And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights

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Athletics 3, Mariners 2: Coco Crisp with a leadoff, walkoff homer in the 12th. He did it by doing the one thing they tell you not to do as a hitter:

“I was just going up there to swing as hard as I could. Probably nine times out of 10, I ended up with a strikeout with that approach. Tonight was that one time that it ended up working out. I’m not going to have that as my everyday approach but I’m just grateful that it worked out tonight.”

You know, driving home, he thought “well, maybe I can try that a little bit more and it won’t hurt any. I can keep it under control.” It’s what all hardcore home run junkies say to themselves when they start dancing with Mr. Longball. Let’s just home Crisp has a good support structure to keep him on the straight and narrow.

Red Sox 4, Orioles 3: Boston racked up 14 hits. Xander Bogaerts has reached base in eight of his 12 plate appearance via five hits and three walks. This kid is gonna be amazing and you can all say you saw it when it started. Assuming you were paying attention late last season.

Giants 8, Diamondbacks 5: Five runs in the eighth capped by an Angel Pagan three-run homer. Also: the Diamondbacks, obviously in an effort to delay the inevitable, released the hounds and the bees, and the hounds with bees in their mouths so every time they barked they shot bees at you.

Twins 10, White Sox 9: The Twins trailed 9-8 entering the ninth but came from behind via a Trevor Plouffe RBI single and an Oswaldo Arcia triple. Also: Chris Colabello drove in six. This guy spent forever putting dents in outfield walls in independent ball and then raked like nobody’s business once he finally got to the affiliated minors. Glad to see him getting it done in the majors.

Nationals 8, Mets 2: The sweep. Four hits for Ryan Zimmerman. Three RBI for Adam LaRoche, including one on a bases loaded walk. Also: thats 39 strikeouts for the Mets in three games, by the way. Maybe take a pitch, dudes?

Marlins 8, Rockies 5: That’s three of four for the Marlins from the Rockies. Casey McGeehee played the hero here, driving in three in the seventh and eighth. I think the Marlins are better than they were last year, but let’s be clear about something: they’re playing the Rockies here.

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

Cubs 3, Pirates 2: Jason Hammell pitched two-hit ball into the seventh. Emilio Bonifacio went 2 for 4 and scored twice. He’s now 11 for 16, but before you get too excited about that, know that he’s done this kind of thing before only to finish seasons with pretty pedestrian numbers.

Cardinals 7, Reds 6:  Three hour, forty-two minute rain delay. Three hour, forty-one minute game. Todd Frazier hit two homers, but that wasn’t enough. In other news, there was some fun fan interaction between Matt Adams and a Reds fan:

Rays 7, Blue Jays 2: Nice night for the Rays’ doorbuster bargains: Chris Archer signed a $25.5 million deal on Wednesday and allowed two runs, four hits, two walks and had seven strikeouts in six innings last night. Evan Longoria is one of baseball’s least expensive superstars and he hit a three-run homer.

Yankees 4, Astros 2: Oh well. There go the Astros’ dreams of a 162-0 season. Yangervis Solarte had three hits and an RBI, which is rather annoying because now we all have to look up Yangervis Solarte to see just who the heck he is. Dexter Fowler had his third straight multi-hit game for the Astros.

Royals vs. Tigers: POSTPONED: April is the cruelest month, breeding Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing Memory and desire, stirring Dull roots with spring rain.

Game 6: This is why the Astros traded for Justin Verlander

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Houston’s pitching has not been their biggest problem as they’ve watched their 2-0 series lead turn in to a 3-2 series deficit. It has not been good, mind you — Charlie Morton got rocked in Game 3, the bullpen collapsed on Game 4 and Dallas Keuchel was suddenly mortal in Game 5 — but even then it’s not been the biggest concern. The real problem has been the lack of offense.

The Astros led the majors in runs (896), batting average (.282), on-base percentage (.346) and slugging (.478) during the regular season and were second to the Yankees in homers. Despite that, they have scored just nine runs and have hit only one homer. The team’s ALCS batting line, those two wins included, is .147/.234/.213. As such, facing off against Luis Severino and a rested Yankees bullpen tonight can’t give them a ton of confidence.

They do have one thing going for them, however: Justin Verlander. The same Justin Verlander who received only two runs of support in Game 2 of the series but made it hold up thanks to his 124-pitch, 13-strikeout complete game victory. You can’t really expect a starter to do that sort of thing two times in a row, but that’s what the Astros acquired him for at the end of August. In a league where there are vanishingly few horses a team can ride to victory, Verlander stands as one of the few remaining old school aces. Expect A.J. Hinch to keep the bit in Verlander’s mouth for as long as this game is close and, even then, maybe an inning longer.

Is there any reason for optimism regarding the Astros’ lineup? Sure, of course. They didn’t suddenly all forget how to hit. Every team goes through a stretch of 3-5 games where the hits don’t seem to fall. There may, possibly, be some reason for hope in the man they’re facing too. Severino lasted only four innings in Game 2, having been removed early after taking a ground ball off his left wrist. Severino said he was fine and wished that Joe Girardi hadn’t taken him out, but (a) he was acting a little odd, shaking his arm out like he was trying to shake off some pain; and (b) starting pitchers almost always lie and say they’re better than they are. I’m certain Severino is healthy enough to go, but there’s at least a small chance that he’s vulnerable, somehow. At the very least Astros hitters can walk to the plate convincing themselves of it. Any edge you can either get or imagine, right?

Game 6 seems like it will have to be a matter of a small edge one way or another for both teams, really. The Yankees are rolling, but their assignment tonight is a tough one as they try to chase a guy who fancies himself — and has often shown himself — to be a rare throwback to those 1960s and 1970s aces who only seem to get better as the ballgame goes on. The Astros, meanwhile, are tasked with solving a young, fireballing stuff monster who has something to prove after his early exit in Game 2 and, even if he can’t prove it, a corps of relief aces who are among the most formidable in baseball. Add to that the notion that Major League Baseball, Fox and most commentators and casual fans outside of Houston want to see the 12th Yankees-Dodgers World Series matchup and the Astros have to be thinking everything’s against them.

Which is OK, though, right? Ballplayers love it when no one believes in them. That’s not better than six or seven runs of support, but the Astros will take anything they can get at the moment.