San Francisco Giants v Pittsburgh Pirates

And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights


We have reached the All-Star break. Which means that this is the last And That Happened for a week. Unless there’s a temporal anomaly or something, which has been known to happen …

Pirates 13, Giants 2: Andrew McCutchen was added to the Home Run Derby the other day. He got some early practice yesterday, smacking two dingers. If there is any justice in the world, the All-Star Game will introduce this guy to a lot of casual fans who have no freakin’ idea that one of the best players in baseball is a Pittsburgh Pirate. Also: more Tim LOLcecum.

Cubs 7, Mets 0: Ryan Dempster came off the DL and picked up right where he left off: keeping the opposition scoreless. With five innings of shutout ball here — they’re taking it easy on him to preserve his trade value, er, I’m sorry, I mean his health — he runs his streak to 27 straight innings.

Diamondbacks 7, Dodgers 1: Here come the Diamondbacks. They took three of four from L.A. to move to within four games. Trevor Bauer was way more efficient in his third big league start and wound up throwing six scoreless. I guess it’s easier to pound the strike zone when you know the other team doesn’t have anyone who can make you pay for it if you miss.

Reds 4, Padres 2: A road trip that started pretty crappily — it’s an adverb; look it up — ended much betterly for the Reds, as they took three straight from the Padres to keep pace with the Pirates in the central.

Athletics 2, Mariners 1: Walkoff RBI double for Josh Reddick in the 13th. Probably a good time for people who don’t follow Oakland closely to acknowledge that (a) Reddick, who has 20 jacks in the first half, is pretty darn good; and (b) Oakland is at .500 at the break, which no one would have guessed before the season started. Sure, they’re still in third place which is where everyone guessed they’d be, but it’s a much more respectable, enjoyable-to-watch third place than predicted.

Angels 6, Orioles 0: A spot start for Brad “not the manager of the Astros” Mills and all he does is throw five shutout innings and get homers from Trout, Pujols, Trumbo and Aybar for support. Gee, pitching is easy!

Cardinals 5, Marlins 4: You’re not gonna believe this, but Heath Bell poured kerosene on a ninth inning. Some men just want to watch the world burn.

Blue Jays 11, White Sox 9: The Chisox lose their five game winning streak after the Jays launch four homers. Worse: White Sox pitchers walked nine.

Brewers 5, Astros 3: Zack Greinke started on Saturday,  on Sunday and will get the first start after the All-Star break, making him the first dude to start three of his team’s games since 1917. He lost the first one and was saved in the second despite only going three innings. Maybe he’ll actually stick around for the fourth inning in his third go-around.

Tigers 7, Royals 1: The sweep for Detroit. Delmon Young has homered in four straight games. Maybe the Tigers are finally turning the corner. I know people say that every time they win a couple of games, but eventually you figure it’ll be true.

Braves 4, Phillies 3: The Braves sweep the reeling Phillies. Like Delmon Young, Brian McCann has homered in four straight. And maybe like the Tigers, the Braves’ four-game winning streak is a sign that their sluggishness is nearing an end. Philly, in contrast, has lost 10 of 11.

Rockies 4, Nationals 3: Washington was up 3-1 entering the eighth against the lowly Rockies. That’s usually a win, but Sean Burnett gave up two runs in the eighth with the help of a Mike Gonzalez wild pitch and Tyler Clippard sealed the deal in the ninth.

Rays 7, Indians 6: Another blown save, this one from Chris Perez. That breaks a string of 24 straight for him, dating back to his last blown save on Opening Day. Ben Zobrist’s RBI single was the final blow.

Yankees 7, Red Sox 3: Andruw Jones lookes at Brian McCann and Delmon Young’s four homers in four games and says “meh.” Jones has four homers in three games. The Yanks take three of four from the Sox and show them who remains the beast of the east.

Rangers 4, Twins 3: Minnesota blows a 3-0 lead in the ninth. Total team effort there thanks to a throwing error by Brian Dozier and Glen Perkins being as hitable as a pitching machine. Michael Young delivered the tying run with an RBI single and Ian Kinsler drove in the winner in the 13th.

There’s no one to blame in Yankees’ loss

Joe Girardi

You’re going to boo All-Star Brett Gardner for striking out against a Cy Young contender?

You’re going to bash Alex Rodriguez for going hitless in another postseason game, three years after his last one?

Maybe you’d prefer to put it all on Masahiro Tanaka for giving up two solo homers to a lineup full of 20-homer guys?

The truth is that the Yankees were supposed to lose tonight. They were facing an outstanding left-hander with their forever-lefty-heavy lineup, and they simply didn’t have anyone pitching like an ace to set themselves up nicely for a one-game, winner-take-all showdown. The 3-0 result… well, that’s how this was supposed to go down.

It didn’t necessarily mean it would; what fun would it be if the better team always won? And the Astros might not even be a better team than the Yankees. However, the Astros with Dallas Keuchel on the mound were certainly a better team than the Yankees with whoever they picked to throw.

I just don’t see where it’s worth putting any blame tonight. Joe Girardi? He could have started John Ryan Murphy over Brian McCann against the tough lefty, but he wasn’t willing to risk Tanaka losing his comfort zone by using a backup catcher.

The front office could have added more talent, perhaps outbidding the Blue Jays for David Price or the Royals for Johnny Cueto, and set themselves up better for the postseason. However, that would have cost them Luis Severino and/or Greg Bird, both of whom went on to play key roles as the Yankees secured the wild card. Would it really have been worth it? I don’t think so.

Tanaka gave the Yankees what they should have expected. Had Keuchel’s stuff been a little off on short rest, Tanaka’s performance would have kept the Yankees in the game.

Keuchel, though, was on his game from the first pitch. The Astros bullpen might have been a bit more vulnerable, and late at-bats from Gardner, Carlos Beltran, Rodriguez and McCann definitely left something to be desired. Still, on the whole, the lack of offense was quite a team effort.

The Yankees got beat by a better team tonight.  I’m not sure the Astros would have been better in Games 2-7 in a longer series, but they had everything in their favor in this one.

Keuchel, Astros cruise past Yankees in AL Wild Card Game

AP Photo/Kathy Willens

Dallas Keuchel faced the Yankees two times during the regular season and was fantastic in each outing, striking out 12 in a complete-game shutout on June 25 and whiffing nine batters over seven scoreless frames on August 25.

The 2015 Cy  Young Award candidate continued that trend in Tuesday night’s American League Wild Card Game, limiting the Yankees to three hits and one walk over six innings of scoreless ball as the Astros earned a 3-0 win and advanced to a best-of-five ALDS with the top-seeded Royals.

Keuchel was working on three days of rest but didn’t show very many signs of fatigue, whiffing seven and needing only 87 pitches to get through six. He sure looked like he could have gone an inning longer, but Astros manager A.J. Hinch decided to turn the game over to his bullpen and they added three more big zeroes to the scoreboard at a very loud then very boo-heavy Yankee Stadium. Tony Sipp worked around some early jitters to throw a scoreless seventh, Will Harris kept the Yankees off the bases entirely in a scoreless eighth, and closer Luke Gregerson went 1-2-3 in the bottom of the ninth.

Impending free agent outfielder Colby Rasmus provided the first burst of offense for the Astros in the top of the second inning with a leadoff homer against Masahiro Tanaka. And then deadline acquisition Carlos Gomez, who missed a bunch of time down the stretch with an intercostal strain, got to Tanaka for another solo shot in the top of the fourth. Houston scored its third run on a Jose Altuve RBI single in the top of the seventh.

This is a young, talented Astros team with an ace at the head of its rotation.

Kansas City could have a problem.