And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights

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Tigers 10, Indians 8: I was at this game, and I gotta tell ya, until the 9th inning it was one of the more lame, butt-dragging tie games you’ll ever see. Omar Infante and Austin Jackson kept hitting, but apart from that the highlight until then was Joe West getting all ejecty for no good reason. But then a runner on third, no-out situation in the bottom of the ninth led to no runs for Detroit and the Indians’ three-run tenth inning rally was trumped by the Tigers’ five-run tenth inning rally, capped with a Miguel Cabrera walkoff homer. That sent the Tribe to their ninth straight loss and ended what had to have been one of the more dispiriting weekends that team has had in some time. With the exception of a couple of moments late in this one, the Indians spent the entire three-game series applying postage to the 2012 season and preparing to drop it at the nearest mailbox.

Pirates 6, Reds 2: The Pirates salvage one behind A.J. Burnett’s 14th win. Actual Clint Hurdle quote following the game: “I’ve never had an ace before.”  I wonder if anyone asked Burnett if he’d ever been one.

Orioles 1, Rays 0: How do you find yourself in second place in the AL East despite having -57 run differential? You win 10 consecutive one-run games while getting blown out whenever you lose. Ladies and gentlemen, your 2012 Baltimore Orioles!

Dodgers 7, Cubs 6: Hanley Ramirez knocked in the game winner in the bottom of the ninth to help L. sweep Chicago. Nice bounceback for the Dodgers after getting themselves swept by Arizona earlier in the week. And a nice way to keep pace after the Giants …

Giants 8, Rockies 3: … swept the Rockies. Actually this was less of a sweep and more of a shop-vac kind of job. Except it was the Rockies doing the sucking. Like, all weekend along. Tim Lincecum won two in a row for the first time since April.

Padres 7, Mets 3: After his first outing, Terry Collins compared Matt Harvey to Justin Verlander and Stephen Strasburg. After Harvey gave up five runs on eight hits in five innings to one of the leagues least impressive offenses, I’m thinking that Collins needs to think of some different comps.

Nationals 4, Marlins 1: Meanwhile, the real Stephen Strasburg threw six shutout innings against Miami. He also singled in two runs. He was kinda like a one man force eh, like Charlton Heston in Omega Man. Did ya see it, it was beauty, eh.

Royals 7, Rangers 6: In the tenth inning, Alberto Gonzalez made an error on one play and Mike Olt made one on the next, giving the Royals the game. I’m guessing that, come playoff time, those balls will be hit to Elvis Andrus and Adrian Beltre.

White Sox 4, Angels 2: A.J. Pierzynski homered in his fifth consecutive game. The White Sox have won nine of 12 and still have a 1.5 game lead over the Tigers who have taken four straight. Chicago was my top candidate for a second half letdown, but so far it hasn’t happened.

Cardinals 3, Brewers 0: Der Sweep. Kyle Lohse and three relievers combine for the shutout.

Blue Jays 6, Athletics 5: Two RBI a piece for Edwin Encarnacion and Yunel Escobar and Rajai Davis scored from second base on a sacrifice bunt, which is kind of nifty. The Jays split the series.

Phillies 5, Diamondbacks 4: Ryan Howard has been slumping like crazy, but he singled in the winning run in the bottom of the ninth to seal the comeback win. Cue the Phillies people calling him underrated again.

Red Sox 6, Twins 4: The good news: the Red Sox averted the sweep by the Twins. The bad news: they were in a position to where they had to avert a sweep by the Twins. Adrian Gonzalez hit a two run homer. Carl Crawford had three hits and a leaping catch. The drawing board, for one game at least, was validated.

Braves 6, Astros 1: Chipper Jones continues to impress in his final season. He was 2 for 4 with an RBI double and scored the winning run on a wild pitch. This is a lot of fun now, but it’s gonna be kind of a bummer when Satan comes back and claims Jones’ soul in exchange for the four months of good health and 1990s-era production he was granted.

Yankees 6, Mariners 2: Until I read the game story it had not dawned on me that Freddy Garcia and Raul Ibanez each played for the 1999 Seattle Mariners. And that Ichiro was Garcia’s teammate in 2001. And now these three gray-hairs are all part of a 2012 Yankees team that has just as good a chance as anyone to win it all. And that’s before you shuffle-in Seattle-era A-Rod. There’s gotta be some sort of “Mariners of a dozen or so years ago are the new inefficiency” theory afoot here.

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.