Tuesday, October 11, 2016

MLB Playoffs: Day 5

So once the weekend was over, MLB decided to go back to having playoff games -- although it continued its usual practice of making it as difficult as possible for fans to see the games.

First up were the Nats and Dodgers, who started at 1 o'clock Pacific Time, which was probably about 12 hours after the teams got to L.A. from Washington.  If you wanted to watch this game, you had to find the MLB Network.  It was a beautiful, glorious day in Los Angeles, and reminded me of my childhood, when they used to play a lot of playoff games -- and even World Series games -- at 1 o'clock Pacific Time.  The Nats and the Dodgers both have an offense that looks like a man trying to kill a housefly with a shoe -- most of the time they just look silly, but every once in a while, they are devastating.  The Nats got a two-run homer to take an early 4-1 lead, but the Dodgers responded with a two-run pinch hit homer to make the score 4-3 after five.  And there they stayed for three more innings.  It was like one of those moments in an arm-wrestling match, where you think someone is going to break, but you don't know who it will be.  This time, it was the Dodgers.  Jayson Werth hit a homer in the top of the 9th, and the Nats -- who react to one of their own home runs in much the same way that a college basketball team reacts to a thunderous dunk -- blew the game open, winning by a final score of 8 to 3.  The Dodgers trail 2 games to 1, but they still have a home game today, and they can still use Clayton Kershaw one more time, so this series is up for grabs.

Then the scene switched to Boston, where the Red Sox were trying to overcome a two-run homer by Coco Crisp that had given Cleveland a 4-1 lead.  They couldn't do it.  They got to within 4-3, but that was the final score, and darkness has descended on the Fens for another winter.

Finally, we went to San Francisco, where the Giants and Cubs are playing an epic series that no one can see because they games all take place in the middle of the night.  The Cubs won 103 games this year, and are the best National League team since the Phillie powerhouses of the late 2000's.  The Giants have won three World Series since 2010, and are 10-0 in elimination games since Bruce Bochy became their manager.  They don't really pay that much attention in the regular season, they don't care if they have home field advantage, they will often go hours at a time without launching any offensive threat, but you do not want to face the Giants when the money is on the line.  Last night, the Cubs jumped out to a 3-0 lead on Madison Bumgarner with a three-run homer from pitcher Jake Arrieta, but the Giants pecked away, and trailed 3-2 going into the bottom of the 8th.  After the first two Giants reached base, the Cubs decided to go for the kill by bringing in Aroldis Chapman, their closer.  Chapman struck out Hunter Pence, but Conor Gillaspie whacked a 102-mph fastball to the deepest part of the ballpark for a two-run triple, and then scored on a single to make the score 5-3 Giants after 8.  But the Cubs are made of sterner stuff than most teams, and Kris Bryant responded with a two-run homer in the top of the 9th to send everyone to extra innings.

By this time, it was 1:40 A.M. on the East Coast, and I couldn't watch anymore.  But I remembered San Francisco beating the Nats in an 18-inning game during the 2014 playoffs, so I was not surprised to learn that at about 2:45 A.M. Washington time -- 1:45 A.M. in Chicago -- the Giants had won the game on back-to-back doubles in the 13th.  So the Giants and Cubs will be back tonight for another big game, even if you have to be at the stadium to watch it.

Los Angeles 3 - 8 Washington
San Francisco 6 -5 Chicago (13 innings)

Boston 3 - 4 Cleveland

NATIONAL LEAGUE:
Chicago leads San Francisco 2-1
Washington leads Los Angeles 2-1

AMERICAN LEAGUE:
Toronto beat Texas 3-0
Cleveland beat Boston 3-0

19 comments:

  1. It's another beautiful day in Los Angeles. The Dodgers, needing to save their season, sent out Clayton Kershaw on short rest. Natstown decided to save Max Scherzer, and went with Joe Ross, who was terrible.

    The Nats scored a run in the top of the first, only to see Ross give up two in the bottom of the inning on a homer by Adrian Gonzalez. Then the Nats scored a run in the top of the third, only to see Ross give up two more in the bottom of the inning. We're now in the bottom of the fifth, and the Dodgers lead the Nats 4-2.

