And That Happened: Tuesday’s scores and highlights


Cardinals 8, Reds 1: Albert Pujols was activated, but did not play. Makes me think this was a whole “Westley bluffing his way to victory over Humperdink even though he was still partly paralyzed from the ‘mostly dead’ thing” from “The Princess Bride.”  His mere presence and threat carried the day, at least psychologically speaking. Meanwhile, Matt Holliday and his two home runs fill the role of Inigo Montoya, kicking everyone’s butt to very little fanfare.

Reds Sox 3, Blue Jays 2: One of the more harrowing 3-2 games you’ll see. Partially because the Sox lost Jon Lester to strain of the old latissimus dorsi. Partially because Jonathan Papelbon has apparently been bored lately and decided to make a 3-0 game interesting. And then of course, the home plate umpire blew the call at home, calling Edwin Encarnacion out when he really was safe. An assist on that to Jason Varitek, who blocked the plate in a way that we all sorta decided catchers shouldn’t do back when Buster Posey got injured, but which I’m guessing most folks will call a heads up play today.  But really, if you’re looking for intellectual consistency in sports, don’t come to baseball. We’re all about nuance and duality here.

Pirates 5, Astros 1: Jeff Karstens allowed one run in seven innings. Is it just me or does it seem like Karstens starts every other day for the Buccos?  OK, I’ll admit that’s improbable and is likely a function of me not paying as close attention to the box scores as a I should. But really, I’m pretty sure he’s had 42 starts so far this year (no, I’m not checking; no time).

Nationals 3, Cubs 2: Jeff Baker thew what should have been an easy out way clear of the second base bag, leading to two Nats’ runs and more or less deciding the ballgame, even though it happened in the first inning. Five Nats pitchers took it the rest of the way.

Phillies 14, Marlins 2: Amazing but true fact: when you give Cole Hamels 14 runs, he never loses.

Braves 5, Rockies 3: Freddie Freeman hit another homer. And as I was looking at his player bio page, I notice that he looks a lot like my high school friend Eric used to look circa 1989 or so. Eric and I saw “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” together at the theater and then went to Myrtle Beach together after we graduated, but you probably don’t care about that, though. How about this, then: Derek Lowe helped his own cause with a bases-loaded double. Wait, you think Eric is more interesting than my cliche phrases? Man, tough crowd.

Rangers 4, Orioles 2: Matt Harrison gave up 11 hits in six innings and only two runs scored. Without having seen any of this game, that seems like a failure to capitalize issue from the O’s part, no? Mostly, though, it was a failure of Orioles’ reliever Jim Johnson to shut the damn door when he came in with a 2-1 lead in the seventh inning.

Diamondbacks 7, Brewers 3: Hey, look on the bright side Brewers’ fans: starting down 7-1 early, at least your boys didn’t blow a big lead this time!

Yankees 9, Indians 2: Jeter had two hits. I was hoping he’d get four or five simply so that the Yankees could worry that even a moderately decent day tomorrow would have him reach 3,000 on the road. But hey, we can’t get everything we want. More significantly, Curtis Granderson had two homers and CC Sabathia continued to make the people who left him off the All-Star team look like fools (7 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 11K).

Twins 3, Rays 2: The Twins — who used six pitchers, thanks in part to starter Scott Baker’s strained elbow– beat James Shields, who looked mortal for his second straight start. One gets the sense that he needs the All-Star break to be here about as bad as anyone.

Royals 5, White Sox 3: After Kansas City frittered away a 3-0 lead, a two-run Matt Treanor single in the sixth broke the 3-3 tie and pushed the Royals over.

Padres 5, Giants 3:  San Diego beats San Francisco 5-3 for the second straight day. Cameron Maybin drove in three and Anthony Rizzo two.

Mets 6, Dodgers 0: Jason Bay … is … alive. Two homers for him and a two-run shot for Carlos Beltran go nicely with six shutout innings from Mike Pelfrey. The Dodgers, they reel.

Mariners 4, Athletics 2: Felix Hernandez deserved better than a no-decision after allowing one run in eight innings and striking out ten. But Brandon League blew the save in the ninth and Andrew Bailey and the A’s defense couldn’t get it done in the tenth, with the go-ahead run scoring on a throwing error and some insurance on an Adam Kennedy double.

Angels 1, Tigers 0: Dan Haren beat Justin Verlander at his own game (gettin’ lots of dudes out and not allowing many hits). A two-hit shutout for Haren. Oh, and you’ll be shocked to learn that Joe West’s crew ejected three people in this one.

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.