Detroit Tigers v Pittsburgh Pirates

And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights


Pirates 5, Phillies 4: All of you who predicted that A.J. Burnett was going to rattle off eight straight wins at some point this year, please cut it out because you’re lying. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna go piss off a bunch of Yankees fans by suggesting that Brian Cashman should trade for Burnett to shore up the depleted pitching staff.

Rangers 7, Athletics 6: Because you want to play an almost four-hour nine-inning game in steamy hot Arlington, Texas, the ten pitchers these teams trotted out there combined to throw 345 pitches.

Rockies 11, Nationals 10: This one was probably fun for no one either. The Rockies jumped out to a 7-0 lead, totally squandered it when Josh Outman couldn’t live up to his name, then finally pulled it out on a Marco Scutaro RBI single in the 11th. Jim Tracy said after the game “we made it a lot harder on ourselves than we needed to.” That describes most of the 19 years of Colorado Rockies baseball, no?

Padres 7, Astros 3: Kind of a wild one. Andrew Cashner had a no-hitter going into the seventh inning but left that inning poised to be the loser. Then San Diego rallied for six runs in the ninth, capped by an Alexi Amarista grand slam.

Diamondbacks 3, Braves 2: Trevor Bauer made his big league debut, but wasn’t efficient and didn’t figure in the decision. Chris Young hit a ninth inning homer to win it.

Tigers 5, Rays 2: Four straight losses for the Rays. Weird stat line: James Shields allowed 14 hits, but still pitched seven and two-thirds innings. How often do pitchers who get knocked around like that go almost eight?

Angels 9, Blue Jays 7: The Jays loaded the bases against Ernesto Frieri in the ninth, but he slipped out of it. Two run homers each for Mike Trout and Mark Trumbo. We’ve been calling their numbers all year.

White Sox 4, Yankees 3: Any team can have a closer blow a two-run lead in the ninth, but it takes a special team to have three relievers more or less combine to do it. Cody Eppley and Clay Rapada each put a runner on base in the ninth — Rapada thanks to his own throwing error which should have resulted in a double play — and then David Robertson gave up a three-run homer to Dayan Viciedo.

Indians 7, Orioles 2: The Tribe snap a five-game losing streak. How did they do it? Likely some sort of Faustian bargain. How else to explain a Johnny Damon three-run home run off a lefty?

Giants 5, Reds 0: Madison Bumgarner: one-hitter complete game. That’s four straight shutouts for San Francisco pitching. Eventually, I presume, a team will score a run against the Giants. I’m just not sure when.

Mariners 1, Red Sox 0: Wow, another awesome pitching performance out west. Living in the eastern time zone sucks, dudes. I saw the ugly games last night and missed the gems. Felix Hernandez: CG SHO 13K.

Mets 3, Dodgers 2: L.A. is reeling, but hey, at least they ended their 33-inning scoreless streak. David Wright hit a solo homer and RBI double. Fifth straight loss for the Dodgers.

Concerns over Jon Lester’s throwing ability much ado about nothing

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 20: Jon Lester #34 of the Chicago Cubs pitches against the Los Angeles Dodgers in game five of the National League Division Series at Dodger Stadium on October 20, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Josh Lefkowitz/Getty Images)
Josh Lefkowitz/Getty Images

Going into Thursday night’s NLCS Game 5, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts planned to have his team be annoying and distracting on the base paths for Cubs starter Jon Lester. Lester, you see, has a hard time making throws when he’s not pitching from the rubber, as seen here.

The Dodgers got an immediate opportunity to test their strategy, as Enrique Hernandez drew a four-pitch walk to start the game in the bottom of the first inning. Hernandez was taking leads between 15 and 25 feet, just taunting Lester to throw over to first base. Lester never did. And despite being given the luxury of such a large lead, Hernandez never attempted to steal second base.

It ended up costing the Dodgers a run. After Justin Turner struck out, Corey Seager lined a single to center field. Hernandez, large lead and all, should’ve been well on his way to third base, but he settled for staying at second base. Carlos Ruiz then flied out to right field on what should’ve been a sacrifice fly. Hernandez instead just advanced to third. Howie Kendrick grounded out to end the inning with the Dodgers having scored no runs.

