Page 1 of 2

Re: 2018 Baseball Post-Season

Posted: Tue Oct 30, 2018 12:02 am
by Mister Tee
For history's sake, a brief wrap-up:

It ended. Not unlike the way the Boston/Houston series ended, with the opposition ace pitching not-terribly but outshone by David Price, who apparently can beat anyone but the Yankees. You can argue the game was over in the 1st inning, when Kershaw gave up two runs that the Dodgers never matched. It certainly seemed over when the Dodgers were later gifted a triple -- on a fly ball that hit JD Martinez's blind spot -- but couldn't manage even a fly ball to tie. And then the Red Sox piled up tack-on homers, three in all, that put the game out of reach. A dull finish to the least exciting Series in five years. (Mets/Royals was equally brief, but the games seemed more fun.)

The only interesting thing about last evening was the fact that all the runs scored on home runs. I'm told that was the case in each of Boston's clinchers this year; in fact, it seemed an awful lot of games this time around were determined by the long ball. I note this because a great many sports pundits, casting a side-eye at the Yankees' all-time record home run total this season, knowingly declared that you can't win in the post-season with home runs. Proving that sports pundits are just as full of false analysis as their political brethren.

Anyway...on to more important matters a week from tomorrow. Hopefully, the next time we meet up to follow the baseball playoffs, our surrounding situation will have substantially improved.

Re: 2018 Baseball Post-Season

Posted: Sun Oct 28, 2018 3:00 pm
by Mister Tee
Anything can still happen, it ain't over till it's over, yada-yada-yada... But, realistically, the Dodgers probably coughed up their only chance at winning the Series last night.

They carried a 4-0 lead into the 7th -- the lead courtesy of a Boston error followed by a (seemingly) squelching Puig home run. Rich Hill had pitched brilliantly for six, but he began the 7th with a pretty egregious walk (the umpire had gifted him two strikes over the course of the at-bat). Replacing him seemed reasonable enough (especially since, I recall from last year, they don't like him facing the order a third time through), but, at that point, it was incumbent upon Roberts to use his very best relievers to hold onto the lead (the way Aaron Boone did, bringing in Bettances in the 5th inning of the Wild Card game). Instead, he settled for his lefty specialist, who walked Holt on four pitches. And THEN, with two runners on, he decided he hadn't punished himself enough over the past few days, and brought in Madson -- the man danfrank had already designated Series goat -- and Madson surprised no one by surrendering a three-run homer to Moreland. (One of the more impressive things the Red Sox have done in this Series is get important 3-run homers out of the crappier portion of their line-up -- Moreland, Bradley and Nunez aren't supposed to be the guys breaking the game open.)

The game was still close and still in Dodger hands -- a 1-run lead -- but I say giving the ball to Madson in that situation, atop all his earlier failures, was the fatal mistake. Yes, Jansen gave up another solo home run to tie it...something he seems to do with ease...but even I believe he could have protected a 4-run lead. And, yes, Boston scored 5 in the 9th off the scrubs of the bullpen...but those scrubs were only in because the tie score meant Jansen had to be pinch hit for in the 8th. No: that home run off Madson was the ball game, and going to him in that situation brought back bad memories of Bob Lemon continually calling on George Frazier in 1981 -- the only man to lose three games in one World Series.

Maybe Kershaw will be brilliant tonight (though that's at best a coin flip). I'd still deeply doubt the ability of the Dodgers to compete with this Red Sox team over two more games back in Fenway. They had a golden chance to make it best-of-three. Irretrievably, they blew it.

Re: 2018 Baseball Post-Season

Posted: Sat Oct 27, 2018 12:36 pm
by Mister Tee
In an attempt to block out the horrific news on my TV, a few words about last night's historic (by length) game.

I didn't see a lot of it. I was out much of the evening, and didn't arrive home until the 8th inning -- put better: just about when Kenley "Why am I a closer when I blow so many games?" Jansen flushed away 7 brilliant innings by Buehler, serving up a game-tying homer to Jackie Bradley Jr. (For those who don't watch the AL regularly: JBJ is not the great clutch player he's appeared the past two weeks. He's on a hot streak right now that might make Bucky Dent smile in recognition.)

