And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights

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Reds 4, Dodgers 1: Like I said yesterday, I took the kids to this one. And we dressed up in Dodgers gear because why the heck not. And because we were pretending to be big Dodgers fans for the day — maybe the kids were more than pretending; hard to say — we rooted for Yasiel Puig. Then that one inning came in which he hit into a fielder’s choice causing one out and then got caught stealing (by a mile) in a strike-em-out-throw-em-out double play, requiring me to explain to my children how sometimes even the best players around can do dumbass stuff like cause, directly or indirectly, all three outs in an inning and, boy, isn’t baseball tough sometimes? It was all good, though, because their shallow rooting for the Dodgers easily allowed for them to be excited and thrilled by Aroldis Chapman pumping 102 m.p.h. fastballs in the ninth inning. So all in all a good day at the old ballpark. Except for the Dodgers, who looked pretty listless and seemed to have an eye on the clock and their minds on the plane out of Cincinnati.

Giants 7, Nationals 1: The Giants avoid the sweep thanks to Tim Hudson continuing to be awesome. Seven innings and only one unearned run allowed, which lowered Hudson’s ERA to 1.81 on the year. Between his time with the Braves and the Giants, Hudson has beat the Nationals 17 times in 30 starts. No one has beat the Nats that many times.

Rockies 10, Braves 3: My real rooting interest fared worse than my temporary/fake rooting interest. Jhoulys Chacin pitched seven scoreless innings and the Rockies had an 8-3 lead when things got chippy because, for some reason, David Carpenter of the Braves apparently thought that Corey Dickerson hit Braves catcher Gerald Laird with his bat on the backswing on purpose. He said he didn’t, but he plunked the next batter with a pitch, which caused Carpenter to get ejected and which caused Walt Weiss to come out and argue and get ejected himself. And which then caused a Rockies pitcher to plunk a Braves batter later, causing him and the Rockies acting manager tossed too. I think Walt Weiss said it best:

“If you think a guy can foul a ball off and then at the same time hit the catcher on the backswing on purpose, you got no clue,” Weiss said. “They made their decision. They made a bad choice.”

Not the first time the Braves overreacted to something and then put on their police hats.

 

Phillies 7, Padres 3: Pinch-hitter Reid Brignac hit a tiebreaking, two-run double in the sixth and spot-starting John Mayberry Jr. hit a three-run homer. And the Phillies swept. Let’s hear it for the fill-ins of the world.

Red Sox 5, Indians 2:  Jon Lester pitched 7+ decent innings and David Ortiz hit a two-run homer. The Red Sox won for the third time in ten games. Which I suppose is better than losing for the eighth time in ten.

Orioles 4, Blue Jays 2:  Kevin Gausman gave up one run over six innings and Delmon Young homered. In other news, Delmon Young is still alive and playing major league baseball. In other news, I guess Mark Buehrle is not going to win 29 games this year or whatever.

Editor’s Note: Hardball Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $40,000 Fantasy Baseball league for Friday night’s MLB games. It’s $25 to join and first prize is $6,000. Starts at 7:05pm ET on FridayHere’s the FanDuel link.

Tigers 4, White Sox 0: With Justin Verlander faltering, Max Scherzer doing things like stopping the bleeding with a three-hit shutout is gonna go a long way towards making that decision to not take the $140 million contract he was offered last spring look smart.

Brewers 5, Mets 1: Your standard four-run rally in the 13th inning. The Mets stranded seven runners between the ninth through the 11th including a bases-loaded situation. It was New York’s ninth loss in 11 games.

Yankees 6, Mariners 3: Jeter comes alive. Three hits, two RBI and two runs scored. Jacoby Ellsbury had a two-run homer. The Yankees sweep.

Pirates 4, Cubs 0: Andrew McCutchen had two doubles and two RBI. He’s 18 of 42 this month (.428), with 15 of his hits going for extra bases. Which is sort of insane.

Astros 5, Diamondbacks 4: Miguel Montero tied it at four in the top of the ninth with a homer but Chris Carter hit a walkoff homer to lead off the 10th to give it to the Astros. He homered twice on Wednesday, so that’s a good couple of days.

Astros, Nationals set to face off in the World Series starting Tuesday

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Saturday night’s wild ALCS finale will live in the mind of Astros and Yankees fans for a long, long time, but the Astros only have two days to bask in it because they have other business to attend to: the Washington Nationals, who they will host Tuesday evening in Game 1 of the World Series.

For the Astros, this year’s World Series presents the chance to forge a dynasty. To carry on a journey in which they’ve risen from a three-time 100-loss club to a three-years-straight 100-win club with not just one, but two World Series titles in the space of those three seasons.

For the Nationals, the World Series presents an opportunity to complete a pretty compelling narrative in which they’ve grown stronger as the year has gone on: from a near disastrous 19-31 start, to a late, come-from-behind victory in the Wild Card Game, to beating the favored Dodgers in the NLDS to simply dominating the Cardinals in the NLCS. The Nats are nobody’s Cinderella, but a win over the Astros would certainly make them one of the more notable giant-killers in recent memory. And, of course, would give them their first World Series title in franchise history and the city of Washington its first World Series winner since the Senators won it in 1924.

We’ll break down this Series in greater detail over the next couple of days, but for now it’s worth noting that this matchup presents us with, arguably, the best possible group of starting pitchers in the game. Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole, Zack Greinke, Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Patrick Corbin are six of the top — what? — 15 starting pitchers going right now? And Aníbal Sanchez has been pitching pretty dang good for Washington of late as well. Bullpenning is all the rage these days — and Houston’s Game 6 win was a bullpen affair — but there is something classic and compelling about a handful of aces facing off in October.

The difference-maker could very well be an Astros offense that — last night’s José Altuve walkoff blast notwithstanding — has, somehow, gone relatively quiet this postseason. Postseason pitching is always tough — and in beating the Rays and Yankees they faced two of the best bullpens going — but their collective 3.7 runs per game and .645 team OPS is very un-Astro-like. To beat the Nats, they’ll definitely want to see those numbers go higher.

For Washington, it’ll be about figuring out how to beat Gerrit Cole, Game 1’s starter, and Justin Verlander, who will likely go in Game 2. They’ll have to face each of those 20-game winners/Cy Young contenders twice if this series goes long. That seems daunting, but so too did climbing out of the hole they found themselves in in late May and beating the Dodgers in a five-game series. The Nats have dealt pretty well with “daunting” thus year and, at the moment, they’re playing their best baseball of the season.

So the stage is set. Washington vs. Houston in the 115th edition of the Fall Classic. Things get underway just after 8PM Eastern on Tuesday evening when Gerrit Cole fires in a near-100 m.p.h. fastball to Trea Turner. Stay with us over the next three days for our breakdown of what looks to be an epic matchup.