And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights

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Braves 3, Marlins 0:  Kris Medlen continues his astounding second half, shutting out the Marlins for eight innings. The Braves have won his last 21 starts, which is the most any team has won any one pitcher’s starts since the Yankees and Whitey Ford from 1950-53. Is there any doubt who will be starting the wild card game for the Braves?

Brewers 3, Pirates 1: Nietzsche once said that hope is the worst of evils, for it prolongs the torments of man. That kind of describes the Pirates season as they sink to .500 and look to sink farther still.  After how much hope there was in the middle of the summer, is this season’s now-likely less-than-.500 finish more depressing than the last 20? Kinda feels like it. Meanwhile, Marco Estrada has been like Kris Medlen north. He improves to 4-1 with a 1..23 ERA in his last six starts.

Phillies 3, Mets 2: Ryan Howard drove in the tying and winning runs with a two-run bomb in the ninth off Josh Edgin. Who is a left hander.  Meaning that Ryan Howard actually got a hit off a left hander. Is this real life?

Rays 13, Red Sox 3: A shame that a team can’t spread its runs over multiple games, because the nine extra ones here woulda helped the Rays elsewhere. The Red Sox used four pitchers in the sixth inning who walked six batters as the Rays scored seven runs.

Nationals 3, Dodgers 1Dodgers 7, Nationals 6: Day game: Jordan Zimmermann allowed one run over six innings and the bats eked out a couple of runs on sac flies and groundouts. In the nightcap, L.A. blew a 6-0 lead in the eighth but Matt Kemp hit a homer in the ninth to win it. And since everyone made a big deal out of it when he pitched well, it’s worth noting that Stephen Strasburg’s stand-in John Lannan pitched here too and gave up six runs on eight hits in three and two-thirds.

Royals 3, White Sox 0: The AL Central leaders were shut out by Bruce Chen for six and two-thirds. Meanwhile …

Tigers 6, Athletics 2: Detroit beats the A’s again, with yet another homer from Miguel Cabrera.  Bad news for Oakland, though, as the lose Brett Anderson, who strained his oblique. That’s a big, big blow. Third straight loss for the A’s, who need to find a way to survive this road trip of death lest the Angels knock down the door.

Yankees 4, Blue Jays 2; Yankees 2, Blue Jays 1: Andy Pettitte came back and pitched effectively in game one and Ichiro had seven hits across both games of the doubleheader to pace the Bombers.  Derek Jeter got his 200th hit of the season to lead off the nightcap.

Cardinals 5, Astros 0: Lance Lynn has his second straight excellent start since coming back to the rotation. Maybe he just needed some time to clear his head.

Twins 6, Indians 4: Josh Willingham continues his outstanding year, smacking his 35th homer and driving in four. Those 35 bombs are the most any Minnesota Twin player has had since Harmon Killebrew hit 41 in 1970.

Rangers 6, Angels 2: Reader Lewp was so kind to me that he recapped this one himself for me and sent it in:

Rangers top Halos with pair of three-run frames

No Josh Hamilton. No Adrian Beltre. No worries.

Missing their big guns, the Rangers were faced with the challenge on Wednesday night of replacing 75 home runs and 216 RBIs. They didn’t bat an eye.

Thanks, Lewp!  Four game lead in the division for Texas. And no, it doesn’t look like the Angels are knocking down any doors.

Giants 7, Rockies 1: Matt Cain went eight and won his 15th. Pablo Sandoval homered. Seems like the Rockies stopped playing two months ago.

Orioles 3, Mariners 1: Another extra innings game, another win for Baltimore.  And don’t look to dumb luck here, look to (a) Adam Jones hitting a two-run homer in the 11th to once again bring home to Seattle how bad that trade was for them; and (b) look to dumb Mariners. Michael Saunders, specifically, who ended the game by getting caught stealing second when there were runners on the corners in the bottom of the 11th. Good effort, dude.

Diamondbacks 6, Padres 2: Weird passage from the AP game story: “The Diamondbacks are .500 since they were 64-64 on August 26.” I’m not sure if that’s supposed to be significant or not. Then again, the AP was confusing me a  lot yesterday. In my general news AP feed, the 10th story listed in the daily top ten was “Ben Vereen files for divorce.”  I’m not even sure if that was news in the 70s.  Heck, I wasn’t even sure Ben Vereen was still alive. Then I remembered, nope, it was Flip Wilson who was dead.

Reds 6, Cubs 5: Drew Stubbs hit an RBI single in the 11th after Brandon Phillips reached second on a popup that David DeJesus misplayed. The Reds played without Dusty Baker, who was in the hospital for an irregular heartbeat.  More on that later this morning on HBT.

Justin Turner is a postseason monster

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A not-insignificant amount of the Dodgers’ success in recent years has to do with the emergence of Justin Turner. In his first five seasons with the Orioles and Mets, he was a forgettable infielder who had versatility, but no power. The Mets non-tendered him after the 2013 season, a move they now really regret.

In four regular seasons since, as a Dodger, Turner has hit an aggregate .303/.378/.502. His 162-game averages over those four seasons: 23 home runs, 36 doubles, 83 RBI, 80 runs scored. And he’s also a pretty good third baseman, it turns out. The Dodgers have averaged 95 wins per season over the past four years.

Turner, 32, has gotten better and better with each passing year. This year, he drew more walks (59) than strikeouts (56), a club only five other players (min. 300 PA) belonged to, and he trailed only Joey Votto (1.61) in BB/K ratio (1.05). He zoomed past his previous career-high in OPS, finishing at .945. His .415 on-base percentage was fourth-best in baseball. His batting average was fifth-best and only nine points behind NL batting champion Charlie Blackmon.

It doesn’t seem possible, but Turner has been even better in the postseason. He exemplified that with his walk-off home run to win Game 2 of the NLCS against the Cubs. Overall, entering Wednesday night’s action, he was batting .363/.474/.613 in 97 postseason plate appearances. In Game 4, he went 2-for-2 with two walks, a single, and a solo home run. That increases his postseason slash line to .378/.495/.659, now across 101 plate appearances. That’s a 1.154 OPS. The career-high regular season OPS for future first-ballot Hall of Famer Albert Pujols was 1.114 in 2008, when he won his third career MVP Award. Statistically, in the postseason, Turner hits slightly better than Pujols did in the prime of his career. Of course, we should adjust for leagues and parks and all that, but to even be in that neighborhood is incredible.

In the age of stats, the concept of “clutch” has rightfully eroded. We don’t really allow players to ascend to godlike levels anymore like the way we did Derek Jeter, for instance. (Jeter’s career OPS in the playoffs, by the way, was a comparatively pitiful .838.) Turner isn’t clutch; he’s just a damn good hitter whose careful approach at the plate has allowed him to shine in the postseason and the Dodgers can’t imagine life without him.