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  2. On FoxSportsOne, they are reminding us that the only time the Expos ever reached the NLCS was in 1981, when they lost to the Dodgers. I remember it well.

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  3. Since the Nats' pitching staff is so tired, and since Ross didn't get very far, manager Dusty Baker has inserted Reynaldo Lopez to pitch. Lopez is a good prospect, but he's only 22 years old, and he had an ERA of 4.91 in 44 innings pitched. So putting him into the game is the equivalent of saying, "We'll see you in Washington." The Dodgers have just tacked on another run with a single by Josh Reddick and a double by Joc Pederson, and they lead 5-2 after five.

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  4. But I think Dusty's done the right thing here. The Nats had to play three close games in a row -- Game Three was a one-run game until the ninth inning -- and their starting pitching has been poor. If they threw Scherzer in this game, and he wasn't effective, they would have no chance in Game Five. So they're letting Scherzer rest. Once Ross proved to be ineffective, there really wasn't much Dusty could do except hope that things go better in Game Five.

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    1. It should have been more clear in that last entry that Dusty has to let his bullpen rest, since this game (against Kershaw) was basically a lost cause once the Dodgers got four runs. I don't think the Nats could put up four runs against Kershaw if they had 12 innings to do it.

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  5. Oh, my! The never-say-die Nats put together a rally! In the top of the 7th, they got a single from Danny Espinosa, an infield single by Trea Turner, and a walk to Harper to load the bases. That was it for Kershaw, so the Dodgers brought in Pedro Baez -- who HIT JAYSON WERTH. That made it 5-3 and left the bases loaded. The Dodgers pulled Baez and inserted Luis Avilan, who gave up a GAME-TYING SINGLE TO DANIEL MURPHY. So now the game is TIED AT FIVE going into the bottom of the seventh.

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  6. I have no idea what will happen now. Both teams' bullpens have been used to the point of exhaustion already. But I'm very impressed that the Nats got three runs without a homer.

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  7. Also, Kershaw was charged with five runs in seven innings. That is astonishing.

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  8. The Dodgers go down one, two, three in the bottom of the seventh. Yasiel Puig was called out on a checked swing to end the inning, and the Dodgers are complaining vociferously.

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  9. The Dodgers send out Joe Blanton to face Ryan Zimmerman, Danny Espinosa, and Pedro Severino, the Nats' 6th, 7th, and 8th hitters.

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    1. Joe Blanton grew up in Chalybeate, Kentucky, in Edmonson County and then excelled as both a Franklin-Simpson High School Wildcat and University of Kentucky Wildcat.

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  10. Blanton retires the Nats in order, and we go to the bottom of the 8th.

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  11. And then the Nats throw it away in the bottom of the 8th. With two outs and no one on, Blake Treinen hits Andrew Toles, the Dodgers' number-8 hitter. The Nats put on a shift for pinch-hitter Andre Ethier, and he grounds a single through the empty hole at short to put runners on first and second. That brings up Chase Utley, the old Phillie who knows how to win games like this. Naturally, he laces a single to right to put the Dodgers up 6-5.

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  12. Sammy Solis replaces Treinen, and gets Corey Seager to ground out and end the inning. But the damage is done, and the Dodgers are only three outs away from earning a trip back to the Nation's Capital.

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  13. The Dodgers send out Kenley Jansen (1.83 E.R.A., 47 saves) to pitch the 9th. The Nats will send up pinch-hitter Stephen Drew, followed by lead-off man Trea Turner and D.C. Fave Bryce Harper.

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  14. Turner strikes out on four pitches.

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  15. Harper grounds out to Utley, and THIS SERIES IS TIED. Game Five on Thursday in Washington.

    And now it's time for the varsity game between the Cubs and the Giants.

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  16. In the bottom of the first, former Nat Denard Span whacks a double to open the proceedings for the Giants, and then comes around on a pair of sacrifice flies. The Giants lead 1-0.

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