Division Series NL2a: CHC vs. STL, NL2b: NYM vs LAD — Very messy, very broken, and very split

A couple of messy games in the NLDS tonight. Some very, very messy games in the NLDS tonight.

Game 1: NLDS 2a — Cubs at Cardinals

Well, they’re heading to the north side of Chicago split in this series. And I’m not going to say that the Cubs got this game in a well-earned way. No, the mess of this game was the St. Louis starter, who couldn’t seem to pitch his way out of a paper bag tonight.

After the Cardinals got a lead-off solo home run to get them on the board in the 1st inning, the Cubs just found the weakness of the Cardinals starter Garcia and just pushed him. A lead-off single started the 2nd,then a ground out, throwing error, stolen base, and a walk found runners on the corners. Then it got messy again — a sacrifice bunt but coupled with a throwing error (the Cardinals’ 2nd of the inning) scored one run and put 2 runners in scoring position. Another sacrifice bunt scored another run, and a single scored yet another one. And finally a 2-run home run cleared the bases and gave the Cubs a 5-1 lead in just the 2nd inning.

The Cardinals broke into their bullpen in the 3rd inning, but it didn’t really help much. A walk to lead-off the 3rd inning eventually scored on a ground out and added yet another run to the Cubs’ increasing lead. Following this one, the rest of the St. Louis bullpen basically pitched like the regular St. Louis bullpen.

Not that the Cubs’ starter Hendricks threw a great game. He was eventually knicked into in the 5th inning. After 2 strike outs, consecutive solo home runs halved the Cubs’ lead of the Cardinals and forced Hendricks out of the game. The Cubs’ bullpen was rather efficient for being the Cubs’ bullpen.

It was like the entire game had a weird fluke in the beginning, and then suddenly everyone remembered how to play baseball in the 3rd inning. It’s going to be an interesting series in Wrigley, Monday and Tuesday.

Final score: 6-3 Cubs, series split 1-1.

Game 2: NLDS 2b — Mets at Dodgers

I was so looking forward to making cheesy comments on Thor. And that really should be the worst part of my post about the Mets-Dodgers game. And it so wasn’t. The Mets’ starter Syndergaard is nicknamed Thor, due to his blonde main and clear Scandinavian heritage. That and he knows how to “bring down his hammer” when he pitches. And believe me Thor brought Mjolnir to Dodger Stadium tonight.

And for a while it looked like the Mets certainly had this game sewn up once again, which is rather impressive as the Dodgers’ starter Greinke is a former Cy Young Award winner and really good in his own right. The Mets led-off the 2nd inning with a solo home run and then 2 outs later got another solo home run to give them an early lead. The Dodgers halved that in the 4th inning — a ground-rule double led-off the inning and then scored on an RBI double before Thor pitched his way out of a loaded-bases jam.

And all this was going strong until the 7th inning. Greinke pitched his way through the Mets’ roster and was officially out of the game. So it was Thor to pitch his final inning. A strikeout led off the inning, and then Thor walked a batter, who then stole 2nd. A pinch-hitter (for Greinke) came in and singled, putting runners on the corners. And then the world exploded.

No, but it would’ve been easier to write about.

Okay, so the ball was hit up the middle and the Mets’ 2nd baseman flipped it to the shortstop (Ruben Tejada) who steps by 2nd base to get that runner and using the momentum spins around to throw to 1st for the double play. Except the runner just crashed into Tejada. And neither touched the bag. And Tejada went down hard and had to be carted off the field, only to be diagnosed with a broken fibula (lower leg bone). While medical teams were attending Tejada, the Dodgers asked for a replay challenge. For some reason, the umpire review team at MLB HQ determined that because Tejada didn’t touch the bag, that the runner was safe and could take 2nd base. Even though he never touched base and actually left the field without tagging the bag.

To be fair, Chief of Baseball Operations Joe Torre later said in a press conference that he will have to analyze the entire play for intent and determination of any consequences. Which is a good idea because there’s about a million fans waiting in Queens to “meet Utley in the parking lot outside CitiField”. And with the immediate reaction on Twitter and everywhere else on the internet, it’s definitely obvious to everyone except the umpires (apparently) that something needs to be done somewhere about this. Because even if it is ruled ultimately that the play was ruled correctly, the “slide” was far too rough if it can break a leg in the process. We protect catchers now, who are heavily padded and protected from rough slides home, but fielders are left entirely unprotected from the very same slides around the other bases.

Anyway, with a new 2nd baseman and a new pitcher (Thor was done for the night), a fly out righted things for the Mets (which should’ve been the 3rd out, by the way) before the world continued to implode on them. A double scored 2 runs (one of them the guy who “skipped” 2nd), and then another double scored the final run.

In other words, if the play had been called differently, the game might have gone into extra innings. No question the Dodgers still could have won it, but I don’t think it would have been as tense and borderline scandalous (based on how much chatter kept happening online and on broadcasts) if they had just kept that base runner off the field.

Final score: 5-2 Dodgers, series split 1-1.

One last note: no one was impressed with the Dodger fans that seemed to cheer that Tejada was injured. It doesn’t say a lot for your fan base if they seem to revel in the injuries and pain of the visiting team’s players. It doesn’t do you any good, and it doesn’t help your team when they go on the road to play. Nobody likes an unsportsmanlike player or fan. It didn’t work for the Yankees in the late 70s, it didn’t work for the Reds in the mid-70s, and it doesn’t work for the Phillies of the last decade. Seriously, folks, keep it classy, and play this game right.

Go Yankees!

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