Three bullpens that are normally reliable came up small in Tuesday night’s MLB action. One of those cases swung a big head-to-head game and two others saw wild-card hopefuls rally against division leaders.
With Wednesday’s daily sports docket highlighted by ESPN’s doubleheader of Texas-Tampa at 7 PM ET, and then LA Dodgers-Arizona at 10 PM ET, let’s take a look back at what happened in the most contested races in the push for October.
AMERICAN LEAGUE WILD-CARD
Cleveland 5 Kansas City 3: It was just this past Friday that TheSportsNotebook sang the praises of the entire Kansas City pitching staff and talked about how hard it would be to come from behind against this team. Naturally, the Royals held a 3-1 on the Tribe after six innings and saw Cleveland rally to win it. The loss dropped Kansas City 3 ½ games out of the second wild-card and pulled Cleveland to within a ½ game of the same.
Baltimore 3 Boston 2: Boston closer Koji Uehara hadn’t given up an earned run in 30.2 consecutive innings. Brought on to pitch in a 2-2 game, Uehara allowed the Orioles to score the winning run in the ninth. Chris Davis hit his 51st home run of the season earlier and the solid outings by both starters—Scott Feldman and Ryan Dempster—blew my prediction of a slugfest out of the water. The Orioles stay on the heels of Cleveland, who in turn are on the heels of Texas/Tampa Bay.
Texas 7 Tampa Bay 1: And speaking of Texas and Tampa, the teams who would play the AL wild-card game if the season ended today played the second game of their three-game series. The Rangers got a home run from Ian Kinsler in the first, and a two-run single from the second baseman in a four-run third inning.
Before anyone in Texas gets too excited about their slump being over, remember that Tampa starter Jeremy Hellickson has been a huge disappointment this year, and this game boosted his ERA to 5.23.
Toronto 2 NY Yanks 0: Andy Pettite did everything he could to give the Yanks a chance to win, but R.A. Dickey’s knuckler must have been dancing last night in the Rogers Center. Dickey went seven shutout innings and kept the Yanks stuck at 3 ½ games out, tied with Kansas City.
NATIONAL LEAGUE WILD-CARD
Washington 6 Atlanta 5: The most shocking of the bullpen meltdowns because it was truly a meltdown, something you can’t really say about the failures of the Royals and Red Sox in the late innings. Atlanta led 5-3 in the ninth and had Craig Kimbrel on the mound. Washington gets the winning two runs when shortstop Andrelton Simmons—renowned for his defense—boots an easy ground ball.
Washington 4 Atlanta 0: In the nightcap of a day-night doubleheader, Tanner Roark throws seven shout innings and the Nats break it open with three in eighth.
Cincinnati 10 Houston 0: Zack Cozart collected two hits and three RBIs, all of them in the early stages as the game was being broken open. The Reds saw their lead in the wild-card race slip to 4 ½ games because of the Nationals’ sweep, but Cincy did gain ground in the division race.
NATIONAL LEAGUE CENTRAL
San Diego 5 Pittsburgh 2: The Pirates let the Reds sneak up on them, not just in the midst of the division race with St. Louis, but for homefield advantage in the wild-card game. Pittsburgh’s offense, playing at home, seems to be taking its cue from the Steelers, and has been completely in the tank for the first two games of this series. Andrew McCutchen got two of the seven hits, one of the two walks and the team’s only extra-base hit. It calls to mind the worst moments of last year’s collapse.
St. Louis 11 Colorado 4: St. Loo grabbed six runs in the third and Colorado didn’t score until the seventh, when the game was long over. The Cards move a game up on the Buccos for first place.