B.J. Upton

And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights


Rays 6, Rangers 0: That, my friends, is B.J. Upton.  Three homers for big brother and a two-hit shutout for James Shields. This will make Rays fans feel really good until Texas bounces them easily in the division series again.

Marlins 8, Nationals 0: The Nats have not won a game since they shut down Stephen Strasburg!!!  OK, we’ll wait a couple of days to go all-in with that, but believe me, we’re ready.  Anyway, Ricky Nolasco with the four-hit shutout. It’s the second time he’s shut out the Nats in two weeks. And he also — everybody now! — helped his own cause by doubling in two runs.

Cubs 4, Pirates 2This is the way the world ends, This is the way the world ends, This is the way the world ends, Not with a bang but a whimper. Been a nice season anyway, Pirates, but if you get swept by the all-but-dead Cubs, yeah, sorry.

Cardinals 5, Brewers 4:  Norichika Aoki hit a two out two run homer in the ninth to force extras, but the Cards avoid the sweep with an RBI single from Allen Craig in the 10th. Carlos Beltran hit a homer, ending an 0 for 14 slump. The Brewers are still surging overall, winners of 15 of 20.

Angels 3, Tigers 2: Six straight for the Angels, who are now within one game of a wild card slot. Detroit: 4.5 out, though still only two behind the White Sox in the division. Two days in a row with a leadoff homer for Mike Trout, who is going to be on the cover of every single baseball preview, fantasy review, etc. next winter and spring.

Athletics 4, Mariners 2: Tommy Milone struck out ten in six innings and Jonny Gomes hit a three run homer. Oakland continues to stay atop the wild card standings avec Baltimore. Speaking of Baltimore …

Yankees 13, Orioles 3: They got whupped. Curtis Granderson pulled a Dante — he wasn’t even supposed to be here today — but came off the bench to homer and drive in five. Only thing better would be if his number was 36. Wait, 37.

Braves 3, Mets 2: Chipper Jones pinch hit in the ninth, walked and was lifted for a pinch runner, and then the Mets fans cheered for him.  Very classy move. The man in the blue and gray pajamas, Dude.Worthy f*&%$8n’ adversary. A Brian McCann homer sac fly in the tenth secured the sweep. Atlanta has won five in a row.

Twins 8, Indians 7: A walkoff jack for Justin Morneau. It was his second homer of the game. Three hits for Joe Mauer. It’s almost like those two could form the core of a contender.

Padres 8, Diamondbacks 2: Chase Headley hit a grand slam — his 27th homer of the season — and Andrew Werner gave up one run over six. Headley passes Ryan Braun for the NL RBI lead with 102. It’d really be somethin’ for a Padre to lead the league in RBI.

Astros 5, Reds 1: The Astros may be deadsville, but they beat up both Aroldis Chapman and Johnny Cueto in this series, and not a lot of people can say they did that this year. Matt Dominguez hit a three-run homer. He has three home runs this year. All of them have come against the Reds.

Royals 2, White Sox 1: Chicago dropped two of three to Kansas City and now goes on to play the Tigers. It seems like neither of them want to win the AL Central this year.

Phillies 3, Rockies 2; Phillies 7, Rockies 4: John Mayberry hit the game winning single in the ninth, but he had to wait at first base before he knew it was official because Carlos Gonzalez dove for it, looked like he caught it, but then it squirted out of his glove. Took a minute to get the call right, but the umpires ruled that, yes, it was a hit. They also called Mark Teixeira out at first base. They take the nightcap too. Philly has won four in a row and are six back in the wild card race. I guess stranger things have happened.

Blue Jays 4, Red Sox 3: I took the kids to see “Paranorman” on Saturday. There were fewer walking dead in that flick than there are on the Red Sox roster now. The Jays swept the Red Sox. The go-ahead run was on an Omar Vizquel sac fly. Omar Vizquel, by the way, is not getting gifts at every park he visits on his last go-around like Chipper Jones is.

Giants 4, Dodgers 0: Six and a third shutout innings for Barry Zito and the bullpen continued the job for the rest of the game. Buster Posey hit a homer, but really dude, you need to shave that thing you think is a beard. It’s all neck. It’s OK to have a baby face. No one thinks less of you.

Concerns over Jon Lester’s throwing ability much ado about nothing

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 20: Jon Lester #34 of the Chicago Cubs pitches against the Los Angeles Dodgers in game five of the National League Division Series at Dodger Stadium on October 20, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Josh Lefkowitz/Getty Images)
Josh Lefkowitz/Getty Images

Going into Thursday night’s NLCS Game 5, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts planned to have his team be annoying and distracting on the base paths for Cubs starter Jon Lester. Lester, you see, has a hard time making throws when he’s not pitching from the rubber, as seen here.

The Dodgers got an immediate opportunity to test their strategy, as Enrique Hernandez drew a four-pitch walk to start the game in the bottom of the first inning. Hernandez was taking leads between 15 and 25 feet, just taunting Lester to throw over to first base. Lester never did. And despite being given the luxury of such a large lead, Hernandez never attempted to steal second base.

