And That Happened: Wednesday's scores and highlights

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Dodgers 6, Rockies 1: Randy Wolf (7.1 IP, 5 H, 1 ER) and Andre Either (3-4, 2 HR, 3 RBI) put this one away pretty early, thereby preventing me from being able to use the second in a series of choke jokes I had prepared. There’s still a lot of time left in the season, however, and I’m sure the occasion will present itself again.

Phillies 4, Pirates 1: All day yesterday people were saying “Forget Lidge, bring in Ryan Madson! Madson can get the job done!” Guess not, as Madson’s blown save cost Cole Hamels his first win in a month despite pitching eight shutout innings. Best part: Madson gets the W! Which means that he’s a winner. QED. At least that’s what Joe Morgan taught me. Anyway, Ryan Howard saves everyone’s bacon with a three-run homer in the 10th. Mmmm . . . bacon.

Marlins 5, Mets 3: This Mets team is so depleted that the very concept of depletion is insulted by being associated with them. The latest DL resident is Oliver Perez, who was sidelined with a season-ending knee injury. While is absence would seem like just what the doctor ordered, the Mets were still somehow lost this one.

Red Sox 3, White Sox 2: A walkoff homer for Big Papi, who homered earlier in the game as well. In fact four of the game’s five runs came on solo home runs. Tim Wakefield made his first start since the All-Star break, and pitched well despite not getting the win (7 IP, 6 H, 1 ER). Victor Martinez did his best to catch the knuckler, though the first pitch of the game did get away from him. The late Senator Edward Kennedy was honored before the game with a solemn ceremony and “Taps” and all of that. With all due respect to the recently departed, however, don’t you think he would much rather have been honored by the allowance of beer sales past the seventh inning?

Padres 12, Braves 5: This is basically the Braves we’ve been living with for the past four years: Awful play out of the gate, a nice little run to give you hope, and then an inexplicable swoon in games a contending team has no business losing. Mac calls the 6th-9th innings “the worst four innings that the Braves have played this year . . . probably the worst anyone has played.” Another tragic thing about this game, courtesy of reader Melissa D: Jerry Springer sang “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.” Melissa does point out one ray of light: the Turner Field organist continues to dazzle, playing “Papa Don’t Preach” each time Tony Gwynn, Jr. came to bat. I’m guessing it’s only a matter of time before this organist is punched out cold by an angry player. Which I hope is something he would view as a very, very worthy goal.

Cardinals 3, Astros 2: The scary thing about all of this is that the guy who is 13-9 with a 3.11 ERA is only this Cardinal team’s third best starter. Pineiro gave up two runs over eight innings pitched, and without looking, I’m going to guess that the Cardinals have won more close, low-scoring games than any team in baseball this year. Seriously, I’ve recapped around 100 Cardinals games this year, and I’m pretty sure that 92% of them finished 3-2.

Orioles 5, Twins 1: His team lost, but Alexi Casilla made a humdinger of a play, ranging right, diving to snag the ball, and then flipping it out of his glove to Orlando Cabrera covering second for the out as Casilla face planted. Also, I was not aware that the Twins have a pitcher named Jeff Manship, which is perhaps the coolest last name in the world. I’d lose the “Jeff” though, and go with something like “Jack” or “Brock” or “Pud.” Seriously, tell me that “Pud Manship” wouldn’t be your favorite player. See, now I know you’re lying.

Blue Jays 3, Rays 2: Rod Barajas ties it up with a ninth inning homer off of J.P. Howell. Howell was apparently the only relief pitcher the Rays brought with them on this road trip, as he was allowed to stay in to issue three straight walks and then a wild pitch which allowed Marco Scutaro to score the winning run. Bad day for the home plate umpires, as first Jerry Crawford was knocked out of the game in the third after he was hit by a foul ball to the face, and then his replacement, Tom Hallion, left in the sixth inning after taking one off the chest. Hallion manshipped up, however, and stayed in the game over at third base following a delay in play, with Brian O’Nora moving behind the plate. Sadly, O’Nora was stampeded by wild buffalo in the eighth, but by then I think everyone knew it was coming.

Cubs 9, Nationals 4: Livan Hernadez made his first start on his second tour of duty with the Nats, but the final score wasn’t his doing. He actually pitched pretty well (6 IP, 5 H, 2 ER). It was the bullpen — mostly Jorge “how in the hell do I still have a job in baseball” Sosa — that did Washington in. Milton Bradley had three RBI, but make no mistake: he still feels your hatred.



