Cubs 7, Brewers 2: Kyle Hendricks was solid, giving up one run on five hits in six innings. He’s 5-0 with a 1.30 ERA over his last seven starts. Chris Coghlan was 2-for-2 and drove in three even though he didn’t show up in the game until pinch hitting late. Or, as we call guys who put up nice performances despite not even supposed to be there that day, “pulling a Dante.” And by “we,” I mean “old Gen-X writers who are still trying to cling to the cultural references of our youth rather than adapt to new things. As our Baby Boomer parents did before us and as our Millennial younger siblings and/or children will one day do themselves.
Yankees 5, Blue Jays 3: So, here’s how the sausage is made: for the now nine seasons I have done this feature, I have always followed basically the same process. I go to the box scores and see who did what. If there isn’t some obvious thing to be taken from it — a pitcher who had a strong outing, a batter who had a big hit or a big day — I usually go to the Associated Press recap, which is available at NBCSports.com and any other place that puts up scores such as ESPN or Yahoo. The reason I go to the AP gamer is because, per the AP’s house style, it’s usually a bare bones recitation of the game’s action. The local newspaper may have a writer whose prose has blood and life to it and that’s wonderful, but for my purposes I want a “just the facts ma’am” sort of thing and the AP does that well.
Sometimes, though, I read one and can see that the AP beat writer — the anonymous reporter who does not get a byline and who is employed to give a “just the facts, ma’am” recap — is bored. Or that he or she is clearly wanting to break beyond the AP house style and write some damn words with some feeling. Sometimes, it’s actual prose. Like this one, from this game:
Sensing the season’s dwindling days, the New York Yankees opened their penultimate homestand by falling behind on Masahiro Tanaka‘s seventh pitch of a sunny Labor Day afternoon.
That ain’t F. Scott Fitzgerald or Elmore Leonard but, dang it, that’s a person who wants to set a scene and tell a story. That’s someone who, on this Labor Day, felt like he needed to be more than just a cog in the wire service machine and that he had to at least try to instill his story with some life and feeling. Maybe that didn’t serve some utilitarian purpose that me or some other blogger or baseball fan needed to have served, but he got a damn “penultimate” AND a “dwindling” in that lede, and ended it with a scene that, by gum, was set. Hats off to you, kind sir or madam. May no restrictive set of editorial standards fence you in.
As for the game? I dunno. I’m too inspired by subtle rebellion to bother. Read the damn box score like I do. Yankees won, Jays lost, but it’s OK because so did the Red Sox.
Royals 11, Twins 5: Brian Dozier hit three homers. I bet there aren’t a ton of guys who hit three homers in a losing effort. You asked for miracles, Theo, I give you the Minnesota Twins. Rookie Jose Berrios was lookin’ pretty spiffy for a while. I was interested and turned this game on right when he gave up a 5,406-foot (estimated) homer to Kendrys Morales, so so much for that. Eric Hosmer hit a three-run homer and drove in four himself.
Orioles 7, Rays 3: Ubaldo Jimenez may be the weirdest pitcher of the past decade. He’s had stretches where he has been dominant and amazing and stretches where he has been a complete tomato can. This game was a microcosm of his career: in the first inning he gave up a single, then hit a guy, then gave up a three-run homer. Then he went the rest of the game — the entire game; he tossed a CG — without giving up another hit. Your standard three-run, two-hitter. Chris Davis homered and drove in three, but the story here was definitely Jimenez. One of God’s own prototypes. A high-powered mutant of some kind never even considered for mass production. Too weird to live, and too rare to die.
Padres 2, Red Sox 1: That stuff I said about Ubaldo Jimenez above? It applies to Edwin Jackson too. Maybe even more so. I’ve never seen a pitcher look, alternatively, more like butt and more like a world beater depending on which day you look than Jackson. Here he tossed seven shutout innings against one of the best offenses in baseball, striking out 11. Why? Because he won’t be pigeonholed, that’s why, jack. Him and Ubaldo should join forces and fight crime or something. They could have some crime fighting team name too like, say, “The Unpredictables” or “The Erratics” or “Chaos Theory” or something like that.
