And That Happened: Wednesday's Scores and Highlights

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Halladay pitching.jpgPhillies 2, Braves 0: Roy Halladay can pitch a little. The Braves threatened exactly once, in the seventh inning when they loaded the bases on hits from Chipper Jones and Brian McCann and a walk from Jason Heyward. This was the baseball equivalent of the cat letting the mouse run a few feet just so it could see the mouse run. Halladay apparently grew bored with this little exercise, however, got the double play — courtesy of some slick defense from Chase Utley — and the threat was over.  Otherwise? Pure domination (CG, SHO 7K).  For me it was like the Jiminez no-hitter the other night. Sucks that it was my team, but something to behold all the same.

Yankees 3, Athletics 1: Phil Hughes takes a no-hitter into the eighth inning but loses it on a combacker from Eric Chavez that bounched off Hughes’ left flank and eluded him long enough to allow Chavez to reach first. Nice effort all the same. The run with which he was charged was an inherited runner which Joba Chamberlain allowed to score. I’m guessing right now is probably not the best time for me to begin my “Girardi got it wrong when he picked Phil over Joba” campaign, huh?

Red Sox 8, Rangers 7: Second walkoff win in a row for the Sox, this time in the twelfth inning as Ron Washington has Dustin Nippert intentionally walk Dustin Pedroia to get to Kevin Youkilis, who then hits the game-winning double.  Walking someone to get to Youk with runners in scoring position in a tie game? Are we sure Washington is passing all those drug tests he’s supposed to be taking?

Padres 5, Giants 2: The Padres will not be stopped, as they win their sixth in a row. Jon Garland gave up one run in seven innings against a Giants’ offense that suddenly looks a lot like 2009’s version. Oh, and here’s something you don’t see every day: 18 minute rain delay in San Diego. I called my brother who lives out there to ask him what the heck was happening. He said he couldn’t talk because he was too busy gathering survival supplies and making sure his life insurance was paid up. They just don’t do rain in San Diego.

Royals 4, Blue Jays 3: There’s nothin’ wrong with Zack Greinke, it would seem, as he threw seven strong innings. His bullpen betrayed him once again, however, so he was gypped out of his first win of the year. Alex Gordon made up with an ugly day both offensively and defensively by hitting the game-winning homer in the 10th. Jose Guillen continues his torrid start, going 2-4 with a homer.

Nationals 6, Rockies 4: A victory, but Ryan Zimmerman left the game after appearing to hurt his hamstring, so we’ll put it in the “Pyrrhic” column. On the bright side, Jason Marquis was sent to the DL after the game, so that bad man can’t hurt you any more, Nats fans.

Brewers 8, Pirates 0: I’ll hand it to the Pirates: when they lose, they don’t mess around. They go out there and lose with gusto. So far this year they’ve lost games by scores of 10-2, 9-1, 15-6, 9-3, 6-0, 8-1, and 8-0. It’s almost a courtesy when you think about it. It’s as if they’re telling the good people of western Pennsylvania “Hey, it’s cool. You can turn the game off now and go make sandwiches with fries in them or whatever it is you do all day. There’s no chance we’ll make it close.”

Astros 5, Marlins 4: How it is you take two of three from Philly and then look bad against Houston two nights in a row is a mystery to me. It’s like the Marlins are an NBA team or something. Lance Berkman was caught stealing third at one point in this game. What possible reason would Lance Berkman have for stealing third base?

Twins 6, Indians 0: An eerie start for the Erie warriors as they drop a heartbreaker to the Twins, six to nothing.  Francisco Liriano allows zero runs for the second straight time. Michael Cuddyer had a two-run triple and a homer. David Huff walked six guys. He tried for the corner and missed a lot. Not sure how those guys could lay off pitches that close.

Cubs 9, Mets 3: Alfonso Soriano (3-4, 3B, HR, 3 RBI) shows everyone that he belongs in the lineup and Carlos Silva (6 IP, 2 H, 1 ER)  shows everyone that he belongs in the rotation. After the game, however, Lou Piniella reassigned Silva to pitch batting practice and reassigned Soriano to a job as a Dippin’ Dots vendor. Lou said they were each cool with it. After this game Ike Davis’ line stands at .273/.273/.273, which is kind of cool unless you’re interested in Ike Davis producing and stuff.

Dodgers 14, Reds 6: The Aaron Harang contract drive continues (5.2 IP, 10 H, 6 ER).

Rays 12, White Sox 0: Mark Buehrle fell just nine hits, six runs and a walk short of his second straight perfect game against the Rays.

Cardinals 9, Diamondbacks 4: Tied into the ninth and then the absolute worst bullpen in the game allows St. Louis to score five. This after Arizona had come back from being down 3-0 in the 1st. Two homers for Colby Rasmus, the second of which provided the winning margin. A three-run job from Skip Shumaker in the final frame was nice insurance.  This one was sprinkled with extra fun too, as the benches cleared when Chris Carpenter, running the bases after getting hit by an Edwin Jackson pitch, tried to take out Kelly Johnson on a double play.  The dude would be pitching the next half inning so you’d think he’d just wait to hit someone himself, but I guess Carpenter is a team-first guy and would rather not get ejected in his efforts to maim the opposition.

