And That Happened: Sunday's Scores and Highlights

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Albert Pujols running.jpgCardinals 9, Cubs 1: Things people were doing for about ten seconds and then suddenly pretending that they never did: (1) listening to swing music; (2) playing poker; and (3) wondering if it was possible that Albert Pujols was no longer the best player in baseball. Pujols: 3 for 3 3 HR, 4 RBI; Cherry Poppin’ Daddies, awful, your story about that miracle draw on the river of that hand you shouldn’t have even been in anymore, still boring as hell.

Tigers 10, Athletics 2: I once got stuck in Toledo for a two-week trial, and when I came back I appreciated my non-Toledo existence as the precious gift from The Maker that it truly is. Life felt fresh again and, for a little while at least, I approached my responsibilities with a renewed sense of purpose and gusto. I think Max Scherzer feels the same way (5.2 IP, 2 H, 14K).  Oh, and becoming father for the second time agrees with Miguel Cabrera: 4 for 5 with a double a homer and 4 RB. Cabrera is 8 for 13 with four homers in the three games since the birth of his daughter.

Marlins 1, Phillies 0: The Phillies’ offensive woes were forgotten for a minute thanks to Roy Halladay’s perfect game, but the fact is that they still only scored four runs in three games on their trip to Florida. Sure, the Marlins only scored three, but they’re not the ones who were supposed to pummel the opposition all year.

Braves 5, Pirates 2: I wrote a proto-epitaph for Chipper Jones on Thursday, and in the four games since then he’s gone 6 for 12 with 5 RBI, including yesterday’s pinch hit job, which proved to be the game-winner. All but one of those hits were singles so I suppose we could still ask where Jones’ power is, but let’s not bury the guy just yet.

Giants 6, Diamondbacks 5: Stop me if you’ve heard this one: the opposing team rallied off the Dbacks’ bullpen and went on to win the game.  That makes seven straight losses for Arizona, who was outscored 23-6 in the series.  Oh, and Buster Posey starts out his 2010 major league season by going 6 for 10 with two doubles and four RBI for the Giants.

Angels 9, Mariners 7: Three-run walkoff homer for Howie Kendrick in the bottom of the ninth. No Los Angels of Anaheim were injured in the celebration of this event.

Padres 3, Nationals 2: Two homers for Ryan Zimmerman, but the pinch hit RBI single from the Padres’ Nick Hundley in the 11th was the bigger blow. By the way, it’s fun to look at box scores with names like Gwynn and Hundley and Stairs in it. Gives me a retro-90s vibe. Oh wait, I forgot: Matt Stairs is the same dude from the 90s. Nothin’ retro about that.

White Sox, 8, Rays 5: Jayson Nix came off the bench to hit a grand slam and help the Sox earn a split with the Rays. Tampa Bay went 2-5 in the past week. Why they need to go and screw up my power rankings like that I have no idea, but it’s pretty darn inconsiderate.

Dodgers 4, Rockies 3: I like the nine strikeouts in five innings from Clayton Kershaw, but I don’t like the 97 pitches in five innings. It’s a win and wins are nice, but having to use five pitchers when your ace takes the hill is the kind of thing that has to make managers tear their hair out. Oh, and it was Manny Ramirez’s birthday yesterday. Joe Torre didn’t give him the start, though, because he correctly presumed that Ramirez would be distracted all afternoon thinking about all the places he’d go after the game to get free stuff.

Blue Jays 6, Orioles 1: See, that’s how you pitch efficiently: Ricky Romero: CG, 6 H, 1 ER, 7K, 102 pitches.

Red Sox 8, Royals 1: David Ortiz hit a homer, Jon Lester was solid for seven and Mike Cameron doubled twice and drove in two, capping an 18-11 month for the Bosox.

Mets 10, Brewers 4: Apart from not fooling Rickie Weeks — who hit two homers — R.A. Dickey had himself yet another nice game (7 IP, 9 H, 4 ER). Helps when you don’t walk anybody.  The Mets’ ten runs on 16 hits was their biggest offensive game of the season.