It ended up costing the Dodgers a run. After Justin Turner struck out, Corey Seager lined a single to center field. Hernandez, large lead and all, should’ve been well on his way to third base, but he settled for staying at second base. Carlos Ruiz then flied out to right field on what should’ve been a sacrifice fly. Hernandez instead just advanced to third. Howie Kendrick grounded out to end the inning with the Dodgers having scored no runs.

In the bottom of the second inning with two outs, Joc Pederson dropped down a bunt, but Lester was able to field it and make a bounce-throw to Anthony Rizzo at first base to end the inning. Lester stared angrily into the Dodgers’ dugout as he walked off the field. If it were me, I’d have been glaring angrily not because the opposing team was attempting to exploit my weakness, but because the strategy is so poor.

The bunting would continue in the seventh inning as first baseman and noted power hitter Adrian Gonzalez tried to sneak a bunt past Lester on the right side of the infield. Second baseman Javier Baez was able to scoop it up and fire to first. Gonzalez was initially ruled safe, but the call was overturned upon replay review.

Lester countered the Dodgers’ bunting and greedy lead-taking by just pitching his game. He went seven innings, allowing just one run on five hits and a walk with six strikeouts on 108 pitches. The Cubs went on to win 8-4, taking a 3-2 lead in the NLCS. A worthy consideration for the National League Cy Young Award based on his regular season performance, Lester now has a 0.86 ERA in 21 innings spanning three starts this postseason. Turns out, the yips isn’t debilitating if you’re really good at your main job.

Cubs swat their way past the Dodgers 8-4 in NLCS Game 5

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 20:  Addison Russell #27 of the Chicago Cubs hits a two-run home run in the sixth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers in game five of the National League Division Series at Dodger Stadium on October 20, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

During the regular season, the Cubs had the second-best offense in baseball behind the Rockies, averaging 4.99 runs per game. It was the best after debiting the Rockies for playing in Coors Field. There was no way, after getting shut out in NLCS Games 2 and 3, that the offense was going to stay dormant much longer. They broke out for 10 runs in a Game 4 victory on Wednesday night. They scored eight more to beat the Dodgers 8-4 in Game 5, taking a 3-2 NLCS lead.

The Cubs took an early 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning when leadoff batter Dexter Fowler greeted Kenta Maeda with a single to center field. He’d come around to score on a one-out double by Anthony Rizzo who, like teammate Addison Russell, hadn’t hit much until breaking out in Game 4.

Starter Jon Lester was able to silence the Dodgers’ offense despite their strategy of attempting bunts and taking big leads, knowing Lester has trouble throwing when it’s not from the pitching rubber. They managed just one run, coming around in the fourth inning to knot the game at 1-1 when Howie Kendrick doubled, stole third base, and scored on an Adrian Gonzalez ground out.

Ultimately, Lester lasted seven innings, holding the Dodgers to five hits and a walk with six strikeouts on 108 pitches. Addison Russell allowed him to leave with a lead, slugging a two-run home run off of reliever Joe Blanton in the sixth to break the 1-1 tie.

The Cubs tacked on plenty of insurance in the top of the eighth against reliever Pedro Baez, which proved to be rather necessary. Russell reached on an error by Baez, Willson Contreras singled, and Albert Almora, Jr. moved both runners up a base on a sacrifice bunt. Dexter Fowler then hit a single to first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, but Baez didn’t break to cover first base. Gonzalez wasn’t able to beat Fowler to the bag, allowing the Cubs’ fourth run to score. Kris Bryant hit a weak grounder to third base and he was able to beat that out as well, pushing across another run in the process. Anthony Rizzo lined out, but Baez prolonged the inning by walking Ben Zobrist. Ross Stripling relieved Baez, but he served up a bases-clearing double to Javier Baez, making it an 8-1 ballgame. Jason Heyward, as has often been the case, popped up feebly, mercifully ending the inning with the Cubs having hung up a five-spot.

Pedro Strop took over for Lester in the bottom of the eighth. He gave up a double to Andrew Toles, then hit Justin Turner to begin the inning. Though Strop was able to induce a ground ball double play from Corey Seager, Carlos Ruiz followed up with a double to left-center to push in a run. Howie Kendrick flied out to send the game to the ninth.

Closer Aroldis Chapman took over with a six-run lead in the bottom of the ninth. He issued a leadoff walk to Gonzalez, then served up a single to Yasiel Puig. Joc Pederson grounded out, but Josh Reddick knocked in Gonzalez and moved Puig to third with a single to center. Toles plated Puig with a sacrifice fly, making it 8-4. Turner grounded out to shortstop to end the game, finalizing the victory for the Cubs.

The two clubs will take Friday off to travel back to Chicago. Game 6 will take place at Wrigley Field at 8:00 PM EDT. Clayton Kershaw will start for the Dodgers opposite the Cubs’ Kyle Hendricks.