spot with a couple of strikeouts. It worked out because Josh Johnson didn’t have spit and Gary Matthews, Jr. hit well down on the other side of Bay (2-3, BB), but this is going to bite them sooner or later.

Giants 5, Astros 2: Reports of Tim Lincecum’s rust have been greatly exaggerated. Dude didn’t do much except shut the Astros out over seven innings, striking out seven and walking no one. The bullpen made it slightly interesting with Brandon Medders allowing a couple of runs in the ninth, but maybe Brian Wilson will buy him a steak this weekend for giving him an unexpected save opportunity. The offense was a team effort with a homer from DeRosa, an RBI double Renteria, some assorted RBI singles and a sacrifice fly.

Diamondbacks 6, Padres 3: There was a period in the 1960s when stadium architects decided that the time when accidents of geography and ad-hoc additions to ballparks interfering with the game had to end. Just because the old man who founded the team back in 18-dickety-seven was too cheap to build his ballpark on property large enough so that it that didn’t require odd dimensions and overhanging seats didn’t mean those imperfections had to be maintained! No, they built nice symmetrical ballparks that ensured fairness and purity of competition!  But everyone hated those, so they tore them all down and built new parks with phony architectural quirks whose form does not follow any function accept nostalgia and the maintenance of an ignorance of history. Quirks like the overhang in right center at the Dbacks’ park, off of which caromed Stephen Drew’s fly ball, shooting it back towards the infield and giving him an inside-the-park home run in the fourth inning.

Tigers 8, Royals 4: Zack Greinke pitched better than Justin Verlander in this much anticipated matchup, but Greinke has the inferior pen, which yesterday gave the Tigers six of their eight runs. Home run from Yuniesky Betancourt hit a home run for the Royals, which ain’t something you see every day.

Rockies 5, Brewers 3: Ubaldo Jiminez and a whole bunch of relievers who are not named Huston Street and are not as effective as Huston Street brought this one home. But not without some drama, as the Brewers threatened, ultimately emptily, in the ninth. Ryan Braun describing Jiminez’s stuff: “He’s throwing 99 and the ball is moving a foot and a half. He’s got great stuff. We won’t face anybody with better stuff — ever.
He has as good of stuff as you’ll see in the game.”

Angels 6, Twins 3: What did you think of Hideki Matsui’s performance? Would you like to have a player like Hideki Matsui in your lineup? Answers: not bad: 2-4, HR, 2 RBI, including what would serve as the game-winner; and yes. Kendry Morales had an identical line. Except no game-winner, because you can’t have two of those in one game. It’s physics. At least I think it’s physics.

Mariners 5, Athletics 3: Casey Kotchman was 2-4 with 2 RBI. Milton Bradley was booed all evening by the Oakland crowd and then shattered his bat slamming it into the ground in frustration after striking out to end the ninth, right after Kotchman hit what would be the game-winning RBI, which is the sort of thing that pisses off your teammates way more than saying dumb things to the media.  Oh, and the Oakland juju has started the season out just dandy:

Four A’s-clad fans among the 30,686 in attendance carried two banners:
“Lew Wolff Hates Oakland” and “Keep Our A’s in Oakland” while two others
banged drums as they took their message about the team’s owner through
the stands.

And Bud hasn’t even announced that Oaktown is a lame duck city yet!

Report: Justin Turner and Kenley Jansen could return to the Dodgers in 2017

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 22:  Justin Turner #10 of the Los Angeles Dodgers warms up prior to game six of the National League Championship Series against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on October 22, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

With their 2016 season and 11-game playoff run in the books, the Dodgers are refocusing their attention on the upcoming 2017 season. Two outstanding performers, third baseman Justin Turner and right-handed closer Kenley Jansen, are on the cusp of free agency heading into the offseason. According to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports, the Dodgers intend to make qualifying offers to both Turner and Jansen, but may not be prepared to go the distance to keep both of them on the 2017 roster.

Turner finished his third season in Los Angeles with a .275/.339/.493 batting line and a career-best 27 home runs, riding a hot streak that made him one of the most productive players on the Dodgers’ squad this October. He started in all 11 games of the NLDS and NLCS, engineering a .286 average and two home runs — one of which was the difference-maker in a 4-3 win during Game 1 of the NLDS. His glove has become a much-needed asset within the Dodgers’ organization as well, as he currently ranks sixth among qualified third basemen with seven Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) and second with a 14.1 Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR) in 2016.

