2017 Baseball Playoffs

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Re: 2017 Baseball Playoffs

Postby Mister Tee » Mon Oct 16, 2017 3:21 pm

A quick look at where we stand, with the teams from a potential re-match of the famed 1932 Series stuck down 0-2 apiece.

The Dodgers/Cubs games haven't been blowouts -- the Cubs, in fact, took early leads in both -- but the Dodgers won both with runs off the seemingly-exhausted Cub bullpen. The Saturday game was distinguished by the Dodgers (specifically Justin Turner) scoring a Buster Posey-enabled run, with a replay-overrule erasing an out at the plate because Contreras blocked the plate without the ball. Ron Darling (along with probably many old time players) was livid, but this is our new world.

Turner again was a hero last night, hitting a two-out game-winning homer in the 9th. Much of the post-game discussion centered around not so much Turner's hit as the pitcher who served it up to him: John Lackey, who is not only not an experienced reliever, but was apparently pitching on consecutive days for the first time in his career. The post-game panel seemed mostly convinced Maddon should have brought Wade Davis in, but Davis was still exhausted from his long outing on Thursday and would only have been available for an inning or less. The real problem is, the rest of the Cub bullpen isn't very good. (The Dodger pen, on the other hand, has been squelching so far, a surprise to those of us who were unimpressed by them during the NLDS.)

The Cubs are still defending champs, and dangerous to discount, but, at the very least, we can say the Dodgers haven't stumbled over their own feet, so for the moment they seem to be acting as if this year IS different.

The ALCS has been even closer, two consecutive 2-1 Astro wins, both of which turned on extremely close plays -- ground ball singles just eluding Yankee infielders/Aaron Hicks' ball dying at the wall/Greg Bird getting throw out at the plate in Game 1; Correa's home run barely sneaking over the wall/Brett Gardner being nailed at 3rd/Sanchez being unable to handle the throw to the plate in Game 2. The Yankees are clearly not hitting -- Sanchez in as much a funk as Judge -- but the Astros aren't exactly tearing the cover off the ball, either. No team likes to go down 0-2 (though it's less terrifying than in a -game series), but we'll see what happens when the Yankee line-up faces a pitcher or two who hasn't won a Cy Young award.

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Re: 2017 Baseball Playoffs

Postby Mister Tee » Fri Oct 13, 2017 1:02 pm

So, a quick review of the LDS. We got a variety of outcomes -- a three-game sweep, a did-it-in-4, and one do-or-die in in each league. The way it broke out, with the favored teams winning the short series and the underdogs taking the elimination games, all four winning teams clinched on the road. Don't know if that's ever happened before.

danfrank, I agree that Altuve will likely win the MVP, partly for the reasons you noted (MVP voters, like Oscar voters, sometimes look for chances to pick those who've come close in the past), but also because 1) many of them had decided on Altuve during Judge's August slump, and seemed almost irked that Judge's September surge forced them to recalculate; 2) the fact that Judge's trough was so deep and long-running (If that six weeks' worth of games had been spread out/sprinkled throughout the rest of the season, the same year-end stats would look more sparkling); and 3) even the folks at Baseball Prospectus have noted that baseball writers, rightly feeling NY players get plenty attention as is, will, when it's a choice between a Yankee and non-Yankee, generally opt for for the non- (notable cases: Morneau over Jeter '06, Rice over Guidry '78 vs. Clemens over Mattingly '86). Given that Judge ought to win the Rookie prize unanimously, they'll decide that's plenty for one year. (And they might be right about that.)

Judge right now is an interesting case. The general feel of course is that he's hitting bottom again, and you can't argue with the results. But a lot of Yankee fans I know think he's getting wildly screwed on strike calls way off the plate or at his ankles, and the absence of a reliable zone hobbles him as a hitter. Judge's size makes him a challenge for umpires -- his ankles are about where Brett Gardner's knees are -- but holding him to Gardner's strike zone doesn't seem fair. Anyway...I'll be interested to see if this carries over into the LCS, or if he finds a way to adjust.

I pretty much agree with danfrank's take on both series. I still think the Yanks are a year or two ahead of schedule, and getting to the Series would be wildly beyond-expectation (though, to be honest, I'd have said the same about the '96 team). Houston ought to be the favorite, and, as with Cleveland, I wouldn't begrudge them a win, even if I must root the other way.

