And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights

30 Comments

Nationals 5, Marlins 3: So I decided I needed to get my life in order a couple of weeks ago. I sit in front of a computer all day and, due to the strange circumstance of having a job I actually love, all of the “free time” I thought I’d have to exercise and stuff when I started working at home has just sort of disappeared. I haven’t gained any weight since I started this gig — I’ve actually lost about five pounds because I’m not eating office donuts and restaurant lunches —  but I feel even unhealthier than I did before due to the sloth. I mean, at least at the law firm I used to have to walk a block or three for some reason a couple times a day. Here? Nothing.

So I bought I treadmill. And I figured that I’d do it up right and proper, so I got a TV and a Roku player to sit in front of the thing so I can watch MLB.tv. So far: it’s awesome. I use the treadmill every day and aside from some extra creak in my knees I feel fabulous. And watching baseball has never been better. Last year it was a pain to switch back and forth between the game and what I was doing (i.e. typing up these recaps), but now I pay way more attention to the games. I added a second TV and Roku next to the computer here so I can continue watching whatever game I get into once the jogging is over.

But there are some parts of my dysfunctional self-maintenance that I can’t shake. Like, given a choice of games, I always pick crappy ones, no matter what I do. Last night is a great example. Only two games were going on: the  Tigers vs. the Orioles and the Nats vs. the Marlins. Easy choice, right? Wrong! Something in my addled skull compelled me to watch the Nats-Marlins game.  A National League affinity? Maybe. A dirty, secret love of ugly baseball in front of small crowds, drilled into my psyche by watching, like, 700 horrifyingly bad Braves games between 1985 and 1990? That might be it actually. So I watched several innings of this thing as I, appropriately enough, got nowhere fast on my new treadmill.

And it was kind of ugly. Josh Johnson’s defense betrayed him. He gave up the homer to Werth, but the other two runs that scored on his watch were thanks to Hanley Ramirez and John Buck screwing up. With good defense Johnson and the Fish get the win. Of course, Nats’ pitchers had bad luck too, as the run that tied things up in the bottom of the sixth was helped along by Rick Ankiel muffing one in center, even though it was ruled a double. Eventually this one went extra innings with Adam LaRoche winning it on a two-run jack in the 11th.

Bad D. Low energy. Four miles on the treadmill. My kind of game! It’s gonna be a great season.

Indians 1, Red Sox 0:  I wrote this one up yesterday, and I still maintain that the Sox will be competitive in the AL East sooner rather than later. But let us at least acknowledge that there will come a point — and it could come by Sunday evening if this weekend series against the Yankees is disastrous — where it will not be panicky to write off the Red Sox.  Because yes, “losses at the beginning of the year” is something of an artificial construct. But if the losing streak gets much worse it will become the kind of streak that can kill a season no matter when it happens.

Yankees 4, Twins 3: Chamberlain in the seventh, Soriano in the eighth, Rivera in the ninth and everyone giving postgame quotes afterward. Just like nothin’ ever happened! For Minnesota things were terrible. Tsuyoshi Nishioka’s broken leg is not only bad for his health and playing time, but it likely bummed out his parents, who were flying in from Japan to see his home debut this weekend. Now what? “Look mom, it’s Minnehaha Park! The American Swedish Musuem! Mom! Wait! Don’t go!”

Phillies 11, Mets 0:  The Mets were shut down on offense and beat up on D. The only downside I see in this game for Phillies fans (or Roy Halladay fans, which I am) is if the Cy Young race is close in the fall and someone says “well, Halladay got X runs support a game!” in an effort to discredit his case. Of course, if he keeps shutting people out, I suppose that’s not going to really be a problem.

Rockies 7, Pirates 1: Troy Tulowitzki goes yard again, his third on the season. Not bad considering he only has five hits in all. Esmil Rogers was fantastic on the mound. Putatively a number five starter, he had ace stuff yesterday, allowing hits to the first two batters and retiring 22 of the last 23 he faced while striking out seven.

Brewers 4, Braves 2: Tommy Hanson’s velocity is down in his first couple of starts, so that’s scary. Even more scary is the fact that the Braves can’t score any runs right now and they get to face Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels in the next three games.  This trendy pick in the NL East is not looking so trendy right now, is it?

