Settling the Score: Friday’s results

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Just in case there was any lingering doubt about R.A. Dickey’s case to start for the National League in the upcoming All-Star Game, he pretty much clinched it last night.

After giving up five runs over six innings against the Yankees on Sunday, Dickey bounced right back by tossing eight shutout innings as part of a 9-0 rout over the fading Dodgers. With the victory, he became the first pitcher in the majors to reach 12 wins this season. As if you need wins to tell you that R.A. Dickey is awesome.

Dickey actually held the Dodgers to just one hit, a fly ball that center fielder Andres Torres really should have caught, over the first six innings. A.J. Ellis managed a single in the seventh and Tony Gwynn, Jr. doubled in the eighth, but that’s all the Dodgers could muster. Dickey walked one and struck out 10 in the victory.

Dickey’s June numbers were simply ridiculous: 0.93 ERA, 55/8 K/BB ratio over 48 1/3 innings, three complete games and two shutouts. The 37-year-old now has an incredible 2.15 ERA and 116/25 K/BB ratio over 113 innings this season. I hope Buster Posey and/or Yadier Molina are ready to catch some knuckleballs.

Your Friday box scores:

Astros 0, Cubs 4

White Sox 14, Yankees 7

Phillies 2, Marlins 6

Indians 8, Orioles 9

Nationals 5, Braves 4

Angels 5, Blue Jays 7

Diamondbacks 9, Brewers 3

Tigers 2, Rays 4

Padres 2, Rockies 10

Athletics 3, Rangers 4

Pirates 14, Cardinals 5

Royals 4, Twins 3

Red Sox 5, Mariners 0

Reds 5, Giants 1

A.J. Hinch: “We’ll use every pitcher in Game 7 if we have to”

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It’s not entirely clear why the Astros threw Ken Giles into the ninth inning of Game 6 of the ALCS. With a six-run advantage and the bottom half of the Yankees’ lineup due up, pushing the series to its seven-game capacity looked like a sure bet. Giles may be one of Houston’s better bullpen arms, but he’s not their only option, and it would have made more sense to keep him fresh for a do-or-die Game 7 on Saturday night.

Of course, there’s no such thing as a sure bet when it comes to postseason baseball. That’s more or less what Astros’ manager A.J. Hinch had to say after the game, telling reporters that he had envisioned a quick three outs from his closer as they tried to pull back from the brink of elimination. “We didn’t have the luxury of limping into that inning,” Hinch said. “We’ve seen how these guys can explode in these innings.”

It’s not difficult to recall the Yankees’ explosive drive in the eighth inning of Game 4, when they exploited the holes in Houston’s ‘pen and evened the series with Gary Sanchez‘s go-ahead double off of Giles. Back home in Minute Maid Park, however, there was a slightly different feel to the eighth and ninth innings of Game 6. Jose Altuve led off the eighth with a solo home run, followed by Alex Bregman‘s two-run double and Evan Gattis‘ sac fly. In the ninth, Giles labored through a 23-pitch outing to lock down the win, handing out a base hit and a seven-pitch walk before eventually whiffing Chase Headley on three straight pitches for the last out.

So, while Hinch’s decision to lean on Giles in Game 6 may have felt wasteful, his concerns were not entirely unfounded. He’s prepared to roll with the same strategy during Saturday’s series finale, too, leaving nothing on the table as the Astros battle for their first World Series showdown since 2005. According to Dallas Keuchel, that means all hands on deck — except for Justin Verlander, whose four wins, 24 strikeouts and 1.46 postseason ERA have gotten the Astros as far as he could possibly be expected to take them. “No pitcher is going to be in the dugout,” said Keuchel. “They’re all going to be in the bullpen, myself included. Any way we can help out, we’re trying to get to the World Series, the same way the Yankees are, and that’s a nice feeling to have.”

Does that mean Giles will be available for a Game 7 appearance? Stranger things have happened. Joe Sheehan notes that the right-hander has pitched in back-to-back days 13 times this year, though he’s never thrown as many as 23 pitches on Day 1. Granted, he likely doesn’t have enough left in the tank for another 20+ pitch run on Saturday, but with the World Series on the line, any help he can offer will be invaluable.