Bochy replay

And That Happened: Tuesday’s scores and highlights


Diamondbacks 5, Giants 4: Welp, Day 2 of instant replay and everything that many of us said could go wrong with a challenge-based system went wrong:

(a) A critical call was blown;
(b) the call could not be reviewed because the manager was out of challenges;
(c) the wholly arbitrary rule that umpires can’t initiate reviews before the seventh inning was in effect;
(d) the blown-but-unreviewable call constituted the game’s margin of victory; and
(e) all of that led to extended delays.

As for the facts: the entire description of what went wrong and why can be read here.

As for the opinion: Why a totally defensible, but ultimately unsuccessful challenge on one play deprives a manager of a challenge on a wholly unrelated play is utterly beyond me. Why umpires — or anyone — can’t initiate review of plays that are clearly botched before the seventh inning is likewise beyond me. Why Bruce Bochy and the Giants have to bear the burden of fixing the umpire’s mistakes — and do so in a manner that requires game show-like calculation and management of scarce, gimmicky resources — is so far beyond me that I’d get jet lag if I had to go visit it. Baseball sold the challenge system on its “uniqueness and charm.” This was certainly unique, but not at all charming.

I’m sure, to the extent there are any official responses to the events of this game, they will reference the fact that, as recently as last season, the same outcome would have occurred here but, unlike last year at least there was a chance for the run-scoring call here to be reviewed (that chance being had Bruce Bochy not burned his challenge). Don’t accept that answer. Baseball had carte blanche and the support of everyone to institute a system that got calls right. They chose, however, to go with a system that, by definition, does not have getting calls right as its sole objective. A system which managers do not care for and which its former head of umpiring said “would lead to unbelievable confusion and would miss the point of instituting replay.”

Well, mission accomplished.

Rangers 3, Phillies 2: Adrian Beltre singled home Shin-Soo Choo in walkoff fashion. Before that there was replay stuff here too, but it was the other side of the coin from the Giants-Dbacks game. Ron Washington came out on to the field following a play at third on a sac bunt but ultimately didn’t challenge the call that the Phillies runner was safe. A few minutes later Washington successfully challenged a pickoff play which eliminated a runner at second who would have scored on a subsequent hit. Of course, anyone who lauds this as an example of the system working and cites it as a counter-example to what happened in the Giants-Dbacks game needs to explain to me how justice would’ve been served had Washington used his challenge on the sac bunt. And they should also note that even though only one replay was used here, the game was delayed both times anyway because we’re letting managers walk out on to the field to chat while everyone ponders whether a challenge should be issued.

Dodgers 3, Padres 2: Yasiel Puig disrespectfully hit a baseball off of the Western Metal Supply Building in left field for a two-run homer. Just pathetic, really. That building was declared a historic landmark in 1978, and this arrogant, hot-blooded young punk decides that attempting to damage it with projectiles is a good thing to do. Someone needs to sit him down and teach him how things work in Major League Baseball.

Astros 6, Yankees 2: There was a certain segment of Yankees fans who spent the past few days on Twitter lamenting that baseball’s marquee franchise — with its retiring demi-God shortstop — deserved better than to start the season on what was, in effect, baseball’s fourth “Opening Day,” on the road, in a night game and against baseball’s worst franchise. Keep opening like this and you’re gonna get this kind of quaternary billing on the regs.

Braves 5, Brewers 2: Freddie Freeman hit two homers and Jason Heyward hit a two-run shot of his own. Alex Wood continued his excellent spring training pitching into the regular season, allowing one run on five hits in seven innings. The Brewers had taken eight of the previous ten games against the Braves, six of which were won by shutout. Atlanta scoring five off of them is like some kind of miracle.

Editor’s Note: Hardball Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $40,000 Fantasy Baseball league for Wednesday’s evening MLB games. It’s $25 to join and first prize is $6,000. Starts at 7:05pm ET on WednesdayHere’s the FanDuel link.

Marlins 4, Rockies 3: Nate Eovaldi allowed two runs and struck out six. The Marlins even scored a couple runs for him after he left a tie game to hand him the win. And while four runs may not seem like a great luxury, they are for Eovaldi. He’s had the worst run support in baseball over the past couple of years.

Blue Jays 4, Rays 2:  Drew Hutchison pitched his first game since June of 2012 and got the win. Adam Lind’s three-run homer would be all the runs he’d need. Fun times: with Jose Reyes out, Melky Cabrera was the Jays’ leadoff hitter. He went 2 for 5 and scored a run.

Mariners 8, Angels 3: Brad Miller hit two homers and Justin Smoak hit a bases-clearing double after Mike Scioscia decided to intentionally walk Robinson Cano to get to him. If Smoak can keep taking advantage of other teams’ understandable reluctance to pitch to Cano with men on base, the Mariners may actually have something here.

Indians vs. Athletics: POSTPONED: Though he is unaware of it, Indians catcher Yan Gomes is a Quasi Supernormal Incremental Precipitation Inducer. In laymen’s terms: a Rain God. The clouds want to be near him, to love him, to cherish him and to water him. This could be a bad thing to be as a baseball player, but it may give him a lucrative second career in taking money from resorts and similar places in exchange for not going there.

Maybe Alcides Escobar shouldn’t bat leadoff

Alcides Escobar
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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.