And That Happened: Wednesday's Scores and Highlights, Part 2

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Hoffman head down.jpgAnd now for the Senior Circuit.

Pirates 6, Brewers 5: Oh, Trevor. We covered this as it happened yesterday, but to reiterate: Hoffman was taken long by Ryan Doumit in the ninth for the second game in a row, and has now blown four of seven save chances this season. He blew
only four saves all of last year.  For what it’s worth his counterpart Octavio Dotel was bet up too, but I don’t think any of us lose any sleep over Octavio Dotel’s struggles.

Mets 7, Dodgers 3: John Maine struck out nine Dodgers in six innings as the Mets wrap up a 9-1 homestand. When reached for comment Ned Colletti ripped rookie pitcher John Ely for his terrible debut, ripped Fernando Valenzuela for his weight and ripped Steve Garvey for using too much hairspray.

Cardinals 6, Braves 0: Just when you think the Braves can’t sink any lower and get any more depressing they surprise you with something like this. Braves pitchers walked nine guys and Braves batters got only seven hits. They were as threatening as a doorstop in this game. Batting averages for the Braves starters yesterday: .197, .361, .241, .203, .200. .197, .200, .160.

Phillies 7, Giants 6: If I would have told you before this one that Tim Lincecum would strike out 11 and pitch into the ninth, I bet you wouldn’t have guessed the outcome. Lincecum doesn’t strike me as a violent guy, so it’s not like he’d go hit his closer, Brian Wilson, over the head with a metal chair or anything after this one, but I’m sure there was a long “Duuuuude. Not cool, dude,” exchanged.

Reds 6, Astros 4: The Reds scored three runs in the fourth inning when Hunter Pence lost a fly ball against the backdrop of the Houston sky on a day when the Minute Maid Park roof was open. Which just proves what I’ve been saying for years: playing baseball games in the open air is an abomination, and I will not rest until all teams play their home games in domes.

Diamondbacks 12, Rockies 11: Shades of pre-humidor Coors Field. Arizona led 6-0, then trailed 11-6 in this one, and that was all before the fifth inning. In the 10th Kelly Johnson homered off Franklin Morales to seal the win. A.J. Hinch was ejected in the ninth when the Dbacks loaded the bases but failed to score. He was run when Mark Reynolds was called out on a force play at home. Hinch’s take was that catcher Miguel Olivo’s foot came off the bag, and he held his hands wide apart to show the ump and the entire crowd just how badly the ump missed the call. I like those kinds of theatrics, but umpires don’t for some reason.

Nationals 3, Cubs 2: If anyone else had Matt Capps getting to 10 saves before the end of April in the office pool, please come to Kathy’s cubical and collect your winnings. Oh, and check out this sick, sick catch from Marlon Byrd. Screw skill. I’ll take luck any day.

Padres 6, Marlins 4: Down four early, the Padres came back with a five-spot in the fifth and an insurance run in the eighth. The big blow was a three-run double from noted RBI-man David Eckstein. The scrappy Adrian Gonzalez singled home the go-ahead run.  

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.