And That Happened: Thursday's Scores and Highlights


Rangers 3, Angels 2: The Rangers get Cliff Lee and unleash him on their division rivals! Not to be outdone, the Angels acquire Alberto Callaspo!  Wait, that’s totally being out-done. It’s been a nice run, Anaheim, but you just ain’t got the horses this year.

We now begin a stretch of five straight games in which the losers were shut out:

Phillies 2, Cardinals 0: Cole Hamels and Adam Wainwright respectfully disagree with the notion that the Phillies and Cardinals should be fighting over who lands the big pitcher at the trade deadline. Each would prefer some run support, thank you. Eight innings of one-hit ball for Hamels, six innings of shutout ball for Wainwright, neither in on the decision. Placido Polanco and Jayson Werth come through in the 11th for the Phillies.

Dodgers 2, Mets 0: If it’s Thursday it must mean that the Mets are getting shut out in California. Hiroki Kuroda this time, who combined with Hong-Chih Kuo to blank New York. All of the scoring came via the bat of Matt Kemp who hit a homer and had an RBI double.  In other news, this is the kind of nightmare road trip that gets managers fired.

Braves 8, Padres 0: Tim Hudson shuts down the Padres as Alex Gonzalez, Jason Heyward and Chipper Jones lead the way on offense. After the game Chipper said this team reminded him of the 1995 Braves. I guess he’d know best. My view: needs more Lemke.

Giants 3, Diamondbacks 0: Matt Cain and Brian Wilson spin a three-hit
shutout of the Dbacks. Buster Posey extends his hitting streak to
sixteen games.

Twins 5, Orioles 0: A five-hit shutout for Carl Pavano, replete with all kinds of ejecty-goodness for a very frustrated Orioles team. Aaron Gleeman with the fact of the day: “Carl Pavano has now started 32 games for the Twins: 17-10 with 3.72 ERA, 140/35 K/BB ratio in 217.1 IP.” Yankees fans, you may now bang your head against a table.

Nationals 7, Reds 1: Watching pitchers fresh off Tommy John surgery is like watching Ash in “Evil Dead II.”  Sometimes they kick ass, sometimes they have absolutely no control over their own hand. The ball was going all over the place for Edinson Volquez, and Adam Dunn used his boomstick to hit a two-run home run off him.  Hail to the king, baby.

Red Sox 8, Mariners 6: John Lackey had a no-hitter into the eighth inning, and the Bosox had a 6-1 lead entering the ninth when the pen — and to be fair, the defense — imploded, allowing Seattle to tie it. Eric Patterson saved everyone’s bacon with a two-run double in the top of the 13th, but really, this was a near disaster for Boston.  Oh, and check out this sick catch by Ichiro to rob Big Papi of a homer.

Yankees 10, Royals 4: Inside the park homer for Jeter (and some pfun pfacts about it!). Home run number 599 for A-Rod.  All hail the Royals’ AL-high team batting average: fourteen hits a piece for the Royals and the Yankees, a six-run difference on the scoreboard. There’s a lesson in there somewhere.

Brewers 3, Pirates 2:  The top of the eighth inning ended with Prince Fielder (ginormous) barreling into Pirates’ catcher Erik Kratz (humongous) on a play at the plate.  The reverberations were felt all the way back home in Milwaukee, ripping the ground wide open and causing this Cadillac Escalade to be swallowed by the Earth.  True story.

Marlins 3, Rockies 2: A walkoff RBI single for Ronny Paulino gives the Feesh their third win in four games against the Rockies, who certainly haven’t started out the second half of the season the way they wanted to.

Tigers 5, Blue Jays 2: The Jays had opportunities to extend an early two-run lead, but stranded runners and failed to get a timely hit or two. After that Verlander bore down and Toronto just didn’t have a chance.  The Jays ran themselves out of an inning when Yunel Escobar got thrown out trying to stretch a double into a triple with two-outs in the seventh. Cito Gaston: “I’m sure our coaches will talk to him about that play. You can’t go for third in that situation unless you know you are going
to make it standing up. You can score just as easily from second with
two out as you can from third.” Somewhere Bobby Cox chortled good luck wishes to the Blue Jays coaches.

Maybe Alcides Escobar shouldn’t bat leadoff

Alcides Escobar
1 Comment

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
Leave a comment

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.