Tigers 5, White Sox 3: Justin Verlander and Chris Sale each allowed a two over seven and eight innings, respectively — both of Sale’s runs were via Miguel Cabrera solo shots — but neither figured in the decision as this one went to 11. Justin Upton hit a three-run homer in the 11th, however, and that was that. Upton could be the sidekick hitter on Jimenez and Jackson’s TV show, by the way. That guy can look pathetic on one day — first-pitch swinging into a double play against a pitcher who can’t find the zone — and then go on a homer tear, picking up RBIs in bunches.
Mets 5, Reds 0: Six shutout innings and the 13th win of the season for the ageless wonder that is Bartolo Colon. Matt Reynolds — just off a redeye flight from Las Vegas after being called back up — had three hits and drove in a couple. He was six-years-old when Colon made his MLB debut, by the way.
Phillies 6, Marlins 2: The Phillies had suffered through 18 consecutive scoreless innings before Freddy Galvis homered in the fifth. The Marlins, meanwhile, have lost four in a row and are 11-22 since the first of August, which, woof. They’re five back in the Wild Card with four teams ahead of them now, so this season is slip-sliding away (note: that reference was put there for my Baby Boomer mom who likes Paul Simon a lot).
Cardinals 12, Pirates 6: Seven losses in a row for Pittsburgh. The Pirates and the Marlins should start a joint chapter of a support group or something. “Former Contenders Anonymous” maybe. Adam Wainwright didn’t pitch all that well but he drove in three runs and enjoyed nine more runs beyond that in support. It was his first win since July. Jedd Gyorko and Matt Adams homered. At least one Cardinals batter has homered in 24 straight games, which is a club record.
Angels 10, Athletics 7: The Angels led 8-2 after their half of the fourth, the A’s rallied a good bit, but not enough. On Sunday Matt Shoemaker got hit in the head with a comebacker, fractured his skull and had to have emergency surgery. In this game Jered Weaver got hit with a comebacker in the ass. Not quite as serious. It’s all in the follow-through, people.
Nationals 6, Braves 4: Max Scherzer won his fourth start in a row and his 16th on the year, allowing two runs on seven hits in seven innings. Trea Turner and Chris Heisey each drove in three. The Nats have an 8.5 game lead in the East. Their run differential is +140. The second place Mets are at +15. Everyone else in the East is negative in that department.
Mariners 14, Rangers 6: Cole Hamels has been one of the best pitchers in the American League this year but everyone has a bad day sometimes. This was a really bad day. Seattle had a 7-0 lead after two innings — Hamels gave up all of those runs in an inning and two-thirds, actually — capped off by a Robinson Cano homer. Franklin Gutierrez drove in four. The M’s sent 11 batters to the plate in their six-run sixth inning. It was just one of those days.
Rockies 6, Giants 0: Chad Bettis tossed a complete game, two-hit shutout, striking out seven and not walking a soul. Carlos Gonzalez hit a grand slam in the third. Everyone in Denver was able to enjoy their barbecue without having to worry about the outcome of this one.
Astros 6, Indians 2: Terry Francona decided that this would be a Johnny Wholestaff day — Mike Clevenger getting the start, but basically a parade of relief arms — but that didn’t work out so well. Houston jumped out to a 3-0 lead after three and their starter — an actual starter in Mike Fiers — allowed two over five innings. Houston’s bullpen was better too for that matter, tossing four innings of shutout ball.
Dodgers 10, Diamondbacks 2: Five homers between the fourth and fifth innings put the Dodgers up 8-0. The bombs came from Adrian Gonzalez (two-run jack); Joc Pederson (solo); Corey Seager (three-run); Justin Turner and Yasmani Grandal (solos). They all came off of Zack Greinke, by the way, who the Dodgers were rumored to have been inquiring about recently. So that’s how that goes.