In the bottom of the second inning with two outs, Joc Pederson dropped down a bunt, but Lester was able to field it and make a bounce-throw to Anthony Rizzo at first base to end the inning. Lester stared angrily into the Dodgers’ dugout as he walked off the field. If it were me, I’d have been glaring angrily not because the opposing team was attempting to exploit my weakness, but because the strategy is so poor.

The bunting would continue in the seventh inning as first baseman and noted power hitter Adrian Gonzalez tried to sneak a bunt past Lester on the right side of the infield. Second baseman Javier Baez was able to scoop it up and fire to first. Gonzalez was initially ruled safe, but the call was overturned upon replay review.

Lester countered the Dodgers’ bunting and greedy lead-taking by just pitching his game. He went seven innings, allowing just one run on five hits and a walk with six strikeouts on 108 pitches. The Cubs went on to win 8-4, taking a 3-2 lead in the NLCS. A worthy consideration for the National League Cy Young Award based on his regular season performance, Lester now has a 0.86 ERA in 21 innings spanning three starts this postseason. Turns out, the yips isn’t debilitating if you’re really good at your main job.

Cubs swat their way past the Dodgers 8-4 in NLCS Game 5

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 20:  Addison Russell #27 of the Chicago Cubs hits a two-run home run in the sixth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers in game five of the National League Division Series at Dodger Stadium on October 20, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

During the regular season, the Cubs had the second-best offense in baseball behind the Rockies, averaging 4.99 runs per game. It was the best after debiting the Rockies for playing in Coors Field. There was no way, after getting shut out in NLCS Games 2 and 3, that the offense was going to stay dormant much longer. They broke out for 10 runs in a Game 4 victory on Wednesday night. They scored eight more to beat the Dodgers 8-4 in Game 5, taking a 3-2 NLCS lead.

The Cubs took an early 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning when leadoff batter Dexter Fowler greeted Kenta Maeda with a single to center field. He’d come around to score on a one-out double by Anthony Rizzo who, like teammate Addison Russell, hadn’t hit much until breaking out in Game 4.

Starter Jon Lester was able to silence the Dodgers’ offense despite their strategy of attempting bunts and taking big leads, knowing Lester has trouble throwing when it’s not from the pitching rubber. They managed just one run, coming around in the fourth inning to knot the game at 1-1 when Howie Kendrick doubled, stole third base, and scored on an Adrian Gonzalez ground out.

Ultimately, Lester lasted seven innings, holding the Dodgers to five hits and a walk with six strikeouts on 108 pitches. Addison Russell allowed him to leave with a lead, slugging a two-run home run off of reliever Joe Blanton in the sixth to break the 1-1 tie.

The Cubs tacked on plenty of insurance in the top of the eighth against reliever Pedro Baez, which proved to be rather necessary. Russell reached on an error by Baez, Willson Contreras singled, and Albert Almora, Jr. moved both runners up a base on a sacrifice bunt. Dexter Fowler then hit a single to first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, but Baez didn’t break to cover first base. Gonzalez wasn’t able to beat Fowler to the bag, allowing the Cubs’ fourth run to score. Kris Bryant hit a weak grounder to third base and he was able to beat that out as well, pushing across another run in the process. Anthony Rizzo lined out, but Baez prolonged the inning by walking Ben Zobrist. Ross Stripling relieved Baez, but he served up a bases-clearing double to Javier Baez, making it an 8-1 ballgame. Jason Heyward, as has often been the case, popped up feebly, mercifully ending the inning with the Cubs having hung up a five-spot.

Pedro Strop took over for Lester in the bottom of the eighth. He gave up a double to Andrew Toles, then hit Justin Turner to begin the inning. Though Strop was able to induce a ground ball double play from Corey Seager, Carlos Ruiz followed up with a double to left-center to push in a run. Howie Kendrick flied out to send the game to the ninth.

Closer Aroldis Chapman took over with a six-run lead in the bottom of the ninth. He issued a leadoff walk to Gonzalez, then served up a single to Yasiel Puig. Joc Pederson grounded out, but Josh Reddick knocked in Gonzalez and moved Puig to third with a single to center. Toles plated Puig with a sacrifice fly, making it 8-4. Turner grounded out to shortstop to end the game, finalizing the victory for the Cubs.

The two clubs will take Friday off to travel back to Chicago. Game 6 will take place at Wrigley Field at 8:00 PM EDT. Clayton Kershaw will start for the Dodgers opposite the Cubs’ Kyle Hendricks.