And That Happened: Thursday's Scores and Highlights


Mets 6, Indians 4: The Mets and R.A. Dickey simply can’t lose.  The previous sentence would have made no logical sense to anyone on the planet just a few short weeks ago. Seven straight for the Mets as they go back home to face the Yankees. Well, they’ll be on the road, technically, but they will be able to sleep in their own beds and everything.  In other news, we heard that both John Maine and Oliver Perez are making rehabilitation starts down on the farm someplace. The way things are going for the big club since they left, I have this feeling that there will be “setbacks” in their rehab.

Phillies 7, Yankees 1: As everyone predicted, the Phillies were simply waiting to go play the hapless New York Yankees in Yankee Stadium in order to snap out of their funk. Between Jamie Moyer throwing his near-stationary junk by them on Wednesday night and Kyle Kendrick baffling them with sinkers last night, methinks the book on the Yankees may be to lay off the gas.

Braves 3, Rays 1: Atlanta holds off Philly and New York by somehow taking two of three from the Rays. Tim Hudson gave up one run in seven innings for his seventh win in what has been one of the quieter spiffy seasons among pitchers this year (7-2, 2.34 ERA). Jason Heyward hit his first homer since May 29th.

Red Sox 8, Diamondbacks 5: With both the Bombers and the Rays losing, the Sox are now only two games back. According to the AP game story “Boston became the only team with three eight-game winners.”  If this was the 80s, Donruss would come up with a special card with Lester, Lackey and Buchholz on it each holding out baseballs with the number eight written on them in magic marker over the title “Eight Balls” or something. Actually, come to think of it, Donruss may have already done that with Dave Parker, Dale Berra and Rod Scurry. Different deal altogether, though.

5, Astros 2
: Here’s some bizarre stuff: Yuniesky Betancourt hit a
line drive to shortstop Geoff Blum in the fifth that led to the end of
the inning when David DeJesus was doubled off second. Except the umpires
reversed the call after everyone left the field, ruling that the ball
had been trapped, not caught. They ended up calling Betancourt out at
first, ruling that Geoff Blum would have thrown him out, and they
awarded DeJesus third base. This despite the fact that Blum never threw
to first base and despite the fact that DeJesus  likely never would have
advanced to third if it was a ground ball to the left side.

And guess what? The umps seem to have gotten this right. Replays seem to
show that the ball was trapped.  The umpires — checking their egos for
the good of the game — got the call right once they conferred. Given
that runners were in motion and stuff it’s not easy to figure out what
to do on the play, but Rule 9.01 (c) states that each umpire
“has authority to rule on any point not specifically covered in these
rules,” and this kind of play seems not to be in the rules.  I’ll think
harder about this one as the morning unfolds and the coffee kicks in,
but as of now I think that, even though you maybe should keep DeJesus at second
base on the call, all-in-all
this makes sense as a good bit of judgment and a good bit of umpiring.

Rockies 5, Twins 1: Ubaldo Jimenez gives up eight hits. It’s a shame to
see his season unravel like that.

Reds 7, Dodgers 1:  I hit this one up yesterday afternoon. It
was Arroyoriffic

Rangers 6, Marlins 4: The Rangers sweep the Feesh behind three RBI from Ian Kinsler. Mike Stanton is now 0 for his last 12 with six strikeouts.

White Sox 5, Pirates 4: How low can the Pirates go?  That’s 11 straight in the dustbin for Pittsburgh. The Sox have won seven of eight. Mark Buehrle is now the winningest interleague pitcher, running his record to 22-6 against the NL in regular season games, which puts him one ahead of Jamie Moyer and Mike Mussina. Moyer will probably pass up Buehrle once the latter retires, however.

Cubs 3, Athletics 2: Kosuke Fukudome came in as a pinch hitter in the eighth, hit a single and came around to score the tying run, stayed in the game and drove home the winning run with a ninth inning single. Jerry Blevins gave up that last hit, by the way. I guess he wasn’t lucky.

Tigers 8, Nationals 3: What good is this Stephen Strasburg character if he can’t help the Nats win?!  They’re under .500 since he’s been called up! Give me Jack Morris or someone who knows what it takes to put Ws on the board over some overpriced strikeout machine any day!  (did you like that? I’m thinking of trying out to do some talk radio and I figured I could hone my shtick here a bit. OK, now check this out):  And what’s with Miguel Cabrera?!  Sure, he he’s hitting .332 with 19 homers and 59 RBI, but I have yet to see him once lay down a bunt and get the runner over this year and he never hits the ball the other way to take what the defense is giving him!  It’s all me-first stats with that guy! Next caller!

Yasiel Puig might be more of a bench guy in the NLDS

Yasiel Puig
AP Photo/Danny Moloshok
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Yasiel Puig appeared in just 79 games during the regular season and missed all of September with a right hamstring strain. He returned on October 3 and appeared in the Dodgers’ final two regular-season games, but that doesn’t mean he is anywhere close to 100 percent heading into the NLDS.

Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles says the Dodgers are unlikely to start Puig over Andre Ethier or Carl Crawford against right-handers in the best-of-five Division Series. And the Mets are scheduled to throw three righties in the first three games: Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, and Matt Harvey. The only left-hander in the Mets’ postseason rotation is Steven Matz, and he is somewhat questionable with a back injury.

Would it make sense to leave Puig off the NLDS roster entirely? If he does aggravate the hamstring injury, which seems possible even in a limited role, that would put him out of the mix for the NLCS.

