And That Happened: Wednesday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Rays 5, Orioles 1: Even Longoria hit a two-run homer to give the Rays a 2-1 lead in the sixth and Steven Souza homered in the seventh to extend things. Alex Cobb allowed one run over seven.

Yankees 9, Reds 5: Luis Severino continues to be the Yankees’ ace, allowing two runs, both unearned, in seven innings of work, striking out nine. Meanwhile Homer Bailey‘s nightmare year continues, as the Yankees beat him up for seven runs — five earned — on ten hits in six innings. Didi Gregorius and Todd Frazier homered. The Yankees have won five of six.

Red Sox 4, Mariners 0: Chris Sale continues to be the American League’s best starter, tossing seven shutout innings and striking out 11. Rafael Devers, playing in his second game, notched his first major league hit with a solo home run to straightaway center field. He’s going to try to convince the Red Sox that he deserves to stay up despite their pickup of Eduardo Nunez. I don’t think he will, ultimately, stay up, but he’ll try.

Diamondbacks 10, Braves 3: The Dbacks are one of six teams that scored ten runs yesterday. Helping them to that total was J.D. Martinez who hit two homers and drove in four.  Ketel Marte hit an inside-the-park homer. Daniel Descalso tripled in two runs. Braves starter Aaron Blair had just been called up from Triple-A to make the start, walked five dudes in three innings and, well, it was just that sort of day for Atlanta.

Giants 2, Pirates 1Jeff Samardzija outdueled Trevor Williams in one of the few games yesterday that didn’t feature an offensive outburst. Brandon Belt‘s RBI double in the seventh broke a 1-1 tie that had held since the second.

Nationals 8, Brewers 5: This one looked like a pitchers duel through seven, as the Brewers held a 2-1 lead. Then in the bottom of the eighth the Nats jumped all over the Brewers’ pen with six hits, four of which were doubles. Starter Jimmy Nelson began the inning with a leadoff walk and was lifted. Relievers Jacob Barnes gave up two runs on two hits and Jared Hughes allowed four runs on four and the game was effectively over. Somewhere in the middle of all of that Bryce Harper struck out, slammed his bat to the ground and was ejected, leading to a face-to-face yelling match with the home plate ump. Brewers’ prospect Lewis Brinson played his first game after being recalled from Triple-A. He homered.

Phillies 9, Astros 0: Houston shut out Philly on Tuesday night so yesterday the Phillies returned the favor. Aaron Nola struck out ten in six innings of work and three relievers completed the task. Cameron Rupp homered twice and drove in four. He also flipped his bat a day after criticizing teammate Odubel Herrera for doing stuff like that.

Blue Jays 3, Athletics 2: A’s starter Paul Blackburn and reliever Blake Treinen shut the Jays out for eight innings, bringing in closer Santiago Casilla. He did not live up to his title on this day, walking Josh Donaldson to lead the inning off and then giving up back-to-back homers to Justin Smoak and Kendrys Morales, as Toronto gets the walkoff win. Needed only 11 pitches to do it, too. Efficient!

Indians 10, Angels 4: Another game that was close . . . until it wasn’t. Here the Indians separated themselves from the Angels with a seven run eighth inning. It came via five RBI singles and an RBI double. For all of that carnage it was Bradley Zimmer‘s RBI double the previous inning which put the Indians up for good in this one. Earlier he had homered.

Royals 16, Tigers 2: Another game, another late inning battering. This time it was a nine-run seventh inning for the Royals. Eric Hosmer‘s grand slam put a cherry on top of it. Hosmer had five hits in all, driving in six on the day. Ian Kennedy allowed one run over six, so he didn’t need all that run support, but I’m sure he was happy to have it. That’s eight wins in a row for the Royals. Five of the wins in that streak have come against the Tigers. They’re gonna miss those guys.

Cubs 8, White Sox 3: Chicago wins! Jake Arrieta pitched two-hit ball into the seventh inning, allowing two runs, backed by Anthony Rizzo‘s 3-for-4, 4 RBI day. The Cubs are now six games over .500 and have taken a half-game lead on Milwaukee.

Marlins 22, Rangers 10: This was a mess. The Rangers are trying to trade Yu Darvish. I doubt him giving up 10 runs on nine hits in less than four innings will truly harm the market for him — he has a bit of a reputation as a good pitcher already — but it isn’t what they wanted. Just one of those nights, I guess, as his fellow Rangers pitchers allowed 12 more. Marcell Ozuna drove in five. Dee Gordon, Christian Yelich, J.T. Realmuto and Giancarlo Stanton all homered. Adrian Beltre got three hits closer to 3,000. He also got ejected by a grumpy-as-hell umpire for moving the on-deck circle.