Mariners 4, Orioles 1:  I have Monday morning in the when-is-Dave-Trembley-getting-fired pool. It’s an off day right after a road trip. Saves the team an extra plane ticket getting Trembley back home and everything. Just really good timing, ya know?

Tigers 4, Angels 3: The first batter Brian Fuentes faces after coming back from the DL — Miguel Cabrera — homers off him in the 9th inning, tying up the game. A couple batters later Ramon Santiago singles in Gerald Laird for what would be the game winner.  Mike Scioscia should be commended for his loyalty to the Fue
ntes, but it ain’t like the
team had any trouble closing games out while he was out.

Game 2 is going to be the poster child for pace of play arguments this winter

CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 26:  Zach McAllister #34 of the Cleveland Indians is relieved by manager Terry Francona during the fifth inning against the Chicago Cubs in Game Two of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on October 26, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
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In August, it was reported that Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred would like to implement pitch clocks, like those in use in the minor leagues for the past two seasons, to improve the pace-of-play at the major league level. You can bet that last night’s Game 2 will be the lead argument he uses against those who would oppose the move.

The game was moved up an hour in order to get it in before an impending storm. By the time the rain finally started falling the game had been going on for three hours and thirty-three minutes. It should’ve been over before the first drop fell, but in all it lasted four hours and four minutes. It ended in, thankfully, only a light rain. The longest nine-inning game in postseason history happened a mere two weeks ago, when the Dodgers and Nationals played for four hours and thirty two minutes. There thirteen pitchers were used. Last night ten pitchers were used. Either way, the postseason games are dragging on even for those of us who don’t mind devoting four+ hours of our night to baseball. It is likely putting off more casual fans just tuning in for the Fall Classic.

It’s not all just dawdling, however. Yes, the pitchers worked slowly and a lot of pitching changes took place, but strikeouts, walks and the lack of balls in play contribute to longer games as well. We saw this both last night and in Game 1, which was no brisk affair despite each starting pitcher looking sharp and not working terribly slowly. Twenty-four strikeouts on Tuesday night had a lot to do with that. Last night featured 20 strikeouts and thirteen — thirteen! — walks. It’s not just that the games are taking forever; the very thing causing them to drag feature baseball’s least-kinetic forms of excitement.

But no matter what the cause for the slower play was — and here it was a combination of laboring pitchers, the lack of balls in play and, of course, the longer commercial breaks in the World Series — Manfred is likely to hold Game 2 up as Exhibit A in his efforts to push through some rules changes to improve game pace and game time. So far, the centerpiece of those efforts is the pitch clock, which has proven to be successful and pretty non-controversial in the minor leagues. It would not surprise me one bit if, at this year’s Winter Meetings in Washington, a rule change in that regard is widely discussed.

Kyle Schwarber is the feel-good story of the 2016 postseason


Most baseball fans and even the Cubs had resigned themselves to most likely not seeing Kyle Schwarber in game action until spring training next year after he suffered a gruesome knee injury in a collision with teammate Dexter Fowler back in early April. Schwarber suffered a fully-torn ACL and LCL in his left leg.

To the surprise of everyone, including manager Joe Maddon, Schwarber was cleared by doctors to play if the Cubs wanted to put him on the World Series roster. So they did. And, boy, are they glad they did it. In preparation, Schwarber saw over 1,000 pitches from machines and pitchers in the Arizona Fall League.

Schwarber essentially crammed for the final exam and unlike most students who do it, it has panned out well thus far. No one was expecting him to look outstanding against Indians ace Corey Kluber in Game 1, but in his first at-bat — his first in the majors since suffering the injury in April — Schwarber worked a 3-1 count before eventually being retired on strikes. Schwarber came back up in the fourth and drilled a Kluber sinker to right field for a two-out double.

In the seventh inning, facing one of the American League’s two scariest left-handed relievers in Andrew Miller, Schwarber worked a full count before drawing a walk. During the regular season, Miller walked exactly one lefty batter. Schwarber made it two. Schwarber would face Miller again in the eighth, going ahead 2-1 before ultimately striking out. He finished 1-for-3 with a walk and a double in the Cubs’ 6-0 loss. Considering the circumstances, that’s amazing.

Schwarber continued his great approach in Game 2 in what turned out to be a 5-1 victory. He struck out against Trevor Bauer in the first inning, but returned to the batter’s box in the third inning and singled up the middle to knock in the Cubs’ second run. Schwarber made it 3-0 in the fifth when he singled up the middle again, this time off of Bryan Shaw, to make it 3-0. Facing Danny Salazar in the sixth, Schwarber drew a four-pitch walk to put runners on first and second base with two outs. Finally, he struck out against Dan Otero in his eighth-inning at-bat, finishing the evening 2-for-4 with a pair of RBI singles and a walk.

But now, as the Cubs return to Chicago for World Series Games 3, 4, and 5 at Wrigley Field, they have to contest with National League rules, a.k.a. no DH. Will Maddon risk Schwarber’s subpar defense to put his dangerous bat in the lineup? Even if Schwarber is not put in the starting lineup, he can at least serve as a dangerous bat off the bench late in the game when the Indians send out their trio of relievers in Shaw, Miller, and closer Cody Allen. At any rate, what Schwarber has done already in the first two games of the World Series is mighty impressive.