Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim v Los Angeles Dodgers

And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights


I was out of town for the second weekend in a row. This time to West Virginia to visit my mother-in-law and to breathe some mountain air. Bonus: you can pick up the Beckley, West Virginia newspaper on Sunday morning and read last Wednesday’s box scores! Reminds me of being a baseball fan back in the 80s.

Thankfully I had my phone nearby. I rarely had more than one bar because my mother-in-law lives deep in a holler, but it was just enough to keep up. But really: this is the last time I go anywhere for a while. I’m pretty sure I suffer from minor convulsions and stuff without a solid Internet connection and MLB.tv, so in my fortified — and wired — compound I shall stay.

Dodgers 3, Angels 2: The Jered Weaver vs. Clayton Kershaw matchup lived up to the hype, with each pitching fabulously. Kershaw pitched a bit more fabulously, however, and a bit longer, going the distance and striking out 11, helping the Dodgers avoid the sweep. Tony Gwynn, Jr. with the walkoff RBI single.

Blue Jays 5, Cardinals 0: The Jays sweep the Cards, taking the last one on a Ricky Romero four-hit shutout.  St. Louis has lost 12 of 15 and are 1-5 since El Hombre went down. I won’t retract my “the Cardinals can weather the loss of Pujols” rebop yet, but as a talking point, it’s officially on notice.

Brewers 6, Twins 2: In contrast, I’m feeling way more comfortable with my “I declare the Twins dead” talking point from a couple of weeks ago. Minnesota is back to its run-impaired ways, having now lost five straight, scoring a total of eight runs in those five games.

Yankees 6, Rockies 4: Ty Wigginton had two homers in a game for the second time in a week, but it was — as they say — in a losing cause. Notice no one ever talks about sucky things happening “in a losing cause?” It would be apt to say something like “Joe Schmo struck out twice and totally half-assed a grounder hit right to him in a losing cause,” but we never say that for some reason.  Oh well. On Derek Jeter’s birthday, his fill-in, Eduardo Nunez, broke the tie with a seventh inning RBI single.

Buccaneers 14, Texans 10: See, it’s funny because they’re football team names that correspond with their local baseball teams on a day on which said baseball teams scored as though they were, in fact, football teams! It’s a clever juxtaposition! Aren’t I rich? A pill, I am! A pill!

Royals 6, Cubs 3: The first six Royals reached in the first inning, helping KC to a 4-0 lead that ended up being enough to win. In other news, my son has a Cubs cap, which he asked me to get for him because it had a “C” on it (his name begins with a C too). Yesterday he went outside to play and I made him wear his cap because it was really sunny out. He said “is it OK that I have a Cubs hat even though the Cubs aren’t very good?”  He’s 5 and does not really watch baseball at all, let alone follow it, so he would have no idea about how the Cubs do unless some kid on the playground told him that the Cubs suck while he had his hat on. This is what you’re up against, Chicago. Random kids 350 miles away are slamming you to random five year-olds. You cool with this?

Red Sox 4, Pirates 2: An error-filled game by Pittsburgh helps Boston avoid the sweep. Only one of Boston’s four runs was earned, so it’s not like the Sox bats are out of their mini-slump.

Nationals 2, White Sox 1: Phil Humber had a no-hitter into the sixth, but a two-run homer by Danny Espinosa in the seventh was enough for the Nats. With this game the John McLaren era ends for Washington. He finishes with a .667 winning percentage (2-1), which will probably have him at the top of the Nats’ leader board in that department for a long, long time.

Phillies 3, Athletics 1: Roy being Roy (CG, 8 H, 1 ER). An actual Charlie Manuel quote from after the game: “He’s pretty steady.” Gee, ya think, Cholly?  Jimmy Rollins went 4 for 4 and scored twice.

Orioles 7, Reds 5: Word to your moms, Baltimore came to drop bombs: three homers yesterday, nine in the series while scoring 17 runs. The O’s take two of three from Cincy.

