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And That Happened: Friday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the rest of Friday’s scores and highlights:

Yankees 5, Red Sox 4: Aaron Hicks found Addison Reed‘s weak spot on Friday, working a full count before unleashing a 335-foot bomb off of Reed’s slider:

The homer uncorked a five-run rally in the eighth inning, giving the Yankees just enough fuel to outpace the Red Sox and spoil the lofty plans John Farrell had for his new setup man.

Mets 7, Phillies 6: Dominic Smith may have had a whirlwind rise to the big leagues, but he delivered with all the poise of a professional Major Leaguer on Friday, collecting his first MLB hit off of the Phillies’ Nick Pivetta in the fourth inning.

He wasn’t the only rookie to steal the show, as the Mets’ go-ahead run was delivered by No. 1 prospect Amed Rosario with his first career homer in the ninth:

Pirates 4, Blue Jays 2: The Pirates found some equilibrium behind Jameson Taillon‘s big night, reaching .500 for the first time in August and sitting just three games back of the division lead. Taillon couldn’t hang on as long as opposing starter Marcus Stroman, who let four unearned runs slip through the cracks over eight innings, but emerged with the win after six innings of two-run, seven-strikeout ball.

Indians 5, Rays 0: It’s been almost exactly five years since the Rays found themselves on the wrong end of a no-hitter, and on Friday, they narrowly avoided another such incident with Carlos Carrasco. Carrasco blanked Tampa bay through 6 2/3 spotless innings, striking out seven batters before Logan Morrison prevailed with a line drive in the seventh.

It isn’t the first attempt Carrasco has made against the Rays — his first was in July 2015 — but completing a nine-inning no-no would put him in rare company, as no Indians’ pitcher has managed the feat since Len Barker’s perfect game in 1981.

Marlins 6, Rockies 3: Giancarlo Stanton became the first Major Leaguer to reach 40 home runs this season, mashing another solo shot off of Jon Gray in the eighth inning:

Given Aaron Judge‘s compelling case for Rookie of the Year, not to mention the blistering pace at which Mike Moustakas and Cody Bellinger have been collecting homers, Stanton may not be atop the leaderboard for long. His knock helped decide the game on Friday, however, as the Marlins capitalized on their slugger’s efforts to rout the Rockies with a three-run spread in the eighth. They’ll look for their first win streak since July 29 on Saturday.

Twins 9, Tigers 4: The Twins steamrolled their division rivals with their sixth straight win, eclipsing both the Angels and Mariners to slide into the second American League wild card spot. While it wasn’t Kyle Gibson’s finest night (five hits, three runs, two walks and six strikeouts in 4 2/3 innings), a solid backing from the bullpen and a steady stream of run support gave the team the boost they needed to top the fourth-place Tigers.

Rangers 6, Astros 4: A sharp comebacker struck Cole Hamels in the left knee during Friday’s contest, but the Rangers’ left-hander powered through the pain to complete seven scoreless frames and hand the Astros their fourth consecutive loss of the week. Credit for the assist goes to Adrian Beltre, who helped pad the Rangers’ lead with an RBI double and coordinated his defensive efforts with Elvis Andrus by shoving his teammate in the face:

Reds 11, Brewers 10: No lead is safe until the game is over, and never was that illustrated better than during the Reds’ nail-biter on Friday night. They constructed an eight-run lead by the fourth inning, then watched it implode during the Brewers’ seven-run rally in the sixth with a handful of RBI singles and Eric Thames‘ 26th home run of the year. Jonathan Villar‘s ninth-inning blast brought Milwaukee to the cusp of a much-needed win, but Raisel Iglesias managed to strand Thames on first base and hang on for his 20th save.

White Sox 6, Royals 3: If Reynaldo Lopez was feeling jittery during his Major League debut, he masked it well. The 23-year-old rookie played it cool against the Royals, subduing the competition with four hits, two runs, three walks and six strikeouts. Mike Moustakas proved his one and only foil, delivering not one, but two solo home runs in the fourth and sixth innings to put the Royals on the board. With the loss, the Royals have taken five consecutive losses and nine in their last 11 games.

Cardinals 8, Braves 5: The Cardinals’ Rally Kitten has been officially recovered, as confirmed by the St. Louis Feral Cat Outreach on Friday, and the Cardinals are looking similarly revived after taking a decisive win over the Braves during their series opener. Well, perhaps “revived” is the wrong word. The win marked the Cardinals’ seventh consecutive victory, their longest streak of the year and enough to keep them within one game of the division-leading Cubs. Adam Wainwright pulled off an impressive win despite failing to register a single strikeout or throw a ball faster than 90 MPH, and clocked the competition with four hits, a run and three walks over five innings.

Cubs 8, Diamondbacks 3: Speaking of the Cubs, they’re looking to reverse their fortunes after dropping three back-to-back-to-back series against the Diamondbacks, Nationals and Giants. They returned to Chase Field for a little revenge on Friday, blurring Taijuan Walker‘s pitching line with five innings of five-run, two-homer ball and handing John Lackey his 10th win of the season. It was a reassuring effort for the defending champs, who lost starting catcher Wilson Contreras to a four-week DL stint earlier in the day.

