Four games in one day, two of them continue killing my postseason bracket, two have reset it. Overall, a very busy day in October baseball.
Game 1: Toronto Blue Jays at Texas Rangers
Okay, first up: the Blue Jays, coming in hot after their near rout of the Rangers yesterday, was looking to taking the edge back to Toronto and win the series there. And now, it seems like a real possibility. This was a game of paradoxes. Technically, the Rangers racked up 13 hits off Toronto batters, but that amounted to much less runs than they needed to tackle the Blue Jays penchant for hitting home runs at inopportune moments.
All the Blue Jays’ runs were off home runs. In the 2nd, with a lead-off walk, a 1-out 2-run home run by Tulowitzki got the Jays on the board early. Then the 5th was clearly their inning — Pillar’s solo shot, a pop up out, Carrera’s solo homer, another pop out, Encarnacion’s home run, and a ground out.
But the Rangers weren’t sitting on their laurels, not with 13 total hits. In the 4th, with 2 outs and 2 singles, Desmond hit a nice RBI single to get the Rangers on the board, but the Jays’ defense and some stellar bullpen pitching kept them from doing much more until the 8th inning. Moreland led-off with a double, moved to 2nd on a 1-out walk, and then scored on Gomez’s single. A new Jays’ pitcher got a ground out, but the pinch-runner still scored. That would not be enough for the Rangers.
Final score: 5-3 Blue Jays, Blue Jays lead series 2-0.
Game 2: Boston Red Sox at Cleveland Indians
I don’t know many people outside the ridiculously optimistic fans of Northeast Ohio that saw this coming, but the Indians are just dominating the Red Sox this series. Now, of course, as a Yankee fan, that does make me rather gleeful — anyone beating the Red Sox, especially when they’re supposed to be pretty good. (Yes, the rivalry never dies.) And the Red Sox sent in one of the better starters, Price, who just couldn’t get the Indians to stop hitting off him and came out of the game in the 4th inning. In comparison, the Indians’ starter Kluber was just dominant today, pitching into the 8th inning, giving up just 3 hits and keeping the Red Sox scoreless.
The Indians collected their runs throughout the game. In the 2nd, with 1 out and 2 runners on base with singles, Guyer’s single scored the first run of the afternoon for the Indians, and Chisenhall’s big 3-run home run secured the Indians’ lead (and eventual win). In the 4th, Guyer led-off with a single, moved to 2nd on Perez’s walk, but then was out at 3rd on a ground out. Perez still ended up scoring on Kipnis’ single.
And in the 6th, Guyer (the Indians’ good luck charm this game) led-off with another single and, 2 relievers later, ended up at 3rd on a botched force attempt and fielding error. Guyer then scored on Davis’ sacrifice fly to cap off the Indians scoring.
Finally, the Red Sox found pitchers that weren’t surrendering hits and runs to the charging Cleveland team, and the Indians two relievers breezed through the Red Sox in the final 2 innings to effectively shut them out and send the series to Fenway with not Boston nicely ahead.
Final score: 6-0 Indians, Indians lead series 2-0.
Game 3: LA Dodgers at Washington Nationals
At least the Dodgers and Nationals kept things close and interesting this evening. It was a tight game, setting up what might be the most interesting series of the division series games. Both teams have excellent pitching and some phenomenal hitters, and if tonight’s game was any indication, this may be the series to watch.
It was Kershaw (Dodgers) vs. Scherzer (Nationals) to kick off this series, easily two of the pitchers in the National League, which made it worth watching. Neither threw their best game, so it was more of a matter of who would come out on top when the dust settled. Kershaw expended more pitches early on, and Scherzer’s pitching was a bit cleaner. But the only quantifier that matters is the runs allowed.
The Dodgers struck first with a big 1-out solo home run from Seager, straight up the middle of the field in the 1st inning. In the 3rd, Toles led-off with a single, moved to 2nd on Kershaw’s sacrifice bunt (remember, NL has no DH), and then scored on Utley’s single. Turner’s 2-run home run secured the Dodgers early lead. And they spent the rest of that game defending it.
The Nationals didn’t make it through Kershaw’s pitching until the bottom of the 3rd inning. Harper and Werth were in scoring position after a double, a walk, and a double stolen base, and then they both scored on Rendon’s single to get the Nats on the board. A lead-off double in the 4th moved to 3rd on a ground out and then scored on Turner’s sacrifice fly to put the Nats within a single run.
But between the Dodgers’ relievers and their defense, the home team wasn’t going anywhere. Of course, you could say the same thing about the Dodgers’ offense too. Which really says a lot more for both teams’ bullpen and defenses than it does for anything else. And worth noting, there were 20 total strikeouts from both pitching staffs this evening. I mean, it is the National League, which is traditionally known for its excellent pitching, but in a play-off game, there’s usually more oddities than norms. And that is a norm.
Final score: 4-3 Dodgers, Dodgers lead series 1-0.
Game 4: San Francisco Giants at Chicago Cubs
Now, that was a pitching duel at Wrigley Field tonight. It was certainly something to behold. Cueto (Giants, formerly of the Championship Royals) just dominated the Cubs roster through most of the game — 118 pitches in his 8 innings, giving up just 3 hits and no walks, and striking out 10 Cubs batters. One of those hits was unfortunately a solo home run, the only run of the game, in the 8th inning to Baez.
Lester (for the Cubs) threw his own rather efficient 8 innings, just 86 pitches and 5 allowed hits, no runs, no walks, and 5 strike outs. There were a lot of zeros on that scoreboard for so much of the game, but that’s the kind of game Chicago fans (and NL fans in general) love to watch. All the way up to the end.
That 8th inning solo shot called for the Cubs’ closer Chapman (yes, the one who played for the Yankees for most of the year), who took 21 fiery pitches and handed the Cubs the first win of their series.
The Cubs are coming off a ridiculous season of 103 total wins, but it’s an even year which means the Giants are “destined to win” (if you believe San Francisco’s fans and their hashtag campaign of #beliEVEN). This could be a rather interesting series to watch too. But it’s still early days.
Final score: 1-0 Cubs, Cubs lead series 1-0.
And yes, there is Yankee Universe news, but I’ll save it for a day when I didn’t have to talk about 4 different games.