NLDS & ALDS: ATL vs. STL, WAS vs. LAD & TB vs. HOU, MIN vs. NYY — 3 Game 5s & a 3-game sweep

There is nothing normal about the postseason most years, and this year continues to prove this once again. Three of the series went to a Game 5, and only one series was a sweep. And none of those is what you might expect.

NLDS A: The Cardinals and Braves duked it out through 5 games, and it wasn’t until the 5th that the Cardinals came on strong and just made the decision to win this series.

NLDS
Game 1: Actually, the Braves had this game right up until the final inning, when the Cards came out swinging. The Braves just could not catch up in the end. 7-6 Cardinals

Game 2:
The Braves decided they weren’t going to let the series head to St. Louis without a hometown win, using this game to prove why they came out on top of the NL East by blanking the visiting Cardinals. 3-0 Braves

Game 3: This was one of those super tight games, with the Cards eking a single run by the Braves until the 9th. The visitors scored 3 big runs in that inning and ended up taking the lead in the series. 3-1 Braves

Game 4: Another nail biter in the series, as the game was tied and went into the 10th inning before the Cardinals got a walk-off home run to tie up the series. 5-4, in 10 Cardinals

Game 5: Back in Atlanta, the Braves lost their home field advantage in that 1st inning, giving up 10 runs to the visitors, who ended up dominating this game. 13-1 Cardinals

Cardinals win the series in 5 games

NLDS B: Almost everyone “knew” who was going to win this series. Almost everyone “knew” they were going to sweep this series. Almost everyone was very wrong.

Game 1: However, after this first game, “they” were rather confident they “knew” how this was going to work as the Dodgers quickly shut out the Nationals. 6-0 Dodgers

Game 2: But then the Nationals came back and just edged out the home team. 4-2 Nationals

Game 3: In DC, the Dodgers came back just crushing the home team with a big 6th inning. 10-4 Dodgers

Game 4: And somehow, the Nats weren’t about to go away quietly, relying on some solid pitching to tie up the series again and force a Game 5. 6-1 Nationals

Game 5: Another nail-biter in the NL. The game was tied right into the 10th, right up until the Dodgers’ reliever gave up a huge grand slam. The deficit too big to overcome by the home team, costing them the rest of the postseason. 7-3, in 10 Nationals

Nationals win the series in 5 games

ALDS A: As with the other league’s version of this series, games between the league leader and the wild card winner aren’t anything normal or predictable. Especially as the Rays were on quite the tear this last month in their quest for a postseason. But in this series alone, it was all about the “home field advantage”.

Game 1: The Astros started the series strong, only giving up runs to the Rays in the 8th. 6-2 Astros

Game 2: The Astros’ starter the game was just amazing, streaming through the Rays’ lineup and collecting 15 strikeouts. Not that the Rays were slacking. The Astros just played better. 3-1 Astros

Game 3: Once the game was at the Trop, the Rays came out swinging and just didn’t stop. They certainly weren’t about to let the Astros just run away with this series. 10-3 Rays

Game 4: While this wasn’t as poweful in the end, the Rays still collected 13 total hits, giving them more opportunities to score and eventually tie up the series. 4-1 Rays

Game 5: Again, this series was all about home field advantage. Once they were back in Houston, the Astros took command again and showed their fans why they deserve to go to the ALCS once again. 6-1 Astros

Astros win series in 5 games

ALDS B: The one series nobody was really talking about. Outside Yankee Universe, that is. But this one was something to really watch, as the Yankees were about to show off a bit.

Game 1: The Yankees had some really big innings, including home runs by LeMahieu and Gardner. Though Paxton started, it was Kahnle who ended up with the win for his 5th & 6th inning stint to essentially save the game early on until the Yankees powered their way through with those big runs in the 6th. 10-4 Yankees

Game 2: It was Tanaka Time in the Bronx for this game. Aand once again, the Yankee bats came through to support their starter, including a big 3rd inning offense. And while most of their runs were off RBI singles, but i was Didi Gregorius’ grand slam to ensure the Yankees’ eventual win. 8-2 Yankees

Game 3: Home field advantage didn’t seem to matter to the Yankees this series, as they took their momentum on the road. They used an opener in Green, who showed his reliability with a strong start and set the pattern for the rest of the game, backed by a good offense with homers by Torres and Maybin. 5-1 Yankees

Yankees sweep series in 3 games.