Cardinals 10, Rockies 5: Another hit parade, with even the Cards’ starting pitcher, Carlos Martinez, getting into the act. His fourth inning RBI single tied it and from there on the Cards didn’t have much trouble. Paul DeJong homered. Randal Grichuk managed to go 4-for-5 without driving in a run. RBIs are dumb.

Dodgers 6, Twins 5: The Twins took a 5-0 lead in the fourth, but you can’t kill this Dodgers team so easily. They chipped away at the lead with Joc Pederson and Yasiel Puig homers and an RBI double from Chase Utley. Then, via a Justin Turner walkoff single, notched their fifth straight win and their 36th in their last 42 games. End points can be random, though. Why don’t we just call it their 71st win in their last 102 games? That’s just as impressive. Maybe more so.

Padres 6, Mets 3:  Luis Torrens had three RBI and Manuel Margot homered, but Padres shortstop Allen Cordoba was a hero too, making this sweet play that helped the Padres preserve their lead and the game:

 

The 2017 Yankees are, somehow, plucky underdogs

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There’s a lot that has happened in the past year that I never, ever would’ve thought would or even could happen in America. Many of them are serious, some are not, some make me kinda happy and some make me terribly sad. I’m sure a lot of people have felt that way in this oddest of years.

There’s one thing in baseball, however, that still has me searching my feelings in a desperate effort to know what to feel: The New York Yankees are the postseason’s plucky underdogs.

This is not about them being lovable or likable — we touched on that last week — it’s more about the role they play in the grand postseason drama. A postseason they weren’t even supposed to be in.

None of the three writers of this website thought the Yankees would win the AL East or a Wild Card. ESPN had 35 “experts” make predictions back in March, and only one of them — Steve Wulf — thought the Yankees would make the postseason (he thought they’d win the division). I’m sure if you go over the plethora of professional prognosticator’s predictions a few would have the Yankees squeaking in to the postseason on the Wild Card, but that was nothing approaching a consensus view. Their 2017 regular season was a surprise to almost everyone, with the expectation of a solid, if unspectacular rebuilding year being greatly exceeded. To use a sports cliche, nobody believed in them.

Then came the playoffs. Most people figured the Yankees would beat the Twins in the Wild Card game and they did, but most figured they’d be cannon fodder for the Indians. And yep, they fell down early, losing the first two games of the series and shooting themselves in the foot in spectacular fashion in the process. Yet they came back, beating arguably the best team in baseball and certainly the best team in the American League in three straight games despite the fact that . . . nobody believed in them.

Now we’re in the ALCS. The Astros — the other choice for best team in the American League if you didn’t think the Indians were — jumped out to a 2-0 lead, quieting the Yankees’ powerful bats. While a lot of teams have come back from 0-2 holes in seven game series, the feel of this thing as late as Monday morning was that, even if the Yankees take a game at home, Houston was going to cruise into the World Series. Once again . . . nobody believed in them.

Yet, here we are on this late Wednesday morning, with the Yankees having tied things up 2-2. As I wrote this morning, you still have to like the Astros’ chances given that their aces, Dallas Keuchel and Justin Verlander, are set to go in Games 5 and 6. I’m sure a lot of people feel still like the Astros’ chances for that reason. So that leads us to this . . .

It’s one thing for no one to have, objectively, believed in the Yankees chances. It’s another thing, though, for the New York Yankees — the 27-time World Champions, the 40-time American League pennant winners, the richest team in the game, the house-at-the-casino, U.S. Steel and the Evil Empire all wrapped into one — to officially play the “nobody believed in us” card on their own account. That’s the stuff of underdogs. Of Davids facing Goliaths. Of The Little Guy, demanding respect that no one ever considered affording them. If you’re not one of those underdogs and you’re playing that card, you’re almost always doing it out of some weird self-motivational technique and no one else will ever take you seriously. And now you’re telling me the NEW YORK FRIGGIN’ YANKEES are playing that card?

Thing is: they’re right. They’ve totally earned the right to play it because, really, no one believed in them. Even tied 2-2, I presume most people still don’t, actually.

I don’t know how to process this. Nothing in my 40 years of baseball fandom has prepared me for the Yankees to be the David to someone else’s Goliath and to claim righteous entitlement to the whole “nobody believed in us” thing.

Which, as I said at the beginning, is nothing new in the year 2017. I just never thought it’d happen in baseball.