down to the wire

And That Happened: Tuesday’s scores and highlights


Red Sox 8, Orioles 7: It came down to the last at bat. An epic 10-pitch job to Adam Jones with a runner on second that I watched live even though I didn’t watch the whole game because, hell, how can you not?  Two homers for Ryan Lavarnway. In other news, who in the hell is Ryan Lavarnway?

Rays 5, Yankees 3: Matt Joyce with the three-run homer off Rafael Soriano brought the Rays back from a 3-2 deficit. Russell Martin grounded into a triple play at one point. I assume he did that to screw the Red Sox somehow.

Phillies 7, Braves 1: I would like to offer an apology to Derek Lowe. Yesterday on Twitter, while I was feeling pessimistic, I said that he’d offer up a “4 IP, 6 ER performance.” In fact he offered up a 4 IP, 5 ER performance. Why I doubted my team’s $15 million, 17-loss ace, I have no idea, but I just hope to make it up to him someday.

Cardinals 13, Astros 6: This was a massacre, but it’s worth noting that it was Ryan Theriot’s two-run double that broke the tie and helped open the floodgates. We’ve had a lot of fun at his expense lately, what with all of the “it is what it is” quotes, but good on him for coming up big. Oh, and congrats to Tony La Russa for burning through 139 players in this game. Can’t wait for him to face the Yankees in the World Series. We might be able to catch the end of the games after we wake up for work the next morning.

Diamondbacks 7, Dodgers 6: Wow, talk about wild! Eleven runs were scored between these two in the 10th inning, with Ryan Roberts walking off with a grand slam for the Dbacks. He did the Kirk Gibson fist pump thing as he rounded the bases too. I’m assuming the fact that Roberts lived to talk about after the game means that the successful season has mellowed Gibson a bit.

Brewers 6, Pirates 4: Three homers for Prince Fielder tie him with Matt Kemp at the top of the NL leaderboard. Ryan Braun remains a single point off the batting title lead. Why…?

Reds 5, Mets 4: … Because Jose Reyes hit two homers and singled, raising his average to .336. In a losing effort, however, because the Reds tied it in the ninth and then won it on a squeeze play in the 13th.

Twins 7, Royals 4: Rene Tosoni is about the only Twins player I’ve called by name in a week. Four RBI here is a good enough reason for it, but really I don’t know why he’s on my mind. My mind got bent last night anyway. I gave up on Derek Lowe’s crap-fest early and decided to watch a “Battlestar Galactica” episode. It was the one in which Bob Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower” played a significant part, and that’s messed up for about 15 reasons, the least of which is that these people all come from a planet in which there is no such thing as Bob Dylan. But I’ll let it slide. I’m just going to assume it all makes sense sometime in the next 25 episodes. Hopefully it ends with Bob Dylan being a Cylon. That would be epic.

Giants 7, Rockies 0: Oh, so there’s the offense. Sorry dudes, too late.

Athletics 7, Mariners 0: Oh, so there’s Trevor Cahill’s dominance. Sorry dude, too late.

White Sox 2, Blues Jays 1: Don Cooper now has the best winning percentage in the history of White Sox managers. I’m not sure how you don’t rehire him based on that. If it was Mark Buehrle’s last game for the White Sox, it was very Mark Buehrle-ish. Seven shutout innings in two hours and fifteen minutes.

Marlins 3, Nationals 2:  Bryan Petersen homered with two outs in the bottom of the ninth to win it. Javier Vazquez was awesome again. It may have been the final game of his career. Today will be the last ever game in whatever the hell they’re calling that ballpark now. Good riddance.

Cubs 6, Padres 2: Starlin Castro had a couple of hits. He’ll become the youngest man to ever lead the NL in that category when the season ends today. He has also reached base in 39 consecutive games.

Rangers 10, Angels 3: Texas wins its 95th game. That’s one more than Detroit as it seeks home field advantage in the playoffs. Detroit holds the tiebreaker, however, so thew Rangers need to win today or have the Tigers lose to secure it and a matchup against the wild card winner. Kudos to the game story writer for using the word “penultimate” in the AP recap.

Tigers 9, Indians 6: Wilson Betemit had been suffering from a sore knee and Jim Leyland had said just yeasterday that he’s worried about him. No worries: Betemit hit a 423-foot homer.

Concerns over Jon Lester’s throwing ability much ado about nothing

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 20: Jon Lester #34 of the Chicago Cubs pitches against the Los Angeles Dodgers in game five of the National League Division Series at Dodger Stadium on October 20, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Josh Lefkowitz/Getty Images)
Josh Lefkowitz/Getty Images

Going into Thursday night’s NLCS Game 5, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts planned to have his team be annoying and distracting on the base paths for Cubs starter Jon Lester. Lester, you see, has a hard time making throws when he’s not pitching from the rubber, as seen here.

The Dodgers got an immediate opportunity to test their strategy, as Enrique Hernandez drew a four-pitch walk to start the game in the bottom of the first inning. Hernandez was taking leads between 15 and 25 feet, just taunting Lester to throw over to first base. Lester never did. And despite being given the luxury of such a large lead, Hernandez never attempted to steal second base.

