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And That Happened: Wednesday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Mariners 11, Phillies 6: Carlos Ruiz came back to Philly and the fans welcomed him warmly. Then Chooch hit a three-run double. Business is business and family is family. Robinson Cano and Danny Valencia homered. Phillies left fielder Aaron Altherr hit a three-run homer for the third consecutive game.

Giants 6, Mets 5: The Mets had a 3-1 lead after four innings and took a 3-2 lead into the top of the ninth when they called on closer Jeruys Familia. A walk and then a Wilmer Flores error put two on, followed by a Hunter Pence RBI single, another walk to load the bases, and a Christian Arroyo double that plated three to make it 6-3. The Mets scored two in the bottom half but the Giants bullpen, for once, merely bent but did not break.

Astros 4, Braves 2: Houston scored three runs in the fifth, two on a Carlos Correa double and the Correa came around to score on a single from Yuli Gurriel. All this with two outs. Freddie Freeman and Adonis Garcia hit solo homers in a losing cause but, ick, it’s been a slog for the Braves lately.

Rockies 3, Cubs 0: Rockies starter German Marquez took a no-hitter into the seventh inning. Kris Bryant broke it up, but Marquez ended up tossing eight shutout innings, allowing only three hits. He was helped by some fantastic D from Carlos Gonzalez. He was also helped by . . . German Marquez, who drove in two runs with a seventh inning single.

Athletics 3, Angels 1: Andrew Triggs got the start for the A’s. He walked the game’s leadoff hitter. Then he walked the second hitter. Then he walked the bases loaded. Not a great way to start things out. He somehow escaped that with only one run scoring and then he somehow went the next five innings walking no one else, allowing only three hits and surrendering no more runs. Baseball is a funny game. Chad Pinder hit a two-run homer for Oakland.

Cardinals 7, Marlins 5: The Marlins scored four runs in the first inning but lost anyway. The Marlins had a four-run lead over the Cardinals the night before too, and lost that one as well. On Tuesday, Dexter Fowler was the hero, singling in the winning run with a pinch hit single. Yesterday Dexter Fowler hit a pinch-hit, go-ahead triple in the sixth. Dramatic video:

Nationals 7, Orioles 6: Can’t anyone hold a dang lead anymore? The O’s blew one too, this a 5-1 lead in the fifth. The capper came on a Matt Wieters two-run single in the bottom of the ninth inning which gave Washington a walkoff win over their local rivals. The three-run rally in the ninth came against O’s acting-closer Brad Brach, who gave up a homer to Jayson Werth and a double to Bryce Harper before ex-Oriole Wieters did his thing. Miss U Zach Britton.

Blue Jays 8, Indians 7: Guess what? Cleveland had a four-run lead here and lost it. Toronto got those four runs back in the third and fourth innings and it was tied for a long time, but Ryan Goins singled home the winning run in the ninth inning for the walkoff win. I guess the worst thing in baseball these days is to have a four-run lead.

Rays 12, Royals 1Chris Archer pitched eight shutout innings and Logan Morrison, Rickie Weeks Jr., and Colby Rasmus homered for the Rays. Things got chippy late, however, as Archer hit Sal Perez on the elbow. Perez took offense. After the game, there were two different stories about it, with Perez thinking Archer was throwing at him and Archer denying it. Perez:

“Yeah, of course he threw at me. He’s going to throw at me because I had two hits against him,” Perez said. “I think he was mad. I don’t think that’s the right way.”

Archer:

“Honestly there was nothing malicious there,” Archer said. “I’ve had some great interactions with him the past. He’s a good hitter; I’m trying to pitch inside. There was no malicious intent with 96 mph.”

Who knows. All I do know is that “there was no malicious intent with 96 mph” line is a head-scratcher. Most of the time you hear guys say that a breaking ball that hits a dude was proof that it was not intended, because who hits a guy with a breaking ball? When they try to plant on one someone, it’s a heater because it’s easier to control where that goes. Like I said: I dunno.

Rangers 4, Padres 3: Texas scored four runs. Of those, one came on a wild pitch, one scored on a balk and one scored on a fielder’s choice + a throwing error. Who needs hits? Being a Padres fan is hard, I suppose, but at least they have good weather.