It turned out I still had more than enough baseball to watch, as the game crawled along through one extra inning after another, full of popups and strikeouts and failed Dodger rallies. When the Red Sox scored an unearned run in the top of the 13th, it seemed like we were stuck in a Groundhog Day loop of Dodger late inning collapse. But the Dodgers scored their own unearned run with two outs in the bottom of the inning, thanks to a terrible throw by Kinsler that left Puig safe and Muncy across the plate. (Terrible and, I'd contend, ill-advised: if Kinsler had simply held onto the ball, Muncy would have to have held at 3rd. Perfect hindsight.)

Like most on the east coast, I didn't see the end. I stayed with it through the 15th, when Muncy looked like he'd won it with a ball to the seats that JUST curved foul (a few feet by the time it landed, but when it crossed the foul pole it looked more like inches). It was already past even my late bed-time, so I decamped. Given that the game lasted 3 more innings and close to another hour, it was clearly the right call -- but it would have been fun to see Muncy get a second shot and this time be credited with the game-winning homer.

You can't say the Dodgers truly distinguished themselves with the win -- they left a ton of men on base, and had to thank that egregious error for not being down 0-3 this morning. But Series have turned on less. (Roger Angell wrote beautifully about the 1968 Series, where Detroit fell down 1-3 and had never once looked the equal of the the defending champion Cardinals; a few days later, the Tigers were World Champions.) And there is the serious question of whether Red Sox pitching can recover, as tonight's would-be starter Eovaldi was used up for 6 relief innings in (ultimately losing) last night's/this morning's game. I'm still skeptical the Dodgers can even get it back to Boston...but at least the deadly four-game sweep is off the table.

Re: 2018 Baseball Post-Season

Posted: Thu Oct 25, 2018 7:08 pm
by danfrank
I’ve been enjoying your posts, too. Due to life circumstances I’ve had little time for baseball. I could rustle up more interest if I had more skin in the game, but like you, Tee, the Red Sox and Dodgers are way off the list of any teams that I would root for. My beloved nephew is a big Dodgers fan, so I thought I might favor them for his sake, but as soon as the opener started I found that I just couldn’t do it. The Dodger hatred that I experience every time I’ve seen them play at AT&T Park, and at Candlestick before that, has clearly seeped through my pores.

I like your analysis, Tee. The Dodgers don’t look bad but haven’t demonstrated any true spark. The Red Sox look fresh and ready to just take it. You gotta feel a little sorry for Ryan Madson, who has relieved both Dodgers starters in this series, inherited five runners, and watched all five runners score on him. That’s pretty serious goat territory. He’s a Dodger, though, so I won’t lose any sleep over it.

Re: 2018 Baseball Post-Season

Posted: Thu Oct 25, 2018 5:13 pm
by Mister Tee
Okri wrote:I enjoy reading the thread, though I know nothing about baseball.

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

I may not offer my best for this remainder of the season. The Series is for the moment looking to affirm what I feared: that the AL this year is just dramatically superior to the NL, and that could result in a lopsided series. And since the AL representative is Boston, a team whose victories I relish about the same as I do Republican ones (albeit at far lower stakes), I'm so far finding the games pretty dispiriting.

Not that they've been blowouts -- both games have seemed competitive much of the way. But the Dodgers seem fatally short in the killer instinct department; they're like a fighter who can keep up decently round-by-round, but never able to land the finishing blow. In the first game, you could say they fought valiantly -- twice bringing the game to a tie, later closing to within 1-run -- but their runs were scored sluggishly, one per inning, and they never could manage the big hit that scored multiple runs or secured the lead. The Red Sox, by contrast, scored in pairs twice, and finally put the game away with a 3-run homer in the 7th.

In Game 2, the Dodgers did manage to score twice in an inning, but even there it felt like they fell short. They began with a bases loaded/no out situation, and quickly scored on a sac fly. But it took a looping two-out single to get the second run across -- a disappointing outcome, given the inning's start. Compare it to the Red Sox an inning or so later, who started off two outs/nobody on, then parleyed two singles, two walks and a crushing two-run single into the three runs that won the game for them.