An interesting article I found was the idea that no one gives an MVP award for the Division Series. This is one writer’s idea of who should get this hypothetical award. I agreed (or at least understood) his picks in most of these games. But what do you think?

Championship Series begins tomorrow night with NLCS and Saturday with the ALCS. It is a best-of-7 series, so the first team with 4 wins will move onto the World Series next week.

My predictions: So, this first round was a mixed bag. I completely blew the NLDS. First is my prediction, second is the outcome.

  • NLDS A: Braves over Cardinals in 5 games — Cardinals in 5
  • NLDS B: Dodgers over Nationals in 3 games — Nationals in 5
  • ALDS A: Astros over Rays in 4 games — Astros in 5
  • ALDS B: Yankees over Twins in 5 games — Yankees in 3

Now for the Championship Series: (Perhaps, I’ll be better this round.)

  • NLCS: Cardinals over Nationals in 6 games
  • ALCS: Yankees over Astros in 7 games

It’s clearly going to be one of those postseasons. And let’s be honest, it’s really just beginning. But isn’t that what makes October Baseball more intriguing — that you don’t know what’s going to happen?

Go Yankees!

NLWC & ALWC: MIL vs. WAS & TB vs. OAK — 2019 Postseason Begins

It’s officially October Baseball. The regular season came to a close last Sunday, some teams headed into the postseason, some to their family vacations and couches for the duration of 2019. But either way, things are heating up if your team is one of the few who grace this month with its presence.

Tuesday: NL Wild Card (Brewers at Nationals)
The National League postseason began on Tuesday night as the Brewers challenged the Nationals for the final wild card spot. And at first, the Brewers looked to have a decided victory. They out-pitched the home team, with a strong showing, giving up a solo home run in the 3rd, sailing through most of the game in command.

The Nats’ ace had a bit of trouble keeping the Brewers’ bats under control. A lead-off walk in the 1st scored as part of a 2-run home run, getting the visitors on the board even before an out was recorded in the game. The Brewers tagged another run on with a lead-off solo shot up the middle in the 2nd. Things were looking great for the Brewers to advance to the NLDS.

Until that 8th inning. The Nationals figured out they weren’t going to let another October pass them by and took back the game. With 1 out, a challenged hit-by-pitch made it to base. After another out, the Nats gave up a single and a walk to load up the bases. Then a single and really sloppy fielding error cleared the bases, with the Nats scoring the go-ahead run. The Brewers’ defense snapped into action and got that runner trying to stretch into 3rd to end this messy inning, but the damage was done.

Final score: 4-3 Nationals, Nationals advance to NLDS to face the Dodgers

Wednesday: AL Wild Card (Rays at Athletics)
There was a lot of talk about which team might have the advantage in this game tonight. The A’s have had some pretty strong pitching, but the Rays are quite tenacious this season. It was going to be quite the toss-up, but the Rays really proved their mettle in the end, commanding the mound and the game.

The Rays’ pitchers walked away from tonight’s game with no earned runs, only one unearned run. In the 3rd, the lead-off batter hit into what looked like an easy grounder, but a throwing error allowed him to make it all the way to 3rd. A sacrifice fly then scored that runner for the A’s only run of the night.

Their pitching was uncharacteristically lacking in their starter tonight. He gave up a lead-off solo home run to the Rays right in the 1st. And then a single and 2-run homer in the 2nd. After another lead-off home run in the 3rd, they realized it wasn’t working and sent in their bullpen. They were markedly better, except a 2-out solo home run in the 5th to add just one more run for the visitors.

Final score: 5-1 Rays, Rays advance to the ALDS to play the Astros

Postseason Schedule: The Division Series starts tomorrow with the NLDS. The Braves will host the Cardinals, and the Dodgers host the Nationals to begin each of their series. The ALDS starts on Friday with the Astros hosting the Rays and the Yankees hosting the Twins. This series a “best of 5”, with the higher seed hosting for 2 games before the lower seed hosts 2, with an off-day between. A 5th game, if necessary, will be held back in the original stadium for a 2-2-1 possibility of the series.

The NLCS will begin next Friday, October 11, and the ALCS will start Saturday, October 12. That will be a “best of 7”, 2-3-2 hosting pattern.

