And That Happened: Thursday's Scores and Highlights


Phillies 5, Marlins 4: Ugly game, with each team trying valiantly to lose throughout, but third base ump Bob Davidson was the ugliest part of all. He blew the call on what would have been the game-winning hit by Gaby Sanchez in the bottom of the ninth, calling it foul when it most clearly was not. Not that he’d know, because he was out of position to make the call. Really, check the screen cap to the right: he’s looking up. The ball is down and to his left.

This crap is just inexcusable. You can institute replay to fix these mistakes or — and this is even more nutty — you can hire umpires who know their ass from their elbow. What you can’t do is let bad calls like this stand in an age when it’s possible to review and correct every single bad call almost immediately after it happens.

Twins 8, Rays 6: OK, this may have been an even bigger horsesh– reason to lose a game than a bad call: Jason Kubel’s pop to shallow left in the top of the ninth hit the
catwalk at Tropicana Field and dropped for an RBI single, giving the
Twins a 7-6 lead in a game they won 8-6. Joe Maddon freaked. As would I have. Then again, at least everyone knew this could happen beforehand because it’s part of the ground rules of the place. No one, in contrast, would have expected that an extra-base hit would be called a foul ball for no good reason in that Philly-Florida game.

Orioles 5, Angels 4: The power of Buck compels you. The Angels have now lost all three Dan Haren starts since the big trade.

Pirates 5, Rockies 1: James McDonald shut out the Rockies over six while striking out eight. I guess that means he’s still helping the Dodgers out, loosely speaking, but eventually they’re going to realize that it was probably a mistake getting rid of him.

Braves 3, Giants 2: Both teams had tons of scoring chances that went by the wayside so in the end the dingers decided it. Two off Tim Lincecum — one for Alex Gonzalez, one for Eric Hinske — which doesn’t happen very often. Jair Jurrjens wasn’t anything special, allowing seven hits, five of which were doubles, and walking three. The Giants should have scored more runs off that, but that’s where this recap started so we’re just going around in circles now.

Red Sox 6, Indians 2: An Adrian Beltre homer and the good version of Dice-K (more valuable because it’s rare!) take care of business.

White Sox 6, Tigers 4: Bobby Jenks did all he could do to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, but a two-run triple by Mark Kotsay in the 11th sealed the deal for the Chisox. There are too many good relievers in that Sox pen for Ozzie Guillen to keep using Jenks when he obviously doesn’t trust him.

Padres 5, Dodgers 0: Five pitchers combine to blank L.A., and the Padres are now up two games up on the Giants. Starter Kevin Correia was rather lucky, actually, as he had no strikeouts and gave up a few warning track flies in his five and two-thirds innings.

Rangers 6, Mariners 0: Tommy Hunter bounces back from his first loss of the season to shut down the Mariners. Not that they were running at such a high velocity to begin with. The AP game story is the first time I’ve seen the word “embattled” applies to Don Wakamatsu’s name. I don’t expect it to be the last. And I presume by October it will change to “former.”

Diamondbaks 8, Nationals 4: Sticking with AP game stories, this one contained a classic passage that I think says it all: “The few who showed up got to see a sometimes-stinky game filled with
four errors, a botched squeeze and a strikeout that scored a run.”  “Sometimes Stinky” sounds like the name of an album from some twee, overly-studied British folk duo from the mid-90s.

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.