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And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights


Mariners 2, Athletics 1: Felix Hernandez allowed one run over eight to beat Jon Lester who allowed two runs over eight. This is exactly why the A’s — and everyone else for that matter — wants to avoid the wild card. Because there’s a chance the M’s will have the other one and your whole season will depend on outdueling Felix Hernandez.

Braves 7, Phillies 4: I’d say the Braves scored a week’s worth of runs here, but that may be generous given the week they’ve had. But hey, who am I to be pessimistic? Oh, wait, that’s exactly who I am to be pessimistic. Just so you know, though: I’ve been this way about this team since the Reagan Administration, so if they somehow win the wild card and actually go someplace in the playoffs, I fully reserve the right to immediately get excited and confident and stuff. Then when they crap out, I get to act like it was inevitable. As a Braves fan, this is our way.

Cardinals 1, Pirates 0: St. Louis won on a ninth inning walkoff single from Peter Bourjos. It was against Mark Melancon, who Clint Hurdle went to (a) on the road in a a tie game; and (b) stretched for two innings. Which I think is fantastic and I wish more managers would do. Can’t blame Hurdle for the strategy. But it is, unfortunately, a strategy that managers rarely if ever use these days, which suggests Hurdle was a bit desperate to get the win in order to avoid the sweep. Or maybe he’s not desperate. Because this sounds like a man who has his priorities straight:

We’re not going to back down. We’ll take the day off. We’re going to catch our breath and try and set some stakes down in Chicago.”

I have to assume that was intended by Hurdle to be “steaks” and not “stakes.” And if it was “steaks,” he’s my kind of manager. Hope you had a nice time last night, guys.

Yankees 5, Red Sox 1: Brian McCann with the big night: three singles, a homer and three driven in. Random from the game story: the Sox and Yankees are the two lowest scoring teams in the AL. I wonder what the betting line on that would’ve been back in March.

Nationals 8, Dodgers 5: A wild one. And not just because of this guy:


A fourteen inning affair that saw the Nats plate three in the top of the ninth, the Dodgers tie it up in the bottom of the ninth on an error, a two-run Carl Crawford homer in the bottom of the 12th to keep the Dodgers alive, and then a 14th-inning rally to give the Nats the game. Adam LaRoche drove in five after entering the game as a pinch hitter in the ninth, for cryin’ out loud. Someone go check on my friend in the black shorts there, though. I’m worried that he couldn’t handle this kind of game.

Orioles 6, Reds 0: Miguel Gonzalez with the four-hitter for his first career shutout. Yesterday my girlfriend randomly noticed that she was getting all kinds of email offers for late season Reds tickets. There’s a reason for that.

Rockies 9, Giants 2: Two homers for Chris Dickerson and Nolan Arenado hit a go-ahead, three-run homer in the fifth. Despite the Rockies’ crap year and the Giants recent rebound, Colorado takes the season series from San Francisco, 10-9.

Indians 7, Tigers 0: Danny Salazar with an eight-hit shutout in which he struck out nine and didn’t walk a batter. This on the heels of his five scoreless innings against Kansas City last week and a three in his start against the Astros before that. Justin Verlander, however, struggled into the seventh and ultimately ran out of gas.

Mets 4, Marlins 3: Matt den Dekker had three hits, including a bunt single in the eighth, after which he came around to score the go-ahead run on Travis d’Arnaud’s double. Giancarlo Stanton homered for the third straight game.

Blue Jays 7, Rays 4: Homers from Dioner Navarro and Edwin Encarnacion and a 4 for 5 day from Adam Lind helped the Jays win this one, ensuring their first series win at Tampa Bay since April 2007.

Cubs 6, Brewers 2: Jorge Soler had a two-run double and now has ten RBI in his first seven games. The Cubs sweep the reeling Brewers. They now sport a mere half-game lead over Atlanta for the second wild card.

Royals 4, Rangers 1: Alex Gordon hit a two-run homer and Jason Vargas shut the Rangers out for six and two-thirds. The sweep. I know Dallas always basically stops paying attention to the Rangers in August and September in favor of the Cowboys — and, heck, probably does so to some extent even in the middle of the summer — but I have to imagine that is more pronounced this year than ever.

Diamondbacks 6, Padres 1: Daniel Hudson made his first big league appearance since June 26, 2012, tossing a shutout inning. Two Tommy John surgeries later and the guy who showed so much promise is back. Here’s hoping that elbow stays healthy. And how about this quote:

“Even if I go out tomorrow and it blows again, it was all worth it,” he said. “It was a long time coming. Thankfully today came.”


Twins 11, White Sox 4: Kennys Vargas homered for the second consecutive game and drove in three runs. It’s been a bleak year in Minnesota, but Vargas’ .319/.340/.511 line since being called up is promising.

Astros 4, Angels 1: Chris Carter socked two homers and drove in three. He has 35 on the year — one behind Nelson Cruz and Giancarlo Stanton for the major league lead — and has 22 homers and 52 RBIs since July 1. Not too shabby.

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.