My Division Series Predictions: I always hesitate to make my predictions known every year because it’s always with mixed results. Honestly, neither of my selected teams won their respective Wild Card games, but maybe I’ll have better luck in this next series.

  • NLDS A — Braves over Cardinals in 5 games
  • NLDS B — Dodgers over Nationals in 3 games
  • ALDS A — Astros over Rays in 4 games
  • ALDS B — Yankees over Twins in 5 games

It’s anybody’s guess how this season will turn out. It rarely goes as predicted. But such is life. At this point, truly anything is possible. Except for the fact that only one of these 8 teams will be crowned champions before the end of this month. Fingers crossed for your favorite team. I’ve got mine crossed for… well, you know…

Go Yankees!

Game 162: NYY vs. TEX — 102 wins, 305 HRs, AL East champs, and the Yanks head to postseason

And suddenly, the season is over. It really doesn’t seem that long ago that we were sitting in our seats in Steinbrenner Field in Tampa enjoying the first day of Spring Training. One of the perks of a Florida spring is watching Yankee veterans and rookies and minor leaguers play on the same field. The anticipation of a new fresh season is palpable as fans chatter about which players are returning or what new young hopeful has been invited for the spring. It is always amazing to watch the roster come seamlessly together for the a new season.

It has been quite the season, summer baseball filled with new records set and new faces earning their much deserved spot on the Yankee roster. Despite the unexpected record injuries that saw the rise of a new generation of Yankees, we all witnessed New York pull together as a team and keep moving forward to earn their well-deserved spot as the AL East Division Champions.

And so here we are now in late September in Texas to face the Rangers before a sell-out crowd on a warm day in Arlington. It may not have been the final score Yankee fans hoped for, but with Game 162 now in the record books, all Yankee eyes are now on the postseason and October baseball.

For this last game of the season today, 6 Yankee pitchers shared the mound and gave up 10 hits for 6 runs. In the 1st inning, Chad Green was chosen to start as the opener for the Yankees. Facing 5 batters in the 1st inning, Green gave up a walk to the lead-off batter followed by a single. A throwing error allowed the 2 runners to do a double steal and score a run. Green followed with 2 strikeouts and an outfield fly out to end the inning.

Masahiro Tanaka came to the mound for a long-term relief outing, starting in the 2nd. His first inning was smooth, facing 3 batters for 3 outs, including a stellar infield play caught with a backhanded catch by Gio Urshela on 3rd for the throw to DJ LeMahieu for the out. Tanaka’s 3rd inning was a bit messier, giving up a 1-out double and a single to put runners on the corners. A sloppy throwing error on a pick-off attempt by Tanaka allowed a run. A fly out to right moved a runner to 3rd, who then scored on a single to left field. With 2 outs, a pop up caught by Urshela at 3rd finally ended the inning.

Then, in the 4th, after fielding a grounder for the out at 1st base, Urshela left the game with a sore ankle and was replaced by Wade at 3rd. After a strikeout swinging, Tanaka gave up 2 singles and a walk to load the bases before coming on strong, retiring the side with a ground out, stranding 3 on base.

In the 5th, Tommy Kahnle replaced Tanaka and gave up a single to left, a hit by pitch, and a walk to load the bases with no outs. A fielder’s choice caught the runner at home for a stellar defensive play for the out, but left the bases loaded. Kahnle gave up a single that scored 2 runs, but a great double play ended the inning.

Adam Ottavino took the mound in the 6th, giving up a single and a walk. He gave up a grounder for a force out to put runners on the corners. A sacrifice fly scored a run, and a pop out ended the inning. Britton came out for the 8th, giving up a single, but a great defensive double play and a swinging strikeout closed the inning. Chapman got some work in for a quick 3-out 8th inning.

The Yankee lineup was scoreless for the first two innings. In the 3rd, Aaron Judge hit his 27th season homer 408 feet over the left field fence to tie the game and give the Yankees a record 305 season home runs. Perhaps Judge’s homer for the first run scored in this last game was only fitting for the season wrap up since the first run scored for the Yankees on opening day this year was also homer, a 3-run long ball by Luke Voit.

The Yankee lineup struggled to reach base and remained scoreless for the rest of the game. Coming down to the 9th inning for their final chance for the win or at least to add a couple home runs to best the Twins for the season home run record. But three outs later, regular season play for New York was over.

