And That Happened: Monday’s scores and highlights

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Giants 8, Rockies 1: Lincecum had a no hitter into the seventh inning. As I was watching it in the den, my wife walked in. She loves Tim Lincecum, so I said “hey, your boyfriend has a no-hitter going in the seventh.”  She said “Is that good?”  I’ve been married to this woman for almost 16 years and we’ve been together for over 20 and absolutely zero baseball knowledge has rubbed off on her. There’s an aggressive, tenacious amount of ignorance there, bordering on the hostile. Maybe it’s for the best. If she was into baseball, she probably would try to do something about her Tim Lincecum fixation. Timmy struck out 10 in seven and two-thirds.

Indians 7, Royals 3: A tight one in regulation between the top two teams in the AL Central. Though they would pile more runs on in the 10th, Shelley Duncan’s RBI double that inning ended up being the game-winner. So two of the Calcaterra ladies had reason to be happy last night, even though they were both oblivious of it. My wife because of her active ignorance of her boyfriend’s eventually spoiled accomplishment, my daughter because her minor league baseball crush got his hit after her 8:30 PM bedtime.

Dodgers 4, Braves: 2:   I couldn’t watch all of this one because of the time difference, but I switched to it as soon as Lincecum’s no-hitter was broken up. Thanks to MLB.tv I had my choice of announcers. Do I watch my favorite team’s crew, or do I watch the bad guys’ crew? The former is Chip Caray. The latter is Vin Scully. Who do you think I watched?  In the top of the second inning Scully said the following, and this is an exact quote: “Dan Uggla — U-G-G-L-A. It is a Swedish name, and it means owl.”  You can never go wrong with Scully.

Red Sox 9, Blue Jays 1: I hit this one up yesterday afternoon. Still no word if the real Dice-K has been found. I don’t know that anyone’s looking. We may have a Martin Guerre situation at work here. Except in this case, I think everyone will be just fine if Arnaud du Tilh is allowed to stick around.

Brewers 6, Phillies 3: John Axford blew the save by allowing a pinch-hit RBI single to Pete Orr, and they played on deadlocked until the 12th. That’s when Kyle Kendrick came in for Philly. While he pitched the entire 12th inning, Kendrick didn’t retire anyone who didn’t willingly give themselves up. Here’s how the inning went: walk, attempted sacrifice/Kendrick throwing error, sacrifice, HBP, run-scoring wild pitch, intentional walk, RBI sacrifice, intentional walk, RBI single, but the third out on an outfield assist. Oy.

Rays 5, White Sox 0: In the Power Rankings yesterday I excoriated the Mariners for making Adam Kennedy the DH and batting him cleanup last week. In this one Joe Maddon did the same for Felipe Lopez. Lopez, however, went 3 for 4 with a double a homer and three RBI. Sam Fuld went 4 for 4, and his legend grows. Eight shutout innings for David Price.

Twins 5, Orioles 3: Eight straight losses for Baltimore. Drew Butera — who else? — swings the big stick for the Twins, going 2 for 3 with a double and three RBI. Matt Capps allowed a homer in the ninth but got the save anyway. Which is an improvement.

Pirates 9, Reds 3: Travis Wood takes a cue from Edinson Volquez and allows three runs in the first inning and the Reds never really recovered. Wood gave up six runs on eight hits in all. No home runs for Pittsburgh, but every Pirate starter except the pitcher got a hit, and most of them had two hits.  Only bright spot for Cincy: Aroldis Chapman pitched a scoreless ninth, hitting triple digits on the radar gun multiple times. The ballpark radar gun registered 106 once, but that was obviously hot. But even if it was, what, four or five miles per hour over, it ain’t like Chapman was throwing meatballs.

Cubs 1, Padres 0: It was 34 degrees at the time of the first pitch, so the fact that this was a 0-0 game through nine innings is kind of understandable. Carlos Zambrano shut out the Padres on three hits while striking out eight ten during his time in the game. Tim Stauffer did the same on four hits over seven. Cubbies win it when Tyler Colvin doubles in Geovany Soto in the bottom of the 10th.

