Pittsburgh Pirates v Arizona Diamondbacks

And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights


I spent the evening seeing a preview showing of the Jackie Robinson movie, “42,” — review coming later today — so I didn’t get to watch really any baseball. Kinda glad I didn’t too. After seeing and thinking about Robinson I would have probably just thrown something at my TV if I had to watch someone not totally kicking butt and putting the fear of God into opposing pitchers when on base.

But the games, as they always do, still went on.

Diamondbacks 10, Pirates 2: Have yourself a day, A.J. Pollock. He homered twice, doubled and drove in four. He also made a diving catch in center field. And you were proud of yourself for only hitting the snooze button once.

Nationals 5, White Sox 2: This game was delayed 15 minutes because the umpires were stuck in traffic. Really. This a day after Denard Span tweeted about being stuck in traffic on the way to Nationals Park. Perhaps the Nationals ought to invest in some dorms near the park or something. Keep people from having to fight D.C. traffic. Or perhaps everyone involved needs to realize that this isn’t 2009 anymore and people actually go to Nationals games.

Cardinals 10, Reds 0: Jake Westbrook tosses a shutout. Not that he needed to. He lost that first game of the season 1-0, but he still hasn’t allowed an earned run in 2013. Four homers for Cardinals hitters. Including one from Matt Adams, who is 9 for 14 with four extra base hits on the year.

Giants 10, Rockies 0: Barry Zito: superstar. Seven shutout innings plus he went 2 for 3 with an RBI. It’s gonna be awesome when, in the event he falls short of 200 innings and his 2014 option does not vest, the Giants pick it up anyway because, at long last, he has actually earned part of the contract everyone says is the worst ever. It’s wrong to talk about someone who “persevered” while being massively overpaid for so long, but give Zito credit for not quitting and phoning it in when a lot of others would have. Unless this is just a mirage and he returns to 2011 form soon, in which case let’s just forget we had this conversation.

Phillies 7, Mets 3: Domonic Brown and Chase Utley homered in a five-run first inning that put this one away early. Good to see a prospect some didn’t think would ever get a chance and a veteran some thought was washed up coming through in the early going.

Blue Jays 8, Tigers 6: The Tigers led this one 6-1 in the fifth inning. Viva la Bullpen. Well, that and Viva La One Inning Too Many for Rick Porcello. Which, when your bullpen stinks, stretching your starters is something that may be understandable for a manager. When is Jose Valverde getting here again? Big hits for Edwin Encarnacion — check this one out, by the way, as it was awesome — Mark De Rosa and J.P. Arencibia.

Rays 2, Rangers 0: It was 39 degrees at game time. In Texas. It hit 80 up here in Ohio. Go home weather. You are drunk. Matt Moore and four relievers combine on the shutout.

Orioles 8, Red Sox 5: A five-run rally capped by a three-run Manny Machado home run ruined this one for the few Red Sox fans who stuck around for the ninth inning. Let’s see if, after a week of talking about how fun and likable this Red Sox team is, Boston writers and radio yakkers decide that Sox closer Joel Hanrahan is a villain or something.

Braves 8, Marlins 0: Atlanta with its second straight sweep. The sweep-ees were the odds-on favorite to be the worst two teams in the National League, but wins are wins. The Marlins have scored 16 runs in nine games.

Royals 3, Twins 0: And … the sweep. Billy Butler and Jeff Francoeur homered. I feel like today is going to be “how ’bout them Royals!” day among national columnists looking for something to write about.

Athletics 11, Angels 5: Brandon Moss drove in five and homered for the second night in a row. That’s seven straight wins for the A’s who are showing that last year’s formula — lots of homers and lots of people wondering why the A’s are so good — is still intact.

Astros 8, Mariners 3: Chris Carter and Rick Ankiel each hit two-run homers. It’s gonna be funny if Safeco Field, long one of the best pitchers’ parks in the game, suddenly becomes Coors Northwest. The Astros scored 24 runs on 37 hits in the past two games.

