And That Happened: Sunday's Scores and Highlights


Twins 6, Rangers 5: The coach-touching-the-runner interference call which ended this one is kind of nuts. Mostly because I can’t remember this even being talked about during a ballgame let alone ever having seen it. But it happened, Michael Young was out and the Rangers lost a game it looked like they were poised to at least tie up. My initial thought: even if there was contact here it was nothing of consequence, and did not “physically assist the runner in returning to or leaving third base,” which is what the contact needs to do per the rule in order to justify calling the runner out. In other words, it’s a judgment call, and the ump here, I think, judged it poorly.

All that said, how hilarious was it that third base coach Dave Anderson first yanked his hands back and then busted ass to get back inside the third base coach box as Young was running back to third? He knew they touched, and was trying his best to sell it that they didn’t. I still don’t think Young should have been called out, but maybe there’s a reason they have coaches boxes in the first place, huh?

White Sox 7, Red Sox 5: This is the game that sealed Papelbon’s non-tender this winter, right? Yeah, I realize that Richardson and Manuel walked in the go-ahead run and one to grow on, but they were Papelbon’s guys and the first rule of closing is not to put dudes on, right? Oh, and I’m guessing the White Sox are even angrier at that coach’s interference call in the Rangers-Twins game than the Rangers are. I mean, Texas basically has its playoff spot locked up. The Sox needed Minnesota to lose that one.

Cardinals 4, Reds 2: St. Louis took two of three, but is even that enough at this juncture? Chris Carpenter struck out 11. Matt Holliday hit the three-run bomb to put the Cards up for good. Future Braves centerfielder Colby Rasmus was 2 for 3.

Rockies 4, Padres 2: This is getting really hard to watch. Ten straight down, now the Giants are on the Padres’ heels and the Rockies — 4.5 back — aren’t far behind.

Giants 3, Dodgers 0: How close are the Giants? One game now thanks to a gem from Jonathan Sanchez (7 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 9K). A two run homer for Juan Uribe — his second of the series — but he had to leave the game because, right before his bomb, he fouled one off his leg. Check in with lar and the Tater Trot Tracker to see if Uribe’s trot was negatively impacted.

Mets 18, Cubs 5: An eighteen run outburst on getaway day. How fun do you suppose that flight to D.C. was for the Mets yesterday? Courtesy of the Crank: the Mets have scored 18 or more runs in games seven times in their glorious history. Four of those games were in Wrigley Field.

Marlins 7, Braves 6: I’m happy I spent my afternoon toiling in our basement crawlspace rather than going from angry (Marlins take 6-0 lead) to happy (Braves tie it up) to angry again (Marlins win it in the 10th). Although the crawlspace toiling sucks on several levels too. For one thing my legs are in flaming pain today from all of the crouching and lugging of stuff. For another, most of the lugging was of baseball cards, getting them out of the main part of the basement and into storage so I can make room for a treadmill and weight setup, which will put me in even more pain. Hell, maybe I should have just had a few beers and watched this mess of a game to begin with? In other news, I have way too many damn baseball cards.

Brewers 6, Phillies 2: Philly couldn’t take advantage of Atlanta’s stumble as Kyle Kendrick gave up a three-run bomb to Prince Fielder in the first inning and the Brewers never gave up the lead. Philly remains one behind the Braves.

Mariners 3, Indians 0: I felt pretty confident that Zack Greinke was going to win the Cy Young last year because his ERA and peripherals were so damn good that they had to overcome a lackluster win total that wasn’t his fault.  I’m less confident in Felix Hernandez pulling the same trick this year. Not because he’s not the best starter in the AL — he clearly is in my mind — but because the writers just ain’t gonna do the right thing twice in a row. Anyway, King Felix shut out the Tribe over eight and struck out nine dudes. He’s now 11-10 on the season, but he has 209Ks, has an ERA of 2.30, a WHIP of 1.09 and is going to finish with something like 250 innings pitched and fewer than 20 homers allowed.

Nationals 8, Pirates 1: Not all last place teams are created equal. Pirates starter Charlie Morton did lower his ERA from 10.03 to 9.66, though, so that’s a moral victory, right? Jason
Marquis refereed to himself in the third person after today’s game, describing his recent struggles thusly: “
That wasn’t Jason Marquis; it was Jason Marquis but pitching hurt, trying to battle through.” Craig doesn’t feel comfortable with a guy like Marquis doing that.

Blue Jays 7, Yankees 3: Haven’t scanned the tabloids yet, so someone tell me if any of them have blamed the return of A-Rod for the Yanks’ winning streak getting snapped. I wouldn’t bet a pair of fetid dingo’s kidneys that no one went there. I’d probably bet the pink slip to my car that they did.

Orioles 8, Rays 7: Rocco Baldelli hit a two-run homer in his first at bat of the season and three other Rays had dingers too, but they weren’t enough to stop Buck Showalter from snagging his 900th career win.

Royals 2, Tigers 1: Jim Leyland: “You’re not going to win any games normally with three hits.”  That’s why he makes the big bucks, folks.

Angels 7, Athletics 4: Anaheim salvages one after getting shut down on Friday and Saturday. Ervin Santana lowers ran his career ERA against Oakland to 1.80 ERA and improved to 12-3 against them lifetime.

Astros 3, Diamondbacks 2: From the AP recap: “Get rid of the first eight games of the season and the Houston Astros would be a .500 team.” Yeah, and if a frog had wings he wouldn’t bump his ass a-hoppin’. OK, that was harsh. I get the point — the Astros have been pretty good in recent weeks — but I like to whip out that “if a frog had wings” thing once or twice a year and I don’t think I’ve done it yet. I got another one about how my auntie would be me uncle if certain things were different, but this is a family blog so I’ll save that for when I usually use it: in conversations with my children.

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.