Final score: 6-1 Rangers, Rangers win the series 2-1

Injury updates: The Yankees are optimistic that Edwin Encarnacion might be available for post-season play, but he is not currently in the lineup. Gio Urshela twisted his ankle on a jumping throw during an infield out in today’s game. Doctors diagnosed Urshela with a mild sprain that should heal quickly and no further tests are planned at this time.

Yankee postseason rosters, more injury updates, and postseason predictions are forthcoming. The Wild Card games are this Tuesday and Wednesday (October 1-2), with the NLDS starting on Thursday (October 3) and the ALDS on Friday (October 4). It’s shaping up to be some very interesting October baseball.

Go Yankees!

Game 161: NYY vs. TEX — 6th inning spirals into big loss

Yankee fans in the crowd tonight at Arlington watched a game that began with high hopes to see New York win its 104th game of the season, only to see it all fall apart in the 6th inning. It reminded me of growing up a Tribe fan when my dad and I would watch Cleveland start well, only to lose it all in the final innings.

I know, I know! Cleveland isn’t New York. But the game tonight reminded of those times watching my dad’s team battle on, only to have hope deferred. But then I am reminded that the Yankees have already secured their playoff spot as the 2019 AL East champs, and all that hope returns!

Luis Severino started for New York to face the Texas Rangers and threw 72 pitches over 3 innings. In the 1st, Severino gave up a walk to the lead-off batter followed by a strike out swinging. After another walk, Severino gave up a double that allowed both runners to score. After a mound visit and yet another walk, the 2 runners made a double steal, but an infield ground out ended the inning.

Severino found his normal momentum in the 2nd, quickly shutting down 3 batters with 3 solid strikeouts. But in the 3rd, Severino allowed his 4th walk before 3 outs to close out the inning and keep it a close game.

David Hale took the mound in the 4th, giving up a double and a walk. Another double scored both runners, so after a strike out, Hale was replaced by Tyler Lyons who eventually ended the inning with no further allowed runs. Luis Cessa took the helm in the 5th. Despite some allowed base runners, some solid defense got him out of the inning scoreless.

And then came that aforementioned 6th inning — where everything fell apart for the Yankees. Cessa returned to the mound and gave up consecutive singles and a a walk that loaded the bases. He then gave up another walk that scored a run and kept the bases loaded. After a mound visit, Cessa finally got a nice strikeout.

With just that one out and the bases still loaded, Nestor Cortes Jr. replaced Cessa and promptly gave up a grand slam, solidly placing the home team in the lead. Another 3 singles and 1 run later, this 6-run inning mercifully ended. Heller took over for Cortes in the 7th and successfully retired the side. Something Gearrin followed up in the 8th to shut down the Rangers’ big night.

The Yankee lineup started well in the 1st inning when Aaron Judge sent a triple deep to center. A sacrifice fly by Brett Gardner allowed Judge to score and put the Yankees on the scoreboard first. There was a few other chances for the Yankees when they actually got base runners, but they really failed to put runners in scoring position until the 9th inning.

Down by 8 runs, there was a glimmer of hope as Frazier worked a walked and moved to 3rd on Wade’s single. Voit’s hit-by-pitch loaded the bases, Didi Gregorius sent a 3-run RBI double to right field to clear the bases. Yankee hopes were running high despite 2 outs, but chances to score more runs ran out when a fly ball to right field was caught for the final out of the game.

Final score: 9-4 Rangers

This day in Yankee history: On September 28, 1923, in a game facing the the rival Boston Red Sox, and with legends like Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig on the team, the New York Yankees tallied up 30 hits that included just 2 home runs (one by Ruth) and 8 doubles to earn a single-game franchise record that is still unbroken almost a century later. And most of their runs that day came in (you guessed it) the 6th inning. The final score on that day 96 years ago — 24-4, Yankees!

Go Yankees!

 

Game 160: NYY vs. TEX — “Bronx Bombers” rightly set MLB HR record

The Yankees traveled to Arlington, Texas, for a weekend series with the Rangers for the final 3 games of regular season play. A high scoring game fueled by power bats in the lineup and by strong outings from 9 pitchers earned New York their 103rd season win.

