Josh Johnson

And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights

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Marlins 5, Braves 1: Josh Johnson takes a no-hitter into the eighth before Freddie Freeman breaks it up with a double. Probably for the best. Johnson was at 109 pitches. If he keeps the no-no up all the way his pitch count is getting a bit nutty. Chipper Jones’ otherwise meaningless home run in the ninth gave him his 1,500th career RBI. Nine more and he ties Mickey Mantle. If he stays reasonably healthy this year he could get up to Al Kaline/Harmon Killebrew/Rogers Hornsby territory.

Phillies 3, Nationals 2: Roy Halladay had a two-hit shutout into the ninth when things started to get a bit shaky, but I don’t think anyone ever doubted that he’d finish the job. Indeed, I had this game on when Cholly visited the mound in the ninth. His gait was quick. It seemed clear that it was only a courtesy call. Of all of the 3-2 games you’ll see, this one felt the least close.

Tigers 3, Rangers 2: [Ron Washington shows the visiting conigliere around his estate]: “Feliz … Feliz.  I’m not gonna pitch him, though. I’m gonna put him out to stud.  Thanks Tony. Let’s get something to eat, huh?”

Cubs 9, Astros 5: I neglected to mention it in yesterday’s recap, but I’m pretty sure a big part of Tuesday night’s loss was attributable to Mike Quade’s displeasure at having to miss the Rush concert at the United Center in Chicago that night. That kind of thing can throw a guy. At least a guy who continues to be a big Rush fan into his 50s. Unable to really relax, knowing he missed a sweet show, Quade could do nothing Tuesday night except lie awake, staring out at the bleakness of Megadon.  But, with Rush safely in Toledo last night — not that I, um, know that or anything — Quade could relax and the Cubs could too, teeing off on Wandy Rodriguez and racking up 14 total hits.

Athletics 7, White Sox 4: “Dear Bobby J. I’m sorry for all of the things I said about you last year. My son is sorry too.  Fact is, we never realized we had it so good. The team needs you. The bullpen needs you. Bobby: I need you. Please come back. I can’t bear to see us blow games late again like this anymore. It’ll be the death of me. Sincerely, Ozzie.”

Rockies 5, Mets 4: The Rockies continue to go nuts, as does Troy Tulowitzki, who hit a three-run homer in the fifth to put the Rockies up for good. At the time, there were two outs, first base was open, there were runners on second and third and Jose Lopez was on deck. Don’t you walk Tulowitzki there?

Brewers 6, Pirates 0: This is why the Brewers got Shawn Marcum, who shut the Pirates out on four hits over seven innings. Three-run homer from Prince Fielder, who is absolutely tearing it up right now. Potentially sacrilegious question: is Fielder a more attractive free agent first baseman than Albert Pujols next winter?

Yankees 7, Orioles 4: A.J. Burnett wasn’t dominant, but he won his third game. Chris Tillman got destroyed, thanks in part to a three-run A-Rod homer and a two-run Robbie Cano double in the second. The second inning could have gotten even more out of hand if Adam Jones doesn’t make this sick grab on a bases loaded bloop from Jorge Posada.

Angels 4, Indians 2: Anaheim takes the second in a row from Cleveland, winning it on a Jeff Mathis sac fly in the 12th inning. After a rocky start to the year, the Angels bullpen has stepped up,  having not given up an earned run in their last 22 innings.

Padres 3, Reds 2: The Reds’ bullpen was not so sublime. They coughed up the lead in the eighth and the game in the ninth, with a nice assist from some bad defense. The Padres salvage one after a couple of tough losses.

Blue Jays 8, Mariners 3:  The Jays exploded for six in the eighth inning, with the big shot being a Jose Bautista three-run homer. Another record-low crowd for Seattle, though according to the game story a decent portion of it consisted of Jays fans who came down from British Columbia. Earlier this week someone mentioned in the comments that they went to college in B.C. or something and that going to Jays games in Seattle was a rite of passage. All of which leads me to ask if anyone in the M’s or Jays’ fan base — fan bases with which I have the least experience out of almost anyone — thinks of the teams as rivals by virtue of them being 1977 expansion partners.  These are the kinds of things I sit and wonder when the cable goes out.

Royals 10, Twins 5: It’s a lot of fun to blame Ron Gardenhire for telling Francisco Liriano to “pitch to contact,” but ultimately Liriano has to pitch, and he’s simply not doing it right now. Liriano was shelled by Kansas City for seven runs in five innings. He was beat so bad that Kyle Davies got the win despite allowing five runs on ten hits in five innings of his own.  I guess Davies just knows how to win.

Cardinals 15, Diamondbacks 5:  It was 12-0 by the middle of the fourth inning. Lance Berkman had a grand slam and another RBI on a groundout. He now has four homers in the past three games. Every Cardinal starter except Matt Holliday had a hit, which has to make a guy in Holliday’s position really, really frustrated, even if he can’t say anything about it.

Giants 4, Dodgers 3:  The Giants take two of three from L.A.. Buster Posey had a stolen base. The AP story puts it thusly:

After Posey went to first in the third inning, he stole his first career base. He had one steal during last year’s playoffs but it doesn’t count toward his official statistics.

And the one he stole in the postseason shouldn’t have counted because POSEY WAS FREAKING OUT.

Not that I’m hung up on that or anything.

Rays vs. Red Sox: POSTPONED: Although I shelter from the rain under a broken tree, My chair was nearest to the fire In every company that talked of love or politics, Ere Time transfigured me.

