And That Happened: Thursday's scores and recaps

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Giants 5, Nationals 1: 300. My first memory of The Big Unit was watching him on TV as he pitched against the Braves on May 7, 1989.
He was gangley and ineffective that afternoon, going four innings and
giving up six runs and walking six guys on the second worst offense in
the National League. There was nothing about him that made me think the
guy would be in baseball in a year, let alone winning his 300th 20
years later. When he was traded to the Mariners the following month I
thought “they gave up Mark Langston for THAT guy?” Mark Langston was an
All-Star who could strike guys out. Why on Earth would Seattle give
that up for this tall drink of water? Shows you what I know.
Congratulations to Randy Johnson, one of the most unique and impressive
talents to ever play the game.

Yankees 8, Rangers 6: Is everyone cool with Hughes to the pen
and Wang to the rotation? Because I’m not sure I am, and I don’t even
much care about the Yankees. Wang gave up five runs on seven hits in
four and two-thirds. On the bright side he only gave up one home run
and struck out five, so this could just be rust which, according to
conventional wisdom, is particularly hard on sinkerballers. I don’t
know if the CW is true in this regard, but at least Hughes is around in
case Wang simply can’t find it again. Compensating for Wang was Melky
Cabrera, who provided late-game heroics once again, this time in the
form of a two-run homer in the eighth that proved to be the game
winner.

Red Sox 6, Tigers 3: Reports of Dontrelle Willis’ return to form
were slightly exaggerated. D-Train was cruising along fine until he was
derailed in the third, when he went HBP-walk-K-walk-walk-walk. Leyland
pulled him at that point — getting himself ejected during the pitching
change, which is a nice trick — and then Zach Miner let eveyone Willis
put on score and then some. To top off this craptacular series for
Detroit, Miguel Cabrera hurt his hamstring running the bases and had to
leave the game.

Marlins 4, Brewers 3: Josh Johnson does it all. He hits!
(three-run homer!) He pitches! (7.2 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 8K). He’ll slice
your onions, tomatoes, cucumbers and make mounds of Julienne fries!

Twins 11, Indians 3: After watching Fausto Carmona performance yesterday, Rob Neyer said
“every time Carmona pitches he just embarrasses himself and the rest of
the organization.” Ouch. True, but ouch. Jason Kubel played a big hand
in the embarrassment, smacking two three-run homers off of Carmona.

Angels 6, Blue Jays 5: Not that every recent Neyer subject plays to form. As Rob notes, Howie Kendrick has been terrible,
but after the Angels’ bullpen blew the lead in the eighth, Kendrick
dropped a bunt single when he noticed Jose Bautista playing behind the
bag a third, advanced to third on a Chone Figgins single, and then
scored on a grounder to second that may have frozen a lot of guys at
third base. He’s still playing terrible baseball overall, but at least
for one inning he did something right.

Pirates 11, Mets 6: Welcome Andrew McCutchen! The Pirates’ new
centerfielder went 2-4 with a walk, a stolen base, scored three runs
and drove in another. But really everyone hit for Pittsburgh. Ramon
Vazquez went 4 for 4 and Andy LaRoche had a couple of RBIs as well. The
Mets hit too, but Mike Pelfrey had the worst day of his life, and there
really wasn’t any recovering from the nine runs he had given up by the
time he left in the fourth.

Athletics 7, White Sox 0: Young Brett Anderson pitched a gem (7
IP, 6 H, 0 ER) and for once the A’s bats responded. Everyone had a hit
except Orlando Cabrera and Adam Kennedy. Even Aaron “.158/.200/.158”
Cunningham, who hit a homer. The other day Ozzie Guilled said “if we have Beckham here, we’re in trouble.” Well, he’s here, and he debuted with an 0-3.

Cardinals 3, Reds 1: Overheard during Chris Carpenter’s
2007-2008 surgery and rehab: “Chris Carpenter: pitcher. A man whose arm
is barely alive. Gentlemen, we can rebuild him. We have the technology.
We have the capability to build the world’s first bionic starting
pitcher. Chris Carpenter will be that man. Better than he was before.
Better, stronger, faster.” If you have a better explanation for 4-0
with a 0.71 ERA, I’d really like to hear it.

Rays 3, Royals 2: The Royals have dropped seven games in a row. The Rays are back to .500.

Rockies 10, Astros 3: It was going to happen eventually, so why
not last night: Wandy Rodriguez was shelled (5 IP, 10 H, 7 ER). Garrett
Atkins had a couple of homers for the Rockies, but really everyone got
in on the hit parade.

