Tuesday, October 9, 2012

MLB Playoffs: Day 3

The baseball playoffs always contain a great deal of randomness, but this year's playoffs are even tougher for the favorites than usual because the higher-seeded teams in the Divisional Series had to play the first two games on the road.  We have now played eight games in the Divisional Series -- all at the home of the lower seeds -- and the lower seeds are 4-4 so far.  It will be interesting to see if the higher seeds do better now that they are going home for games 3-5.

The Nats aren't going to do better unless they figure out some way to pitch to the St. Louis Cardinals.  Oddly enough, yesterday's game was Washington's fifth game at Busch Stadium since September 28.  The Nats went 2-3 in those games -- but in all three losses, their pitching staff got bombed:

9/28:  St. Louis 12 - 2 Washington
9/29:  St. Louis 4 - 6 Washington (10 innings)
9/30:  St. Louis 10 - 4 Washington
10/7:  St. Louis 2 - 3 Washington
10/8:  St. Louis 12 - 4 Washington

Fortunately for Washington, Game One of the NLDS started at a time when shadows were doing all sorts of funny stuff to the batters in Busch Stadium, which is a big part of why STL got only two runs in that game.  But the shadows didn't help Washington yesterday, and they were crushed.

It would be nice if Washington could use Stephen Strasburg (15-6, 3.15 ERA) in game 3 or game 4, but of course they can't.  So they will probably need good pitching from either St. Louis native Ross Detwiler (10-8, 3.40 ERA) or former Cardinal Edwin Jackson (10-11, 4.03 ERA) to hold off the red-hot champs in the next two games if they want to survive.  On the other hand, the Nats should be happy the series is tied at one game apiece, given that they were outscored 14-7 in St. Louis.

Meanwhile, in Baltimore, the Yankees continued their usual recent post-season form.  Here's what the Yankees have done in almost every post-season since about 2001.  They have a few games where they get into the other team's bullpen and blow the game open -- as they did on Sunday, when they hammered the O's 9-2.  Then they have a number of games where their constant efforts to hit home runs are unavailing, as happened yesterday when they lost 3-2.  The Yankees will not want any more close games in this series -- Baltimore's record in one-run games is an unbelievable 30-9 this season.  That is the best record in one-run games for any team in baseball history.  All year the stat guys have been waiting for that number to even out, but Charm City just keeps winning the close ones.

Washington and St. Louis are tied 1-1
Cincinnati leads San Francisco 2-0

New York and Baltimore are tied 1-1
Detroit leads Oakland 2-0

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