I really feel bad for Cleveland, by the way. This is kind of the second time this millennium they've had what appeared a juggernaut upstaged by a suddenly-maturing Yankee team. (How did a team with Jim Thome/Albert Belle/Kenny Lofton/Carlos Baerga/Manny Ramirez never win a World Series?) I guess the recent Tiger teams can commiserate for not quite getting to the top -- though they at least beat the Yanks multiple times before falling.

In the NL, I see it just the way danfrank does: if LA is really different this year, they have to demonstrate it from the get-go. If they get to a do-or-die point, it's hard not to imagine their recent ghosts taking hold (as happened with the Nationals), and the Cubs slipping past them.

About the Cubs, if they do make it to the Series: Someone noted a while back that, since the Giants 1921/22 back-to-back championships, 8 NL teams have got back to the Series to defend a single championship, and only one has succeeded. The losers were the '43 Cardinals, '56 Dodgers, '58 Braves, '66 Dodgers, '68 Cardinals, '96 Braves and '09 Phillies; the one winner was the '76 Reds. That 5 of the 7 losers fell to the Yankees is mostly reflective of how dominant the Yanks have been in post-season (the one winner also faced them)...but it is interesting that the Cubs have a 1-in-4 chance of getting them in a match-up, trying to do what's been very difficult for the NL -- even while the Yanks (multiple times), A's and Blue Jays have all managed it in the AL.

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Re: 2017 Baseball Playoffs

Postby Mister Tee » Fri Oct 13, 2017 12:26 am

And, oh god, it got worse.

At the time I posted that, the Cubs were ahead 8-4 (after initially trailing 4-1). The Nats got it to 8-6, gave up another run to make it 9-6, scored 2 to make it 9-8, but had a runner picked off first with 2 on and 2 out -- and then went down 1-2-3 in the 9th. Then, AFTER the game, it was discovered that the umpires missed a batter-hit-the-catcher-on-his-backswing call in the crucial 5th, which should have ended the inning before 2 key (in this instance, series-winning) runs scored. They can't do anything about it for this game, but, don't worry, they'll be sure to enforce it from here on out.

Dusty Baker seems to be a nice guy, but this sort of thing always seems to happen to his teams in the playoffs.

It was a crazy game for all sorts of other reasons -- hit batsmen, grisly errors, a ton of walks, a catcher's interference (since Ellsbury reached on catcher's interference last night, we had the first instance of it showing up in two elimination games in one season). Mainly, what we saw was that neither team had anyone in the bullpen they trusted aside from their closer. (I'm more sympathetic to Maddon's overuse of Chapman last year, after seeing his replacements.) Perhaps I'm spoiled seeing the Yankee bullpen every day, but it's hard for me to believe either of these teams can survive all the way to the finish line unless their starters go deep into games.

So...Yanks/Astros, Dodgers/Cubs. Three of the four are from baseball's original 16; the other has been around since 1962 with one World Series appearance and no wins. Thoughts about them tomorrow.

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Re: 2017 Baseball Playoffs

Postby danfrank » Fri Oct 13, 2017 12:16 am

Wild game tonight in Washington. A real nail-biter. I had said earlier that I wanted Dusty Baker to win a championship, but as I watched the series it was clear that my heart was all-in for the Cubs. And yeah, the Nats are becoming quite prolific in the art of collapse. So now we have a Cubs-Dodgers repeat. It's hard to predict, for sure. I think that the Dodgers will either continue to roll fairly easily or, if it gets close, they fold against the scrappy Cubs. We'll see.

Tee, congrats on your Yankees making it through. As I had said earlier, I'm not surprised at this outcome, though I wouldn't have betted on it. Now we get to see the David-and-Goliath MVP favorites head-to-head (I predict Altuve gets the MVP by a decent margin: he's had 4 monster years in a row and sports writers love all-around players; Judge will have to be content with the ROTY consolation prize). As far as the series, I'd have to predict the Astros. A Yankees win DOES seem a bit premature, but stranger things have happened.

In any case, baseball is a very nice distraction from what is going on in the rest of the world, including the absolutely devastating fires in my neck of the woods. It seems we can't get a break these days.

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Re: 2017 Baseball Playoffs

Postby Mister Tee » Thu Oct 12, 2017 9:45 pm

Ummm...only the 6th inning, but it's beginning to look like the Nationals' post-season karma is locked in.

