And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights

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Mets 6, Marlins 1: R.A. Dickey continues his dominant year. He struck out ten and didn’t walk any while tossing a complete game. And we may see more of him soon.

Royals 8, Orioles 2: Manny Machado made his major league debut. Two for four with a triple. Not bad! No one else did anything, however, and the Royals teed off on Wei-Yin Chen. Billy Butler hit a triple for cryin’ out loud. He had a homer too. Though it wasn’t a grand slam, sadly. Which would have been awesome. Probably woulda looked like this.

Diamondbacks 6, Pirates 3: Jason Kubel hit two homers. Lots of folks — myself included — scratched their heads at the signing of Kubel in the offseason, but it’s workin’ out pretty well.

Cardinals 3, Giants 1: Adam Wainwright was on point, allowing one run over seven innings, evening his record to 10-10. Carlos Beltran hit a homer. He leads the NL in RBI. Kinda has to gall the Giants a bit seeing as though he didn’t help them all that much last year. And cost them a pitching prospect.

Rays 7, Blue Jays 1: The fantastic Rays pitching continues. Their staff has allowed one or zero runs in 13 of their last 19 games. If the offense can improve they’ll really have something. Evan Longoria’s return — he had two RBI on three hits last night — is a step in the right direction.

Yankees 4, Tigers 3: Joaquin Benoit gave up back to back homers to Mark Teixeira and Eric Chavez, which turned the game around. Oh, and Joe Girardi went crazy and got ejected arguing a fair/foul call that was reversed on the fly, and that was a lot of fun.

Indians 5, Red Sox 3: Break up the Indians! A winning streak!  Ubaldo Jimenez allowed three runs over six innings and struck out ten. The Red Sox have lost seven of nine. Probably time for someone to give some controversial quote now.

Nationals 5, Astros 0: The Nats basically toyed with Houston. Jordan Zimmermann struck out 11 over six three-hit shutout innings. Michael Morse hit two homers and had a sac fly. I’m wondering how the Astros would do facing nothing but Triple-A teams these days. Would they be a .500 team? Serious question.

Cubs 5, Reds 3: Alfonso Soriano’s two-run homer in the eighth broke the 3-3 tie and ended the Cubs eight game losing streak. It was Soriano’s 20th homer. He’s now done that for 11 straight years.

The Reds and Cubs had a long rain delay and were only in the 6th inning when I hit the hay. I’ll catch up when I wake up.

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.