And That Happened: Wednesday's Scores and Highlights

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Carlos Lee swing.jpgAstros 6, Rockies 2: Wow. Walkoff (why did I think the Astros were at home?) game-winning grand slam by Carlos Lee in the tenth inning. Someone isn’t happy about being called “untradeable” for the past two months.  Dude has been on fire in June.

Indians 11, Red Sox 0: Yesterday I observed that Tuesday night was a pretty epic night for pitchers (turns out it was only mildly epic).  Last night was a pretty big blowout night.  This one led the way, with Tribe unloading on Boof Bonser and Joe Nelson for eight runs in the eighth. Not that they needed all those runs with Justin Masterson shutting down the Boston bats with a two-hit shutout.

Rays 10, Blue Jays 1: I’m suddenly hearing nothing from that dude who keeps showing up in my Power Rankings threads beefing about me not showing any respect to the Blue Jays.  I know he’s out there — he has accurately monitored my torrid east coast bias for weeks now — but I have yet to hear him explain to me how this series with the Rays in which the Jays have so far been outscored 19-1 fits into the Toronto Master Plan.

White Sox 15, Tigers 3: The Chicago Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup last night. Ozzie Guillen was rooting for them, but after the game he was a bit sad too: “It took us three months to score 15 runs and now
nobody is going to know.”
Remember when Rick Porcello was the hot young pitching prospect we were
all talking about? Yeah, well, that seems like a long damn time ago,
kiddo (3.1 IP, 8 H, 8 ER, 6.09 ERA on the season).

Rangers 12, Mariners 2:  The blowouts just keep on coming. Remind me next winter when some team is signing and trading all kinds of dudes to not get too excited about all the “noise” they’re making in the offseason, OK?

Cubs 9, Brewers 2: Randy Wolf gives up five homers and, by his own admission, is living a “nightmare” season.  I think that goes for everyone in BrewersLand.

Twins 6, Royals 2: Carl Pavano gives up two over eight innings to shut down Kansas City. The Royals have a secret weapon though: they drafted the great-great nephew of Shoeless Joe Jackson with their last pick yesterday. He’s a catcher. I have no idea if he’s any good, but maybe he’ll teach them how to put the fix in or something.

Reds 6, Giants 3: Buster Posey’s first major league homer was really the only highlight for the Giants. Orlando Cabrera messed around and got three doubles for Cincinnati.

Nationals 7, Pirates 5: After a sellout night for Strasburg, only 18,876 pay to see John Lannan pitch.  I guess I understand that, but Lannan had a pretty memorable debut himself a couple of years ago: he broke Chase Utley’s hand, plunked Ryan Howard and then got tossed.

Yankees 4, Orioles 2: The Yankees lead the season series 10-1. Mercy.

Diamondbacks 2, Braves 1: Ugh. The Dbacks win on an inside the park home run occasioned by Nate McLouth and Jason Heyward slamming into each other in the outfield. McLouth had to leave the game, but he seems OK. The video was scary. Losing a game on that kind of hit is frustrating.

Dodgers 4, Cardinals 3: Manny Ramirez hit a two-run homer and Clayton Kershaw struck out 10 as the Dodgers sweep the Cardinals. The Cards could have scored the tying run in the 9th, but Yadier Molina’s long drive ended up bouncing over the wall for a ground-rule double, causing Pujols to have to stop at third.

Angels 7, Athletics 1: Joe Saunders goes the distance, scattering seven hits and allowing a lone run.  Dallas Braden, who surrendered five runs on 11 hits, hasn’t done much to write home about since the perfecto.

Padres vs. Mets: Postponed: I can show you that when it starts to rain, everything’s the same.

Marlins vs. Phillies: Postponed: This is the mystery of the quotient – Upon us all a little rain must
fall . . . It’s just a little rain…

In the playoffs, the Yankees’ weakness has become their strength

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Two weeks ago, when the playoffs began, the idea of “bullpenning” once again surfaced, this time with the Yankees as a focus. Because their starting pitching was believed to be a weakness — they had no obvious ace like a Dallas Keuchel or Corey Kluber — and their bullpen was a major strength, the idea of chaining relievers together starting from the first inning gained traction. The likes of Luis Severino, who struggled mightily in the AL Wild Card game, or Masahiro Tanaka (4.79 regular season ERA) couldn’t be relied upon in the postseason, the thought went.

That idea is no longer necessary for the Yankees because the starting rotation has become the club’s greatest strength. Tanaka fired seven shutout innings to help push the Yankees ahead of the Astros in the ALCS, three games to two. They are now one win away from reaching the World Series for the first time since 2009.

It hasn’t just been Tanaka. Since Game 3 of the ALDS, Yankees pitchers have made eight starts spanning 46 1/3 innings. They have allowed 10 runs (nine earned) on 25 hits and 12 walks with 45 strikeouts. That’s a 1.75 ERA with an 8.74 K/9 and 2.33 BB/9. In five of those eight starts, the starter went at least six innings, which has helped preserve the freshness and longevity of the bullpen.

Here’s the full list of performances for Yankee starters this postseason:

Game Starter IP H R ER BB SO HR
AL WC Luis Severino 1/3 4 3 3 1 0 2
ALDS 1 Sonny Gray 3 1/3 3 3 3 4 2 1
ALDS 2 CC Sabathia 5 1/3 3 4 2 3 5 0
ALDS 3 Masahiro Tanaka 7 3 0 0 1 7 0
ALDS 4 Luis Severino 7 4 3 3 1 9 2
ALDS 5 CC Sabathia 4 1/3 5 2 2 0 9 0
ALCS 1 Masahiro Tanaka 6 4 2 2 1 3 0
ALCS 2 Luis Severino 4 2 1 1 2 0 1
ALCS 3 CC Sabathia 6 3 0 0 4 5 0
ALCS 4 Sonny Gray 5 1 2 1 2 4 0
ALCS 5 Masahiro Tanaka 7 3 0 0 1 8 0
TOTAL 55 1/3 35 20 17 20 52 6

In particular, if you hone in on the ALCS starts specifically, Yankee starters have pitched 28 innings, allowing five runs (four earned) on 13 hits and 10 walks with 20 strikeouts. That’s a 1.61 ERA.

While the Yankees’ biggest weakness has become a strength, the Astros’ biggest weakness — the bullpen — has become an even bigger weakness. This is why the Yankees, who won 10 fewer games than the Astros during the regular season, are one win away from reaching the World Series and the Astros are not.