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And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights


Royals 2, Indians 1: Corey Kluber deserved a better fate than a no-decision after he went nine innings, allowing only two hits and one unearned run and striking out 10 (and Oh My God that unearned run …) But heck, I guess it’s better than the loss he was poised to take before the Tribe managed to scratch out a run in the ninth against Greg Holland. Eventually it went 14 innings and ended with a Nori Aoki walkoff single. The affair lasted four hours, 23 minutes. In all, 397 pitches were thrown.

Phillies 2, Giants 1: Cole Hamels was dominant, striking out 10 and allowing only one run over eight innings. In other news, Ryan Howard sat against a righty he’s totally owned during his career (.328/.425/.687). I mean, I get platooning or even benching Howard, but if you’re not going to start him against Tim Hudson of all people, who do you start him against?

Blue Jays 8, Red Sox 0: Marcus Stroman took a no-no into the seventh. And, while he couldn’t finish that off, he was still outstanding, with the hit he allowed to Shane Victorino being the only one he allowed. Meanwhile, Jays bats were not at all baffled by Rubby De La Rosa, touching him for seven runs on nine hits in four. Juan Francisco drove in four.

Marlins 3, Braves 2: A joint Craig Kimbrel/Evan Gattis, well, not a meltdown, but a failure in the ninth. Kimbrel struck out one guy and had the second guy struck out but Gattis couldn’t handle strike three, allowing the batter to reach first. Then he went to second on a wild pitch. Then he scored on an RBI single. If Kimbrel and Gattis clean it up the game probably goes to extras. As it was, the Marlins took three of four in Turner Field. Which doesn’t happen too darn often.

Yankees 4, Rangers 2: Brandon McCarthy had his third straight solid outing since joining the Yankees, allowing one run over six innings. The Rangers are now 3-17 in the month of July.

Padres 13, Cubs 3: Tyson Ross struck out 11 and the Padres lineup — which looked like a list of guys in witness protection — exploded for 13. Nine runs coming in the sixth inning. Rene Rivera had three hits, including a homer while driving in three. Will Venable, Alexi Amarista and Chris Nelson each drove in two. Easily the best night at the plate of the season for the friars.

Athletics 13, Astros 1: The A’s, on the other hand, are used to blowing teams out. Brandon Moss hit a grand slam. Jeff Samardzija allowed one run on five his over eight. He’d go a month without this kind of run support when he was in Chicago.

Brewers 9, Mets 1: Yet another blowout on Thursday. Matt Garza, who was shelled and sent to the showers early in his previous start, allowed only one run over eight innings. Homers for Jonathan Lucroy, Khris Davis and Ryan Braun.

White Sox 5, Twins 2: Lots of blowouts yesterday but lots of nice pitching performances too. Another one came from Hector Noesi, who allowed allowed two runs on three hits over seven and two-thirds. He was backed up by Adam Eaton who was 3 for 5 with two RBI and a double.

Tigers 6, Angels 4: Max Scherzer won his fourth straight decision, besting Garrett Richards. Nick Castellanos drove in the tying and go-ahead run in the sixth. Scherzer is now tied for the league lead in wins and is 4-0 with a 2.21 ERA in his last six starts.

Orioles 4, Mariners 0: And another nice start: Wie-Yen Chen shut out the M’s for eight innings, allowing only five hits. He was backed by a Delmon Young three-run homer.

Game 2 is going to be the poster child for pace of play arguments this winter

CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 26:  Zach McAllister #34 of the Cleveland Indians is relieved by manager Terry Francona during the fifth inning against the Chicago Cubs in Game Two of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on October 26, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
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In August, it was reported that Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred would like to implement pitch clocks, like those in use in the minor leagues for the past two seasons, to improve the pace-of-play at the major league level. You can bet that last night’s Game 2 will be the lead argument he uses against those who would oppose the move.