Perhaps I'm wrong: maybe the Dodgers will glide into Chavez Ravine and show us they're a far better team than they've shown to date. I'd be happy to see it; as always, rooting for the Series to be extended. But at this point I'd be surprised if the two teams even need to travel back to Fenway.

Re: 2018 Baseball Post-Season

Posted: Tue Oct 23, 2018 10:44 pm
by Okri
I enjoy reading the thread, though I know nothing about baseball.

Re: 2018 Baseball Post-Season

Posted: Sun Oct 21, 2018 1:35 pm
by Mister Tee
"Game of inches" is the great cliche of baseball, and last night, within the span of an inning, we saw it determine the World Series match-up.

Bottom of the 5th: Brewers trailing 2-1, Cody Bellinger's 2-run homer at that point having topped Yelich's solo shot. Brewers with a man on second, two out. Yelich lines a shot seemingly headed for the gap -- sure to tie the game -- on which Chris Taylor makes a terrific, Benintendi-like catch.

This sort of deflating moment has a way of altering game outcomes, and the reversal was underscored minutes later, again by inches. Top of the 6th: Bellinger barely beats out what would have been a inning-ending double play ball. Next batter, Puig, demolishes the ball for a three-run homer that effectively ended the Brewers' season -- though it took three more innings for that to become official.

So, the Dodgers become the third team this decade to play in back-to-back Series, and hope they follow the path of the Royals rather than the Rangers. This is pretty much my nightmare Series: the Red Sox are my permanent thirtieth choice for World Champion, and the Dodgers twenty-ninth -- though most of that latter loathing goes back to the LaSorda years, and I don't feel it as intensely these days. In any case, I'll be watching the Series more out of duty than for pleasure.

At least it's something to distract, over the next 10 days, from the altogether more important issues we'll be facing on November 6th.

Re: 2018 Baseball Post-Season

Posted: Sat Oct 20, 2018 1:41 pm
by Mister Tee
Life developments have interfered with my promised updates; I'm not sure anyone misses them, anyway. But, for the record:

Houston seemed utterly beaten by the turns of fate in Game 4, and barely seemed to show up for Game 5. David Price -- who the Yankees would face in a pivotal game any day of the year -- threw 7 shutout innings against the limp Stros, and Jason Verlander, ace of aces, surrendered 4 runs by middle innings (3 on a Devers home run) that essentially ended the Houston season. So...once again, we will not have a repeat champion.

Over in the NL, Milwaukee won the first game back in LA. Game 4 was a lengthy affair (13 innings) that was never truly interesting, because neither team could seem to muster anything like a rally most of the way. Until, of course, the 13th, when Bellinger poked a two-out single that scored a runner from second and tied the series. The following night, Kershaw was back in Dr. Jekyll mode, throwing 7 innings of 1-run ball that put the Dodgers up 3 games to 2. The Brewers countered that last night, scoring early and often en route to a 7-2 win.

Which means, yes, Game 7 tonight, which offers pleasures even in a year when apathy is high. I'm rooting for the Brewers, simply for the new-face aspect, but also for the historical oddity: if they should face the Red Sox in the Series, it'd be the second year in a row the World Series consisted of two teams who for years played in the same division of the same league.

Re: 2018 Baseball Post-Season

Posted: Thu Oct 18, 2018 6:41 pm
by Mister Tee
I'd planned to delay my next update till after both series had finished their middle-three, and will mostly do that. But last night's Sox/Stro game merits a little comment on its own.

It was another epic affair -- a 9-inning game finishing barely under the five-hour mark. It started with a massively disputed call (a potential Altuve HR turned into an out for questionable fan interference). It continued with scoring by one team or another in each of the first eight innings, with tie-ing, re-tie-ing and lead changes galore. And it ended with a blistering line drive caught by Benintendi that was maybe two inches from being a bases-clearing game-flipping hit. And oh, yeah: Kimbrel was the barely-bailed-out pitcher at the end. He'd already given up a run in the 8th, keeping his record pristine: runs surrendered in every post-season game -- yet somehow he's perfect in save opportunities. What was that about damn lies and statistics?

