Wednesday, October 19, 2016

MLB Update: Day 13

In the bottom of the third inning yesterday up in Canada, Josh Donaldson blasted a home run to give Toronto a 1-0 lead over the Cleveland Indians and their ace Corey Kluber.  This early sign of hitting prowess seemed to awaken the Blue Jays from their slumber, and they rolled to an easy 5-1 win -- holding the Tribe to only two hits along the way.  Team Canada gets one more chance on its home field today, and if they win, the Series will be going back to Northern Ohio and a lot of very nervous Indian fans.  If the Blue Jays lose, Cleveland will be headed for the World Series.

But the real drama was out in Los Angeles, where the Cubs were shut out for the second game in a row.  This time the Dodgers didn't have to rely on Clayton Kershaw -- Rich Hill (who started the season with the Oakland A's) -- shut down Chicago for six innings, and the bullpen had little trouble the rest of the way.  Meanwhile, the Dodgers whacked the ball all over the yard, and had no troubles in a dominating 6-0 win.

The Dodgers have now thrown 18 scoreless innings at the Cubs, and Cub fans have to be thinking about last year's NLCS.  You will recall that Chicago looked awesome against St. Louis in the DS, blasting home runs all over the place and winning three games to one.  But then they ran into the Mets, who did this:

Mets 4, Cubs 2
Mets 4, Cubs 1
Mets 5, Cubs 2
Mets 8, Cubs 3

Four dominant pitching performances in a row.  In four games, the Cubs batted .164, with 21 hits and 37 strikeouts.  So long, thanks for playing.

Of course, since jumping out to a 25-6 record at the beginning of this season, the Cubs haven't had too much trouble scoring runs.  They ran into some difficulties in Games 3 and 4 of the DS with San Francisco, but finally put the Giants away with four late runs off of a shaky Giants' bullpen.  And then they blasted the Dodgers 8-4 in Game 1 of this series.  So it seems unlikely that their bats will remain as silent as they have been for the last two days.  But if nothing else, the Dodgers have guaranteed that the Cubs can't beat them in five games.  So even if the Cubs win the next two, the Dodgers will have Kershaw ready to go in Game Six.  And what had looked like an easy win for the Cubs suddenly appears much more challenging.

Toronto 5 - 1 Cleveland

Los Angeles 6 - 0 Chicago

NATIONAL LEAGUE:
Los Angeles leads Chicago 2-1

AMERICAN LEAGUE:
Cleveland leads Toronto 3-1

25 comments:

  1. After three and one-half innings, the Tribe lead Team Canada 3-0, thanks in large part to solo home runs from Carlos Santana and Coco Crisp.

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  2. The Tribe starter today is Ryan Merritt, who has only pitched 11 innings in his big-league career. He is a 24-year-old lefty who spent most of 2016 toiling for the Columbus Clippers in the International League. He went 11-8 with a 3.7 ERA for the Clippers. He was 1-0 in his only start for the Clevelanders.

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  3. Merritt retired the first ten Blue Jays that he faced, but Josh Donaldson singled with one out in the bottom of the fourth.

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  4. And Merritt gets Edwin Encarnacion to ground into a 6-4-3 double play! Team Canada is retired in the 4th, and the Tribe continues to lead, 3 to 0.

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  5. FanGraphs now gives Cleveland an 84 percent chance of victory.

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  6. The Cubs make me think of those powerful A's teams and the fact that so often in the playoffs their bats fell silent. I think in the playoffs you are much better off being a scrap hitting team. Of course I'm sure the stats show that I'm totally wrong on this one.

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    1. I don't know. The Giants, Royals and Cardinals all went with your model, and they have won five of the last six World Series.

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  7. Merritt lasted 4 1/3 innings, and the Indians' bullpen is bullpenning away so far. The Tribe leads 3-0 after 6. Cleveland now has a 90 percent chance of victory.

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  8. The Blue Jays go down 1-2-3 in the seventh, and they still trail 3-0.

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  9. Not only is Dodger Rich Hill a former A, so is Blue Jay Josh Donaldson, Indian Coco Crisp, Cub Jon Lester and Dodger Josh Reddick (who I think scored yesterday's first--and winning--run). Of course, I should point out that Hill and Lester were acquired as part of the bold (but failed) stab that the A's took at the 2014 championship. Donaldson, Crisp and Reddick are particularly heartbreaking to watch this postseason because they were officially part of the #GREENCOLLAR good times.

    There's no better song to have come out so far in 1970 than Ray Price's take on Kris Kristofferson's "For the Good Times." And I'll bet Bonnie Raitt, who was just getting started in 1970, really loved it, too--at least by the time 1991 had rolled around.

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  10. The Tribe has done it! They shut out Toronto 3-0 in Game Five of the ALCS, and THEY ARE THE AMERICAN LEAGUE CHAMPIONS FOR 2016.

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  11. This is only Cleveland's third American League pennant since the Indians won 111 games in 1954. The other two pennants were won in 1995 and 1997. In 1995, the Indians lost to the Braves in six games -- that was the Braves' only World Championship during their great 1990's run. In 1997, the Indians were beaten in seven games by the Florida Marlins -- the same franchise that would break Cub hearts six years later.

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  12. Big play with two outs in the bottom of the second. It appeared that Adrian Gonzalez was thrown out at home to end the inning trying to score from second on a single. But the Dodgers protested, claiming that Gonzalez's hand reached in and touched the plate before the tag was made. And so to replay.

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  13. After replay, the call is CONFIRMED. Gonzalez is out. The Dodger crowd -- which had cheered after seeing the replay -- is enraged. We still have a scoreless tie after two. But this really feels like big-time baseball.

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  14. Here come the comes in the top of the fourth. Ben Zobrist beats out a bunt. Javier Baez singles him to second. And then a single from Wilson Contreras scores Zobrist -- with Baez and Contreras advancing on the throw. Cubs lead 1-0. With no one out and runners on second and third, Cubs have a chance to break this game open.

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    1. That first sentence should read "Here come the Cubs."

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  15. Jason Heyward grounds out to second, but that scores Baez, and the Cubs lead 2-0. Contreras advances to third with one out.

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  16. And now Addison Russel, the Cubs' shortstop, whacks a two-run homer over the center field fence. The Cubs lead 4 to 0, and their path to the NL title is back on track. After 21 scoreless innings in a row, they now have a hammerlock on this game.

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  17. The Dodgers don't score in the bottom of the inning, and the Cubs lead 4-0 after four. The Cubs now have a 92 percent chance of victory.

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  18. Anthony Rizzo whacks a homer to center in the top of the 5th, and the Cubs lead 5-0. The Dodgers will probably avoid using their good pitchers the rest of the way, as they will rest everyone for Game Five.

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  19. The Dodgers get two walks and two singles in the bottom of the 5th, and now the score is 5-2 after five.

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  20. And then the Cubs -- who really are the best team in baseball, regardless of what happens in these playoffs -- blow the game open with five runs in the top of the 6th. They lead 10-2, and are still batting.

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