Yankees 9, Rangers 2: The Yankees win this one easily behind a
nice outing from Pettitte and a three-run homer from Posada. The
Rangers are now two and a half behind Boston for the wild card, which
kind of bums me out, because I think they’d be fun to watch in the
playoffs, whereas Boston is the opposite of fun to watch.

Indians 4, Royals 2: I have mornings when I can’t find anything
interesting to talk about in a given game. AP game story writers have
nights like those too: “Most of the game was nondescript, as might be
expected of two teams with little left to play for and a crowd that
hardly seemed there . . . Lots of lazy popups, routine grounders, a few
strikeouts, the occasional grounder through the infield. Boring? Maybe
a little, especially after what Greinke did the night before, but it
worked.”

Angels 4, Tigers 2: Vladimir Guerrero got his 1,000th hit as an
Angel. Seven other guys have done that: Garret Anderson, Tim Salmon,
Brian Downing, Darin Erstad, Jim Fregosi, Bobby Grich and Chone
Figgins. Before looking that up I tried to guess the other seven. I got
five right, forgetting Fregosi for some reason that probably has to do
with me being too young to remember him as a player, and Figgins, who
for some reason I still tell myself is, like, 24 and just got called up
a year ago, even though I know better.

Reds 4, Brewers 3: You don’t hear nearly as much about Ryan
Braun’s defensive deficiencies these days as you used to, but once in a
while we do get a reminder that, for all of his merits as a ballplayer,
he can be a liability out in left. Such a reminder came when
Pinch-hitter Darnell McDonald hit a liner over Braun’s head in the 10th
inning which he misjudged, allowing Craig Tatum to score. It’s a
testament to the Reds’ season by the way, that I had not heard of
either McDonald nor Tatum before this morning. A greater testament,
however, comes in connection with the Brewers’ season: 19 of the their
22 losses since the break have come to teams that are currently under
.500.

Giants 4, Diamondbacks 3: Benjie Molina hit a pinch hit
three-run home run in the eighth. Good game for Jonathan Sanchez, who
went seven innings giving up three runs and six hits while striking out
nine.

Mariners 5, Athletics 3: Seattle sweeps Oakland despite not
having Ichiro available. Surprisingly, they’re 9-2 without him this
year so, like, they should totally trade him to Atlanta for cash
considerations or something.


Red Sox look to punch their ticket to the World Series tonight

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Thanks to some amazing defense, some big hits and — to continue to beat this horse, a bad call by Joe West — the Red Sox have a 3-1 lead in the ALCS and look to clinch the AL Pennant tonight down in Houston.

If you believe in momentum, you’d have to say it’s on Boston’s side. If you believe that momentum is the next day’s starting pitcher, however, you’d have to say things favor Houston more than the standing of the series would suggest. All of which makes me wish Game 5 was starting right now, because it figures to be a tense and exciting affair.

ALCS Game 5

Red Sox vs. Astros
Ballpark: Minute Maid Park
Time: 8:09 PM Eastern
TV: TBS
Pitchers: David Price vs. Justin Verlander
Breakdown:

If someone told you that you had to win one baseball game against the Martians to save the human race, you could do far worse than calling on Justin Verlander to be your starting pitcher. Among the pitchers still in the postseason, he’d almost certainly be your choice right now.

Does Verlander himself appreciate the situation? This is what he said about that yesterday:

“I mean, these are all must-win games at this point. Every time you take the mound I don’t think there’s any difference whether it’s 2-2 or 3-1.”

Look, we’re asking him to beat the Martians here, not win the National Math Bee, so let’s let that go. The point is that after all of these years he’s still one of the most dominant pitchers in the game and after the exhausting, see-saw battle of Game 4, he stands the best chance of giving Houston what it needs: a quick, quiet and drama-free win.

Not that the Red Sox are likely to roll over for that. They didn’t the first time they faced Verlander in this series. They Astros won, yes, and Verlander limited them to two runs on two hits. But he also issued four walks and wasn’t his sharpest overall. Boston didn’t capitalize on his mistakes as best they could, but he’s not invincible.

For Boston it’s David Price. He allowed four runs on five hits and four walks over four and two-thirds innings in Game 2, not factoring in the decision. That’s not great, but given the talk leading up to that game being all about how Price is a postseason flop, the fact that the Sox won it in the end had to bouy him at least a little. As does the fact that, here, tonight, it’s not 100% on his shoulders. Sure, the Sox want to close this out, but with a 3-1 lead there is less pressure on Price than on his former teammate Verlander. Worth noting, though: Price is on short rest and warmed up in the bullpen last night in case he was needed to bail out Craig Kimbrel. He may not go deep into this game.