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And That Happened: Thursday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Diamondbacks 10, Cubs 8: Paul Goldschmidt went deep three times, knocking in six runs, including a solo shot in the ninth that broke an 8-8 tie after the Dbacks had blown a five-run lead. Goldschmidt is the ninth player to have a three-homer game this season, joining Yoenis CespedesMatt KempAnthony RendonScooter Gennett (four), Eddie RosarioCorey SeagerNolan Arenado, and Andrew McCutchen.

Red Sox 9, White Sox 5: Sox win! Rafael Devers hit a three-run homer in the first inning, Mookie Betts added a two-run shot and Andrew Benintendi went 3-for-3, reaching base five times, and scoring twice and driving in a run. White Sox rookie Nicky Delmonico hit his first career homer. Well done, Delmonico.

Brewers 2, Cardinals 1: Keon Broxton gave the Brewers a 2-1 lead with a single in the fifth, which would hold up. It would’ve been a 2-2 tie except he robbed Jose Martinez of a solo homer earlier in the game:

 

Matt Garza came off the DL to allow one run in five and two-thirds.

Rockies 5, Mets 4: What a way to lose a game. Tied 4-4 in the ninth inning, the Rockies rallied to win it in walkoff fashion, though you can give the Mets and reliever Hansel Robles a monster assist in that victory. The ninth inning sequence: Jonathan Lucroy getting hit by a pitch, a sac bunt, an intentional walk of Charlie Blackmon to put runners on first and second and then a  walk to D.J. LeMahieu and a walkoff walk to Nolan Arenado. Here was the last pitch to Arenado:

Juuuuust a bit high.

Tigers 7, Orioles 5: Detroit took a 7-0 lead by the top of the third and it held up, ending the O’s five-game winning streak. Ian Kinsler hit a leadoff homer and Justin Upton hit a two-run homer in the rain-interrupted game. The O’s did have a nice moment, however, in turning a sweet 5-4-3 triple play:

Pirates 6, Reds 0: Chad Kuhl tossed seven shutout innings as Andrew McCutchen and David Freese each drove in two and Starling Marte went 3-for-5 and scored three times . The Reds didn’t advance a runner past second base all game long.

Indians 5, Yankees 1: Corey Kluber tossed a complete game, striking out 11 and allowing one run on only three hits, overshadowing Sonny Gray‘s debut for the Yankees. Gray allowed four runs over six, but only two were earned thanks to the Yankees playing terrible defense behind him in the first inning, committing not one, not two, but three errors.

Dodgers 7, Braves 4: Alex Wood has lost only one game all year, and that was to the Braves. Here, facing his old mates again, he allowed one run in six innings to get the W. Although to be honest, most of them probably aren’t his “old mates.” Freddie Freeman, maybe. Nick Markakis. A couple of pitchers. Otherwise the roster has turned over. But relax, it’s a figure of speech.

Rangers 4, Twins 1: You’re not gonna believe this, but Joey Gallo went deep again. Here he hit a three-run shot in the fourth inning for his fourth homer in the past three games and his 29th on the year. He’s hitting .205 and is on pace for 44 bombs. That’s some Dave Kingman stuff right there.

Rays 5, Astros 3: Steven Souza Jr. homered and drove in three runs. Corey Dickerson added three hits. Houston loses their third in a row and their fifth in the past six games.

Royals 6, Mariners 4: Brandon Moss hit two home runs and Lorenzo Cain drove in the go-ahead run in the seventh as the Royals fought back from deficits of 2-0 and 3-2 to snap their three-game losing streak. Ned Yost was ejected for the second straight game. I would say that he learned from his old boss Bobby Cox about how to get ejected on purpose — if it was hot out Cox would pick a dumb fight with an ump and get himself sent to the air conditioned clubhouse — but it was pretty nice in Kansas City yesterday so maybe this was something else.

Angels 5, Phillies 4: Mike Trout hit a two-run homer early and the Angels came back late, with the go-ahead score coming on a wild pitch. “That was hard to take,” Philadelphia manager Pete Mackanin said afterward. He’ll probably say that on the afternoon of October 1 referring to the whole season, too.

Giants 11, Athletics 2: Giants starter Ty Blach pitched eight strong innings, allowing only two runs, and he hit a three-run homer to boot. And it wasn’t a cheapie. He hit out to dead center into the heavy Bay Area nighttime air.Brandon Belt hit a two-run homer and Jarrett Parker had three hits and three RBI in his first game back from the disabled list.

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.