It’s a weird year. Usually, like, ten games on a full fifteen game schedule in mid-September have playoff implications. So much is already decided this year, however, leaving us with only three or four which truly have relevance. Mostly in the AL West/AL Wild card. Like the first three games on this morning’s slate:
Twins 7, White Sox 0: Torii Hunter hit a three-run homer off of Chris Sale in the first and Kyle Gibson pitched shutout ball into the eighth inning. The Twins have totally owned Sale this year. Minnesota remains one game out of the Wild Card spot because . . .
Rangers 12, Athletics 4: . . . the Rangers beat the A’s behind two homers and five RBI from Adrian Beltre and a bunch more offense. And while that Wild Card lead is nice to maintain for Texas, they have bigger fish to fry. They’re only one and a half back of the Astros and begin a four-game series against them at home.
Astros 5, Angels 3: It would’ve been only a half game deficit except Houston rallied for five runs in the ninth inning against the Angels. The Astros were down to their last out before Preston Tucker hit a solo home run, George Springer tripled, Jose Altuve singled Spring in, Carlos Correa singled and then Jed Lowrie hit a dramatic three-run homer. Back-breaking for the Angels who were trying to sweep and stay in the playoff picture.
Indians 7, Tigers 2; Tigers 9, Indians 2: For reasons that still aren’t clear to me I watched the movie “Seeking a Friend for the End of the World” last night and it made me think about the precariousness of civilization and the pointlessness of existence. Much the same way that two teams splitting a doubleheader does. It wasn’t a good movie, BTW, even though it had some good performances. Both of these games seem much the same way, though they lacked a fairly unrealistic Manic Pixie Dream Girl. Whether that made them better or worse is probably a personal preference.
Phillies 7, Cubs 4: Chicago splits the four-game series with the Phillies. After the game Joe Maddon said “I’m just glad we’re not in the same division as the Phillies.” I realize the Phillies won the season series against Chicago, but I feel like Maddon, if he were being completely honest, would be just fine with being in the same division as Philly this year. Anyone would, as they’re the worst team in baseball. I’ve noticed this year that postgame praise for the other team like that has spiked to unprecedented levels. You see it all the time now, whether the other team or any opposing player is truly good or not. “We got some hits against a tough pitcher,” someone will say after beating a merely adequate pitcher. “You don’t just come in here and win these games easily,” someone will say after beating a team a lot of people beat easily. I guess it’s just the sort of politeness grease that makes the world go ’round and, in baseball, that sort of respect for the other side is more ingrained in the culture of the game than it is in society in general. But it is pretty remarkable.
Mets 10, Braves 7: Holy crap the Braves’ bullpen is awful. They took a three-run lead into the ninth and blew it and then gave up three runs in the tenth, warmly inviting the Mets to win their seventh straight game. All of those runs came with two outs too. It was their first four-game sweep of the Braves since July 23, 1989. Which was nine days after I got my driver’s license The Braves have lost 12 in a row at home which is sort of re-defining bad.
Red Sox 2, Rays 0: Rusney Castillo hit a two-run single in the 13th inning. Rich Hill was dominant in his first start since 2009, tossing seven shutout innings, allowing one hit and one walk while striking out 10. Imagine doing anything you used to do a lot for the first time in six years.
Yankees 5, Blue Jays 0: Dustin Ackley homered and had three RBI and R.A. Dickey lost for the first time since before the All-Star break. A much-needed win for the Yankees, stopping a five-game losing streak. Still a bad weekend in the Bronx, dropping three of four to the Blue Jays.
Cardinals 9, Reds 2: The Cards had lost right of ten going into this one, but Tommy Pham hit a tiebreaking, two-run homer in the sixth inning and the Cards really poured it on in the eighth with five runs. St. Louis avoids a sweep and remains two and a half in front of Pittsburgh.
Nationals 5, Marlins 0: Stop me if you’ve heard this but a team a lot of people thought was going to make the playoffs avoided a sweep. Max Scherzer tossed eight shutout innings and struck out six. Bryce Harper left the game in the first inning after colliding with Marlins second baseman Derek Dietrich. He said he felt dizzy afterward, so he’s in concussion test land now.
Pirates 7, Brewers 6: The Pirates rallied from a five-run deficit to force extra innings and then Josh Harrison walked them off in the 11th inning. The Buccos take three of four from Milwaukee who, before Friday’s game anyway, had owned the Pirates this year. I guess, in that case, it’d be OK for that “praise the otherwise bad team after the game” thing if Clint Hurdle did it, as the Brewers have almost single-handedly kept the Pirates from overtaking the Cardinals.
Giants 10, Padres 3: Mike Leake finally won a game for the Giants. And he hit a three-run homer too. The Giants sweep the Padres and win their sixth game in the last eight. It’s a little too late for them, though, as they remain seven and a half back in both the division and the wild card.