And That Happened: Thursday's Scores and Highlights


Rays 10, Yankees 3: In 1974, Dock Ellis hit three Cincinnati Reds players in a row to start a game. He tried to hit a fourth — Tony Perez — but ended up walking him because Perez kept dodging pitches. He then tried to hit Johnny Bench, but before he could, Pirates manager Danny Murtaugh took him out. The plunkings were intentional, by the way: before the game, Ellis told his teammates that he wanted to make a statement. His exact quote in the locker room: “We gonna get down. We gonna do the do. I’m going to hit these motherf——.”

I’d like to think Javier Vazquez was cool and brash enough to do that before he hit three Rays in a row last night, but we know better. He’s just lost. And this could have been the last time he ever pitches for the Yankees.  Fitting it came in such an ugly game. Both of his stints in New York have been nightmares, more or less.

As for what this disaster of a game means: the season series between these two is over, and the Yankees have a half-game lead. But they also have to play six games against the Red Sox and three against the Jays.  Tampa Bay, on the other hand, plays the Mariners, Orioles and Royals. And the Rays possess the tiebreaker. I like the Rays’ chances, don’t you?

Giants 13, Cubs 0: I did a radio hit last night. Instead of watching any baseball or surfin’ the web before I went on, I read a book. I had been reading baseball stuff and writing all day, so I figured I was prepared.  The host asked me about the Giants, and I said something about how they’ve had trouble scoring runs.  As soon as I got off the phone I checked the scores and saw this.  I would like to thank the host — who I know had the current scores up in front of him at the time — for not totally slamming me with the “well, they’re not having trouble scoring runs tonight!” line, which would have totally thrown me off my game.  Oh, and in case you missed it, Juan Uribe hit a grand slam and a two-run homer in the second.

Dodgers 3, Padres 1: And this one puts the Giants alone back up in first place. This is the first time the Dodgers have beat San Diego in seven games. Rod Barajas: “It’s not like we have nothing to play for. We have pride. You don’t want to be the punching bag.” Took awhile for L.A. to begin to feel this way, but at least they got there.

Diamondbacks 10, Rockies 9: Like watching a stock car run out of gas on the final lap. Carlos Gonzalez did everything he could to get out and push — a grand slam and a two run single while trying to come back from an 8-2 deficit — but he wasn’t getting any help from his bullpen. And the starter — Jeff Francis — had nothing either. Three and a half games back in both the division and the wild card seems awfully large right now, but at least they’re home this weekend against the Giants. The only question now is can anyone around here pitch?

Athletics 5, Rangers 0: Ruh-roh. Dallas Braden one-hit Texas over eight innings and Cliff Lee looked extremely mortal (5 IP, 6 H, 4 ER). The “ruh-roh” is not because I think the A’s can make up seven games with ten to go — that would be beyond nuts — but because the Rangers are looking really, really bad as this thing winds down. You think the Rays and Yankees wouldn’t rather play them than the Twins right now? Think again.

Blue Jays 1, Mariners 0: Felix Hernandez (8 IP, 2 H, 1 ER) just doesn’t know how to win.

Nationals 7, Astros 2: No Dunn, No Zimmerman, no problem: Mike Morse homered, doubled and drove in three runs and Roger Bernadina and Danny Espinosa each hit two-run jacks.

Cardinals 9, Pirates 2: Hit this one up yesterday. But again — for completeness sake — let me say: poopy pants.

Royals 4, Indians 2: I’m not going to go back and check because I have a pretty good memory for these things, but I’m going to say that the Royals and Indians have played each other 346 times this season. With this win, the Royals assured themselves of no worse than 99 losses. The Indians still need one more win in order to do that.

Brewers 8, Marlins 3: Sandy Rosario made his big league debut in the seventh inning of this one. His first pitch resulted in a Rickie Weeks home run to left. His second pitch was a strike. His third pitch was a Prince Fielder home run to right field. Then he gave up a double and a couple of singles. You know what they call a pitcher whose debut goes as bad as that?  A major league pitcher. And even if this is the only game he ever plays in the bigs, no one will ever be able to take that away from Sandy Rosario, no matter how nightmarish it was.

Maybe Alcides Escobar shouldn’t bat leadoff

Alcides Escobar
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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.