The result gives Boston a 3-1 lead in the series, and dark suspicion they've made a deal with the devil this season. Verlander attempts to keep Houston alive or the year (if the Stros can't beat Price with their ace aboard, they don't deserve to win), but even with that it'd be back to Fenway for two. Looking very Sox-y.

More on this, and Dodgers/Brewers, on travel day.

Re: 2018 Baseball Post-Season

Posted: Mon Oct 15, 2018 4:02 pm
by Mister Tee
Not much enthusiasm for this thread, with all our teams sitting home, but, for the record, at this interim moment:

On Friday, the Brewers dealt Kershaw yet another post-season failure -- the key hit a three-run homer by a left-handed relief pitcher, apparently a post-season first -- then barely held on to win Game 1, 6-5. They failed to hold their lead the following afternoon -- Justin Turner hit a two-run gamer in the 8th -- significantly because their best reliever, Bad Tweeter Josh Hader, had pitched three innings on Friday and was unavailable.

In the AL, Astros/Red Sox had a truly ugly, endless Game 1 (4-5 hours long, filled with walks, errors and hit batsmen) which stayed close most of the way, till the Stros piled on Boston relievers in the 9th to achieve a 7-2 win. Boston responded on Sunday by punishing previously untouchable Gerrit Cole, offsetting another mediocre-to-poor David Price start; this game, too, was made easier via bullpen failure (Boston padded a 1-run lead late) -- though the Astros managed a decent-enough rally against Kimbrel in the 9th to make things interesting. (Kimbrel has now given up runs in all three post-season appearances, not an auspicious sign for Boston.)

That's where we stand, each series knotted 1-1. Westward ho!

Re: 2018 Baseball Post-Season

Posted: Fri Oct 12, 2018 1:14 pm
by Mister Tee
And then there were four, not including the team I care about.

To rewind briefly:

Cleveland carried a 2-1 home-park lead into the 7th inning, and watched their bullpen collapse utterly: the Astros scored 10 runs over the final three innings, and only allowed 1 meaningless bottom-nine counter. The Astros move on with the ease suggested by the regular-season disparity between the two teams.

It looked like the Dodgers were poised to do the same -- offsetting a slim Braves lead in middle innings -- but the Braves' bullpen performed less hopelessly than Cleveland's, holding the Dodgers to a (comparatively) respectable 6-2 victory. Which of course produced the same result: the Dodgers moving on, the young Braves sent home with the message they won't climb the full mountain in one year.

Finally, to my disappointed squad: I noted last post that starting pitching could well decide the series and, sadly, it did. Luis Severino, after a spectacular April-July run, had had a long stretch of ineffectiveness in the second half and, though he recovered for some excellence in the deep stretch, came into Game 3 a questionable quantity. He from the start showed it was not to be his night, and was gone after three already-dismal innings. There was strong questioning of Aaron Boone's bullpen strategy -- why did he go to Lance Lynn before Chad Green? -- but such matters are rather moot when the offense couldn't muster anything against former teammate Nate Eovaldi. The game ended an embarrassing blowout.

The following/crucial game looked for a moment like it would be more of the same, when the Sox ran up an early 4-0 lead, but this time the bullpen did its lockdown job, keeping the Yanks within striking distance for a 9th inning rally that fell JUST short -- the tying and winning runs were on base, but first Gary Sanchez's would-be homer faded at the warning track and then Gleyber Torres was nipped at first. This, on top of Aaron Hicks' just-foul potential two-run homer earlier, made it feel like it was just not quite the Yankees' night -- and, as it turned out, year.

I honestly never quite felt the team was going to go all the way this year -- throughout this whole wild card era, they've only ever won as division champions. But it's of course a letdown to go less far than they did a year ago; baseball doesn't distribute its good fortune in predictable patterns. I still feel good about the team's chances at a -- if not multiple -- championships over the coming decade. But it always sucks to lose, especially to the severest rival.

Speaking of: the most interesting aspect off the coming ALCS is that both teams involved seem to think they're the hottest thing going, and one of them is about to find out otherwise. The standings (and thus home field) say Boston is best, but the underlying numbers say Houston prevails. It should be an epic battle.

