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And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights


Red Sox 2, Cardinals 1: Joe Kelly pitched against the guys who, this time last week, were his teammates. And he did well: one run on three hits over seven. Shelby Miller was just as good, but the Sox got to Trevor Rosenthal in the ninth, loading the bases with no one out before a Xander Bogaerts sac fly. The Cardinals were lucky they only gave up one run there, but one run was enough.

Blue Jays 5, Orioles 1: But I was told Tuesday night was a “statement game” from the Orioles. Huh. Maybe the statement has been hereby recanted? Maybe, for some reason, this game did not count as much as Tuesday’s, making it far less important? Tell me, Orioles fans who got on my case for doubting Bud Norris’ assessment of Tuesday’s night game, why is this one different? While I wait, I’ll just tell everyone that Drew Hutchison almost went the distance, allowing just the one run.

Yankees 5, Tigers 1: Chris Capuano of all people tied up the Tigers, allowing only one run over six and two-thirds. And it wasn’t even earned. Meanwhile Justin Verlander held ’em close, but the bullpen was pretty stinky, allowing three in the eighth. The contrast between Tuesday, when Brad Ausmus could use Chamberlain, Soria and Nathan, and last night when he had to go with Blaine Hardy and Phil Coke, is pretty major. It’ll behoove the Tigers to rest up those latter three as much as possible between now and the playoffs so the Tigers don’t have their soft underbelly exposed in close games like this one.

Rays 7, Athletics 3: The Rays avoid a sweep thanks to Jeremy Hellickson allowing just two hits in seven innings and Sonny Gray having his worst day as a major leaguer (4.1 IP, 10 H, 7 R, 4 BB). Well, I dunno, maybe he’s had worse days. Like, if he had to put his dog down on the same day he tossed a three-hitter that would probably be a way worse day, all things considered. But this was his worst pitching performance.

Royals 4, Diamondbacks 3: Mike Moustakas hit a two-run homer and drove in four. His fourth RBI — which provided the winning margin — came in the ninth when he beat out a play at first on a would-be double play. He was initially called out but the call was overturned on review. The game story I read praised Moustakas for his hustle in beating that throw, but it wouldn’t have been as close if he didn’t flop on his belly for the head first slide which is a really idiotic way to go into a bag which you are allowed to overrun. But hey, god for him.

Rockies 13, Cubs 4: Gonzalez homered, doubled and singled and Corey Dickerson drove in three runs on four hits. And this was fun: Despite being down nine runs in the ninth inning, Cubs manager Rick Renteria challenged a play at first on the final out of the game. Which is totally what MLB had in mind when it initiated the replay system. But hey, their fault. They’re the ones who made it all about manager challenges instead of something sensible.

Mariners 7, Braves 3: Down 3-1 in the third, the Mariners turned on the power: Dustin Ackley led off with a homer and Logan Morrison hit a three-run shot of his own. Chris Young got the win and after the game said “you can’t get caught up in wins and losses as a starting pitcher. One day the media will stop evaluating us on that.” I heart him. I don’t heart the Braves lately. They’ve lost eight straight. But I do hope they are enjoying their visits to San Diego, Los Angeles and Seattle. They’re lovely cities in August. Perhaps they will bring back souvenirs!

Nationals 7, Mets 1: And now the Nats have a four-game lead in the division, validating my prediction at the break that they would slowly pull away and take control of the division. Wish, like with so many other things, I was wrong about that, but alas. Doug Fister allowed one earned run in seven and a third and Adam LaRoche drove in three.

Rangers 3, White Sox 1: Adam Rosales hit two homers, providing all of the Rangers’ runs. He was then waived and claimed by the A’s, sent back to the Rangers and had the process repeat ten times before going to sleep. This joke is brought to you by the year 2013.

Reds 8, Indians 3: Mat Latos pitched shutout ball into the eighth inning before running out of gas and the Reds got a three run homer from Zack Cozart and a two-run shot from Kristopher Negron.

Pirates 7, Marlins 3: Josh Harrison remains hot. He extended his hitting streak to ten games and is is 20 for 44 over that span. And it ain’t all singles: he’s got six doubles, a triple and five home runs.

Phillies 10, Astros 3: I guess the Phillies’ offense is waking up. Ryan Howard had two hits and two RBIs, Ben Revere had four hits and Chase Utley hit a three-run homer. This one was over after the first inning, really. David Buchanan pitched nicely in Cliff Lee’s spot. I guess it’s really Buchanan’s spot now given that Lee’s season is almost certainly over.

Padres 5, Twins 4: Seth Smith’s solo homer in the 10th put the Padres ahead for good, but if Alexi Amarista doesn’t make this awesome play in center in the bottom of the ninth, the Twins walk off with this one.

Dodgers 2, Angels 1: Dan Haren, who has been awful, wasn’t awful. Indeed, he was pretty good, allowing one run in seven and a third. Might have had a run saved by a sick throw from Yasiel Puig to gun down Hank Conger at third in the sixth inning. Kudos to Justin Turner’s quick tag too.

Giants 7, Brewers 4: Michael Morse and Pablo Sandoval each drove in three runs. The Giants have won 5 of 7.

