And That Happened: Monday’s scores and highlights

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Orioles 10, White Sox 4: Matt Wieters homered twice. The first one coming in the eighth, which kicked off the O’s comeback after finding themselves down 4-1, the second one: a 10th inning grand slam which put the game out of reach.

Twins 7, Yankees 3: Joe Mauer had three hits and Justin Morneau played in the field and had a home run. That should make the Twins fans happy. Carl Pavano allowed three runs in seven innings, which should make the Yankees fans mad.

Phillies 5, Giants 2: The battle of the aces doesn’t quite live up to its billing, but Halladay beats Lincecum, who is still struggling mightily. Indeed, Lincecum gave up five runs and eight hits in six innings and it actually represented a clear improvement over his last outing.

Mets 6, Braves 1: I guess the Mets own the Braves now. Ike Davis — three run homer — and Dillon Gee — four hit ball over seven innings — led New York to their fourth straight win over Atlanta.

Rays 1, Red Sox 0: As mentioned yesterday, Bobby V. stuck with Daniel Bard a bit too long and he walked the ballpark. And Fernando Rodney should have walked Cody Ross in the ninth, but Larry Vanover had other ideas. None of which takes away from James Shields’ day (8.1 IP, 4 H, 0 ER). The Rays avoid the sweep.

Nationals 6, Astros 3: Stephen Strasburg cruised through five innings, was beat up a bit in the sixth, but had plenty of margin for error to get the win. And check out this throw home on a pop fly by Rick Ankiel. You’ll never see a better one in that situation. If the dude stood out there and threw it like that ten years ago instead of on the mound he’d still be a pitcher.

Tigers 3, Royals 2: Speaking of nice throws, check out this one by Jeff Francoeur nailing Jhonny Peralta at third base. Tigers still won, though, because Verlander dealt for eight innings and then survived — just barely — for the ninth, after loading the bases and going 2-2 to Alex Gordon. Struck him out looking though, with all five pitches to him being 100 m.p.h. fastballs. Brandon Inge had a two-run homer. Which probably bought him two more years in a Tigers uniform, what with the sliding performance scale to which he is subject.

Padres 7, Rockies 1: Nick Hundley drove in three, Chase Headley had three doubles and scored three times and Corey Luebke allowed one run on six hits in seven innings.

Angels 6, Athletics 0: Kendrys Morales hit his first homer since the one that led to his ankle injury nearly two years ago. Mike Scioscia actually said this after the game: “”I was happy he got around the bases in one piece.” Pujols went 2 for 4 with a double. Jered Weaver got his 1000th career strikeout. The A’s were shutout for the third time in six games.

Diamondbacks 5, Pirates 1: Chris Young continues his torrid start. He had three hits, including his fifth homer of the year. Joe Saunders gave up one run on six hits in seven innings.

In the playoffs, the Yankees’ weakness has become their strength

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Two weeks ago, when the playoffs began, the idea of “bullpenning” once again surfaced, this time with the Yankees as a focus. Because their starting pitching was believed to be a weakness — they had no obvious ace like a Dallas Keuchel or Corey Kluber — and their bullpen was a major strength, the idea of chaining relievers together starting from the first inning gained traction. The likes of Luis Severino, who struggled mightily in the AL Wild Card game, or Masahiro Tanaka (4.79 regular season ERA) couldn’t be relied upon in the postseason, the thought went.

That idea is no longer necessary for the Yankees because the starting rotation has become the club’s greatest strength. Tanaka fired seven shutout innings to help push the Yankees ahead of the Astros in the ALCS, three games to two. They are now one win away from reaching the World Series for the first time since 2009.

It hasn’t just been Tanaka. Since Game 3 of the ALDS, Yankees pitchers have made eight starts spanning 46 1/3 innings. They have allowed 10 runs (nine earned) on 25 hits and 12 walks with 45 strikeouts. That’s a 1.75 ERA with an 8.74 K/9 and 2.33 BB/9. In five of those eight starts, the starter went at least six innings, which has helped preserve the freshness and longevity of the bullpen.

Here’s the full list of performances for Yankee starters this postseason:

Game Starter IP H R ER BB SO HR
AL WC Luis Severino 1/3 4 3 3 1 0 2
ALDS 1 Sonny Gray 3 1/3 3 3 3 4 2 1
ALDS 2 CC Sabathia 5 1/3 3 4 2 3 5 0
ALDS 3 Masahiro Tanaka 7 3 0 0 1 7 0
ALDS 4 Luis Severino 7 4 3 3 1 9 2
ALDS 5 CC Sabathia 4 1/3 5 2 2 0 9 0
ALCS 1 Masahiro Tanaka 6 4 2 2 1 3 0
ALCS 2 Luis Severino 4 2 1 1 2 0 1
ALCS 3 CC Sabathia 6 3 0 0 4 5 0
ALCS 4 Sonny Gray 5 1 2 1 2 4 0
ALCS 5 Masahiro Tanaka 7 3 0 0 1 8 0
TOTAL 55 1/3 35 20 17 20 52 6

In particular, if you hone in on the ALCS starts specifically, Yankee starters have pitched 28 innings, allowing five runs (four earned) on 13 hits and 10 walks with 20 strikeouts. That’s a 1.61 ERA.

While the Yankees’ biggest weakness has become a strength, the Astros’ biggest weakness — the bullpen — has become an even bigger weakness. This is why the Yankees, who won 10 fewer games than the Astros during the regular season, are one win away from reaching the World Series and the Astros are not.