And That Happened: Tuesday’s scores and highlights

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Marlins 2, Phillies 1: The pitcher’s duel was as good as advertised, as neither offense broke out against Roy Halladay or Josh Johnson, each of whom pitched well enough to win even though neither did. This one was decided on the basis of mistakes. One of them was Halladay’s, as he inexplicably walked Johnson in the third inning — the first time he had ever walked a pitcher — and watched as he came around to score on a sac fly.  In the eighth the mistake was by Jimmy Rollins whose error allowed Omar Infante to reach and then Halladay, as his wild pitch let Infante get to second before scoring on a Chris Coghlan single.

Giants 1, Diamondbacks 0: Like Halladay and Johnson, I suppose Tim Lincecum (8 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 9K) and Ian Kennedy (8 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 8K) simply don’t know how to win.  The game’s only run scores on a Cody Ross single in the bottom of the ninth.

Mets 4, Rockies 3: Mike Pelfrey allowed three hits in six innings and drove in two with an RBI double. But as the box score establishes, he knows how to win. And because he won, he was clearly better than Halladay, Johnson, Lincecum and Kennedy last night. See how this works?

Rangers 7, Athletics 2: The Rangers scored their first run of the game on a bases-loaded walk. Lawyer ball, man.

Indians 5, Rays 4: Tampa Bay battled back after being down two in the seventh, but then Joel Peralta lost the thread  in the bottom of the ninth with a walk, a single, and then an intentional walk to load the bases with no one out.  He made way for Kyle Farnsworth who, despite having a nice year so far could not have been expected to put that fire out. He induced one out on a grounder, but the subsequent bases-loaded walk to Michael Brantley to end the game was rather Farnsworthy.

Cardinals 6, Cubs 4: No runs batted in, but a 4 for 5 night for Albert Pujols is encouraging. Unless you’re into silly speculation anyway. Daniel Descalso was the hero, driving in two on a single off Kerry Wood in the eighth to break the 4-4 tie.

Nationals 7, Braves 6: We all laughed at Chip Caray’s “Line drive! Base hit! Caught out there!” call from the playoffs a couple of years ago, but he really does have a hard time picking up the trajectory of the ball off the bat. In the ninth inning of this one Brooks Conrad hit a fly ball that, had it gone out, would have tied the game. Caray’s call made it sound like the Giants just won the 1951 pennant … before it was caught by Roger Bernadina.  Just annoying.  Although not as annoying as Tim Hudson not having his best stuff and the Braves being unable to do anything against Jason Marquis until the eighth inning.  The comeback was nice, but too little, too late.

Blue Jays 7, Red Sox 6: Jon Lester didn’t have it, giving up five runs on seven hits and walking five more. I didn’t watch any of it, but the box score makes it look like an ugly one. Jose Iglesias’ first official major league at bat resulted in a strikeout on which he reached first base due to the catcher muffing it. So that’s fun.

Yankees 3, Royals 1: Derek Jeter was 2 for 4 and drove one in while A-Rod drove in two, so that should hold off the “Oh noes! A-Rod and Jeter!” articles for a couple of days. Indeed, Jeter has a seven game hitting streak in which he’s 13 for 32 (.406).  Freddy Garcia allowed one run in six innings. I watched a couple of innings of this one here and there while the Phillies game was in a commercial and I remain just as surprised today as I did ten years ago that a guy like Garcia, who looks like he exerts as little effort as he does out there, still manages to get guys out. There’s probably some sort of lesson in that somewhere.

Dodgers 10, Pirates 3: After a prolonged offensive slump the Dodgers pounced on the Buccos for ten runs on fifteen hits, including a three-run jack for Matt Kemp. Indeed, the Dodgers’ 1-4 hitters were a combined 10 for 18 with six RBI. Andrew McCutchen hit two home runs in a losing cause. Unless he has his own agenda, of course, in which case his motives are inscrutable at best. No man knows what another thinks. Not really.

Reds 7, Astros 3: Homer Bailey turns in his second straight solid outing. More than solid, really, pretty damn fantastic: seven shutout innings on five hits with 5Ks and no walks. And Joey Votto did Joey Votto things like smack multiple extra base hits and drive in runs. Aroldis Chapman was terrible, though, walking four guys and hitting another while retiring no one to start off the eighth inning. And it wasn’t the first time he has struggled this year. Indeed, he has been unable to locate the strike zone for three straight outings. Something to keep your eye on.

