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And That Happened: Thursday’s Scores and Highlights

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There were ten games last night. Four were shutouts. Three ended 7-6. This is important. This means something.

Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Red Sox 7, Blue Jays 6: The Jays jumped out to a 5-0 lead and Boston tied it by the seventh thanks to a Mitch Moreland homer. The Jays went back up, 6-5, when Freddy Galvis homered in the eighth, but Moreland struck again in the ninth with an RBI double to tie it. Then Rafael Devers hit a walkoff RBI single to give the Red Sox a rare, so far win and their first unscripted celebration of the year.

Of further interest: Jays first baseman Rowdy Tellez hit a homer in the third inning which went an estimated at 505 feet by Statcast:

If it went 505 feet, that’s the longest homer in Fenway history, passing Ted Williams’ famous 502-foot homer, which is memorialized by a red-painted seat in the right field stands. The ball appeared to land a bit short of the famous red seat, though, but some have said it may have ricocheted there or hit a facade or something first. At the moment whether this is an actual record is unclear. My guess is that this will all result in a test of wills: between Sox fans and, possibly, Sox officials who would really prefer that Williams, and not Tellez, holds the record for longest homer and MLB officials who will do anything they can to portray StatCast as infallible. What say you as of now, MLB?

A message left with Major League Baseball seeking clarification was not immediately returned.

I eagerly await clarification on that.

UPDATE: Just got this tweet from Mike Petriello, who is The Man when it comes to Statcast:

The Splendid Splinter’s record remains intact.

Reds 5, Marlins 0: Sonny Gray tossed four shutout innings and five relievers handled the final five frames after Gray had to leave the game when he was hit in the leg by a comebacker and it stiffened up on him. The injury aside, it was the second strong outing from Gray in a row, after allowing only one run and pitching into the seventh five days prior. He seemed OK but we’ll hear today or tomorrow, I imagine, if he’ll have to skip a start. On offense Eugenio Suárez had three hits, including a solo homer and Yasiel Puig doubled in two runs in his first game back following his suspension for fighting.

Athletics 8, Orioles 5: Khris Davis hit a pair of home runs for the second straight game. I’ll check this later, but for now I’ll note that I’ve been doing these recaps for Davis’ entire career and he seems to have more multi-homer games over that span than anyone else I’ve covered by a factor of, like, ten. I bet he has more multi-homer games since 2013 than anyone and that it’s not anywhere near close. The other Davis — Chris — was 0-for-3 with a walk — yay, a walk! — and extended his record hitless streak to 53 at-bats. Josh PhegleyKendrys Morales and Marcus Semien also homered for the A’s, who hit 16 homers while taking three of four from Baltimore.

UPDATE: Bill Baer, who is apparently suffering from insomnia, just emailed me with the multi-homer game data. It seems that, since 2013, Giancarlo Stanton leads all of baseball with 26 multi-homer games. Davis is third with 23, but he leads all of baseball since 2015, with 22 multi-homer games (Stanton has 19 since then).

Indians 4, Tigers 0: Shane Bieber tossed seven shutout innings and former Tiger Leonys Martin had three hits, homered and drove in three in all. Cleveland has won six of seven.

Cardinals 11, Dodgers 7: The sweep. Matt Wieters hit a two-run double, drove in a three runs and stole a base which is, frankly, inexcusable. I know Yasmani Grandal had a bunch of defensive miscues in the postseason for L.A., but I feel like if he had stuck around he wouldn’t let Wieters steal a base. Maybe I’m crazy. Also weird: Harrison Bader was hit by pitches with the bases loaded . . . twice. That’s gotta be the hardest way to get two RBIs there is. In other news, Dodgers starters allowed 16 runs in 16 innings of work in this series. They need Clayton Kershaw back, it seems.

Mets 6, Braves 3: Pete Alonso hit a two-run homer and Amed Rosario homered and drove in four. Ronald Acuña Jr. tripled and homered — a long, long homer — in a losing cause.

Mariners 7, Royals 6: The M’s were down 4-0 after five and 6-3 after seven, but they’re just charmed this year so that didn’t hold. Mitch Haniger tied the game with a two-run triple in the 9th and then Daniel Vogelbach hit a go-ahead homer in the 10th for a dramatic come-from-behind win. Seattle is now 13-2. They have homered in 15 consecutive games to start the season, and that’s a new major league record. Unbelievable beginning of the year for these guys.

Padres 7, Diamondbacks 6: San Diego led 6-1 heading into the bottom of the seventh and starter Pedro Avila stood to get the win in his major league debut, but relievers Robert Stock and Brad Wieck combined to blow it, with Eduardo Escobar‘s three-run homer capping off a five-run rally. Archie Bradley returned the favor in the eighth, however, but surrendering a solo shot to Manuel Margot, giving the Padres the victory. Franmil Reyes and Austin Hedges also went deep for San Diego. Dbacks announcer Bob Brenly had himself a night too, calling Fernando Tatis Jr.’s necklace a “bicycle chain,” as if it’s any concern of Brenly’s what Tatis is wearing:

I guess Tatis Jr. just doesn’t play the game the white– er, I mean the right way.

Cubs 2, Pirates 0: José Quintana with seven shutout innings and 11 Ks. That creep can roll, man. Pirates starter Joe Musgrove matched him most of the way, but got touched for two unearned runs in the seventh, delivered by post-error RBIs from Daniel Descalso and Victor Caratini. The game was delayed 69 minutes by rain before the eighth inning which was not nice.