What’s on Tap: Previewing Thursday’s action

BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 18:  Manny Machado #13 of the Baltimore Orioles celbrates hitting a solo home run in the sixth inning during a baseball game against the against the Tampa Bay Rays at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 18, 2016 in Baltimore, Maryland.  The Orioles won 2-1.  (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
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With each division now spoken for, our attention now turns to the Wild Card races. The Blue Jays hold a one-game lead over the Orioles for the first Wild Card slot in the American League while the Orioles have a one-game lead over the Tigers for the second slot. The Jays and O’s will do battle on Thursday night and each of the four other teams alive in the AL Wild Card race are rooting for the Jays to win. The Yankees and Astros can both be eliminated from Wild Card contention if the Orioles win one more game or if they each lose one more game. The Mariners are also active in the Wild Card hunt, currently two games behind the Orioles.

Over in the National League, the Giants have a one-game lead over the Cardinals for the second Wild Card slot. The Giants get to play the Rockies while the Cardinals face the lowly Reds. The Mets, who currently own the first Wild Card slot, have the night off.

Asterisks denote that the game is relevant to the Wild Card.

The rest of Thursday’s action…

*Boston Red Sox (Henry Owens) @ New York Yankees (CC Sabathia), 7:05 PM EDT

Chicago Cubs (Rob Zastryzny) @ Pittsburgh Pirates (Ivan Nova), 7:05 PM EDT

*Baltimore Orioles (Ubaldo Jimenez) @ Toronto Blue Jays (Marcus Stroman), 7:07 PM EDT

Philadelphia Phillies (Jeremy Hellickson) @ Atlanta Braves (Josh Collmenter), 7:10 PM EDT

*Cincinnati Reds (Dan Straily) @ St. Louis Cardinals (Alex Reyes), 7:15 PM EDT

Minnesota Twins (Kyle Gibson) @ Kansas City Royals (Danny Duffy), 7:15 PM EDT

Tampa Bay Rays (Chris Archer) @ Chicago White Sox (Jose Quintana), 8:10 PM EDT

Los Angeles Dodgers (Julio Urias) @ San Diego Padres (Christian Friedrich), 9:10 PM EDT

*Oakland Athletics (Kendall Graveman) @ Seattle Mariners (Ariel Miranda), 10:10 PM EDT

*Colorado Rockies (Jon Gray) @ San Francisco Giants (Johnny Cueto), 10:15 PM EDT

Who should win the MVP Awards? Who will?

CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 20:  Kris Bryant #17 of the Chicago Cubs bats during the second inning against the St. Louis Cardinals at Wrigley Field on September 20, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. The Cardinals defeated the Cubs 4-3. (Photo by John Konstantaras/Getty Images)
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With the regular season ending on Sunday and most of the playoff spots locked up, there’s really only one big thing left to argue about: postseason awards. So let’s spend some time looking at who should win each of the four major awards and who will win them. Which are often totally different things. First up: The MVP Awards. 

Who should win the AL MVP Award? 

We at HBT have tended to lean toward the idea that the best player should win the MVP Award, regardless of whether his team wins or not. It’s not an iron-clad thing, of course. In the past I’ve supported some more narrative-driven MVP candidates and, more importantly, deciding who is “the best player” in an objective sense is not always a cut-and-dried endeavor. Defense is an inexact science. Players often have competing apples and oranges arguments for their candidacies.

If you look at “best overall player” this year, however, it’s hard to say that Mike Trout and his line of .318/.441/.556 with 29 homers and his usual solid-to-outstanding center field defense is not that guy. Yes, his team stinks, and no, his 2016 season isn’t head and shoulders above any number of his other excellent seasons, making him a less-than-sexy choice in a lot of ways. But it’s hard to stand head and shoulders above uniform excellence and no matter what you think of stuff like WAR and all that goes into it, Trout has a 1.5 WAR lead over Mookie Betts according to FanGraphs and 1.3 according to Baseball Reference. It’s a pretty significant separation, especially when you realize that, dang, Betts is having a whale of a season himself (.320/.365/.538).

Still, Trout isn’t a unanimous pick even with the HBT team, which has it this way:

Craig: Trout
Bill: Trout
Ashley: Betts

Who will win the AL MVP Award?

There has been a lot of talk about Betts and his teammate, David Ortiz, splitting the vote, as it were. Maybe that was a thing that happened more often back in the day when narrative-driven awards were more common, but I think today’s BBWAA voters are way more savvy than that. I think that Ortiz will get some votes thrown his way by virtue of his outstanding offensive season (.316/.401/.622, 37 HR, 124 RBI) and the storybook ending to his career, but I think Betts will ultimately carry the day with the better overall and all-around performance. MVP PREDICTION: MOOKIE BETTS.

Who should win the NL MVP Award?

There are a lot of guys putting up years that, under different circumstances, would be MVP worthy. Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Freddie Freeman, Nolan Arenado, Daniel Murphy, Joey Votto and Corey Seager are all having outstanding campaigns. Most of them are bunched up as far as WAR goes, more so with Baseball-Reference.com’s version, a little less so with FanGraphs. Bryant leads both versions and is putting up outstanding offensive numbers. Murphy, Freeman and Votto are hitting a tad better than him depending on how you measure it, but have less defensive value. Seager’s mix of defense and offense may be closer to what Bryant is doing, although Arenado might have something to say about that. There are a lot of good choices.

Bryant is the best choice, however. His hitting — .293/.387/.560, 39 HR, 101 RBI — is better than the other all-around candidates and his defensive versatility — he’s played all three outfield positions as well as his usual third base — sets him apart. He’s been the best player in the NL this year.

Craig: Bryant
Bill: Bryant
Ashley:Bryant

Who will win the NL MVP Award?

This is one of those years where I suspect our views will match that of the voters. MVP PREDICTION: Bryant, possibly unanimously.