And That Happened: Wednesday's Scores and Highlights


Dodgers 2, Giants 0: Chad Billingsley puts an end to L.A.’s skid by spinning a five-hit shutout of the Giants.  Good thing he went the distance too, because Don Mattingly was managing last night due to Joe Torre’s suspension and that way he didn’t need to make a mound visit.

Padres 6, Braves 4: Billy Wagner has been outstanding this year, but even he’s gonna get hit once in a while. Atlanta had a two-run lead heading into the ninth, but the Padres rallied and then plated two more in the 12th.  Can’t win ’em all and, hey, with Philly and New York seemingly losing ’em all, no harm, no foul.

Mariners 2, White Sox 1: A hell of a pitchers’ duel, as King Felix shuts out the Sox over eight innings and Gavin Floyd shuts down the M’s over seven.  The pens continued to put up blanks through the tenth innings. But Brandon League gave up an RBI single in the top of the 11th and Bobby Jenks — not to be outdone —  gave up a two-run single in the bottom of the inning.  Oh wait — I guess he was to be outdone.  Looks we’re back to a closer controversy in Chicago too, as Ozzie Gullen said after the game that “all options are open now” when it comes to who will close games for the Sox.

Cardinals 5, Phillies 1: See what I mean? Jaime Garcia shuts down the Phillies, but don’t worry, Philadelphia is totally the best team in the NL. You have to believe that too, because it was written in a newspaper.  As for the Cardinals, if what those irresponsible, rumor-mongering blogger heathens are saying is true, Garcia probably wouldn’t even get a start in the NLDS.

Diamondbacks 4, Mets 3: New York managed only seven runs in three games while getting swept by the lowly Dbacks. Even worse, they went scoreless in eight innings against the Dbacks’ pen last night, and that’s no easy thing to do. But hey, Oliver Perez pitched a scoreless inning and a third in relief!

Pirates 15, Brewers 3: Pedro Alvarez hits two homers for the second straight night. He’s good, no question, but it helps that the Brewers’ staff couldn’t get your momma out.

Marlins 5, Rockies 2: Every few weeks there’s a series that feels like it has lasted 11 days. That is the Florida-Colorado series. I know objectively that they’ve played only three games and have one more scheduled for today, but if you put a gun to my head and asked me how I really felt, I’d say they kicked off this series sometime last September. Florida has won four of five, by the way.

Tigers 4, Rangers 1: Max Scherzer threw seven scoreless innings to help the Tigers break the skid.  Ron Washington got to take a late night flight home from Detroit last night, he faces the division rival Angels tonight, and between now and game time has to schlep over to Fort Worth to testify in the Rangers’ bankruptcy hearing in which his boss Nolan Ryan has a direct personal stake in the outcome. No pressure, Ron.

Nationals 8, Reds 5: Strasburg gives up three runs on seven hits in five and two-thirds, but he struck out seven and that’s what the people came to see. And let’s cut the guy some slack: he was facing the best offense in the NL in that bandbox they call a home park.

Athletics 6, Red Sox 4: Clay Buchholz comes back and the results weren’t pretty: five runs on six hits in four innings and that was that. The Sox are 2-5 since the break.

Royals 5, Blue Jays 2: I know wins don’t matter, but I was getting tired of seeing Zack Greinke get undeserved losses and no-decisions earlier this year, so I am happy to report that yesterday he won for the fourth time in his last five starts.

Twins 6, Indians 0: I tried like hell to find it again and couldn’t, but I swear that yesterday that some writer passed along something he overheard in the Indians’ clubhouse to the effect of “I totally got Liriano’s number” or words to that effect. Whoever it was wasn’t in the lineup yesterday, because no one could touch the guy (7 IP, 6 H, 0 ER).

Yankees 10, Angels 6: Having Twitter up during a daytime Yankees game is kind of like torture. I love the passion in Yankees fans — really I do — but the degree to which they live and die on every pitch is exhausting enough for those disinterested people watching/reading them, so I have no idea how Yankees fans themselves don’t have heart attacks all the time. Javier Vazquez had a bad day and people freaked. Hideki Matsui hit a homer and people pined for him. Colin Curtis hit an improbable home run and people practically weeped with pride and joy.  It’s not good, it’s not bad, it’s just so . . . emotional.

Astros 4, Cubs 3: Ted Lilly and Brett Myers both help their trade stock by giving up a lone run over seven innings (well, Lilly was seven and a third), but neither got any run support so this one went 12. Geovany Soto wins it on a walkoff jack OK, I have no idea where that came from. Sleep deprivation, I guess. For those of you who aren’t paying attention, Soto is at .295/.412/.529 on the year with 13 dingers.

