And That Happened: Tuesday’s scores and highlights

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Tigers 4, Indians 0: If often seems like the game Justin Verlander is playing is unfairly easy when the game everyone else is playing is so damned hard. A no-hitter into the eighth, a two-hit shutout with 12 strikeouts overall.

Rays 4, Red Sox 0: James Shields with a five-hit shutout. Carl Crawford’s return to Tampa Bay was probably a lot like seeing your ex at a party: your joy at seeing her is inversely related to the figure she cuts as she walks into the room. If she looks like a million dollars and has a suave and swarthy young man on her arm, you don’t want to see her. If she’s not at her best and is attached to a frumpy and disheveled older gentleman, well then, let’s go say our hellos.  Carl Crawford was 0 for 3 with a strikeout in his return to Tampa Bay, so I assume that because of that the Rays crowd greeted him more and more warmly as the night went on, even going to far as to engage the older gentleman accompanying him in conversation, offering him a subtle reminder that his date once had it much, much better.

Angels 4, Mariners 0: Five hit shutouts must have been contagious last night, because Jered Weaver had one too.

Mets 4, Braves 3: Jose Reyes continues to be ridiculously good, going 3 for 5, stealing two bases and scoring twice, and Jair Jurrjens has his worst outing of the year (5.1 IP, 8 H, 4 ER, 5 BB). But really, with all of those Mets on base, it should have been way worse for Atlanta.

Nationals 8, Cardinals 6: St. Louis had a 6-1 lead after five innings and blew it, primarily on the power of Miguel Bautista imploding for five runs in two-thirds of the six-run seventh inning. Only one of the Nats’ runs came on an extra base hit. The rest were singles, fielder’s choices, wild pitches, and other small stuff.

Pirates 1, Astros 0: Just your standard six-pitcher shutout, with Jeff Karstens leading the way (6.2 IP, 3 H, 0 ER). Let’s be charitable to the Astros too and give new pitching coach Doug Brocail credit for the nice showing by Bud Norris and the pen. No I don’t believe he had anything to with that, but if we as a group are going to believe that midseason coaching changes matter, let’s go all the way with the charade.

Phillies 9, Marlins 1: Chris Volstad fooled no one (5.2 IP, 10 H, 8 ER). Cole Hamels fooled many (7 IP, 3 H, 1 ER).  For Philly, it was mostly a homer-fest, with four guys in red pinstripes going yard, Domonic Brown doing so twice.

Yankees 12, Rangers 4: Curtis Granderson hit a two-run homer and a two-run single. Pretty much everyone else for the home team hit too. I suppose that they were inspired emotionally by Derek Jeter’s tragic death.  Wait, what? You mean he didn’t die?  He just went on the disabled list? Hmm. I guess I need to actually read the news stories instead of merely gleaning their emotional tone when trying to determine what happened.

Blue Jays 6, Orioles 5: Adam Lind walks off with an 11th inning homer. He also led off the Jays’ scoring with an RBI double in the first.

Reds 3, Dodgers 2: The Reds have gotten great starting pitching over the last week and a half or so, and Johnny Cueto’s outing last night continued it, as he allowed only a single unearned run in seven innings.

Giants 6, Diamondbacks 5: San Francisco jumped out to a 5-0 lead but the snakes clawed back. Wait: snakes don’t have claws. That makes no sense. Anyway, the comeback came a bit short.

Rockies 6, Padres 3: According to the game story, Jim Tracy held a closed-door meeting before the game, the Rockies won and all is right with the world.  I always wondered what would happen if baseball teams were run like British Parliament. If, say, after the closed-door meeting the team came out and performed lackadaisically, would that be akin to a no-confidence vote and would the general manager have to dissolve the team, the manager resign and elections be held?  And what the hell is a Chancellor of the Exchequer anyway?

Cubs 5, Brewers 4: Starlin Castro had three hits, including a walkoff hit in the 10th inning, capping the Cubs’ comeback from a 4-1 deficit in the eighth. Aramis Ramirez had a two-run bomb in the eighth to tie it up at 4.

Royals 7, Athletics 4: From the AP game story:

Kansas City pitcher Danny Duffy didn’t see much need to celebrate his first victory in the major leagues. His teammates thought otherwise and gave the Royals rookie a milk shower.

I hope that wasn’t a euphemism.

White Sox vs. Twins: POSTPONED:  The rain cooled about half-past three to a damp mist, through which occasional thin drops swam like dew. Gatsby looked with vacant eyes through a copy of Clay’s ECONOMICS, starting at the Finnish tread that shook the kitchen floor, and peering toward the bleared windows from time to time as if a series of invisible but alarming happenings were taking place outside. Finally he got up and informed me, in an uncertain voice, that he was going home.

In the playoffs, the Yankees’ weakness has become their strength

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Two weeks ago, when the playoffs began, the idea of “bullpenning” once again surfaced, this time with the Yankees as a focus. Because their starting pitching was believed to be a weakness — they had no obvious ace like a Dallas Keuchel or Corey Kluber — and their bullpen was a major strength, the idea of chaining relievers together starting from the first inning gained traction. The likes of Luis Severino, who struggled mightily in the AL Wild Card game, or Masahiro Tanaka (4.79 regular season ERA) couldn’t be relied upon in the postseason, the thought went.

That idea is no longer necessary for the Yankees because the starting rotation has become the club’s greatest strength. Tanaka fired seven shutout innings to help push the Yankees ahead of the Astros in the ALCS, three games to two. They are now one win away from reaching the World Series for the first time since 2009.

It hasn’t just been Tanaka. Since Game 3 of the ALDS, Yankees pitchers have made eight starts spanning 46 1/3 innings. They have allowed 10 runs (nine earned) on 25 hits and 12 walks with 45 strikeouts. That’s a 1.75 ERA with an 8.74 K/9 and 2.33 BB/9. In five of those eight starts, the starter went at least six innings, which has helped preserve the freshness and longevity of the bullpen.

Here’s the full list of performances for Yankee starters this postseason:

Game Starter IP H R ER BB SO HR
AL WC Luis Severino 1/3 4 3 3 1 0 2
ALDS 1 Sonny Gray 3 1/3 3 3 3 4 2 1
ALDS 2 CC Sabathia 5 1/3 3 4 2 3 5 0
ALDS 3 Masahiro Tanaka 7 3 0 0 1 7 0
ALDS 4 Luis Severino 7 4 3 3 1 9 2
ALDS 5 CC Sabathia 4 1/3 5 2 2 0 9 0
ALCS 1 Masahiro Tanaka 6 4 2 2 1 3 0
ALCS 2 Luis Severino 4 2 1 1 2 0 1
ALCS 3 CC Sabathia 6 3 0 0 4 5 0
ALCS 4 Sonny Gray 5 1 2 1 2 4 0
ALCS 5 Masahiro Tanaka 7 3 0 0 1 8 0
TOTAL 55 1/3 35 20 17 20 52 6

In particular, if you hone in on the ALCS starts specifically, Yankee starters have pitched 28 innings, allowing five runs (four earned) on 13 hits and 10 walks with 20 strikeouts. That’s a 1.61 ERA.

While the Yankees’ biggest weakness has become a strength, the Astros’ biggest weakness — the bullpen — has become an even bigger weakness. This is why the Yankees, who won 10 fewer games than the Astros during the regular season, are one win away from reaching the World Series and the Astros are not.