Russell Martin

And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights


Pirates 9, Cardinals 0: Two homers for Russell Martin and a strong start from Jeff Locke. The Pirates — the Pittsburgh Pirates — are in first place in the National League Central. This goes with the Royals being in first place in the AL Central. I predicted each of these teams would be better this year. Maybe even surprisingly good compared to usual expectations. But I figured that meant the Pirates finishing a smidge above .500 and the Royals making third place. Second if absolutely everything went right maybe. That may be where each of them end up, but for now they gotta be enjoying the ride.  This was the Pirates’ 15th win. They last won 15 in the month of April in 1992.

Marlins 6, Cubs 4: Giancarlo Stanton hadn’t hit a homer all year until Saturday, then he launched two homers yesterday. He was just giving everyone a head start I guess.

Yankees 3, Blue Jays 2: For years Blue Jays fans — and often Blue Jays employees — whined how it was so darn hard for them to break through in the AL East given the expensive star power the Yankees were able to assemble. Yesterday the star-laden Blue Jays got swept behind homers from Brennan Boesch and Lyle Overbay. What’s the excuse now?

Reds 5, Nationals 2: Once my daughter found some random baseball trivia/facts website for kids and learned about the drop-the-third-strike rule which enables a struck out batter to go to first base. She thought this was quite rare and esoteric and asked me how a pitcher could strike out four batters in one inning, thinking she’d stump me. I gave her a bunch of dumb answers like “the batter distracts the umpire” or “the umpire is cheating” or “gamblers fixed the game.” I pretended to be all exasperated with her and INSISTED that there can’t POSSIBLY be a way for a pitcher to strike out four batters in an inning because EVERYONE knows that there are only three outs in an inning and a strikeout is an out. Later I admitted that I knew the rule and that I was just having fun with her. To this day she thinks I was lying and that I really didn’t know the rule and she’s the one who taught me. Guess I’ll let her have that one. Anyway, Tony Cingrani struck out 11, including four in one inning. Because he was cheating, I assume.

Red Sox 6, Astros 1: John Lackey had one more tuneup against minor leaguers yesterday. Looks like he’ll be set for his return from the disabled list Thursday versus the Twins. He’s really gotta be looking forward to that.

Phillies 5, Mets 1: Carlos Ruiz came back, Ryan Howard — who has driven in ten runs in his past five games — came off the bench to deliver an RBI double and Cole Hamels got his first win of the season as the Phillies sweep the Mets. Hamels walked six dudes and the Mets didn’t really make him pay for it. Man.

Rays 8, White Sox 3: David Price finally gets his first win of the year. And got into a big bunch of controversy with umpire Tom Hallion, too. I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that, even if Hallion was 100% in the wrong here, MLB will do nothing to him publicly because, as history has shown us, umps can pretty much get away with murder. In other news, White Sox hitters struck out 12 times in all and Alex Rios allowed two runs to score when a catchable ball doinked off his mitt. Not a great day on the south side.

Dodgers 2, Brewers 0: Clayton Kershaw is a ridiculously good pitcher (8 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 12K). Carl Crawford joins Russell Martin and Giancarlo Stanton in the two homers on Sunday club.

Padres 6, Giants 4: The reigning world champs are swept by San Diego. It’s the first time the Pads did that in about three years. Chase Headley had three hits including a dinger.

Twins 5, Rangers 0: Kevin Correia shut out the Rangers for eight innings. Just junked ’em to death. It’s the first time Texas has lost two games in a row all year.

Royals 9, Indians 0; Indians 10 Royals 3: According to the AP gamer, this was the first day-night doubleheader in the history of Kauffman Stadium. That’s pretty surprising. Anyway, without looking at the box score for the first game, I’m gonna assume that it was a forfeit. [looks]. OK, wasn’t a forfeit. But I do love how forfeits go in the books as a 9-0 win. I’m sure someone like Neyer or Mark Armour or Bill James or whoever knows why that is, but I don’t. Jeremy Guthrie got the win. He hasn’t had a loss in 16 starts. That’s something.  In the nightcap Mike Aviles had five RBI.  Good for him.

Diamondbacks 4, Rockies 2: The loss of the game was bad, but the loss of Troy Tulowitzki to a strained shoulder was worse for the Rockies. The Dbacks take three of four and have won five of six overall.

Athletics 9, Orioles 8: Yoenis Cespedes gets activated and then hits a two-run homer to tie it in the ninth inning. In the tenth, Manny Machado — who had four hits on the day, by the way — threw the ball away on a sacrifice attempt, allowing the winning run to score. Welp.

Mariners 2, Angels 1: Jason Bay and Michael Morse homer. And the Angels keep pace with the Blue Jays in the Most Disappointing Team in All of Baseball race.

Tigers 8, Braves 3: What a blah of a series for the Braves. Wait — I think they just struck out again. And … again. God.


