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.

The Cubs’ NLCS finish was one for the history books

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 22:  Chicago Cubs fans hold a sign after the Chicago Cubs defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-0 in game six of the National League Championship Series to advance to the World Series against the Cleveland Indians at Wrigley Field on October 22, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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The Cubs obliterated the Dodgers in Game 6 of the NLCS, riding nine shutout innings to their first pennant win since 1945. Here’s what you should know about their historic finish:

  • By virtue of the Cubs’ 71-year World Series drought, Jon Lester and Javier Baez became the club’s first and only postseason MVPs in franchise history. The World Series MVP award was first distributed in 1955, while the NLCS MVP awards have been issued since 1977.
  • Lester and Baez are also the first co-MVPs of the Championship Series since the 1990 Reds celebrated left-hander Randy Myers and right-hander Rob “Nasty Boy” Dibble following the team’s ninth pennant win (per MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch).
  • Anthony Rizzo’s fifth inning solo shot in Game 6 tied him with Miguel Cabrera, Alex Gonzalez, and Kyle Schwarber for the most postseason homers hit at Wrigley Field, with three (per Comcast SportsNet’s Christopher Kamka).
  • Rizzo and Willson Contreras’ home runs were the first Clayton Kershaw had given up in the playoffs since Game 4 of the 2015 NLDS. The twin blasts also accounted for a fifth of the total home runs Kershaw had given up in 2016.
  • Clayton Kershaw’s Game Score of 33 was not only the lowest the left-hander had put up since the start of the 2015 season, but the lowest the Cubs had seen from an opposing pitcher in the postseason since 1989. During Game 4 of the 1989 NLCS, Giants’ right-hander Scott Garrelts pitched 4 2/3 innings with eight hits, four runs, and two homers en route to a 6-4 loss and a 33 Game Score.
  • By contrast, Kyle Hendricks’ Game Score of 86 was the third-highest among Cubs’ postseason starters, ranking just below Jake Arrieta’s 11-strikeout complete game during the 2015 wild card tiebreaker and Orval Overall’s three-hitter in Game 5 of the 1908 World Series.
  • The last major league season to feature an ERA leader on the Cubs’ roster was 1945, also the last season in which the Cubs rode to the World Series. In 2016, the MLB ERA leader is Game 6 winner Kyle Hendricks (2.13 ERA); in ‘45, it was left-hander Ray Prim (2.40 ERA), who capped a dominant year with a loss against the Tigers in Game 4 of the World Series and blown save in Game 6.
  • Not to be overlooked in the lefty’s gem on Saturday night: Hendricks and Aroldis Chapman combined to face the minimum number of batters, at 27. According to MLB Stat of the Day, only the 1956 Yankees had also faced the minimum batters in a postseason game, though they did it with just a bit more panache.
  • With Kris Bryant, Willson Contreras, Albert Almora Jr., Javier Baez, and Addison Russell penciled into the lineup, the Cubs became the first MLB team to utilize five starters under 25 years old to clinch the NLCS (also via MLB Stat of the Day).
  • If you want to talk postseason drought, the Cubs-Indians World Series will set a precedent for combined championship-less streaks, at 174 years between the two clubs (per ESPN Stats & Info).
  • Speaking of unpleasant streaks, there’s this: with the Dodgers’ loss in the NLCS, they’ve now gone to the postseason four consecutive times without participating in a World Series showdown. According to ESPN’s Buster Olney, that’s a first in major league history.


The Cubs clinch World Series berth with NLCS Game 6 win

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 22:  The Chicago Cubs celebrate defeating the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-0 in game six of the National League Championship Series to advance to the World Series against the Cleveland Indians at Wrigley Field on October 22, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
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After 71 years, the Cubs are headed back to the Fall Classic.

The dominance with which Clayton Kershaw attacked the Cubs in Game 2 of the NLCS was nonexistent in Game 6 as the Dodgers’ ace loaded the bases to start the first inning and scattered five extra bases and five runs over five frames. By the time Dave Roberts pulled his starter in the sixth inning, Kershaw was sitting on a Game Score of 33, the lowest he’s mustered since the start of the 2015 season. Only one of his strikes came via curveball, and whether he was having difficulty locating his off-speed stuff or felt more confident with the fastball-slider combo, it was the fewest curves he’d seen land for strikes all year (per David Adler).

Where the Dodgers were able to give Kershaw the edge in Game 2, they found themselves powerless against opposing hurler Kyle Hendricks. Hendricks turned out 7 1/3 scoreless frames with two hits and six strikeouts, preserving the Cubs’ second shutout of the postseason and the first since they bested the Giants in Game 1 of the NLDS. After his 1-0 loss to the Dodgers early in the NLCS, seeing the MLB ERA leader turn out a gem was a relief for the Cubs, especially one as spectacular as an 88-pitch two-hitter.

With Hendricks effectively stymieing the Dodgers’ best attempts to get on base, the Cubs played to their strengths at the plate. Kris Bryant and Ben Zobrist cleared the bases in the first inning for a two-run lead, followed by a Dexter Fowler RBI single in the second. Willson Contreras came through in the fourth inning for the Cubs, lifting an 87 m.p.h. slider to left field for his first home run of October, while Anthony Rizzo hit his second homer of the postseason on a 1-1 fastball in the fifth.

Neither bullpen allowed a single run from the sixth inning onward. Dodgers’ right-hander Kenley Jansen took the ball from Kershaw in the sixth, scattering four strikeouts over three innings and denying the Cubs so much as a single baserunner through the end of the game. Aroldis Chapman, meanwhile, issued just one walk in 1 1/3 scoreless frames, inducing a Yasiel Puig double play to clinch the Cubs’ 17th franchise pennant.

With the win, the Cubs will face off against the Indians in Game 1 of the World Series on Tuesday at 8 PM EDT. And, in case you needed a reminder: