And That Happened: Thursday's Scores and Highlights


kids at Huntington Park small.JPGRays 11, Royals 1: The Rays are good the Royals are bad and you all know
that, so there’s no sense in dwelling on it here. Let’s take things in a
different direction: My wife and I took the kids to the Columbus
Clippers-Charlotte Knights game last night, which the Clippers won 9-7. 
My daughter is six, and she thought it was quite hilarious and a little
bit cute that there was a
player with the last name of “Flowers”
and a
player with the first name of “Shelley”
playing in the game. My son,
who is 4, decided that he wanted to boo the Charlotte Knights because
“they’re not from around here.” Later he decided to boo a couple that
came in and sat down three innings into the game “for bein’ late to the ballgame.”  I was a bit uneasy with the former booing, but
strongly approved of the latter.

Tigers 3, Twins 0:  D-Train beats the Twins’ Morneau and Mauer-free lineup, shutting them out over six innings. Given that he couldn’t even get the ball over the plate this time last year I got nothin’ but kudos for the guy, and would even if it was an American Legion lineup from Minnetonka.

White Sox 7, Rangers 5: Paul Konerko homered twice, the second of which put the Sox’ lead out of reach. That brings him up to 10 which leads the league. Great Moments in Energy Conservation: Michael Young checked his swing in the fifth, and the ball traveled so short a distance that A.J. Pierzynski was able to pick it up and tag Young before he had even left the batter’s box.

Yankees 4, Orioles 0: Robbie Cano had two homers and Marcus Thames had three hits, but after all these years we’re used to those two legends carrying this storied franchise on their broad shoulders.

Blue Jays 6, Athletics 3: John Buck was a 50% better hitter than Paul Konerko and Robbie Cano last night, blasting three bombs. The Athletics have lost seven of 10, shifting them back towards the “not for real” side of the ledger. The Jays can tell them all about it. And bad news for the Athletics as Justin Duchscherer had to leave the game with an injured hip, which appears to be serious.

Reds 4, Astros 2: Four in a row for the Redlegs. Pfun Pfact, courtesy of Red Reporter: despite the fact that Bronson Arroyo and Roy Oswalt have pitched in the same division for the past 4 seasons, last night was the first time they have faced each other in nine years, back when Arroyo was with the Pirates. How they’ve avoided each other for so long is just one of them things, I guess.

Diamondbacks 13, Cubs 5: Kelly Johnson was 4 for 5 with a homer — his NL-leading 9th — and three RBI. Adam LaRoche hit two homers and drove in five.  We’re basically one Mark DeRosa hitting streak and a Jason Marquis no-hitter away from me becoming more interested in rooting for the Braves alumni club more than I root for the Braves themselves.

Cardinals 10, Braves 4: A six RBI day for David Freese as the Cardinals win easily. Again. It’s bad enough that the Braves have dropped nine straight, but now they’re racking up injuries to go along with their futility. Jair Jurrjens left the game with a sore hamstring. Yunel left with a strained left adductor. Bobby Cox has a blown gasket: “It was a lousy trip. It’s been a horrible experience to endure,” Cox
said of the Bravos 0-7 road trip.

Padres 9, Brewers 0: Death by a thousand cuts: the Padres had seven straight singles in the fifth inning.  In fact, all 13 of the Padres hits in the game were singles, a good number of them which were chancey kind of things like the ball hitting off someone’s shoe and stuff.

Pirates 2, Dodgers 0: The Pirates score both of their runs when Matt
Kemp O-lays what should have been a single off the bat of Ryan Doumit
into a two-run “triple.” It’s a shame that Kemp would go from where he
was a year ago to
revert back to when the ball goes up in the air and you’re not sure
where it’s going, or if it’s going to get caught.

Playoff Reset: The AL Wild Card Game

Wild Card

Each day throughout the playoffs we’re going to be doing what we’ll call a reset. Not always a preview, not always a recap, but a generalized summary of where we stand at the moment and what we have to look forward tonight.

Today, of course, is Day One of the playoffs so we can really only look ahead, so let’s look ahead to what’s on tap in tonight’s one and only game.

