And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights

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I went to Detroit over the weekend where I took in Saturday and Sunday’s Tigers-White Sox games. Such a wonderful time. Cool temperatures, no humidity, good company, good pitching, good food, good beer. It’s really all you could want.

As I watched these games and hung around a city that, no matter what else you can say about it, is a lot of fun and loves baseball, I occasionally checked in on Twitter and baseball blogs to see what sort of news was happening. Observed: the closer you are to real baseball and the more fun you’re having while watching it, the less any of that Alex Rodriguez and Biogenesis stuff matters. Even in Detroit, fans were 100% able to (a) talk about that news as intelligent baseball fans might; while (b) cheering for Jhonny Peralta like mad. It’s not either/or. That stuff doesn’t cast a shadow on the team or the season or anything. It’s just something happening.

Baseball is also happening. And it totally trumps that noise. Don’t let anyone wringing their hands over the Biogenesis stuff today and on for the next few weeks tell you differently. Anyway: this happened too:

Tigers 3, White Sox 2: Jim Leyland had the junior varsity in the lineup to start things — Andy Dirks and Don Kelly batting two and three — but once it got to the 12th inning Leyland had Miguel Cabrera (pinch hit single) and Torii Hunter (pinch hit to enter the game in the tenth and a game-winning single in his second at bat) bail the kids out. The White Sox ended their road trip 0-7 and they’ve lost ten in a row overall. Which, eww.

Blue Jays 6, Angels 5: Two in the eighth and two in the ninth help Toronto come back and avoid a sweep. The AP game story lead off by saying “The Toronto Blue Jays avoided a four-game sweep the hard way.” I agree that coming back late is a hard way, but there are harder ways to do it. For example, winning by forfeit when your manager realizes that the other team’s starting pitcher is actually one kid riding on another kid’s shoulders wearing an overcoat, thereby revealing that the other team has violated roster rules is extraordinarily difficult to pull off. La Russa did that once. No one else.

Dodgers 1, Cubs 0: You on point Fife? All the time, Tip. You on point Fife? All the time, Tip. You on point Fife? All the time, Tip. Well then grab the horsehide and let your pitch rip (Stephen Fife: 5.1 IP, 0 ER, 7 H, 2 BB, 5K, weighs a buck 150, 36 waist). Also, WTF is up with the caption on this photo?

Cardinals 15, Reds 2: Well, the Cardinals offense seems to be doing better. They scored 13, 13 and 15 runs in three of their last four games, respectively. Now, after a tough road trip that took them through Atlanta, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati, they have one more tough assignment: the Dodgers at home.

Red Sox 4, Diamondbacks 0: Felix Doubront continues his remarkable consistency, shutting out the Dbacks for seven innings and making his 15th straight start in which he has given up three runs or fewer.

Royals 6, Mets 2: The Royals had a three-run fifth inning in which Marlon Byrd misplayed not one but two balls due to the sun. After the game Byrd said “I need to get better with sun balls.”  I wish the reporter he was talking to shot back with “A man can no more diminish God’s glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word, ‘darkness’ on the walls of his cell. — C. S. Lewis,” but I suppose that’s too much to ask of our decrepit educational system.

Mariners 3, Orioles 2:  Henry Blanco hit a two-run homer in the seventh to help the M’s to a win. Also: Henry Blanco is still alive and is playing baseball and everything. Kids: forget trying to perfect a curve ball. Forget trying to be a shortstop. Learn how to be a backup catcher and you’ll never be unemployed in your life.

Indians 2, Marlins 0: Scott Kazmir and three relievers combine for a shutout. It was the Indians’ major league-best 15th shutout this season. It was Cleveland’s 10th win in 11 games. Now they have four big ones against Detroit, trailing them by three games.

Rays 4, Giants 3: Wil Myers homered and the Rays’ bullpen tossed four and a third scoreless innings after Fauxsto Carmona struggled.

Pirates 5, Rockies 1: A.J. Burnett went the distance and struck out nine. Russell Martin hit a three-run homer. Some Yankees fan somewhere is trying to craft some argument about how what they’re doing matters less because they’re on the Pirates.

Twins 3, Astros 2: Twins sweep the Astros.  It was their first sweep and is their first three-game winning streak in over a month.

Brewers 8, Nationals 5: Down 4-1 in the sixth the Brewers put up a five-spot.  Jeff Bianchi’s bloop single over a drawn-in infield put Milwaukee ahead. He also had a squeeze bunt in the game. It was definitely a nice day for backup catchers.

Rangers 4, Athletics 0: Derek Holland tossed eight shutout innings with ten strikeouts. Ron Washington became the Rangers’ winningest manager of all time with this win. Which, honestly, I figured had happened a year or two ago, but I guess Johnny Oates was there longer than I realized. UPDATE: Or make that Bobby Valentine. Whatever.

Padres 6, Yankees 3: Yankees third basemen went 1 for 5. The lede for all game stories tomorrow should be “Thank God A-Rod is back!” But I figure they won’t be.

Braves 4, Phillies 1: Ten straight for the Bravos. Chris Johnson with a couple of RBI. Dude is batting .346. Not bad for a throw-in in the Justin Upton deal.

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.