Matt Cain, Buster Posey

And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights

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Giants 10, Astros 0: A simply unbelievable night for Matt Cain.  As we noted last night, this was among the best games ever pitched in the history of baseball. Perfection is one thing. Doing it while striking out 14 is dominant perfection.  And don’t try to diminish it by saying “hey, it was the Astros.” Their offense is respectable this season. And Cain only faced the opposing pitcher one time.

Mets 9, Rays 1: When you east coasters went to bed I bet you thought R.A. Dickey was going to have the best game of the night among pitchers, huh?  And it was good. Dickey tossed a one-hitter, striking out 12. The Mets are appealing the one hit, though, arguing it was an error. Um, OK, I guess David Wright — the man who would be charged with the error — won’t mind. But it’s not like Dickey is gonna get a dogpile and a pie to the face out of this if it is overruled. All of the joy of a no-hitter tends to come in the moment, ya know?

Cardinals 1, White Sox 0: Last night I decided to go retrogeek so I dialed up a couple of Star Trek TNG episodes on Netflix and let my dork flag fly.  One of them I watched was “Parallels,” a seventh season number in which Worf finds himself shifting among alternate universes. A pretty good one. Partially because it featured a lot of late-model Counselor Troi with a part big enough for her to hang around a lot — which was something I certainly appreciated back in 1993 — but not so big to where the writers’ inability to give her anything approaching decent dialogue or things to do would ruin the episode.

The gist of the episode was that any moment in time presents infinite possibilities and that all of those possibilities actually do occur, just in parallel universes.  So, for example, back in February, the Chris Carpenter in our universe was injured and went on the DL.  But in some other universe, Carpenter was fine and has taken his turn in the Cardinals’ rotation every time out.  If that were to happen here, Lance Lynn would not have won his tenth game last night, would not have struck out 12 and would not have lowered his ERA to 2.42 after seven and a third shutout innings.

Rangers 1, Diamondbacks 0: The other episode I watched was “Tapestry,” because I love me some Q. It had absolutely nothing to do with Matt Harrison shutting out the Dbacks for seven and a third and Craig Gentry singling in a run. Unless of course it was found out later that Harrison winning this one caused some future problem for him that he wished never happened, the win was undone by an omnipotent being, it caused Harrison to totally lose his mojo and he then begged to have time set right again, whatever the consequences.

And now that I think about it, I probably could have more easily shoehorned the Mets/R.A. Dickey recap into “Tapestry” if I wanted to, imagining a future where Dickey is awarded the no-hitter only to have it ruin his life somehow. I imagine his conversations with Q would be way more interesting than Matt Harrison’s at any rate.

Tigers 8, Cubs 4: Brennan Boesch went 4 for 5 and drove in two and Jhonny Peralta went 3 for 4 and drove in two more. Ramon Santiago drove in two also, but both came on groundouts. I guess I’d feel OK with that if I were him, even if it wasn’t quite as fun.

Phillies 9, Twins 8: The Phillies had six-run leads twice, almost blowing both of them but ultimately holding on. Jim Thome was big, driving in four. Too bad the Phillies can’t use a DH all season.

Red Sox 10, Marlins 2: Any team in baseball streakier than the Marlins this year? They’ve gone from cold to hot to cold again. Maybe Ozzie should talk up some despot once again and try to jump start things.   “I love Gul Madred.  A lot of people have wanted to kill Gul Madred for the last 60 years, but that (expletive) is still here.”

Reds 5, Indians 3: Mat Latos gave up two runs over seven innings and Brandon Phillips went 3 for 3 with a two-run homer. Oh, and Derek Lowe called Dusty Baker out after the game with one of those “he knows what he did” rants that are always so amusing.

Orioles 7, Pirates 1: Jake Arrieta wasn’t even supposed to be there yesterday. It was Brian Matusz’s start, but he knocked himself in the face in the batting cage the other day. Arrieta was up to the challenge, however, as he struck out nine over seven innings, ending a personal six-game losing streak and helping the O’s win their fourth straight.

