Cincinnati Reds v Pittsburgh Pirates

And That Happened: Tuesday’s scores and highlights


Twins 3, Athletics 2: Holy ninth inning rally, Batman! Josh Willingham hits a two-out, three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth off Brian Fuentes after the Twins were shutout for six innings by Jarrod Parker and two by Jerry Blevins and Grant Balfour.

Angels 5, Yankees 1: The Angels win again and are now over .500. And Pujols hits his eighth homer. Mark Trumbo homered again. Mike Trout and Peter Bourjos put on a defensive clinic. That’s 11 of 15 for Anaheim and eight in a row. It’s like April and the first half of May never happened.

Marlins 3, Nationals 1: Anibal Sanchez hasn’t lost to the Nationals in 19 starts (he’s 8-0 with a 1.97 ERA against Washington). That’s pretty impressive. As was his performance in last night’s game (7 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 ER). The Marlins are 20-8 in the month of May, which is the best record in baseball in that span.

White Sox 7, Rays 2: Chicago is also hot. They’re winners of seven straight after rocking Big Game James for six runs on ten hits. Hideki Matsui had a homer in his first game back in the bigs.

Mets 6, Phillies 3: Joe Blanton didn’t have it. Scott Hairston did, hitting a two-run shot to give the Mets some breathing room in the sixth. Omar Quintanilla made his Mets debut and went 3 for 4 and scored twice. Easily the best debut for a Mets player with Q as the first letter of his last name ever. You can look it up.

Blue Jays 8, Orioles 6: Adam Jones hit two homers, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the Jays, who snagged a 8-1 lead by the fifth inning. Brett Lawrie had three hits and three RBI. And no umpires were harmed in the making of this baseball game. The O’s have dropped four straight and seven of ten.

Braves 5, Cardinals 4: The Braves finally break their losing skid thanks to a three run homer by Dan Uggla and a shot from Michael Bourn as well. Fredi Gonzalez batted the pitcher eighth. I’m guessing Fredi credits that bit of strategy for the win and will be doing it constantly now.

Royals 8, Indians 2: Mike Mike Moustakas drove in four and Will Smith got his first career win. In other news, whenever the Royals face the Indians, I get the lyric from Dylan’s “Summer Days” in my head which goes like this: “I got a house on a hill, I got hogs out lying in the mud/Got a long-haired woman, she got royal Indian blood.”  It’s a fairly nonsense song, but it rocks and gallops, Dylan has gotten away with that kind of thing for 50 years now and I love it so I don’t care.

Cubs 5, Padres 3: Jeff Samardzija struck out eight in seven innings on what was his own bobblehead day in Wrigley Field. Alfonso Soriano hit a homer. His seventh in 13 games. I don’t guess he gets a bobblehead day this year. The Padres have lost five straight and eight of nine. Which just means the price for that game against the Rangers I’m taking my kids to on June 18th gets cheaper and cheaper. Heck, at his rate I may be able to get some inexpensive Field Box VIP seats or something. Keep losing, San Diego! Do it for the children!

Red Sox 6, Tigers 3: Justin Verlander done got blowed up (6 IP, 10 H, 5 ER). David Ortiz went 3 for 4, doubled, homered and drove in a couple.

Reds 8, Pirates 1: Reds third baseman Todd Frazier had two hits and drove in two, helping snap the Pirates’ four-game winning streak. The day before he saved someone’s life at a restaurant by giving the Heimlich maneuver. Not a bad 24 hours or so for the guy, no?

Mariners 10, Rangers 3: Josh Hamilton went deep again, but that was about the only thing that went right for the Rangers. John Jaso hit a two-run homer and had an RBI single. Scott Feldman got the loss for the Rangers. He was starting as a fill-in for Neftali Feliz. Roy Oswalt was signed on the same day. Do I gotta draw you a diagram, people?

Brewers 2, Dodgers 1: Ryan Braun’s two-run homer in the first was all the Brewers needed. My friend Todd was at the game. He texted me last night to tell me that at one point Braun threw a ball into the stands to a fan, but the fans threw it back to him, which made him laugh. So then at the end of an inning he caught another ball and faked a throw to the stands. Fun times.

Giants 3, Diamondbacks 1: Melky Cabrera had three hits. That makes 50 hits this month for him, breaking Willie Mays’ team record for hits in May. He has 77 hits in 50 games. Who knew the Giants were getting mid-2000s vintage Ichiro?