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Re: 2017 Baseball Playoffs

Postby flipp525 » Thu Oct 12, 2017 12:33 pm

I work about a block away from Washington Nationals Stadium and there is major Nats fever in the air. People are everywhere pre-gaming at the surrounding bars. I love game days because we usually knock off early to avoid the crowds and Metro rush.
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Re: 2017 Baseball Playoffs

Postby Sonic Youth » Thu Oct 12, 2017 8:11 am

Look Out Cleveland the storm is comin' through
And it's runnin' right up on you.
Look out Houston, there'll be thunder on the hill
Bye-bye baby don't cha lie so still.

Holy Nostradamus, Batman. Robbie Robertson wrote that song, "Look Out Cleveland", in 1969. But The Band could have been singing about the 2017 Yankees.
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Re: 2017 Baseball Playoffs

Postby Mister Tee » Thu Oct 12, 2017 1:42 am

Two games were played today. I’m going to show super-human restraint and talk about the NL game first.

I can’t claim to have followed the whole Dusty Baker/Strasburg/hotel mold/disease story as closely as some. But I’ll say this: year before last, I was in Chicago for my nephew’s wedding, and stayed at a hotel. Somehow, I left town sick as a dog, was down for a week; a cousin of mine had the same experience -- and both of us had the strange feeling that the hotel air had been what made us sick. So when people were mocking Dusty for the whole thing, I was, eh, maybe he’s onto something.

It became irrelevant, since Strasburg took the ball in the end, and was pretty brilliant – 7 innings, 3 hits, 12 strikeouts, 0 runs. However, since the Nationals were, as during most of the series, offensively impotent, the lead was a mere 1-0 (that one unearned, thanks to a Cub misplay), and it looked like Strasburg might come out for the 8th despite being over 100 pitches. His club, however, finally came through in the top of the 8th, with outfielder Taylor squeaking a grand slam just into the netting, and the Nats’ bullpen took it from there.

So, there’ll be a Game 5, back in DC. Neither team is hitting much – the Nationals have had two big 8th innings, in Games 2 and 4, but only 3 runs total in all their others; the Cubs have 8 runs over the four games, and are damn lucky to be even. Toss-up.

Okay, that said, on to the ALDS. May I say….

YEE-HAW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Totally unexpected – both from pre-series prognosis, and more especially from the sense they’d never come back after the Game 2 implosion. The team is so far beyond what I needed to call it a successful season that I feel like I’ve beaten a one-armed bandit in Vegas. Anything after this is well beyond gravy.

Tonight’s game was the proverbial roller-coaster. Thanks to two home runs from Didi Greglorious (sic), the Yanks led from the start, with Cory Kluber once again failing to match Cy Young form in post-season. C.C. Sabathia was firecracker hot in the first four innings – 9 strikeouts – and fans could be forgiven for dreaming the two together would lead to an easy win. (At one point, when Edwin Encarnacion struck out, someone on Twitter noted that C.C.+Didi was better than E.E.) But 1) the Indians are too good a team to go down quietly and 2) C.C. this year has generally fallen off a cliff after 75 pitches (which is why my only quarrel with Girardi after the Game 2 debacle was the non-challenge – people who got on him for pulling C.C. haven’t watched the team closely this year). The stutter-step actually happened a bit earlier, about the 60-pitch mark, and Joe might have left the old guy in there a batter too long this time. But Robertson came in and got a crucial double-play ball, keeping the Yankees in the lead – though a narrow 3-2 lead with four innings to go, which was excruciating for fans.

Both teams got great bullpen performances over the 6th-8th innings, meaning the score stayed right there. Girardi had gone to Chapman to start the 8th, and, while he did beautifully, there was the possibility he might be less crisp in the 9th, especially if he had to sit for a while. As it turned out, he sat a LONG time, as first Todd Frazier and then Brett Gardner grinded out lengthy at-bats. Gardner’s at-bat was just amazing (it was his second such in the game; he’d had one against Andrew Miller that helped shorten Miller’s evening) – 12 pitches, fouling off one after another, finally nailing one to right that ended up scoring two insurance runs, as Cleveland misplayed the relay, enabling Frazier to score all the way from first. (It reminded me a bit of the winning rally against Al Leiter in the 2000 series, where Luis Sojo battled and finally hit a ball up the middle; an error led to an extra run there, too.)

The time-consuming inning might have hurt Chapman had he still needed to protect the 3-2 lead, but the extra runs made the bottom of the 9th almost tension-free. The final out was on a called strike which Sanchez couldn’t hold onto; oddly, Sanchez didn’t tag Austin Jackson or throw to first, but nobody seemed to mind. (I actually realized that most mishandled third strikes I’ve seen come on swinging strikes, and found myself wondering: are the rules different on called strikes? Assurance on that issue will be appreciated.)

