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And That Happened: Tuesday’s scores and highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Mets 11, Phillies 1: Last time out, facing the Padres, Vince Velasquez looked like Walter Johnson. This time out, facing the Mets, he looked . . . less like that. Five runs on five hits including a couple of dingers. The pen fared worse. It happens. Good young pitchers will break your heart as often as they’ll dazzle your senses and rebuilding teams get shelled by pennant-winning teams more often than they don’t. Neil Walker hit two bombs, BTW.

Brewers 6, Twins 5: Milwaukee had a 5-2 lead in the bottom of the eighth and then blew it by allowing three runs. Then, in the ninth, Scooter Gennett hit a tiebreaking single to bring the Brew Crew back. Same basic thing happened to them against the Cardinals last week. If the Brewers end up having a mediocre year like most expect, it will mean little. If they exceed expectations, they’ll get a rep as “the Comeback Kids” or something. Narratives are fun.

Indians 3, Mariners 2: When people talk about how the Indians have a bright future, that talk almost always centers on Francisco Lindor and their good pitching. Both of those things were on display yesterday in Cleveland. Lindor had three hits, scored a run, drew a bases-loaded walk and flashed some fantastic leather. Meanwhile, Carlo Carrasco allowed one run on four hits in six and a third. He wasn’t as sharp as a tack, but that can be excused as early in the game he tweaked his ankle or foot when stepping awkwardly on the bag covering first base. He powered through, though.

Blue Jays 4, Orioles 3: Three in a row for the Jays while the O’s have dropped four of five. Streaky teams are fun for everyone except the people who root for streaky teams in which case it’s pass-the-Pepto time.

Athletics 3, Yankees 2: Jed Lowrie had four hits, including a double in the 11th inning which set up a Mark Canha single which put the A’s ahead for good. Canha needed that hit as he’s been struggling mightily.

Rays 3, Red Sox 0: All zeros for both teams until the tenth inning when Kevin Kiermaier homered. The Rays added two more insurance runs. It was a tough no-decision for Drew Smyly, who tossed eight one-hit shutout innings while striking out 11, but he got to celebrate all the same. In other news, Kiermaier is the first winner of the HardballTalk “Cool Clutch Cat Award,” which is a photo of my adorable kittens given to a cool clutch player. Actually, for reasons explored this past offseason, Kiermaier will be the only player who ever gets the award, because it apparently annoys him that a grown man can love cats. So: going forward, any time Kiermaier does something cool, Rosie, Lucy and Scully Calcaterra will be his award. He should consider himself lucky and blessed, as my cats are really frickin’ amazing. Here you are Kevin:

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I hope Kiermaier has a great year, because I have a LOT of pictures of my cats.

Braves 8, Dodgers 1: Break up the Braves, the hottest team in baseball! Five of their pitchers, most of whom even their mothers couldn’t pick out of a police lineup, stymied the Dodgers bats and Tyler Flowers and Mallex Smith each drove in three. The Dodgers played like clown shoes: three errors, two hit batsmen, a wild pitch and a passed ball.

Reds 4, Rockies 3: The Reds stole five bases. In a single inning, the second. Jay Bruce had two of them. All the more amazing is that Jorge De La Rosa is a lefty and lefties are supposed to be able to control the running game better given that they face first base from the stretch. Maybe he De La Rosa is suffering from that autoimmune disorder the woman who wrote “Brain on Fire” had and everything in one hemisphere was off-kilter. Unlikely, but we can’t rule anything out.

Nationals 7, Marlins 0: Can we just give Bryce Harper his second MVP award already? It’s early and all, but holy cats is he good. He was “only” 1-for-4 here but that 1 was a grand slam. He’s on pace for 87 homers and 249 RBI. He probably won’t reach those totals — and his 75 strikeout pace seems somewhat unsustainable in this day and age — but he is doing pretty well this year.

Royals 8, Tigers 6: Sal Perez homered and drove in five. I wish he would’ve credited his offseason raise for the production with some kind of flip “hey, you get what you pay for” quip. He’s already a leader, now let’s see him be a strong union man.

Rangers 7, Astros 5: I went to Texas a lot in the past four years and came to like a whole lot about it. Busting stereotypes is a good thing and I highly recommend you all do it. Downside: I can’t use my old “Rangers and Astros to play in the Battle for Texas; loser gets stuck with Texas” joke. Oh well. Prince Fielder and Mitch Moreland homered.

White Sox 5, Angels 0: Mat Latos continues his amazing early season run, tossing shutout ball into the seventh and lowering his ERA to 0.49. I may have to consider giving him a Cool Clutch Cat Award at some point too, but not to taunt him. He likes cats, as many might remember, and even owns a cat named Cat Latos, which is a special kind of amazing.

Cubs 2, Cardinals 1: Jason Hammel allowed one run over six innings and drove in the Cubs’ only two runs. Hammel has actually allowed fewer runs than he’s driven in on the season. Ban the DH.

Padres 5, Pirates 4: Nic Cage in “Wicker Man” except instead of “not the beeeees!!!!” it’s “not the balllllkss!!” Gonna go to my grave believing that Cage is the greatest actor of my lifetime, by the way. You watch: in a few years there will be some crazy reevaluation of him as a hidden genius.

Diamondbacks 3, Giants 0: Robbie Ray comes up big for the Snakes, tossing six shutout innings and striking out eight. Matt Cain looked good for a while but then ran out of gas in the fifth. We talk about spring training being too long for a ton of reasons, but pitchers really do need it.

 

Yankees keep ALCS hopes alive with 4-1 win over Astros

Gio Urshela
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The Yankees defeated the Astros 4-1 during Game 5 of the American League Championship Series on Friday night, staving off a potential postseason elimination and forcing the series to at least six games.

In just the third playoff appearance of his career, Yankees southpaw James Paxton turned in another impressive performance, limiting the Astros to four hits and four walks over six innings of one-run ball. According to MLB Stats, his nine strikeouts made him the second Yankees lefty to record multiple starts of 8+ strikeouts in the same postseason campaign, two decades after David Wells did so for the 1998 championship-winning club.

Paxton’s strong outing was backed by a handful of runs from DJ LeMahieu and Aaron Hicks, both of whom went deep against Astros ace Justin Verlander in the bottom of the first inning. LeMahieu’s leadoff solo shot marked his first postseason home run since Game 1 of the ALDS, while Hicks’ three-run 347-footer was his first home run of any variety since July 24 (and his first in the playoffs since the 2017 ALDS).

Neither team managed a single run after the first inning, leaving the two pitching staffs to duke it out for eight quick innings. Verlander outlasted Paxton — taking the game through the seventh with five hits, four runs, and nine strikeouts — but even with a flawless contribution from Brad Peacock in the eighth, there was little the hurlers could do to help the Astros solve Paxton and an airtight Yankees bullpen.

With the win, the Yankees will try to push the series to a full seven games in order to snatch the AL pennant from the Astros. They’ll have to do in Houston, however, as the Astros will regain home field advantage when Game 6 kicks off on Saturday at 8:08 PM EDT. Neither starter has been announced yet; per Houston skipper A.J. Hinch, it will likely be a bullpen day.