The Game: Houston Astros vs. New York Yankees, American League Wild Card Game
The Time: 8:08 PM Eastern. Or thereabouts.
The Place: Yankee Stadium, New York
The Channel: ESPN
The Starters: Dallas Keuchel vs. Masahiro Tanaka

The Upshot:

  • Dallas Keuchel is the Astros’ ace and may very well win the Cy Young Award, but he’s (a) pitching on three-days’ rest; and (b) not in Minute Maid Park, where he is clearly superior compared to how he does on the road. At the same time, (a) the Yankees haven’t figured him out this year, going scoreless against him in 16 innings and striking out 21 times, including a poor performance against him in the Bronx a month or so ago; and (b) lefty sinkerballer types are basically the platonic ideal of a pitcher you want to throw against the Yankees to drive them crazy. While, historically, pitchers going on short rest in the playoffs fare poorly — in the past 20 years they are 18-37 — sinkerballers and extreme groundball pitchers fare much better than most. It ain’t a perfect setup for him, but you gotta like Keuchel here.
  • Meanwhile, Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka has made one career start vs. the Astros: this year, back on June 27. He got beat up, allowing six runs in five innings, receiving no decision. Those disclaimers about past performance not being indicative of future results you see in financial services commercials should apply to this and all other past matchup stats you see in the postseason, however. One random start here or there — or two in Keuchel’s case — doesn’t tell us a ton. This is baseball and tomorrow is always another day. At least if you don’t lose the Wild Card Game. More of a concern for Tanaka: rust. He has pitched only once since tweaking his hamstring against the Mets on September 18 and it wasn’t a good outing. At least he’s rested?
  • Both teams are dependent on the longball but both teams have struggled at times on offense down the stretch, with the Yankees’ bats being particular quiet in the season’s last month or so. Someone needs to wake up A-Rod. And Jacoby Ellsbury, Brett Gardner, Chase Headley and Brian McCann for that matter too. Of course, all of that firepower may not matter. The playoffs often see offenses go quiet and pitching come to the fore. Both teams have decent bullpens — the Yankees’ far, far more than decent — and given Tanaka’s rust and Keuchel’s short rest, this one is very likely to come down to multiple innings of hard-throwing relief. That favors the Yankees if they can keep it close.
  • Both teams are basically stumbling into the postseason, with the Yankees having lost six of their last seven games. They’re also under .500 since the end of July. The Astros swooned themselves in the second half, going 11-16 in September before rebounding in the season’s last week. Good thing momentum generally isn’t a thing in the playoffs — remember those 2000 Yankees losing 15 of 18 before the playoffs started and then won the World Series! — because neither team here has much of it.

This is the Astros’ first playoff game in a decade. While the Yankees haven’t been in the postseason since 2012, there is a lot of playoff experience here, making this an interesting study in contrasts from a storyline perspective. At least if you’re into storylines. Personally I’m not. I’m more into baseball games and in this baseball game, I think Keuchel is a tough draw for the Yankees, even on short rest, and that for New York to advance they’re gonna have to be a team they haven’t been for weeks and maybe months: one that lays off junk down low and hits the ball hard.


Mike Scioscia will return as Angels manager in 2016

ANAHEIM, CA - JULY 21:  Manager Mike Scioscia #14 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in the dugout during batting practice before a game against the Minnesota Twins at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on July 21, 2015 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Jonathan Moore/Getty Images)
Photo by Jonathan Moore/Getty Images

It was assumed already, but Mike Scioscia made it official during Monday’s press conference for new general manager Billy Eppler that he will return as Angels manager in 2016.

Scioscia, the longest-tenured manager in the majors, has been at the helm with the Angels since 2000. There was a clause in his contract which allowed him to opt out after the 2015 season, but he has decided to stay put. He still has three years and $15 million on his contract, which runs through 2018.

Jerry Dipoto resigned as Angels general manager in July amid tension with Scioscia, so there were naturally questions today about what to expect with first-time GM Eppler in the fold. According to David Adler of, Scioscia isn’t concerned.

“I think we’re going to mesh very well,” Scioscia said. “If we adjust, or maybe he adjusts to some of the things, there’s going to be collaboration that’s going to make us better.”

Eppler is the fourth general manager during Scioscia’s tenure with the team.

After winning the AL West last season, the Angels finished 85-77 this season and narrowly missed the playoffs. The team hasn’t won a postseason game since 2009.