Houston Astros v Miami Marlins

And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights


Marlins 5, Astros 4: Omar Infante and Hanley Ramirez hit home runs, finally putting that crazy home run sculpture into action. Somehow we all survived, though I’m not ruling out the possibility that we all got thrown into an alternate timeline or something and won’t truly realize it until all the crazy occult stuff starts happening. Kind of like when Ash heard that tape of the professor reciting passages from the Necronomicon Ex-Mortis. If Logan Morrison starts calling his bat his “boomstick” and decapitates a possessed Giancarlo Stanton, we’ll know that there is some serious stuff going down.

Dodgers 5, Padres 4: L.A. sports the best record in baseball at 9-1 following a walkoff RBI single by Dee Gordon. Weird triple play in this one. Runners on first and second and Jesus Guzman squared to bunt. He thought it was foul as did the runners, none of whom moved. Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis fired to third, it went around the horn to second and first and everyone was out. Kind of b.s if you ask me, as the home plate umpire held his arms up as though it were a dead ball at first.

Cardinals 10, Cubs 3: Matt Carpenter only has playing time because everyone on the planet is injured, but he’s making the most of it. He’s hitting .409 with 10 RBIs in 22 at-bats on the young season. Yesterday he hit a homer, a triple and drove in five. Jake Westbrook allowed only four hits in seven innings.

Braves 7, Brewers 4: Atlanta lost its first four games but has won its last five. Chipper Jones hasn’t played much, but he’s contributed each time he has played, hitting a three-run homer in this one. Brandon Beachy gave up only three hits and an unearned run in seven innings.

Blue Jays 9, Orioles 2: The Jays put up a seven spot in the sixth inning to turn this one into a laugher and averted a sweep by the Orioles. Kyle Drabek had his second strong start in a row.

Reds 8, Nationals 5: Joey Votto doubled in two in the 11th to help the Reds avoid a sweep in Washington. Grand slam for Ryan Ludwick.

Red Sox 6, Rays 4: Nothing like winning three straight over a division rival while scoring 31 runs to make everyone feel better about everything. Patriots Day game early today during which the Sox will go for the sweep. In other news, Ralph Branca threw out the first pitch. The ghost of Bobby Thomson stole the sign that was relayed to him and smacked it over the left field wall. Don DeLillo is writing all about it as we speak.

Phillies 8, Mets 2: Cole Hamels strikes out ten in seven innings, helping the Phillies avoid the sweep. Ty Wigginton drove in four, three of which came on a bases-clearing double that broke the game open in the eighth. The Phillies now start a ten game west coast swing.

Tigers 5, White Sox 2: Rick Porcello gave up one run in seven and two-thirds and Gerald Laird went 3 for 4 with a homer. Believe it or not, Porcello’s win was the first W notched by a Tigers starter this season.

Indians 13, Royals 7: The Indians scored 32 runs in a three-game sweep of the Royals, reminding everyone who thought the Royals were a sexy pick this season that they really don’t have the pitching to do it. Unless you count Mitch Maier, who now leads the team in ERA. Travis Hafner murdered a baseball in this one, sending it some 456 feet, which was one of the longest homers in the history of Kaufman Stadium.

Diamondbacks 5, Rockies 2: Yet another game yesterday in which the winner avoided a three-game sweep. Trevor Cahill allowed only four hits, all of them singles, and only one run in seven and a third. Chris Young homered and drove in three.

Rangers 4, Twins 3: Texas scored three in the eighth, capped by a Josh Hamilton two-run bomb. Hamilton has four homers on the season and his 16 for 41. The Rangers lead the AL with an 8-2 record.

Pirates 4, Giants 1: Pittsburgh snaps a five game losing streak. Garrett Jones homered, described in the AP game story as “Jones pulled a solo home run over the right-field arcade.” When it landed it hit a guy who was pounding the l-r buttons on Track and Field so hard  he couldn’t hear the crowd noise, then it bounced over to the other side of the arcade and rolled under the Dragon’s Lair machine. Which no one ever really plays because we all feel like it’s rigged.

Yankees 11, Angels 5:  Jerome Williams got shelled out of the gate, the bullpen didn’t help and the Angels slow start continues. Raul Ibanez absolutely destroyed a baseball in the bottom of the seventh, putting it up in the upper deck on one of the longest homers ever hit in new Yankee Stadium.

Mariners 5, Athletics 3: Remember back when the Mariners and A’s used to play teams besides each other? I don’t. Brendan Ryan hit a homer. I don’t remember that happening too often either.

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.