Giants 1, Rockies 0: Kevin Pillar did it again, hitting a solo homer in the seventh for the only offense in the game. Pillar has now homered in three of the last four games and has driven in ten runs in those four contests. Jeff Samardzija tossed seven, three-hit shutout innings, outdueling Jon Gray of the Rockies. Colorado, by the way, has one of the worst offenses in all of baseball so far in the early going. Not the kind of thing on which one builds success in Denver or, well, anyplace else for that matter.

Astros sweep as Twins lose 18th straight in playoffs

Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
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MINNEAPOLIS — Shaken up by a scandal before the virus outbreak shrunk the season, the Houston Astros barely played well enough to reach the playoffs – with the rest of baseball actively rooting against them.

Well, they’re not ready to leave yet.

Carlos Correa hit a two-out, tiebreaking home run in the seventh inning for the Astros, who produced another stifling pitching performance and swept Minnesota over two games with a 3-1 victory Wednesday that sent the Twins to a record 18th straight postseason loss.

“I know a lot of people are mad. I know a lot of people don’t want to see us here,” Correa said. “But what are they going to say now?”

Nine months after Houston’s rules-breaking, sign-stealing system was revealed, the Astros advanced to the Division Series in Los Angeles. As the sixth seed, they’ll face the Oakland Athletics or Chicago White Sox in a best-of-five matchup starting Monday at Dodger Stadium.

“I don’t think they necessarily thought that they had anything to prove. They just had to play ball,” said manager Dusty Baker, who took his fifth different team to the playoffs and advanced for the first time in seven rounds since winning the 2003 NL Division Series with the Chicago Cubs.

The Twins are 0-18 in the playoffs since winning Game 1 of their Division Series at the New York Yankees on Oct. 5, 2004, a total of seven rounds lost. Since that date, the Astros are 43-35 in postseason play, winning 10 of 15 rounds with three trips to the World Series.

Kyle Tucker hit two RBI singles for the Astros and made a key throw from left field for the inning-ending out in the fifth.

Rookie Cristian Javier worked three hitless innings in relief for the victory in his postseason debut and Ryan Pressly pitched a perfect ninth against his former team, giving the Houston bullpen a total of 9 2/3 scoreless innings in this wild card series with three hits allowed.

“From the very beginning, we envisioned ourselves back in the playoffs and playing real well,” Tucker said. “So we never counted ourselves out at any point.”

Nobody on this Twins team has had a hand in more than six of the playoffs losses, but for the second straight year one of baseball’s most potent lineups limped through a brief postseason cameo. In a three-game division series sweep by the Yankees last year, the Twins totaled seven runs and 22 hits. Against the Astros, they mustered only two runs and seven hits.

“We put a lot of balls in play, it seemed like, but they were up in the air and, yeah, it seemed like we played into their trap,” said Max Kepler, one of four starters who went hitless in the series. “At the end of the day, we didn’t get the job done.”

Nelson Cruz gave the Twins an RBI double for a second straight game, this time in the fourth inning against starter Jose Urquidy. Luis Arraez aggressively tried to score from first base, but Correa took the throw from Tucker and fired home to beat Arraez to the plate to preserve the tie after third base coach Tony Diaz waved him in.

“I don’t know why he sent him,” Correa said.

Then in the seventh against losing pitcher Cody Stashak, Correa drove a 1-0 slider into the tarp-covered seats above right-center field for his 12th home run in 52 playoff games.

After winning 101, 103 and 107 games in the last three regular seasons, winning the 2017 World Series and losing the championship in seven games to the Washington Nationals last year, the Astros stumbled through the 2020 season at 29-31 under Baker and new general manager James Click with a slew of injuries after the COVID-19 pandemic cut the schedule to 60 games.

They had the third-worst road record in the major leagues, too, but none of that mattered this week against the third-seeded Twins, who were out of sorts in their two biggest games this year.

Jose Berrios was one of the few who were locked in with five strong innings to start, with just two hits allowed. His two walks were costly, though, issued right before Tucker’s single in the fourth.

“I don’t think anyone was ready to leave, to end this way,” Cruz said. “That’s life.”

KIRILLOFF FOR BUXTON

Already missing third baseman Josh Donaldson, the Twins held another one of their most valuable players out: center fielder Byron Buxton. Baldelli declined to confirm whether Buxton was experiencing a recurrence of concussion symptoms that kept him out of the last two regular season games. Buxton was picked off first base after pinch running for Cruz in the eighth.

Kepler moved to center, and Alex Kirilloff – the 2016 first-round draft pick – played right field to become the first Twins player in history to make his major league debut in a postseason game. Kirilloff singled in the fourth. With the bases loaded in the first, he flied out to end the inning.

FEELING BLUE

Both teams took issue with plate umpire Manny Gonzalez’s strike zone, with Astros slugger George Springer the first to visibly complain. After being called out on strikes in the fourth, Springer barked, “No way, man!” multiple times on his way back to the dugout.

Then in the sixth, the Twins lost left fielder Eddie Rosario to ejection after he argued a called strike two that would’ve given him a walk if it were called a ball. After swinging and missing at strike three, Rosario yelled again and was quickly tossed.

First base umpire Tim Timmons missed consecutive calls in the eighth inning on grounders by the Astros when he called the runners safe. Both were reversed to outs after replay review.

UP NEXT

The Astros, who have reached the AL Championship Series in each of the last three years, will play Monday against either the A’s or the White Sox. RHP Lance McCullers Jr. is the only member of their regular season rotation who did not pitch in Minnesota.

The Twins enter the offseason with 10 players set to become free agents, including the 40-year-old Cruz who led the team in home runs and batting average (among players with a qualifying amount of at-bats) for a second straight season. Their 2021 opener is scheduled for April 1 at Milwaukee.