Bryce Harper

And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights


Nationals 9, Pirates 7: This could have been an awful, awful defeat, what with the Nats bullpen once again pooping all over itself. At least I’m assuming it would have been a defeat. The game was tied entering the bottom of the ninth. Thanks to Bryce Harper’s walkoff homer, however, we don’t know how extras would’ve gone had they been required. Though I’m guessing after the stretch the Nats have been on, Nats fans have a gut feeling.

Yankees 2, Rangers 0: Hiroki Kuroda does his part to blow some fresh air into the A-Rod-funkified Yankees Universe. Wait, the universe is mostly the vacuum of space, so there can be no air, clean or otherwise. Hurm. Anyway, Kuroda, Robertson and Rivera combine for a shutout.

Diamondbacks 3, Cubs 1: A homer and a double for Aaron Hill, who had been mired in a slump. He may still be mired in a slump, with this being but one brief shining moment amidst a long stretch of doom and despair. Wait: I think I just realized why baseball writers use selective end points so often. To not do so is rather depressing.

Mets 7, Braves 4: Zack Wheeler worked around trouble and John Buck drove in three for the series split. I did not realize this until I just read it: the Mets are 20-13 since they called up Wheeler.

White Sox 7, Tigers 4: Jake Peavy gutted out seven innings while Justin Verlander continued to look quite mortal, allowing 11 hits and striking out only four in six innings of work. This could’ve been Peavy’s last start with the White Sox as he is being heavily scouted and is subject to all kinds of trade rumors.

Padres 10, Brewers 8: Will Venable hit a couple of doubles and made a sweet catch in center. Yovani Gallardo didn’t do much to help the Brewers peddle him to a contender: six runs on eight hits while walking three in three and two thirds.

Blue Jays 4, Astros 0: Mark Buehrle with the two-hit shutout, snapping the Jays’ seven-game losing streak. He worked quickly, as usual, and was happy about that. Why? He said after the game that he had tickets to see Tim McGraw last night and really didn’t want to be late. Well then.

Marlins 5, Rockies 3: A four-run ninth for the Marlins. A three-run ninth for the Rockies. Advantage: Marlins because, well, that’s how math works.

Cardinals 3, Phillies 1: The Cardinals win their seventh of nine, thanks to Lance Lynn’s strong outing.

Royals 7, Orioles 1: This win closes out a 5-2 stretch against the Tigers and O’s. Not too shabby. They play their next 12 against sub-.500 clubs. They’re only seven back. I guess crazier things have happened. Can’t think of any at the moment, but still.

Angels 8, Athletics 3: Albert Pujols, Mike Trout and Mark Trumbo each drove in two runs. The Angels had 12 hits. Eleven of them were singles.

Reds 5, Dodgers 2: Mat Latos — owner of cat Cat Latos — ends the Dodgers winning streak.  Jay Bruce and Xavier Paul homered off Zack Greinke. The Reds won, but Shin-Soo Choo had two awful plays. He got deked by the shortstop on a hit-and-run and tried to retreat back to first only to get tagged out. He also fielded a single by Yasiel Puig, thought he’d try to peg him at first base when Puig made a big turn and threw the ball away for a two-base error. Well, oops.

Mariners 8, Twins 2: A six-run second inning for the M’s was pretty much all she wrote. Who’s “she,” anyway? She writes a lot. Maybe I should meet her. I’d like to know what makes her so prolific.

Rays vs. Red Sox: POSTPONED:  “And you’ll always love me won’t you? Yes. And the rain won’t make any difference? No.”

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:

Video: Willson Contreras blasts first postseason home run off of Kershaw

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 22:  Willson Contreras #40 of the Chicago Cubs celebrates after hitting a solo home run in the fourth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers during game six of the National League Championship Series at Wrigley Field on October 22, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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So much for Clayton Kershaw posing a threat tonight. The Cubs got their knocks in early and often against the Dodgers’ ace during Game 6 of the NLCS, racking up three runs in the first three innings before rookie catcher Willson Contreras unleashed his first postseason home run in the bottom of the fourth inning.

According to’s Phil Rogers, Contreras became the 10th Cub to homer in the 2016 playoffs, following big hits by Addison Russell, Anthony Rizzo, Dexter Fowler, Miguel Montero, David Ross, Jake Arrieta, Kris Bryant, Travis Wood, and Javier Baez. Of the ten home run hitters, Contreras joins catchers David Ross and Miguel Montero as yet another backstop capable of driving the long ball (and, less importantly, as another player capable of a sweet, sweet bat flip).

Rizzo, whose last homer was a deep drive to right field off of Los Angeles right-hander Pedro Baez in Game 4 of the NLCS, piled on Kershaw’s five-run outing with another home run in the bottom of the fifth inning. Kershaw called it a night after five frames, and the Cubs currently lead the Dodgers 5-0 in the sixth inning.