It’s late at night, so I’ll cut it off here. More to say tomorrow, I’m sure. But, boy, this is exciting.

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Re: 2017 Baseball Playoffs

Postby Mister Tee » Tue Oct 10, 2017 1:33 am

Thanks, FilmFan. I'm glad to know I'm not just shouting into the void.

Today was our last day of four-games-in-12-hours for the year. In fact, we're down to a precious few LDS games -- three more, max -- at which point only the two sets of 7 LCS and the World Series remain. It happens all at once and seems to go so quickly.

As you can imagine, I'm itching to get to the one series dear to my heart, but one more time I'll defer and deal with the other series first.

Start with what just ended: the Dodgers became the only "nailed-it-in-3" team, as the Diamondbacks barely turned up for Game 3 -- scoring 1 run on a solo homer, and not even threatening otherwise, making the Dodgers 3 runs seem like 100 by comparison. Maybe Arizona just felt the task of coming back from 0-2 was too onerous, and they collapsed beneath the weight. It's hardly a shock that the team with baseball's best record advances, but this was a disappointing series for those of us who thought the gap between LA & Arizona wasn't insuperable. And a poor reward for an impressive-on-its-own season for the D-backs.

The Red Sox thought for so much of the afternoon that they were going to send their series back to Houston. They'd gone all in early -- bringing in expected Game 5 starter Chris Sale in the 4th to hold down the fort. A. J. Hinch countered by bringing in his big gun, Verlander, in the 5th, and it looked like Boston might get the better of that when Benintendi hit one of Verlander's first pitches for a 2-run shot that gave Boston a 3-2 lead. That lead held until the 8th -- deep enough in the game for Boston to taste it -- when Bregman tied it with a home run off Sale, and several Houston hitters, the last of them yesterday's goat Reddick, scratched across the go-ahead run. There was more in the 9th -- Carlos Beltran extended the lead to 5-3 for Houston, necessary insurance since Devers hit an improbable inside-the-park-er to lead off the 9th (well, really something like a three-base error, as with many inside-the-park-ers) -- but the game and series were pretty much over after that 8th inning sequence. Boston is going home early for the second straight year...and I have to admit my Yankee-loving heart takes great schadenfreude in knowing my guys have officially lasted longer than they.

Meanwhile, in Wrigleyville, the Nationals demonstrated that maybe at this point they've inherited the "we'll fuck it up somehow" karma that dogged the Cubs for over a century. The Cubs made four errors and Scherzer took a no-hitter into the 7th -- yet somehow the Nats were only up 1-0 at that point. When Scherzer allowed his first hit, a double, Dusty Baker panicked and pulled him for a reliever (to be fair, he was at the 98 pitch mark), who promptly served up the hit that tied it. The Cubs scored the go-ahead run an inning later, and the Nats went down quietly in the 9th. After Saturday's game, I won't write off Washington yet, but they have a ways to go to convince most of us that this year is any different from their previous playoff appearances.

So, finally to Yankee Stadium, where the Indians also made 4 errors, which the Yankees cashed in on, early and ruthlessly -- even Aaron Judge took a break from his strikeout funk to contribute a stinging two-run double. Luis Severino gave up three runs on two homers, but apart from that had almost no base runners (plus 9 strikeouts vs. 1 walk), so I guess you can say he rebounded from his Wild Card disaster. The bullpen was gassed from Friday/Sunday, and Dellin Betances had one of his off nights, walking his first two batters (with Dellin, you never know if you'll get squelching or walk-the-ballpark). So, Tommy Kahnle -- about 4th or 5th on the bullpen depth chart -- came in and retired 6 in a row, 5 on strikeout. A comfortable win, in the end (even though the Yanks stranded 11 runners -- it could have been a total blowout).

So, we'll have the decisive Game 5 in Cleveland Wednesday. I've already got everything I wanted from this post-season -- I said I wanted to get to a full series (i.e., past the Wild Card game), and make a showing there. I think I can confidently say no one will look at the team the way they look at the Diamondbacks -- especially given the way the Yanks have rebounded from the grueling loss on Friday. (It may be that the prevailing wisdom from Saturday, that Girardi had lost the players, was mistaken; it's possible the team has pulled together in support of him.) So: what's my feeling going into Wednesday? I genuinely would consider the season a roaring success even if they get sent home. In fact, there's a part of me that thinks this team is going to be so competitive for the foreseeable future that it would almost be greedy to want it all in one year. I'd also have some sympathy for Cleveland fans, who got so close last year, and for whom falling short in the first round this year, when they've so excelled in the regular season, would be devastating. I like to think I'd be generous enough to prefer them to take their best shot this year, since who knows how many more they'll get?

However, I reserve the right to alter this opinion sometime during early innings Wednesday, when jeering Cleveland fans will no doubt piss me off, and the immutable "it's my team and I can't root for them to lose" law of fandom kicks in. A fuller report when it's over, one way or another.

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Re: 2017 Baseball Playoffs

Postby FilmFan720 » Mon Oct 09, 2017 9:59 am

Mister Tee, I just wanted to say how much I've enjoyed reading your thoughts on these games this week. Please keep them coming!
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Re: 2017 Baseball Playoffs

Postby Mister Tee » Sun Oct 08, 2017 11:20 pm

As they say...whew!

A game that close, facing elimination, is (to bring back the Giants' 2010 slogan) torture. The Yankees did the same thing -- won 1-0, down 0-2 -- in the 2001 ALDS against Oakland. That was the game with the legendary Jeter flip play. Tonight's equivalent was the Judge leap to rob Lindor of a 2-run homer. Judge ain't hitting at all these three games, but he makes his contribution. Making more than a contribution was Masahiro Tanaka -- who looked like he did when he first came over in 2014 -- and Greg Bird, who has been plagued by injures the past two seasons (to the point there was a whisper campaign suggesting he was short in the grit department). He deserved that home run. (And what a home run it was -- not that many go to the upper decks like that.)

So...the Yankees live, at least till tomorrow, when Severino gets a chance to wipe out memories of his Wild Card flop.

The Red Sox also live, though it didn't look that way at the start. The Astros scored 3 in the first, and looked like they were going to score 3 more, but Mookie Betts caught a fly ball before it could go over the short wall in right. The catch was hugely consequential, though I think some sports pundits are overstating the difficulty of it -- Betts wasn't on the run or anything; most competent right fielders wold have caught it, no problem. But it certainly seemed to change the game's momentum: Houston, who looked to be running away with the entire series, didn't score again after that (David Price a good part of the reason), while Boston feasted on the Houston bullpen.

Whether the Red Sox can make more of this is another matter; they still have a pitching disadvantage unless they get to Game 5. We'll find out more tomorrow.

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Re: 2017 Baseball Playoffs

Postby Mister Tee » Sun Oct 08, 2017 12:31 pm

Sometime around 8PM Saturday, I found myself thinking that, despite what had seemed an open-ended set of possible playoff outcomes, we were likely to end up with a rematch of last year's Series, with only the Astros offering much hope of something new. This was because the Dodgers, though they'd won the previous night, looked unimpressive doing it, and the Nationals appeared to be in their traditional post-season coma. Meanwhile, the Cubs, after a sharp second half of the season, were now plowing through the NLDS, and it was easy to believe their first-half sluggishness was simply World Series hangover, and they were back to their 2016 Championship level.

These instincts may yet be borne out, but the Nationals' lightning-strike rally in the 8th last night offered at least the possibility their team isn't just the same old set of Dusty-led chokers. Harper's bomb was gone from the crack of the bat. Zimmerman's follow-up game-winner was closer, but they count the same in the box score. And the Cubs' aura of invincibility is gone, at least till we see what happens at Wrigley. This series is officially interesting to watch.

Having seen at least part of both Dodger/Diamondback games, I don't know what to think of the 2-0 Dodgers. I'm so used to thinking of Dodger Stadium as a pitcher's paradise (Bill James made a strong case that Sandy Koufax turning into a Hall of Fame pitcher had less to do with mastering his curveball than moving from the LA Coliseum to Chavez Ravine for half his games), it's hard for me to be impressed by the team winning games 8 or 9 to 5. In fact, both games so far felt a bit like the Rockies/D'backs Wild Card game, with one team running well out in front, and only holding onto their lead because neither team's bullpen could do a squelching job. There's no reason to expect the Dodgers to blow this lead, but I'd be dubious about how well they'll do in the next round.

Toady we'll see if the AL contest is whittled down to the two teams we fully expected would fight for the pennant. Boston may get some juice from playing at Fenway, though their starting pitcher in this game (or a hypothetical next one) doesn't inspire confidence. The Yankees have Tanaka going, which can mean a 3-hit shutout or 7 runs -- rarely in-between. More significant to watch might be the performance of the Yankee hitters: how in the dumps are they after Friday's debacle, which (thanks to the Girardi controversy) seems to have wounded them on a personal level? Contrary to popular belief, it IS possible to regroup after a crushing loss -- remember 2008, when the Rays blew a 7-0 lead over the Red Sox in a potential clinching Game 5, but came back to win the series? However, if parts of the team are at war with their manager, it may not be possible to sack it up in time.

