Colorado Rockies v New York Mets

And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights


Rockies 6, Mets 5; Rockies 9, Mets 4:  The Rockies sweep the doubleheader and the series, with Troy Tulowitzki hitting home runs in both games yesterday.  His line on the year right now is .364/.491/.909 with seven homers and 14 RBI, which I think makes him your NL MVP at the 12 game mark.  In the first game Scott Hairston stopped running for a ball when he got to the warning track, allowing it to drop for a two-run double by Seth Smith. I’m guessing he saw his shadow or something. Or maybe it was a hallucination of his dead grandmother crawling up his leg with a knife in her teeth. Either way, it inspired Dustin Parkes to tell a funny joke on Twitter.

Yankees 6, Orioles 5: This one has to hurt. Baltimore had a 5-0 lead after they got done batting in the fifth, only to watch the Yankees steadily chip away.  I didn’t see this game, but I bet it was one of those deals where the team in front seemed like they were behind even before they actually were. It wasn’t all grins for the Yankees, though. Phil Hughes continues to suffer from low velocity and, consequently, continues to stink. For the second straight start Bartolo Colon came in to bail him out and to do so effectively. Hmmm, I wonder who gets the next start when Hughes’ turn comes up? Anyway, four straight losses for Baltimore, as the bloom continues to come off the rose for some early season surprises. They’re off to face Cleveland next, though, so at least one of the First Week Friskies will likely leave with some momentum.

Phillies 4, Nationals 0: Cliff Lee dominates with a three-hit shutout and 12Ks. This kind of update is going to become so ubiquitous in Phillies games by the middle of the season that I may just start reducing their ATH entry to the pitcher’s name and line score.

Marlins 6, Braves 5Mac points out something I hadn’t realized: the Braves keep winning the first game of series and then losing the rest of them. Cool. I mean, no, not cool, but it is slightly less unpleasant to momentarily appreciate a pattern rather than to stare at an undifferentiated pile of stank.

Brewers 4, Pirates 1: The Ships in the Night Series. Four straight losses for the Pirates and five of six, all at home. The Brewers, for their part, have won four straight and seven of eight. Randy Wolf struck out ten and shut out the Pirates over six and two-thirds. The Pirates need to get back out on the road where it’s safer.

Royals 5, Mariners 1: A rain-shortened game. Which was probably fine by the Mariners, because one doesn’t want to be forced to sit and dwell too long on the fact that one can’t hit Bruce Chen (8 IP, 6 H, 0 ER).

Rays 4, Twins 3: Walkoff two-run bomb for Johnny Damon in the 10th inning after Minnesota had taken a one-run lead in the top of the inning. This was a bullpen meltdown for Ron Gardenhire’s crew. Carl Pavano was money, shutting the Rays down over eight innings, but Joe Nathan and Matt Capps each gave up two runs, in the ninth and tenth, respectively. If Gardenhire were Ozzie Guillen he’d probably consider calling Rick Aguilera right about now.

Astros 1, Padres 0: Bud Norris and a trio of relievers shut out the Padres on three hits. Dustin Mosely has had three starts for the Padres this year. In all three, the Padres have been shut out. On the bright side, the experience has inspired Mosely to launch a career in music. His first song is actually about his Padres teammates.

Cardinals 9, Dodgers 5: A homer from Pujols and two doubles and three RBI from Matt Holliday. This is how it was supposed to go from the get-go for St. Louis. The offense has done a complete about-face in the last week. You know, ever since La Russa had that hissy fit at the press conference. Which is a shame, because it’s just going to make him feel validated for acting like a little brat.

Tigers 3, Athletics 0: Our third shutout of the night comes courtesy of Phil Coke and three relievers who three-hit the A’s. The Tigers couldn’t do anything against Gio Gonzalez but broke through for three against the Oakland pen. A pen which, I’m starting to believe, I talked up entirely too much over the winter.

Playoff Reset: The AL Wild Card Game

Wild Card
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Each day throughout the playoffs we’re going to be doing what we’ll call a reset. Not always a preview, not always a recap, but a generalized summary of where we stand at the moment and what we have to look forward tonight.

Today, of course, is Day One of the playoffs so we can really only look ahead, so let’s look ahead to what’s on tap in tonight’s one and only game.

