Joey Votto

And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights


Reds 9, Nationals 6: Joey Votto hit three homers including a walkoff grand slam.  Yeah, that’ll play. The back end of the Nats bullpen continues to be horrific.

Marlins 8, Mets 4: Earlier in the day Giancarlo Stanton hit a walkoff slam of his own capping a six-run bottom of the ninth for Miami. Heath Bell got the decision despite giving up two in the top of the ninth. Guess he just knows how to win.

Phillies 3, Padres 2: Cole Hamels got an extra day of rest and then got to face one of the worst offenses in baseball. How is that punishment again? Hamels allowed one run over seven innings and apparently didn’t have to welcome any rookies to the big leagues with Old School Baseball.

Braves 7, Cardinals 4: The sweep. Several HBT regulars attended this series this weekend in a mini-meetup.  Of course I suck so I didn’t go even though they asked me nicely and scheduled it for a Braves weekend to entice me. Did I mention I suck?  Braves don’t, though.  They’re looking pretty damn spiffy right now, yes? Lance Lynn takes his first loss of the year.

Giants 7, Diamondbacks 3: And they said a Melky Cabrera/Gregor Blanco-powered offense couldn’t get it done. Four hits for Melky, three driven in for Blanco. Ponder why Melky is always referred to by his first name all the time and Blanco isn’t. Like that’s fair.

Dodgers 11, Rockies 5: A.J. Ellis drove in four and the Dodgers managed 11 runs on only eight hits. But ruh-roh Raggy: Matt Kemp aggravated his hammy.

Tigers 3, Athletics 1: Leave it to the big man to salvage the split. Justin Verlander allowed one run and struck out eight over seven innings. Clearly the reason for the A’s loss was an Inge deficit disorder, as he was given the day off.

Twins 4, Blue Jays 3: Seven shutout innings for Scott Diamond, who has two of the teams ten wins despite only joining the team a week ago.

Cubs 8, Brewers 2: A homer for Ian Stewart and a pinch hit homer for Reed Johnson. They still count the same, though. Those are the rules. Chicago wins its first game in Milwaukee in over a year.

Royals 9, White Sox 1: Close until the ninth when Robin Ventura got all walk-the-bases-loaded happy for some reason.

Pirates 3, Astros 2: Wandy Rodriguez deserved better. He threw eight innings of one run ball, but A.J. Burnett was nearly as a good and the Houston closer — well, Brett Myers — couldn’t hold the one run lead. Onto extras where Josh Harrison did some first-pitch swinging in the 12th and drove home the winning run on an RBI single.

Red Sox 12, Indians 1: The Sox sent nine men to the plate in the first inning, more or less setting the tone.  Jarrod Saltalamacchia homered and drove in five. Three straight for Boston, turning a hot mess into a merely warm mess.

Rays 9, Orioles 8: Tampa Bay had a 7-1 lead and the O’s chipped back with three in the sixth and two in the seventh to get within one, the Rays scored a couple, the O’s scored a couple of their own but the Rays just hung on to salvage one in the series. Baltimore is still in first place. I don’t know how long they’ll stay there. I do know, however, that they are going to be a gigantic pain in the ass for everyone this year, and O’s fans have to love that.

Mariners 6, Yankees 2: Andy Pettitte’s return was underwhelming, allowing four runs on seven hits in six and a third. Kevin Millwood, meanwhile, took care of business, allowing only one in seven. Three driven in by Casper Wells, who began the day posing for a pic with his mom, who has a pretty sweet M’s shirt.

Rangers 13, Angels 6:  Remember back in March when people were saying that the Angels were the favorites in the West? Haha, yeah, that was fun. Josh Hamilton drives in three more. Nelson Cruz drives in four. The Rangers are eight games up on the Angels and have a +80 run differential.

Jessica Mendoza and Chris Archer were great in the booth

Jessica Mendoza

Not news: Jessica Mendoza, who has been excellent on all of the ESPN broadcasts she has done since taking over for Curt Schilling, was excellent last night too.