Brewers 7, Red Sox 4: Milwaukee did all their damage without homers. They rattled off 13 hits, though, and scored two runs on throwing errors by Sox catcher Christian Vazquez. Boston starter Kyle Kendrick allowed six runs and 10 hits in less than five innings. His ERA is now 12.96. Wondering if that “long look” John Farrell said he was gonna take at Kendrick in the rotation is gonna get shorter now.

Diamondbacks 7, Tigers 1: Zack Godley got called up from Triple-A and allowed only one run on four hits in seven innings. He was backed up by homers from Nick Ahmed, Yasmany Tomas and Brandon Drury. The game was at least moderately close until the seventh inning when the “Anibal Sanchez: relief pitcher” experiment got its latest look. Sanchez coughed up two of those homers and three runs in an inning of work. That has been an utter disaster over the past two seasons.

Dodgers 5, Pirates 2: The sweep. On a day when the Dodgers found out they’ve lost left fielder Andrew Toles for the rest of the year, they witnessed his replacement, Cody Bellinger, homer and made a nice tumbling catch in left. Sucks for Toles who had been one of L.A’s few positive offensive contributors on the young season, but I think they’ll be OK with the kid. Meanwhile, Kenta Maeda pitched shutout ball into the ninth before running out of gas and surrendering two. Grant Dayton bailed him out.

Twins vs. White Sox — POSTPONED:

Seven lonely days
And a dozen towns ago
I reached out one night and you were gone
Don’t know why you’d run
What you’re running to or from
All I know is I want to bring you home
So I’m walking in the rain
Thumbing for a ride
On this lonely Kentucky back road
I’ve loved you much too long
My love’s too strong
To let you go, never knowing
What went wrong
Kentucky rain keeps pouring down
And up ahead’s another town that I’ll go walking through.

In the playoffs, the Yankees’ weakness has become their strength

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Two weeks ago, when the playoffs began, the idea of “bullpenning” once again surfaced, this time with the Yankees as a focus. Because their starting pitching was believed to be a weakness — they had no obvious ace like a Dallas Keuchel or Corey Kluber — and their bullpen was a major strength, the idea of chaining relievers together starting from the first inning gained traction. The likes of Luis Severino, who struggled mightily in the AL Wild Card game, or Masahiro Tanaka (4.79 regular season ERA) couldn’t be relied upon in the postseason, the thought went.

That idea is no longer necessary for the Yankees because the starting rotation has become the club’s greatest strength. Tanaka fired seven shutout innings to help push the Yankees ahead of the Astros in the ALCS, three games to two. They are now one win away from reaching the World Series for the first time since 2009.

It hasn’t just been Tanaka. Since Game 3 of the ALDS, Yankees pitchers have made eight starts spanning 46 1/3 innings. They have allowed 10 runs (nine earned) on 25 hits and 12 walks with 45 strikeouts. That’s a 1.75 ERA with an 8.74 K/9 and 2.33 BB/9. In five of those eight starts, the starter went at least six innings, which has helped preserve the freshness and longevity of the bullpen.

Here’s the full list of performances for Yankee starters this postseason:

Game Starter IP H R ER BB SO HR
AL WC Luis Severino 1/3 4 3 3 1 0 2
ALDS 1 Sonny Gray 3 1/3 3 3 3 4 2 1
ALDS 2 CC Sabathia 5 1/3 3 4 2 3 5 0
ALDS 3 Masahiro Tanaka 7 3 0 0 1 7 0
ALDS 4 Luis Severino 7 4 3 3 1 9 2
ALDS 5 CC Sabathia 4 1/3 5 2 2 0 9 0
ALCS 1 Masahiro Tanaka 6 4 2 2 1 3 0
ALCS 2 Luis Severino 4 2 1 1 2 0 1
ALCS 3 CC Sabathia 6 3 0 0 4 5 0
ALCS 4 Sonny Gray 5 1 2 1 2 4 0
ALCS 5 Masahiro Tanaka 7 3 0 0 1 8 0
TOTAL 55 1/3 35 20 17 20 52 6

In particular, if you hone in on the ALCS starts specifically, Yankee starters have pitched 28 innings, allowing five runs (four earned) on 13 hits and 10 walks with 20 strikeouts. That’s a 1.61 ERA.

While the Yankees’ biggest weakness has become a strength, the Astros’ biggest weakness — the bullpen — has become an even bigger weakness. This is why the Yankees, who won 10 fewer games than the Astros during the regular season, are one win away from reaching the World Series and the Astros are not.