And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights

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Orioles 6, Red Sox 3Yankees 9, Blue Jays 6: 159 games and NOTHING has been decided in the AL East. And, say what you want about the new playoff setup, but the fact that it matters so much who wins the division makes this a fantastic final three days. The Yankees close things out with the Red Sox at home. The Orioles go on the road to face that buzz saw.

Tigers 2, Twins 1; Rays 6, White Sox 2: That’s the sound of the AL Central title being all but sewn up. Anibal Sanchez with another solid start. If Max Scherzer is good to go in the playoffs, the Tigers’ rotation — despite all of the kicking and stumbling they’ve done all year — should make them a team no one wants to face.  As for the White Sox: bad time to run into a buzz saw Rays team.

Reds 4, Pirates 3: And with that the Pirates ensure their 20th straight losing season. The just stepped off the ledge and hit terminal velocity once the second half got going.

Cardinals 10, Nationals 4: Carlos Beltran went three for five with a couple homers and five driven in as St. Louis moves a step closer to icing the final playoff spot in the NL. Washington is all clinched for a playoff spot, but it’s probably worth noting that they still haven’t clinched the NL East.

Braves 6, Mets 2: All the Braves do when Kris Medlen pitches is win. That’s 23 straight of his starts in which Atlanta has prevailed, which is a new major league record. It’ll all be so much noise, however, if he does’t win his next start: the one-game wild card playoff.

Dodgers 7, Rockies 1: L.A. retains dim hope, two back with three to play. Josh Beckett tossed six innings of one run ball. Matt Kemp and Luis Cruz each hit two-run homers.

Astros 7, Brewers 0: And with that the Brew Crew is officially eliminated. It was a nice late run but the whole they dug for themselves earlier in the season was too great.  Watch out for next year, though: this team reminds me an awful lot of that 2010 Diamonbacks team that had the crap-awful bullpen and then the next year, when it wasn’t crap-awful, made the playoffs. Not that Milwaukee has to make up 30 games or whatever the hell it was the Dbacks did to turn things around.

Phillies 4, Marlins 1: Cole Hamels wins his 17th. The Phillies need one win in their final series to finish at .500. So that’s something to shoot for as they play the Nats this week. Well, that and the improbable sweep of the Nats while the Braves sweep the Pirates, resulting in a tied NL East and bonus tie-breaker baseball, which would be pretty fantastic.

Angels 5, Rangers 4; Rangers 8, Angels 7: The Angels rallied past the Rangers in the first game when Joe Nathan couldn’t hold a one-run lead in the ninth. In the nightcap Texas got ’em back, with Mike Napoli homering twice and driving in six. The Rangers clinch at least a wild card, but will have the west with one win over the A’s in the season’s final three.

Athletics 5, Mariners 2: Yoenis Cespedes hit an RBI triple and an eighth inning, game-tying go-ahead homer. Then Josh Reddick hit a two-run shot to put the A’s up for good give them some breathing room. The A’s solidify their wild card position, the AL West is not yet out of reach, but they gotta win out.

Indians 15, Royals 3: It’s the second Sunday in a row where the Tribe scored 15. This time, however, they did not outscore the Browns. The Browns scored 16 this week. Four driven in for Asdrubal Cabrera.

Cubs 7, Diamondbacks 2: I’ve stared at this box score for close to five minutes and can’t for the life of me think of anything interesting to say about it. Sorry, folks. That’s game 159 between a couple of also-rans for you.

Giants 7, Padres 5: A Xavier Nady homer tied it in the ninth and a Hunter Pence gave the game to the Giants in comeback fashion. Tim Lincecum continues to be exceedingly meh, giving up five runs — four earned — in six innings. He ends the season with a 5.18 ERA which, if someone would have bet you about it before the season began, you’d never have bit.

Brewers on the brink of their first pennant in 36 years

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A series that had swung back and forth twice already swung back in Milwaukee’s favor last night with a convincing win. That it was convincing — it was not at all close after the second inning — is a key factor heading into today, as Craig Counsell has his bullpen set up nicely to shorten the game if his Brewers can get an early lead.

Josh Hader — who, if you are unaware, has not allowed a run and has struck out 12 batters in seven innings of postseason work — did not pitch yesterday or in Game 5. As such, he’s had three full days off. Given that this is a win or go home day and, if they win, he’s guaranteed two more days off before the World Series, he’s good for two innings and could very well go for three. That’s not what you want if you’re the Dodgers.

But it gets worse. Jeremy Jeffress pitched last night but it was only one pretty easy inning, so he could go two if he has to. Corey Knebel pitched an inning and two-thirds but he could probably give Counsell an inning of work if need be. Joakim Soria didn’t pitch at all yesterday. Between those guys and the less important relievers, all of whom save Brandon Woodruff are all pretty fresh, the Dodgers aren’t going to have any easy marks.

But the thing is: Counsell may not need to go that deep given that Jhoulys Chacin, their best starter of the postseason, gets the start. So, yes, in light of that, you have to like the Brewers’ chances tonight, and that’s before you realize that the home crowd is going to be louder than hell.

Not that the Dodgers are going to roll over — it’ll be all hands on deck for them with every pitcher except for Hyun-Jim Ryu available, you figure — but if they’re going to repeat as NL champs, they’re going to have to earn it either by bloodying Chacin’s nose early and neutralizing the threat of facing Hader and company with a lead, or by marching through the teeth of the Brewers bullpen and coming out alive on the other side.
NLCS Game 6

Dodgers vs. Brewers
Ballpark: Miller Park
Time: 8:09 PM Eastern
TV: FS1
Pitchers:  Walker Buehler vs. Jhoulys Chacin
Breakdown:

The most important part of this breakdown — the stuff about the Brewers’ pen — has already been said and, I presume anyway, the starters here will have the shortest of leashes. Chacin’s will be longer, as he has not allowed a run over 10 and a third innings in his first two postseason starts, making him the Brewers’ defacto ace. Every inning he goes tonight makes things much, much harder for the Dodgers once he’s gone as it means Milwaukee will be able to rely more and more on Hader and Jeffress, so the Dodgers had best get to him early.

Buehler has come up weak so far this postseason, having allowed nine runs in 12 innings, including surrendering four runs on six hits over seven innings in Milwaukee’s Game 3 victory. Still, it’s not hard to remember how dominating he was in the second half of the season. If that Buehler shows up and can keep things close, we’ll have a ballgame. If L.A. finds itself in an early hole once again, theirs will be the tallest of orders.