I always forget that this chosen profession means that for a few weeks in October I jump from watching a baseball game a day to 2-4 games a day. And it’s exhausting. Don’t misunderstand me: I love baseball, but when the team you’re used to following and have some sense of loyalty to isn’t playing in any of the games you must watch, it’s more than a little taxing. And I think a lot of it is emotional confusion. I mean, I spend 162 games (plus 5 weeks of Spring Training) rooting against every single team that made the postseason in some form, but now, I find myself rooting for “the enemy” every day. And for a couple of the games, I’m forced to root for the lesser of (what I sees as) two evils. I guess that’s the real thought process behind my following of the postseason sans Yankees — selecting the teams to follow that I loathe the least. An interesting strategy, I suppose, but not ideal in the slightest.
Anyway, tonight on opposite coasts were the first two games of the AL Division Series. First up, the Tigers versus the Orioles in Baltimore. Okay, this game was actually pretty good for a while, with a little bit of offensive back and forth for the first part of the game, the Orioles leading 3-2 going into the last third of the game. That is due mostly to the two starters, as despite both teams racking up the pitch counts early, they managed to maintain status quo in anticipation for a late-game breakthrough for their team. In the bottom of the 7th, the Orioles added an insurance run and the Tigers answered back in the 8th to keep the game within one run at 4-3 Baltimore at the mid-8th.
And then the Tigers’ bullpen just crumbled. The Tigers’ starter got 1 out and a double, so after 98 pitches, they turned to the ‘pen, which was probably mistake number 1 for the Tigers. And this was how the Orioles won their game as the Orioles just ripped into the Tigers’ pitching staff: a fielding error that scored a run, an RBI single, (new pitcher), a single and a throwing error, an intentional walk to load the bases, an RBI single to keep the bases loaded, an RBI ground out, a 2-run double, (new pitcher), a 2-run double, and finally a ground out. So in that one half inning, Baltimore scored 8 runs. And no, that’s not a typo. Detroit threatened in the top of the 9th, even loading the bases, but no one crossed the plate, and at 12-3, it was way too big of a deficit to overcome anyway.
ALDS Game 1a — Orioles over Tigers 12-3
And then we jump across America to Anaheim to watch the Royals and the Angels show off their defensive and pitching staffs into extra innings. (I have a new passion against extra innings in postseason unlike ever before already; this isn’t a good sign for October.) Honestly, if you were to just look at the box score, you’d think it was a pretty even game, and in some ways it was. Both starting pitchers were just great, though I’d have to give the slight advantage to the Angels’ pitcher. And both teams’ defense gave their respective pitchers great back-up, though on this I’d give the advantage to the Royals (especially their center and right fielders). But neither team’s offense was spectacular, which is both disappointing (for its lack of power that I know is there, at least on the Angels) and impressive (for its pitching, at least on the Royals, where I least expect stronger pitching), with both teams each putting up just 4 hits a piece through the entire 11 innings.
It seemed that the game ran pretty parallel to each other. Each team getting a single run in the 3rd and then again in the 5th, and then staying tied at 2-2, with just 3 hits each. And despite both teams getting ample opportunities for scoring runs, it wasn’t until the 11th inning, when a Royals’ batter hit a lead-off solo home run to push the Royals up 3-2. The Angels couldn’t cobble together a last-minute rally and dropped their first game to the Royals.
ALDS Game 1b — Royals over Angels 3-2
And yes, I’m aware that my predictions are already 0-for-2, but thankfully, there’s potentially 4 more games to turn things around. The Division Series Games are best of 5, the Championship Series Games are best of 7 (like the World Series). Also, if you’re watching the postseason, know that the NLDS begins tomorrow, so there will be 4 games to follow tomorrow. Should be an interesting Friday.
And in Yankee news…
Well, there is no Yankee news. And seeing as there’s no news, it means there’s good news (as the old saying goes). So there’s no firings/DFAs, no injuries/surgeries/rehab setbacks, no scandals or trouble. Just a nice, quiet Thursday in Yankee Universe. Sounds like a perfect way to start the off-season to me.