And That Happened: Tuesday’s scores and highlights

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Brewers 9, Phillies 0: Roy Halladay threw 123 pitches in his last start and got tattooed for six runs on ten hits in this one. Coincidence?  Randy Wolf returns to his old stomping grounds (stamping grounds? Can we get a ruling on this) to shut down his old mates (6 IP, 2 H, 0 ER). Well, he left after 2006, so at least some of them are his old mates.

Blue Jays 6, Yankees 5: Mariano Rivera was handed a two-run lead in the ninth inning and … he blew it. A leadoff double followed by a wild pitch brought the Jays to within one and then a walk and two singles later — one of them a bunt single — and it was all tied up. A Travis Snider RBI double in the 10th ended it.  I suppose this sort of thing happens from time to time. Probably doesn’t matter. According to very reliable sources, the machines became self-aware just after 8PM last night, so the attack on humanity begins tomorrow. It’s good to know that both Rivera and Halladay are humans, so at least they’re on our side.

Angels 15, Rangers 4:  The Angels’ young bats break out in a major way. Mark Trumbo homered and drove in four runs, Hank Conger had two hits and scored twice and Peter Bourjos had four hits, including a homer among his four hits. Colby Lewis got rocked in his first start back following a missed turn due the to birth of his second child. More on that a bit later this morning.

Mariners 13, Tigers 3: Man there were a lot of blowouts yesterday. This one was pretty surprising given how inept the Mariners have been on offense. But when the opposition walks you 11 times — 11! — you’re going to score a bunch. Jack Wilson got three of those walks. How do you not throw strikes to Jack Wilson?

Rays 2, White Sox 1: A complete game for James Shields, who gave up a run on four hits and struck out nine. And he wasn’t messin’ around either. He threw 105 pitches and the game took two hours and twelve minutes. The Sox have lost six in a row and the Rays have won seven of eight.

Athletics 5, Red Sox 0: Brett Anderson (8 IP, 4 H, 0 ER 8K) shut down the Sox who — and I’m not making excuses for ’em, just stating facts — had to wake up early on Monday for that Patriots’ Day game then fly out to the west coast for a night game last night. How are you not jet lagged after that? John Lackey didn’t pitch poorly, but when you don’t score …

Orioles 11, Twins 0: You’re Ron Gardenhire. You take a beating like this and you think, hey, silver lining time: I got a closer who can’t close anymore and I need to build his confidence back up. We’re down 8-0, so let’s put Joe Nathan in to get a zero-leverage inning under his belt and get him on the way back to being productive, OK?  Nathan comes in in the eighth and gives up a three-run bomb to Vlad Guerrero. Oof.

Marlins 6, Pirates 0: Josh Johnson was masterful once again, shutting out the Pirates on two hits over seven innings. He’s now 3-0 with a 1.00 ERA, he has a 27/6 K/BB ratio in 27 innings and opposing hitters are batting .112 against him.

Astros 6, Mets 1: Wandy Rodriguez’s first three starts were bad-good-bad, so he was due for “good,” right? (note: never take me to Las Vegas because I don’t understand how the world works). Rodriguez stymied the Mets, who have lost 11 of 13. Second baseman Justin Turner — new deck chair on the SS Mets — was 1 for 4 in his season debut.

Braves 10, Dodgers 1: The Braves explode against the Dodgers’ bullpen, putting up eight runs in the top of the ninth. Eric Hinske pinch hit that inning and, since they batted around, had both a homer and an RBI single. Not bad considering Braves pinch hitters had entered the game hitless on the year. Six two-hit shutout innings for Brandon Beachy.

Diamondbacks 5, Reds 4: Two homers for Ryan Roberts, who wasn’t even supposed to start. Thanks Melvin Mora’s sore foot!  The Reds have lost five of six, mostly because of bad starting pitching.

Royals 5, Indians 4: Kansas City jumped out to a 5-0 lead and nearly blew it as the Tribe scored four over the final three frames. Bruce Chen has now won seven straight decisions stretching back to last year.

Giants 6, Rockies 3: Ubaldo Jimenez’s return didn’t go much better than his debut, giving up four runs on six hits in five innings. A three-run homer for Pablo Sandoval.

Padres vs. Cubs: POSTPONED:  You can dream the American Dream, but you sleep with the lights on and wake up with a scream. You can hope against hope that nothing will change. Grab a hold of that fistful of rain. Grab a hold, grab a hold, grab a hold. Grab a hold, grab a hold, grab a hold of that fistful of rain.

Nationals vs. Cardinals POSTPONED: See the sky about to rain, broken clouds and rain. Locomotive, pull the train, whistle blowing through my brain.

Game 6: This is why the Astros traded for Justin Verlander

Associated Press
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Houston’s pitching has not been their biggest problem as they’ve watched their 2-0 series lead turn in to a 3-2 series deficit. It has not been good, mind you — Charlie Morton got rocked in Game 3, the bullpen collapsed on Game 4 and Dallas Keuchel was suddenly mortal in Game 5 — but even then it’s not been the biggest concern. The real problem has been the lack of offense.

The Astros led the majors in runs (896), batting average (.282), on-base percentage (.346) and slugging (.478) during the regular season and were second to the Yankees in homers. Despite that, they have scored just nine runs and have hit only one homer. The team’s ALCS batting line, those two wins included, is .147/.234/.213. As such, facing off against Luis Severino and a rested Yankees bullpen tonight can’t give them a ton of confidence.

They do have one thing going for them, however: Justin Verlander. The same Justin Verlander who received only two runs of support in Game 2 of the series but made it hold up thanks to his 124-pitch, 13-strikeout complete game victory. You can’t really expect a starter to do that sort of thing two times in a row, but that’s what the Astros acquired him for at the end of August. In a league where there are vanishingly few horses a team can ride to victory, Verlander stands as one of the few remaining old school aces. Expect A.J. Hinch to keep the bit in Verlander’s mouth for as long as this game is close and, even then, maybe an inning longer.

Is there any reason for optimism regarding the Astros’ lineup? Sure, of course. They didn’t suddenly all forget how to hit. Every team goes through a stretch of 3-5 games where the hits don’t seem to fall. There may, possibly, be some reason for hope in the man they’re facing too. Severino lasted only four innings in Game 2, having been removed early after taking a ground ball off his left wrist. Severino said he was fine and wished that Joe Girardi hadn’t taken him out, but (a) he was acting a little odd, shaking his arm out like he was trying to shake off some pain; and (b) starting pitchers almost always lie and say they’re better than they are. I’m certain Severino is healthy enough to go, but there’s at least a small chance that he’s vulnerable, somehow. At the very least Astros hitters can walk to the plate convincing themselves of it. Any edge you can either get or imagine, right?

Game 6 seems like it will have to be a matter of a small edge one way or another for both teams, really. The Yankees are rolling, but their assignment tonight is a tough one as they try to chase a guy who fancies himself — and has often shown himself — to be a rare throwback to those 1960s and 1970s aces who only seem to get better as the ballgame goes on. The Astros, meanwhile, are tasked with solving a young, fireballing stuff monster who has something to prove after his early exit in Game 2 and, even if he can’t prove it, a corps of relief aces who are among the most formidable in baseball. Add to that the notion that Major League Baseball, Fox and most commentators and casual fans outside of Houston want to see the 12th Yankees-Dodgers World Series matchup and the Astros have to be thinking everything’s against them.

Which is OK, though, right? Ballplayers love it when no one believes in them. That’s not better than six or seven runs of support, but the Astros will take anything they can get at the moment.