Masahiro Tanaka

And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights


Yankees 7, Twins 4: Tanaka and Beltran help the Yankees snap their losing skid. Tanaka with seven OK inning, even though he wasn’t at his best. Beltran with a big three run homer in the fifth. New York scored seven runs off Phil Hughes, which had to feel good.

Cardinals 7, Giants 2: The Giants are in freefall. Their 17th loss in their last 22, this time by giving up seven runs to a Cardinals team which has had a whale of a time scoring of late. Jhonny Peralta had a first inning homer to kick things off. Matt Carpenter continued to [punches hole in cliche rewards card] be a Giant killer, going 2 for 4. He is hitting .519 against the Giants in 54 career at bats.

Orioles 5, Rangers 2: Steve Pearce just keeps on keeping on. He had four hits and drove in a couple of runs. Wei-Yin Chen allowed two runs over six. He is 4-0 in four starts against Texas with a 1.67 ERA. I’d call him a “Ranger killer,” but that’s not a cliche like “Giant killer.” Also: totally against the law to kill a real Texas Ranger. Really, they’d execute for that. You can kill giants, though. But only if they’re trying to enter your property via a beanstalk or something.

Tigers 8, Rays 1: Erik Bedard got rocked with three homers and five runs in the first and after that it was all Max Scherzer. The reigning Cy Young Award winner allowed one run over eight innings, striking out seven.

Diamondbacks 10, Pirates 2: David Peralta had three hits, including a two-run homer and drove in four. Kirk Gibson after the game:

“We came back with a good effort today, played a good, clean game, got good pitching, some clutch hits then were able to have some fun in that last inning.”

Fun? Clean? Forget it Kirk. You’ve spent way too much time with the humorless and gritty thing now to try and pass of this team as fun and clean. Own your record, pal.

Phillies 5, Marlins 4: Philly rallied for two runs in the ninth when Steve Cishek couldn’t hold the lead. Thanks in part, also, to a bobbled ball at second which should have been an inning-ending double play.

Dodgers 3, Rockies 2: Zack Greinke gave up one earned run and two total while scattering nine hits over eight innings. Juan Uribe had three of the Dodgers’ six hits including the go-ahead RBI single in the ninth. Eighth inning fun: with the game tied at two, one out and a runner on third, Greinke and Don Mattingly decided to pitch to Troy Tulowitzki. They retired him. Then they  intentionally walked Corey Dickerson. Got away with that. How often do teams pitch to Tulo only then to give Dickerson and intentional pass?

Angels 5 Astros 2: That’s the seventh straight home win for Anaheim. They were aided in the effort by David Freese, who hit a two run double. Freese hasn’t aided many efforts this year.

Athletics 4, Blue Jays 1: Sonny Gray pitched well. And could’ve even had a shutout but for a really weird replay in the second. The bases were loaded and the Jays hit a groundball which was fielded by the A’s first baseman. He tried to tag the runner going from first to second but the ump said he missed. He gathered himself and fired the ball home to get the force out at the plate of the runner coming from third. OK as far as that goes. The weird part: Jays manager John Gibbons comes out and challenges the safe call on the tag of the runner coming from first to second. Again: a manager is asking for a review in order to have his own baserunner called out instead of safe. For good reason, of course, because if he was out there was no force play at home and the A’s failure to tag the runner coming home means he scored.

Which was dumb, of course, because the A’s had no reason to even try to tag the runner given that as it was called on the field it was a force. The umps nonetheless let the run score and Bob Melvin played the game under protest. Good thing it didn’t end up mattering to anything but Gray’s ERA, but still, we have found a weird replay loophole.

Playoff Reset: The AL Wild Card Game

Wild Card

Each day throughout the playoffs we’re going to be doing what we’ll call a reset. Not always a preview, not always a recap, but a generalized summary of where we stand at the moment and what we have to look forward tonight.

Today, of course, is Day One of the playoffs so we can really only look ahead, so let’s look ahead to what’s on tap in tonight’s one and only game.