She was great on the nuts and bolts, continued to show that she can describe hitting mechanics better than most color commentators — way more of them seem to be more comfortable talking about pitching — and was a seamless presence in the booth in terms of flow, timbre and all of the aesthetic aspects of broadcasting. If she has a fault thus far it’s that she leans on some cliches about hitters’ mindsets and desire to win sometimes. This puts her in with approximately 100% of all other color commentators in baseball now and throughout the history of baseball, of course, so it’s not really a demerit.

Ultimately, the true test of a good commentator is whether they (a) add insight; and (b) do so without distracting or upstaging the game. In this Mendoza is superior to most commentators in baseball and clearly superior to the “stop and listen to me” brand of analysts the major networks have employed on national broadcasts in recent years.

Indeed, the best compliment I think I can give Mendoza is that she was — in the literal sense, not the judgmental sense — unremarkable. Meaning: during the game and after there was nothing she said or did that was worthy of the highly-critical remarks almost every broadcaster gets, going back through Schilling, Kruk, Harold Reynolds Tim McCarver, Joe Morgan and everyone else ESPN and Fox have forced upon us in their history doing playoff baseball. I’m on Twitter during most playoff games and sometimes the broadcaster bashing is more interesting than the game. Mendoza gives the would-be bashers very little material.

At least those who would bash on the actual merits. There remains a group of deadenders who are irked by her very presence in the booth because she is a woman. The New York times rounds up some of the less mouth-breathery types today, but God knows there are many, many worse. Some of them even in professional media. At least for now. Whether you choose to ignore those people or choose to engage them — which, their dead end opinions notwithstanding can be a useful exercise in my view — know that they are out there being miserable and sexist as God and the First Amendment intended them to be.

While there are many who slam Mendoza on the faulty premise that she lacks credentials and experience in the booth, there was one person in the ESPN booth last night, at least for a while, who was a total TV noob. His name was Chris Archer. He pitches a bit for the Tampa Bay Rays. And lo and behold, he was pretty damn good himself.

Archer needs some polish for style — he has a lot of “ummms” and “uhhhs” about him — but his analysis is both sharp and quick. Meaning he was RIGHT ON the points when he needed to be without any of the usual prompting guests in the booth need from the play-by-play guy. At one point he even flowed into play-by-play and did a pretty good job of it.  Chris: if that pitching stuff doesn’t work out, you have a bright, bright future in television.

So, on the first night of the playoffs, there were no complaints about the broadcast. Mostly because the broadcasters weren’t the stars of the show. The game was. And it was complemented nicely by a couple of good voices.

And John Kruk.

NL Wild Card Game: Cubs vs. Pirates lineups

Jake Arrieta

Here are the Cubs and Pirates lineups for tonight’s Wild Card game in Pittsburgh:

CF Dexter Fowler
RF Kyle Schwarber
LF Kris Bryant
1B Anthony Rizzo
3B Tommy La Stella
2B Starlin Castro
C Miguel Montero
SS Addison Russell
SP Jake Arrieta

Cubs manager Joe Maddon wanted Tommy La Stella in the lineup over Jorge Soler or Chris Coghlan, so he starts at third base and Kris Bryant shifts to left field. Bryant started just four games in left field all season, compared to 136 starts at third base. Also of note: After batting Addison Russell ninth–behind the pitcher–116 times this season Maddon has him in the more traditional eighth spot tonight.

RF Gregory Polanco
3B Josh Harrison
CF Andrew McCutchen
LF Starling Marte
C Francisco Cervelli
2B Neil Walker
SS Jordy Mercer
1B Sean Rodriguez
SP Gerrit Cole

Pedro Alvarez started 119 games at first base for the Pirates and with right-hander Jake Arrieta on the mound he was the presumed starter tonight, but instead manager Clint Hurdle has benched the 27-homer slugger in favor of utility man Sean Rodriguez. Alvarez is vastly superior to Rodriguez offensively, especially versus a righty, but he’s also very shaky defensively. During the regular season Rodriguez started a grand total of one game at first base against a right-hander, so this qualifies as a hunch by Hurdle.