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Re: 2017 Baseball Playoffs

Postby Mister Tee » Sat Oct 07, 2017 12:21 am

I'm a lucky guy.

How can I say that on a night like this? A friend of mine is performing in The Honeymooners out at the Paper Mill Playhouse and had a free ticket for me tonight. So, I left the apartment at 6:30, and didn't get back till around midnight; didn't have to experience any of it live and raw.

Though it looks as if I'll have plenty of chances to review it, as it's being treated as roughly equivalent to the fall of Troy -- it might end up being the most remembered post-season game of the year. To judge by the Internets, Girardi could be in serious job trouble, not just for the insanity of not making the challenge, but for disregarding the vehement protests of his catcher (for those unaware, there's been friction between Girardi and Sanchez earlier in the season, as Girardi -- former defense-only catcher -- has never got on well with offensive stars at the position) and for making what even the YES Network people dismissed as a bullshit excuse of not wanting to break his pitcher's rhythm. Lots of Yankee fans have questioned Joe's managerial decisions in the past -- I can think of 2-3 games this year I felt he blew -- but I always figured he had enough support in the Steinbrenner family that it wouldn't become an issue. But now, people are openly tagging this as a legendary blunder -- in the Grady Little/Pedro category -- and I'm not sure he can survive that. Plus the fact he might have lost the clubhouse on this one -- Chase Headley was also loudly calling on him to challenge. One simple algorithm: in a battle between a franchise-level catcher and a manager, the manager is the one who can be easily replaced.

ADDENDUM: A friend sent me an email with a terrific point. In those ancient times before video replay, the mis-call of the hit batsman would have been all on the umpire. It would have gone into the Don Denkinger Hall of Fame of huge bad calls that changed a game/season. (You might have even seen Girardi out there throwing a Billy Martin/Earl Weaver-worthy tantrum.) This way, though, the umpire who got it wrong escapes all scrutiny. After all...Girardi could have challenged.

In other news of the day: Boston continues to barely show up in its series with Houston, losing by a wide margin. Maybe they'll revive at Fenway, but so far my instinct that they're one of the worst of the surviving teams has been vindicated... The Nats had a no-hitter broken up in exactly the wrong way -- with an error -- and lost the playoffs' first pitchers' duel to the Cubs... The Dodgers scored some runs for Kershaw, but Kershaw and now relievers are currently giving some back. It's amazing how un-Cy Young Kershaw continues to be when October strikes... And, to go back to earlier today, when things looked brighter for Yankee fans: Kluber's very early exit meant the three top ERA guys in the AL -- Kluber/Sale/Severino -- all shit the bed utterly in their first starts. You still can't predict baseball.

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Re: 2017 Baseball Playoffs

Postby Sonic Youth » Fri Oct 06, 2017 9:44 pm

Brutal, that's all I have to say.
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Re: 2017 Baseball Playoffs

Postby Mister Tee » Fri Oct 06, 2017 12:22 pm

Before today's marathon gets underway, a few words about yesterday's action:

So, a pitcher finally shines in post-season, and it has to be the guy pitching against my guys.

Well, that's a bit unfair to Verlander, who got through 6 innings earlier in the day while surrendering only 2 runs. But I doubt he'd claim to have been especially sharp, and may have had a rougher day had not his team scored him all those runs by mid-innings. Altuve's three home runs help boost baseball's favorite narrative, that even the smaller guys can have huge days. And Sale does nothing to dispel his reputation of being the greatest pitcher in the world through uly and then a spotty one after.

To our game: Bauer obviously had a great night (continuing the trend of his down-the-stretch run), though many Yankee fans I know thought he got a number of generous strike calls (more than one third-called-strikes that we thought were ball fours). Didn't matter, because Sonny Gray was tentative from the start, and seemed inordinately lucky to escape with only 3 runs charged. Except for 1 puny run that scored on a wild pitch/sac fly combo, the Yankee bullpen was once again stellar, but the Indians of course have MIller & Allen, so late inning comeback chances were negligible. The game felt like a blowout, even though it was technically quite close (Yankee fans who moan they only had 3 hits don't seem aware that Cleveland only had 5). We'll find out today if this means the Yanks are hopelessly overmatched, or if any kind of showing is possible.


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