And That Happened: Tuesday’s scores and highlights

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The losing team scored two runs in eight of last night’s fifteen games. I have no idea if that’s uncommon or not, but I noticed it and I’m going to pretend it’s a sign or portent or something. Anyway:

Pirates 8, Giants 2: Welcome to the big leagues Gerrit Cole. The 2011 number one pick pitched shutout ball into the seventh before running out of gas, allowed two runs total, got the win and drove in the first two runs of the game with an RBI single.

Dodgers 5, Diamondbacks 3: Any time you have a fight where some of the most active participants include multiple former MVPs and a couple of guys with arguments for one, well, that’s something. Hats off to you, Don Mattingly, Kirk Gibson, Alan Trammell, Mark McGwire, Matt Williams, and Don Baylor! Show ’em how we do it, 80s-style!

Mariners 4, Astros 0: Aaron Harang got shellacked his last time out. This time? He tossed a two-hit, ten strikeout shutout in a game that lasted only two hours and fifteen minutes. He may be one of the more hard-to-predict pitchers of the past decade or so. Just never know what you’re gonna get with him.

Orioles 3, Angels 2: Miguel Gonzalez was sharp, allowing one run over eight innings. Nick Markakis delivered the go-ahead runs on a two-run single in the seventh.

Cardinals 9, Mets 2: Five unearned runs for the Cardinals, helped in part by a Daniel Murphy error at first base. Miss Ike yet? OK, maybe not. Allen Craig with a three-run homer. Michael Wacha got his first win and helped his own cause with an RBI.

Rays 8, Red Sox 3: Two homers for Desmond Jennings as the Rays rough up Jon Lester for seven runs in four and two-thirds. He hasn’t won since May 15.

Marlins 5, Brewers 4: Giancarlo Stanton returns and hits a two-run homer that put the Marlins in front for good. The Miami fans weren’t all that impressed with the return of their team’s best player, however: a paltry 13,110 bought tickets, the Marlins’ lowest attendance total of the year.

Indians 5, Rangers 2: The Indians snap their eight-game losing streak — and a 12-game road losing streak — behind Corey Kluber’s one-run performance over eight innings. Texas fans weren’t totally unhappy, though, as it was Yu Darvish bobblehead night. And that’s what it’s all about, yes?

Reds 12, Cubs 2: Four homers for the Reds as they continue their dominance of the Cubs. Four driven in for Zack Cozart.

Blue Jays 7, White Sox 5: Chien-Ming Wang makes his 2013 debut. It wasn’t pretty — five runs and ten hits allowed in seven and a third innings — but he kept his team in the game. The winning run scored on a Ramon Troncoso wild pitch. In other news there was a fog delay at U.S. Cellular on Monday and a lighting malfunction delay on Tuesday.

Rockies 8, Nationals 3: Tyler Colvin homered twice and drove in four runs in his first game since being recalled from the minors. Carlos Gonzalez hit a tiebreaking three-run homer. Remember when Dan Haren was good?

Tigers 3, Royals 2: Max Scherzer improves to 9-0 and shows that he doesn’t need crazy run support to win games. The Royals win streak ends.

Twins 3, Phillies 2: A three-hit night and the go-ahead RBI for Justin Morneau. The Phillies have dropped four in a row.

Padres 3, Braves 2: Andrew Cashner allowed only two runs in eight innings — his longest career outing — and the Padres scored single runs in the first, second and third, which is all they needed.

Athletics 6, Yankees 4: A late rally by the Yankees fell short as Seth Smith made a nice catch on what looked like it could have been a game-tying homer by Travis Hafner in the ninth. Derek Norris homered and drove in four runs, Bartolo Colon continued to be as solid as a rock and the A’s won their eighth game in their last 11. They have the franchise’s best record at this point of the season since 1992.

A.J. Hinch: “We’ll use every pitcher in Game 7 if we have to”

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It’s not entirely clear why the Astros threw Ken Giles into the ninth inning of Game 6 of the ALCS. With a six-run advantage and the bottom half of the Yankees’ lineup due up, pushing the series to its seven-game capacity looked like a sure bet. Giles may be one of Houston’s better bullpen arms, but he’s not their only option, and it would have made more sense to keep him fresh for a do-or-die Game 7 on Saturday night.

Of course, there’s no such thing as a sure bet when it comes to postseason baseball. That’s more or less what Astros’ manager A.J. Hinch had to say after the game, telling reporters that he had envisioned a quick three outs from his closer as they tried to pull back from the brink of elimination. “We didn’t have the luxury of limping into that inning,” Hinch said. “We’ve seen how these guys can explode in these innings.”

It’s not difficult to recall the Yankees’ explosive drive in the eighth inning of Game 4, when they exploited the holes in Houston’s ‘pen and evened the series with Gary Sanchez‘s go-ahead double off of Giles. Back home in Minute Maid Park, however, there was a slightly different feel to the eighth and ninth innings of Game 6. Jose Altuve led off the eighth with a solo home run, followed by Alex Bregman‘s two-run double and Evan Gattis‘ sac fly. In the ninth, Giles labored through a 23-pitch outing to lock down the win, handing out a base hit and a seven-pitch walk before eventually whiffing Chase Headley on three straight pitches for the last out.

So, while Hinch’s decision to lean on Giles in Game 6 may have felt wasteful, his concerns were not entirely unfounded. He’s prepared to roll with the same strategy during Saturday’s series finale, too, leaving nothing on the table as the Astros battle for their first World Series showdown since 2005. According to Dallas Keuchel, that means all hands on deck — except for Justin Verlander, whose four wins, 24 strikeouts and 1.46 postseason ERA have gotten the Astros as far as he could possibly be expected to take them. “No pitcher is going to be in the dugout,” said Keuchel. “They’re all going to be in the bullpen, myself included. Any way we can help out, we’re trying to get to the World Series, the same way the Yankees are, and that’s a nice feeling to have.”

Does that mean Giles will be available for a Game 7 appearance? Stranger things have happened. Joe Sheehan notes that the right-hander has pitched in back-to-back days 13 times this year, though he’s never thrown as many as 23 pitches on Day 1. Granted, he likely doesn’t have enough left in the tank for another 20+ pitch run on Saturday, but with the World Series on the line, any help he can offer will be invaluable.