Bryce Harper

And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights


In addition to the box scores, I also watched Bill Clinton last night. No matter what your politics, I hope we can agree that Clinton makes everyone want to listen to their “Siamese Dream” cassette and drive around in their Chevy Cavalier, waiting for their pager to blow up.  Anyway:

Nationals 9, Cubs 1: Gio Gonzalez tossed seven three-hit shutout innings and the Nats smacked six home runs. Two for Bryce Harper and one for the incandescent Adam LaRoche. There hasn’t been scoring like this in Washington since Clinton left office.

Braves 1, Rockies 0: Mike Minor took a no hitter into the seventh, but gave up a hit on his first pitch of that innings. People on Twitter blamed me for jinxing it. Whatever. I want to gamble or play games of skill with these people who believe in such sorcery.

Brewers 8, Marlins 5: The season is starting to become a blur to me. As I sit here and type this right now, I am convinced that there has been a Brewers-Marlins game end in the score 8-5 every night for the past three weeks. I won’t check it. I’m just sure of it.

Yankees 6, Rays 4: Wait, I was convinced after reading all of the tabloids yesterday that the Yankees were never going to win again. What happened? Three RBI for Russell Martin and, while it wasn’t Hiroki Kuroda’s best start, he continues to be the defacto ace of the staff in the second half.

Pirates 6, Astros 3: Brock Holt — Brock Holt! — had two RBIs. The Pirates are now one and a half games back of the Cardinals for the wild card.

Blue Jays 6, Orioles 4:  Rajai Davis homered and had three RBIs to help the Jays avoid the sweep. Now the Orioles go home for four against the Yankees and three against the Rays.

Rangers 7, Royals 6: Homers from Adrian Beltre and Michael Young and Ryan Dempster struck out eight over six innings.

Mets 6, Cardinals 2: R.A. Dickey won his 18th on his charge to 20 and the Cy Young award and Ike Davis had a three-run bomb. Adam Wainwright, in contrast, was a better hitter than pitcher yesterday. He allowed five runs and eight hits in five innings, but hit a home run.

White Sox 6, Twins 2: Alex Rios hit two homers — one a grand slam — and drove in six. And a day after the Twins erupted for 18, Jake Peavy restored order.

Tigers 7, Indians 1: But Detroit keeps pace behind homers from Cabrera and Fielder. Now the Tigers have a ten game road trip which I do not think it is hyperbole to say will determine the outcome of the season for them.

Phillies 6, Reds 2Erik Kratz hit a three-run home run and Chase Utley hit a two-run bomb, which was more than enough for Roy Halladay, who allowed one run in seven and a third. Joey Votto returned and went 2 for 3 with a walk.

Angels 7, Athletics 1: Torii Hunter drove in three and the Angels swept Oakland, helping put themselves back in the wild card race. The result, however, is way less important than the health of Brandon McCarthy who took a liner off his head. He appears to be doing OK, thankfully.

Diamondbacks 6, Giants 2: Trevor Cahill took a no-hitter into the seventh. Chris Johnson doubled, tripled and drove in two. There was the threat of fisticuffsmanship in the eighth when John McDonald ran into Pablo Sandoval on a play at third without sliding, but cooler heads prevailed.

Padres 4, Dodgers 3: L.A. couldn’t take advantage of the San Francisco loss, thanks in part to a great Cameron Maybin play, robbing Matt Kemp of a home run.  Now the Dodgers face the Giants for three this weekend in San Francisco. Moving time, Dodgers.

Mariners 2, Red Sox 1: With this win, Seattle matches their win total from 2011 with 24 games left to play. Kevin Millwood allowed one run over six before Eric Wedge went expanded rosters bullpen crazy. Dustin Ackley hit a two run single.

Game 2 is going to be the poster child for pace of play arguments this winter

CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 26:  Zach McAllister #34 of the Cleveland Indians is relieved by manager Terry Francona during the fifth inning against the Chicago Cubs in Game Two of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on October 26, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
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In August, it was reported that Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred would like to implement pitch clocks, like those in use in the minor leagues for the past two seasons, to improve the pace-of-play at the major league level. You can bet that last night’s Game 2 will be the lead argument he uses against those who would oppose the move.

