Black Swan

And That Happened: Monday’s scores and highlights


Cardinals 3, Phillies 1: I had this game on in my den with the sound off while my wife watched “Black Swan” in the other room. That made it really creepy, especially when I tweeted about it last night and people kept proposing scenes in which Cliff Lee was the Natalie Portman character and Charlie Manuel was that letchy, Eurotrash director.  Try to get that out of your mind. Anyway, in four years every time he pitches, I see Lee obsessed, getting each and every pitch perfectly right but I never see him lose himself. Ever! All that discipline for what? Perfection? Perfection is not just about control. It’s also about letting go. He should surprise himself so he can surprise the audience. Transcendence! Very few have it in them.  Lee often does. But not last night, as he walked six dudes. Of course, he was getting squeezed by home plate umpire Gerry Davis really bad. Just like Portman got squeezed by the letchy Eurotrash director. Yikes! See what I mean?!

Red Sox 8, Orioles 7: A very Matsuzakian start for Matsuzaka (4.1 IP, 5 H, 5 ER, 7 BB) is salvaged by one near-comeback between the sixth inning in which Boston turned a 6-0 deficit into a 6-5 game and then a complete one in the ninth when the Sox scored two on the power of Kevin Gregg walks to Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia and then a game-winning double by Adrian Gonzalez.

Indians 19, Royals 1:  This is one of those games that’s gonna skew the Pythagorean record for both teams for a few weeks. And Vin Mazzaro’s ERA for, like, ever, thanks to him wearing one to the tune of 2.1 IP, 11 H, 14 ER, which is arguably the worst pitching performance in baseball history. Oh, and 76 pitches for Mazzaro too, which is insane. What, did Ned Yost catch poor Vin in bed with his wife or something?  The Royals starter, Kyle Davies, left in the first inning with some sort of shoulder injury, so the stage was set for disaster regardless. All the Royals can do is realize that it only counts as one loss.

Rays 6, Yankees 5:  Alright. Flush the bombers, get the subs in launch mode. We are at DEFCON 1.  You score five runs off David Price in five innings, you figure you’ll get the win. But A.J. gave up six, five of which came in the sixth inning.  Six losses in a row for New York, which is their longest streak in four years.

Rangers 4, White Sox 0: Colby Lewis pitches the shutout while striking out seven. After a little skid in late April, Lewis has put together four straight sharp starts.

Reds 7, Cubs 4: Carlos Zambrano was cruising with a one-hitter until he hit the sixth inning and promptly gave up six runs. In all, the Reds sent 12 batters to the plate. Which, aside from making their scorecards kind of a mess, pleased the hometown crowd.

Braves 3, Astros 2: Chipper Jones’ injury forced Martin Prado to third and put Eric Hinske in at left. Prado had a couple of fabulous defensive plays (and one awful one) and Hinske had three hits, including the tie-breaking single in the seventh. Just like they drew it up, I guess. A three-hit, ten-strikeout performance for Tommy Hanson.

Nationals 4, Pirates 2: Danny Espinosa had a two-run homer in the seventh to break the tie and give the Nats the win. The same Danny Espinosa who was hitting .193. Six straight losses for the Pirates, which makes it one of the few times in recent history when a comparison to the Yankees is apt.

Blue Jays 4, Tigers 2: Detroit finally loses one and Jose Bautista finally doesn’t hit a home run. Man, I don’t know what I can count on in this world anymore.

Marlins 2, Mets 1: A home run — and I mean a moon-shot — by Mike Stanton in the seventh tied it up at 1, the Mets failed to capitalize on a bases-loaded situation in the bottom of the ninth and then Burke Badenhop — really? The relief pitcher? — drove Stanton in on an RBI single in the 11th which proved to be the game-winner. Badenhop picked up the win too.

Rockies 7, Giants 4: The Giants had recently dominated the Rockies, but it was not Tim Lincecum’s night last night, as he walked six and gave up seven runs on nine hits. A three-run homer by Carlos Gonzalez sealed the awfulness for Timmy.

Brewers 2, Dodgers 1: L.A’s offense continues to be terrible. And it isn’t helped by stuff like Carlos Gomez robbing Juan Uribe of a homer with a great catch at the wall.

Mariners 5, Twins 2: Michael Pineda toyed with the Twins in a way that a rookie pitcher should never be allowed to toy with a major league lineup (7 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 7K).

