And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights

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Red Sox 13, Rangers 2: I would like to thank the Rangers’ pitchers for providing us with a pennant race in the AL West that we didn’t think we’d have. Carl Crawford was reanimated for this one and drove in five.

Angels 8, White Sox 0: It’s not just about Texas’ pitching sucking though. It’s a pennant race that the Angels are forcing due to their hot play since allegedly being knocked out of things by Texas in last week’s series. Guess not, because that’s six straight wins. Jered Weaver with eight strikeouts in seven shutout innings. Anaheim is only 2.5 back.

Athletics 6, Yankees 4: Coco Crisp made the Yankees people I follow on Twitter use a lot of bad words last night. Two homers including a three-run shot in the 10th inning. He drove in five overall. Nick Swisher had two homers also, but since he only cares about padding his statistics and not winning, they don’t count. This is the first series victory for Oakland over New York in eleven tries.

Rockies 7, Astros 6: Troy Tulowitzki scored on a wild pitch in the bottom of the 10th as the Rockies won their fifth straight. It feels like the Rockies have been out of contention forever and I wouldn’t bet a dime on their chances to get back into it, but it’s not against the laws of physics for there to be at least some sort of Rocktober — or is it Rocktember? — run in them that will at least give us something to talk about. I mean, it’s like either Arizona or San Francisco seems interested in taking the division by the throat.

Marlins 6, Reds 5Reds 3, Marlins 2: A homer for Logan Morrison in his first game back after being sent to his room for his impudence, er, I mean after being sent down to the minors to work on his hitting. In the nightcap Bronson Arroyo threw eight scoreless and Joey Votto homered. He actually homered in the day game too.

Mariners 9, Indians 2: Wily Mo Pena went 3 for 3 with four driven in, falling a triple short of the cycle. Would like to have seen him leg out a triple, but he also walked in this one, and you can only ask for so many once-in-a-lifetime occurrences. Kyle Seager went 4 for 4 and hit three doubles.

Dodgers 9, Cardinals 4: L.A. sweeps the reeling Cardinals. The reeling Cardinals who are ten games back of Milwaukee now, which is the biggest deficit for any second place team in baseball.

Mets 7, Phillies 4: Mike Pelfrey threw 125 pitches in only six innings and seemed like he tried to pick a fight with Placido Polanco. Sort of glad I didn’t watch this one because inefficiency and belligerence don’t make for good baseball in my book.  Whatever. The Mets avoid the sweep.

Pirates 2, Brewers 0:  Aaron Thompson made his big league debut and shut out the hottest team in baseball for nearly five innings. If it wasn’t for the hard pitch count he was on he would have got the win, but that’s life for a youngin.’ The pen finished the shutout and two sac flies was all the offense that anyone needed.

Diamondbacks 4, Nationals 2: Daniel Hudson allowed nothin’ but zeroes for eight and two-thirds and then gave up back-to-back homers. Not a shutout but ….

Blue Jays 4, Royals 3: I, for one, welcome our new Brett Lawrie overlords. He hit what proved to be the game-winning homer and also plated a run with a triple. The kid is now hitting .328/.379/.656 in 18 games.

Rays 3, Tigers 2: Elliot Johnson had the game-winning fielder’s choice. It came with two outs and the bases loaded, and the run scored because Sean Rodriguez booked it like no one’s business from first to second and avoided the force out. If he lollygags there, the game goes into the 11th.

Giants 2, Padres 1: Tim Lincecum allowed only one run in eight innings and drove one in himself, giving himself a 0 NLP — crap, I can’t remember the name of the phony statistic I came up with the other day. Carlos Beltran had a homer.

Cubs 3, Braves 2: Randy Wells more or less tied the Braves’ bats up into the seventh inning, allowing one run. He also drove one in.  Alfonso Soriano hit a two-run bob. Jason Heyward was 0 for 4 with a strikeout, so I guess my reverse jinx thing isn’t working anymore. Enjoy the bench today, big guy.

Orioles 6, Twins 1: A five run fifth makes this a laugher for Baltimore. The death of Mike Flanagan, however, takes all of the laughs away.

The Astros gave the Yankees an opening. Keuchel and Verlander will try to close the door.

Associated Press
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If Game 4 of the ALCS had been even remotely conventional, it’d stand at 3-1 in favor of Houston right now. The Yankees’ starter pitched well but got no run support. A mighty Astros team with an ordinarily good closer in Ken Giles had a 4-0 lead in the late innings. As the Yankees set out to mount a comeback, a base runner fell down in between first and second and should’ve been dead to rights. This is playoff baseball, however, so stuff, as they say, happens. The runner was safe, the closer struggled, the Yankees rallied and now we’re tied 2-2.

But are we even at 2-2?

On paper, no, because the Astros now will send Dallas Keuchel and Justin Verlander out in Games 5 and 6, and that gives them a clear advantage. Keuchel dominated the Yankees in Game 1, tossing seven scoreless innings and striking out ten batters. Verlander struck out 13 batters in a 124-pitch complete game in which he allowed only a single run. Beyond the mere facts of the box scores, however, the Yankees have looked profoundly overmatched by both of the Astros’ aces, in this postseason and on other occasions on which they’ve faced off against them. Most notably in the 2015 wild-card game at Yankee Stadium when Keuchel pitched six scoreless innings in the 3-0 victory.

But remember: stuff happens.

Stuff like Aaron Judge‘s and Gary Sanchez‘s bats waking up. The two most important sluggers in the Bombers lineup combined to go 3-for-6 with two doubles, a homer, a walk and five RBI in last night’s victory. Each of them had been silent for the first three games of the series but if they’re heating up, the Yankees will be a lot harder to pitch to.

Stuff like Masahiro Tanaka showing that he can tame the Astros’ lineup. Which he did pretty well in Game 1, giving up only two runs on four hits in six innings. He was overshadowed by Keuchel in that game, but it was a good performance against a strong lineup in a hostile environment. Tanaka pitches much better at Yankee Stadium than he does on the road, so don’t for a second think that the Astros bats will have an easy time of it today.

Stuff like the Yankees bullpen still being the Yankees bullpen. Yes, the Astros got to David Robertson yesterday, but it’s still a strong, strong group that gives the Yankees a clear advantage if the game is close late or if they hold a lead.

All of which is to say that we have ourselves a series, friends. While, 48 hours ago, it seemed like we were on our way to an Astros coronation, the Yankees have shown up in a major way in Games 3 and 4. If you’re an Astros fan you should feel pretty confident with Keuchel and Verlander heading into action over the next two games, but we have learned that absolutely nothing is guaranteed in the postseason.