James Paxton, took command of the ball for the Yankees for the 1st inning, facing 6 batters, giving up 3 hits, including a 2-run home run. At the close of the inning, Paxton exited the game as a precaution due to soreness and was replaced by Heller for the 2nd inning. Heller gave up a single to the lead-off batter, but followed with a strike out swinging and a grounder that led to a double play. In the 3rd, Tarpley came on to faced 3 batters for 3 quick outs — 2 strikeouts and a ground out.

Another pitching change in the 4th brought Loaisiga to the mound. He allowed a walk, but then got 3 outs to keep the scoreless pattern going strong. Gearrin got his chance in the 5th to keep that inning scoreless. In the 6th inning, Lyons took the ball, facing 3 batters for his 3 outs.

Taking the mound in the 7th, Michael King, a recent call up from Scranton/Wilkes-Barres, was the only Yankee pitcher to throw for more than one inning tonight. But in the 8th, King’s lead-off batter made it safely to 1st on a fielding error, moved to 2nd on a 1-out single before scoring on another single.

However, with the Yankees firmly ahead in tonight’s game, the Yankees needed a quick 3 outs again for the 9th. But Chance Adams had some trouble after striking out the lead-off batter. He then gave up a solo home run, a pair of doubles, and a 2-run home run to edge the Rangers closer to the Yankees’ lead. With just 1 out, Cortes took the ball for a pop-out to the 1st baseman and an infield ground out, allowing no further runs for the home team.

On the other side, the Yankee lineup came out swinging for the win, and it showed. In the 1st inning, Giancarlo Stanton hit a long ball to left center field for the Yankees 300th home run of the season. With 2 strikeouts in the 2nd, Cameron Maybin smashed another homer to left center that tied up the game at that point.

After a scoreless 3rd inning, Brett Gardner led off in the 4th and sent a home run ball to right center that gave New York a slim lead. With 2 outs and Ford on 1st, LeMahieu’s double moved Ford to 3rd base. Giancarlo Stanton’s single scored both Ford and LeMahiey and gave the Yankees a nice lead. At the bottom of the 6th, Gio Urshela led-off with a home run to left center. Maybin then worked a walk, and a 2-run homer that Ford sent to right scored Maybin.

In the 7th, a single line drive by Gardner, followed by another single grounder by Maybin, put two men on base. Ford worked a walk to load up the bases. DJ LeMahieu’s double to left field scored all 3 runners, but LeMahieu was tagged out trying to stretch it into a triple to end the inning.

Austin Romine led-off the 9th inning with a solo home run to center. With 1 out, and Urshela and Maybin on base, Mike Ford’s double scored both runners to give the Yankees a rather large lead they would need due to the mess in the bottom of that inning.

Final score: 14-7 Yankees

A big congratulations to the Yankees who now lead MLB in home runs for the season with 305. The Twins were briefly ahead of New York, but after tonight’s 6 homers, the Yankees were back in the lead. With 2 more regular season games, there will be several chances to add to that record for New York. This also officially sets the MLB single season record by a team.

Go Yankees!

Game 159: NYY vs. TB — Yankees shut-out loss at the Trop

The Yankees faced the Tampa Bay Rays tonight at Tropicana Field for a disappointing shut-out loss. Even with 5 walks, New York had little opportunity to score, earning only 1 hit and 16 strikeouts, and leaving 9 men on base.

After last night’s marathon game that went to the Rays, tonight’s game wasn’t much better for the Yankees in the end. Giving up 9 hits and 4 runs, New York pitching was not its usual stellar self. Jonathan Loaisiga started for New York and promptly gave up a home run to center to the lead-off batter. He followed that up with 3 singles that scored another run before striking out the side.

In the 2nd, JA Happ replaced Loaisiga for a strong out of long-term relief — 6 strikeouts through 5 innings. It wasn’t until the 6th that the Rays broke through again. Happ allowed a single to center that scored on an RBI double. Kahnle replaced Happ in the 7th inning. After a throwing infield error and a walk that put 2 men on base, Kahnle was replaced by Gearrin. He then faced just one batter before turning over the ball to Tarpley for the final out of that inning.

With the Yankees still scoreless in the 8th, Tarpley came back out to face a batter for an out before being replaced by Luis Cessa. Cessa, however, gave up a home run to put the Yankees even further behind. Chapman replaced Cessa for the final 2 strikeouts of the 8th inning.

