Saturday, October 5, 2019

MLB Playoffs: Day Two

In the National League playoffs, the Cardinals seemed more than content to get out of Atlanta with their victory from Game One.  In Game Two, St. Louis managed no runs and only six hits.  They lost to Atlanta 3-0 in a somnolent game that lasted only 2 hours and 46 minutes -- which is the equivalent of like 90 minutes when I was growing up in the 1970's.  St. Louis will be happy with its split, and Atlanta will be happy to have bounced back from its Game One loss.  I have a feeling that there is still a lot more drama in this series.

Meanwhile, in Dodgerland, the Nationals had their backs against the wall.  Natstown was facing Clayton Kershaw -- in Dodger Stadium -- down one game to zero.  But the Nats, who were 19-31 after fifty games this year, are used to adversity.  They jumped on Kersaw early, getting three runs in the first two innings.  They also had Stephen Strasburg, who completely dominated the Dodgers for six innings, giving up only one run and only three hits, while striking out ten.  So Natstown was up 3-1 with only three innings to go.  But for Washington, which had the worst bullpen ERA of any team in baseball, the last three innings are often tragic.  In the seventh, the Nats went with Sean Doolittle, who used to be their closer before burning out his arm a few months ago.  Doolittle gave up a solo homer, but was otherwise unscathed, and the Nats still led 3-2.  The Nats then scratched out another run in the top of the 8th.  In the bottom of the 8th, they sent out Max Scherzer, their ace starter.  (They had used Strasburg as a reliever for Scherzer in the Wild Card game, so Max was repaying the favor.)  Scherzer mowed down the Dodgers in the eighth, striking out the side.  So that left it to Daniel Hudson, the Nats' only other functional reliever, to survive the ninth.  Here's how he defended a 4-2 lead:

On a 1-2 count, Justin Turner hit a ground rule double (0 outs, man on 2d)

Mound visit by Kurt Suzuki, the Nats' catcher

On a 3-2 count, A.J. Pollock stuck out swinging (1 out, man on 2d)

On the first pitch, Cody Bellinger popped out to Anthony Rendon (2 out, man on 2d)

The Nats intentionally walked Max Muncy, putting the tying run on base (2 out, men on 1st and 2d)

Mound visit by Suzuki

On four pitches, Will Smith walked (2 out, bases loaded)

Mound visit by Suzuki

After seven pitches to Corey Seager, all aimed at the outside part of the plate, the count is 2-2 and the folks in Dodger Stadium are going nuts

Mound visit by Suzuki

Hudson throws a pitch on the inside part of the plate.  Seager swings and misses, the game is over, and (as they say in Natstown) another curly W is in the books.

Hudson threw 23 pitches in the inning, and it felt like 100.  Deadspin's headline for its game story was:  "The Nationals Can't Possibly Keep This Up."  It's hard to disagree, but I've been saying that since June, and here they are -- tied 1-1 with the next two games in Nats Park.

There was a lot less drama in the American League.  The Astros flattened the Rays 6-2 behind a dominant performance from Justin Verlander -- he looked like he was facing minor leaguers.  The Yankees and the Twins settled in for a game of attrition and home runs in Yankee Stadium.  The game featured 13 pitchers, 14 walks, and five home runs.  It took 4 hours and 15 minutes to play -- which gave Bob Costas lots of time to talk about the latest theories of how to play baseball at the Major League level.  But in the end, the Yanks had too much firepower for the Twins, and rolled to an easy 10-4 victory.

Here are today's games.  The National League is traveling, so we have an AL Doubleheader on Fox Sports One.  You can't watch it if you have Dish or Sling, because Fox is in some sort of feud with those companies.  But I will tell you right now that both the Yankees and Astros are likely to advance to the ALCS.

(All times Central)
4:07 P.M.:  Minnesota at New York (New York leads 1-0)
8:07 P.M.:  Tampa Bay at Houston (Houston leads 1-0)


  1. In the bottom of the 4th, the Yankees lead Minnesota 8-1. I'm starting to think that the Yankees are better than the Twins.

  2. The Yankees cruise to an easy 8-2 win that took only 3 hours and 34 minutes. In two games in the Bronx, they outscored Minnesota 18-6.

  3. Tampa Bay and Houston are scoreless in the bottom of the 4th.

  4. Here we go. Alex Bregman leads off the bottom of the 4th with a home run, and the Astros lead 1-0.

  5. The Rays survive the 4th with no further damage, and we head into the 5th with Houston leading 1-0.