And That Happened: Sunday's Scores and Highlights

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Heyward shaving cream.jpgBraves 4, Rockies 3: Heymaker. The Braves trailed 3-2 with two-down in the bottom of the ninth. Heyward comes to the plate with the bases juiced and hits a two-run single to left field and that’s the ballgame. He had earlier walked with the bases loaded, giving him three RBI on the day. Martin Prado drove in the other Braves run, as he, Heyward and Brian McCann continue to be the entirety of the Atlanta offense. The Braves should have had much more, however. They walked 11 times, had eight hits yet only the four runs, suggesting a team that is fairly allergic to hitting with runners in scoring position. But hey, Heyward’s legend grows.

Dodgers 2, Giants 1: The Platonic ideal of a Giants-Dodgers game. A sunny 75 degree afternoon in L.A., a fabulous pitchers’ duel and a big bomb from the big-name slugger. Zito and Kershaw both gave up one run in seven innings, more or less, but the run charged to Zito came when Sergio Romo gave up a pinch hit homer to Manny Ramirez allowing both Ramirez and an inherited runner to score. Manny’s homer tied him with Mike Schmidt for 14th place on the all-time list.

Rays 7, Red Sox 1: Four straight losses for the Sox and five of their last six. This one was a textbook wood-shedding. Matt Garza stifled the Sox’ bats, shutting them out on four hits over eight innings. Two run homers for Carlos Pena and B.J. Upton provided more than enough offense. The heart of the Red Sox’ lineup — Pedroia, Martinez, Youkilis and Drew — combined to go 0-12 with one measly walk, though Dustin Pedroia did have a sacrifice fly in the ninth. I suppose there will be much written tomorrow in the “what’s wrong with the Red Sox” vein, but the fact is that they just played the Rays and the Twin, and it’s not unreasonable to think that the Rays and the Twins are simply better than the Red Sox this year.

Brewers 11, Nationals 7: Jason Marquis surges past Mike Gonzalez in the race for worst signing of 2010! The man who styled himself a mentor to Stephen Strasburg over the winter didn’t get any of the seven men he faced in game out. Four of them got hits, one of them walked, the other two were hit by pitches and all seven of them scored. They went on to score three more on Miguel Batista’s dime. Doug Davis’ day was pretty ignominious too. Staked to a 10-run lead, he couldn’t even lodge the five he needed to qualify for the win.

Cardinals 5, Mets 3: La Russa and Manuel probably started drinking straight from the bottle when they realized that it was 3-3 in the eighth and extra innings loomed again, but Ryan Ludwick wanted no part of it and hit a two-run jack to end it in regulation. Adam Wainwright went the distance for St. Louis, which may be a sign that La Russa is losing confidence in Joe Mather’s ability to close a game.

Pirates 5, Reds 3: The two homers from Jay Bruce were not enough to break the Reds’ losing streak, which is now up to five games. Lots of people — myself included — figured the Reds could be a bit frisky this season. Not frisky enough to make the playoffs or anything like that, but frisky enough to turn some heads and make them the trendy pick for next year. If they’re going to make that kind of noise they’d better get hoppin’. They’re 5-8. The Pirates, in contrast, picked by many to challenge for the worst record in baseball, are 7-5.

Marlins 2, Phillies 0: The Phillies have suddenly lost three of four, the last two due to lack of offense. It was Nate Robertson — Nate Robertson?! — yes, Nate Robertson who silenced the Philly bats yesterday, shutting them out for six and a third. Not that he was infallible or anything — he walked four — but he dodged bullets. Cole Hamels was excellent (8 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 8K) but if you don’t score, you can’t win. Dan Uggla was the entire Florida offense, homering once and doubling in the second run.

Angels 3, Blue Jays 1: And now the Angels have won four of five, this time behind Evin Santana’s almost shuotout. How almost? He was 3-2 on Adam Lind with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning when he gave up a solo shot. Next batter was Vernon Wells who lined out, ending the game.  Ricky Romero — who came close to a no-no his last time out — was excellent too (8 IP, 1 ER), but just like Cole Hamles in the Phillies’ game, he couldn’t do better than a shutout. Or even a near-shutout.

Yankees 5, Rangers 2: Mark Teixeira hit his first homer of the year helping the Yankees sweep the Rangers. Ramiro Pena, playing short for the Yankees because Derek Jeter had a cold, was quite an admirable substitution, hitting a two-run single. Andy Pettitte was Andy Pettitte, pitching four-hit ball. Rich Harden was awful, walking six guys and hitting two more in three and two-thirds.

Indians 7, White Sox 4: Shin-Soo Choo hit a grand slam and drove in another run on an RBI single. He has now hit in seven straight, raising his average a couple hundred points over that time, which is the sort of thing that makes April awesome. To say that Gavin Floyd didn’t have it today would be an insult to the concept of having it (1 IP, 6 H, 7 R, 4 BB). He faced five guys in the second inning and all of them reached. It was the first time the Tribe has swept the Chisox at home in seven years.

Astros 3, Cubs 2: After giving up a two-run single to Marlon Byrd in the third, Wandy Rodriguez and the Astros’ pen shut the Cubbies down. Ryan Dempster gave up only one run himself, but Carlos Marmol couldn’t close the deal. Pedro Feliz’ sacrifice in the 10th provided the winning margin.

Royals 10, Twins 5: Alberto Callaspo hit two three-run homers and Carl Pavano added to the fairly lengthy list of disastrous starting pitching performances on Sunday (3.1 IP, 11 H, 7 ER).

