Tampa Bay Rays v Oakland Athletics

And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights


Rays 10, Athletics 8: Oakland scored five in the first so it looked like another shellacking was on the way for Tampa Bay. But no! The Rays put up a seven-spot in the seventh thanks in part to Desmond Jennings who had a whale of a ballgame. Every Tampa Bay starter either got a hit or scored a run in the seventh inning.

Padres 4, Diamondbacks 3:  Heath Bell and Mike Adams pitched, so they’re still in San Diego. I hate to reduce this game to that little trade deadline factoid, but sadly, that’s what this week does to my brain.  We’ll be able to talk more about plain old baseball next week.

Brewers 4, Cubs 2: Three hits including a homer for Ryan Braun. Milwaukee sweeps the Cubbies. Chicago scored four runs in the three game series.

Royals 4, Red Sox 3: I’ve been mocking Red Sox trade rumors that involve hitters coming to Boston because it’s not like the Sox need offensive help. But given that Luke Hochevar of all people held them to two runs in seven innings, maybe they do. Three straight games with a homer for Billy Butler.

Mets 10, Reds 9: Boy howdy are the Reds sucking eggs right now. Homer Bailey got lit up like a Christmas tree. Lucas Duda and Jason Bay each drove in three for the Mets. David Wright is white hot since coming off the DL: he went 3-for-5 here, was 9-for-19 in this series and he’s 15-for-33 overall since his return.

Angels 12, Tigers 7: Mark Trumbo homered and drove in five, falling a single short of the cycle. Which, hey, fine. Brad Penny and Victor Martinez argued on the mound during the game. After the game Penny said it was fine and it was a minor disagreement. After the game Martinez would not answer questions and said he wouldn’t talk about it. Martinez has a reputation for being an extremely nice and thoughtful guy. Brad Penny is kind of a douche. You tell me if things are still fine.

Marlins 5, Nationals 2: Mike Stanton: Nationals Killer. Stanton homers for the fourth in his last six games. He now has eight home runs and 14 RBIs in 12 career games at Nationals Park.  Query: is it the aesthetics of the place or the crapitude of Nats pitching that is more to his liking?

Giants 4, Phillies 1: I love this mostly because it will make a certain segment of Phillies fandom go crazy for a couple of days thinking they have to trade Domonic Brown for whatever marginal offensive upgrade they can manage. Which wouldn’t bother me a bit. I mean, if they aren’t happy with being the best team in baseball already who am I to stop them from mortgaging the future?

Pirates 5, Braves 2: Andrew McCutchen and a two-run homer in the ninth to put the game out of reach. He had three hits overall, including a go-ahead double in the fifth. The Pirates split.

Rangers 4, Twins 1: Michael Young and Chris Davis each drove in a run on singles. Neftali Feliz with a flawless save, which should make everyone feel better.

Blue Jays 8, Orioles 5: Colby Rasmus made his Jays debut and went 0-for-5 with two strikeouts. His father then gave 15 interviews about how Toronto doesn’t know how to best utilize his son. J.J. Hardy had two homers in a losing effort.

Astros 5, Cardinals 3: The curse of Colby Rasmus stretches into a second day.

The Cubs clinch World Series berth with NLCS Game 6 win

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 22:  The Chicago Cubs celebrate defeating the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-0 in game six of the National League Championship Series to advance to the World Series against the Cleveland Indians at Wrigley Field on October 22, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
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After 71 years, the Cubs are headed back to the Fall Classic.

The dominance with which Clayton Kershaw attacked the Cubs in Game 2 of the NLCS was nonexistent in Game 6 as the Dodgers’ ace loaded the bases to start the first inning and scattered five extra bases and five runs over five frames. By the time Dave Roberts pulled his starter in the sixth inning, Kershaw was sitting on a Game Score of 33, the lowest he’s mustered since the start of the 2015 season. Only one of his strikes came via curveball, and whether he was having difficulty locating his off-speed stuff or felt more confident with the fastball-slider combo, it was the fewest curves he’d seen land for strikes all year (per David Adler).

Where the Dodgers were able to give Kershaw the edge in Game 2, they found themselves powerless against opposing hurler Kyle Hendricks. Hendricks turned out 7 1/3 scoreless frames with two hits and six strikeouts, preserving the Cubs’ second shutout of the postseason and the first since they bested the Giants in Game 1 of the NLDS. After his 1-0 loss to the Dodgers early in the NLCS, seeing the MLB ERA leader turn out a gem was a relief for the Cubs, especially one as spectacular as an 88-pitch two-hitter.

With Hendricks effectively stymieing the Dodgers’ best attempts to get on base, the Cubs played to their strengths at the plate. Kris Bryant and Ben Zobrist cleared the bases in the first inning for a two-run lead, followed by a Dexter Fowler RBI single in the second. Willson Contreras came through in the fourth inning for the Cubs, lifting an 87 m.p.h. slider to left field for his first home run of October, while Anthony Rizzo hit his second homer of the postseason on a 1-1 fastball in the fifth.

Neither bullpen allowed a single run from the sixth inning onward. Dodgers’ right-hander Kenley Jansen took the ball from Kershaw in the sixth, scattering four strikeouts over three innings and denying the Cubs so much as a single baserunner through the end of the game. Aroldis Chapman, meanwhile, issued just one walk in 1 1/3 scoreless frames, inducing a Yasiel Puig double play to clinch the Cubs’ 17th franchise pennant.

With the win, the Cubs will face off against the Indians in Game 1 of the World Series on Tuesday at 8 PM EDT. And, in case you needed a reminder:

Video: Willson Contreras blasts first postseason home run off of Kershaw

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 22:  Willson Contreras #40 of the Chicago Cubs celebrates after hitting a solo home run in the fourth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers during game six of the National League Championship Series at Wrigley Field on October 22, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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So much for Clayton Kershaw posing a threat tonight. The Cubs got their knocks in early and often against the Dodgers’ ace during Game 6 of the NLCS, racking up three runs in the first three innings before rookie catcher Willson Contreras unleashed his first postseason home run in the bottom of the fourth inning.

According to MLB.com’s Phil Rogers, Contreras became the 10th Cub to homer in the 2016 playoffs, following big hits by Addison Russell, Anthony Rizzo, Dexter Fowler, Miguel Montero, David Ross, Jake Arrieta, Kris Bryant, Travis Wood, and Javier Baez. Of the ten home run hitters, Contreras joins catchers David Ross and Miguel Montero as yet another backstop capable of driving the long ball (and, less importantly, as another player capable of a sweet, sweet bat flip).

Rizzo, whose last homer was a deep drive to right field off of Los Angeles right-hander Pedro Baez in Game 4 of the NLCS, piled on Kershaw’s five-run outing with another home run in the bottom of the fifth inning. Kershaw called it a night after five frames, and the Cubs currently lead the Dodgers 5-0 in the sixth inning.