The postseason is always full of surprises, and I can honestly say that I didn’t expect either outcome tonight.
In the NLCS, forcing a Game 6 Friday, the Dodgers just weren’t going to let those red birds fly away with the series just yet. In fact, in today’s game, the Dodgers slammed 4 solo home runs to add to their 2 RBI singles. But the Cardinals weren’t just giving it away today. They still put up their own fight in the 3rd inning with back-to-back RBI triple and RBI double and 2 RBI singles in an attempted rally in the 9th inning. Even with all that, the Dodgers’ home run extravaganza just kept them in control and earned them the win with the 6-4 score. The series now goes into Game 6, which is a must-win for the Dodgers if they want a chance at the Series. One more win still sends the Cardinals instead, so it’s still very clearly anyone’s game.
And over in the ALCS, the Tigers decided to take things in their own hands and tie up the series. The Tigers’ starter was really on point tonight through 6 innings, allowing 8 hits and a walk, but striking out 7 Red Sox batters and only one earned run (an RBI single in the 6th). His bullpen was decent support as well, just adding 2 more runs (an RBI double in the 7th and an RBI triple in the 9th). But what really came to the rescue for the starter was the Tigers’ offense tonight, racking up 7 runs in the first 4 innings — a walked in run, a force-out scored another, a 2-RBI double, and an RBI single all in the 2nd; and 2 RBI singles in the 4th. So the Tigers pitched and hit their way to a 7-3 win.
And like I said at the beginning, neither outcome I expected tonight, but based on all the performances tonight, neither outcome actually surprises me. See, if the regular season has baseball players playing at an “elite level”, then postseason should take that up even “eliter”. So really, the outcomes of each game should be whichever team plays the best overall in that particular game. And that’s certainly been the case in the CS. Which may explain why it’s still going to be anybody’s guess for who will even get to the Series, let alone walk away with the Championship at the end of this month.
There’s a fun memory in Yankee history today. Ten years ago today was the “Aaron Boone Game“. ALCS 2003, Game 7, Yankees vs. Red Sox. Here’s some background if you don’t remember the percussive 2003 ALCS. In Game 3 at Fenway, things got heated between the Red Sox pitcher and the entire Yankee team, especially Posada, which then escalated into an all-out benches-clearing brawl, in which the Red Sox pitcher threw bench coach (and 72 year old) Don Zimmer on the ground. It didn’t get any prettier, but the Yankees won that game.
So with the series tied, they get to play Game 7 in the Bronx (Old Yankee Stadium). The same starters from Game 3, the same heat, the same rivalry, the same intensity. And by the 8th inning, the game is tied 5-5 and remains scoreless into the bottom of the 11th inning. The 10th inning pitcher for the Red Sox came in to face Boone, who had come into the game in the 8th inning as pinch runner. And on the first pitch of the 11th inning, Boone shoots the ball straight into the left field seats for a walk-off home run, sending the hopeful Red Sox packing (remember they wouldn’t win the Series until the next year) and the Yankee headed to the 2003 Series (where they would lose to the Marlins in 6 games).
2003 was the only year Boone would play for the Yankees, who would have a rather short career and end up as an analyst with a sports network, after having some serious health issues. Sometimes, it really pays to be in the right place at the right time. Because you never know when you might hit that 11th inning walk-off homer to send your team to the World Series…