Orioles 8, Athletics 3: A homer and 4 RBI for Ty Wigginton helps the O’s end their skid at nine. Brett Anderson, the Athletics’ new $12.5 million man, got beat up (5 IP, 8 H, 6 R). He’s a professional so I’m sure it wasn’t because he went on a two-day bender to celebrate his new contract, but it’s the sort of thing I like to imagine happens once in a while. Like, he woke up in Tijuana yesterday morning with a woman named Sharlene on one side of him and a donkey on the other, couldn’t find his ID so he paid a man with an eye patch to smuggle him back over t
he border and then stowed aw
ay in a crop duster to get back up to Oakland in time for the game. What with all of that — which I’m almost certain didn’t happen — only giving up six runs is something of an accomplishment. But shhhh!  No one tell Brett than he and Sharlene are married!

Padres 5, Diamondbacks 3: On Friday night Chase Headley hit a three-run homer with two outs in the
ninth to seal a come-from-behind victory. Yesterday’s two-run double in the seventh was not quite so dramatic, but it served San Diego’s interests just fine. That’s four straight losses for the Dbacks. Indeed, there are a lot of streaky teams in baseball right now: the Yankees and Indians have won four in a row and the Rays have won six in a row. Meanwhile, the Red Sox, White Sox and Rangers join Arizona with four straight in the tank, and the Reds have their five-game skid.

Tigers 4, Mariners 2: Eric Byrnes subbed-in for the sore-calfed Milton Bradley yesterday and really got his money’s worth. He was in a collision at the plate (out), he slammed into the wall trying to catch an Austin Jackson fly ball (triple) and laid out to catch a hit off the bat of Carlos Guillen (popped out of his glove). Open question as to whether 110% of nothin’ is still worthwhile, but it’s kinda fun to watch.

Jacob deGrom outduels Clayton Kershaw, Mets take 1-0 NLDS lead

Jacob de Grom
AP Photo/Kathy Willens

Jacob deGrom put together one of the best post-season starts in Mets history, outdueling three-time Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw to pitch his team into a 1-0 NLDS lead. The right-hander fanned 13 over seven shutout innings, holding the Dodgers to five hits and a walk as the Mets won 3-1.

deGrom’s game score of 79 is the fifth-best by a Mets starter in the playoffs, behind Jon Matlack, Mike Hampton, Bobby Jones, and Tom Seaver, according to Baseball Reference. As Katie Sharp notes on Twitter, deGrom is one of three pitchers to hold the opposition scoreless on 13 or more strikeouts and one or fewer walks. The other two are Tim Lincecum and Mike Scott.

In the eighth inning, reliever Tyler Clippard allowed a one-out double to Howie Kendrick followed by an RBI single to Adrian Gonzalez as the Dodgers finally got on the board. Closer Jeurys Familia entered and recorded the final out of the eighth inning by inducing a weak line out from Justin Turner. In the ninth, Familia worked a 1-2-3 frame to wrap up the game.

Kershaw remains winless in the post-season since Game 1 of the 2013 NLDS, a span of seven starts. He gave up a solo home run to Daniel Murphy in the fourth inning, then walked the bases loaded in the seventh inning before departing with two outs. Reliever Pedro Baez entered and allowed two of his inherited runners to score when David Wright lined a single to center field. On the evening, Kershaw was on the hook for three runs on four hits and four walks with 11 strikeouts. Though he lost his command a bit towards the end of his start, the lefty pitched quite well and will be on the receiving end of some unnecessary criticism as a result of taking another post-season loss.

deGrom and Kershaw both struck out 11 batters, the first time that has happened in a major league post-season game.

Michael Cuddyer didn’t look too good out in left field for the Mets.

Game 2 of the NLDS will continue on Saturday at 9:00 PM EDT. Noah Syndergaard will start for the Mets opposite Zack Greinke of the Dodgers.

Clayton Kershaw, Jacob deGrom create MLB first with 11 strikeouts each in the playoffs

Jacob deGrom
AP Photo/Alex Brandon

For the first time in major league history, both pitchers in a playoff game have struck out at least 11 batters, per’s Paul Casella. Mets starter Jacob deGrom has pitched just a hair better than Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw overall. deGrom has blanked the Dodgers over six frames on five hits and a walk. Kershaw made one mistake, resulting in a solo home run to Daniel Murphy in the fourth inning. He’s allowed four hits and four walks total in 6 2/3 innings.

The last time opposing starters each struck out 10 in a post-season game was back in 1944 in Game 5 of the World Series when Mort Cooper of the St. Louis Cardinals struck out 12 and Denny Galehouse of the St. Louis Browns struck out 10.

Michael Cuddyer not shining in left field early in NLDS Game 1

Michael Cuddyer
AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek

Mets outfielder Michael Cuddyer has already made a pair of mistakes in left field and he’s only four innings into the first game of the best-of-five NLDS against the Dodgers.

Leading off the second inning, Justin Turner sent a well-struck liner to Cuddyer which was quite catchable, but the ball clanked off of the veteran’s glove. Turner was credited with a double. Mets starter Jacob deGrom was able to work around the misplay, striking out Andre Ethier, A.J. Ellis, and Clayton Kershaw to close out the frame.

With two outs in the third inning, Corey Seager sent a fly ball down the left field line. Cuddyer took an inefficient route and the ball bounced about a foot inside the foul line, then into the stands, giving Seager a ground-rule double. To add insult to injury, Cuddyer ended up tumbling over the fence. deGrom, again, worked around Cuddyer’s mistake, striking out Adrian Gonzalez to end the inning.

Because he bats right-handed, Cuddyer got the start in left field over the left-handed-hitting rookie Michael Conforto against Kershaw, a southpaw. Conforto mustered only a .481 OPS against lefties this season compared to Cuddyer’s .698. Despite the batting disparity, one wonders how short a leash manager Terry Collins has on Cuddyer given his defense.