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And That Happened: Wednesday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Braves 5, Dodgers 3Tyler Flowers hit a tiebreaking, pinch-hit, two-run home run in the eighth inning to give the Braves the victory.  The Dodgers have lost only three games since the All-Star break. All three have come against the Braves, strangely enough. L.A. lead this one 3-2 in the fifth but still lost. That’s not a shocking thing based on the score alone — a lot of teams lost games when they had one-run leads at one point — but it is the first time in 54 games that the Dodgers lost a game that, at one point or another, they had once led. That was an all-time record.

Rangers 5, Mariners 1: For the second straight night Joey Gallo hit a crazy-long homer to center in Arlington. Gallo’s take on these monster dongs: “I just feel like I’m getting a pitch to hit and not missing it.” Thanks for the insight, Joey. Delino DeShields and Elvis Andrus also homered. Presumably they too were just looking for a pitch to hit. Seriously, though, just once would I like to hear a baseball player say “Man, I knocked the living crap outta that ball! Just DESTROYED that bad boy! New it as soon as I swung too. Hot damn!”

Diamondbacks 3, Cubs 0: Six shutout innings from Dbacks starter Zack Godley. I’d like him to throw a no-hitter one day so I can use the headline “More like Zack GodMODE, amirite?” Jake Lamb drove in all three of the Snakes’ runs.

Cardinals 5, Brewers 4: Molina hit two solo home runs. He also doubled. After the game, Kolten Wong said this about Molina:

“He is our captain, he is our leader, he is the St. Louis Cardinals. We are going to hop on his back whenever he is going. He is our man. When he goes, we go.”

It’s hard, based on the couple of Instagram incidents of the past week in which Molina has undercut Mike Matheny, to not hear stuff like that as players taking a side.

Twins 5, Padres 2: Ervin Santana tossed a complete game — his fifth on the year — while allowing two runs on four hits and striking out nine. His five complete games lead all of baseball. Right now two guys, Max Scherzer and Ivan Nova, are tied for the NL lead with two. Never in baseball history has a league leader in CGs had fewer than four. On five occasions in baseball history has a league leader in complete games had exactly four: NL and AL 2015; AL 2013; NL 2009 and NL 2007. Which means that, yeah, the NL leader this year may have the lowest number complete games for a league leader in baseball history.

Tigers 2, Yankees 0: Jordan Zimmermann tosses seven shutout innings and — after a three hour rain delay — Bruce Rondon and Shane Greene handle the final two innings to complete the job. I guess the Tigers should’ve just traded away their best reliever in April if they wanted to stabilize their bullpen. Justin Upton and James McCann drove in the Tigers runs.

Orioles 6, Royals 0: Jeremy Hellickson shuts the Royals out for seven and Mychal Givens and Darren O'Day handle the rest of it. I wonder if the Tigers pitching staff plans to sue the Orioles’ pitching staff for copyright infringement over all of this. Tim Beckham doubled in one run and tripled in another. Nice day for the O’s new pickups.

Reds 5, Pirates 2: A Jesse Winker solo homer broke a 2-2 tie in the seventh and an Adam Duvall two-run homer in the ninth gave the Redlegs some insurance. Winker’s homer came off of Joaquin Benoit. Not a nice day for the Pirates’ new pickup. Not a nice couple weeks or so for the Pirates as a team, really. They had a six-game winning streak that got some people raising their eyebrows a while back and since then they’ve lost eight of ten.

Marlins 7, Nationals 0: Vance Worley tossed seven shutout innings allowing only two hits and Christian Yelich and Derek Dietrich hit homers. Yelich drove in three in all. Giancarlo Stanton ended the game with a home run robbery.

Blue Jays 5, White Sox 1: J.A. Happ struck out ten dudes in seven innings. Steve Pearce and Josh Donaldson hit homers and Justin Smoak reached base three times. The Jays have won three of four. The Blue Jays now get their first day off since the All-Star break. They have to spend it in Houston, but I guess it’ll still be OK.

 

 

Rays 3, Astros 0: Austin Pruitt and three relievers combined to shut out the Astros. It’s the second time in a week that the Astros — who lead all of baseball in scoring — have been shut out in a week. Everyone goes through stretches like this. Houston would obviously rather have it happen in early August with a 15-game division lead than in early October in a best-of-five series.

Mets 10, Rockies 5: The Rockies had a 5-0 lead heading into the fourth. Then they watched the Mets plate ten runs over the next three innings while they themselves would not score again. Curtis Granderson hit a tiebreaking, three-run homer in the sixth, Jay Bruce homered and Asdrubal Cabrera had three hits.

Angels 7, Phillies 0: All seven Angels runs came in the third inning with five of them coming via three longballs. Mike Trout and C.J. Cron hit two-run shots and Kaleb Cowart hit a solo shot. JC Ramirez tossed eight shutout innings, scattering six hits.

Athletics 6, Giants 1Daniel Gossett allowed one run on three hits over seven innings and got plenty of offense to back him. Ryon Healy homered Jed Lowrie doubled twice and scored, Matt Chapman got two hits and an RBI and Chad Pinder singled twice

Indians vs. Red Sox — POSTPONED: No lyrics today, but there’s a good reason for it:

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.