The game was moved up an hour in order to get it in before an impending storm. By the time the rain finally started falling the game had been going on for three hours and thirty-three minutes. It should’ve been over before the first drop fell, but in all it lasted four hours and four minutes. It ended in, thankfully, only a light rain. The longest nine-inning game in postseason history happened a mere two weeks ago, when the Dodgers and Nationals played for four hours and thirty two minutes. There thirteen pitchers were used. Last night ten pitchers were used. Either way, the postseason games are dragging on even for those of us who don’t mind devoting four+ hours of our night to baseball. It is likely putting off more casual fans just tuning in for the Fall Classic.

It’s not all just dawdling, however. Yes, the pitchers worked slowly and a lot of pitching changes took place, but strikeouts, walks and the lack of balls in play contribute to longer games as well. We saw this both last night and in Game 1, which was no brisk affair despite each starting pitcher looking sharp and not working terribly slowly. Twenty-four strikeouts on Tuesday night had a lot to do with that. Last night featured 20 strikeouts and thirteen — thirteen! — walks. It’s not just that the games are taking forever; the very thing causing them to drag feature baseball’s least-kinetic forms of excitement.

But no matter what the cause for the slower play was — and here it was a combination of laboring pitchers, the lack of balls in play and, of course, the longer commercial breaks in the World Series — Manfred is likely to hold Game 2 up as Exhibit A in his efforts to push through some rules changes to improve game pace and game time. So far, the centerpiece of those efforts is the pitch clock, which has proven to be successful and pretty non-controversial in the minor leagues. It would not surprise me one bit if, at this year’s Winter Meetings in Washington, a rule change in that regard is widely discussed.

Kyle Schwarber is the feel-good story of the 2016 postseason


Most baseball fans and even the Cubs had resigned themselves to most likely not seeing Kyle Schwarber in game action until spring training next year after he suffered a gruesome knee injury in a collision with teammate Dexter Fowler back in early April. Schwarber suffered a fully-torn ACL and LCL in his left leg.

To the surprise of everyone, including manager Joe Maddon, Schwarber was cleared by doctors to play if the Cubs wanted to put him on the World Series roster. So they did. And, boy, are they glad they did it. In preparation, Schwarber saw over 1,000 pitches from machines and pitchers in the Arizona Fall League.

Schwarber essentially crammed for the final exam and unlike most students who do it, it has panned out well thus far. No one was expecting him to look outstanding against Indians ace Corey Kluber in Game 1, but in his first at-bat — his first in the majors since suffering the injury in April — Schwarber worked a 3-1 count before eventually being retired on strikes. Schwarber came back up in the fourth and drilled a Kluber sinker to right field for a two-out double.

In the seventh inning, facing one of the American League’s two scariest left-handed relievers in Andrew Miller, Schwarber worked a full count before drawing a walk. During the regular season, Miller walked exactly one lefty batter. Schwarber made it two. Schwarber would face Miller again in the eighth, going ahead 2-1 before ultimately striking out. He finished 1-for-3 with a walk and a double in the Cubs’ 6-0 loss. Considering the circumstances, that’s amazing.

Schwarber continued his great approach in Game 2 in what turned out to be a 5-1 victory. He struck out against Trevor Bauer in the first inning, but returned to the batter’s box in the third inning and singled up the middle to knock in the Cubs’ second run. Schwarber made it 3-0 in the fifth when he singled up the middle again, this time off of Bryan Shaw, to make it 3-0. Facing Danny Salazar in the sixth, Schwarber drew a four-pitch walk to put runners on first and second base with two outs. Finally, he struck out against Dan Otero in his eighth-inning at-bat, finishing the evening 2-for-4 with a pair of RBI singles and a walk.

But now, as the Cubs return to Chicago for World Series Games 3, 4, and 5 at Wrigley Field, they have to contest with National League rules, a.k.a. no DH. Will Maddon risk Schwarber’s subpar defense to put his dangerous bat in the lineup? Even if Schwarber is not put in the starting lineup, he can at least serve as a dangerous bat off the bench late in the game when the Indians send out their trio of relievers in Shaw, Miller, and closer Cody Allen. At any rate, what Schwarber has done already in the first two games of the World Series is mighty impressive.