And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights

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Apart from the Bryce Harper ejection, which I’ll talk about below, not that dang much interesting seems to have happened last night. Which is part of that ebb-and-flow, yin-and-yang of the 2,400-game season I was talking about last week. Some Wednesday nights just sort of happen, and that’s a good thing. Baseball was there whether it was interesting or not and whether we saw it or not and that has its own value.

If anything cool happened I didn’t see it. Instead I went to go see “Mad Max: Fury Road,” which was every bit as exciting as it was made out to be. Though I think it’s possible people overstated what the movie actually is. There’s a lot of talk about its feminist underpinnings and commentary and a lot of hilariously awful people have denounced the movie in their sad little ways. Sure, there is some element of that here, but it’s not an overtly political movie. At least not any more political than the other Mad Max films which are all premised on the idea that some idiots have ruined the world and the other idiots who now run it do so in brutal fashion. It just so happens that those idiots are, Tina Turner notwithstanding, men.

Here the big to-do seems to be that It’s — gasp! — a movie with a strong woman in the lead and some strong women characters doing cool things and kicking a little War Boy ass. Which I suppose passes for radical these days, sadly. But if it wasn’t for the fact that most movies deliver pretty boring and cliche gender roles, people wouldn’t have made much of a note of it. All of which is to say that, to the extent “Fury Road” and its kickass women stick out in this regard it’s because everything else is so damn awful. If you put Trinity in the lead in “The Matrix” it would’ve worked just as well. Maybe better because she was amazing. But Hollywood tends not to do that and, as a result, we all act confused/surprised/excited/angry when Charlize Theron drives the War Wagon instead of some scruffy man.

As for the flick on its own terms, it’s a fantastically well-done, visually arresting B-movie which, if you know me, you know is not an insult at all. The other Mad Max flicks and most big action movies are basically B-movies at heart, even if their budgets and stars are big. “Fury Road” knows exactly what it’s doing, does it well and smashes up all kinds of crap in fun, explosive fabulousness in the process. Which is exactly what you need a couple of times a summer, especially on nights when the baseball really doesn’t deliver. Anyway:

Nationals 3, Yankees 2: Denard Span helped drive the comeback victory, hitting a bases-loaded single off reliever Justin Wilson in the seventh. The bases were loaded due to an error and a couple of walks which, well, not too great for the Yankees.

Of course everyone here was talking about the ump show, which was ridiculous, with home plate umpire Marvin Hudson (a) missing a call; (b) getting super defensive about it; and (c) ejecting Bryce Harper because, in Hudson’s view, he didn’t get back in the batter’s box fast enough. Of course, given that (a) Harper only left the box because Hudson had taken his mask off to jaw at the Nats’ dugout; and (b) pace-of-play issues are not supposed to be dealt with via ejections, Hudson’s only possible complaint was that Harper was bruising his wrongfully-substantial ego. Ridiculous. But of course there is no public accountability for umpires so it’s highly unlikely that we’ll hear of any discipline Hudson receives, however well-deserved it is.

 

Diamondbacks 6, Marlins 1: Six straight losses for Miami as they couldn’t figure out Chase Anderson. Who is a pitcher now but, if he existed in the 1980s, would be the evil, preppy rival of our hero who would be vanquished in The Big Game or The Big Match or something at the end of the movie. Then the hero would get the girl who would, somehow, have spent the middle part of the movie with Chase Anderson before coming to her senses. Why our hero is even interested in someone so fickle to begin with is beyond me and I bet that, later, they have some difficult conversations about the basis of their relationship. Or not. They’re in high school for Pete’s sake.

Angels 4, Blue Jays 3: Marc Krauss hit a go-ahead two-run double in the seventh after the Jays pitched around Mike Trout to get to him. As Krauss said after the game, it was a wise decision to pitch around Trout to get to Krauss and, even if it burned them here, anyone should be doing that regardless. Krauss was in the game, by the way, because Albert Pujols got hit in the hand with a pitch. He’s day-to-day.

Astros 6, Athletics 1: Dallas Keuchel won his eighth consecutive decision dating back to last season, allowing just one run, unearned, in seven innings.  His ERA on the year is now 1.67. Evan Gattis’ two-run homer in the sixth put Houston up for good and everything after was insurance. The Astros sport the best record in the AL. Just as everyone predicted they would.

Rangers 2, Red Sox 1Phil Klein made his first big league start and it went well: five and a third innings, five hits one run. The Sox had their chances but stranded runners like it was their job.

Mariners 4, Orioles 2: Roenis Elias, whose name I like to say more than most ballplayers because it just flows, man, allowed one run, six hits and no walks in seven and two-thirds. Justin Ruggiano homered scored twice and drove in two.

Twins 4, Pirates 3: Joe Mauer hit his first homer since last August and it came at a good time: the 13th inning. Torii Hunter went 3-for-5 with three RBI. The Pirates are 0-6 in extra innings.

Tigers 5, Brewers 2: Nick Castellanos hit a bases-clearing triple in the eighth. After runs were hard to come by in the past couple of games against Milwaukee, this had to seem like floodgates opening.

Braves 2, Rays 1: Rookie Williams Perez gave up one run over five innings and had seven strikeouts in his first major league start and rookie Todd Cunningham drove in the tiebreaking run with a groundout. That feeling when you really don’t know who the hell plays for your team anymore but, hey, you’ll take the win.

Cardinals 9, Mets 0: Matt Adams homered. Jason Heyward homered. Matt Holliday and Kolten Wong both had three hits. Bartolo Colon got shelled and the Mets fell out of their first-place tie in the East. Colon walked two batters. He had only walked one guy all season before yesterday.

Indians 4, White Sox 3: Shaun Marcum made his first big league start since July 2013 and got the win here after two years of battling shoulder ailments. Carlos Rodon made his third start for the White Sox and, while he did generally OK, pitching six innings and giving up one run on four hits, he walked five. He’s walking way too many guys.

Royals 7, Reds 1: Six shutout innings from Jeremy Guthrie as the Royals won for the fifth time in six games. That win improves their record to 26-14, with is KC’s best-ever record after 40 games.

Phillies 4, Rockies 2: Ryan Howard had three hits, including a homer. Howard is hitting .328 with four homers and 10 RBI in 64 at bats in May.

Cubs 3, Padres 2: A defacto bullpen game for the Cubs as Tsuyoshi Wada only lasted four and two-thirds, but he struck out nine guys regardless. His only mistake was allowing a two-run homer to Justin Upton.

Giants 4, Dodgers 0: The Tim Lincecum renaissance continues. He won his third straight, lowering his ERA to 2.08 after shutting down the Dodgers on three hits over seven shutout innings. Buster Posey hit a two-run homer in the seventh. Five wins in a row for the Giants, who are now only two and a half back of L.A.

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.