Championship Series ALCS4: KC vs. TOR, NLCS3: NYM vs. CHC — Appearing dominant can be deceiving, unless you’re Daniel Murphy

Dominance is usually the first thing we think of when we see a high scoring game in every sport (except maybe golf, of course). But we often forget that in a team sport, often the dominance isn’t so much dominant as much as it is just pouncing on some pretty poor defense. I once heard it said that baseball is the only sport where the defense controls the ball because the game of baseball has less to do with the actual ball and more to do with the bases. And unlike nearly every other sport, it’s not that the ball (or puck) makes the points, but the players themselves come into the scoring area.

I’m not your stereotypical girl when it comes to sports, as I watch a lot of sports and certainly have my clear-cut loyalties. And while other sports certainly have their own hefty set of rules and regulations, most of explaining other sports involve just telling them to get the ball or puck into the other team’s end zone or net. No, in baseball you have to take your time getting to the bases and eventually the home base before the ball does. In other words, it’s man versus ball in most of the game — hitting it away, throwing it away, catching it, and beating it to the bases. It’s one of the few sports that you really do have to see in order to understand.

Though to be fair, I still don’t really understand cricket, and it doesn’t matter how many games I watch as it doesn’t fit any of these standard sports rules either. I’ve been told you have to “grow up with it”. But for a rather tactile person like myself, I’m thinking I’ll probably have to play it myself to get a better grip of the game. Any takers?

Game 1: ALCS 4 — Royals at Blue Jays

Anyway, there was certainly the appearance of dominance in Toronto today, and much to the chagrin of the passionate Canadian fans, it wasn’t by the team wearing their shade of blue (though can anyone really tell me difference between Royals blue and Blue Jays blue?). Mostly, it was just not good pitching from pitchers who are normally much better. An off-day of sorts in the worst possible moment.

Things didn’t start so well for the Blue Jays starter (and former Cy Young Award winner) Dickey. In the 1st inning alone, he gave up a bunt single, a big 2-run home run, a walk, a stolen base, a single, a passed ball that scored a run, a ground out, a sacrifice fly that scored another run, and finally the lone strikeout of his outing today to close out the 4-run 1st inning for the Royals. Then the Royals came back to take another run from the Blue Jays with a 1-out solo home run. Dickey didn’t make it out of the 2nd inning, as with 2 runners on base and 2 outs, the Blue Jays went to their bullpen, who immediately pulled a great pick-off move and got the lead runner dancing too far off 2nd.

The Blue Jays made a small dent in the Royals very early, hefty lead in the 3rd inning. With 2 runners on base, a ground-rule double scored the first Toronto run and a ground out scored the other. And that would be it for the Blue Jays’ offense tonight, despite 7 total hits and 2 walks. The Blue Jays just weren’t doing any more run-scoring.

The same cannot be said for the Royals. However, the first reliever Hendriks did a really spectacular job keeping the Royals from doing much more than just a single hit off him. He kept the score as it is, while waiting for the offense to some how pick up. It wasn’t until Hendriks was out of the game in the 7th inning that the Royals came roaring back to increase their lead off some weaker pitching tonight.

In the 7th, the new reliever loaded the bases with a walk and 2 singles and no outs. That was it for his night, but he was responsible for all three base runners. The new reliever gave up a sac fly that scored a run, a wild pitch that scored the next run, a walk, an RBI single, and a sacrifice fly that scored yet another run. The same reliever came back in the 8th to continue getting pummeled by the Royals roster, loading the bases with 2 hits and a walk, with 1 out. A sacrifice fly scored another run, and a single loaded up the bases again. Then a single scored 2 more runs before Toronto had enough and went to the bullpen again to get out of the inning.

But that’s not it. In the 9th inning with 2 outs and 2 runners on base, the Blue Jays sent in their final reliever who loaded the bases with a single and then gave up a 2-RBI single to cap off the Royals’ insane scoring tonight. Not that there were many Toronto fans brave enough to watch the final few innings, as once it was clear whose game it was fled the stadium. (This is where I disagree with this move, especially in the postseason where you pay postseason prices for those seats — sit down and enjoy the entire game no matter how it turns out.)

Final score: 14-2 Royals, Royals lead series 3-1. They need just 1 to advance to the World Series.

Game 2: NLCS 3 — Mets at Cubs

It was 72° in Chicago at first pitch. I almost didn’t believe it myself, but there were the shorter sleeves, the lighter jackets, the more comfortable fans and players. Right up until it started raining, pretty heavily too, in the 9th inning. But at least it wasn’t freezing because that and the rain would’ve been unbearable.

In Chicago, it wasn’t such an obvious game at first as it more like a bit of back-and-forth with the pitchers practically competing for outlasting each other long enough to have their team win. The Mets starter deGrom won that battle, over all going 100 pitches in his 7 inning, giving up just 4 hits and a walk. Comparatively, the Cubs starter was fairly matched except he gave up 5 hits in his 4 innings. The Cubs weren’t taking any chances and the revolving door of the bullpen ended up helping the Mets more than it did the Cubs in the long run.

In the 1st, a 2-out RBI double scored the Mets’ first run, and the Cubs tied it up in the bottom of the 1st with a 1-out solo home run. Then in the 3rd, the Mets’ postseason slugger Daniel Murphy hit a 2-out home run (his 5th straight game with a home run, tying Beltran’s record from 2004). (Also, can we just give him the postseason MVP award already?) But the Cubs came back in the 4th inning with a solo home run of their own to tie up the game once again.

With the Cubs’ starter out of the game and the first reliever keeping the Mets at bay, the Mets pounced on the back-end of the Cubs bullpen beginning in the 6th inning. A lead-off single moved to second on a sacrifice bunt and stole 3rd, so when a strike out became a wild pitch, he scored the go-ahead run for the Mets and the batter got to 1st safely. And in the 7th, with 1 out and runners on the corners, and the 2nd pitcher of the inning taking the mound, a single scored the first runner and a ground out scored the next.

Final score: 5-2 Mets, Mets lead series 3-0. They need just 1 more win to advance to the World Series.

And in Yankee Universe news: Masahiro Tanaka had elbow surgery today. No, not that kind. Apparently, he had bone spurs in his throwing elbow, dating back to his time in Japan. Though while they didn’t cause any pain or interfere with his outings this year, they can get worse if not removed and treated. Hence the surgery. A few weeks recovery (during the normal off-season anyway), and he’ll be ready to start working his way back into Spring preparation.

Go Yankees!

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