The Cubs’ NLCS finish was one for the history books

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 22:  Chicago Cubs fans hold a sign after the Chicago Cubs defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-0 in game six of the National League Championship Series to advance to the World Series against the Cleveland Indians at Wrigley Field on October 22, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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The Cubs obliterated the Dodgers in Game 6 of the NLCS, riding nine shutout innings to their first pennant win since 1945. Here’s what you should know about their historic finish:

  • By virtue of the Cubs’ 71-year World Series drought, Jon Lester and Javier Baez became the club’s first and only postseason MVPs in franchise history. The World Series MVP award was first distributed in 1955, while the NLCS MVP awards have been issued since 1977.
  • Lester and Baez are also the first co-MVPs of the Championship Series since the 1990 Reds celebrated left-hander Randy Myers and right-hander Rob “Nasty Boy” Dibble following the team’s ninth pennant win (per’s Jenifer Langosch).
  • Anthony Rizzo’s fifth inning solo shot in Game 6 tied him with Miguel Cabrera, Alex Gonzalez, and Kyle Schwarber for the most postseason homers hit at Wrigley Field, with three (per Comcast SportsNet’s Christopher Kamka).
  • Rizzo and Willson Contreras’ home runs were the first Clayton Kershaw had given up in the playoffs since Game 4 of the 2015 NLDS. The twin blasts also accounted for a fifth of the total home runs Kershaw had given up in 2016.
  • Clayton Kershaw’s Game Score of 33 was not only the lowest the left-hander had put up since the start of the 2015 season, but the lowest the Cubs had seen from an opposing pitcher in the postseason since 1989. During Game 4 of the 1989 NLCS, Giants’ right-hander Scott Garrelts pitched 4 2/3 innings with eight hits, four runs, and two homers en route to a 6-4 loss and a 33 Game Score.
  • By contrast, Kyle Hendricks’ Game Score of 86 was the third-highest among Cubs’ postseason starters, ranking just below Jake Arrieta’s 11-strikeout complete game during the 2015 wild card tiebreaker and Orval Overall’s three-hitter in Game 5 of the 1908 World Series.
  • The last major league season to feature an ERA leader on the Cubs’ roster was 1945, also the last season in which the Cubs rode to the World Series. In 2016, the MLB ERA leader is Game 6 winner Kyle Hendricks (2.13 ERA); in ‘45, it was left-hander Ray Prim (2.40 ERA), who capped a dominant year with a loss against the Tigers in Game 4 of the World Series and blown save in Game 6.
  • Not to be overlooked in the lefty’s gem on Saturday night: Hendricks and Aroldis Chapman combined to face the minimum number of batters, at 27. According to MLB Stat of the Day, only the 1956 Yankees had also faced the minimum batters in a postseason game, though they did it with just a bit more panache.
  • With Kris Bryant, Willson Contreras, Albert Almora Jr., Javier Baez, and Addison Russell penciled into the lineup, the Cubs became the first MLB team to utilize five starters under 25 years old to clinch the NLCS (also via MLB Stat of the Day).
  • If you want to talk postseason drought, the Cubs-Indians World Series will set a precedent for combined championship-less streaks, at 174 years between the two clubs (per ESPN Stats & Info).
  • Speaking of unpleasant streaks, there’s this: with the Dodgers’ loss in the NLCS, they’ve now gone to the postseason four consecutive times without participating in a World Series showdown. According to ESPN’s Buster Olney, that’s a first in major league history.


The Cubs clinch World Series berth with NLCS Game 6 win

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 22:  The Chicago Cubs celebrate defeating the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-0 in game six of the National League Championship Series to advance to the World Series against the Cleveland Indians at Wrigley Field on October 22, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
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After 71 years, the Cubs are headed back to the Fall Classic.

The dominance with which Clayton Kershaw attacked the Cubs in Game 2 of the NLCS was nonexistent in Game 6 as the Dodgers’ ace loaded the bases to start the first inning and scattered five extra bases and five runs over five frames. By the time Dave Roberts pulled his starter in the sixth inning, Kershaw was sitting on a Game Score of 33, the lowest he’s mustered since the start of the 2015 season. Only one of his strikes came via curveball, and whether he was having difficulty locating his off-speed stuff or felt more confident with the fastball-slider combo, it was the fewest curves he’d seen land for strikes all year (per David Adler).

Where the Dodgers were able to give Kershaw the edge in Game 2, they found themselves powerless against opposing hurler Kyle Hendricks. Hendricks turned out 7 1/3 scoreless frames with two hits and six strikeouts, preserving the Cubs’ second shutout of the postseason and the first since they bested the Giants in Game 1 of the NLDS. After his 1-0 loss to the Dodgers early in the NLCS, seeing the MLB ERA leader turn out a gem was a relief for the Cubs, especially one as spectacular as an 88-pitch two-hitter.

With Hendricks effectively stymieing the Dodgers’ best attempts to get on base, the Cubs played to their strengths at the plate. Kris Bryant and Ben Zobrist cleared the bases in the first inning for a two-run lead, followed by a Dexter Fowler RBI single in the second. Willson Contreras came through in the fourth inning for the Cubs, lifting an 87 m.p.h. slider to left field for his first home run of October, while Anthony Rizzo hit his second homer of the postseason on a 1-1 fastball in the fifth.

Neither bullpen allowed a single run from the sixth inning onward. Dodgers’ right-hander Kenley Jansen took the ball from Kershaw in the sixth, scattering four strikeouts over three innings and denying the Cubs so much as a single baserunner through the end of the game. Aroldis Chapman, meanwhile, issued just one walk in 1 1/3 scoreless frames, inducing a Yasiel Puig double play to clinch the Cubs’ 17th franchise pennant.

With the win, the Cubs will face off against the Indians in Game 1 of the World Series on Tuesday at 8 PM EDT. And, in case you needed a reminder: