Well, we’re now deep into the Championship Series portion of October baseball. And the story seems to be pitching, pitching, and pitching.
The Cardinals decided to keep their ball rolling, taking a very tight Game 2 from the Dodgers. Led tonight by the rookie starting pitcher Wacha, the Cardinals allowed 5 hits and a walk, with Wacha striking out 8 batters himself (total Dodger strikeouts today: 13). Comparatively, St. Louis had just 2 hits — a triple in the 1st inning and a double in the 5th. That double ended up scoring the sole run of the game on a sacrifice fly. The Dodgers put up their ace Kershaw to counteract the streak the Cardinals’ rookie has been on this season, but to no avail. These are pretty evenly matched teams, defensively, offensively, and pitching-wise, so the trick for the managers this postseason will be to match the pitching levels evenly so that their offense can grab whatever little bread crumbs they may get. It’s going to be an interesting NLCS.
Meanwhile, over in Fenway, the story seemed the same but with different names, uniforms, and facial hair stylings. The Tigers’ pitching was so on point tonight that they were running a no-hitter until a single in the 9th inning. The Red Sox, the power-hitting force of the AL this season, were just really stymied for the game. So they ended up with a 1-hitter, and with their RBI single in the 6th, Detroit walked away with Game 1 of the ALCS. And while they seemed stuck at that single run and ended their game 1-0 Tigers, the Tigers still racked up 9 hits over the course of the game, and much like the other CS, they just weren’t composing of much than some random little hits. If this keeps up, the ALCS could compete with the NL on who has the more interesting CS this year.
All this pitching strength can’t help but remind me of the days of the late 90s. Well, actually, I guess it’s a counterpoint to those days. In such stark contrast, we seem to be less in the days of those monster home runs, even deep into the postseason, and more of the fine craftsmanship that is strong pitching. Okay, yes, I am a fan of those “Bronx Bombers”, but there is a unique art in throwing a beautifully pitched game. And with just 3 perfect games (oddly 2 came in that late 90s era) in the Yankees’ history, that feat of strong pitching, especially in a year where the team had less than stellar pitching, is still something that seems more to be desired than a strong offensive show.
In fact, I know that one of the key portions of filling out the 2014 roster will be building up reliable, strong pitching both in the rotation and in the bullpen, perhaps even before filling out the larger other part of the roster. It’s always an interesting balance to find that perfect number of pitchers versus hitters on the 25-man roster, and with so many 2013 players becoming free agency for the 2014 season, it will be a work of a little GM-magic to create a viable team for October 2014.
Because, let’s be honest, they aren’t building a roster for April. So if the goal is #28, then they’re building a team that can play October baseball in Spring Training. But then again, those dynasty years of the late 90s, weren’t built in March, and boy did they succeed in October. Names we don’t even know now will become household names all because of that precarious balance. And for that, we can hope for October and dream of that elusive #28.