Yankee batters also struggled tonight, only earning one hit, but no runs. New York had a couple opportunities to score when batters like Voit and Wade worked walks in the 3rd, but a double play ended that hope then. A single by LeMahieu in the 6th broke the Rays’ no-hitter bid tonight, but it wasn’t much more for the Yankees. And by the 9th, the Yankees got three strikeouts in a row in this shutout loss to the Rays.

Final score: 4-0 Rays, Rays win series 2-0

Next up: The Yankees take an off-day tomorrow to travel across the Gulf of Mexico to Arlington to face the Texas Rangers for the final series this regular season. They will close out 2019 with a 3-game series this weekend.

Injury update: Gio Urshela is expected to be back in the lineup for Friday’s game in Texas facing the Rangers. Urshela did not play tonight, but the team fully expects him to be ready for this last regular season series for the Yankees this weekend.

Yankee batting record update: So far this season, the Bronx Bombers have certainly earned their nickname with a current MLB record of 299 home runs in a single season, and there’s still 3 games to be played. Also, this season, 14 Yankees have earned double-digit homers this year.

Go Yankees!

 

Game 158: NYY vs. TB — 12 inning pitching exhibition

The Yankees traveled to Florida for a 2-game series in Tropicana Field to face the Tampa Bay Rays. While the Yankees have secured their spot in the post-season as the AL East Champs, the Rays are still working for their chance in the wild card race.

Yankee pitchers were out in force tonight as the Tampa crowd witnessed outings from 11 New York pitchers. To start the game, Jordan Montgomery took the mound for 2 innings and faced 9 batters for 3 strikeouts, giving up 3 hits, but no runs. In the 3rd, Ben Heller took the mound, also facing 3 batters, giving up a single, but no runs.

CC Sabathia replaced Heller in the 4th inning for his first regular season appearance as a reliever. Sabathia threw 13 pitches to 3 batters for 3 outs, including 2 strike outs. In the 5th inning, Tarpley took the ball and gave up a home run to right field that tied the game, followed by a single that reached base safely, but was called out trying to steal 2nd.

Another pitching change in the 6th brought Lyons to the mound to face one batter for a walk. Lyons was then replaced by Luis Cessa who allowed 2 more walks to load the bases before a ground out ended the inning with no runs. Kahnle took the mound in the 7th for quick 3 outs, followed by Britton for another 3 up 3 down. In the 9th, Ottavino replaced Britton and threw 11 pitches to 3 batters for 3 outs.

With the score still tied 1-1, Green replaced Ottavino at the helm for the 10th and 11th innings, facing 6 batters for 6 outs, 5 of which were strikeouts. In the bottom of the 12th, Green was replaced by Cory Gearrin who gave up a lead-off home run that broke the tie in favor of Tampa Bay.

Yankee batters had several chances to score tonight, but even with 7 solid hits, only 1 run scored for New York. After a scoreless first 2 innings, the 3rd inning lead-off batter Cameron Maybin sent a solo home run to center field. But then the opportunities started stalling. Like in the 4th, Judge led off with a single infield grounder, but was left stranded when the next 3 batters failed to reach base, an unfortunate pattern the Yankees would continue in nearly every inning.

Stanton earned a walk in the 6th inning, and moved to 2nd when Gio Urshela was hit by pitch and awarded 1st, but, again, all runners were left stranded. With the score tied at the end of 9 innings, the game dragged on for 3 more innings. The Yankees had a couple more opportunities to break the tie in the top of the 12th inning, but they ended up stranding the base runners. A lead-off homer by the Rays in the bottom of the 12th finally ended the game and gave the game to Tampa Bay.

Final score: 2-1 Rays

CC Sabathia’s call to the mound tonight was his first appearance as a reliever in regular season play in his long career. But it wasn’t the first time ever as a reliever. The last time Sabathia had a reliever appearance was in Game 5 of the 2011 ALDS. In tonight’s game facing the Rays, Sabathia threw his 1700th strikeout as a Yankee, for a career record of 3091.

Injury update: Gio Urshela was hit by a pitch in the 6th inning and attempted to stay in the game before being replaced to have his sore hand checked. Thankfully, x-rays on his hand were negative except for a bad bruise.

Go Yankees!