Kansas City Royals v New York Yankees

And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights


Yankees 8, Royals 4: Jeter returns. And got a hit! And an RBI! And scored a run! And left with a strained quadricep! Oy vey.

Braves 6, Reds 5: Freddie Freeman wins the Final Vote than goes out and has himself a nice night (3 for 4, 4 RBI). Bad news, though: Jason Heyward left with a strained hamstring.

Phillies 3, Nationals 1: And the Phillies take three of four from the Nats. This after winning series against the Braves and Pirates. Now they have the White Sox leading up to the break. It feels like they’re doing better. They’re not gaining much ground on Atlanta, however. They’ve been back eight or nine games at times this year, but 7.5 games back is basically where they’ve been hovering forever now. It’s hard to dig out of a hole.

Indians 4, Blues Jays 2: Rookie Danny Salazar was most impressive, pitching six innings while allowing only one run on two hits and striking out seven. He’s proof that you can ply your trade in Columbus, Ohio and then, one day, make it to the big time.

Rays 4, Twins 3: That’s eight straight for the streaking Rays. And the 13th win of the year for Matt Moore, who struck out ten in seven and a third innings. Luke Scott, who has been hot in his own right of late, hit a homer.

Cubs 3, Cardinals 0: The good Edwin Jackson showed up and tossed seven shutout innings. All three of the Cubs runs were batted in by Anthony Rizzo. Matt Holliday joined Jason Heyward in the left-the-game-early-because-of-a-hamstring club.

Diamondbacks 5, Brewers 3: Wade Miley gave the snakes what they needed: a long outing following a 14-inning game. He pitched eight and the Diamondbacks snapped their three-game skid.

White Sox 6, Tigers 3: There was some bench-clearing action after some purpose pitches but nothing too chippy went down. Josh Phegley hit a grand slam and Chris Sale finally broke his string of winless starts, getting the first real run support he’s had in a dog’s age.

Dodgers 6, Rockies 1: The Dodgers are now above .500 after Chris Capuano tossed six shutout innings and Mark Ellis drove in four. That’s 16 of 20 for the men in blue. Well, mostly white with a splash of blue. There’s a touch of red in there too. The men in blue are umpires, really. Although I think it’s way more black these days than blue. Man, it’s hard to keep track of such things.

Red Sox 8, Mariners 7: Seattle took a 5-1 lead but the Sox came back and eventually forced extras. This is not to be confused with Tuesday’s game in which they also found themselves down 5-1 and won.

Giants 4, Padres 2: Madison Bumgarner: stopper. For the third straight time he came out with the Giants on a four-game losing streak and won. I guess when your team is terrible overall it’s easier to be seen as a “stopper.” Pitch for the Cardinals or Red Sox or something and there isn’t all that much to stop.

Orioles 3, Rangers 1: Chris Davis hit his 34th homer and drove in his 86th run. His home run snapped an 0 for 17 slump. He went on to strike out twice after the homer, though.

Maybe Alcides Escobar shouldn’t bat leadoff

Alcides Escobar

Alcides Escobar finished with a .292 OBP this year. He came in at .246 in 117 at-bats in August and .257 in 109 at-bats between September and October, so he wasn’t exactly flying high entering the postseason. Still, that didn’t stop Ned Yost from putting him into the leadoff spot for Thursday’s Game 1 against the Astros.

Yost finally did reconsider hitting Escobar first in September. It took Alex Gordon‘s return to health, plus the previous addition of Ben Zobrist to the lineup, in order to make that happen. However, it didn’t stick. Escobar hit ninth in each of his starts from Sept. 7-26, batting .236 with a .276 OBP during that span. With five games left to go, he was suddenly returned to the leadoff spot. The Royals went on to win all five games. Yost saw it as a sign, even though Escobar went 5-for-22 with no walks in those games.

Escobar went 0-for-4 in Thursday’s loss to the Astros. He did not swing at the first pitch of the game, which probably explains the defeat.

It’s been difficult to argue with Yost since last year’s World Series run and this year’s incredible run out of the game. The blind spot with Escobar, though, gets rather infuriating. One can defend hitting him leadoff against the Astros’ lefties. His career OBP against southpaws is .319 (.316 this year). Against righties, he’s the most obvious No. 9 hitter alive, with a career .258/.290/.342 line (.252/.284/.314 this year). He’s not a pace-setter. He’s not a spark plug. He’s a liability.

Astros top Royals in Game 1 of ALDS

Houston Astros' Jose Altuve, left, celebrates with teammate Luis Valbuena after scoring a run during the first inning in Game 1 of baseball's American League Division Series against the Kansas City Royals, Thursday, Oct. 8, 2015, in Kansas City. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

After shutting out the Yankees in the AL Wild Card game on Tuesday, the Astros beat the Royals 5-2 in Game 1 of the ALDS on Thursday at Kauffman Stadium. Road teams are now 4-0 to begin the 2015 postseason.

The Astros grabbed an early 3-0 lead against Yordano Ventura through two innings. Chris Young took over for the Royals after a 47-minute rain delay and was very effective for the most part, allowing just a solo homer to George Springer over four innings while striking out seven batters. Colby Rasmus, who homered in the Wild Card game, took Ryan Madson deep in the eighth inning to give the Astros’ bullpen some extra breathing room.

Collin McHugh stayed in after the rain delay and ended up tossing six innings while allowing just four hits and one walk. Kendrys Morales did all the damage against him with a pair of solo homers. He’s the first Royals player to hit two home runs in a postseason game since George Brett in the 1985 ALCS.

The Royals’ offense showed some signs of life in the bottom of the eighth inning with back-to-back two-out hits against Will Harris, but Oliver Perez got Eric Hosmer to foul out to end the threat. Luke Gregerson tossed a scoreless ninth inning to finish off the victory.

Consistent with their identity during the regular season, the Astros won despite striking out 14 times. The same goes for the Royals, as they struck out just four times. Despite putting the ball into play more often, the Kansas City lineup wasn’t able to muster anything aside from the home runs by Morales.

Game 2 of the ALDS will begin Friday at 3:45 p.m. ET. Scott Kazmir will pitch for the Astros and Johnny Cueto will get the ball for the Royals.

George Springer homers to extend Astros’ lead over Royals

Houston Astros' George Springer (4) celebrates with teammates after scoring a run in the first inning in Game 1 of baseball's American League Division Series against the Kansas City Royals, Thursday, Oct. 8, 2015, in Kansas City. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
AP Photo/Charlie Riedel
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After Kendrys Morales brought the Royals within one run in the bottom of the fourth inning with his second solo home run of the game, George Springer took Chris Young deep in the top of the fifth to extend the Astros’ lead to 4-2 in Game 1 of the ALDS.

According to Statcast, the ball traveled an estimated 422 feet and left Springer’s bat at 109 mph. Royals fans are happy it was just a solo home run. It could have been worse, as Jose Altuve singled to lead off the fifth inning before being thrown out trying to steal second base during Springer’s at-bat.

The Royals will try to answer as we move to the bottom of the fifth inning at Kauffman Stadium.