And That Happened: Tuesday's Scores and Highlights


Phillies 8, Marlins 7: First place. Homers from Howard, Ibanez and Victorino and a go-ahead single from Placido Polanco in the eighth put the Phillies in the catbird seat for the first time since May 30th.

Pirates 5, Braves 0: The Pirates have allowed more runs than any team in baseball this year, yet the Braves have scored just one run in eighteen innings this series. No offense to the Pirates intended, but if you get your ass handed to you by the Pirates pitching staff the way the Braves have these past two games, you don’t deserve to sniff the playoffs, let alone contend for them.

Orioles 6, Yankees 2: And while it’s nowhere near as bad getting beat by the resurgent Orioles, Yankees fans have to be feeling much the same as Braves fans this week. Jake Arrieta (6.1 IP, 8 H, 2 ER) stifles the Bombers as CC Sabathia is denied his 20th win as the Orioles take another from New York.

Rays 14, Red Sox 5: Five homers for the Rays, who break their losing streak and pull to within one and a half of the Yankees. The bad Dice-K showed up and nibbled. David Price did his usual “walk a lot of guys and pitch relatively inefficiently yet still get the win” thing.

Tigers 9, White Sox 1: The winning streak ends, and how. Freddy Garcia — who has been a Tiger killer lately — had to leave the game early with a bad back. Someone should have told him that when you go out tiger hunting — in case of accidents — you should always bring your mum.

Twins 10, Royals 3: That’s the thing about the Twins: no matter how much the Sox have surged, Minnesota has surged right along with them and have always seemed to take advantage of Chicago’s missteps. Delmon Young and J.J. Hardy combined to drive in seven.

Rockies 4, Reds 3: A three-run bomb from Carlos Gonzalez helps the
Rockies win their fifth straight. I had previously all but handed the
MVP to Joey Votto, but Gonzalez has thrust himself into the conversation
with his — and his team’s — white-hot run of late.

Padres 2, Dodgers 1: But the Rockies are going to have to catch the
Padres for that to happen, I think, and that’s hard when Mat Latos
pitches like this (7 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 10K).  The Dodgers, by the way, are
snoozing their way towards the end of the season. Nice career and
everything, Joe Torre, and we’ll see you in Cooperstown soon, but you
need to go.

Giants 6, Diamondbacks 3: Tim Lincecum helps the Giants keep pace, mowing down 11 batters while giving up three runs through six and
two-thirds. Homers from Huff, Sanchez and Burrell.

Brewers 4, Cardinals 2: Trevor Hoffman gets his 600th save. Great for Hoffman, who has definitely seen some bad times this season. Oh, and home plate umpire Bob Davidson ejected a fan in this one, which is something you don’t see every day. I’d be inclined to rip Davidson because he’s almost always wrong about everything, but word buzzing around the Internets last night was that the fan who was ejected was being abusive to Yadier Molina all night and was probably drunk. It’s a shame that the ump had to take care of his good-for-nothin’ ass instead of an usher or other ballpark personnel.

Astros 7, Cubs 3:
Carlos Silva’s return didn’t go too swimmingly (5 IP, 9 H, 6 ER).
Nelson Figueroa gets the win. Why don’t I remember him coming to
Houston, though? I mean, I know I saw him in Mets camp down in Port St.
Lucie, and I remember the Phillies picking him up briefly, but the
Astros? In some ways it’s been a very long season.

Blue Jays 8, Rangers 5: Two homers for Vernon Wells, as the Jays take it to the reeling Rangers. The way all the other first place teams are playing lately, I should probably just call a Twins-Phillies World Series right now.

Mets 4, Nationals 1: Mets starter Dillon Gee took a no-hitter into the sixth in his major league debut. It’s been eight hours since this game ended and I’ve already heard too many “Gee!” puns. Next person who does it is gonna get fined.

Indians 6, Angels 1: The Angels look so lifelike lying in that box. Still, when I go, I’d prefer to be cremated, because ceremonies like this are so awkward. Oh well. Let’s go to the widow’s house. I hear there will be cold cuts and casseroles.

Mariners 7, Athletics 5: Compared to how they’ve been going, a seven run night for Seattle is equivalent to [tapping calculator keys while wearing green eye-shade . . .] 125 runs.

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.