Stephen Strasburg

And That Happened: Tuesday’s scores and highlights


Major League Baseball celebrated Otherwise Good Teams Get Shut Out Night last night. It was quite festive.

Marlins 9, Nationals 0: Look, maybe this will start a conversation no one thinks we’d ever have about an ace pitcher on a first place team, but maybe the Nationals should consider shutting Stephen Strasburg down (5 IP, 9 H, 7 R, 5 ER). That’s five straight losses for the Nats. Ricky Nolasco with the five-hit shutout.

Pirates 9, Cardinals 0: Pedro Alvarez hit two homers and drove in four. James McDonald pitched fantastically and the Cardinals were accused on the very pages of this blog of being “dipwads.”  Can’t say I disagree with that.

Rangers 1, Rays 0: Yu Darvish struck out ten over seven innings. The game’s only run came on an Ian Kinselr homer in the fourth.

Orioles 6, White Sox 0: Chris Tillman handled seven innings and Brian Matusz, relief pitcher, took it home for the final two. A Nick Markakis bases-clearing double in the second was all Baltimore would need. But they got three more anyway.

Braves 2, Padres 0: Overall the Padres aren’t an “otherwise good team” this year, but they certainly have been lately, so they fit Theme Night. Kris Medlen now has a scoreless innings streak of 28 and two-thirds. He’s easily Atlanta’s best starter right now, which is nothing anyone truly expected before the season started. Heck it was nothing anyone expected in late July. Oh, and he has a music video too. Nice muscles, Dan Uggla.

Athletics 7, Indians 0: This one doesn’t count as part of Theme Night, because they stink, but it is worth noting that the Indians haven’t scored in 22 innings and haven’t scored in 45 of their last 48 innings. They’ve lost 12 of 13. There are three teams with worse records than Cleveland, but really no one who feels as miserable as they do, day-in, day-out.  The A’s, meanwhile are rolling and stay atop the wild card standings, winners of 10 of 12.

Angels 6, Red Sox 5: What in the hell were you doing, Bobby Valentine?

Royals 9, Tigers 8: Wow, I would not have called “the Royals are gonna rock Justin Verlander for eight runs on 12 hits in five and two-thirds” if you gave me any odds on the planet. Just not what you want happening on a night when your division rivals lose and your ace is on the hill.

Yankees 2, Blue Jays 1: Phil Hughes allowed one run over seven innings. Rickey Romero lost his 11th straight, but at least this time he didn’t get shelled. Rafael Soriano locked down the save one day after he blew one in major fashion. Then he sat and held forth with the media about the great issues of the day. Quite the raconteur he is when he wants to be.

Brewers 4, Cubs 1: Jeff Bianchi hit a three-run homer early and that’s all the Brewers needed. OK, I’ll grant that the Cubs may feel as bad as Cleveland.

Mets 9, Phillies 5: Wait, I thought it was the Mets who were the ones who typically gave up 3+ runs in extra innings. So confusing. B.J. Rosenberg broke the heck down in the 10th, allowing an RBI double, an RBI single and a two-run homer. Kelly Shoppach hit the bomb and earlier drove in another with a double.

Mariners 5, Twins 2: Three driven in for Dustin Ackley on a homer. Hisashi Iwakuma allowed only one run — zero earned — in six. Then he handed it over to the capable hands of Oliver Perez. OK, Ollie only threw eight pitches so it didn’t matter. I just can’t get over the fact that he’s in the big leagues again.

Giants 3, Astros 2: The Giants were down 2-1 heading into the ninth, but it was rally time. Brandon Belt singled, Joaquin Arias doubled him in and then Hector Sanchez singled in Arias.

Rockies 8, Dodgers 4: All kinds of bad news. Another bad loss to the Rockies and, worse, the loss of Matt Kemp to a knee contusion and possible jaw problem. Wilin Rosario went 3 for 4 with a homer and three driven in. I bet you there are only, like, a dozen people outside Colorado who know that guy has 22 homers and his slugging .500.

Reds 5, Diamondbacks 2: Johnny Cueto wins his 17th, allowing two runs over seven.

