Saturday, October 12, 2013

MLB Playoffs: Day Nine

I watched the Dodgers and the Cardinals last night until around 1:13 in the morning (Eastern time).  I am amazed, as ever, that MLB is so determined to play all of its most exciting games in the middle of the night.  But I'm used to it by now.

And, in any event, I had seen enough to know that the Dodgers were not going to win this game.  In the first place, Yasiel Puig couldn't get on base -- he was 0-6 with two strikeouts, and he left seven men on base.  In the second place, Dodger Manager Don Mattingly made another one of his odd moves -- pulling his cleanup hitter, Adrian Gonzalez, for a pinch-runner in the eighth inning, thus leaving a hole in the middle of his lineup that killed the Dodgers in extra innings.  (Michael Young, who replaced Gonzalez, came up twice with men on base.  Both time he hit into a double play.)

In the third place, this was the sort of game that is very familiar to long-time baseball fans -- the game where the inexperienced but talented team keeps getting men on base in inning after inning, but can't ever push across the run they need.  In such a game, I always feel like the team with more experience in big games will win, especially if it's at home.  And sure enough, in the bottom of the 13th, Carlos Beltran -- who had already thrown out a Dodger runner at the plate in the 10th and knocked in St. Louis's other two runs with a two-out double in the third -- sent the Cardinal fans home happy with a game-winning single to give St. Louis a 3-2 victory.

Extra-inning victories in the playoffs are huge.  CBS Sports pointed out this morning that there have been 12 previous League Championship Series in which Game One went to extra innings.  In all twelve of those series, the team that won Game One also won the series.  The Dodgers wasted a great start from Zach Greinke, they wasted chance after chance to take the lead (and the home field advantage) from St. Louis, and now they face an almost must-win Game Two at 3:07 P.M. Central today.  If the Cardinals can beat Clayton Kershaw today, they will have beaten both Dodger aces and will have a hammerlock on the series.

National League Championship Series:
St. Louis leads Los Angeles 1-0

American League Championship Series:
Boston and Detroit are tied 0-0

Today's Games:
Los Angeles @ St. Louis (3:07 P.M. Central on TBS)
Detroit @ Boston (7:07 P.M. Central on FOX)

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