And That Happened: Tuesday’s scores and highlights

43 Comments

Mets 8, Nationals 7: It started so well for Matt Williams the Nats. They beat up on Matt Harvey and took a 7-0 lead into the top of the seventh. Then all hell broke loose and the season itself may have slipped away. Or maybe it was just given away. By both a Nats bullpen that has more definitively lost its way than Amelia Earhart and by their manager, Matt Williams.

Blake TreinenFelipe Rivero and Drew Storen combined to give up six runs and walk six guys in a disastrous meltdown of a seventh inning and, with no one else to really go to, Jonathan Papelbon pitched the eighth where he gave up the go-ahead homer to Kirk Nieuwenhuis. All of that was horrible and was enough to kill Nats fans, but then, in the bottom of the ninth, with a man on and no one out, Anthony Rendon — who was already 2-for-4 on the night — worked the count to 3-1. And then . . . tried to bunt. This despite the fact that Rendon, a top-5 MVP candidate last year, had not laid down a sacrifice bunt all season. It didn’t work and what was already an ugly night for Nats fans turned into an ugly night for Matt Williams, at least if he’s on Twitter (note to Matt Williams: do NOT get on Twitter).

Yesterday, I took issue with people who said that Matt Harvey’s outing would put an end to the drama about his possible shutdown. The game certainly did. But not because of anything Harvey did. Bur because the Nats basically handed the Mets the division last night and showed the people and press of New York what real problems in September look like. The Nats have them plenty, my friends, in both their bullpen and in the manager’s office, and that’s why they’re gonna be shut down come the evening of October 4.

Athletics 4, Astros 0: Fact: if you use that quote — and it’s really a misquote — from that Tom Hanks astronaut movie after an Astros loss, you are fined $200 by the Baseball Writers Association. It’s true. I don’t make the rules. Sonny Gray outpitched former A’s teammate Scott Kazmir, reducing the Astros’ division lead to one game. Why? Because . . .

Rangers 9, Mariners 6: . . . the Rangers hit four homers and Cole Hamels gutted out seven innings despite getting smacked in the shoulder with a comebacker in the third inning. Mitch Moreland, Shin-Soo Choo and Rougned Odor all homered early off of Taijuan Walker and Joey Gallo went deep in the eighth.

Dodgers 6, Angels 4: I was in the attic the other day and found a giant dusty stack of newspapers from April and May of this year with headlines screaming “WHAT’S WRONG WITH Clayton Kershaw?!!”  Hahaha, I’m just kidding. I don’t have an attic and newspapers are dead. So too is that silly little spring meme, as Kershaw cruised again, allowing one earned run in seven innings striking out eight. Five straight wins for the Dodgers, whose division lead now stands a comfortable eight and a half games.

Marlins 6, Brewers 4J.T. Realmuto hit two homers, including an inside-the-parker thanks to Brewers center fielder Domingo Santana not knowing how angles and richochets and things work. Stay in school kids. Take geometry and physics, even if you’re a big star athlete. It can come in handy someday.

Orioles 2, Yankees 1: Chris Davis smacked his 41st homer of the year in the ninth to break a 1-1 tie and give the game to the O’s. Masahiro Tanaka struck out 10 guys and Alex Rodriguez hit is 30th bomb, but it wasn’t enough. With the Jays’ win, the Yankees fall one and a half games behind.

Phillies 5, Braves 0: Aaron Nola pitched seven scoreless innings to help the Phillies snap a five-game losing streak. Ryan Weber pitched for the Braves. Good enough for a big league debut for a crap team — he allowed two runs in six innings — but you know how these things go. He is the 59th player the Braves have used this year. Maybe the seventh or eighth decent one.

Tigers 8, Rays 7: Rajai Davis has lodged a formal protest with the league office over the 2016 schedule that was released yesterday. His beef: it doesn’t include more games for him against the Rays. A day after hitting two homers against Tampa Bay Davis hit the game-winning sac fly in the 13th inning here. He also homered. Of course he struck out a lot and was involved in replay challenges that could’ve caused him to be out twice but didn’t, but he’ll take that. This was a wild one, tied four times and lasting until after midnight.

Blue Jays 5, Red Sox 1: Your standard four-run tenth inning for Toronto. Josh Donaldson tripled to lead things off — it looked like a homer at first but replay said it wasn’t — and then Troy Tulowitzki singled him in. Chris Colabello then singled in Dalton Pompey, Alexi Ogando balked in Tulowitzki and then Kevin Pillar hit a sacrifice fly scoring Colabello. Got all that?

Pirates 7, Reds 3Andrew McCutchen hit a three-run homer and Francisco Liriano pitched six shutout innings. That gave the Buccos their 82nd win, ensuring their third straight winning season. Which used to be a big deal for them but ain’t anymore.

