Groundhog Day

And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights


Pirates 1, Tigers 0: Jim Leyland was in the Virgin Islands once. He met a girl. they ate lobster, drank piña coladas. At sunset, they made love like sea otters. That was a pretty good day. Why couldn’t he get that day over, and over, and over? Or, well, at least two out of three days. It’d be way better than 11-inning 1-0 losses constantly repeating.

Mets 3, Yankees 1: The Mets sweep the Yankees for the first time in Subway Series history. Dillon Gee struck out 12. The big question going forward: does this say more about the Mets or more about the Yankees?

Braves 11, Blue Jays 3: Ramiro Pena: run producer. Four RBI as he fills in for Dan Uggla. Jordan Schafer drove in two filling in for B.J. Upton. Evan Gattis went 3 for 4 and scored three times filling in for Jason Heyward. Team depth is something of a new concept for the Braves, but if the starters are going to continue to suck eggs, it’s a nice thing to have.

Red Sox 9, Phillies 2: Jacoby Ellsbury had three hits and stole five bases — five! — off Erik Kratz and various Phillies pitchers. The team actually gave him a base after the game to honor the achievement. This came after a narrow team vote in favor of doing that rather than giving him Kratz’s head on a platter.

Giants 5, Athletics 2:  The Giants salvage one as Barry Zito got his first win in six starts. The Giants are now 7-0 when he pitches at AT&T Park and have won 13 of his home starts overall. Jon Heyman thinks it’s a shame that they can’t play all of their games there.

Indians 7, Reds 1: Clutch-sanity! Six straight two-out hits for the Indians gave them a seven-run fourth inning and, effectively, the ballgame. The Ohio teams split the series home and home. The Reds have dropped nine straight in Cleveland.

Mariners 7, Padres 1: Nick Franklin hit two homers, which were number one and number two of his career. Three other Mariners went deep, giving a demonstration of how differently Petco Park plays during the day. Felix Hernandez allowed only one run over eight innings.

Orioles 2, Nationals 0: Freddy Garcia tossed eight innings of three-hit, shutout ball on a hot and muggy day. Manny Machado had an RBI double. He’s got 25 freakin’ doubles already and is on pace for 75. He’s 20. Imagine this beast playing plus-defense at shortstop and hitting those doubles a tad higher and farther as he fills out.

Cubs 8, White Sox 3: Odd players achieving strange home run feats is the new inefficiency. On Wednesday a backup catcher hit three homers. Yesterday a pitcher — Travis Wood — hit a grand slam. Cubs pitchers have driven in 19 RBI in the month of May.

Rangers 9, Diamondbacks 5: Justin Grimm continues to roll along, giving up two earned runs in six innings. Brandon McCarthy had allowed only one run in 24 innings entering this one but the Rangers beat him up for six runs on nine hits in two and two-thirds.

Astros 7, Rockies 5: The game story said the Astros swept the Rockies “in this two-game series.” I thought of this week as teams having four-game series against one another, just split over two parks. The fact that the Mets were described as sweeping the Yankees and the Giants win yesterday was described as them “salvaging one” I figured everyone else was on board with this too. Oh well.

Royals 4, Cardinals 2: Kansas City rallies for three runs in the ninth to come from behind, snapping an eight-game losing streak. I presume this is all George Brett’s doing. The Royals got only four hits all game, but he told them to bunch ’em up in the ninth. There was a nearly five hour rain delay before during the ninth inning, so I’m sure that’s when he told them to get some hits. Hitting coaches are funny that way. For St. Louis: Michael Wacha had a stellar debut, allowing one run on two hits in seven innings.

Angels 3, Dodgers 2: A split in the Freeway Series. I know that Hardees/Carl’s Jr. and Edy’s/Dreyer’s ice cream use different names on each side of the Mississippi. Where is the “freeway-expressway” split? I feel like it’s much farther west than that. Anyone?

Twins 8, Brewers 6: Joe Mauer, Chris Parmelee, Brian Dozier and Ryan Doumit all hit homers on a night when the wind was blowing out.  Six straight losses for Milwaukee.