Dodgers 4, Padres 3: Homer for Carl Crawford. Who is hitting .464./.531/.714 in 32 plate appearances. Crawford returning to form or, at the very least, respectability, was one of the many not-at-all-certain-to-be-filled prerequisites for the Dodgers to go from being a great team on paper to a great team, so that’s good.

Yankees vs. Indians: POSTPONED: The rain falls hard on a humdrum town, this town has dragged you down. Oh, the rain falls hard on a humdrum town, this town has dragged you down.

Brewers vs. Cubs: POSTPONED: Bottle eyes, glassy blue, I watch the rain come out of you. Sky is white with the flu, I’m terrified of losing you. If I go to the sea, I’ll bring you down, down with me. If I go to the rain, you’ll never see me again. You’ve got cold girl fever.

Playoff Reset: The Cards and Dodgers have their backs against the wall

Clayton Kershaw

Historically speaking, the Cardinals and Dodgers are the class of the National League. A couple of organizations which have won a ton, have had a lot of classy alpha-types running their respective shows over the years, no shortage of glory, no shortage of history and enough evocative and grand footage in the can to make Ken Burns sepia with envy.

Meanwhile, the Cubs and Mets, while they’ve won some and have some wonderful history too, are far better known for their failures. For dubious achievements and fan bases which have, collectively, spent far more time smacking their own foreheads than high-fiving the guy in the seat next to them. Nevertheless, by the time we go to bed tonight it’s quite possible that the classy organizations with the long resumes of winning baseball will have been eliminated by the sad sacks and that we’re going to be treated to a Mets-Cubs NLCS.

In short: today’s NLDS contests are “the big game” sequences in any late-70s-mid-90s “slobs vs. snobs” comedy movie. Camp Mohawk vs. Camp Northstar. Lane Meyer vs. Roy Stalin skiing the K-12. Thornton Mellon vs. Chas in the diving meet. Once these things are over don’t be surprised to see someone on the Mets or Cubs kissing some girl way out of their league and to be asking yourself, “wait, why are there cheerleaders at a diving meet?”

Of course baseball isn’t as scripted as all of that and William Zabka is, according to IMDb, in pre-production on some Civil War project, so he can’t make it. I have no idea what that’s about. I can only assume he’s playing some stuck-up Confederate General who will lose to Curtis Armstrong’s disheveled Union general in The Big Battle, after which we cut to credits over some tossed-off Dave Edmunds song he wrote for the soundtrack just for the money.

Which is to say: we have to watch these games to see what happens:

The Game: St. Louis Cardinals vs. Chicago Cubs
The Time: 4:37 p.m. ET
The Place: Wrigley Field
The Channel: TBS
The Starters: John Lackey vs. Jason Hammel
The Upshot: Wow, those were a lot of dingers given up by Michael Wacha and his friends last night, huh? The god news is that they’re running Lackey out there this afternoon and Lackey has owned the Cubs of late, going 3-0 with a 0.93 ERA in four starts against them, including his gem in Game 1 on Friday night. The bad news: even a half dozen recent starts aren’t great predictively speaking, and Lackey is on short rest. TBS will show highlights of Lackey pitching on short rest in the 2002 World Series today, but think about what you were doing in 2002 and whether you’d be just as good at it today as then. Hammel has the ball for the Cubs. He has not fared well against the Cardinals this season (5.37 ERA) but the same small sample stuff applies.

Injuries could be a key consideration here, as Addison Russell may be on the shelf for the Cubs following his hamstring tweak in last night’s game. Likewise Yadier Molina left early, apparently having aggravated his thumb injury. Otherwise: wear a helmet if you’re in the Bleachers at Wrigley this afternoon. Balls may be flying out your way.

The Game: Los Angels Dodgers vs. New York Mets
The Time: 8:07 p.m. ET
The Place: Citi Field
The Channel: TBS
The Starters: Clayton Kershaw vs. Steven Matz
The Upshot: The Clayton Kershaw Legacy Game. It’s not fair to Kershaw that, after eight years of completely dominating Major League Baseball people will deem him worthy or unworthy of, well, whatever, based on his 10th postseason start, but they will. If he falters today on short rest, with no reliable bullpen to bail him out, people will call him some sort of choke artist. If he dominates he’ll be considered redeemed, though he’s never been a guy in need of redemption. I don’t care much for that game, but it’s inevitable it will be played so let’s just silently roll our eyes and go with it. The Mets may have a bigger question mark on the mound in Steven Matz, who hasn’t pitched in a couple of weeks thanks to a tweak in his back in the last week of the season.