Royals 4, Twins 2: Four runs in the first for KC, three of which came on an Eric Hosmer double, and that was all they needed. Edinson Volquez allowed two runs over seven and Wade Davis and Greg Holland did Wade Davis and Greg Holland things.

Cubs 8, Cardinals 5: Starlin Castro has hit pretty well since losing his job. Here he hit a three-run homer and drove in four.  Anthony Rizzo is not in danger of losing his job, likely for the next decade or so. He homered and had three RBI himself.

White Sox 7, Indians 4: Carlos Rodon allowed one run through seven and Rob Brantly hit a three-run homer. Jose Abreu went 3-for-4 with a homer and a double and drove in two. I’d say more about this game but these guys are all basically making me hum “Wake me up when September ends” on an endless loop.

Giants 6, Diamondbacks 2: Tim Hudson allowed one run over six innings and went 2-for-3 with a homer. Viva old bald guys born on July 14. They’re really the best kind of people.

 

Padres 2, Rockies 1Brett Wallace hit a walkoff fielder’s choice. You don’t hear that phrase very often.

Young Blue Jays say they aren’t intimidated by top seed Rays

Blue Jays roster and schedule
Getty Images
Leave a comment

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) When the Tampa Bay Rays and Toronto Blue Jays opened the pandemic-delayed season a little over two months ago, there was little to indicate the AL East rivals might meet again to begin the playoffs.

While the Rays launched the truncated 60-game schedule with expectations of making a strong bid for their first division title in a decade, the Blue Jays generally were viewed as an immensely talented young team still years away from postseason contention.

Tampa Bay didn’t disappoint, shrugging off a slow start to go a league-best 40-20 and claim the No. 1 seed in the AL playoffs that begin Tuesday.

Lefty Blake Snell, who’ll start Game 1 of the best-of-three wild-card series against Toronto at Tropicana Field, also isn’t surprised that the eighth-seeded Blue Jays earned a spot, too.

The Rays won six of 10 games between the teams during the regular season, but were outscored 48-44 and outhomered 17-11.

And while Toronto (32-28) lacks the playoff experience Tampa Bay gained last season when the Rays beat Oakland in the AL wild-card game before falling to Houston in the divisional round, the Blue Jays are building with exciting young players such as Cavan Biggio, Bo Bichette and Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

“They’ve got a lot of young guys who can ball over there,” Snell said. “It’s going to be fun to compete and see how we do.”

Rays defensive whiz Kevin Kiermaier said Tampa Bay, in the playoffs in consecutive seasons for the second time franchise history, will not take the Blue Jays lightly.

“We know we’re playing a real good team,” Kiermaier said. “It’s not going to be easy, regardless of what a team is seeded.”

The Blue Jays, who’ll start right-hander Matt Shoemaker, aren’t conceding anything.

Bichette said he and his teammates respect how good Tampa Bay is, but are not intimidated by facing the No. 1 seed.

“I would say that we didn’t care who we played. I would say that we didn’t mind playing Tampa, that’s for sure. We’re familiar with them. We’ve played them well,” Bichette said.

“I think we’re confident in our ability against them. Our talent matches up well,” Bichette added. “We think if we play well we’ve got a good chance.”

NO FANS

The stands at Tropicana Field will be empty, leaving players to wonder what the atmosphere will be like for the playoffs.

Tampa Bay routinely rank at or near the bottom of the majors in attendance, but usually pack the stands in the domed stadium during the postseason.

“It will be different,” Bichette said. “Normally when you think of your first postseason you think 40,000, you think about not being able to think it’s so loud, stuff like that.”

The Blue Jays open the playoffs near where they hold spring training in Dunedin, Florida. It’s been a winding road for Toronto, which played its home games in Buffalo, New York, at the site of its Triple-A affiliate after the Canadian government barred the Blue Jays from hosting games at their own stadium because of coronavirus concerns.

CONFIDENT RAYS

Tampa Bay’s five-game loss to Houston in last year’s divisional round was a source of motivation during the regular season.

“It definitely lit a fire under everybody. It really showed us we belong. … We gave them a tough series,” second baseman Brandon Lowe said.

“We won the wild-card game. We belong in the postseason. I think that did a lot for us to understand that we should be in the postseason and we can go a lot farther. We know what to expect this time around. I think everyone in our clubhouse expects to be playing until the end of October,” he said.

CLOSE FRIENDS

Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash has the Rays in the playoffs for the second time. His close friend and former Rays third base and bench coach Charlie Montoyo is in his second year as manager of the Blue Jays, who last made the playoffs in 2016.

“Pretty special,” Cash said of his relationship with Montoyo.

“I really learned a lot from him being around him. The way he carried himself. His hand print is throughout this organization,” Cash added. “A pretty big impact and a positive one. … When they clinched I talked to him, we face-timed at 1:30 in the morning. I’m so happy for him.”