Saturday, October 5, 2013

MLB Playoffs, Day Two

A full slate of games yesterday, with all four series in action.  I had the day off, and was planning to watch all four games -- but I fell asleep at around 9 PM and missed almost all of the evening action.  It's a shame, because the two games I did see were really boring -- all the excitement was in the evening.

In the afternoon, Pittsburgh jumped all over St. Louis, beating the Cardinals 7-1 to even that series at one game apiece.  The Pirates now have a chance to close out the Cardinals in front of what will be a rabid fan base in Pittsburgh.  Later in the afternoon, Boston drubbed Tampa Bay 12-2 up at the Fens -- as we old Roger Angell fans think of Fenway Park.  So the Bosox have a 1-0 lead in that series.

But the real excitement was at night.  In Atlanta, Dodger Manager Don Mattingly made a whole series of bonehead moves in the seventh inning -- the last and goofiest of which was to walk pinch-hitter Reed Johnson (who batted .244 in only 123 at-bats this year) to load the bases and bring up Jason Heyward (Atlanta's lead-off hitter and former All-Star) with two outs.  Mattingly was trying to set up a lefty vs. lefty matchup.  But he would have been better off trying a pitcher vs. bad-hitter matchup, as Heyward whacked a single up the middle to turn Atlanta's 2-1 lead into a 4-1 lead.  The Braves eventually won 4-3, and can now win the series without having to face either Clayton Kershaw or Zack Greinke (the two Dodger aces) again.  Contrary to their reputation, the fans in L.A. are not laid-back -- they are tough, cynical, and relentless.  So far this year, UCLA and USC have both replaced their basketball coaches, and USC just pulled its football coach off the team bus in order to fire him.  So the press are already speculating that Mattingly's disastrous seventh may cost him his job unless the Dodgers can come back and win the series.

In Oakland, the Swingin' A's ran into the usual buzzsaw of Detroit pitching.  It's easy to think that short series like these produce almost totally random results, but Detroit has used excellent starting pitching to go deep into the playoffs each of the last two years.  Last night was more of the same, as Max Scherzer (who went 21-3(!) this year) absolutely overpowered the A's, giving up two runs and only three hits in seven innings.  That was good enough for Detroit, which ground out a 3-2 win to take home field advantage from the Oaklands.  Tonight Detroit will follow up with Justin Verlander, who went only 13-12 this year but who has a lifetime record of 6-1 in American League playoff games.

National League Divisional Series:
Atlanta and Los Angeles are tied 1-1
St. Louis and Pittsburgh are tied 1-1

American League Divisional Series:
Boston leads Tampa Bay 1-0
Detroit leads Oakland 1-0

Tonight's games (all times Central Daylight Time):
Tampa Bay @ Boston (4:30 P.M. on TBS)
Detroit @ Oakland (8:00 P.M. on TBS)

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