Tigers 8, Diamondbacks 3: Detroit wins on the day Sparky Anderson’s number was retired. Somewhere — wherever Sparky’s soul resides — he probably told someone that Don Kelly was the next Tom Brookens and that Tom Brookens should have been the next George Kell. Which, if you followed Sparky’s career, makes total sense. A seven run eighth inning sealed it for Detroit. Jhonny Peralta was 3 for 4 with two RBI.

Mets 8, Rangers 5:  Jose Reyes had four hits and scored three runs because he’s pretty much unstoppable this year. Dillon Gee rebounds from a not-so-great start to win his eighth game with six solid innings.

Padres 4, Braves 1: It’s not every day you score four runs off Johnny Venters. In fact, it’s no day until yesterday, but the Padres smacked this year’s most unhittable reliever around for four on four hits and a couple of walks to rally in the eighth inning. Damndest thing was that Venters almost got out of it with no one scoring, but the Padres plated all four runs with two outs.

Giants 3, Indians 1: Last time we saw Madison Bumgarner he was allowing the first eight Minnesota Twins hitters he faced to reach and score. This time: he struck out 11 Indians and allowed only one run in seven innings. I guess he was well-rested this time out.

Mariners 2, Marlins 1: The go-ahead run scored when Marlin’s reliever Steve Cishek threw a wild pitch with a runner on third during an intentional walk. Holy schnikes! Best part: with the reason for the intentional walk now gone, Jack McKeon had Cishek actually pitch to the batter, who had been given three of the four balls for the walk already. Cishek struck him out. I don’t approve when pitchers come back to the dugout after a tough inning, punch something and break their hand, but in this case I think that would have been an acceptable behavior for Cishek.

Who should you root for in the playoffs?

Mets Fans

If you are a fan of the Yankees, Astros, Blue Jays, Royals, Rangers, Pirates, Cubs, Cardinals, Mets or Dodgers, your life is pretty easy. Your team is in the playoffs and you thus have someone to root for. Enjoy!

But what if your team isn’t in the playoffs? Then what do you do?

Well, the first thing you do is go to SI and follow the great Emma Span’s flowchart which picks a rooting interest for you. It has important considerations for you there which feed into this data-driven solution. Things like how you feel about underdogs, what kind of monster movies you like, your beard preferences and where you fall on the bunting/shifting/irritation scale. Go run your own preferences through the flowchat, but in the meantime know that it gave me the Royals, which is 100% baloney, but let’s not blame Emma for that. She does God’s work most of the time.

If I’m being less scientific, when my Braves are not in the playoffs I generally choose based on my gut, and my gut tends to like (a) individual players more than teams; (b) pitching more than hitting; and (c) newer playoff faces instead of ones who are there every damn year. These aren’t hard and fast rules — I want to see the Dodgers do well because I like Kershaw, Greinke and Puig, but they aren’t new faces and big payroll teams can get bent —  but in generally they hold.

Here are some pros and cons of your potential rooting interests:


Pro: They’re actually underdogs this year, at least according to the oddmakers. Rooting for A-Rod is always a good thing because he is all that is right and just in baseball.

Con: They’re still the friggin’ Yankees and who, besides Yankees fans, roots for the Yankees?


Pro: They’re young and plucky and were supposed to be years away from contention and worst-to-first stories are grand.

Con: If you don’t like sabermetrics and stuff this club might annoy you. Of course if that’s a basis for annoyance for you, you’re probably not reading this blog too often.


Pro: If you dig the longball, these are your huckleberries. Rogers Centre is going to be rocking like crazy, and that’s fun to see.

Con: You’re such a Trump supporter that you’re worried about the NORTHERN border too and you’d feel way more comfortable if there weren’t reasons for foreigners to travel here. Also: the more they advance, the more likely it is that you’re gonna hear Rush music as bumpers between innings.


Pro: Good defense is great. Teams with lots of contributors instead of a couple of megastars are great. They came so close last year and seeing those finally-got-over-the-mountain teams break through is pretty neat. At least it was back when the Bulls followed the Pistons who followed the Celtics. Torch-passing is cool.

Con: Baseball writers online telling you all about their barbecue experiences. Those guys are the worst.


Pro: They came outta nowhere and, the longer they play, the more likely it is we’ll get to see Prince Fielder leg out extra bases. If Josh Hamilton makes the World Series it’ll be even more of an eff you to Arte Moreno, who really deserves an eff you over how he handled the Josh Hamilton situation.