Playoff Reset: The AL Wild Card Game

Wild Card

Each day throughout the playoffs we’re going to be doing what we’ll call a reset. Not always a preview, not always a recap, but a generalized summary of where we stand at the moment and what we have to look forward tonight.

Today, of course, is Day One of the playoffs so we can really only look ahead, so let’s look ahead to what’s on tap in tonight’s one and only game.

The Game: Houston Astros vs. New York Yankees, American League Wild Card Game
The Time: 8:08 PM Eastern. Or thereabouts.
The Place: Yankee Stadium, New York
The Channel: ESPN
The Starters: Dallas Keuchel vs. Masahrio Tanaka

The Upshot:

  • Dallas Keuchel is the Astros’ ace and may very well win the Cy Young Award, but he’s (a) pitching on three-days’ rest; and (b) not in Minute Maid Park, where he is clearly superior compared to how he does on the road. At the same time, (a) the Yankees haven’t figured him out this year, going scoreless against him in 16 innings and striking out 21 times, including a poor performance against him in the Bronx a month or so ago; and (b) lefty sinkerballer types are basically the platonic ideal of a pitcher you want to throw against the Yankees to drive them crazy. While, historically, pitchers going on short rest in the playoffs fare poorly — in the past 20 years they are 18-37 — sinkerballers and extreme groundball pitchers fare much better than most. It ain’t a perfect setup for him, but you gotta like Keuchel here.
  • Meanwhile, Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka has made one career start vs. the Astros: this year, back on June 27. He got beat up, allowing six runs in five innings, receiving no decision. Those disclaimers about past performance not being indicative of future results you see in financial services commercials should apply to this and all other past matchup stats you see in the postseason, however. One random start here or there — or two in Keuchel’s case — doesn’t tell us a ton. This is baseball and tomorrow is always another day. At least if you don’t lose the Wild Card Game. More of a concern for Tanaka: rust. He has pitched only once since tweaking his hamstring against the Mets on September 18 and it wasn’t a good outing. At least he’s rested?
  • Both teams are dependent on the longball but both teams have struggled at times on offense down the stretch, with the Yankees’ bats being particular quiet in the season’s last month or so. Someone needs to wake up A-Rod. And Jacoby Ellsbury, Brett Gardner, Chase Headley and Brian McCann for that matter too. Of course, all of that firepower may not matter. The playoffs often see offenses go quiet and pitching come to the fore. Both teams have decent bullpens — the Yankees’ far, far more than decent — and given Tanaka’s rust and Keuchel’s short rest, this one is very likely to come down to multiple innings of hard-throwing relief. That favors the Yankees if they can keep it close.
  • Both teams are basically stumbling into the postseason, with the Yankees having lost six of their last seven games. They’re also under .500 since the end of July. The Astros swooned themselves in the second half, going 11-16 in September before rebounding in the season’s last week. Good thing momentum generally isn’t a thing in the playoffs — remember those 2000 Yankees losing 15 of 18 before the playoffs started and then won the World Series! — because neither team here has much of it.

This is the Astros’ first playoff game in a decade. While the Yankees haven’t been in the postseason since 2012, there is a lo tof playoff experience here, making this an interesting study in contrasts from a storyline perspective. At least if you’re into storylines. Personally I’m not. I’m more into baseball games and in this baseball game, I think Keuchel is a tough draw for the Yankees, even on short rest, and that for New York to advance they’re gonna have to be a team they haven’t been for weeks and maybe months: one that lays off junk down low and hits the ball hard.


Mike Scioscia will return as Angels manager in 2016

ANAHEIM, CA - JULY 21:  Manager Mike Scioscia #14 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in the dugout during batting practice before a game against the Minnesota Twins at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on July 21, 2015 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Jonathan Moore/Getty Images)
Photo by Jonathan Moore/Getty Images

It was assumed already, but Mike Scioscia made it official during Monday’s press conference for new general manager Billy Eppler that he will return as Angels manager in 2016.

Scioscia, the longest-tenured manager in the majors, has been at the helm with the Angels since 2000. There was a clause in his contract which allowed him to opt out after the 2015 season, but he has decided to stay put. He still has three years and $15 million on his contract, which runs through 2018.

Jerry Dipoto resigned as Angels general manager in July amid tension with Scioscia, so there were naturally questions today about what to expect with first-time GM Eppler in the fold. According to David Adler of, Scioscia isn’t concerned.

“I think we’re going to mesh very well,” Scioscia said. “If we adjust, or maybe he adjusts to some of the things, there’s going to be collaboration that’s going to make us better.”

Eppler is the fourth general manager during Scioscia’s tenure with the team.

After winning the AL West last season, the Angels finished 85-77 this season and narrowly missed the playoffs. The team hasn’t won a postseason game since 2009.