Yankees 3, Braves 2: New York comes into Atlanta and takes three straight. Just like 1996 all over again.

Nationals 6, Blue Jays 2: Stephen Strasburg continues his outrageously good year, striking out eight in six innings and winning his eighth game. Tyler Moore is 25 and is just now getting his footing in the majors, but after a two-homer five RBI day, it looks like he’s gonna make it after all.

Royals 4, Brewers 3: John Axford doesn’t blow a lot of saves, but he blew a two-run lead in the ninth here, giving up a two-run triple to Alcides Escobar, sending it to extras.  In the 11th, Kameron Loe loaded the bases, was yanked for Jose Veras and Veras walked Mike Moustakas on five pitches. Ballgame.

Angels 2, Dodgers 1: Erick Aybar doesn’t hit a lot of homers. Indeed, the game-winning shot he hit in the ninth inning of this one was his first all season. Aybar was also involved in a weird play in which he “dropped” a line drive with a runner on first, but began a double play when he picked up the ball. Umpire Sam Holbrook ruled, however, that Aybar did it on purpose, called the batter out but sent the runner back to first. I can’t recall ever seeing that happen in a game.

Padres 1, Mariners 0: The third 1-0 game of the night. From the files of the unexpected: Jason Marquis threw six and third shutout innings. Shame he has an “r” in his name. If he didn’t he’d be way more badass.

Athletics 10, Rockies 8: Seven straight losses for Colorado, this after leading since the bottom of the first. Brandon Inge hit a two-out, two-run double in the ninth to plate the winning run and an insurance run. Michael Cuddyer hit two homers in a losing cause. Not to be a poop-stirrer, but at what point does Jim Tracy get canned here?

Who should win the manager of the year awards? Who Will?

PHOENIX, AZ - JULY 15:  Manager Dave Roberts #30 of the Los Angeles Dodgers looks on from the dougout during the seventh inning of a MLB game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on July 15, 2016 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images)
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With the regular season ending on Sunday and most of the playoff spots locked up, there’s really only one big thing left to argue about: postseason awards. So let’s spend some time looking at who should win each of the four major awards and who will win them. Which are often totally different things. Next up: The Manager of the Year Awards

The Manager of the Year Award is pretty dumb. Numbers aren’t everything in any award, but there are literally zero numbers that gauge a manager’s effectiveness or performance apart from wins and losses and wins and losses are mostly a function of talent on the roster, for which the manager is not responsible. This is not to say managers aren’t important. Of course they are! They make important decisions every day and keep the clubhouse running smoothly and that’s important. It just so happens to be unquantifiable and subject to anecdote and projection.

For instance, Matt Williams won the Manager of the Year Award with he Nationals in 2014. He was run out of town on a rail in 2015. Did he suddenly forget how to manage? Or did he never really know but was blessed with good fortune and better players the year before?

Joe Maddon won the award last year, in large part because the Cubs outperformed expectations. This year the Cubs are the best team around. But everyone expected them to be because of all that talent! Does that mean that Maddon’s 2015 award was fraudulent? The product of poor expectations assessment on behalf of the media? At the same time, there’s a pretty strong vibe that he won’t win it this year, so are we to say that winning between 101 and 104 games is . . . a worse job than last year? Don’t even get me started on arguments that Bruce Bochy somehow became a lesser manager this year, because I suspect — and bear with me on this — something else is going on with the Giants.

Manager of the Year has always been about narratives and expectations of people on the outside looking in who nonetheless purport to know how the manager performed his job in the most inside baseball kinds of ways. It’s poppycock. It may as well be the Golden Globes.

So, rather than just break it down the way we did the other awards, let’s just thrown this out like the big mess that it is:

AMERICAN LEAGUE

Bill and Ashley say that Terry Francona should be the American League Manager of the Year. Bill’s reasoning: “The Indians went essentially the whole year without Michael Brantley and their pitching staff imploded in September. Francona deserves a lot of credit for holding the team together.”

Hey, works for me too! Let’s give it to Tito. Even if we can tell a compelling story about John Farrell and the Red Sox and even if Jeff Banister, the reigning AL Manager of the Year, improved by anywhere from 6-9 games in the standings this year over last in a division most people thought the Astros would win.

 

NATIONAL LEAGUE

Bill says Dusty Baker, arguing that “The Nationals had all kinds of bullpen issues and Stephen Strasburg wasn’t able to pitch the final two months of the season. They could’ve easily folded but they didn’t, and I think that’s a reflection on Baker.”

Ashley says Dave Roberts. She didn’t give me her reasoning, but I bet she’d agree with me if I said “The Nationals Dodgers had all kinds of bullpen rotation issues and Stephen Strasburg Clayton Kershaw wasn’t able to pitch for two months of the season. They could’ve easily folded but they didn’t, and I think that’s a reflection on Baker Roberts.” You could throw in some stuff about how Yasiel Puig was managed by Roberts (i.e. better, though his come-to-Jesus demotion may have been the front office’s doing). I think I’ll go with Roberts, simply because I feel like it’d be bad precedent to give it to a Nationals manager every even numbered year simply because that dang franchise is inconsistent.

What about the Cubs? Here’s Bill again:

I considered Joe Maddon of the Cubs, but the team was so good I think the Cubs could’ve had a kitten manage the team to a playoff berth.

I say we give it to a kitten. Kittens are the best.

Who Should win the Rookie of the Year Awards? Who Will?

LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 05:  Corey Seager #5 of the Los Angeles Dodgers reacts to his three run homerun for a 6-0 lead over the Arizona Diamondbacks during the fifth inning at Dodger Stadium on September 5, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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With the regular season ending on Sunday and most of the playoff spots locked up, there’s really only one big thing left to argue about: postseason awards. So let’s spend some time looking at who should win each of the four major awards and who will win them. Which are often totally different things. Next up: The Rookie of the Year Awards

This is a whole heck of a lot easier than the MVP and Cy Young Awards, that’s for sure. It’s a two horse race in the AL and a one-horse race in the NL.

Who should win the AL Rookie of the Year Award?

It seemed like Tigers starter Michael Fulmer would be the no-brainer choice for a good long while, as his low ERA and solid performance helped carry the Tigers when their starting pitching wasn’t doing them any favors. But then the Yankees called up catcher Gary Sanchez at the beginning of August and all he’s done since then is hit .303/.378/.672 with an astonishing 20 homers in his first 51 games. Fulmer has continued to be solid — he’s just short of qualifying for the ERA title, but does have the league’s lowest ERA at 3.06 — but Sanchez has been spectacular.

The MVP and Cy Young Award require full season contributions. Not everyone takes the Rookie of the Year Award quite as seriously, it seems, and are thus more willing to entertain smaller samples of excellence over large samples of solid work when it comes to the award. That’s how Bill and I think about it anyway, giving the nod to Sanchez’s historic two-month run. Ashley, however, favors Fulmer’s larger volume of work. You can’t really go wrong with either choice:

Craig: Sanchez
Bill: Sanchez
Ashley: Fulmer

Who will win the AL Rookie of the Year Award?

Hard call. I have no idea what voters will do on that quantity/quality calculation. I’ll guess Fulmer, but it’s just a guess. I could just as easily see Sanchez given some quasi-MVP credit for helping the Yankees remain relevant after the trade deadline and throw it his way.

 

Who should win the NL Rookie of the Year Award?

If you say anyone other than Corey Seager, and his .311/.369/.519 26 homer batting line, the state has authorized me to have you taken to a hospital for 48 hours of examination, at which point your competence to reenter society will be gauged. But there is ice cream there.

Craig: Seager
Bill: Seager
Ashley: Seager

 

Who will win the NL Rookie of the Year Award?

If any BBWAA voter lists anyone other than Corey Seager at the top of his or her Rookie of the Year ballot, the state has authorized me to have them taken to a hospital for 48 hours of examination, at which point their competence to reenter society will be gauged. They will not, however, be allowed to have any ice cream because, really, they should know better. They’re professionals.