Con: With games in Dallas broadcast by Fox, we’ll almost certainly get some gimmicky double-broadcast stunts from Joe Buck.


Pro: Andrew McCutchen is fun to watch and it would be a shame if, like the early 90s, they had a megastar on the Pirates who just never quite made it to the World Series.

Con: Everyone’s gonna be mad at ’em if they eliminate the Cubs, who are likely going to be every bandwagon fan’s choice this year. Or maybe that’s a pro. Depends on how angry you like everyone to be.


Pro: A lotta fun players on this club and, for as much of a joke and sense of identity it has become, you have to be pretty hard hearted to not at least be somewhat happy for a team breaking a 107-year World Series championship drought.

Con: I think Joe Maddon is a great manager, but the way the media treats him when his teams are doing well is pretty insufferable. The entire World Series broadcast will be people lauding his singular wisdom for bringing the Cubs back to life and forgetting that a multi-year rebuild has just gone down.


Pro: I’ll get back to you on this one. I honestly can’t think of a single reason why a non-Cards fans would root for the Cardinals. They’re not underdogs. They’re in it every year, it seems. People say I hate the Cardinals and that’s not true, but I am very weary of the Cardinals and their storylines much the same way so many people were tied of seeing the Red Sox and Yankees deep into the playoffs every season.

Cons: Pick any number of things. I would venture to say that, if one could measure such a thing, the Cards will have fewer non-Cards fans rooting for them this month than any other team will have non-fans rooting for them.


Pro: Lots of pros here. Perpetual underdogs and sad sacks. Great pitching. They’ve been out of it for years. Cool players like Cespedes and Bartolo and deGrom and Harvey and everyone. Far fewer annoying celebrity fans than the Yankees have. Just a solid, solid choice for a rent-a-root situation, and I say that even as a guy who normally hates the Mets because they’re in my team’s division. Just go with it.

Cons: If they do go far it may get exhausting. Aligning yourself with Mets fans is to align yourself with misery. They could be up 5-0 in Game 7 of the World Series and Mets fans will be worrying about the bullpen and bitching about how they didn’t close it out in five. It’s just always like that with them.


Pro: Fun players in Greinke, Kershaw and Puig. Nice camera shots of the L.A. sunset after they come back from commercial. Good vibes for Vin Scully.

Cons: They are the anti-underdog given their payroll and three straight division titles. I have heard rumors that some people don’t like Yasiel Puig as much as I do, though I have discounted them as slander. Fox’s “spot a celebrity from an upcoming Fox show who just happens to be in the crowd here tonight” game will go into overdrive.

So there are the metrics. Choose wisely.

AL Wild Card Game: Astros vs. Yankees lineups

Dallas Keuchel

Here are the Yankees and Astros lineups for tonight’s Wild Card game in New York:

2B Jose Altuve
RF George Springer
SS Carlos Correa
LF Colby Rasmus
DH Evan Gattis
CF Carlos Gomez
3B Luis Valbuena
1B Chris Carter
C Jason Castro

SP Dallas Keuchel

Center fielder Carlos Gomez is in the lineup despite still being bothered by a lingering intercostal tear. He started just one of the final 20 regular season games because of the injury. Jed Lowrie, who’s been sidelined by a quadriceps injury of late, is out of the lineup in favor of Luis Valbuena at third base.

CF Brett Gardner
LF Chris Young
RF Carlos Beltran
DH Alex Rodriguez
C Brian McCann
3B Chase Headley
1B Greg Bird
2B Rob Refsnyder
SS Didi Gregorius

SP Mashiro Tanaka

Jacoby Ellsbury, who’s been the starting center fielder since signing a seven-year, $153 million deal with the Yankees two offseasons ago, is on the bench versus left-hander Dallas Keuchel. Chris Young starts in his place, as manager Joe Girardi preferred his right-handed bat in the lineup with Brett Gardner shifting to center field. Stephen Drew is out with a concussion, so little-used rookie Rob Refsnyder gets the nod at second base over veteran Dustin Ackley.