And That Happened: Sunday's Scores and Highlights

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Mets 7, Phillies 3:
Two dingers for Carlos Beltran. It’s almost like he’s a really damn
good baseball player or something rather than some schmuck Mets fans
want to trade for random mediocre players every other day. Cole Hamels
was smacked around for five runs on nine hits in four innings. He’s
worried! You cut him! You hurt him! You see? You see? He’s not a
machine, he’s a man!

Yankees 4, Red Sox 3:
After getting shut down by Dice-K all night, Alex Rodriguez hit a
two-run jack to put the Yankees ahead 2-1 in the seventh. Mariano Rivera
then blew the save (and it was an odd one: he and battery mate Jorge
Posada allowed four stolen bases). Then in the bottom of the ninth
Jonathan Papelbon blew save as well. New York won it on a Juan
Miradna walkoff walk in the tenth.  The win salvages a game of the
series for the Yankees and all but eliminates the Red Sox.

Giants 4, Rockies 2:  Matt Cain had a no-hitter through seven and a third but lost it on an infield
hit by Jay Payton. Which I guess was a single. Uribe couldn’t get to it quickly and couldn’t unload it and I bet a lot of shortstops could, but that play is called a hit just as often as it’s called an error, so it’s not like cosmic injustice happened. And while, yeah, Cain gave up a homer to Melvin Mora right after that, it’s probably worth reminding the portion of the country that goes to bed before most Giants games end that the Phillies aren’t the only playoff team (or, in the case of the Giants, possible playoff team) with good pitching.

Reds 12, Padres 2: The Reds blow the Padres out of the water, causing the lead to change hands in the NL West for the seventh time in ten days. Padres pitchers issued nine walks.

Nationals 4, Braves 2: The Braves aren’t choking. That would imply that they’re good but that they’re freezing up and failing to play to their ability. That’s not what’s happening though — they just suck. They walked everyone. They left runners on. They’ve left their fate to guys like Brandon Beachy, Rick Ankliel, Melky Cabrera and Kyle Farnsworth. They’re not choking. They’re just being the rookies and mediocre talents they are.

Brewers 7, Marlins 1: The last Brewers home game of 2010 could have been Prince Fielder’s last home game in Milwaukee as well. If so, it was nice of him to leave the hometown fans with a dinger. Ryan Braun left them with two dingers, however, which may remind people that the offense can survive is Fielder is flipped for pitching. And the team may be better off for it.

Pirates 9, Astros 3: Pittsburgh finishes the home portion of their season 40-41, which is fairly astounding for a team as awful as they are. Are they that energized by home cookin’, does the opposition get that discombobulated when they come to town, or are the Pirates’ suitcases lined with kryptonite? I dunno. I’ve never really understood extreme home-road splits in baseball.

Mariners 6, Rays 2: Anyone else in Rays Nation worried about James Shields heading into the postseason? I would be. Giving up five runs on eight hits to the 2010 M’s is the equivalent to giving up, like 11 to the real baseball team (note: that calculation may be slightly off: as I wrote this last night I was under the influence of certain products from Kentucky that inhibit one’s ability to do math).

Blue Jays 5, Orioles 2: The O’s plunked Jose Bautista twice, leading to Buck Showalter getting ejected. The fierce and acrimonious battle for fourth place in the AL East in 2011 has begun!

Tigers 5, Twins 1: The Tigers are another awesome home team that just never figured it out on the road this year. They swept the Twins. Miguel Cabrera hit a homer and got the “MVP!” chants again. The crowd may be right.

Indians 5, Royals 3: Robinson Tejada surrendered five runs on six hits in one inning to waste a great start from Bruce Chen. By the way, I just did a search, and “great start from Bruce Chen” is the second to the last most common thing written anywhere on the Internet. Only “awesome British restaurant” comes in behind it.

Cardinals 8, Cubs 7: St. Louis jumped out to an 8-0 lead by the fifth inning and then held on as the Cubs rallied. A three-run homer for Pujols. It was his 42nd on the year. It’s a shame is elbow hurts and everything. I’d really like to see what the kid can do at full strength.

White Sox 4, Angels 3: The Angels got all three of their runs in the first and then got rocked to sleep by Tony Pena, Scott Linebrink and Matt Thornton. The Sox swept the Angels.

Rangers 16, Athletics 9: Seven runs on 12 hits in four innings off Trevor Cahill? With the post-clinch hangover lineup on the field? Mercy. Jeff Francoeur went 4 for 6 with four RBI. Mitch Moreland was 3 for 5 with two homers and five RBI.

Diamondbacks 5, Dodgers 4: The bullpen blows a great Chad Billingsley start (7 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 13K). Tony Abreu and Chris Young each hit two-run bombs in the eighth, one off George Sherrill one off Jonathan Broxton. absolutely everything that was supposed to be a strength for the Dodgers this year — the pen, the outfield, etc. — has wound up being a weakness.

Phillies walk off winners thanks to a poor decision by Marcell Ozuna

Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images
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The Phillies’ bullpen, which has not been good as of late, gift-wrapped Monday’s game for the Cardinals. Starter Nick Pivetta was brilliant, fanning 13 while allowing two runs in 7 1/3 innings. But things unraveled after he left the game. Victor Arano took over for Edubray Ramos to start the ninth inning with the Phillies leading 4-2, but he allowed a one-out single and a double. After striking out Harrison Bader, Arano appeared to strike out Yairo Munoz for the final out of the game, but the ball trickled through the legs of catcher Andrew Knapp, allowing a run to score and the tying run to move to third base. Lefty Adam Morgan came in to face pinch-hitter Kolten Wong. Wong tied the game up, sneaking a single into center field.

In the 10th inning, Jake Thompson gave up the go-ahead run on a leadoff home run to Tommy Pham. It seemed like it was just going to be another one of those losses that have become increasingly common for the Phillies lately. But the Phillies’ offense didn’t go down quietly, even though it hadn’t put a runner on second base since the start of the second inning when J.P. Crawford doubled. In the bottom half of the 10th, Hoskins blooped a single into shallow left-center to start the inning. Hoskins moved to second base on a ground out from Odubel Herrera. Matt Bowman intentionally walked Carlos Santana, then struck out Jesmuel Valentin. That brought up Aaron Altherr, who replaced Nick Williams after Williams took a baseball to the face off of the right field fence. Bowman fell behind 2-1, then threw a 90 MPH fastball that Altherr lined into left field. Rather than keep the ball in front of him, Marcell Ozuna decided to dive for the ball to make the final out, but he missed. The ball trickled past him, allowing the tying and the game-winning runs to score, giving the Phillies a come-from-behind win.

On the list of people happy to see Ozuna miss that ball are Altherr (of course), Arano, Morgan, and Thompson. But perhaps no one was happier than manager Gape Kapler. The win might help take the heat off of him somewhat after another poor performance from the bullpen. When a team struggles, everyone wants a scapegoat and Kapler is an easy target. He has been all year, undeservingly.

Phillies radio broadcaster and former major league reliever Larry Anderson said after the bullpen meltown, “Not everybody can pitch in the ninth inning. And I know Gabe Kapler thinks they can, but they can’t.” Aside from Ramos and Seranthony Dominguez (who was unavailable after throwing 52 pitches between Saturday and Sunday in Milwaukee), no one in that bullpen has been reliable. The closer, Hector Neris, just got optioned to Triple-A. You work with what you have, and right now, Kapler doesn’t have a whole lot. Thankfully for him, he wasn’t punished with another loss thanks to Ozuna.