NLDS 3: MIL vs. COL, LAD vs. ATL — One in, one to Game 4

As much as we like to pretend to know exactly how things will turn out based on patterns we’ve seen or statistics on paper, things in this life rarely turn out to be so predictable. Yes, people themselves are predictable, but collective results are often far from it. Baseball is a great example of this. It’s a team sport that celebrates the individual accomplishment. Which means as predictable as it is, it’s just not so predictable.

Now, as the Yankees travel home to continue their now even series against the Red Sox and the Astros follow the Indians back to Cleveland hoping to sew up Game 3 tomorrow, the postseason is really just beginning in many ways. And after today, only one team has a place in the next series, but that’s all going to change over the next few days.

NLDS A: Brewers at Rockies
After a tight first game, the Brewers have come out swinging strong and not slowing down. The bottom line is that the Brewers outpitched and outplayed the Rockies once again. The Brewers pitchers only gave up 4 hits, while they hit 12 of them. In the 1st, the Brewers got an early lead when a 1 out walk moved to 3rd on a single and then scored on a ground out fielder’s choice. And a 1-out solo home run in the 4th doubled that score.

But then the Rockies got sloppy in the 6th. With 1 out, the reliever gave up a single and a double to move runners in scoring position. After another strikeout, a balk moved the runners up and scored the lead one. A wild pitch then scored the other runner. Then consecutive solo home runs led off the 9th inning just for a bit more cushion to secure their Game 3 victory.

Final score: 6-0 Brewers, Brewers sweep series 3-0 and advance to the NLCS

NLDS B: Dodgers at Braves
Meanwhile, in Atlanta, the Dodgers were hoping the same momentum they had in their first 2 games and seal up their spot in the NLCS by sweeping the Braves on their own turf, much the like Brewers did to the Rockies above. But they stumbled out of the gate, as the Dodgers starter had some trouble. He loaded up the bases with a walk, a 2-out single, and an intentional walk before another walk scored their first run. Then he gave up a monster grand slam to push the Braves into a quick, early lead.

The Dodgers relievers did better at keeping the Braves from adding to their lead, and their offense finally kicked in and chipped away at the Braves’ lead. The lead-off batter worked a walk in the 3rd and ended up at 2nd on a sacrifice bunt. After a 2-out walk, the Braves pulled their starter, and the new reliever gave up a 2-run single, thanks in part to a fielding error. Then in the 5th, with 1 out and a runner on 1st with a walk, a 2-run home run put the Dodgers within 1 run. And a 2-out solo home run tied up the game.

It would be a lead-off solo home run in the 6th by the Braves that would break the tie. And the Dodgers never did have them in it to come back after that.

Final score: 6-5 Braves, Dodgers lead series 2-1

In Yankees news: it looks like Aaron Hicks‘ hamstring issue isn’t terrible or season-ending. He could even be available tomorrow off the bench. Hicks has been a valuable part of the team both defensively and offensively, and hopefully will continue to do so in this postseason. But the Yankees also have enough power on the roster to compensate for a Hicks-sized loss.

Go Yankees!

ALDS 1: CLE vs. HOU, NYY vs. BOS & NLDS 2: COL vs. MIL, ATL vs. LAD — A very busy but predictable Friday

It’s days like this, with the flurry of activity, that really amp up the drama that leads up to the final bit of this season. For those of us who follow the entire day, it’s quite overwhelming at times. But oddly, it ended up being kind of predictable.

NLDS 2a: Rockies at Brewers
The Brewers and Rockies continue to prove they are pretty evenly matched in this postseason series. But the Brewers found their opportunities and capitalized on them well. In the 4th, a 1-out double scored on a ground-rule double to get the home team on the board. But then, they were held to that lone run for most of the game.

Then in the 8th, the Brewers loaded the bases with no outs. A single scored one runner. And 2 outs later, a single scored 2 more runs. That and some really tight pitching ensured the Brewers’ shutout victory.

Final score: 4-0 Brewers, Brewers lead series 2-0

NLDS 2b: Braves at Dodgers
The Dodgers sent their ace pitcher for tonight’s game and he just breezed his way through 8 scoreless innings allowing just 2 hits. The Braves’ offense just struggled their way through the whole game.

