And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights

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Yankees 5, Tigers 4: If I told you that Mariano Rivera blew two saves in a three game series you’d probably assume the Yankees had a bad series. Except in this case they won both of the games Mo blew. Baseball is weird. Miguel Cabrera homered off of him again on Sunday — he’s only the third right hander with two career home runs off Rivera — but the Yankees pulled it out in the ninth with a Brett Gardner walkoff.

Mariners 2, Brewers 0: King Felix was his usual dominant self, tossing eight scoreless and striking out nine. Wily Peralta was almost as good but he gave up one gopher ball and allowed a run to score on a wild pitch. The game lasted a mere two hours eleven minutes. It was like friggin’ 1914 or something out there.

Reds 3, Padres 2: Joey Votto with a sac fly in the bottom of the 13th. It’s gonna be awesome when Votto finishes the year with something like his current .322/.437/.509 batting line and gets almost no MVP love because he doesn’t have 100 RBI.

Braves 9, Marlins 4: The wining streak ended with a 1-0 loss on Saturday but the Braves got back on the horse Sunday and handed Miami their sixth loss in seven games. Four hits for Jason Heyward, three for Evan Gattis, a three-run homer for Freddie Freeman and the go-ahead RBI for B.J. Upton. Just so many contributors right now.

Nationals 6, Phillies 0: Stephen Strasburg shuts ’em out on 99 pitches — it’s a Maddux!  In other news, is there anything more depressing than being a Phillies fan at the moment?

Rangers 6, Astros 1: The Rangers are surging. Seven straight wins, in fact. Martin Perez had a shutout into the ninth. It was broken up by a Chris Carter solo homer, but Perez still finished the complete game, allowing only four hits while striking out eight.

Royals 4, Red Sox 3: The Royals keep on rolling, upping their record to 18-5 since the break. They’re 4.5 back in the wild card.

Twins 5, White Sox 2:  Kevin Correia pitched seven shutout innings, Brian Dozier and Joe Mauer each homered and the Twins take three of four. They, like a lot of teams, admittedly, have owned the White Sox this season.

Athletics 6, Blue Jays 4: Bob Melvin picks up the 700th win in his managerial career thanks to Alberto Callaspo’s tiebreaking, two-run double in the eighth. The A’s stay a game back of the Rangers.

Indians 6, Angels 5:  The Angels had a five-run lead heading into the bottom of the sixth and they woofed it away, thanks in part to a pair of two-run homers from two-run homers by Nick Swisher and Mike Aviles in the sixth.  With it the Indians snap their six-game losing streak that put them way the heck back in the AL Central. An awful week but not a bad salvage job.

Cardinals 8, Cubs 4: St. Louis ends a four-game losing streak and avoids a sweep. Matt Carpenter and Allen Craig each had three hits and drove in a run. Jon Jay and David Freese each drove in two.

Rockies 3, Pirates 2: Chad Bettis allowed two runs early but settled down and the Rockies’ pen pitched three scoreless. Jeff Locke walked four batters in five and two-thirds. He’s not been going very deep into games lately. You have to wonder if he’s getting a bit tired.

Dodgers 8, Rays 2: Clayton Kershaw is awesome, which, well, duh.  But how come every time I click on a Dodgers box score there’s some random Ellis doing cool things? Ellises are the new inefficiency.

Mets 9, Diamondbacks 5: This was an ugly-fest. Lots of unearned runs and a dude has his hip dislocated. But Andrew Brown had a three-run pinch hit homer, and that’s uplifting, yes?

Orioles 10, Giants 2: J.J. Hardy hit a go-ahead, two-run homer in the seventh inning, but then the Orioles piled it on. Ron-Burgundy-Boy-That-Escalated-Quickly-Dot-Tumblr.com.

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.