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.

Concerns over Jon Lester’s throwing ability much ado about nothing

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 20: Jon Lester #34 of the Chicago Cubs pitches against the Los Angeles Dodgers in game five of the National League Division Series at Dodger Stadium on October 20, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Josh Lefkowitz/Getty Images)
Josh Lefkowitz/Getty Images

Going into Thursday night’s NLCS Game 5, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts planned to have his team be annoying and distracting on the base paths for Cubs starter Jon Lester. Lester, you see, has a hard time making throws when he’s not pitching from the rubber, as seen here.

The Dodgers got an immediate opportunity to test their strategy, as Enrique Hernandez drew a four-pitch walk to start the game in the bottom of the first inning. Hernandez was taking leads between 15 and 25 feet, just taunting Lester to throw over to first base. Lester never did. And despite being given the luxury of such a large lead, Hernandez never attempted to steal second base.

It ended up costing the Dodgers a run. After Justin Turner struck out, Corey Seager lined a single to center field. Hernandez, large lead and all, should’ve been well on his way to third base, but he settled for staying at second base. Carlos Ruiz then flied out to right field on what should’ve been a sacrifice fly. Hernandez instead just advanced to third. Howie Kendrick grounded out to end the inning with the Dodgers having scored no runs.

In the bottom of the second inning with two outs, Joc Pederson dropped down a bunt, but Lester was able to field it and make a bounce-throw to Anthony Rizzo at first base to end the inning. Lester stared angrily into the Dodgers’ dugout as he walked off the field. If it were me, I’d have been glaring angrily not because the opposing team was attempting to exploit my weakness, but because the strategy is so poor.

The bunting would continue in the seventh inning as first baseman and noted power hitter Adrian Gonzalez tried to sneak a bunt past Lester on the right side of the infield. Second baseman Javier Baez was able to scoop it up and fire to first. Gonzalez was initially ruled safe, but the call was overturned upon replay review.

Lester countered the Dodgers’ bunting and greedy lead-taking by just pitching his game. He went seven innings, allowing just one run on five hits and a walk with six strikeouts on 108 pitches. The Cubs went on to win 8-4, taking a 3-2 lead in the NLCS. A worthy consideration for the National League Cy Young Award based on his regular season performance, Lester now has a 0.86 ERA in 21 innings spanning three starts this postseason. Turns out, the yips isn’t debilitating if you’re really good at your main job.

Cubs swat their way past the Dodgers 8-4 in NLCS Game 5

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 20:  Addison Russell #27 of the Chicago Cubs hits a two-run home run in the sixth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers in game five of the National League Division Series at Dodger Stadium on October 20, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

During the regular season, the Cubs had the second-best offense in baseball behind the Rockies, averaging 4.99 runs per game. It was the best after debiting the Rockies for playing in Coors Field. There was no way, after getting shut out in NLCS Games 2 and 3, that the offense was going to stay dormant much longer. They broke out for 10 runs in a Game 4 victory on Wednesday night. They scored eight more to beat the Dodgers 8-4 in Game 5, taking a 3-2 NLCS lead.

The Cubs took an early 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning when leadoff batter Dexter Fowler greeted Kenta Maeda with a single to center field. He’d come around to score on a one-out double by Anthony Rizzo who, like teammate Addison Russell, hadn’t hit much until breaking out in Game 4.

Starter Jon Lester was able to silence the Dodgers’ offense despite their strategy of attempting bunts and taking big leads, knowing Lester has trouble throwing when it’s not from the pitching rubber. They managed just one run, coming around in the fourth inning to knot the game at 1-1 when Howie Kendrick doubled, stole third base, and scored on an Adrian Gonzalez ground out.

Ultimately, Lester lasted seven innings, holding the Dodgers to five hits and a walk with six strikeouts on 108 pitches. Addison Russell allowed him to leave with a lead, slugging a two-run home run off of reliever Joe Blanton in the sixth to break the 1-1 tie.

The Cubs tacked on plenty of insurance in the top of the eighth against reliever Pedro Baez, which proved to be rather necessary. Russell reached on an error by Baez, Willson Contreras singled, and Albert Almora, Jr. moved both runners up a base on a sacrifice bunt. Dexter Fowler then hit a single to first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, but Baez didn’t break to cover first base. Gonzalez wasn’t able to beat Fowler to the bag, allowing the Cubs’ fourth run to score. Kris Bryant hit a weak grounder to third base and he was able to beat that out as well, pushing across another run in the process. Anthony Rizzo lined out, but Baez prolonged the inning by walking Ben Zobrist. Ross Stripling relieved Baez, but he served up a bases-clearing double to Javier Baez, making it an 8-1 ballgame. Jason Heyward, as has often been the case, popped up feebly, mercifully ending the inning with the Cubs having hung up a five-spot.

Pedro Strop took over for Lester in the bottom of the eighth. He gave up a double to Andrew Toles, then hit Justin Turner to begin the inning. Though Strop was able to induce a ground ball double play from Corey Seager, Carlos Ruiz followed up with a double to left-center to push in a run. Howie Kendrick flied out to send the game to the ninth.

Closer Aroldis Chapman took over with a six-run lead in the bottom of the ninth. He issued a leadoff walk to Gonzalez, then served up a single to Yasiel Puig. Joc Pederson grounded out, but Josh Reddick knocked in Gonzalez and moved Puig to third with a single to center. Toles plated Puig with a sacrifice fly, making it 8-4. Turner grounded out to shortstop to end the game, finalizing the victory for the Cubs.

The two clubs will take Friday off to travel back to Chicago. Game 6 will take place at Wrigley Field at 8:00 PM EDT. Clayton Kershaw will start for the Dodgers opposite the Cubs’ Kyle Hendricks.