The Dodgers’ offense, however, found an early chance to ensure their lead in the game and series. They gave up a double that moved to 3rd on a ground out. A 2-out 2-run home run gave them that early lead. And a lead-off solo home run in the 5th added that extra insurance run for them they wouldn’t need in this game. And the Braves’ bullpen actually snapped into action to keep the Dodgers to that small early lead.

Final score: 3-0 Dodgers, Dodgers lead series 2-0

ALDS 1a: Indians at Astros
The ALDS series began today and had the Indians and Astros show off their strong pitching rotations. Seriously, of all the teams in the postseason, the two teams with the strongest starting pitching are these two teams. And while they certainly showed off their stuff, there was enough early on to give both teams hope. And then the Astros pulled away and showed why they won 103 games this season.

The Astros struck first with a lead-off solo home run in the 4th. Then a walk moved to 2nd on a 2-out single and then scored on another single to double their score. Then they came back in the 5th with consecutive solo home runs to lead-off that inning to again double that score.

The Indians finally answered back in the 6th by loading up the bases and pushing out the Astros’ starter. A wild pitch by the reliever moved all the runners up and scored the Indians’ first run. Another run scored on a ground out to half the Astros’ lead.

But the home team got both of them back in the 7th with a lead-off solo home run. Then a single moved to 2nd on a grounder and scored on a single. And a 1-out double in the 8th scored on an RBI single to finish the game on a strong note for the Astros’ fans packing their hometown park.

Final score: 7-2 Astros, Astros lead series 1-0

ALDS 1b: Yankees at Red Sox
And up in Boston, the Yankees just had a series of miscues that didn’t make tonight work in the end. JA Happ, the assumed Wild Card starter, got the start and just flustered his way into the 3rd inning. A 1-out single and walk in the 1st scored as part of a 3-run home run to get the Red Sox on the board in a hurry. After giving up a double and single to put runners on the corners, the Yankees turned to Chad Green.

Green had his own issues keeping the home team’s momentum down. He gave up a single that easily scored the runner from 3rd. A fly out moved the other runner to 3rd so that he could then score on a sacrifice fly. But then Green held them off for the 4th inning. Lynn, Britton, and Robertson then finished off the final 4 innings and kept the Red Sox to those early runs.

Meanwhile, the Red Sox has a strong starting rotation, and their ace pitcher Sale started tonight’s game and held the Yankees off until the 6th inning. Judge led-off the inning with a single but then was out on Gardner’s fielder’s choice grounder. And Stanton then singled. That was the end of Sale’s night, but he was responsible for Gardner and Stanton.

Luke Voit then hit a nice single to score Gardner, and Didi Gregorius hit into a fielder’s choice grounder at 2nd that still scored Stanton. Walks to Andujar and Sanchez loaded up the bases to prove the Red Sox’s bullpen isn’t as strong as their starters. But the Yankees also started a pattern that wasn’t going to work out well for them — load up the bases and leave them stranded.

In the 7th, they loaded up the bases with singles by McCutchen and Judge and a walk to Gardner. With 1 out, Voit hit into a ground out at 2nd that still scored McCutchen. But they left runners in scoring position again. When the Red Sox needed just 3 outs in the 9th to close out their game, Aaron Judge put a slight kink in that with a lead-off solo home run to trim the Red Sox lead down to just 1 run.

But 3 strikeouts later, the game was over. It’s just going to prove this series is going to be super

Final score: 5-4 Red Sox, Red Sox lead series 1-0

Quick side note: in the Yankees-Red Sox game, Aaron Hicks came out of the game in the 4th after hitting a single and kind of lightly running to 1st base. Replaced by Gardner (who definitely impacted the game), Hicks seemed to re-injure his hamstring injury that plagued him late last month. He will go for an MRI to figure out his postseason future. If he is out for this series, like they put him on the DL, he will be ineligible for the rest of the postseason. Hopefully, that won’t happen. But the best outcome is always the healthy outcome.

Go Yankees!