The Game: Houston Astros vs. New York Yankees, American League Wild Card Game
The Time: 8:08 PM Eastern. Or thereabouts.
The Place: Yankee Stadium, New York
The Channel: ESPN
The Starters: Dallas Keuchel vs. Masahrio Tanaka

The Upshot:

  • Dallas Keuchel is the Astros’ ace and may very well win the Cy Young Award, but he’s (a) pitching on three-days’ rest; and (b) not in Minute Maid Park, where he is clearly superior compared to how he does on the road. At the same time, (a) the Yankees haven’t figured him out this year, going scoreless against him in 16 innings and striking out 21 times, including a poor performance against him in the Bronx a month or so ago; and (b) lefty sinkerballer types are basically the platonic ideal of a pitcher you want to throw against the Yankees to drive them crazy. While, historically, pitchers going on short rest in the playoffs fare poorly — in the past 20 years they are 18-37 — sinkerballers and extreme groundball pitchers fare much better than most. It ain’t a perfect setup for him, but you gotta like Keuchel here.
  • Meanwhile, Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka has made one career start vs. the Astros: this year, back on June 27. He got beat up, allowing six runs in five innings, receiving no decision. Those disclaimers about past performance not being indicative of future results you see in financial services commercials should apply to this and all other past matchup stats you see in the postseason, however. One random start here or there — or two in Keuchel’s case — doesn’t tell us a ton. This is baseball and tomorrow is always another day. At least if you don’t lose the Wild Card Game. More of a concern for Tanaka: rust. He has pitched only once since tweaking his hamstring against the Mets on September 18 and it wasn’t a good outing. At least he’s rested?
  • Both teams are dependent on the longball but both teams have struggled at times on offense down the stretch, with the Yankees’ bats being particular quiet in the season’s last month or so. Someone needs to wake up A-Rod. And Jacoby Ellsbury, Brett Gardner, Chase Headley and Brian McCann for that matter too. Of course, all of that firepower may not matter. The playoffs often see offenses go quiet and pitching come to the fore. Both teams have decent bullpens — the Yankees’ far, far more than decent — and given Tanaka’s rust and Keuchel’s short rest, this one is very likely to come down to multiple innings of hard-throwing relief. That favors the Yankees if they can keep it close.
  • Both teams are basically stumbling into the postseason, with the Yankees having lost six of their last seven games. They’re also under .500 since the end of July. The Astros swooned themselves in the second half, going 11-16 in September before rebounding in the season’s last week. Good thing momentum generally isn’t a thing in the playoffs — remember those 2000 Yankees losing 15 of 18 before the playoffs started and then won the World Series! — because neither team here has much of it.

This is the Astros’ first playoff game in a decade. While the Yankees haven’t been in the postseason since 2012, there is a lo tof playoff experience here, making this an interesting study in contrasts from a storyline perspective. At least if you’re into storylines. Personally I’m not. I’m more into baseball games and in this baseball game, I think Keuchel is a tough draw for the Yankees, even on short rest, and that for New York to advance they’re gonna have to be a team they haven’t been for weeks and maybe months: one that lays off junk down low and hits the ball hard.


Mike Scioscia will return as Angels manager in 2016

ANAHEIM, CA - JULY 21:  Manager Mike Scioscia #14 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in the dugout during batting practice before a game against the Minnesota Twins at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on July 21, 2015 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Jonathan Moore/Getty Images)
Photo by Jonathan Moore/Getty Images

It was assumed already, but Mike Scioscia made it official during Monday’s press conference for new general manager Billy Eppler that he will return as Angels manager in 2016.

Scioscia, the longest-tenured manager in the majors, has been at the helm with the Angels since 2000. There was a clause in his contract which allowed him to opt out after the 2015 season, but he has decided to stay put. He still has three years and $15 million on his contract, which runs through 2018.

Jerry Dipoto resigned as Angels general manager in July amid tension with Scioscia, so there were naturally questions today about what to expect with first-time GM Eppler in the fold. According to David Adler of, Scioscia isn’t concerned.

“I think we’re going to mesh very well,” Scioscia said. “If we adjust, or maybe he adjusts to some of the things, there’s going to be collaboration that’s going to make us better.”

Eppler is the fourth general manager during Scioscia’s tenure with the team.

After winning the AL West last season, the Angels finished 85-77 this season and narrowly missed the playoffs. The team hasn’t won a postseason game since 2009.