Tonight was two very different versions of the ALDS Game 4, and much like every other day in the week of the 2013 postseason, it was full of twists, turns, and drama. Because what would October baseball be without a saga or epic storyline for every game.
Detroit triumphed over Oakland to force a Game 5 (though my initial report via a phone app had Oakland taking tonight’s game and the series). But no, the Tigers aren’t letting those green and yellow-clad guys get away so easy. The Athletics started with a 1-run lead in the 1st that became 3 runs by the 5th, to which the Tigers responded to tie up the game 3-3 in the bottom half of that inning. The 7th added one more to Oakland and two more to Detroit. But then Detroit added another 3 runs in the 8th to push their lead further ahead, and essentially turn Oakland’s 9th inning rally into a whimper, keeping the Tigers alive for Game 5 with this 8-6 win. Oh, and just to keep things even more interesting, there may or may not have been fan interference on a home run/fly ball attempt, depending on how you look at the call. I think it could have been an out, but the umpiring staff deemed it a home run. It could have been the call to change the game for the Tigers, and perhaps, it was really a homer in disguise.
Fan Rule #1: DO NOT INTERFERE WITH A PLAY… EVER! Once the ball crosses the fence, it’s fair game; but until then, it’s still in play and none of your business until you get paid to wear a uniform and sponsored by Rawlings for your glove and Nike for your cleats.
And down in Florida, the Rays made every effort to push for their own Game 5. Maddon (the Rays’ manager) put up 7 different pitchers, most only going an inning or two. For this reason, the Red Sox were scoreless for a full 6 innings, something I didn’t think could happen right now with their offensive “lava grenade” (the only thing I could think of that’s hotter than a “hot streak”). But the biggest problem is that the Rays also weren’t scoring any runs. The Red Sox started with their recent acquisition this year from the “other Sox”, who is clearly still one of the better pitchers of the league, allowing a single run from the Rays on an RBI single.
Now, up until the 7th inning, this were looking up for the Rays, and that’s when they got sloppy. A wild pitch easily scored a run to tie the game and an RBI single pushed the Red Sox over the Rays 2-1. And then the Rays closer did what he always seems to do this year, not his job. With just one out, he walks 2 batters and hits another with a pitch. The man cannot find the strike zone for anything, so they opt for the 8th pitcher of the game, who gives up a sacrifice fly. So bring on pitcher #9, who finally gets that elusive 3rd out for the Rays. And the Rays went down in order for their last 3 outs, giving up the game and the series to the Red Sox, who walked away with a 3-1 win in both the game and the series.
The Red Sox go on to the ALCS, and the Rays get started on their vacation plans this Fall. I should note here that the Rays have an excellent starting rotation and really great potential in their younger players, but they lack that click when it comes to teamwork which shows in their really weak defense and fielding (they don’t trust each other). They also don’t have the power-hitting to match a team like Boston. And that can be okay if you can get around the bases to score via small ball, but again, the lack of teamwork (and probably veteran experience in the long run) shows by not being able to move runners around. It looks like the Rays GM has his work cut out for him this offseason.
So we have two Game 5’s, one in each league for the two tightest races. And after that, I can update my postseason predictions. So far, I’m still swinging for average. But it’s still pretty early in October.
And in Yankees news, Robinson Cano has been nominated as the Yankee representative for the Hank Aaron Award, an award to honor the player in each league with the most outstanding offensive contribution. Cano was the logical choice, especially because he was one of the few consistent every-day players the Yankees had from Opening Day to Game 162. Voting is underway just until Thursday, October 10th. Past winners from the Yankees include Alex Rodriguez (2007) and Derek Jeter (2006, 2009); Kevin Youkilis won the award with Boston in 2008, and Rodriguez also won the award with Texas in 2001, 2002, and 2003.