And That Happened: Tuesday’s scores and highlights

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Yankees 4, Mariners 1: And then there were 17.  CC Sabathia carried a perfecto into the seventh — broken up right after he came back following a rain delay — and struck out 14.  The M’s struck out 18 times in all. But then again, they’re horrifyingly bad, so that’s understandable.

Braves 4, Pirates 3: The game ends in the 19th on one of the worst calls I’ve ever seen in a major league baseball game. Jerry Meals must have really, really wanted to get back to his hotel room.  Just inexcusable.  Instant. Replay. Now.

Mets 8, Reds 6: Johnny Cueto’s ERA stays sparkling thanks to all six of the runs he gave up being unearned, but it’s not like he pitched well.  The Mets had to get hits and stuff after those errors, and Cueto was happy to oblige. Meanwhile, Jon Niese gave up five runs in five innings and got the win. Baseball is a funny game.

Marlins 11, Nationals 2: HBT’s Macondo correspondent, Old Gator, wired in his report from this one last night right after it ended:

Just a heads-up about something wonderful that occurred during the Feesh game tonight.  Not just that they climbed over the imploding Gnats. Much better. A praying mantis flew into the visitor’s dugout during the late innings and landed on Clay Hensley’s cap, and he carried it around for awhile as his teammates laughed their asses off and he had no idea why. However, as soon as the mantis arrived, the Feesh exploded for five more runs. Eventually the mantis took up a position on the dugout rail – some priceless shots on TV of the ballplayers leaning on the rail with the mantis between them, watching the game – and then the best part: as the inning ended, Logan Morrison swung around to put his cap on, the mantis freaked and flew at him and landed on his back, and LoMo totally freaked out and was jumping up and down and bending and sashaying but the mantis stayed on his back. Someone took it off and put it back on the railing. Some viewer emailed the announcing crew and named it “Mickey Mantis.” It got a lot of play from the announcers who christened it the Mantis Game.

I’m pretty sure this is how the movie “The Fish that Saved Pittsburgh” started. Except somewhat differently.

Phillies 7, Giants 2: Philly made short work of replacement starter Barry Zito, who filled in for the scratched Tim Lincecum.  Really short work, as in this game was over in two hours and eight minutes. Zito wasn’t around for all of it, though, as he was knocked out after giving up six runs in seven innings. Vance Worley, on the other hand, looked like an ace (CG, 3 H, 2 ER), though I think the Giants’ bats had a lot to do with that. Inside the park homer for Chase Utley.

Angels 2, Indians 1: Jered Weaver and Josh Tomlin each had strong starts. Each only gave up one big hit too. Except that the one Tomlin gave up — a double to Mark Trumbo — happened with two guys on base and the one Weaver gave up — a homer to Matt LaPorta — came with the bases empty. The Tribe had a chance in the ninth, getting two men on with no one out against Jordan Walden, but couldn’t push a run across.

Orioles 12, Blue Jays 2: J.J. Hardy had two homers, Derrek Lee drove in five and the O’s had no problems with the Jays.  The Jays probably had some problems with the O’s, however, given that Jose Bautista had to leave the game after getting beaned.

Cardinals 3, Astros 1: A two-run homer for Pujols in the first was all the Cards would end up needing thanks to a solid effort by Jake Westbrook.

Brewers 3, Cubs 2: All of the scoring went down in the first inning so the game was either wonderfully front-loaded or else had eight wasted innings, depending on whether you’re an optimist or a pessimist. Or if you’re just one of those fascists who only cares about scoring. And actually …

Red Sox 13, Royals 9: … If you’re one of those fascists who only cares about scoring, this was the game for you.  I would think that sitting through this kind of game would be pretty brutal, however.

Twins 9, Rangers 8: Carl Pavano gave up all eight of those runs to Texas, who took the lead into the ninth. Neftali Feliz couldn’t seal the deal, however, allowing a single, a double and watching a run score on an Elvis Andrus error to tie it. Then Joe Mauer pinch hit for Drew Butera and hit a go-ahead RBI double. Nice way to shake off Monday night’s shellacking.

Dodgers 3, Rockies 2: Four wins in a row for the Dodgers and they do it on a night when Clayton Kershaw had nothing approaching his best stuff.

Diamondbacks 6, Padres 1: Joe Saunders pitched eight and two-thirds innings of a shutout, but allowed a homer to Jesus Guzman with two outs in the ninth. He still finished the Padres off with only 99 pitches.

Athletics 6, Rays 1: The Rays have lost 10 of 14 and the A’s continue their nice little offensive resurgence. Against David Price of all people.

Tigers 5, White Sox 4: New acquisition Wilson Betemit had an RBI single in the eighth and Justin Verlander did his usual thing, throwing eleventy billion pitches and winning, although he wasn’t the sharpest we’ve ever seen him.

