And That Happened: Tuesday's Scores and Highlights

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Nick Blackburn pitches.jpgTwins 4, Tigers 3: Nick Blackburn gave up 11 hits in a complete game. This had me thinking about the concept of “scattering” hits last night. I mean, I wanted to say that Blackburn scattered 11 hits over nine innings, but 11 seemed like too many. I was thinking that scattering applies to eight
hits max, and after that you’re just getting out of jams all night.

But I wasn’t entirely sure, so I asked two extremely smart baseball people: ESPN’s Rob Neyer and Sam Miller of the Orange County Register.  They both basically gave me the same answer: it’s not the hits that determines whether you scattered them, it’s the runs.  Give up less than four runs and you can scatter 20 hits if you want to.

I still can’t say I’m entirely comfortable with this — 11 hits seems like a lot to scatter, and I don’t know that anything more than a 1:1 innings-to-runs ratio can truly be called scattering — but at some point you just have to defer to authority on these things.

Nationals 6, Braves 3: OK, deep breaths. I had let Livan Hernandez off my sh– list because the 1997 NLCS was a long time ago. I had finally moved on and vowed to not let that man aggravate me anymore. I even wrote an ATH entry a week ago wishing for nothing but the best for him as he puts together an improbably good season. Yet I find myself aggravated as all hell that his slow pitches and crappy control still manage to beat the Braves after all these years. More deep breaths.  Ahhh. OK, there. I’m better now. Congratulations on another successful outing, Mr. Hernandez. Kudos on a job well done. [twitch!] [twitch!].

Diamondbacks 1, Astros 0:  That’s the thing about Houston. They’re so versatile! They lose the close ones, they lose the blowouts, they lose on the road, they lose at home. They can do it all!

Mets 5, Reds 4: John Maine has allowed just seven earned runs in his last four starts, which is cool.  Also cool was Rod Barajas’ tiebreaking homer in the ninth. Well, at least if you’re not a Reds fan it was cool. For Reds fans it rather sucked, I suppose.

Giants 9, Marlins 6: Tim Lincecum strikes out 13, but gets a no-decsion as his bullpen can’t hold the lead for his second straight start. Overall the Giants struck out 20 Marlins.

Phillies 2, Cardinals 1: Before last night’s game, Cardinals manager and fellow attorney Tony La Russa said, when asked about the taser incident, that “I just think it’s
acceptable, because it’s a good deterrent.”  I can’t find any comment from him this morning about how damn good a deterrent it was based on the fact that someone ran out onto the field the very next night.  Oh well.  Jackass fans aside, Hamels and Lidge looked like it was 2008 all over again. So Philadelphia has that going for them. Which is nice.

Royals 7, White Sox 2: Zack Greinke should really start following Luke Hochevar around and ask him what he does to get the Royals’ offense to score all those runs for him.

Red Sox 5, Angels 1: Nice win, blah, blah, blah, but it’s time to cut Papi, right?  I mean, Mike Lowell went 4 for 4 with 4 RBI on Monday, and then last night Ortiz goes 0 for 4 with two strikeouts and hit into two double
plays, the second of which came in the eighth with the bases loaded, nobody
out, and the score tied.  This is a fireable offense, right?

Pirates 3, Cubs 2: I can’t recall a team that wins practically all of their close games yet gets the snot kicked out of them in all of their losses quite like the 2010 Pirates do.  Fifth homer in four games for Alfonso Soriano. Two-run jack for Ryan Church despite suffering from the stomach flu. I’m never completely sure what they mean when they say “stomach flu,” but I always assume it’s one of those things you get where you don’t even want to walk down the stairs too fast lest you ruin your trousers. How you hit a ball 380 feet or whatever it was with that preying on your bowels I have no idea, but that’s why Ryan Church is a ballplayer and I wear my pajamas all day.

Yankees 4, Orioles 1: A.J. Burnett could get used to pitching against the Orioles. Last Thursday he dominated them and last night he takes care of the O’s business once again (7 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 8K). And how about Francisco Cervelli? The catcher hits his first career triple (thanks to an Adam Jones dive that came up short) and makes a nice catch on a foul pop to end the fourth.

Blue Jays 8, Indians 5: Nine walks by Indians pitchers.  Know what? I watched Josh Tomlin pitch for the Columbus Clippers on Monday night and he looked better than most of what Cleveland has been throwing out there each night. Call him up. Can’t hurt.

Brewers 11, Dodgers 6: Clayton Kershaw turns in his worst performance ever (1.1 IP, 5H, 7 ER, 2BB, 2 HBP). The only highlight for Dodgers fans was a knuckleballer turning in four solid innings of mopup duty. Prince Fielder and Gregg Zaun each homered in the nine-run second inning. Zaun finished a triple short of the cycle. Hey, we can’t all be as fast as Francisco Cervelli.