2018 Wild Cards: COL vs. CHC & OAK vs. NYY — October baseball, a little wild

If the Wild Card games are any indication of how the 2018 postseason is going to be, it’s going to be one wild ride this October. The National League Wild Card reflected how tight the NL has been and ended up going down to the wire before the postseason began. And the American League Wild Card showed off the Yankees.

NL Wild Card: Rockies vs. Cubs (Tuesday)
This game was one of those super dramatic, tight games that makes these one-off games worth the effort. Both teams sent in their ace pitchers, Freeland and Lester, who both pitched deep into the game. Both only gave up 4 hits and a walk. But the Rockies got one run early in the game.

In the 1st, a lead-off walk moved to 3rd on a ground-rule double and then scored on a sacrifice fly. But then the Cubs held off the Rockies for the rest of the regular game. The Rockies pretty much matched them in offense and defense, which resulted in this insane, edge-of-your-seat kind of game.

But then, in the bottom of the 8th, with 2 outs, a Cubs’ batter singled, stole 2nd, and then scored on a double to finally tie up the game. And the hometown crowd went wild. And the game eventually went into extra innings. 13 of them.

In the 13th, with 2 outs (again), the Rockies’ batter singled, moved to 3rd on a single, and then scored on a single to break the tie. The small contingent of Colorado fans were suddenly excited. Their wish came true when their pitcher breezed his way through 3 strikeouts in the bottom of the 13th to send the Cubs back to their clubhouse to watch the rest of the postseason from their couches.

Final score: 2-1 Rockies, in 13 innings

AL Wild Card: Athletics vs. Yankees (Wednesday)
The next night, the AL Wild Card teams were ready for their own dramatic one-off game. And while the Yankees certainly outshone the Athletics in the end, the A’s weren’t exactly sitting on their hands. They are a good team. The Yankees are just better.

The A’s decided to piece together their bullpen to see if that could stop the Yankees. Yeah, it didn’t. Andrew McCutchen led-off the 1st with a walk and then scored when Aaron Judge hit a nice 2-run home run into the left field seats. But then the A’s pitchers did a good job of keeping the Yankees to those early runs.

Then in the 6th, Judge led-off with a double and then scored on Aaron Hicks’ double. After a new reliever came into the game, a wild pitch moved Hicks to 3rd and Stanton worked a walk. Stanton then stole 2nd putting both runners in scoring position. Then they did so on Luke Voit’s big triple, just inches shy of a 3-run homer in right field.

A sacrifice fly by Didi Gregorius then found Voit hustling home, barely touching home plate before being tagged. The A’s challenged the tag, but it was upheld. It wasn’t quite clear if he was tagged just before he touched the plate, but there was no proof he wasn’t either. So, the run stood. Not that it mattered. The Yankees kept rolling. And Giancarlo Stanton led-off the 8th inning with a monster solo home run into the corner of the left field seats.

Luis Severino was tapped for the start, which based on his second half showing, had many in Yankee Universe nervous. But they made it clear that if he fell apart like last year’s Wild Card game, there was a enough power in the bullpen to cover him. He didn’t really need it much because he was off to a stellar start, mostly breezing his way through the first 4 innings, including 7 sharp strikeouts.

Then in the 5th, he gave up 2 singles, his first allowed hits of the night, and instead of waiting to see if Severino could pull it together, they the Yankees went to the bullpen and called in Dellin Betances, who worked his way out of Severino’s trouble in the 5th and then sailed his way through the 6th. David Robertson followed this momentum with a clean 12-pitch 7th inning.

Zach Britton came in for the 8th and became the first Yankees pitcher to really struggle this game. He gave up a lead-off single. The next batter hit into what was originally called a double play, but the Athletics challenged and it was clear that the runner beat out the ball at 1st. So it ended up overturned as just 1 out. But then the next batter hit a 2-run home run to finally get the Athletics on the board. But then Britton tamped down and got himself out of the inning.

And Aroldis Chapman, postseason veteran, came out for the 9th and came out clean, even fielding the final out himself, helping seal the win for the Yankees to advance.