Athletics 2, Blue Jays 1: Oakland salvages one behind a great game from Trevor Cahill. Efficient (105 pitches in eight innings) and effective (one run on three hits with no walks), Cahill talked after the game about how his curve ball — previously just a show-me pitch for him — was key. In his first start he struck out eight guys in four and two-thirds. In this one he struck out seven guys in eight innings. For a guy whose K-rates haven’t been fabulous, this could be a major, major step forward for him.

White Sox 5, Rays 1I hit this one up yesterday too. The Rays have not held a lead all year. They’ve scored 1 run in five of their six games.  Given the decade of futility they endured after the launch of the franchise, it’s amazing that this is their worst start in team history, but yep, it is.

Astros 3, Reds 2: Houston gets its first win — they have more than Boston and Tampa Bay combined! Oh noes! — and Cincinnati gets its first loss. The Astros got the winning run on a Matt Downs double off Nick Masset in the top of the ninth.

Orioles 9, Tigers 5: Just like there must come a time when we consider the Red Sox to be in serious trouble, there must come a time when we acknowledge that maybe — just possibly — the Orioles are for real. Not saying they’re fabulous, but they’re legit. They’ve shown that their young pitchers are capable of good things. In this one they showed that they can bash the ball around a bit.  I sense a very frisky team that, even if it won’t be in it at the end, is going to be a gigantic pain in the ass for a lot of people this year.

Astros push ALCS to Game 7 with 7-1 stunner against Yankees

Getty Images
6 Comments

There’s just something about playing in your home ballpark. The Astros decimated the Yankees at Minute Maid Park on Friday, riding seven scoreless innings from Justin Verlander and a pair of big runs from Jose Altuve to win 7-1 and force a Game 7 in the American League Championship Series.

Through the first four innings, however, the teams looked equally matched. Luis Severino no-hit the Astros through 3 2/3 innings, losing his bid on Carlos Correa‘s line drive single in the fourth. The Astros returned in the fifth to do some real damage, drawing two walks and plating the first run of the night with Brian McCann‘s ground-rule double off of the right field wall. Things didn’t get any easier for Severino. Jose Altuve lined a two-RBI base hit into left field, upping Houston’s advantage to three runs.

Verlander, meanwhile, muted the Yankees’ offense with seven innings of five-hit, eight-strikeout ball. While he didn’t come close to matching his complete game effort in Game 2, he was still plenty dominant against a struggling New York lineup. No player reached past first base until the sixth inning, when a pair of base hits from Chase Headley and Didi Gregorius gave the Yankees their first runner in scoring position. That didn’t last long, though, as Gary Sanchez grounded out on a 3-0 slider to end the inning.

In the seventh, Houston’s ace got into another spot of trouble. He walked Greg Bird on six pitches to start the inning, then plunked Starlin Castro on the wrist. Aaron Hicks struck out, in part thanks to a questionable call by home plate umpire Jim Reynolds, but it was Todd Frazier who presented the biggest threat after returning an 0-1 fastball for a 403-foot fly out to left field. Luckily for Verlander, George Springer was there to bail him out with a leaping catch at the wall.

The Yankees kept things exciting in the eighth, too. Aaron Judge ripped his third postseason home run off of Brad Peacock, taking a 425-footer out to the train in left field to spoil the Astros’ shutout. That was the only real break the Yankees got, however, as Altuve, Alex Bregman and Evan Gattis returned in the bottom of the inning to tack on another four runs, including Altuve’s solo shot off of David Robertson:

Ken Giles handled the ninth, expending 23 pitches and giving up a base hit and a walk before retiring Frazier and Headley to end the game. Thanks to Houston’s winning efforts, the two teams will compete in their first seven-game Championship Series since 2004 — and this time, at least one of them is guaranteed to come away with a win.

Game 7 of the ALCS is set for Saturday at 8:00 PM ET. Houston right-hander Charlie Morton (14-7, 3.62 ERA) is scheduled to face southpaw CC Sabathia (14-5, 3.69 ERA).