It ended up costing the Dodgers a run. After Justin Turner struck out, Corey Seager lined a single to center field. Hernandez, large lead and all, should’ve been well on his way to third base, but he settled for staying at second base. Carlos Ruiz then flied out to right field on what should’ve been a sacrifice fly. Hernandez instead just advanced to third. Howie Kendrick grounded out to end the inning with the Dodgers having scored no runs.

In the bottom of the second inning with two outs, Joc Pederson dropped down a bunt, but Lester was able to field it and make a bounce-throw to Anthony Rizzo at first base to end the inning. Lester stared angrily into the Dodgers’ dugout as he walked off the field. If it were me, I’d have been glaring angrily not because the opposing team was attempting to exploit my weakness, but because the strategy is so poor.

The bunting would continue in the seventh inning as first baseman and noted power hitter Adrian Gonzalez tried to sneak a bunt past Lester on the right side of the infield. Second baseman Javier Baez was able to scoop it up and fire to first. Gonzalez was initially ruled safe, but the call was overturned upon replay review.

Lester countered the Dodgers’ bunting and greedy lead-taking by just pitching his game. He went seven innings, allowing just one run on five hits and a walk with six strikeouts on 108 pitches. The Cubs went on to win 8-4, taking a 3-2 lead in the NLCS. A worthy consideration for the National League Cy Young Award based on his regular season performance, Lester now has a 0.86 ERA in 21 innings spanning three starts this postseason. Turns out, the yips isn’t debilitating if you’re really good at your main job.

Cubs swat their way past the Dodgers 8-4 in NLCS Game 5

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 20:  Addison Russell #27 of the Chicago Cubs hits a two-run home run in the sixth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers in game five of the National League Division Series at Dodger Stadium on October 20, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

During the regular season, the Cubs had the second-best offense in baseball behind the Rockies, averaging 4.99 runs per game. It was the best after debiting the Rockies for playing in Coors Field. There was no way, after getting shut out in NLCS Games 2 and 3, that the offense was going to stay dormant much longer. They broke out for 10 runs in a Game 4 victory on Wednesday night. They scored eight more to beat the Dodgers 8-4 in Game 5, taking a 3-2 NLCS lead.

The Cubs took an early 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning when leadoff batter Dexter Fowler greeted Kenta Maeda with a single to center field. He’d come around to score on a one-out double by Anthony Rizzo who, like teammate Addison Russell, hadn’t hit much until breaking out in Game 4.

Starter Jon Lester was able to silence the Dodgers’ offense despite their strategy of attempting bunts and taking big leads, knowing Lester has trouble throwing when it’s not from the pitching rubber. They managed just one run, coming around in the fourth inning to knot the game at 1-1 when Howie Kendrick doubled, stole third base, and scored on an Adrian Gonzalez ground out.

Ultimately, Lester lasted seven innings, holding the Dodgers to five hits and a walk with six strikeouts on 108 pitches. Addison Russell allowed him to leave with a lead, slugging a two-run home run off of reliever Joe Blanton in the sixth to break the 1-1 tie.

The Cubs tacked on plenty of insurance in the top of the eighth against reliever Pedro Baez, which proved to be rather necessary. Russell reached on an error by Baez, Willson Contreras singled, and Albert Almora, Jr. moved both runners up a base on a sacrifice bunt. Dexter Fowler then hit a single to first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, but Baez didn’t break to cover first base. Gonzalez wasn’t able to beat Fowler to the bag, allowing the Cubs’ fourth run to score. Kris Bryant hit a weak grounder to third base and he was able to beat that out as well, pushing across another run in the process. Anthony Rizzo lined out, but Baez prolonged the inning by walking Ben Zobrist. Ross Stripling relieved Baez, but he served up a bases-clearing double to Javier Baez, making it an 8-1 ballgame. Jason Heyward, as has often been the case, popped up feebly, mercifully ending the inning with the Cubs having hung up a five-spot.

Pedro Strop took over for Lester in the bottom of the eighth. He gave up a double to Andrew Toles, then hit Justin Turner to begin the inning. Though Strop was able to induce a ground ball double play from Corey Seager, Carlos Ruiz followed up with a double to left-center to push in a run. Howie Kendrick flied out to send the game to the ninth.

Closer Aroldis Chapman took over with a six-run lead in the bottom of the ninth. He issued a leadoff walk to Gonzalez, then served up a single to Yasiel Puig. Joc Pederson grounded out, but Josh Reddick knocked in Gonzalez and moved Puig to third with a single to center. Toles plated Puig with a sacrifice fly, making it 8-4. Turner grounded out to shortstop to end the game, finalizing the victory for the Cubs.

The two clubs will take Friday off to travel back to Chicago. Game 6 will take place at Wrigley Field at 8:00 PM EDT. Clayton Kershaw will start for the Dodgers opposite the Cubs’ Kyle Hendricks.