Final score: 7-2 Yankees

This means that the Division Series are set. Thursday, the NLDS games start. The Brewers host the Rockies, and the Dodgers host the Braves. The ALDS starts Friday — the Astros host the Indians, and the Red Sox host the Yankees. The Divsion Series games run 2 games, travel day, 2 games, travel day, 1 game. The first team to 3 wins win the series and advance to the Championship Series that begin on Friday, October 12.

Postseason Predictions:

  • Wild Card
    • Predictions: Rockies over Cubs, Yankees over Athletics
    • Results: Rockies over Cubs, Yankees over Athletics
    • Success (in batting average): 1.000
  • Division Series:
    • NLDS 1: Brewers over Rockies in 4 games
    • NLDS 2: Dodgers over Braves in 4 games
    • ALDS 1: Astros over Indians in 3 games
    • ALDS 2: Yankees over Red Sox in 5 games

This means I am hoping for an NLCS between the Brewers and Dodgers, and an ALCS between the Astros and Yankees. And with my track record, chances are at least 1 or 2 of my predictions will be wrong. I’m ready for it. But fingers crossed that it won’t be the Yankees-Red Sox one.

Go Yankees!

Game 160: NYY vs. BOS — Making history, taking advantage

It’s always going to be an interesting series when the Yankees face the Red Sox. And with the prospect looming that they might face each other in the postseason. Should the Yankees win the Wild Card series they will face the best AL team, which is the Red Sox, for the ALDS. And if both teams play like they did tonight, it’s going to be quite the postseason.

JA Happ got the start for the Yankees in this opening game against the Red Sox for the final series of the season. He threw 88 pitches in 6 innings, gave up 4 hits, 2 walks, and 4 runs, and struck out 7 Boston batters to earn his 17th win of the season. And actually, Happ held them off for most of his outing.

It wasn’t until the 6th inning that he allowed a run. He gave up a 1-out single, a double, and a 2-out walk to load up the bases. The next batter then smacked a huge grand slam over the Green Monster to get the Red Sox on the board in a big way and electrify the sell-out home crowd.

Green came in a sailed his way through the 7th inning before handing the ball over to Dellin Betances for the 8th. But Betances had a bit of trouble. He gave up a walk that moved to 2nd on a 1-out single, and then scored on a 2-out single. He loaded the bases with a walk before getting out of the inning thanks to the Yankees’ defense.

And Zach Britton had an equally troubling 9th inning. He gave up a walk to lead-off the inning that ended up getting out on a fielder’s choice grounder. A throwing error put runners on the corners, and a 2-out walk loaded the bases. Then he gave up another walk to score the Red Sox’s final run of the night.

Now, all of that could be disheartening if the Yankees hadn’t had a monster offensive night themselves. In the 3rd, Gary Sanchez smacked a big lead-off solo home run to the Green Monster. Two outs later, Judge walked, moved to 2nd on Hicks’ single, and then scored on Giancarlo Stanton’s single.

In the 4th, with a new pitcher, Andujar hit a 1-out double (tying DiMaggio for the most doubles as a rookie with 44), and Sanchez walked. They both then scored on Gleyber Torres’ double. Though there was a bit of a question as to whether Sanchez actually touched home before the tag, but the call was upheld after the replay.

With another new pitcher, Torres scored on Andrew McCutchen’s single, thanks to a dropped ball. After Judge singled to join McCutchen on the bases, Aaron Hicks hit a nice 3-run home run to further the Yankees’ lead. Now, the best part of this was that Hicks completely thought he hit a fly ball to be caught in the outfield, so he trudged his way to 1st base before looking up and seeing that the ball went over the fence. With a sheepish grin, Hicks began his home run trot.

Luke Voit continued his power show with a 1-out solo home run in the 7th. Gregorius singled, moved to 2nd on Andujar’s walk, and then scored when Gary Sanchez hit into a fielding error. And Aaron Judge capped off the Yankees’ big night with a lead-off solo home run in the 8th.

Final score: 11-6 Yankees

And with that win tonight, the Yankees secured home field advantage in the Wild Card game next Wednesday. This means that the Athletics will travel to the Bronx for the one-off game. The winner of that game (*cough*TheYankees*cough*) will head up to Boston to face the Red Sox for the ALDS.