Yankees 7, Indians 3: The Bombers were down 3-0 entering their half of the seventh and then they were all, like, Derek Jeter two-run single and Mark Teixeira three-run homer. The Yankees fans were all “cool” and the Tribe fans were all like “dude . . .”

Astros 2, Reds 0: It was ugly hot and humid here in Columbus yesterday, and a good rule of thumb is to add approximately 4.7 misery points to the Columbus, Ohio icky and muggy scale in order to find out what it’s like in Cincinnati. Based on that formula — and based on the fact that the game was scoreless for the first nine innings, but not scoreless in a “wow these pitchers are awesome” kind of way — I am quite pleased that I passed on the tickets I was offered to this game.

Twins 6, Rangers 3: Tough game. Derek Holland left in the second inning with shoulder soreness and the ninth inning closed with Denard Span slamming into Orlando Hudson as Span made the game-ending catch.

Phillies down Astros for 1st playoff berth since 2011

Philadelphia Phillies v Houston Astros
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HOUSTON – Aaron Nola took a perfect game into the seventh inning and Kyle Schwarber homered twice as the Philadelphia Phillies clinched their first playoff berth in 11 years with a 3-0 win over the Houston Astros on Monday night.

After Brandon Marsh caught Mauricio Dubon’s fly ball in center for for the game’s final out, players jumped and cheered in jubilation before meeting at the mound where they hugged and bounced around some more.

The video board at Minute Maid Park displayed the team’s logo and the words: “Congratulations Philadelphia” as the Phillies celebrated.

A small but vocal group of Philadelphia fans congregated near the team’s dugout and chanted: “Let’s go Phillies,” in the bottom of the ninth inning.

The Phillies clinched at the same ballpark where they secured their last postseason trip on Sept. 14, 2011. That game was a 1-0 victory over the Astros highlighted by a complete game shutout by Hall of Famer Roy Halladay.

Philadelphia’s postseason drought was the longest active one in the majors after the Seattle Mariners clinched their first playoff berth in 21 years Friday night.

The Phillies entered the opener of the final regular season series of the year needing a win or a loss by the Brewers to get a National League Wild Card spot. The Brewers rallied to beat the Diamondbacks 6-5 in 10 innings a few minutes before Philadelphia wrapped up the victory.

Nola (11-13) struck out nine and didn’t allow a baserunner until Yordan Alvarez singled with two outs in the seventh. David Hensley followed with a single and Nola was replaced by Jose Alvarado, who struck out Kyle Tucker to end the inning.

Zach Eflin pitched a scoreless ninth to complete the shutout and get his first save in 11 years of pro ball.

Schwarber got things going for the Phillies in their first visit to Houston since Sept. 16, 2012, with a leadoff homer off Lance McCullers (4-2)

Philadelphia added some insurance when Bryson Stott and Schwarber hit back-to-back solo shots off Jose Urquidy to start the eighth inning.

It is the eighth multi-home run game this season for Schwarber, who leads the NL with a career-high 46 home runs, and gives him 199 homers in his career.

The Phillies have three players who will appear in the postseason for the first time after playing more than 600 career games. Jean Segura leads the group with 1,327, J.T. Realmuto has 1,004 and Rhys Hoskins is at 666.

McCullers allowed six hits and one run with five strikeouts in six innings.

Manager Dusty Baker replaced Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman and Jeremy Pena with Aledmys Diaz, Dubon and Hensley for the seventh inning.

He said before the game that he planned to get some of his starters out early to rest since Houston has already clinched the best record in the American League.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Phillies: LHP Brad Hand (elbow tendinitis) threw a bullpen session Monday in Houston and could throw live batting practice Wednesday. If that goes well, he could be ready to return for the postseason.

UP NEXT

Houston Justin Verlander, whose 1.80 ERA leads the majors, will try for his 18th win when the series continues Tuesday against Ranger Suarez (10-6, 3.37).