And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights

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Pirates 13, Rockies 7: The Pirates clinch a playoff spot behind Neil Walker‘s three-run homer and six RBI. Not that it was totally easy. The Pirates had a 7-1 lead, let the Rockies back in it and then put their foot down with a six-run ninth inning. Walker has been on the Pirates since 2009, by the way. In 2010, his first full season, they lost 105 games. Andrew McCutchen, Pedro Alvarez and last night’s starter Charlie Morton were on that team as well. Seems ages ago, however.

Orioles 4, Nationals 3Manny Machado hit a two-run home run with two outs in the seventh and then Jonathan Papelbon hit Machado with a pitch in the ninth after throwing one up and in to him. Papelbon was ejected and after the game Machado called him a “coward.” I’m not sure if that’s literally correct — we tend to use “coward” as a synonym for “jackass” and other, more pithy words in that family of nouns, and that seems weird to me — but I get what Machado is saying and agree with him. Bryce Harper seems to agree as well, calling it “pretty tired” and lamenting the fact that he’ll probably get hit in today’s game. He even said “somebody” hit Machado, not using Papelbon’s name, which is a pretty classic baseball way of throwing shade on a guy. So, yeah, things are going great in the Nationals’ clubhouse, I’m sure.

Braves 6, Mets 3: Freddie Freeman, like Dante, wasn’t even supposed to be here today. But like Dante, he buckled down and did his job, driving in five runs after entering the game as a pinch hitter in the seventh inning, totally stunning the Mets. Freeman has always hit the Mets well, but I’d like to think this is him upping his game to Chipper-versus-the-Mets levels. Mostly because very little makes me giggle more than seeing Mets fans suffer derangement syndrome over a given Braves hitter at any given time. I mean, the Nats lost, the Mets are pretty clearly winning the division and the Braves are a total tire fire at the moment, but from the looks of my timeline last night Mets fans are reaching for the antidepressants. Really, the Mets need to either win every single playoff game in which they appear by five runs this postseason or else they need to be eliminated quickly, because I don’t think their fans can handle the drama otherwise.

Padres 5, Giants 4: Bruce Bochy may be the best manager alive and all of that, but he ought to be tarred and feathered for this:

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Yes, Bochy used three pitchers in the seventh, three pitchers in the eighth and three pitchers in the ninth inning. Of his nine relief pitchers in this game, one threw two pitches, two threw three, two threw four and one threw eight. Hell, now that I think of it, this isn’t tar-and-feathering stuff. This is “put him on the back of a horse backwards with a Mardi Gras head on him and make him walk out into the desert like Mel Gibson in ‘Beyond Thunderdome'” stuff. And the Giants still lost. As did every single person watching this game.

Seriously, we need to do something about expanded rosters.

Angels 6, Astros 5: Things are getting tight. The Angels rallied in a three-run eighth inning thanks in part to a David Freese two-run double and took two of three from the Astros in this series. They’re now only one and a half back of Houston — the Twins are just a game back — and the Astros are looking up three games at the Rangers. Can a team go from most surprising to most disappointing in the space of a couple of months?

Tigers 7, White Sox 4: There was a time when Justin Verlander would sit mid-90s all game and then, in the late innings, crank it up to the high 90s. Not a ton of pitchers do that and Verlander himself hasn’t been able to for a couple of years. But he did it yesterday, hitting 99 on the gun in the seventh inning en route to his fourth win of the season. Verlander’s reemergence may be the only positive thing happening with the Tigers in the second half but it’s an absolutely essential thing if the Tigers are to return to competitiveness in the next couple of years.

Blue Jays 4, Yankees 0: Now witness the firepower of this fully armed and operational Marcus Stroman! I guess we’ve seen that for a few games now, but if seven shutout innings or something quite like it is what we’re gonna get from him on the regular, well, look out everyone else in the playoffs.

Rays 6, Red Sox 2: Drew Smyly pitched shutout ball into the seventh, Steven Souza had four hits and Asdrubal Cabrera had three. This game was brought to you by “dudes who, if you weren’t paying that much attention, you coulda swore played for other teams.” And FanDuel.

Marlins 4, Phillies 3: Dee Gordon hit an RBI double with two outs in the bottom of the 11th inning to walk it off for the Marlins. Which is sort of surprising to me because I was assured that the Geneva Convention had outlawed extra innings games between teams like the Marlins and Phillies in late September as some sort of crime against humanity.

Brewers 4, Cubs 1: The Brewers had a nine-game losing streak to the Cubs but they snapped it here. Curse of the cheetah, probably.

Royals 4, Mariners 3: Lorenzo Cain singled home the winning run in the bottom of the 10th inning, reducing the Royals magic number to two. Twins loss, Royals win and it’s over in the AL Central. After the game, Cain said “Champagne tomorrow, that would be nice.” I’d like to think he said that with no knowledge whatsoever of the magic number situation, however. Because it’s always a true sentiment.

