And That Happened: Monday's Scores and Highlights


Phillies 3, Braves 1: I was momentarily angry when Derek Lowe gave up the homer to Greg Dobbs in the sixth, but then I acknowledged to myself that it didn’t matter. Lowe wasn’t likely to pitch a shutout anyway, and with Roy Halladay dealing like he was dealing, that’s what would have been required. So I said “screw it,” poured myself a drink and enjoyed watching arguably the best pitcher in baseball carve my dudes up. It’s far more enjoyable, truth be told, to see someone like Halladay do it than to have some tomato can shut you down. Halladay only needed 93 pitches to throw the complete game for cryin’ out loud. Game was over fast enough for me to read a couple of chapters in this pretty spiffy book I just got before I moved on to the box scores. Hey, I want to win, but if you have to lose, that’s the way to do it.

Reds 8, Mets 6: Also, if your team has to lose, best that they do it on a night when their closest competitors lose too. The one got wild in the fifth with the teams combining to score 11 runs off of starters who just lost it. Jerry Manuel got ejected when a bases loaded strikeout of Scott Rolen was overruled and changed to a HBP, bringing in what was then the go-ahead run.  For what it’s worth I think it was the right call — the ball looked like it hit Rolen — but calls are overturned so rarely that you can see why Manuel got hot.  Oddest thing: this may have been a cross-league makeup call by the umpiring crew.  Same four dudes had a similar play in the Yankees-Blue Jays game on Sunday, but the umps refused to call it a HBP.  Oh, and two homers for Joey Votto. Now that he came up big against New York, maybe Colin Cowherd will finally figure out who he is.

Tigers 12, Orioles 9: I hit this one up yesterday afternoon.  Kevin Millwood might not be able to get traded for a Donruss Duke Snider Diamond Kings puzzle and a pack of those K-Mart MVP cards from the mid-80s right now.

White Sox 9, Angels 2: Two homers for Carlos Quentin, and seven strong innings from Gavin Floyd.  Whatever happened to Scott Kazmir anyway (6.1 IP, 6 H, 7 ER)?

Cubs 9, Diamondbacks 4: Tom Gorzelanny somehow survived walking six guys in five innings. If he makes a habit of that we’ll start calling him Teflon Tom (no we won’t). I think the Diamondbacks had early dinner reservations or something, because they struck out eight times in the final three and a third innings.

Rays 6, Red Sox 5: Daisuke Matsuzaka and Boston blew a 5-1 lead.  Seriously: how can anyone watch Matsuzaka pitch? The guy walked four, gave up eight hits and threw 112 pitches in five innings. It’s bad enough when he wins, but when he’s frittering a game away like that he’s an affront to all that is good and decent in the world.  Terry Francona must like it though. I mean, he had ample opportunity to yank him before the Rays actually came all the way back, but didn’t.

Giants 6, Brewers 1: Bases loaded, game tied at 1 in the seventh inning, one out. Freddy Sanchez grounder to Alcides Escobar looks to be a double play ball — but no — Escobar drops it, everyone’s safe and the floodgates open four four runs, effectively ending the game.  Hey, at least the postgame tailgating at Miller Park is fun and takes the edge off and everything, right?

Royals 6, Mariners 4: King Felix left with a 4-2 lead but the bullpen couldn’t hold on to it when he left after the seventh. Yuniesky Bentancourt hit the go-ahead single in the 10th.

Yankees 3, Athletics 1: Javy Vazquez gave up on run over seven innings. Most interesting stat of the game, however: It was just 58 degrees at first pitch. It’s one of the few times that New Yorkers trying to make it through this sweltering week will ever be envious of people who live in Oakland.

Marlins 6, Dodgers 5: John Ely gave up six runs and nine hits in less than three innings and has now lost four of his last five starts for the Dodgers. Wait, that’s a strange way to put it. It’s not like he’s had starts for other teams during that time.

Indians 9, Rangers 3: Matt LaPorta hit yet another homer for Cleveland — his fifth since his callup. That’s good. Not so good: he was smacked in the back of the head with Elvis Andrus’ elbow during a play at first base and was knocked out of the game. He was taken to the hospital for a CT scan and, according to Manny Acta, he threw up a bit after coming out of the game.  It was a bruising game all around for Cleveland, as Austin Kearns was plunked three times too.

Concerns over Jon Lester’s throwing ability much ado about nothing

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 20: Jon Lester #34 of the Chicago Cubs pitches against the Los Angeles Dodgers in game five of the National League Division Series at Dodger Stadium on October 20, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Josh Lefkowitz/Getty Images)
Josh Lefkowitz/Getty Images

Going into Thursday night’s NLCS Game 5, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts planned to have his team be annoying and distracting on the base paths for Cubs starter Jon Lester. Lester, you see, has a hard time making throws when he’s not pitching from the rubber, as seen here.

The Dodgers got an immediate opportunity to test their strategy, as Enrique Hernandez drew a four-pitch walk to start the game in the bottom of the first inning. Hernandez was taking leads between 15 and 25 feet, just taunting Lester to throw over to first base. Lester never did. And despite being given the luxury of such a large lead, Hernandez never attempted to steal second base.

