Monday, October 14, 2013

MLB Playoffs: Day Eleven

Last evening, the New Orleans Saints were this close to beating the New England Patriots.  But Tom Brady threw a touchdown pass with five seconds to go, and the Patriots pulled out another win.  Later that night, the Detroit Tigers were this close to putting the Boston Red Sox in a big hole.  The Tigers already lead the series 1-0, and they led Game Two by 5-1 going into the bottom of the eighth.  At this point, according to FanGraphs, the Tigers had a 95.6 percent chance of winning the game.  Then Steven Drew led off the Boston 8th by grounding out, and the Tigers had a 97.2 percent chance of winning.  But then this happened:

Will Middlebrooks doubled to left (one out, runner on second)
    Drew Smyly came in to pitch for Detroit
Jacoby Ellsbury walked (one out, runners on first and second)
    Al Alburquerque came in to pitch for Detroit
Shane Victorino struck out (two outs, runners on first and second)
Dustin Pedroia singled, Middlebrooks to third, Ellsbury to second (two outs, bases loaded)

At this point, Tiger Manager Jim Leyland pulled Alburquerque and brought in his closer, Joaquin Benoit -- the fourth Tiger pitcher of the inning -- to face David Ortiz.  Benoit's first pitch was a changeup that Ortiz whacked toward the right field wall.  Old pro Torii Hunter made a desperate effort -- and went totally over the wall himself trying to stop the ball.  But Ortiz had hit a grand slam to tie the game.

Detroit, having used its best relief pitchers trying to stop Boston, quickly gave up the game winning run in the ninth.  So the series is tied 1-1 going to Detroit.  The Tigers are still in a good position -- but they could have been in a much better one.  And the folks in New England, who should be the happiest fans in America at this point, they had another wonderful autumn Sunday.

As for the NLCS, the Cardinals have a chance to pretty much put L.A. away tonight, with Cardinal ace Adam Wainwright going up against Dodger rookie Hyun-Jin Ryu.  I will be absolutely shocked if the Dodgers win this game.  The Dodgers made a good effort in St. Louis -- in fact, all four Championship Series games so far have been decided by a single run -- but they've blown their chance.

National League Championship Series (Best-of-Seven):
St. Louis leads Los Angeles 2-0

American League Championship Series (Best-of-Seven):
Boston and Detroit are tied 1-1

Tonight's Game:
St. Louis at Los Angeles (7:07 Central on TBS) 

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