Giants 4, Nationals 1: Matt Cain gets a rain-shortened win in
the second, afterthoughty and rainy half of the doubleheader. I can
only assume that there were about six people there by the time the rain
started coming down in earnest.

Phillies 3, Dodgers 0: Cole Hamels spins the pitching performance of the night (CG, SHO, 5 H, 5K). The Phillies have won seven straight.

Cubs-Braves: Postponed. They’ll have to schedule a doubleheader
to make this one up, most likely. Doubleheaders can be hard on a
pitching staff. Helps to have an extra starter hanging around for those
things you know. Some guy — maybe a wily vet — who can just bear down
and give you some innings to save the rest of your staff. Too bad the
Braves don’t have anyone like that. AAAAARRRGGH!

Young Blue Jays say they aren’t intimidated by top seed Rays

Blue Jays roster and schedule
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) When the Tampa Bay Rays and Toronto Blue Jays opened the pandemic-delayed season a little over two months ago, there was little to indicate the AL East rivals might meet again to begin the playoffs.

While the Rays launched the truncated 60-game schedule with expectations of making a strong bid for their first division title in a decade, the Blue Jays generally were viewed as an immensely talented young team still years away from postseason contention.

Tampa Bay didn’t disappoint, shrugging off a slow start to go a league-best 40-20 and claim the No. 1 seed in the AL playoffs that begin Tuesday.

Lefty Blake Snell, who’ll start Game 1 of the best-of-three wild-card series against Toronto at Tropicana Field, also isn’t surprised that the eighth-seeded Blue Jays earned a spot, too.

The Rays won six of 10 games between the teams during the regular season, but were outscored 48-44 and outhomered 17-11.

And while Toronto (32-28) lacks the playoff experience Tampa Bay gained last season when the Rays beat Oakland in the AL wild-card game before falling to Houston in the divisional round, the Blue Jays are building with exciting young players such as Cavan Biggio, Bo Bichette and Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

“They’ve got a lot of young guys who can ball over there,” Snell said. “It’s going to be fun to compete and see how we do.”

Rays defensive whiz Kevin Kiermaier said Tampa Bay, in the playoffs in consecutive seasons for the second time franchise history, will not take the Blue Jays lightly.

“We know we’re playing a real good team,” Kiermaier said. “It’s not going to be easy, regardless of what a team is seeded.”

The Blue Jays, who’ll start right-hander Matt Shoemaker, aren’t conceding anything.

Bichette said he and his teammates respect how good Tampa Bay is, but are not intimidated by facing the No. 1 seed.

“I would say that we didn’t care who we played. I would say that we didn’t mind playing Tampa, that’s for sure. We’re familiar with them. We’ve played them well,” Bichette said.

“I think we’re confident in our ability against them. Our talent matches up well,” Bichette added. “We think if we play well we’ve got a good chance.”

NO FANS

The stands at Tropicana Field will be empty, leaving players to wonder what the atmosphere will be like for the playoffs.

Tampa Bay routinely rank at or near the bottom of the majors in attendance, but usually pack the stands in the domed stadium during the postseason.

“It will be different,” Bichette said. “Normally when you think of your first postseason you think 40,000, you think about not being able to think it’s so loud, stuff like that.”

The Blue Jays open the playoffs near where they hold spring training in Dunedin, Florida. It’s been a winding road for Toronto, which played its home games in Buffalo, New York, at the site of its Triple-A affiliate after the Canadian government barred the Blue Jays from hosting games at their own stadium because of coronavirus concerns.

CONFIDENT RAYS

Tampa Bay’s five-game loss to Houston in last year’s divisional round was a source of motivation during the regular season.

“It definitely lit a fire under everybody. It really showed us we belong. … We gave them a tough series,” second baseman Brandon Lowe said.

“We won the wild-card game. We belong in the postseason. I think that did a lot for us to understand that we should be in the postseason and we can go a lot farther. We know what to expect this time around. I think everyone in our clubhouse expects to be playing until the end of October,” he said.

CLOSE FRIENDS

Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash has the Rays in the playoffs for the second time. His close friend and former Rays third base and bench coach Charlie Montoyo is in his second year as manager of the Blue Jays, who last made the playoffs in 2016.

“Pretty special,” Cash said of his relationship with Montoyo.

“I really learned a lot from him being around him. The way he carried himself. His hand print is throughout this organization,” Cash added. “A pretty big impact and a positive one. … When they clinched I talked to him, we face-timed at 1:30 in the morning. I’m so happy for him.”