Twins 4, Indians 2: Phil Hughes lost his job in the Twins rotation but was back last night and he pitched five scoreless innings, beating Corey Kluber and the Tribe. Paul Molitor said after the game that “those were the biggest five zeros” Hughes has had all year. I can only assume that means Hughes’ fantasy team didn’t have some combination of the Phillies and Tigers rotation in it.

Cardinals 10, Reds 2: Matt Carpenter homered twice and the Cardinals won their 96th game of the year. Pretty darn good chance they’ll be the first 100-win team since the 2011 Phillies. Not that I wanna jinx ’em with that awful comp, however.

Dodgers 4, Diamondbacks 1Chase Utley played the hero, hitting a leadoff homer and doubling in Jimmy Rollins in the eighth which gave the 2008 Phillies the lead. My computer crashed as I was looking at the box score so I can’t be sure, but I think Brad Lidge closed this one out.

Rangers 10, Athletics 3: Elvis Andrus and Adrian Beltre each drove in three runs — each on a three-run homer — and Colby Lewis won his 17th as the Rangers maintain their three-game lead in the West. At some point we’re all gonna have to sit down and talk about how the Rangers pulled this off.

 

And That Happened: Tuesday’s scores and highlights

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Marlins 3, Mets 0: It’s not just Jose Fernandez in Miami. Henderson Alvarez tossed his second shutout of the year, allowing six hits, striking out seven and not walking a soul. Casey McGehee drove in two.

Braves 2, Cardinals 1: The Braves snap their seven-game losing streak and do so with a fantastic performance from Gavin Floyd, making his first start post-Tommy John surgery. Floyd went seven, allowing only one run on six hits.

Dodgers 8, Nationals 3Now witness the firepower of this fully ARMED and OPERATIONAL Clayton Kershaw! Nine hits scattered over seven innings, nine strikeouts and nothing else doing. 

Pirates 2, Giants 1: A walkoff replay review. Well, a walkoff triple with the runner advancing home on an error, but Starling Marte was initially called out and then the call was reviewed and overturned. That’s the first time that has happened in history. And, for as odd and anticlimactic the whole thing was, this is the sort of play — a game-deciding play that the umpires on the field got wrong — that replay was designed to overturn.

Blue Jays 6, Phillies 5: Toronto jumped out to a 5-0 lead, Philly rallied for five with the help of a Cody Asche grand slam and then Toronto scored the winning run in the tenth on a sac fly. Cole Hamels gave up five runs on ten hits in six innings. He has given up 13 earned runs in 16.2 innings over three starts.

Tigers 11, Astros 4: A seven-run win and still not as close as the score would suggest. Miguel Cabrera had four hits and drove in four. The Tigers have won seven straight.

Indians 4, Twins 2: Josh Tomlin got the callup from Columbus and then got his first win since 2012, striking out four, walking one and taking a shutout into the seventh. Nice bit of bookending going on here as his last start before TJ surgery was against the Twins and he was shelled.

Diamondbacks 7, Brewers 5: Aaron Hill went 4 for 4 with a pair of RBI singles on Monday. On Tuesday he hit a two-run homer in the eighth to help the Snakes take this one. I’m sure there are other ways to have fun in Milwaukee, but this is a pretty good one for a ballplayer.

Editor’s Note: Hardball Talk‘s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $40,000 Fantasy Baseball league for Wednesday night’s MLB games. It’s $25 to join and first prize is $6,000. Starts at 7:05pm ET on WednesdayHere’s the FanDuel link.

Orioles 5, Rays 3: There was a 19-minute delay in this one due to the lights going out thanks to a nearby storm. Which, sure, scoff all you want about the quality of Tropicana Field, but at least they have a roof. Ryan Flaherty and Nick Markakis drove in runs after play resumed to give Baltimore the lead and the game.

White Sox 5, Cubs 1: Gordon Beckham’s homer in the eighth broke a 1-1 tie and the Southsiders rallied for three more in the ninth to beat the Northsiders. Four hits in all for Beckham, which is pretty spiffy for a guy who has been struggling as much as he has.

Red Sox 4, Reds 3: A walkoff hit for Grady Sizemore in the 12th. He had previously singled home a run in the third and had another hit in the eighth.

Mariners 8, Athletics 3: Roenis Elias struck out six while pitching into the seventh, Justin Smoak drove in three and the M’s won their fourth straight.

Rockies 12, Rangers 1: The Rockies rap 21 hits. Carlos Gonzalez had five of them and Troy Tulowtizki and Drew Stubbs each had three. Nolan Arenado extended his hitting streak to 26 games. The 2014 Rockies are re-earning the name Blake Street Bombers. They are just destroying everyone on offense.