While Turner’s production rate suggests that he’s made a full recovery from the microfracture procedure he underwent in 2015, the Dodgers appear to have reservations about the 31-year-old’s age. Heyman indicated that the veteran infielder prefers to stay in Los Angeles, but the chances of the Dodgers jumping into a fierce bidding war appear to be low for the time being.

Jansen, on the other hand, is expected to incur more interest from the club. The right-hander commanded a 1.83 ERA and 9.45 K/BB rate through 68 2/3 innings in the regular season and was instrumental in closing the door on five wins during the postseason. His 3.2 fWAR performance in 2016 made him the most valuable reliever in the major leagues, eclipsing fellow standouts like the Indians’ Andrew Miller and the Cubs’ Aroldis Chapman. Assuming the Dodgers are as serious about retaining Jansen as they were about pursuing Chapman during the 2015 offseason, the 29-year-old closer should stand a decent chance of returning to Los Angeles for another season.

Should the Dodgers fail to match an offer levied to either Turner or Jansen, they’ll receive compensation in the form of unprotected draft picks.

The Cubs’ NLCS finish was one for the history books

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 22:  Chicago Cubs fans hold a sign after the Chicago Cubs defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-0 in game six of the National League Championship Series to advance to the World Series against the Cleveland Indians at Wrigley Field on October 22, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Getty Images

The Cubs obliterated the Dodgers in Game 6 of the NLCS, riding nine shutout innings to their first pennant win since 1945. Here’s what you should know about their historic finish:

  • By virtue of the Cubs’ 71-year World Series drought, Jon Lester and Javier Baez became the club’s first and only postseason MVPs in franchise history. The World Series MVP award was first distributed in 1955, while the NLCS MVP awards have been issued since 1977.
  • Lester and Baez are also the first co-MVPs of the Championship Series since the 1990 Reds celebrated left-hander Randy Myers and right-hander Rob “Nasty Boy” Dibble following the team’s ninth pennant win (per’s Jenifer Langosch).
  • Anthony Rizzo’s fifth inning solo shot in Game 6 tied him with Miguel Cabrera, Alex Gonzalez, and Kyle Schwarber for the most postseason homers hit at Wrigley Field, with three (per Comcast SportsNet’s Christopher Kamka).
  • Rizzo and Willson Contreras’ home runs were the first Clayton Kershaw had given up in the playoffs since Game 4 of the 2015 NLDS. The twin blasts also accounted for a fifth of the total home runs Kershaw had given up in 2016.
  • Clayton Kershaw’s Game Score of 33 was not only the lowest the left-hander had put up since the start of the 2015 season, but the lowest the Cubs had seen from an opposing pitcher in the postseason since 1989. During Game 4 of the 1989 NLCS, Giants’ right-hander Scott Garrelts pitched 4 2/3 innings with eight hits, four runs, and two homers en route to a 6-4 loss and a 33 Game Score.
  • By contrast, Kyle Hendricks’ Game Score of 86 was the third-highest among Cubs’ postseason starters, ranking just below Jake Arrieta’s 11-strikeout complete game during the 2015 wild card tiebreaker and Orval Overall’s three-hitter in Game 5 of the 1908 World Series.
  • The last major league season to feature an ERA leader on the Cubs’ roster was 1945, also the last season in which the Cubs rode to the World Series. In 2016, the MLB ERA leader is Game 6 winner Kyle Hendricks (2.13 ERA); in ‘45, it was left-hander Ray Prim (2.40 ERA), who capped a dominant year with a loss against the Tigers in Game 4 of the World Series and blown save in Game 6.
  • Not to be overlooked in the lefty’s gem on Saturday night: Hendricks and Aroldis Chapman combined to face the minimum number of batters, at 27. According to MLB Stat of the Day, only the 1956 Yankees had also faced the minimum batters in a postseason game, though they did it with just a bit more panache.
  • With Kris Bryant, Willson Contreras, Albert Almora Jr., Javier Baez, and Addison Russell penciled into the lineup, the Cubs became the first MLB team to utilize five starters under 25 years old to clinch the NLCS (also via MLB Stat of the Day).
  • If you want to talk postseason drought, the Cubs-Indians World Series will set a precedent for combined championship-less streaks, at 174 years between the two clubs (per ESPN Stats & Info).
  • Speaking of unpleasant streaks, there’s this: with the Dodgers’ loss in the NLCS, they’ve now gone to the postseason four consecutive times without participating in a World Series showdown. According to ESPN’s Buster Olney, that’s a first in major league history.