Brewers 8, Padres 6: San Diego spotted Milwaukee an eight run lead and, despite the comeback, that was just too much to overcome. Jonathan Lucroy was 3 for 4 with three RBI. A strong outing from Shaun Marcum last night. A strong one from Zack Greinke on Monday. It’s almost the way they drew it up over the winter.

Orioles 7, Mariners 6:  Seattle took the lead in the 13th inning but Baltimore scored two on Felix Pie and Matt Weiters singles in the bottom of the inning to give the O’s the game.

Angels 6, White Sox 2: Alberto Callaspo drove in three runs. Howie Kendrick started in left field for the first time ever and didn’t get a ball hit to him.

Tigers 10, Twins 2: Someone asked me last week what I thought the chances were of Francisco Liriano having a strong outing in the wake of his no hitter. You can choose to believe me or not, but I swear that my answer was “slim and none.”  His no hitter wasn’t the result of some mechanical breakthrough or a step forward in the quality of his stuff. It just happened by good fortune and some poor offense by the White Sox. Last night he had the usual stuff working but less fortune and, despite the extra rest, he was coming off his longest ever start. Ergo: 3 IP, 3 H, 4 ER, 3 BB. If the hail doesn’t come to chase him random illness doesn’t get to him, he still loses this game. Victor Martinez was 3 for 4 with a couple of doubles and 4 RBI.

The Cubs are in desperate need of relief

Associated Press
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Tonight in Chicago Yu Darvish of the Dodgers will face off against Kyle Hendricks of the Cubs. If this were Game 1, we’d have a lot to say about the Dodgers’ trade deadline pickup and the Cubs’ budding ace. If this series continues on the way it’s been going, however, each of them will be footnotes because it has been all about the bullpens.

The Cubs, you may have heard, are having tremendous problems with relief pitching. Both their own and with the opposition’s. Cubs relievers have a 7.03 ERA this postseason, and have allowed six runs on eight hits and have walked six batters in seven innings of work. And no, the relief struggles aren’t just a matter of Joe Maddon pushing the wrong buttons (even though, yeah, he has pushed the wrong buttons).

Maddon pushed Wade Davis for 44 pitches in Game 5 of the NLDS, limiting his availability in Games 1 and 2. That pushing is a result of a lack of relief depth on the Cubs. Brian Duensing, Pedro Strop and Carl Edwards Jr. all have talent and all have had their moments, but none of them are the sort of relievers we have come to see in the past few postseasons. The guys who, when your starter tosses 80 pitches in four innings like Jon Lester did the other night, can be relied upon to shut down the opposition for three and a half more until your lights-out closer can get the four-out save.

In contrast, the Dodgers bullpen has been dominant, tossing eight scoreless innings. Indeed, Dodgers relievers have tossed eight almost perfect innings, allowing zero hits and zero walks while striking out nine Cubs batters. The only imperfection came when Kenley Jansen hit Anthony Rizzo in Game 2. That’s it. Compare this to the past couple of postseasons where the only truly reliable arm down there was Jansen, and in which Dodgers managers have had to rely on Clayton Kershaw to come on in relief. That has not been a temptation at all as the revamped L.A. pen, featuring newcomers Brandon Morrow and Tony Watson. Suffice it to say, Joe Blanton is not missed.

Which brings us back to Kyle Hendricks. He has pitched twice this postseason, pitching seven shutout innings in Game 1 of the NLDS but getting touched for four runs on nine hits while allowing a couple of dingers in Game 5. If the good Hendricks shows up, Maddon will be able to ride him until late in the game in which a now-rested Davis and maybe either Strop or Edwards can close things out in conventional fashion, returning this series to competitiveness. If the bad Hendricks does, he’ll have to do what he did in that NLDS Game 5, using multiple relievers and, perhaps, a repurposed starter in relief while grinding Davis into dust again. That was lucky to work there and doing it without Davis didn’t work in Game 2 on Sunday night.

So it all falls to Hendricks. The Dodgers have shown how soft the underbelly of the Cubs pen truly is. If they get to Hendricks early and get into that pen, you have to like L.A’s chances, not just in this game, but for the rest of the series, as bullpen wear-and-tear builds up quickly. It’s pretty simple: Hendricks has to give the Cubs some innings tonight. There is no other option available.

Just ask Joe Maddon. He’s tried.