It ended up costing the Dodgers a run. After Justin Turner struck out, Corey Seager lined a single to center field. Hernandez, large lead and all, should’ve been well on his way to third base, but he settled for staying at second base. Carlos Ruiz then flied out to right field on what should’ve been a sacrifice fly. Hernandez instead just advanced to third. Howie Kendrick grounded out to end the inning with the Dodgers having scored no runs.

In the bottom of the second inning with two outs, Joc Pederson dropped down a bunt, but Lester was able to field it and make a bounce-throw to Anthony Rizzo at first base to end the inning. Lester stared angrily into the Dodgers’ dugout as he walked off the field. If it were me, I’d have been glaring angrily not because the opposing team was attempting to exploit my weakness, but because the strategy is so poor.

The bunting would continue in the seventh inning as first baseman and noted power hitter Adrian Gonzalez tried to sneak a bunt past Lester on the right side of the infield. Second baseman Javier Baez was able to scoop it up and fire to first. Gonzalez was initially ruled safe, but the call was overturned upon replay review.

Lester countered the Dodgers’ bunting and greedy lead-taking by just pitching his game. He went seven innings, allowing just one run on five hits and a walk with six strikeouts on 108 pitches. The Cubs went on to win 8-4, taking a 3-2 lead in the NLCS. A worthy consideration for the National League Cy Young Award based on his regular season performance, Lester now has a 0.86 ERA in 21 innings spanning three starts this postseason. Turns out, the yips isn’t debilitating if you’re really good at your main job.

Cubs swat their way past the Dodgers 8-4 in NLCS Game 5

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 20:  Addison Russell #27 of the Chicago Cubs hits a two-run home run in the sixth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers in game five of the National League Division Series at Dodger Stadium on October 20, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

During the regular season, the Cubs had the second-best offense in baseball behind the Rockies, averaging 4.99 runs per game. It was the best after debiting the Rockies for playing in Coors Field. There was no way, after getting shut out in NLCS Games 2 and 3, that the offense was going to stay dormant much longer. They broke out for 10 runs in a Game 4 victory on Wednesday night. They scored eight more to beat the Dodgers 8-4 in Game 5, taking a 3-2 NLCS lead.

The Cubs took an early 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning when leadoff batter Dexter Fowler greeted Kenta Maeda with a single to center field. He’d come around to score on a one-out double by Anthony Rizzo who, like teammate Addison Russell, hadn’t hit much until breaking out in Game 4.

Starter Jon Lester was able to silence the Dodgers’ offense despite their strategy of attempting bunts and taking big leads, knowing Lester has trouble throwing when it’s not from the pitching rubber. They managed just one run, coming around in the fourth inning to knot the game at 1-1 when Howie Kendrick doubled, stole third base, and scored on an Adrian Gonzalez ground out.

Ultimately, Lester lasted seven innings, holding the Dodgers to five hits and a walk with six strikeouts on 108 pitches. Addison Russell allowed him to leave with a lead, slugging a two-run home run off of reliever Joe Blanton in the sixth to break the 1-1 tie.

The Cubs tacked on plenty of insurance in the top of the eighth against reliever Pedro Baez, which proved to be rather necessary. Russell reached on an error by Baez, Willson Contreras singled, and Albert Almora, Jr. moved both runners up a base on a sacrifice bunt. Dexter Fowler then hit a single to first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, but Baez didn’t break to cover first base. Gonzalez wasn’t able to beat Fowler to the bag, allowing the Cubs’ fourth run to score. Kris Bryant hit a weak grounder to third base and he was able to beat that out as well, pushing across another run in the process. Anthony Rizzo lined out, but Baez prolonged the inning by walking Ben Zobrist. Ross Stripling relieved Baez, but he served up a bases-clearing double to Javier Baez, making it an 8-1 ballgame. Jason Heyward, as has often been the case, popped up feebly, mercifully ending the inning with the Cubs having hung up a five-spot.

Pedro Strop took over for Lester in the bottom of the eighth. He gave up a double to Andrew Toles, then hit Justin Turner to begin the inning. Though Strop was able to induce a ground ball double play from Corey Seager, Carlos Ruiz followed up with a double to left-center to push in a run. Howie Kendrick flied out to send the game to the ninth.

Closer Aroldis Chapman took over with a six-run lead in the bottom of the ninth. He issued a leadoff walk to Gonzalez, then served up a single to Yasiel Puig. Joc Pederson grounded out, but Josh Reddick knocked in Gonzalez and moved Puig to third with a single to center. Toles plated Puig with a sacrifice fly, making it 8-4. Turner grounded out to shortstop to end the game, finalizing the victory for the Cubs.

The two clubs will take Friday off to travel back to Chicago. Game 6 will take place at Wrigley Field at 8:00 PM EDT. Clayton Kershaw will start for the Dodgers opposite the Cubs’ Kyle Hendricks.