Royals 3, Padres 1: Alex Gordon singled in the go-ahead run in the 11th inning and Billy Butler followed with an RBI double to help the Royals snap their five-game losing streak. Jeremy Guthrie, Wade Davis and Greg Holland combined to hold the Padres to six hits.

Yankees 4, Angels 3: Most of these games last night felt the same, at least when reading the box scores. A late run to break a tie with a solo shot or something. Which, hey, OK, not every game needs to be totally dramatic. Just odd. Here Brian Roberts did the deed for New York, hitting his first one of the year.

And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and hightlights

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Royals 8, Tigers 3: You can try to make Phil Coke a multi-inning reliever all you want, but he’s still going to be a lefty specialist. And when he comes in and has trouble even getting the lefties out, you can’t stick with him. He’s not the one who gave up the grand slam to Alex Gordon, but he set the stage. Well, that and Jim Leyland intentionally walking Jeff Francouer, but the outcome was all but set when that happened. We were just waiting for it to finish playing out.

Pirates 6, Phillies 4: Hey, did you realize that Pittsburgh was 13-9? It’s true. They’re winners of 10 of 13. Gaby Sanchez homered and drove in three. The Phillies dropped their first home series against the Pirates in over a decade.

Red Sox 7, Astros 2: Now witness the firepower of this fully ARMED and OPERATIONAL David Ortiz! The Sox’ DH was 3 for 4 with a homer and an RBI single. He’s 11 for 20 since coming off the DL. Clay Buchholz struck out ten while pitching into the eighth. Daniel Bard made his 2013 debut, striking out one in a scoreless inning. Oh, and alert the media and/or relevant first responders: Rick Ankiel drew a walk. His first of the year.

Dodgers 3, Mets 2: Hyun-Jin Ryu had a nice performance, holding the Mets to one run on three hits in seven innings while striking out eight. Andre Ethier broke a 1-1 tie in the ninth with an RBI single, followed up by Juan Uribe putting the Dodgers ahead with a single of his own.

Yankees 5, Blue Jays 3: Robinson Cano, Vernon Wells and Frankie Cervelli went deep. The Yankees were down 3-0 early, but Hiroki Kuroda settled down after that and waited for the bats to boom. A record low crowd for Yankee Stadium. Which is kind of a shame, actually. This Yankees team isn’t what people are accustomed to, but it’s kinda cool seeing contributions from different faces and names in pinstripes. If nothing else, people should be bearing witness to a resurrection: Vernon Wells is hitting .293/.361/.587 with six homers on the year.

Nationals 8, Reds 1: If the bats are gonna sleep, it’s up to the pitchers. That’s what Gio Gonzalez must’ve figured, as he allowed only one hit — a Joey Votto solo shot — in eight innings. Except the bats did show up, actually, with the Nats rattling off a dozen hits, including a Danny Espinosa two-run homer and RBI double. Denard Span drove in three as well.

White Sox 5, Rays 2: Chris Sale walked four dudes, but allowed only two runs and four hits in seven innings. Adam Dunn homered. Life is more fun when Adam Dunn homers. He’s now hitting a crisp .108 on the year.

Cubs 4, Marlins 3: It’s 2013. Terrorism, war and ecological destruction ravage the planet. Still, I’m gonna offer that a Cubs-Marlins series is the worst thing affecting humankind at the moment. Luis Valbuena hit the go-ahead homer in the ninth. Afterwards he said “Ninth inning, two outs, I tried to hit a home run. I didn’t want to play extra innings.” I don’t think any of us wanted to see it either, Luis. Give that man a humanitarian award.

Rangers 2, Twins 1: Nick Tepesch allowed five hits in six and two-thirds, with a solo homer to Josh Willingham the only blight on the box score. The Twins’ best chance to get even or better ended, however, when Willingham hit into a bases-loaded double play in the eighth. Selah.

Diamondbacks 3, Rockies 2: Paul Goldschmidt with a two-run homer helped a not-great but good enough Trevor Cahill, who notched his first W of the year.

Orioles 10, Athletics 2: Nate McLouth singled, doubled, walked and drove in two. Chris Davis homered. Adam Jones had three hits. All nine starters got a hit and six different O’s drove in a run. The A’s have dropped six of seven.

Mariners 6, Angels 0: The Mariners’ sleepy bats woke up. Including Carlos Peguero’s, whose bat hit a 450+ foot homer, adjudged the third longest in Safeco Field history. Kyle Saeger has a 14 game hitting streak. As for Anaheim, I’m not wishing any ill-happenings for anyone, but I’m still liking my “Mike Scioscia is the first manager fired this year” prediction.