Maybe Alcides Escobar shouldn’t bat leadoff

Alcides Escobar
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Alcides Escobar finished with a .292 OBP this year. He came in at .246 in 117 at-bats in August and .257 in 109 at-bats between September and October, so he wasn’t exactly flying high entering the postseason. Still, that didn’t stop Ned Yost from putting him into the leadoff spot for Thursday’s Game 1 against the Astros.

Yost finally did reconsider hitting Escobar first in September. It took Alex Gordon‘s return to health, plus the previous addition of Ben Zobrist to the lineup, in order to make that happen. However, it didn’t stick. Escobar hit ninth in each of his starts from Sept. 7-26, batting .236 with a .276 OBP during that span. With five games left to go, he was suddenly returned to the leadoff spot. The Royals went on to win all five games. Yost saw it as a sign, even though Escobar went 5-for-22 with no walks in those games.

Escobar went 0-for-4 in Thursday’s loss to the Astros. He did not swing at the first pitch of the game, which probably explains the defeat.

It’s been difficult to argue with Yost since last year’s World Series run and this year’s incredible run out of the game. The blind spot with Escobar, though, gets rather infuriating. One can defend hitting him leadoff against the Astros’ lefties. His career OBP against southpaws is .319 (.316 this year). Against righties, he’s the most obvious No. 9 hitter alive, with a career .258/.290/.342 line (.252/.284/.314 this year). He’s not a pace-setter. He’s not a spark plug. He’s a liability.

Astros top Royals in Game 1 of ALDS

Houston Astros' Jose Altuve, left, celebrates with teammate Luis Valbuena after scoring a run during the first inning in Game 1 of baseball's American League Division Series against the Kansas City Royals, Thursday, Oct. 8, 2015, in Kansas City. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

After shutting out the Yankees in the AL Wild Card game on Tuesday, the Astros beat the Royals 5-2 in Game 1 of the ALDS on Thursday at Kauffman Stadium. Road teams are now 4-0 to begin the 2015 postseason.

The Astros grabbed an early 3-0 lead against Yordano Ventura through two innings. Chris Young took over for the Royals after a 47-minute rain delay and was very effective for the most part, allowing just a solo homer to George Springer over four innings while striking out seven batters. Colby Rasmus, who homered in the Wild Card game, took Ryan Madson deep in the eighth inning to give the Astros’ bullpen some extra breathing room.

Collin McHugh stayed in after the rain delay and ended up tossing six innings while allowing just four hits and one walk. Kendrys Morales did all the damage against him with a pair of solo homers. He’s the first Royals player to hit two home runs in a postseason game since George Brett in the 1985 ALCS.

The Royals’ offense showed some signs of life in the bottom of the eighth inning with back-to-back two-out hits against Will Harris, but Oliver Perez got Eric Hosmer to foul out to end the threat. Luke Gregerson tossed a scoreless ninth inning to finish off the victory.

Consistent with their identity during the regular season, the Astros won despite striking out 14 times. The same goes for the Royals, as they struck out just four times. Despite putting the ball into play more often, the Kansas City lineup wasn’t able to muster anything aside from the home runs by Morales.

Game 2 of the ALDS will begin Friday at 3:45 p.m. ET. Scott Kazmir will pitch for the Astros and Johnny Cueto will get the ball for the Royals.

George Springer homers to extend Astros’ lead over Royals

Houston Astros' George Springer (4) celebrates with teammates after scoring a run in the first inning in Game 1 of baseball's American League Division Series against the Kansas City Royals, Thursday, Oct. 8, 2015, in Kansas City. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
AP Photo/Charlie Riedel
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After Kendrys Morales brought the Royals within one run in the bottom of the fourth inning with his second solo home run of the game, George Springer took Chris Young deep in the top of the fifth to extend the Astros’ lead to 4-2 in Game 1 of the ALDS.

According to Statcast, the ball traveled an estimated 422 feet and left Springer’s bat at 109 mph. Royals fans are happy it was just a solo home run. It could have been worse, as Jose Altuve singled to lead off the fifth inning before being thrown out trying to steal second base during Springer’s at-bat.

The Royals will try to answer as we move to the bottom of the fifth inning at Kauffman Stadium.