And That Happened: Monday's Scores and Highlights

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Cardinals 8, Phillies 4: Sometimes there are these pitches that seem simply unhittable. That scrape the corners, that paint the blacks, that fall right off the table and leave everyone in the house guessing except for the catcher who called for it and the pitcher who threw it. Kyle Kendrick does not possess any of those pitches (5 IP, 7, H, 7 ER, 3 HR). And Charlie Manuel would have yanked him before he gave up his third home run in the fifth inning, but he was gettin’ some shut-eye, see, and told no one to wake him unless there was an e-mergency, get me?

Marlins 9, Rockies 8: A wild one. The Rockies took leads in the third, the sixth and the eighth, but gave the leads back in the third, the sixth and the ninth. I was gonna look and see if the someone was messing with the humidor, but then I saw that they were playing in Florida, and that’s all humidor, all the time. Oh, and Ubaldo Jimenez got beat up. I imagine we’re one or two mortal performances like this one before we return to not paying much more attention to Ubaldo Jimenez starts than we do anyone else’s.

Rays 8, Orioles 1: Wade Davis gives up one run over eight innings. Davis feasts on the Orioles — he’s 3-0 with a 0.75 ERA in three starts — but then again, who doesn’t feast on the Orioles?

Reds 7, Nationals 2: Nothing better for a team having hard time scoring runs like a visit from the Nats. The damage was done by Miguel Cairo, Jonny Gomes, Drew Stubbs and Johnny Cueto, which is totally how the Reds drew it up.

Brewers 3, Pirates 1: Chris Capuano got his first win since May 13, 2007. That was about a month after I started blogging. Just two days before that win I put up a post about how Major League Baseball was struggling to figure out how to properly commemorate Barry Bonds imminent breaking of Hank Aaron’s home run record because — as some people were vaguely aware at the time — Selig had some shadowy committee headed up by George Mitchell investigating steroids. So much uncertainty! How much time has passed.

Astros 11, Cubs 5: Remember back when we were all marveling at Carlos Silva’s fast start. Yeah, that’s over (1 IP, 7 H, 5 ER).

Royals 5, Blue Jays 4: Kevin Gregg came out for the bottom of the 10th with a one run lead. A triple and a sac fly tied the score, then Gregg got a grounder for out number two. Can Gregg do it! Nope: Single, walk, single ballgame. Second clunker in a row for Gregg, but at least he didn’t lose that last three-walk game in Baltimore.

Giants 5, Dodgers 2: The Dodgers’ tailspin continues and the Giants continue to surge. Into second place as we wake up this morning. Buster Posey has a 13 game hitting streak. If he keeps that up I may soon stop picturing Tony Hale every time I hear his name.

Diamondbacks 13, Mets 2: Mike Pelfrey gets destroyed in what was probably the worst outing of his career. He’s 1-4 with a 9.11 ERA in his last six starts. After the game Jerry Manuel went off about how Pelfrey needs to quit throwing junk and get back to his fastball-sinker routine. For his part Pelfrey agrees and says he feels fine physically and that it’s all a mental thing. At this point I can’t decide if it would be worse for the Mets if there was a physical problem or a mental problem, but it needs to get fixed fast because an effective Pelfrey is absolutely essential to the Mets’ chanced.

White Sox 6, Mariners 1: After a bad weekend, Chicago wins while both Detroit and Minnesota lose. Ozzie Guillen: “One day at a time. That’s our philosophy. No matter
what happens yesterday, today is a new one.”  Anyone else get a little weirded out by Ozzie being philosophical?

Red Sox 2, Athletics 1: Dice-K throws an efficient six and two-thirds innings and the game ended in two hours and forty minutes. Kevin Cash after the game: “That’s Dice’s whole M.O. Getting ahead and throwing strikes.”  Well, it’s totally not his M.O., but it’s nice to see him do it for once.

Indians 10, Twins 4: I’m torn. On the one hand I like to see the Indians playing well like they have lately because, while I don’t root for them, I get more Indians games on my big HD TV than anyone else’s and I’d rather watch a good product than a bad product. On the other hand, if they put together a nice second half with the young talent playing well, they’re going to trick me into thinking they’re a contender again next spring, and I’m pretty tired of being tricked into thinking the Indians are going to do well only to have them face-plant out of the gate.

Rangers 8, Tigers 6: A fourteen inning affair ends after Nelson Cruz hit a two-run homer. Well, it didn’t end directly after that because the Tigers still got to bat in the bottom of the inning, but you know what I mean. Rangers’ pitcher Dustin Nippert was hit in the head with a comebacker earlier in the game. Scary, but he appears to be OK.  Oh, and the Tigers should have won this one in the 11th but Cruz deked Johnny Damon — who was on second base — on a single hit to right-center. Damon should have scored, but Cruz played like he was going to catch it, causing Damon to hesitate and subsequently get stranded at third.

The “Clayton Kershaw can’t pitch in the postseason” narrative should be dead

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For years, a bulk of the postseason coverage surrounding Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw focused on his poor results once the regular season ended. The three-time Cy Young Award winner carried a career 5.68 postseason ERA following his NLDS Game 1 start against the Diamondbacks last year, a sample size spanning 15 starts and four relief appearances totaling 95 1/3 innings.

Kershaw had a subpar start against the Astros in Game 5 of the World Series last year and the narrative hit a fever pitch. I dug into the numbers at that point and found that a not-insignificant portion of Kershaw’s playoff ERA could be attributed to relievers coming in after him and failing to strand their inherited runners. At the time of that writing (October 30, 2017), Dodger relievers allowed 10 of 16 runners inherited from Kershaw in the playoffs to score, a strand rate of 37.5 percent. That’s roughly half of the league average (around 75 percent).

Kershaw finished out the World Series last year by pitching four scoreless innings of relief in Game 7. He returned to the postseason, starting Game 2 of the NLDS against the Braves this year and tossed eight shutout frames on just two hits with no walks. The narrative should have died there, too. It, of course did not. As the Dodgers advanced to the NLCS, Kershaw got the Game 1 nod against the Brewers and struggled. The Brewers got him for five runs (four earned) across three-plus innings. One of those runs included a home run hit by the opposing pitcher (Brandon Woodruff). Kershaw was also hurt by a passed ball and catcher’s interference on the part of Yasmani Grandal in the third inning. Not a great outing, but not as bad as the line score read, either.

In Game 5 of the NLCS on Wednesday evening, Kershaw once again redeemed himself. He limited the Brewers this time around to a lone run on three hits and two walks with nine strikeouts over seven innings of work. The only run came around in the third inning when Lorenzo Cain hit an RBI double to center field. Kershaw’s career postseason ERA is now 4.11 and it would be much lower if his bullpen had, in the past, done its job more effectively.

According to Katie Sharp of The Athletic, tonight’s postseason start was Kershaw’s eighth in which he allowed one run or fewer and three hits or fewer. No other pitcher in baseball history has made more than five such starts. That’s partially a function of opportunity, as the Dodgers have been in the postseason every year dating back to 2013 as well as in 2008 and ’09. But Kershaw still has to go out there and make the pitches, and he largely has. The “Kershaw can’t pitch in the postseason” narrative is dead. It never should have lived.