And with the 4 home runs in tonight’s game, the Yankees have officially tied the 1997 Mariners for the record of most home runs as a team in a single season with 264 homers. In other words, in the next 2 games, if they get at least 1 more home run, the 2018 Yankees will be the sole record holders of that statistic.

Go Yankees!

Game 157: NYY vs. TB — 3rd inning power show

Luis Severino got the start in the second of four games against the Rays in St. Petersburg tonight. He had a really strong outing, throwing 97 pitches in 5 innings, giving up 4 hits, 3 walks, and 2 runs, and striking out 7 batters to earns his 19th win of the season.

The Rays only allowed runs tonight came in a messy 3rd inning. Severino quickly loaded up the bases with a double, hit-by-pitch, and walk. Then a double scored the 2 lead runners before the Yankees relayed to get the third runner out at home. But that would be it for the Rays’ offense tonight. Kahnle, Tarpley, and German came on in relief of Severino to split the final 4 innings and keep the Rays rather silent.

But the Yankees used that same 3rd inning to make the difference in the game with a huge power show. Adeiny Hechavarria led off the inning by hitting his first Yankee home run (and earning his own unique John Sterling home run call). Then Gardner hit his 60th career triple, and McCutchen walked before the Rays’ starter finally got an out in the inning and then was escorted to the dugout.

Going to the bullpen didn’t help the Rays, but it certainly allowed for more Yankee power to show off. Luke Voit doubled to easily score Gardner, and then the Rays intentionally walked Stanton to load up the bases. And they changed pitchers again. Neil Walker worked a walk in 4 pitches which scored McCutchen, and Miguel Andujar’s sacrifice fly scored Voit. And to cap off this inning, Gary Sanchez smacked a big 3-run home run.

Stanton led-off the 5th with a double, moved to 3rd on a ground out, and then scored on Sanchez’s single. And Andujar finished off the Yankees’ big night with a 2-out solo home run in the 9th inning, his 26th homer of the year. Is anyone else hoping for “Rookie of the Year” for him too?

Final score: 9-2 Yankees

Injury news: Aaron Hicks had an MRI to check on his hamstring injury, and the good news is that there are no strains (or tears). That means the injury isn’t as serious as it could be, nor is it season-ending. It just means that they are going to watch him and his recovery progress, calling him “day-to-day”.

And Gleyber Torres was scratched from tonight’s lineup due to some tightness in his left hip and groin area. However, it’s just “tightness”, so he said he was available off the bench. But the Yankees didn’t need him tonight and will probably keep him rested until he can actually be fully available to the Yankees. Besides, his absence allowed Hechavarria the chance to earn his John Sterling home run call.

Go Yankees!

Game 156: NYY vs. TB — Bullpens’ night to shine

The Yankees begin their final week of the season with a trip down to Tampa Bay for a 4-game series. For quite a few games this season, the Rays have been using their bullpen for their every day pitching staff, splitting games between their bullpen with no real starter. This was due in part to early injuries and trades of their starting pitching stars, but it’s worked for them, as they’re finishing well above .500 and just a few game out of the second Wild Card spot.

So, the Yankees decided to follow their lead and pieced together their own bullpen pitching day for tonight’s opener. And it worked, starting with Holder and Tarpley each taking a scoreless inning.

Sonny Gray came on for a scoreless 3rd, but had a few issues in the 4th. He gave up a lead-off double that moved to 3rd on a passed ball, held on base with a single, and then scored on a double play to get the Rays their lone run. After Gray, the Yankees breezed through their bullpen allowing an inning each to Green, Robertson, Chapman, Betances, and then Britton for the save.

But the Yankees knew how to hit into the Rays’ staff and take the opportunities when they were given. Andrew McCutchen started things off with a 1-out solo home run in the 3rd into the left field seats.

And in the 5th, with 2 outs, Judge worked a walk, moved to 2nd on a passed ball, and then scored on Brett Gardner’s single. Giancarlo Stanton’s double scored Gardner before Stanton got thrown out going for 3rd to end the inning. And McCutchen hit a 1-out double in the 7th and then scored on Aaron Judge’s double.

