And That Happened: Tuesday’s scores and highlights

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Nationals 3, Braves 0: The Nats clinch their second NL East title in three years and do so in convincing fashion. Tanner Roark tossed seven scoreless innings. Washington got to celebrate on the field and in the visitor’s clubhouse of the team that, theoretically, stood as their biggest challenge this year. It was fun for a bit in the first half, but the  Braves proved to be little if any challenge to the Nationals. Now they set their sights on maintaining the best overall record in the National League and enjoying some home cooking for the playoffs.

Orioles 8, Blue Jays 2: Meanwhile, up the road, the Orioles were clinching as well. It was a bit longer of a time coming for Baltimore, who nabbed their first AL East crown since 1997. As for the game: it was their ninth win in their last 10. Steve Pearce set the tone with a three-run homer in the first. Alejandro De Aza hit a three-run triple. If you live out west or never watch a team other than your team, and if your idea of the Orioles is based on what you read about them in the season previews last March, well, you have a lot of studying to do before they playoffs start.

White Sox 7, Royals 5Twins 4, Tigers 3: Nothing is changed in the Central as both contenders lose. For the Royals, it was an uncharacteristically awful night for bullpen aces Kelvin Herrera and Wade Davis, who have been damn nigh unhittable all year but were beat around by the Sox. For the Tigers, it was an all-too-characteristic bad night for Joe Nathan, who allowed two runs to lose a game that the Tigers had come back to lead in the ninth. Starters Ricky Nolasco and Rick Porcello probably went out for a beer afterwards and complained about bullpens until the bartender told them to move it along because they don’t serve their kind. Meaning, of course, Ricks.

Rangers 6, Athletics 3: Oakland couldn’t create any separation between their wild card pursuers, remaining one up on Kansas City and two up on Seattle. Scott Kazmir’s second half swoon continued, allowing six runs — four earned — and not escaping the fifth inning. Bad Oakland D was on display here. This team will probably make it into the playoffs, and if they do they’ll probably be dangerous, but man this has been a long, limping second half.

Mariners 13, Angels 2: Seattle takes advantage, pulling to within one game. The offense woke up with a six-run sixth inning. In the M’s previous eight games they scored 14 runs. Here, 13. It was an instance where Mike Scioscia’s “give Cory Rasmus a couple of innings and then turn it over to a bullpen committee” approach didn’t work. It’s been a good approach and has helped lessen the sting of losing Garret Richards, but doing that enough times will, occasionally, lead to a game like this. Too many moving parts or whatever.

Pirates 4, Red Sox 0: Charlie Morton returned after coming off the disabled list and he pitched well: five scoreless innings with six strikeouts. The Pirates have won 9 of 11 and maintain their one and a half game lead over the Brewers for the second wild card.

Brewers 3, Cardinals 2: Milwaukee stays alive, as Gomez, Hector knocks in Gomez, Carlos with an RBI single in the 12th. The single was preceded by Carlos Gomez stealing both second base and third base off of Yadier Molina following a walk. Actually, Gomez said afterward that he wasn’t running on Molina, he was running on pitcher Kevin Siegrist, as one times everything off the pitcher. Which is a good point. Still: that’s some pretty major base running. The Brewers stay a game and a half behind the Pirates.

Rockies 10, Dodgers 4: The Rockies ended a seven-game losing streak. Corey Dickerson homered, tripled and drove in four runs. The Dodgers got 16 hits but left way, way too many on.

Giants 2, Diamondbacks 1: Peavy and Posey come through again, as they have so many times in the second half. Peavy allowed one run in seven and two-thirds. Posey had two hits, including a fourth inning solo shot. San Francisco pulls to three back of L.A.

Rays 6, Yankees 1: Derek Jeter got gifts. He also got plunked. Joe Girardi got ejected after that and then Yankees pitcher David Phelps was ejected for throwing inside later. Dugouts emptied but no one here had the ill-will nor the motivation to make this into an actual donnybrook. It’s late in a lost season for everyone. Jake Odorizzi allowed one run and five hits over six innings.

Mets 9, Marlins 1: Two homers and six driven in for Wilmer Flores. Bartolo Colon somehow only allowed one run despite giving up 12 hits in seven and two thirds. That stretches the applicability of the word “scattered.” The judges have said they’d allow it, though. But that we shouldn’t push it.

Cubs 7, Reds 0: Jake Arrieta took a no-hitter into the eighth, allowed only the one hit to Brandon Phillips and struck out 13. The Cubs rocked Johnny Cueto.

Indians 4, Astros 2: Corey Kluber allowed more hits, but he struck out 14 in seven innings of work as the Indians stop their losing streak at four. Yan Gomes hit a two-run homer.

Padres 5, Phillies 4: Alexi Amarista had three hits, including a two-run homer. A.J. Burnett suffered his league-leading 17th loss.

The Cubs played under protest after Joe Maddon disputed an ‘illegal’ pitching motion

Joe Maddon
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The Cubs found themselves in a disadvantageous position toward the end of their 5-2 loss to the Nationals on Saturday. Down by three in the ninth, they were finally looking to gain some ground against closer Sean Doolittle after wearying themselves against Stephen Strasburg for the first eight innings of the game. Instead, the game ended under protest when Cubs skipper Joe Maddon took umbrage with Doolittle’s delivery:

The issue appeared to stem from the motion Doolittle made with his left foot, a kind of “toe-tapping” gesture that Maddon believed had previously been made illegal. The official rules state that a pitcher may not take a second step toward home plate during his delivery, a stipulation that had previously been violated by Cubs’ pitcher Carl Edwards Jr.:

Comparing the two motions, however, one would be hard-pressed to characterize Doolittle’s tapping motion as a full step toward the plate. Maddon clearly didn’t see it that way, and emerged from the dugout to dispute the pitcher’s delivery twice. Following Doolittle’s first-pitch strike to Albert Almora, the manager informed home-plate umpire Sam Holbrook that the Cubs would play the remainder of the game under protest.

An official decision has not yet been announced regarding the illegality of the delivery and the validity of the Cubs’ protest. According to league rules, “the game will not be replayed unless it is also determined that the violation adversely affected the protesting team’s chances of winning.”

During the inning in question, however, the umpiring crew allowed Doolittle to continue his delivery. He helped secure the Nationals’ 5-2 win after inducing a groundout from Almora, striking out Kyle Schwarber, and getting a game-ending pop-out from Kris Bryant.

After the game, both Holbrook and Doolittle took issue with Maddon’s protest.

“In that moment, he’s not trying to do anything other than rattle me,” Doolittle told reporters. “And it was kind of tired. I don’t know, sometimes he has to remind people how smart he is and how much he pays attention to the game. So he put his stamp on it, for sure.”

Holbrook, meanwhile, said Doolittle did “absolutely nothing illegal at all.”