Padres 3, Rockies 2: Chase Headley singled in a run in the bottom of the ninth after the Rockies walked Adrian Gonzalez to get to him. Maybe the lesson here is that intentional walks suck, but I’d probably have walked AG to get to Headley too. What I would have tried not to do was to walk leadoff hitter Lance Zadawzki before Gonzalez which, after a sacrifice, allowed the winning run to reach second.

Athletics 7, Rangers 6: Ryan Sweeney was 3 for 5 with a homer and 5 RBI for the A’s. Vlad Guerrero hit a grand slam and had five RBI for the Rangers. Scott Feldman got lit up early, though, and when you spot the other guys five runs, you don’t make life easy on yourself.

Rays 5, Mariners 2: James Shields allowed only two runs on eight hits and struck out 10. Four errors for the Mariners, who are supposed to be pretty good on defense. On offense the Mariners looked like they weren’t even trying. Take the seventh inning. The M’s, having no luck against Shields, figure to have one chance, and that’s to get him out of the game and into the Rays’ bullpen.  Take some pitches then, right? Work the count?  Nope: they go down on four pitches. Four. Jose Lopez takes a strike and then he, Casey Kotchman and Jack Wilson swing at the next three pitches for two groundouts and a fly out.  Mercy.

Red Sox survive back-and-forth affair with Astros, win 8-6 to take 3-1 lead in ALCS

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Game 4 of the ALCS on Wednesday night between the Red Sox and Astros was a thrilling back-and-forth affair with seven lead changes. Ultimately, the Red Sox emerged victorious with a hard-fought 7-5 victory.

The Red Sox wasted no time getting on the board, plating two runs in the top of the first inning against Charlie Morton thanks to a walk, hit-by-pitch, wild pitch, and a Rafael Devers single. In the bottom half, José Altuve hit what appeared to be a game-tying two-run home run to right field off of Rick Porcello. Mookie Betts leaped and was interfered with by fans in the stands, so Altuve was called out instead. The ruling was upheld after review.

In the bottom of the second, the Astros officially scored their first run when Carlos Correa knocked home a run with a single. The Red Sox immediately got it back when Xander Bogaerts doubled in a run in the top of the third, running the score to 3-1. In what would become a trend, the Astros also responded as George Springer drilled a solo homer and Josh Reddick hit an RBI single of his own to tie the game at 3-3. Tony Kemp added a solo homer down the right field line in the fourth to put the Astros on top for the first time. Bogaerts hit another RBI single in the top of the fifth to re-tie the game at 4-4. Correa followed suit in the bottom half, hitting his second RBI single of the game to give the Astros back the lead.

Jackie Bradley, Jr., who hit a soul-crushing grand slam off of Roberto Osuna in Game 3, hit another homer in Game 4, a two-run shot in the sixth off of Josh James. In the seventh, the Red Sox loaded the bases with two outs and Lance McCullers, Jr. entered to try to put out the fire. He did not, briefly, walking Brock Holt to force in a run and make the score 7-5. McCullers did end up getting out of the inning without any further damage. Just for good measure, though, J.D. Martinez tacked on a run in the eighth with an RBI single to make it 8-5.

Ryan Brasier got five outs and Matt Barnes one in the sixth and seventh. Manager Alex Cora decided to call on Craig Kimbrel for a six-out save when the bottom of the eighth rolled around. The 2018 postseason hasn’t been kind to Kimbrel as he had given up runs in all three of his appearances. Kimbrel gave up hits to the first three batters he faced. Kemp led off with a single but he tried to stretch it into a double and was thrown out at second base by Betts. Kimbrel then hit Alex Bregman with a pitch and surrendered a double to George Springer, putting runners at second and third with one out. Altuve knocked in a run with a ground out to make it 8-6, but Kimbrel saw his way out of the inning by striking out Marwin González.

In the ninth, Cora decided to keep Kimbrel in the ballgame despite his continued struggles. Kimbrel got Yuli Gurriel to pop up to start the inning, but then issued back-to-back walks to Reddick and Correa. Kimbrel got out number two by getting Brian McCann to fly out to right field, then walked Tony Kemp to load the bases. Cora decided to stay with Kimbrel as Bregman came to the plate. Kimbrel threw a first-pitch, 97 MPH fastball that Bregman laced into shallow left field. Andrew Benintendi charged in and dived, catching the ball just in time to save the game, ending it for an 8-6 victory. Of the 18 half-innings, the two sides failed to score in only seven of them.

The Red Sox, now up three games to one in the ALCS, will try to close it out on Thursday night in Houston. If the Red Sox win, they will return to the World Series for the first time since 2013.