And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights

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Rangers 15, Angels 9: Ryan Dempster was shelled in his Rangers debut, but it didn’t matter because C.J. Wilson was shelled too. Josh Hamilton drove in four. You have to wonder if Wednesday night’s game was some kind of turning point in this race.

Rockies 8, Cardinals 2: Homers in four straight games for Josh Rutledge, which is kind of neat. Rockies avoid the sweep.

Braves 6, Marlins 1: A rain delay knocked out the starters early, but it didn’t much matter considering the Braves had a 6-0 lead by then. Two runs knocked in a piece for Chipper Jones and Freddie Freeman.

Royals 7, Indians 6: The Royals had a 6-0 lead and blew it, and then the Indians blew the comeback when Alcides Escobar singled in the winning run in the 11th. This series seemed like it lasted for a year.

Nationals 3, Phillies 0: Ross Detwiler shuts out the Phillies for seven. Adam LaRoche drove in two and Jayson Werth finally came back and drove in one himself.

Mets 9, Giants 1: Tim Lincecum sort of seems to be back so I guess that Barry Zito has to revert to his normal self as well (4.1 IP, 6 H, 7 ER). Ronny Cedeno drove in five. The Mets took three of four from the Giants.

Twins 5, Red Sox 0: What Samuel Deduno is doing is not sustainable — you can’t walk four and strike out one and always expect success — but it worked well enough. Ron Gardenhire:

“I know his ball-strike ratio wasn’t the greatest, but sometimes that works,” Gardenhire said. “He was able to make pitches when he had to and that’s all you really care about.”

Wow. Ron Gardenhire knows what a ball/strike ratio is.

Reds 9, Padres 4: Six runs in the second sunk the Padres. Cincy and Pittsburgh now play the most interesting series of the weekend.

Athletics 4, Blue Jays 0: Well, that was the score in the 8th when I went to bed. I’m guessing that holds up because the Blue Jays can’t seem to win baseball games anymore.

 

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.