They could send Puig to Arizona and have him face live pitching for the next 8-10 days.

But that’s just a suggestion. It doesn’t sound like it’s actually a consideration.

Who should you root for in the playoffs?

Mets Fans

If you are a fan of the Yankees, Astros, Blue Jays, Royals, Rangers, Pirates, Cubs, Cardinals, Mets or Dodgers, your life is pretty easy. Your team is in the playoffs and you thus have someone to root for. Enjoy!

But what if your team isn’t in the playoffs? Then what do you do?

Well, the first thing you do is go to SI and follow the great Emma Span’s flowchart which picks a rooting interest for you. It has important considerations for you there which feed into this data-driven solution. Things like how you feel about underdogs, what kind of monster movies you like, your beard preferences and where you fall on the bunting/shifting/irritation scale. Go run your own preferences through the flowchat, but in the meantime know that it gave me the Royals, which is 100% baloney, but let’s not blame Emma for that. She does God’s work most of the time.

If I’m being less scientific, when my Braves are not in the playoffs I generally choose based on my gut, and my gut tends to like (a) individual players more than teams; (b) pitching more than hitting; and (c) newer playoff faces instead of ones who are there every damn year. These aren’t hard and fast rules — I want to see the Dodgers do well because I like Kershaw, Greinke and Puig, but they aren’t new faces and big payroll teams can get bent —  but in generally they hold.

Here are some pros and cons of your potential rooting interests:


Pro: They’re actually underdogs this year, at least according to the oddmakers. Rooting for A-Rod is always a good thing because he is all that is right and just in baseball.

Con: They’re still the friggin’ Yankees and who, besides Yankees fans, roots for the Yankees?


Pro: They’re young and plucky and were supposed to be years away from contention and worst-to-first stories are grand.

Con: If you don’t like sabermetrics and stuff this club might annoy you. Of course if that’s a basis for annoyance for you, you’re probably not reading this blog too often.


Pro: If you dig the longball, these are your huckleberries. Rogers Centre is going to be rocking like crazy, and that’s fun to see.

Con: You’re such a Trump supporter that you’re worried about the NORTHERN border too and you’d feel way more comfortable if there weren’t reasons for foreigners to travel here. Also: the more they advance, the more likely it is that you’re gonna hear Rush music as bumpers between innings.


Pro: Good defense is great. Teams with lots of contributors instead of a couple of megastars are great. They came so close last year and seeing those finally-got-over-the-mountain teams break through is pretty neat. At least it was back when the Bulls followed the Pistons who followed the Celtics. Torch-passing is cool.

Con: Baseball writers online telling you all about their barbecue experiences. Those guys are the worst.


Pro: They came outta nowhere and, the longer they play, the more likely it is we’ll get to see Prince Fielder leg out extra bases. If Josh Hamilton makes the World Series it’ll be even more of an eff you to Arte Moreno, who really deserves an eff you over how he handled the Josh Hamilton situation.

Con: With games in Dallas broadcast by Fox, we’ll almost certainly get some gimmicky double-broadcast stunts from Joe Buck.


Pro: Andrew McCutchen is fun to watch and it would be a shame if, like the early 90s, they had a megastar on the Pirates who just never quite made it to the World Series.

Con: Everyone’s gonna be mad at ’em if they eliminate the Cubs, who are likely going to be every bandwagon fan’s choice this year. Or maybe that’s a pro. Depends on how angry you like everyone to be.


Pro: A lotta fun players on this club and, for as much of a joke and sense of identity it has become, you have to be pretty hard hearted to not at least be somewhat happy for a team breaking a 107-year World Series championship drought.

Con: I think Joe Maddon is a great manager, but the way the media treats him when his teams are doing well is pretty insufferable. The entire World Series broadcast will be people lauding his singular wisdom for bringing the Cubs back to life and forgetting that a multi-year rebuild has just gone down.


Pro: I’ll get back to you on this one. I honestly can’t think of a single reason why a non-Cards fans would root for the Cardinals. They’re not underdogs. They’re in it every year, it seems. People say I hate the Cardinals and that’s not true, but I am very weary of the Cardinals and their storylines much the same way so many people were tied of seeing the Red Sox and Yankees deep into the playoffs every season.

Cons: Pick any number of things. I would venture to say that, if one could measure such a thing, the Cards will have fewer non-Cards fans rooting for them this month than any other team will have non-fans rooting for them.


Pro: Lots of pros here. Perpetual underdogs and sad sacks. Great pitching. They’ve been out of it for years. Cool players like Cespedes and Bartolo and deGrom and Harvey and everyone. Far fewer annoying celebrity fans than the Yankees have. Just a solid, solid choice for a rent-a-root situation, and I say that even as a guy who normally hates the Mets because they’re in my team’s division. Just go with it.

Cons: If they do go far it may get exhausting. Aligning yourself with Mets fans is to align yourself with misery. They could be up 5-0 in Game 7 of the World Series and Mets fans will be worrying about the bullpen and bitching about how they didn’t close it out in five. It’s just always like that with them.


Pro: Fun players in Greinke, Kershaw and Puig. Nice camera shots of the L.A. sunset after they come back from commercial. Good vibes for Vin Scully.

Cons: They are the anti-underdog given their payroll and three straight division titles. I have heard rumors that some people don’t like Yasiel Puig as much as I do, though I have discounted them as slander. Fox’s “spot a celebrity from an upcoming Fox show who just happens to be in the crowd here tonight” game will go into overdrive.

So there are the metrics. Choose wisely.