And That Happened: Tuesday’s scores and highlights

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Red Sox 5, Mariners 0: That Josh Beckett is such a disgrace! He’s poisoning this team, I tell you, poisoning them! Oh, wait, he pitched well? Seven shutout innings while striking out nine? Well, in that case, I stand corrected.

Cardinals 7, Cubs 6: Jason Motte vultured a win when he gave up a tying homer to Alfonso Soriano in the ninth but then stayed on to be the pitcher of record when Yadier Molina hit the game winning single in the bottom half of the inning. After the game Mike Matheny said “”There’s going to be some loud music playing in the clubhouse, and there’s going to be some crazy stuff on the plane, too.”  Somewhere, wherever he is, Tony La Russa had a pain shoot up his side.

Phillies 4, Astros 3: As we noted yesterday, Hunter Pence hit the walkoff homer. But the real play of the day came from umpire Bob Davidson, who in ejecting Charlie Manuel for no apparent reason apart from his own combative insecurity, truly lived up to his reputation yesterday. Oh, and Cliff Lee was pretty amazing despite the no decision.

Tigers 10, White Sox 8: Ugly all around. An eight-spot for the Tigers in the sixth inning helped them win it, but that was sandwiched by another bad, bullpen-stressing Max Scherzer start and a Jose Valverde injury on the other side. Chicago of course feels bad about it too, what with giving up a six-run lead.

Padres 6, Nationals 1: Strasburg was cold from the get-go. Just icy. The fireballer had to be hot about how bad his start was. Really burned him up, I’m sure. Oh, and Bryce Harper hit another homer, but he’s old news compared to Strasburg’s burning bits and pieces.

Indians 5, Twins 0: Derek Lowe’s shutout — and really, his entire season so far — is basically this to all Braves fans who enjoyed him losing 17 games last year. Not that we’re crying because we’re doing just fine without him, but still.  As for the Twins: currently on a worse pace than the 1962 Mets, so there’s that.

Angels 4, Athletics 0: Albert Pujols broke out, going 3 for 4 with two RBI singles. Ervin Santana pitched seven and two-thirds shuout innings.

Brewers 8, Mets 0: The Travis Ishikawa and Zack Greinke show. The former drove in five with the help of two homers. The latter shut the Mets out for seven innings, striking out seven. Oh, and right after Rickie Weeks hit a homer, Ryan Braun was plunked on the next pitch by D.J. Carrasco. Umpire Gary Darling ejected Carrasco. Darling must be an HBT reader and knows that intentional plunkings should not be tolerated. Good man.

Marlins 6, Pirates 2: Omar Infante went 4 for 5 and is hitting .325/.350/.598.  Remember when everyone made fun of him making the All-Star team a couple of years ago. Tell me: how many teams wouldn’t want that kind of production from their second basemen right now? Josh Johnson: two runs over seven innings for his first win in over a year.

Rays 4, Blues Jays 3: Down 3-0 after four innings, the Rays rallied and David Price won his fifth, retiring 12 of the final 13 he faced. And then there was ugliness, as Brett Lawrie was ejected after losing his sh** and throwing his batting helmet at the umpire. Then manager John Farrell got ejected too. Then:

Police and stadium security were seen pointing into the crowd after an exchange between fans and umpires as the crew headed off the field through the visitor’s dugout.

Canadian players and fans? Acting threateningly? Unpossible! Enjoy your suspension, Mr. Lawrie.

Braves 6, Reds 2: Tim Hudson allowed two runs over seven innings and the Braves had no problems holding the 6-0 lead they had after only four innings. Why are the Braves winning so much? The top seven of last night’s lineup sported OBPs as follows: .399, .374, .368, .360, .331. .348, .362.

Orioles 5, Yankees 2: Chen outduels Sabathia.  Guessing that’s the only time I’m gonna ever write that.

Royals 7, Rangers 4: The last time we saw Vin Mazzaro throw a pitch that counted he was in the process of giving up fourteen runs to the Indians in what was probably the worst single-game performance by a pitcer in baseball history. Last night: surprisingly repectable: he gave up three runs in five innings, which isn’t bad against that Ranger lineup.

Diamondbacks 5, Dodgers 1: Weird: Andre Ethier started in center, which is something he has never done. Chad Billingsley continues to struggle. The Dodgers’ five-game winning streak ends.

Rockies 5, Giants 4: The Rockies blew a 4-1 lead in the eighth inning, but Marco Scutaro’s ninth inning homer broke the 4-4 tie.

The Cubs are in desperate need of relief

Associated Press
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Tonight in Chicago Yu Darvish of the Dodgers will face off against Kyle Hendricks of the Cubs. If this were Game 1, we’d have a lot to say about the Dodgers’ trade deadline pickup and the Cubs’ budding ace. If this series continues on the way it’s been going, however, each of them will be footnotes because it has been all about the bullpens.

The Cubs, you may have heard, are having tremendous problems with relief pitching. Both their own and with the opposition’s. Cubs relievers have a 7.03 ERA this postseason, and have allowed six runs on eight hits and have walked six batters in seven innings of work. And no, the relief struggles aren’t just a matter of Joe Maddon pushing the wrong buttons (even though, yeah, he has pushed the wrong buttons).

Maddon pushed Wade Davis for 44 pitches in Game 5 of the NLDS, limiting his availability in Games 1 and 2. That pushing is a result of a lack of relief depth on the Cubs. Brian Duensing, Pedro Strop and Carl Edwards Jr. all have talent and all have had their moments, but none of them are the sort of relievers we have come to see in the past few postseasons. The guys who, when your starter tosses 80 pitches in four innings like Jon Lester did the other night, can be relied upon to shut down the opposition for three and a half more until your lights-out closer can get the four-out save.

In contrast, the Dodgers bullpen has been dominant, tossing eight scoreless innings. Indeed, Dodgers relievers have tossed eight almost perfect innings, allowing zero hits and zero walks while striking out nine Cubs batters. The only imperfection came when Kenley Jansen hit Anthony Rizzo in Game 2. That’s it. Compare this to the past couple of postseasons where the only truly reliable arm down there was Jansen, and in which Dodgers managers have had to rely on Clayton Kershaw to come on in relief. That has not been a temptation at all as the revamped L.A. pen, featuring newcomers Brandon Morrow and Tony Watson. Suffice it to say, Joe Blanton is not missed.

Which brings us back to Kyle Hendricks. He has pitched twice this postseason, pitching seven shutout innings in Game 1 of the NLDS but getting touched for four runs on nine hits while allowing a couple of dingers in Game 5. If the good Hendricks shows up, Maddon will be able to ride him until late in the game in which a now-rested Davis and maybe either Strop or Edwards can close things out in conventional fashion, returning this series to competitiveness. If the bad Hendricks does, he’ll have to do what he did in that NLDS Game 5, using multiple relievers and, perhaps, a repurposed starter in relief while grinding Davis into dust again. That was lucky to work there and doing it without Davis didn’t work in Game 2 on Sunday night.

So it all falls to Hendricks. The Dodgers have shown how soft the underbelly of the Cubs pen truly is. If they get to Hendricks early and get into that pen, you have to like L.A’s chances, not just in this game, but for the rest of the series, as bullpen wear-and-tear builds up quickly. It’s pretty simple: Hendricks has to give the Cubs some innings tonight. There is no other option available.

Just ask Joe Maddon. He’s tried.