Rangers 7, Angels 1: C.J. Wilson strikes out nine in seven innings and Ervin Santana shows us that there’s a long ways down from Mt. HarenWeaver to the valley in which the rest of the Angels rotation resides (4 IP, 10 H, 6 ER).

Tigers 8, Mariners 3: Detroit comes from behind when they put up a 6-spot in the seventh inning. Or, as Eric Wedge put it after the game, “that seventh inning got ugly there.” A win, but a costly one for Detroit, as they lose Victor Martinez to a groin injury in the second.

The 2017 Yankees are, somehow, plucky underdogs

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There’s a lot that has happened in the past year that I never, ever would’ve thought would or even could happen in America. Many of them are serious, some are not, some make me kinda happy and some make me terribly sad. I’m sure a lot of people have felt that way in this oddest of years.

There’s one thing in baseball, however, that still has me searching my feelings in a desperate effort to know what to feel: The New York Yankees are the postseason’s plucky underdogs.

This is not about them being lovable or likable — we touched on that last week — it’s more about the role they play in the grand postseason drama. A postseason they weren’t even supposed to be in.

None of the three writers of this website thought the Yankees would win the AL East or a Wild Card. ESPN had 35 “experts” make predictions back in March, and only one of them — Steve Wulf — thought the Yankees would make the postseason (he thought they’d win the division). I’m sure if you go over the plethora of professional prognosticator’s predictions a few would have the Yankees squeaking in to the postseason on the Wild Card, but that was nothing approaching a consensus view. Their 2017 regular season was a surprise to almost everyone, with the expectation of a solid, if unspectacular rebuilding year being greatly exceeded. To use a sports cliche, nobody believed in them.

Then came the playoffs. Most people figured the Yankees would beat the Twins in the Wild Card game and they did, but most figured they’d be cannon fodder for the Indians. And yep, they fell down early, losing the first two games of the series and shooting themselves in the foot in spectacular fashion in the process. Yet they came back, beating arguably the best team in baseball and certainly the best team in the American League in three straight games despite the fact that . . . nobody believed in them.

Now we’re in the ALCS. The Astros — the other choice for best team in the American League if you didn’t think the Indians were — jumped out to a 2-0 lead, quieting the Yankees’ powerful bats. While a lot of teams have come back from 0-2 holes in seven game series, the feel of this thing as late as Monday morning was that, even if the Yankees take a game at home, Houston was going to cruise into the World Series. Once again . . . nobody believed in them.

Yet, here we are on this late Wednesday morning, with the Yankees having tied things up 2-2. As I wrote this morning, you still have to like the Astros’ chances given that their aces, Dallas Keuchel and Justin Verlander, are set to go in Games 5 and 6. I’m sure a lot of people feel still like the Astros’ chances for that reason. So that leads us to this . . .

It’s one thing for no one to have, objectively, believed in the Yankees chances. It’s another thing, though, for the New York Yankees — the 27-time World Champions, the 40-time American League pennant winners, the richest team in the game, the house-at-the-casino, U.S. Steel and the Evil Empire all wrapped into one — to officially play the “nobody believed in us” card on their own account. That’s the stuff of underdogs. Of Davids facing Goliaths. Of The Little Guy, demanding respect that no one ever considered affording them. If you’re not one of those underdogs and you’re playing that card, you’re almost always doing it out of some weird self-motivational technique and no one else will ever take you seriously. And now you’re telling me the NEW YORK FRIGGIN’ YANKEES are playing that card?

Thing is: they’re right. They’ve totally earned the right to play it because, really, no one believed in them. Even tied 2-2, I presume most people still don’t, actually.

I don’t know how to process this. Nothing in my 40 years of baseball fandom has prepared me for the Yankees to be the David to someone else’s Goliath and to claim righteous entitlement to the whole “nobody believed in us” thing.

Which, as I said at the beginning, is nothing new in the year 2017. I just never thought it’d happen in baseball.