And That Happened: Sunday’s Scores and Highlights

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Dodgers 9, Reds 6: Chad Billingsley — altogether now — helped his own cause by hitting  a homer, a double and driving in three.  I was watching the game when he hit the homer. I couldn’t see the beginning of his sentence, but Reds’ starter Travis Wood quite clearly mouthed the words “… homer to the motherf***ing pitcher,” as Billingsley rounded the bases. I was watching the game with my kids and they asked me why I was laughing. I said “no reason.”

Cardinals 3, Cubs 2: Nowadays everybody wanna talk like they got something to say, but nothin comes out when they move they lips, just a buncha gibberish, and muthaf***as act like they forgot about El Hombre.

Nationals 9, Diamondbacks 4: A wild one, including multiple hit-batsmen and multiple pitcher/manager ejections. A big blown lead for the Nats in the ninth, made up for by a bases loaded walk/grand slam rally in the 11th. If two teams I don’t care a lick about want to hold my interest for a few innings, this is a great way to do it.

Giants 2, Rockies 1: Once over the line maybe you can pick cotton in the fall. Maybe you can go on relief. Why don’t you go on west to California? There’s work there, and it never gets cold. Why, you can reach out anywhere and pick a starting pitcher, right off the tree. Like Ryan Vogelsong (8 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 7K).

Twins 6, Royals 0: Brian Duensing (8 IP, 6 H, 0 ER) helps the Royals continue to slide down the list of highest scoring teams in the American League.  A couple weeks ago they were second. Now they’re sixth and dropping. As for the Twins, before the game Gleeman tweeted this, and I agreed with him: “For a full season I think today’s Twins lineup could rank as high as third or fourth among International League teams in scoring.”  And then they scored six, including three RBI for Jason Repko.

Tigers 7, White Sox 3: Actually, the Tigers may have passed up the Royals on the AL offensive list after this game, putting Detroit in sixth place and Kansas City in seventh. As I’m typing this Baseball-Reference hasn’t refreshed to reflect Sunday’s games, so let’s revisit later this morning.  Ryan Raburn with a grand slam.

Phillies 7, Pirates 3: Philly salvages one in Pittsburgh and breaks a four-game losing streak. Leave it to Doc, I guess (7 IP, 6 H, 2 ER). And Ryan Howard, who drove in three.

Red Sox 6, Athletics 3: Carl Crawford with a three-run homer, Adrian Gonzalez with a two-run homer and, in his return, John Lackey was as effective as he’s been able to muster this year, pitching into the sixth inning. Just like they drew it up over the past couple of winters.

Brewers 6, Marlins 5: Football is called a game of inches, but sometimes the slightest margins mean everything in baseball too. Three straight one-run wins for Milwaukee in Miami. Florida has stranded runners all over the place this series, and they still have one more game to go on the wraparound today.

Blue Jays 7, Orioles 4: Jo-Jo Reyes just knows how to win. The fact that Adam Lind was 4 for 4 with two homers helped him win, of course.

Rangers 2, Indians 0: C.J. Wilson shut the Tribe down into the eighth inning and the pen finished the job, as the Rangers swept the Indians in a four-game series. Detroit is only 2.5 games back now. The fairytale is almost over.

Yankees 5, Angels 3: Two homers for Mark Teixeira, including a two-run shot that put the Yankees ahead for good. After dropping the first two in Seattle last week, the Yankees finish their west coast swing 6-3. Not too shabby.

Mariners 9, Rays 6: Miguel Olivo with a go-ahead three-run homer in the eighth. Did you know that he is the most indispensable Mariner?  Greg Halman got his first major league action of the year and went 3 for 4 with two runs batted in.

Padres 7, Astros 2: The Padres take three of four from the Astros in the battle of the “mehs.”  Although maybe San Diego shouldn’t be considered too “meh.” They’ve won eight of 11.

Mets 6, Braves 4: R.A. Dickey had it goin’ on (8 IP, 4 H, 1 ER) and no one save Brian McCann had a clue what to do with his fluttery wonderfulness (Diory Hernandez’s pinch hit homer came against the pen). Odd game for me, because there aren’t many ballplayers I like to see do well more than Dickey, and that even extends to when he pitches against my favorite team. By the fourth or fifth inning I got disgusted with the Braves and just started pulling for Dickey. Yeah, fan infidelity and all that, but it’s a long season and stuff like that happens from time to time. It’s no different than being married for 16 years and taking an occasional furtive glance at a nice looking brunette that just happens to walk by.  Not that I know anything about that.

A.J. Hinch: “We’ll use every pitcher in Game 7 if we have to”

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It’s not entirely clear why the Astros threw Ken Giles into the ninth inning of Game 6 of the ALCS. With a six-run advantage and the bottom half of the Yankees’ lineup due up, pushing the series to its seven-game capacity looked like a sure bet. Giles may be one of Houston’s better bullpen arms, but he’s not their only option, and it would have made more sense to keep him fresh for a do-or-die Game 7 on Saturday night.

Of course, there’s no such thing as a sure bet when it comes to postseason baseball. That’s more or less what Astros’ manager A.J. Hinch had to say after the game, telling reporters that he had envisioned a quick three outs from his closer as they tried to pull back from the brink of elimination. “We didn’t have the luxury of limping into that inning,” Hinch said. “We’ve seen how these guys can explode in these innings.”

It’s not difficult to recall the Yankees’ explosive drive in the eighth inning of Game 4, when they exploited the holes in Houston’s ‘pen and evened the series with Gary Sanchez‘s go-ahead double off of Giles. Back home in Minute Maid Park, however, there was a slightly different feel to the eighth and ninth innings of Game 6. Jose Altuve led off the eighth with a solo home run, followed by Alex Bregman‘s two-run double and Evan Gattis‘ sac fly. In the ninth, Giles labored through a 23-pitch outing to lock down the win, handing out a base hit and a seven-pitch walk before eventually whiffing Chase Headley on three straight pitches for the last out.

So, while Hinch’s decision to lean on Giles in Game 6 may have felt wasteful, his concerns were not entirely unfounded. He’s prepared to roll with the same strategy during Saturday’s series finale, too, leaving nothing on the table as the Astros battle for their first World Series showdown since 2005. According to Dallas Keuchel, that means all hands on deck — except for Justin Verlander, whose four wins, 24 strikeouts and 1.46 postseason ERA have gotten the Astros as far as he could possibly be expected to take them. “No pitcher is going to be in the dugout,” said Keuchel. “They’re all going to be in the bullpen, myself included. Any way we can help out, we’re trying to get to the World Series, the same way the Yankees are, and that’s a nice feeling to have.”

Does that mean Giles will be available for a Game 7 appearance? Stranger things have happened. Joe Sheehan notes that the right-hander has pitched in back-to-back days 13 times this year, though he’s never thrown as many as 23 pitches on Day 1. Granted, he likely doesn’t have enough left in the tank for another 20+ pitch run on Saturday, but with the World Series on the line, any help he can offer will be invaluable.