This should feel like a totally different game. The Utley drama has to subside now, especially given that he’s unlikely to get the start against a tough lefty. And that tough lefty is, with all due respect, no Brett Anderson. You can bet against Clayton Kershaw and win, but it’s not the sort of thing I’d make a habit of.

In any event, the Cubs and Mets should play this on a loop in the Clubhouse before today’s games. Because . . . it just doesn’t matter!

Yoenis Cespedes and his bat flip say good morning

Yoenis Cespedes

It was a late night last night. Especially for old farts like me. I turned on my TV at 12:30 yesterday afternoon and there was baseball on it for just about 12 hours straight. Not too shabby unless you happen to root for the Astros, Rangers, Cardinals or Dodgers. Oh well, today is another day. Or tomorrow if today is a travel day.

In the meantime, we have Yoenis Cespedes to keep us happy, alert and occupied. Again, unless you’re a Dodgers fan. Of course, if you are a Dodgers fan you got absolutely no right to be upset at a bat flip following a homer. And if I catch you complaining, you’re getting a time out.

The Mets break out the whuppin’ sticks, rout the Dodgers 13-7

Cespedes d'Arnaud

So often in life the anticipation of something outpaces its reality. For Mets fans tonight, it was the exact opposite. They had a grand old time. The Mets broke out the lumber and overwhelmed the Dodgers 13-4 to take a 2-1 lead in NLDS.

So much of that anticipation was about revenge, really. Hitting Chase Utley if he was in the lineup, perhaps, or at the very least sending some sort of retaliatory message the Dodgers’ way in response to Utley breaking Ruben Tejada‘s leg on Saturday. But with Utley out of the lineup — and the notion that base runners matter a whole heck of a lot in a playoff game — Matt Harvey just set out to pitch, not plunk. And Mets hitters set out to beat the living heck out of Brett Anderson and a couple Dodgers relievers. Living well is the best revenge, and for a major league team, winning baseball games is living well.

It didn’t start out so well for Harvey, as Yasmani Grandal singled in two runs in the top of the second with a third run scoring on a Curtis Granderson error on the same play. It was 3-0 Dodgers early and Mets’ fans sphincters’ clenched. But only momentarily.

The Mets came right back in the bottom of the second with four runs with a Travis d'Arnaud single and a bases-loaded, bases-clearing double from Curtis Granderson. In the next inning d’Arnaud hit a two-run shot. In the fourth Daniel Murphy singled in a run and Yoenis Cespedes hit a three-run bomb to left to make it 10-3. The Dodgers got one back in the top of the seventh but New York scored three more of their own in the bottom half. It was never a ballgame after the third inning.

Brett Anderson was the author of the damage through three, Alex Wood gave up the four runs in the fourth and hung on in the fifth in what became mop-up duty. Harvey was done after five and took the win. He wasn’t necessarily sharp, but he did strike out seven and was good enough. Some late damage from the Dodgers, including a three-run homer in the ninth from Howie Kendrick, was too little, too late. Granderson and d’Arnaud did the damage for New York, driving in five and three runs, respectively.

Once the competitive portion of this game was over, the Mets’ crowd turned to more important matters. Chanting things like “We want Utley!” Don Mattingly didn’t give him to ’em, probably because there was no downside to smacking him after the game got out of hand. But no upside either. Because of that stuff about living well, remember?

Now it’s on Clayton Kershaw to save the Dodgers from elimination [looks at watch] tonight, technically. If he doesn’t, his detractors will write another page in their Big Book of Clayton Kershaw Playoff Failures. If he does, we get a Game 5 back in Los Angeles.

Maybe Chase Utley gets into one of those.