Rays 5, Marlins 2: The other day when I compared the Marlins and the 1962 Mets — the Mets had a better record through this point of the season than the Marlins do — I noted that there was room to make it up as the Mets had multiple extended losing streaks in front of them. The longest one I saw, however, was 11. The Marlins are now up to nine. I like the way they’re trying to get on top of this thing and salt the worst record in the history of baseball away early. That’s the kind of drive and gumption that team they had last year with all of its overpriced stars never would have shown.

There’s no one to blame in Yankees’ loss

Joe Girardi

You’re going to boo All-Star Brett Gardner for striking out against a Cy Young contender?

You’re going to bash Alex Rodriguez for going hitless in another postseason game, three years after his last one?

Maybe you’d prefer to put it all on Masahiro Tanaka for giving up two solo homers to a lineup full of 20-homer guys?

The truth is that the Yankees were supposed to lose tonight. They were facing an outstanding left-hander with their forever-lefty-heavy lineup, and they simply didn’t have anyone pitching like an ace to set themselves up nicely for a one-game, winner-take-all showdown. The 3-0 result… well, that’s how this was supposed to go down.

It didn’t necessarily mean it would; what fun would it be if the better team always won? And the Astros might not even be a better team than the Yankees. However, the Astros with Dallas Keuchel on the mound were certainly a better team than the Yankees with whoever they picked to throw.

I just don’t see where it’s worth putting any blame tonight. Joe Girardi? He could have started John Ryan Murphy over Brian McCann against the tough lefty, but he wasn’t willing to risk Tanaka losing his comfort zone by using a backup catcher.

The front office could have added more talent, perhaps outbidding the Blue Jays for David Price or the Royals for Johnny Cueto, and set themselves up better for the postseason. However, that would have cost them Luis Severino and/or Greg Bird, both of whom went on to play key roles as the Yankees secured the wild card. Would it really have been worth it? I don’t think so.

Tanaka gave the Yankees what they should have expected. Had Keuchel’s stuff been a little off on short rest, Tanaka’s performance would have kept the Yankees in the game.

Keuchel, though, was on his game from the first pitch. The Astros bullpen might have been a bit more vulnerable, and late at-bats from Gardner, Carlos Beltran, Rodriguez and McCann definitely left something to be desired. Still, on the whole, the lack of offense was quite a team effort.

The Yankees got beat by a better team tonight.  I’m not sure the Astros would have been better in Games 2-7 in a longer series, but they had everything in their favor in this one.

Keuchel, Astros cruise past Yankees in AL Wild Card Game

AP Photo/Kathy Willens

Dallas Keuchel faced the Yankees two times during the regular season and was fantastic in each outing, striking out 12 in a complete-game shutout on June 25 and whiffing nine batters over seven scoreless frames on August 25.

The 2015 Cy  Young Award candidate continued that trend in Tuesday night’s American League Wild Card Game, limiting the Yankees to three hits and one walk over six innings of scoreless ball as the Astros earned a 3-0 win and advanced to a best-of-five ALDS with the top-seeded Royals.

Keuchel was working on three days of rest but didn’t show very many signs of fatigue, whiffing seven and needing only 87 pitches to get through six. He sure looked like he could have gone an inning longer, but Astros manager A.J. Hinch decided to turn the game over to his bullpen and they added three more big zeroes to the scoreboard at a very loud then very boo-heavy Yankee Stadium. Tony Sipp worked around some early jitters to throw a scoreless seventh, Will Harris kept the Yankees off the bases entirely in a scoreless eighth, and closer Luke Gregerson went 1-2-3 in the bottom of the ninth.

Impending free agent outfielder Colby Rasmus provided the first burst of offense for the Astros in the top of the second inning with a leadoff homer against Masahiro Tanaka. And then deadline acquisition Carlos Gomez, who missed a bunch of time down the stretch with an intercostal strain, got to Tanaka for another solo shot in the top of the fourth. Houston scored its third run on a Jose Altuve RBI single in the top of the seventh.

This is a young, talented Astros team with an ace at the head of its rotation.

Kansas City could have a problem.