Friday, October 4, 2019

MLB Playoffs: Day One

Well, the playoffs got off to a roaring start yesterday in Atlanta.  The Cardinals and Braves were locked into a 3-3 tie, when St. Louis exploded for four runs in the top of the ninth.  The Braves got three of those runs back on home runs by Ronald Acuna and Freddie Freeman, but still lost 7-6.

In the nightcap, the Nats were apparently still hung over from their Wild Card win, because they were completely useless in L.A.  In nine innings of baseball, Washington managed only two hits -- and two errors.  The Dodgers posted runs in the first and fifth innings, and then blew the game open against Washington's terrible bullpen.  On the whole, it was as easy a 6-0 win as you could ever hope to see.

Now we have one of the few days where all four series are going on the same day.  Here is your schedule.  Good luck finding any of these games on TV (all times Central):

1:05 PM:  Tampa Bay at Houston (series tied 0-0) (Fox Sports 1)
3:37 PM:  St. Louis at Atlanta (St. Louis leads 1-0) (TBS)
6:07 PM:  Minnesota at New York (series tied 0-0) (MLB Network)
8:37 PM:  Washington at Los Angeles (Los Angeles leads 1-0) (TBS)


  1. So we start off in Houston, where Tampa Bay is back in the playoffs for the first time since 2013. Since 2008, the Devil Rays have made the playoffs five times, and they almost always play in the daytime because no one wants to watch them. Naturally, the roof in Houston is closed. I love daytime playoff games when they are outside, and I hate them when they are indoors.

  2. Jose Altuve, who batted something like .900 in the 2017 World Series against the Dodgers, just hit a two-run homer to put the Stros up 2-0 in the bottom of the 5th.

  3. I looked it up. Actually, he batted only .194 against the Dodgers. He went 6 for 31. Here's what happened:

    1. In Game One, he went 1-4 with a single. The Dodgers won 3-1.
    2. In Game Two, he went 1-6 and led off the 10th inning with a home run. The Dodgers tied the game in the bottom of the 10th, but the Astros won 7-6 in 11 innings.
    3. In Game Three, he went 1-5 with a double in the second. The Astros won 5-3.
    4. In Game Four, he went 0-4. The Dodgers won 6-2.
    5. In Game Five, the key game of the series, he went 3 for 5. In the bottom of the 4th, with the Astros trailing 4-0, he hit a two-out single and scored as part of a 4-run rally. In the bottom of the 5th, the Astros trailing 7-4, he hit a home run to make the score 7-5. In the bottom of the 7th, with the score tied 8-8, his double to left put the Astros up 9-8. Houston eventually won 13-12 in 10 innings.
    6. In Game Six, he went 0-4 and the Dodgers won 3-1.
    7. In Game Seven, he went 0-3, but his grounder drove in a run that put Houston up 2-0 in the first. Houston won 5-1.

    My memory is obviously affected by the fact that I have completely forgotten the three games that the Dodgers won, and that I was traumatized by the horrible loss of Game Five.

    That 2017 World Series was a cracker, by the way. The first five games were as good as any series you would ever want to see. The last two games were not very interesting, but honestly I thought both teams were running on fumes after Game Five.

    1. Jose Altuve and Howie Kendrick have combined to commit zero outs in their long careers against the A's. I stand by my recollection of their performances.

  4. With two on and two out in the bottom of the 5th, the Rays' second baseman committed an error that allowed two more Astro runs. Justin Verlander now has a 4-0 lead, and you can probably put this game in the books for Houston.

  5. The Rays have 1 hit through seven innings. They trail 4-0. This game a very similar to the mismatch we saw between the Nats and Dodgers last night. The Astros and the Dodgers are really, really good.

  6. The Astros remove Verlander with a 6-0 lead after 7 innings. The Devil Rays scratch back two in the top of the 8th, and now trail 6-2.

  7. The Astros just finished an easy 6-2 win over the Devil Rays, so now we can switch to Atlanta, where the Braves are going with red shirts, white pants, navy socks, and navy hats. The Cards are wearing their traditional gray road uniform, which is one of the best uniforms in all of sports. I like the Braves' home whites, but I'm not a big fan of these red shirts.

  8. As someone who has seen the Nats lose four different Divisional Series, my advice to Atlanta is that you don't want to lose the first two games at home.

  9. The Braves lead 1-0 in the top of the 4th. Yadier Molina is batting for the Cardinals. In my mind, Molina has been their catcher since about 2005.

  10. This time my instincts are good -- Molina's rookie year was 2004. He has played 1,983 games -- all for the Cardinals. He is now 36 years old.

  11. This is the Cardinals' first appearance in the playoffs since 2015. Atlanta was here last year.

  12. Ten Best Cardinals by Wins Above Replacement (All-Time)

    1. Stan Musial: 128.2
    2. Rogers Hornsby: 91.4
    3. Bob Gibson: 89.1
    4. Albert Pujols: 86.6
    5. Ozzie Smith: 65.9
    6. Ken Boyer: 58.1
    7. Enos Slaughter: 50.5
    8. Ted Simmons: 45.0
    9. Curt Flood: 42.3
    10. Dizzy Dean: 41.9

    That's a really impressive list.

  13. Ten Best Braves by Wins Above Replacement (Not counting the 19th century):

    1. Hank Aaron: 142.5
    2. Warren Spahn: 98.9
    3. Eddie Mathews: 94.6
    4. Phil Niekro: 88.5
    5. Chipper Jones: 85.2
    6. John Smoltz: 69.5
    7. Greg Maddux: 67.3
    8. Tom Glavine: 63.6
    9. Andruw Jones: 61.1
    10. Dale Murphy: 47.3

    And that, boys and girls, is why the Braves were so great in the late 1950's and the 1990's. Maddux's career WAR is actually over 100; the figure above only includes his work for the Braves.

  14. I would not have guessed that Chipper Jones was more valuable than Smoltz, Maddux, or Glavine. I gave Braves fans credit for appreciating his greatness.

  15. This game is zipping along -- Braves lead 1-0 in the top of the 7th. And that inning just ended on a double play. The Braves' starter, Mike Foltynewicz, has only thrown 81 pitches.

  16. I'm so happy for the Nats and the Kornheiser podcast people.