Rays 5, Orioles 4: For the second night in a row the Rays blew a four-run lead, but this time they held the line and went on to score one more in the sixth which proved to be the game winner. For the Orioles, Ty Wigginton hit his second home run in as many days. Yeah, I’m basically writing about the Orioles only insofar as they are the current receptacles of players who could be useful for other teams at the trade deadline. Wanna make something of it?

Maybe Alcides Escobar shouldn’t bat leadoff

Alcides Escobar

Alcides Escobar finished with a .292 OBP this year. He came in at .246 in 117 at-bats in August and .257 in 109 at-bats between September and October, so he wasn’t exactly flying high entering the postseason. Still, that didn’t stop Ned Yost from putting him into the leadoff spot for Thursday’s Game 1 against the Astros.

Yost finally did reconsider hitting Escobar first in September. It took Alex Gordon‘s return to health, plus the previous addition of Ben Zobrist to the lineup, in order to make that happen. However, it didn’t stick. Escobar hit ninth in each of his starts from Sept. 7-26, batting .236 with a .276 OBP during that span. With five games left to go, he was suddenly returned to the leadoff spot. The Royals went on to win all five games. Yost saw it as a sign, even though Escobar went 5-for-22 with no walks in those games.

Escobar went 0-for-4 in Thursday’s loss to the Astros. He did not swing at the first pitch of the game, which probably explains the defeat.

It’s been difficult to argue with Yost since last year’s World Series run and this year’s incredible run out of the game. The blind spot with Escobar, though, gets rather infuriating. One can defend hitting him leadoff against the Astros’ lefties. His career OBP against southpaws is .319 (.316 this year). Against righties, he’s the most obvious No. 9 hitter alive, with a career .258/.290/.342 line (.252/.284/.314 this year). He’s not a pace-setter. He’s not a spark plug. He’s a liability.

Astros top Royals in Game 1 of ALDS

Houston Astros' Jose Altuve, left, celebrates with teammate Luis Valbuena after scoring a run during the first inning in Game 1 of baseball's American League Division Series against the Kansas City Royals, Thursday, Oct. 8, 2015, in Kansas City. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

After shutting out the Yankees in the AL Wild Card game on Tuesday, the Astros beat the Royals 5-2 in Game 1 of the ALDS on Thursday at Kauffman Stadium. Road teams are now 4-0 to begin the 2015 postseason.

The Astros grabbed an early 3-0 lead against Yordano Ventura through two innings. Chris Young took over for the Royals after a 47-minute rain delay and was very effective for the most part, allowing just a solo homer to George Springer over four innings while striking out seven batters. Colby Rasmus, who homered in the Wild Card game, took Ryan Madson deep in the eighth inning to give the Astros’ bullpen some extra breathing room.

Collin McHugh stayed in after the rain delay and ended up tossing six innings while allowing just four hits and one walk. Kendrys Morales did all the damage against him with a pair of solo homers. He’s the first Royals player to hit two home runs in a postseason game since George Brett in the 1985 ALCS.

The Royals’ offense showed some signs of life in the bottom of the eighth inning with back-to-back two-out hits against Will Harris, but Oliver Perez got Eric Hosmer to foul out to end the threat. Luke Gregerson tossed a scoreless ninth inning to finish off the victory.

Consistent with their identity during the regular season, the Astros won despite striking out 14 times. The same goes for the Royals, as they struck out just four times. Despite putting the ball into play more often, the Kansas City lineup wasn’t able to muster anything aside from the home runs by Morales.

Game 2 of the ALDS will begin Friday at 3:45 p.m. ET. Scott Kazmir will pitch for the Astros and Johnny Cueto will get the ball for the Royals.

George Springer homers to extend Astros’ lead over Royals

Houston Astros' George Springer (4) celebrates with teammates after scoring a run in the first inning in Game 1 of baseball's American League Division Series against the Kansas City Royals, Thursday, Oct. 8, 2015, in Kansas City. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
AP Photo/Charlie Riedel
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After Kendrys Morales brought the Royals within one run in the bottom of the fourth inning with his second solo home run of the game, George Springer took Chris Young deep in the top of the fifth to extend the Astros’ lead to 4-2 in Game 1 of the ALDS.

According to Statcast, the ball traveled an estimated 422 feet and left Springer’s bat at 109 mph. Royals fans are happy it was just a solo home run. It could have been worse, as Jose Altuve singled to lead off the fifth inning before being thrown out trying to steal second base during Springer’s at-bat.

The Royals will try to answer as we move to the bottom of the fifth inning at Kauffman Stadium.