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And That Happened: Tuesday’s Scores and Highlights

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Where things stand as we wake up on this fine Wednesday morning:

  • The Dodgers clinched the N.L. West for the seventh straight year. Bang on them all you want for not winning the World Series, but in this day and age of ten playoff teams per league, the division title streak is amazingly impressive;
  • The Cubs and Diamondbacks lost while the Brewers, Phillies and Mets won, tightening up the NL Wild Card race. The Brewers are now one back of the second Wild Card, the Phillies two, the Diamondbacks two and a half and the Mets three;
  • A tighter Wild Card race is great but the Brewers losing their best player for the season due to a freak injury is not great; and
  • The Twins and Indians both won, leaving the one possible division race status quo, but Tampa Bay and Oakland also won, leaving the Indians a half game out of the Wild Card picture.

Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Dodgers 7, Orioles 3: The Dodgers become the first team to clinch. It’s weird that they clinched in Baltimore — in my mind I can’t picture them ever playing in Baltimore outside of the 1966 World Series — but I’m sure they have at some point. Walker Buehler struck out eleven in seven shutout innings. Corey Seager homered twice and drove in five. That photo up above is the Dodgers’ strength coach getting a beer shower. I guess the club really likes its strength coach.

Tigers 12, Yankees 11: New York had a 6-0 lead after two innings and blew it the following inning, making it a whole new ballgame. It would be tied again later at eight, ten and eleven, because apparently September 10 is a holiday observed only by relief pitchers. Jordy Mercer won it for the Tigers with a walkoff single in the ninth, but not until fifteen pitchers had been used between the clubs. Gotta love September baseball. The Yankees homered six times in the loss, with Brett Gardner and Didi Gregorius each homering twice. New York has this weird habit of playing down to the level of its competition at times this year. For their sake I hope they don’t face any 100-loss teams in the playoffs.

Phillies 6, Braves 5: Philly scored four in the first off Braves starter Max Fried, the Braves came back to tie it by the third, but homers by Scott Kingery and Corey Dickerson put them back up to stay. Dickerson actually had two dingers on the evening and knocked in three. Kingery’s — the go-ahead homer — was an inside-the-park job, given an assist by Ronald Acuña stopping to argue . . . something? It can’t be that he caught it, because it was only in his glove for a nanosecond. It can’t be interference. I’m not sure what his thing was, but his delay was enough to allow Kingery to race all the way around the bases:

Eh, a run’s a run and a Philly win right now is pretty important to them.

Blue Jays 4, Red Sox 3: The Blue Jays end a seven-game skid. I’m too lazy to look right now but I feel like they’ve had more 5+ game losing streaks than anyone in baseball this year. Well, mathematically the Tigers probably have to have more. Just saying I tend to notice Toronto’s more for whatever reason. But, again, this one is over as Rowdy Tellez — who, again, I am not convinced was not a character on “Gunsmoke,” or “Bonanza” or maybe “The High Chaparral,” hit a two-run homer while Cavan Biggio and Reese McGuire hit homers of their own.

Mets 3, Diamondbacks 2: Zack Wheeler allowed one over seven, Justin Wilson got a four-out save, and Todd Frazier‘s two RBI doubles knocked in all three of the Mets’ runs as New York pulls to within three games of the second Wild Card.

Brewers 4, Marlins 3: Win for Milwaukee but a horribly costly one as they have lost Christian Yellich for the year after he fouled a ball off his kneecap, fracturing it. The win their fifth in a row but, yikes, it’s kind of hard to care about that if you’re a Brewers fan.

Twins 5, Nationals 0: The Twins have lost a ton of players to injury too, and lately it seemed like they were losing José Berríros to ineffectiveness, but he bounced back nicely here, tossing seven shutout innings. Mitch Garver homered and Jorge Polanco doubled in two. Garver’s homer was his 30th of the season. He joins Max Kepler and Nelson Cruz in the 30-homer club. It’s Kent Hrbek, Tom Brunansky and Gary Gaetti v.2 over here. Well, maybe not.

Rays 5, Rangers 3: Texas led 3-1 to start the eighth thanks to a nice outing from Lance Lynn, but his bullpen betrayed him. Austin Meadows hit a two-run homer to tie it that inning and some bad Rangers defense — two errors on the same pay, in fact — led to two unearned runs for the Rays in the eleventh inning. The Rays have won six in a row and 11 of 12.

White Sox 7, Royals 3: Eloy Jiménez hit a grand slam — his first career slam — Yoan Moncada hit a two-run shot an Adam Engel hit a solo homer to account for all of the Chisox’ scoring. Adalberto MondesiAlex Gordon and Ryan O'Hearn went deep for the Royals, which means all the runs in this game were scored on home runs. How very 2019.