Maybe Alcides Escobar shouldn’t bat leadoff

Alcides Escobar
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Alcides Escobar finished with a .292 OBP this year. He came in at .246 in 117 at-bats in August and .257 in 109 at-bats between September and October, so he wasn’t exactly flying high entering the postseason. Still, that didn’t stop Ned Yost from putting him into the leadoff spot for Thursday’s Game 1 against the Astros.

Yost finally did reconsider hitting Escobar first in September. It took Alex Gordon‘s return to health, plus the previous addition of Ben Zobrist to the lineup, in order to make that happen. However, it didn’t stick. Escobar hit ninth in each of his starts from Sept. 7-26, batting .236 with a .276 OBP during that span. With five games left to go, he was suddenly returned to the leadoff spot. The Royals went on to win all five games. Yost saw it as a sign, even though Escobar went 5-for-22 with no walks in those games.

Escobar went 0-for-4 in Thursday’s loss to the Astros. He did not swing at the first pitch of the game, which probably explains the defeat.

It’s been difficult to argue with Yost since last year’s World Series run and this year’s incredible run out of the game. The blind spot with Escobar, though, gets rather infuriating. One can defend hitting him leadoff against the Astros’ lefties. His career OBP against southpaws is .319 (.316 this year). Against righties, he’s the most obvious No. 9 hitter alive, with a career .258/.290/.342 line (.252/.284/.314 this year). He’s not a pace-setter. He’s not a spark plug. He’s a liability.

Astros top Royals in Game 1 of ALDS

Houston Astros' Jose Altuve, left, celebrates with teammate Luis Valbuena after scoring a run during the first inning in Game 1 of baseball's American League Division Series against the Kansas City Royals, Thursday, Oct. 8, 2015, in Kansas City. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

After shutting out the Yankees in the AL Wild Card game on Tuesday, the Astros beat the Royals 5-2 in Game 1 of the ALDS on Thursday at Kauffman Stadium. Road teams are now 4-0 to begin the 2015 postseason.

The Astros grabbed an early 3-0 lead against Yordano Ventura through two innings. Chris Young took over for the Royals after a 47-minute rain delay and was very effective for the most part, allowing just a solo homer to George Springer over four innings while striking out seven batters. Colby Rasmus, who homered in the Wild Card game, took Ryan Madson deep in the eighth inning to give the Astros’ bullpen some extra breathing room.

Collin McHugh stayed in after the rain delay and ended up tossing six innings while allowing just four hits and one walk. Kendrys Morales did all the damage against him with a pair of solo homers. He’s the first Royals player to hit two home runs in a postseason game since George Brett in the 1985 ALCS.

The Royals’ offense showed some signs of life in the bottom of the eighth inning with back-to-back two-out hits against Will Harris, but Oliver Perez got Eric Hosmer to foul out to end the threat. Luke Gregerson tossed a scoreless ninth inning to finish off the victory.

Consistent with their identity during the regular season, the Astros won despite striking out 14 times. The same goes for the Royals, as they struck out just four times. Despite putting the ball into play more often, the Kansas City lineup wasn’t able to muster anything aside from the home runs by Morales.

Game 2 of the ALDS will begin Friday at 3:45 p.m. ET. Scott Kazmir will pitch for the Astros and Johnny Cueto will get the ball for the Royals.

George Springer homers to extend Astros’ lead over Royals

Houston Astros' George Springer (4) celebrates with teammates after scoring a run in the first inning in Game 1 of baseball's American League Division Series against the Kansas City Royals, Thursday, Oct. 8, 2015, in Kansas City. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
AP Photo/Charlie Riedel
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After Kendrys Morales brought the Royals within one run in the bottom of the fourth inning with his second solo home run of the game, George Springer took Chris Young deep in the top of the fifth to extend the Astros’ lead to 4-2 in Game 1 of the ALDS.

According to Statcast, the ball traveled an estimated 422 feet and left Springer’s bat at 109 mph. Royals fans are happy it was just a solo home run. It could have been worse, as Jose Altuve singled to lead off the fifth inning before being thrown out trying to steal second base during Springer’s at-bat.

The Royals will try to answer as we move to the bottom of the fifth inning at Kauffman Stadium.