Final score: 4-1 Yankees

Injury updates: Aaron Hicks came out of the game in the 4th due to a tight hamstring. At first, I think people were concerned this might be a lingering issue with the ankle bruise from fouling off a ball from his ankle Saturday just before he hit the walk-off single. But it was the hamstring. Fortunately, there is a plethora of outfielders on the roster, but Hicks is quite the contributor in the field and in the box.

Didi Gregorius is feeling better after sustaining a torn cartilage in his wrist on that aforementioned walk-off win on Saturday. The cortisone shot seems to be working, and Gregorius is hoping to be back before the end of the season or at least to play in the Wild Card game.

Okay, no more injuries, people. I know that at this point in the year that everyone’s a bit banged up. But take care of yourselves. We’re hoping for a full Yankees roster for a great (and full) postseason.

And in a fun pre-game adventure, the Tampa Bay area was hit with a sudden major storm, filled with lightning, thunder, and buckets of rain. Now, the Trop is a dome, so no need for a rain delay. But the lightning struck the Trop as the thunder kind of shook the building. And the lights and all the power went out.

Pre-game promos were halted for a bit as generators kicked in and kept auxiliary lights on, while the building had to be rebooted. The main lights on the field, for example, take quite a bit of time to power up, especially if they’ve been suddenly turned off. It certainly made for an interesting start to the night.

Go Yankees!

Game 154: BAL vs. NYY — Welcome to Fall Ball!

It’s the first official day of Fall, and the Yankees are going to the Postseason. All is right with the world. With their win today and the Rays’ loss, the Yankees winnowed their magic number from 2 yesterday to 0 tonight. Though the Yankees certainly had to battle their way to that win.

Lance Lynn got the start in the middle game of this weekend series against the Orioles. Lynn threw 93 pitches in his 5 innings, gave up 7 hits, 2 walks, and 2 runs (1 earned), and struck out 4 Baltimore batters. He gave up 2 singles in the 3rd. A passed ball moved the lead runner to 3rd and a throwing error allowed him to score. But quick moves by the defense got the next runner out at home.

Then in the 5th, a double tried to score on a single, but again the defense worked to keep him from adding to the score. Another single put runners on the corners, and another single successfully scored that lead runner. After giving up a walk, another great defensive move got the force out at 3rd to end the inning and get out of the jam.

After that, the Yankees called on the bullpen to keep the Orioles from adding to their score. Green, Chapman, Betances, and Britton each got an inning and came out strong, keeping the O’s at bay.

The Yankees got a head start on the offense in the 2nd. Aaron Hicks led off with a solo home run. Andujar then singled but was thrown out trying to make it a double. And it would be Luke Voit to power the 1st pitch he saw into a big solo home run. But the Yankees weren’t able to capitalize on much more for most of the game.

So, with the game tied, it went into extra innings. Holder amped up the drama in the 10th by loading up the bases but, thanks to a few great defensive moves, got out of the inning unscathed. Tommy Kahnle’s 11th inning kept the ball rolling tossing it back to the offense to do something, anything.

And they did. Didi Gregorius led-off with a double. And after a strikeout, Aaron Hicks stepped into the box. At one point, he hit a foul ball off his ankle. He kind of limped around a bit, as they tried to decide what to do with him. But he got back in and then smacked a solid double into the corner of left field, which scored Gregorius for the walk-off win and postseason clinch.

Final score: 3-2 Yankees, in 11 innings

It should be noted that with the clinching of the postseason spot today, it makes the 54th postseason appearance in the Yankees MLB history, dating back to 1901. Their first postseason appearance was in 1921, their first win in 1923. Of course, they would win it all 27 times, now hoping to win #28 this year.

The biggest statistic the Yankees have been their amazing home run record. For being known as the “Bronx Bombers”, it is only this year that they crack the MLB record into the teams with the most single season home runs. They currently rank 5th with 253 home runs, tied with the 2016 Orioles. This makes them just behind the 1996 Orioles (257), the 2010 Blue Jays (257), the 2005 Rangers (260), and the 1997 Mariners (264). They are just 11 from the lead with 8 games left in the season. Sounds like a fun goal to me.

Go Yankees!