Playoff Reset: The Utley Bowl and three other games


Like Friday, today we have playoff baseball all dang day long, starting at 1pm Eastern and going on until likely midnight or thereabouts, with all eight remaining playoff teams in action.

And, at least as far as drama goes, the schedule saves the best for last, with the Dodgers-Mets blood feud getting underway at 8:37pm Eastern  the late game. Strap in, folks.

The Game: Kansas City Royals vs. Houston Astros
The Time: 1:07 p.m. ET
The Place: Minute Maid Park
The Channel: FS1
The Starters: Yordano Ventura vs. Lance McCullers
The Upshot: The Royals’ backs are up against the wall after yesterday’s loss to Dallas Keuchel and the Astros. McCullers has yet to pitch in the postseason. His last outing was on the season’s last day and he had a bit of a mini-meltdown vs. the Diamondbacks, but overall his rookie campaign was strong (6-7, 3.22 ERA, 129/43 K/BB ratio in 125.2 innings). He’s had particular success at home, going 4-1 with a 1.86 ERA in 10 starts. Yordano Ventura will go on short rest after a rain-abbreviated two-inning, 42-pitch appearance in Game 1. Not that he was terribly effective in those two innings. His task: figure out how to get Colby Rasmus and Chris Carter out. The former is 5-for-10 with six walks, three homers, a double and five driven in this postseason, the latter: 5-for-11 with three walks, somehow, and that big homer yesterday.


The Game: Toronto Blue Jays vs. Texas Rangers
The Time: 4:07 p.m. ET
The Place: Globe Life Park, Arlington
The Channel: FS1
The Starters: R.A. Dickey vs. Derek Holland
The Upshot: Toronto staved off elimination last night the way they made it here in the first place: their boomsticks. Specifically Troy Tulowtizki’s, which delivered a three-run homer in the sixth inning. Thing was, it could’ve easily been something of a laugher rather than the close game it was at that point if not for the double plays the Jays kept hitting into. They had their chances to break it open and came out OK despite not doing that but they’d be better served today to take fuller advantage of their opportunities. On the hill: R.A. Dickey who, at age 40, is making his postseason debut. Against the team that drafted him nearly 20 years ago. Time is a flat circle.


The Game: Chicago Cubs vs. St. Louis Cardinals
The Time: 6:07 p.m. ET
The Place: Wrigley Field
The Channel: TBS
The Starters: Michael Wacha vs. Jake Arrieta
The Upshot: The Cardinals’ mission, should they choose to accept it, is to try to do something against Jake Arrieta, which no one has been able to do in a dog’s age. Last time out all he did was shut out the Pirates while striking out 11. I’m not gonna say it’ll take a no-hitter by Michael Wacha to beat Arrieta but . . . the last time someone beat Arrieta was when Cole Hamels — then a Phillie — tossed a no-hitter against the Cubs back on June 25.


The Game: Los Angeles Dodgers vs. New York Mets
The Time: 8:37 p.m. ET
The Place: Citi Field
The Channel: TBS
The Starters: Brett Anderson vs. Matt Harvey
The Upshot: There Will Be Blood. Or, at the very least, bruises. At least if the Mets decide that going after the Dodgers in retaliation for Chase Utley‘s dirty slide which broke Ruben Tejada‘s leg on Saturday is the highest and best use of Matt Harvey’s heat. At the moment Harvey seems to be signaling that it is, saying “as far as sticking up for your teammates, I think being out there and doing what’s right is exactly what I’m going to do,” which may as well be an advertisement for free plunkings with every at bat. Whether it comes against Chase Utley himself or someone else is an open question at the moment, with Utley having received a two-game suspension last night which he is appealing. Major League Baseball says they will hear the appeal today, so it’s possible that Utley will still be out for this game and for Game 4 in New York.

Orioles sign OF Aaron Hicks, put Cedric Mullins on 10-day IL with groin strain

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

BALTIMORE — The Baltimore Orioles signed outfielder Aaron Hicks less than 24 hours after Cedric Mullins went down with a strained right groin.

Mullins went on the 10-day injured list, but the Orioles are hoping Hicks can help defensively in the spacious outfield at Camden Yards. Hicks was released last week by the New York Yankees with more than 2 1/2 seasons left on his contract.

“We had noticed that he was a free agent even before the injury,” Orioles general manager Mike Elias said. “When the injury occurred and it became pretty clear this was going to be an IL, it seemed like a good fit even more so at that time.”

The Orioles are responsible for paying Hicks just $483,871, a prorated share of the $720,000 minimum salary. The Yankees owe him the rest of his $10.5 million salary this year, plus $9.5 million in each of the next two seasons and a $1 million buyout of a 2026 team option.

The 33-year-old Hicks hit just .188 in 28 games for the Yankees this year.

“We have stuff that we look at from a scouting and evaluation perspective,” Elias said. “It’s very different from just looking at the back of a baseball card, and we hope that we get a bounceback from anyone we bring here.”

Hicks batted .216 last season.

“Hopefully that’s a good thing for him,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said of the Baltimore deal. “A lot of time here and a lot of good things happened for him here. I know the last couple of years have been a struggle. But hopefully it’s a good opportunity for him and certainly wish him well. Not too well being in our division and a team we’re chasing, but hopefully it’s a really good fit for him.”

Mullins left a loss to Cleveland after he pulled up while running out an infield grounder. Outfielder Colton Cowser – the fifth pick in the draft two years ago – is hitting .331 at Triple-A Norfolk, but he went on the IL in the past couple weeks.

“Certainly he was building a case towards promotion consideration prior to his injury and prior to Cedric’s injury,” Elias said. “We’ll just see where we’re at.”

Hicks was active for the game but not in the starting lineup. Austin Hays, normally Baltimore’s left field, was in Mullins’ usual spot in center.

When the wall in left at Camden Yards was pushed significantly back before last season, it made left field a bigger challenge defensively.

“In this park … you really need two center fielders,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “Aaron’s got a lot of center-field experience. Played left field here before also. Brings the defensive aspect and then the switch-hitting.”