And That Happened: Wednesday’s Scores and Highlights

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Yankees 3, White Sox 1: Bartolo Colon is pitching like it’s 2002 again or something (8 IP, 7 H, 1 ER). Quick! Bartlo! Send an email to 2002-era Craig and tell him not to put off that trip to Paris he planned with the missus and then cancelled. Contrary to what they each said, the trip would not wait another year because in another year they had a Mookie in the oven and then another one 19 months later that effectively punted European travel for a decade or more. Dear God, 2002 Craig was too stupid to live.

In other news, I’m leaving my fortified compound and I’m travelling to New York this morning. Among the many things I will do there between today and Sunday is to catch tonight’s Yankees-White Sox game. The weather forecast looks iffy, however. I sure hope it doesn’t get cancelled. Because God knows that there’s nothing else to do in New York.

Mets 6, Nationals 3: The Mets just will not lose. A pinch-hit homer in the eighth from Daniel Murphy tied it up and a two-run double from Murphy sealed the deal in the ninth. Six in a row for New York.

Phillies 8, Diamondbacks 4: Some more offense for the Phillies, who bombarded Joe Saunders and avoided the sweep. Jimmy Rollins, Shane Victorino and Ryan Howard go yard. After the game Charlie Manuel said “Anytime you hit, you feel good about yourself.”  Then — and here is where the video of the interview with Manuel got a bit jumpy, so I could have it wrong — he said “You know, with some offense you got that vim! That vigor! That pep! That get-up-and-go that makes a fella feel swell. We hit the long balls, bury the Braves, get Roy some hardware, Burma Shave!”

Pirates 2, Giants 0: James McDonald and a quartet of relievers shut out the Giants. A strong outing for Madison Bumgarner, but it was for naught. The fifth loss in six games for the Giants.

Mariners 10, Tigers 1: Where in the heck did this come from? Doesn’t matter to Erik Bedard. He’ll take the runs, because they helped him get his first win since 2009. Justin Smoak had a three-run homer and a two-run double. That’s two homers and seven RBI for Smoak in the two games since he returned after missing time due to his father’s death. Not exactly repeatable motivation, but hey, whatever gets him through the dark days right now.

Braves 7, Padres 0: Tommy Hanson dominated the Padres, striking out 10 over the course of seven shutout innings. Chipper Jones had a triple and three RBI, passing Mickey Mantle on the all-time RBI list. He now stands second all-time for pinch switch hitters behind Eddie Murray, whom he’ll never catch. Mat Latos has now lost nine straight starts stretching to last season.

Indians 7, Royals 2: Cleveland jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the first on an Orlando Cabrera bases-clearing double and never looked back. The Indians now have the second biggest division lead in baseball. For their part, the Royals have lost eight of ten, pretty much ending all of that “are the Royals for real” talk which no one in their right mind ever should have answered in the affirmative.

Orioles 5, Red Sox 4: It was a tough day for Luke Scott but he rebounded nicely with a homer in the fourth. Overall the O’s jumped out to a 4-0 lead, frittered it away in the eighth inning, but then had their bacon saved by a Vlad Guerrero RBI single in the bottom of the eighth to pull it out. Vlad was put in position to score, it should be noted, when Jason Varitek let not one, but two balls get by him, with he and fellow base runner Nick Markakis advancing to second and third, respectively, on the first one and Vlad advancing to third — with Markakis getting tagged out — on the second.

Reds 7, Brewers 6: Cincy squandered leads of 4-0 and 6-4, but pulled it out via some nifty relief work from Aroldis Chapman to get out of an eighth inning jam and a 10th inning bomb from Drew Stubbs. For the Brewers,  Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder and Casey McGehee finished a combined 0-for-12.

Rangers 7, Blue Jays 6: Both teams got awful performances from their starters — Jo-Jo Reyes for Toronto and Derek Holland for Texas — but the Rangers pulled it out with a Mitch Moreland homer to center in the seventh.

Athletics 2, Angels 1: Both teams got great performances from their starters — Tyson Ross for Oakland and Dan Haren for Anaheim — but the Athletics pulled it out with a Connor Jackson RBI groundout in the tenth.

Dodgers 5, Marlins 4: Between this post and this post you have all you need to know. Andre Ethier is a beast and Vicente Padilla, at least for now, is a closer.

Cardinals 6, Astros 5: It’s a win, but the Cardinal bullpen woes continue. Kyle Lohse shut out the Astros for seven innings, only to have to bite his nails as the pen — particularly old closer Ryan Franklin and flavor of the month Eduardo Sanchez — almost cough it up a 6-0 lead in the eighth and ninth. They had help from Fernando Salas too.

Rays 8, Twins 2: Tampa Bay scored four in the first off Francisco “Dead Man Walking” Liriano and won it going away. Liriano is now 1-3 with a 9.13 ERA. In 23.2 innings he has walked 18 and struck out 18. What in the hell happened to him? Sam Fuld reached base four times in five plate appearances and Ben Zobrist drove in three.

Rockies vs. Cubs: POSTPONED: Bake those biscuits good and brown, it ain’t gonna rain no more. Swing your partner round and round, it ain’t gonna rain no more. Bullfrog sitting on a lily pad, he looked up at the sky. The lily pad broke and the frog fell in, he got water all in his eye.  Oh, it ain’t gonna rain no more, no more, it ain’t gonna rain no more. How do you suppose the Old Man knows it ain’t gonna rain no more?

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

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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).