The Game: Houston Astros vs. New York Yankees, American League Wild Card Game
The Time: 8:08 PM Eastern. Or thereabouts.
The Place: Yankee Stadium, New York
The Channel: ESPN
The Starters: Dallas Keuchel vs. Masahiro Tanaka

The Upshot:

  • Dallas Keuchel is the Astros’ ace and may very well win the Cy Young Award, but he’s (a) pitching on three-days’ rest; and (b) not in Minute Maid Park, where he is clearly superior compared to how he does on the road. At the same time, (a) the Yankees haven’t figured him out this year, going scoreless against him in 16 innings and striking out 21 times, including a poor performance against him in the Bronx a month or so ago; and (b) lefty sinkerballer types are basically the platonic ideal of a pitcher you want to throw against the Yankees to drive them crazy. While, historically, pitchers going on short rest in the playoffs fare poorly — in the past 20 years they are 18-37 — sinkerballers and extreme groundball pitchers fare much better than most. It ain’t a perfect setup for him, but you gotta like Keuchel here.
  • Meanwhile, Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka has made one career start vs. the Astros: this year, back on June 27. He got beat up, allowing six runs in five innings, receiving no decision. Those disclaimers about past performance not being indicative of future results you see in financial services commercials should apply to this and all other past matchup stats you see in the postseason, however. One random start here or there — or two in Keuchel’s case — doesn’t tell us a ton. This is baseball and tomorrow is always another day. At least if you don’t lose the Wild Card Game. More of a concern for Tanaka: rust. He has pitched only once since tweaking his hamstring against the Mets on September 18 and it wasn’t a good outing. At least he’s rested?
  • Both teams are dependent on the longball but both teams have struggled at times on offense down the stretch, with the Yankees’ bats being particular quiet in the season’s last month or so. Someone needs to wake up A-Rod. And Jacoby Ellsbury, Brett Gardner, Chase Headley and Brian McCann for that matter too. Of course, all of that firepower may not matter. The playoffs often see offenses go quiet and pitching come to the fore. Both teams have decent bullpens — the Yankees’ far, far more than decent — and given Tanaka’s rust and Keuchel’s short rest, this one is very likely to come down to multiple innings of hard-throwing relief. That favors the Yankees if they can keep it close.
  • Both teams are basically stumbling into the postseason, with the Yankees having lost six of their last seven games. They’re also under .500 since the end of July. The Astros swooned themselves in the second half, going 11-16 in September before rebounding in the season’s last week. Good thing momentum generally isn’t a thing in the playoffs — remember those 2000 Yankees losing 15 of 18 before the playoffs started and then won the World Series! — because neither team here has much of it.

This is the Astros’ first playoff game in a decade. While the Yankees haven’t been in the postseason since 2012, there is a lot of playoff experience here, making this an interesting study in contrasts from a storyline perspective. At least if you’re into storylines. Personally I’m not. I’m more into baseball games and in this baseball game I think Keuchel is a tough draw for the Yankees, even on short rest. For New York to advance they’re gonna have to be a team they haven’t been for weeks and maybe months: one that lays off junk down low and hits the ball hard.

Mike Scioscia will return as Angels manager in 2016

ANAHEIM, CA - JULY 21:  Manager Mike Scioscia #14 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in the dugout during batting practice before a game against the Minnesota Twins at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on July 21, 2015 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Jonathan Moore/Getty Images)
Photo by Jonathan Moore/Getty Images

It was assumed already, but Mike Scioscia made it official during Monday’s press conference for new general manager Billy Eppler that he will return as Angels manager in 2016.

Scioscia, the longest-tenured manager in the majors, has been at the helm with the Angels since 2000. There was a clause in his contract which allowed him to opt out after the 2015 season, but he has decided to stay put. He still has three years and $15 million on his contract, which runs through 2018.

Jerry Dipoto resigned as Angels general manager in July amid tension with Scioscia, so there were naturally questions today about what to expect with first-time GM Eppler in the fold. According to David Adler of, Scioscia isn’t concerned.

“I think we’re going to mesh very well,” Scioscia said. “If we adjust, or maybe he adjusts to some of the things, there’s going to be collaboration that’s going to make us better.”

Eppler is the fourth general manager during Scioscia’s tenure with the team.

After winning the AL West last season, the Angels finished 85-77 this season and narrowly missed the playoffs. The team hasn’t won a postseason game since 2009.