Athletics 5, Angels 4: Stellar 10th inning for Fernando Rodney: in the bottom of the inning, Kurt Suzuki drew a one-out walk, moved to second on another walk then took third on a wild pitch. Mark Ellis then hit an infield grounder to a five-man infield that was deep enough in the hole to score Suzuki.

Padres 8, Diamondbacks 4: If they’re not careful, the Padres hitters are gonna spoil their pitchers what with all of this run support they’ve been giving ’em.  Meanwhile, I’m not gonna say that Armando Galarraga — who got rocked — is worried about his job in the Dbacks’ rotation, but here was his response when asked a question about his purely hypothetical next start:

“What are you talking about the next start?” Galarraga said, glaring at the reporter. “Who you say I am going to be worried about my next start? Are you saying that I am going to lose my job? Are you trying to say that? I am frustrated about this start, not the next one.”

Careful, Armando! You can’t sell books about good sportsmanship and positive attitudes like that!

There’s no one to blame in Yankees’ loss

Joe Girardi

You’re going to boo All-Star Brett Gardner for striking out against a Cy Young contender?

You’re going to bash Alex Rodriguez for going hitless in another postseason game, three years after his last one?

Maybe you’d prefer to put it all on Masahiro Tanaka for giving up two solo homers to a lineup full of 20-homer guys?

The truth is that the Yankees were supposed to lose tonight. They were facing an outstanding left-hander with their forever-lefty-heavy lineup, and they simply didn’t have anyone pitching like an ace to set themselves up nicely for a one-game, winner-take-all showdown. The 3-0 result… well, that’s how this was supposed to go down.

It didn’t necessarily mean it would; what fun would it be if the better team always won? And the Astros might not even be a better team than the Yankees. However, the Astros with Dallas Keuchel on the mound were certainly a better team than the Yankees with whoever they picked to throw.

I just don’t see where it’s worth putting any blame tonight. Joe Girardi? He could have started John Ryan Murphy over Brian McCann against the tough lefty, but he wasn’t willing to risk Tanaka losing his comfort zone by using a backup catcher.

The front office could have added more talent, perhaps outbidding the Blue Jays for David Price or the Royals for Johnny Cueto, and set themselves up better for the postseason. However, that would have cost them Luis Severino and/or Greg Bird, both of whom went on to play key roles as the Yankees secured the wild card. Would it really have been worth it? I don’t think so.

Tanaka gave the Yankees what they should have expected. Had Keuchel’s stuff been a little off on short rest, Tanaka’s performance would have kept the Yankees in the game.

Keuchel, though, was on his game from the first pitch. The Astros bullpen might have been a bit more vulnerable, and late at-bats from Gardner, Carlos Beltran, Rodriguez and McCann definitely left something to be desired. Still, on the whole, the lack of offense was quite a team effort.

The Yankees got beat by a better team tonight.  I’m not sure the Astros would have been better in Games 2-7 in a longer series, but they had everything in their favor in this one.

Keuchel, Astros cruise past Yankees in AL Wild Card Game

AP Photo/Kathy Willens

Dallas Keuchel faced the Yankees two times during the regular season and was fantastic in each outing, striking out 12 in a complete-game shutout on June 25 and whiffing nine batters over seven scoreless frames on August 25.

The 2015 Cy  Young Award candidate continued that trend in Tuesday night’s American League Wild Card Game, limiting the Yankees to three hits and one walk over six innings of scoreless ball as the Astros earned a 3-0 win and advanced to a best-of-five ALDS with the top-seeded Royals.

Keuchel was working on three days of rest but didn’t show very many signs of fatigue, whiffing seven and needing only 87 pitches to get through six. He sure looked like he could have gone an inning longer, but Astros manager A.J. Hinch decided to turn the game over to his bullpen and they added three more big zeroes to the scoreboard at a very loud then very boo-heavy Yankee Stadium. Tony Sipp worked around some early jitters to throw a scoreless seventh, Will Harris kept the Yankees off the bases entirely in a scoreless eighth, and closer Luke Gregerson went 1-2-3 in the bottom of the ninth.

Impending free agent outfielder Colby Rasmus provided the first burst of offense for the Astros in the top of the second inning with a leadoff homer against Masahiro Tanaka. And then deadline acquisition Carlos Gomez, who missed a bunch of time down the stretch with an intercostal strain, got to Tanaka for another solo shot in the top of the fourth. Houston scored its third run on a Jose Altuve RBI single in the top of the seventh.

This is a young, talented Astros team with an ace at the head of its rotation.

Kansas City could have a problem.