Angels 6, Mariners 5: The Mariners had plenty to celebrate on Friday night, from the kickoff of Edgar Martinez Weekend to Nelson Cruz‘s three extra bases, but still couldn’t find that elusive final run in their one-run loss to the Angels. Righty reliever Andrew Moore singlehandedly unraveled Seattle’s four-run lead in the seventh, blowing his first save of the season after RBI singles from Albert Pujols and C.J. Cron and an Andrelton Simmons’ double helped the Angels tie the game. Cron retuned for the go-ahead run in the ninth, capitalizing on an error from Jean Segura to plate Mike Trout and move within a game of the second AL wild card.

Athletics 5, Orioles 4: It was a bittersweet way to kick off the weekend for Ubaldo Jimenez, who registered a season-best 11 strikeouts before a line drive felled him in the sixth inning:

While he didn’t appear to be in a great deal of pain at the time of the incident, he was removed from the mound immediately following the at-bat and left the rest of the game in the less-than-capable hands of Baltimore’s bullpen. Brad Brach registered his fifth blown save of the year after a two-run effort from Jed Lowrie and Chad Pinder, whose combined productivity got the job done for the A’s in the eighth.

Padres 4, Dodgers 3: There are some moments that remind us how pure this game can be, how simple the thrill is of taking in a game at the ballpark, looking up from your seat and watching one of your heroes seamlessly execute a routine play:

Other plays, like Yasiel Puig‘s 270-foot laser to catch Hunter Renfroe at home plate, offer the crowd a less intimate (but no less impressive) view of the game:

(And honestly, at 96 MPH, this is a play that belongs nowhere near the stands.)

Despite their run-saving acrobatics in the field, the Dodgers took home a rare loss after Jose Pirela unleashed a go-ahead homer in the eighth inning. The win moved San Diego within 13 games of an NL wild card spot, but they’ll still have to vault over seven other teams to earn a chance to compete in the postseason.

Giants, Nationals (postponed): The Giants and Nats are set for a twin bill on Sunday, when the two teams will do their best not to repeat the Hunter Strickland/Bryce Harper fracas that disrupted their last meeting.

The Cubs are in desperate need of relief

Associated Press
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Tonight in Chicago Yu Darvish of the Dodgers will face off against Kyle Hendricks of the Cubs. If this were Game 1, we’d have a lot to say about the Dodgers’ trade deadline pickup and the Cubs’ budding ace. If this series continues on the way it’s been going, however, each of them will be footnotes because it has been all about the bullpens.

The Cubs, you may have heard, are having tremendous problems with relief pitching. Both their own and with the opposition’s. Cubs relievers have a 7.03 ERA this postseason, and have allowed six runs on eight hits and have walked six batters in seven innings of work. And no, the relief struggles aren’t just a matter of Joe Maddon pushing the wrong buttons (even though, yeah, he has pushed the wrong buttons).

Maddon pushed Wade Davis for 44 pitches in Game 5 of the NLDS, limiting his availability in Games 1 and 2. That pushing is a result of a lack of relief depth on the Cubs. Brian Duensing, Pedro Strop and Carl Edwards Jr. all have talent and all have had their moments, but none of them are the sort of relievers we have come to see in the past few postseasons. The guys who, when your starter tosses 80 pitches in four innings like Jon Lester did the other night, can be relied upon to shut down the opposition for three and a half more until your lights-out closer can get the four-out save.

In contrast, the Dodgers bullpen has been dominant, tossing eight scoreless innings. Indeed, Dodgers relievers have tossed eight almost perfect innings, allowing zero hits and zero walks while striking out nine Cubs batters. The only imperfection came when Kenley Jansen hit Anthony Rizzo in Game 2. That’s it. Compare this to the past couple of postseasons where the only truly reliable arm down there was Jansen, and in which Dodgers managers have had to rely on Clayton Kershaw to come on in relief. That has not been a temptation at all as the revamped L.A. pen, featuring newcomers Brandon Morrow and Tony Watson. Suffice it to say, Joe Blanton is not missed.

Which brings us back to Kyle Hendricks. He has pitched twice this postseason, pitching seven shutout innings in Game 1 of the NLDS but getting touched for four runs on nine hits while allowing a couple of dingers in Game 5. If the good Hendricks shows up, Maddon will be able to ride him until late in the game in which a now-rested Davis and maybe either Strop or Edwards can close things out in conventional fashion, returning this series to competitiveness. If the bad Hendricks does, he’ll have to do what he did in that NLDS Game 5, using multiple relievers and, perhaps, a repurposed starter in relief while grinding Davis into dust again. That was lucky to work there and doing it without Davis didn’t work in Game 2 on Sunday night.

So it all falls to Hendricks. The Dodgers have shown how soft the underbelly of the Cubs pen truly is. If they get to Hendricks early and get into that pen, you have to like L.A’s chances, not just in this game, but for the rest of the series, as bullpen wear-and-tear builds up quickly. It’s pretty simple: Hendricks has to give the Cubs some innings tonight. There is no other option available.

Just ask Joe Maddon. He’s tried.