Athletics 21, Astros 7: After two days of putting up football numbers on offense the A’s turn the tables on the Astros and score three touchdowns against ’em. Wade Miley began the arson by allowing seven runs in the first inning while recording only one out, but no one who followed him had any answers either. Oakland had 25 hits, six of which were homers. Matt Olson and Sean Murphy each homered twice and each drove in four. Khris Davis and Marcus Semien also hit longballs and each drove in three. Robbie Grossman was 3-for-6 and knocked in two. Maybe the Astros will be involved in an Earth-bound baseball game at some point in the near future.

Rockies 2, Cardinals 1: Nolan Arenado hit a monster 480+ foot homer on what looked like a batting practice fastball that left the ballpark in its entirely:

He also flashed leather in this one, while getting a nice bit of help from his first baseman:

Rockies starter Chi Chi González had himself a great game as well, allowing only one run over six while the Rockies bullpen tossed three shutout innings.

Giants 5, Pirates 4: Welp, Bruce Bochy messes up his perfectly satisfying career record of 1995-2019, in a managerial career that has lasted from 1995 through 2019, by winning his 1996th ballgame. A shame. Three first inning runs and a four-RBI night from Stephen Vogt contributed to that nicely. So too did Johnny Cueto pitching for the first time all year, tossing five shutout innings in the process. A lost season for him and the Giants, but a good sign heading into the winter that they’ll be able to count on him next year. The Pirates, meanwhile, are a disaster.

Indians 8, Angels 0: Zach Plesac had himself a hell of a game, going the distance for a four-hit shutout. Jordan Luplow hit a two-run homer and drew a bases-loaded walk. Francisco Lindor went deep. There have only been 26 pitcher shutouts across Major League Baseball all year. Indians pitchers have five of them.

Padres 9, Cubs 8: A walkoff walk, drawn by Manuel Margot in the bottom of the tenth ends a fairly wild game. Kris Bryant hit a pair of two-run homers and Jason Heyward homered twice and drove in three, but Steve Cishek‘s 10th inning performance — loading the bases on a single and two walks before issuing a four-pitch pass to Margot — negated it.

Mariners 4, Reds 3: Rookies Kyle Lewis and Dylan Moore homered and rookie Justus Sheffield allowed one run over six. In all nine rookies played in this one for Seattle, suggesting that the future will be better than the present. Guess it’d damn well have to be, eh?

Astros, Nationals set to face off in the World Series starting Tuesday

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Saturday night’s wild ALCS finale will live in the mind of Astros and Yankees fans for a long, long time, but the Astros only have two days to bask in it because they have other business to attend to: the Washington Nationals, who they will host Tuesday evening in Game 1 of the World Series.

For the Astros, this year’s World Series presents the chance to forge a dynasty. To carry on a journey in which they’ve risen from a three-time 100-loss club to a three-years-straight 100-win club with not just one, but two World Series titles in the space of those three seasons.

For the Nationals, the World Series presents an opportunity to complete a pretty compelling narrative in which they’ve grown stronger as the year has gone on: from a near disastrous 19-31 start, to a late, come-from-behind victory in the Wild Card Game, to beating the favored Dodgers in the NLDS to simply dominating the Cardinals in the NLCS. The Nats are nobody’s Cinderella, but a win over the Astros would certainly make them one of the more notable giant-killers in recent memory. And, of course, would give them their first World Series title in franchise history and the city of Washington its first World Series winner since the Senators won it in 1924.

We’ll break down this Series in greater detail over the next couple of days, but for now it’s worth noting that this matchup presents us with, arguably, the best possible group of starting pitchers in the game. Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole, Zack Greinke, Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Patrick Corbin are six of the top — what? — 15 starting pitchers going right now? And Aníbal Sanchez has been pitching pretty dang good for Washington of late as well. Bullpenning is all the rage these days — and Houston’s Game 6 win was a bullpen affair — but there is something classic and compelling about a handful of aces facing off in October.

The difference-maker could very well be an Astros offense that — last night’s José Altuve walkoff blast notwithstanding — has, somehow, gone relatively quiet this postseason. Postseason pitching is always tough — and in beating the Rays and Yankees they faced two of the best bullpens going — but their collective 3.7 runs per game and .645 team OPS is very un-Astro-like. To beat the Nats, they’ll definitely want to see those numbers go higher.

For Washington, it’ll be about figuring out how to beat Gerrit Cole, Game 1’s starter, and Justin Verlander, who will likely go in Game 2. They’ll have to face each of those 20-game winners/Cy Young contenders twice if this series goes long. That seems daunting, but so too did climbing out of the hole they found themselves in in late May and beating the Dodgers in a five-game series. The Nats have dealt pretty well with “daunting” thus year and, at the moment, they’re playing their best baseball of the season.

So the stage is set. Washington vs. Houston in the 115th edition of the Fall Classic. Things get underway just after 8PM Eastern on Tuesday evening when Gerrit Cole fires in a near-100 m.p.h. fastball to Trea Turner. Stay with us over the next three days for our breakdown of what looks to be an epic matchup.