Little things killed the Dodgers in Game 1

Associated Press
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There’s an old proverb that explains how a very small thing can lead to a big, loss. It goes like this:

For want of a nail the shoe was lost,
for want of a shoe the horse was lost,
for want of a horse the knight was lost,
for want of a knight the battle was lost,
for want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
So a kingdom was lost . . . all for want of a nail.

The Dodgers did not lose it all tonight — they still have as many of six battles left to save the kingdom — but a series of very small things caused them to lose the battle that was Game 1 of the 2018 World Series.

Sure, You can look at the box score here, see that the Red Sox won 8-4 in a game which was broken wide open with a three-run homer and say that Boston’s win was a definitive one. And, to be clear, it was a definitive one in every way that mattered. The Red Sox beat Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw, won by four and now lead the series 1-0.

But if you wanted to, you could look at Game 1 in a slightly different way and see how some very, very small things caused this one to get away from the Dodgers. Small things that, but for a couple of inches here or there and a bit more concentration on their part, could’ve broken differently and could’ve led to a very different outcome.

For example, one could look at the first inning, when the Red Sox took a 2-0 lead and wonder what might’ve happened if David Freese had caught the foul ball off of Mookie Betts‘ bat that, somehow, eluded him despite it remaining well within play. Instead, it kept Betts alive, allowed him to reach base, allowed him to steal second and, eventually, allowed him to score on Andrew Benintendi‘s single to make it a 1-0 game.

One can also ask what might’ve happened if Yasiel Puig had not made an ill-advised throw home on Benintendi’s hit, allowing Benintendi to take second. If Puig had simply thought for half a second, realized he had no shot at Betts and hit the cutoff man, Benintendi stays at first and does not score on J.D. Martinez‘s single. A small thing — a matter of execution that all outfielders work on from the first day of spring training — but a thing which Puig just neglected to do properly. Put those together and one missed foul ball and one brain lock turned what could’ve been a zero run first inning into a two-run first inning for the Red Sox.

One could also look at the bottom of the third inning when, with one on and one out Steven Pearce hit into what was initially called an inning-ending double play. Replay review got the call right — Pearce beat the throw to first — but there were just a few inches separating the would-be twin-killing from the was-actually fielder’s choice which kept the inning alive. A long J.D. Martinez double to the triangle in left-center gave the Red Sox their third run of the game and their third run that, had the Dodgers executed more crisply and if an inch or two was gained here or there, would not have scored.

One could look at the top of the fifth, when the Dodgers put two runners on, chasing Chris Sale from the game and bringing in Matt Barnes. Freese came up at that point, a righty facing a righty. Throughout the playoffs, Dave Roberts would pinch hit Max Muncy for Freese in this situation but, for whatever reason, Roberts let Freese hit. He promptly struck out. Later, in the seventh, Muncy would pinch hit when a righty was called in and he would smack a solid single to right-center. If he had been in and done that in the fifth, would the Dodgers have scored more than the one run they actually scored that inning? Dave Roberts will be asking himself that one for a while, I presume.

One could look at the bottom of the fifth, when Ryan Madson came in in relief of Clayton Kershaw. Madson would load the bases, but then strike J.D. Martinez out on three pitches before inducing a grounder to short from Xander Bogaerts. 6 . . 4 . . . nope, just a bit slow once again. Instead of an inning-ending double play which would’ve left things tied at three entering the sixth, Mookie Betts scored and then Andrew Benintendi would score on a Rafael Devers single to make it a 5-3 game. Two more runners that, but for mere inches, would not have crossed home plate.

That takes us to the bottom of the seventh, which featured Eduardo Nunez‘s big pinch-hit three-run homer. Is it even worth noting at this point that the inning began with Joc Pederson, substituted into the game the previous inning, just barely missing a fly ball down the left field line that went as a double but just as easily could’ve been caught? Once that dinger went over the Green Monster it didn’t really matter, but let the record reflect that it could’ve been a two-run shot instead of a three-run shot.

The Red Sox won this game by four runs, but mere inches gave them three or four of those runs. A couple of mental mistakes by the Dodgers gave them at least another and, perhaps, cost the Dodgers a run or two of their own.

None of which is to take a thing away from the Red Sox. One cannot assume that which did not happen would, in fact, happen, and many plays in baseball are decided by mere inches. This exercise was not aimed at discounting the Red Sox’ victory. They hit Clayton Kershaw pretty hard, managed clutch hits on numerous occasions and executed on both offense and defense while getting some dominating relief work in a game that could’ve very easily gotten away from them early thanks to a less-than-sharp Chris Sale. They won this game and won it convincingly.

But the Dodgers had their chances. They had their chances and they blew them, all for want of a nail, as it were. And that had to make them feel pretty dang bad as they left the field tonight.