The game was moved up an hour in order to get it in before an impending storm. By the time the rain finally started falling the game had been going on for three hours and thirty-three minutes. It should’ve been over before the first drop fell, but in all it lasted four hours and four minutes. It ended in, thankfully, only a light rain. The longest nine-inning game in postseason history happened a mere two weeks ago, when the Dodgers and Nationals played for four hours and thirty two minutes. There thirteen pitchers were used. Last night ten pitchers were used. Either way, the postseason games are dragging on even for those of us who don’t mind devoting four+ hours of our night to baseball. It is likely putting off more casual fans just tuning in for the Fall Classic.

It’s not all just dawdling, however. Yes, the pitchers worked slowly and a lot of pitching changes took place, but strikeouts, walks and the lack of balls in play contribute to longer games as well. We saw this both last night and in Game 1, which was no brisk affair despite each starting pitcher looking sharp and not working terribly slowly. Twenty-four strikeouts on Tuesday night had a lot to do with that. Last night featured 20 strikeouts and thirteen — thirteen! — walks. It’s not just that the games are taking forever; the very thing causing them to drag feature baseball’s least-kinetic forms of excitement.

But no matter what the cause for the slower play was — and here it was a combination of laboring pitchers, the lack of balls in play and, of course, the longer commercial breaks in the World Series — Manfred is likely to hold Game 2 up as Exhibit A in his efforts to push through some rules changes to improve game pace and game time. So far, the centerpiece of those efforts is the pitch clock, which has proven to be successful and pretty non-controversial in the minor leagues. It would not surprise me one bit if, at this year’s Winter Meetings in Washington, a rule change in that regard is widely discussed.

Kyle Schwarber is the feel-good story of the 2016 postseason


Most baseball fans and even the Cubs had resigned themselves to most likely not seeing Kyle Schwarber in game action until spring training next year after he suffered a gruesome knee injury in a collision with teammate Dexter Fowler back in early April. Schwarber suffered a fully-torn ACL and LCL in his left leg.

To the surprise of everyone, including manager Joe Maddon, Schwarber was cleared by doctors to play if the Cubs wanted to put him on the World Series roster. So they did. And, boy, are they glad they did it. In preparation, Schwarber saw over 1,000 pitches from machines and pitchers in the Arizona Fall League.

Schwarber essentially crammed for the final exam and unlike most students who do it, it has panned out well thus far. No one was expecting him to look outstanding against Indians ace Corey Kluber in Game 1, but in his first at-bat — his first in the majors since suffering the injury in April — Schwarber worked a 3-1 count before eventually being retired on strikes. Schwarber came back up in the fourth and drilled a Kluber sinker to right field for a two-out double.

In the seventh inning, facing one of the American League’s two scariest left-handed relievers in Andrew Miller, Schwarber worked a full count before drawing a walk. During the regular season, Miller walked exactly one lefty batter. Schwarber made it two. Schwarber would face Miller again in the eighth, going ahead 2-1 before ultimately striking out. He finished 1-for-3 with a walk and a double in the Cubs’ 6-0 loss. Considering the circumstances, that’s amazing.

Schwarber continued his great approach in Game 2 in what turned out to be a 5-1 victory. He struck out against Trevor Bauer in the first inning, but returned to the batter’s box in the third inning and singled up the middle to knock in the Cubs’ second run. Schwarber made it 3-0 in the fifth when he singled up the middle again, this time off of Bryan Shaw, to make it 3-0. Facing Danny Salazar in the sixth, Schwarber drew a four-pitch walk to put runners on first and second base with two outs. Finally, he struck out against Dan Otero in his eighth-inning at-bat, finishing the evening 2-for-4 with a pair of RBI singles and a walk.

But now, as the Cubs return to Chicago for World Series Games 3, 4, and 5 at Wrigley Field, they have to contest with National League rules, a.k.a. no DH. Will Maddon risk Schwarber’s subpar defense to put his dangerous bat in the lineup? Even if Schwarber is not put in the starting lineup, he can at least serve as a dangerous bat off the bench late in the game when the Indians send out their trio of relievers in Shaw, Miller, and closer Cody Allen. At any rate, what Schwarber has done already in the first two games of the World Series is mighty impressive.