Either AL team should knock off whoever survives Milwaukee/LA, except for the youneverknow factor. The NL face-off offers a dichotomy similar to the AL's -- Milwaukee has the better record, but the run-differential says LA is stronger by a fair bit.

Hopefully, this leads to two engaging series, which is all I'm left with at this point.

Re: 2018 Baseball Post-Season

Posted: Mon Oct 08, 2018 2:05 pm
by Mister Tee
Away for two days as advertised, and for a bit there it looked like half the four series might be over before I could weigh in again. That could still be the case by end of day -- in fact, 3 of 4 match-ups could be decided. But, for the moment, three series still live.

To deal with the past-tense series first: Milwaukee/Colorado looked like a potentially fun encounter in the first meeting, when Colorado -- 1-hit through 8 innings -- managed a 2-run game-tying rally in the 9th. What we didn't know then was that it would be the Rockies' last time scoring -- the Brewers walked off Game One in the 10th, then shut out Colorado 4-0 and 6-0. (This last was at Coors, where shutting out the home team has to be a real rarity.) I said I thought the Brewers were clearly superior, so this hardly comes as surprise. But sweeps are always disappointing.

The Dodgers similarly stymied the young Braves with two shutouts at Chavez Ravine (Kershaw delivering one of them, maybe his best post-season effort to date) . It looked like the series relocation to Atlanta was going to lead the Braves to an easy win when they took a 5-0 lead in Game 3 (thanks largely to an Acuna grand-slam)...but the Dodgers tied it up in middle innings, and were hitting such rockets just after that it seemed only a matter of time till they retired the fledgling Atlanta line-up for winter. But Freddie Freeman hit a retake-the-lead home run, and the late Atlanta relief corps made it hold up (despite a white-knuckle 9th inning). So, the series continues today.

My weekend engagements prevented my seeing either of the first two Houston/Clevelad games, but the story, no surprise, appears to be Astro pitching, holding the Indians' line-up to 2 runs in Game one (vis a vis 7 for Houson) and 1 in Game 2 (with the Astros at 3). They're in middle innings of Game 3 as I type, with Cleveland clinging to a 1-0 lead. Even should they extend the series, I'm dubious the Indians have enough to prevail over the defending champs.

The closest series so far is Yankees/Red Sox -- tied at 1-1, with neither team seeming to have any decisive advantage. I missed most of game 1, so was perhaps overly encouraged by the Yanks' rally from an early 0-5 hole to a mere 1-run loss. Game 2 had David Price doing what David Price does: surrendering home runs to the Yankees. Judge and Sanchez both seem on fire, hitting balls phenomenal distances; it underlines how diminished the team was for that 45-game stretch when both were on he DL. The Red Sox non-Kimbrel relief corps looks just as wobbly as I'd expected, while the Yanks' bullpen has been mostly stellar. But much will depend on the performance of the remaining starters, beginning with Eovaldoi/Severino tonight. Still no prediction.

Re: 2018 Baseball Post-Season

Posted: Thu Oct 04, 2018 3:01 pm
by Mister Tee
Alert: I'll be out of town for the aforementioned family event from tomorrow through Sunday, so it's likely I won't have opportunity to post during that stretch.

As to the upcoming series:

The Rockies are, per Pythagoras, a less-good team than their record, while the Brewers line up pretty well with theirs. So, Milwaukee seems the stronger team in this match-up.

The Dodgers, per the numbers, way under-performed this season, which may be indicative of bad luck or of some inner flaw. I'd say they ought to prevail over the still-maturing Braves, but of course I thought the exact same vis a vis Indians/Yankees last year. Sometimes, the young bunch can surprise.

Houston/Cleveland, the match we never got to see last year, seems to have tilted the Astros' way: last year, the teams were close in quality; this year, Houston seems to have pulled away. (So, watch the Indians win.)

As for Boston/New York -- I don't know and wouldn't tempt fate by predicting. The Yankees are certainly way better than they were during the fateful August meeting -- Judge, Sanchez and Happ were all absent then -- so the teams are as closely matched as they have been at any point in the season. Whether that matters more than overall record/home field advantage will be played out over the week ahead.

Re: 2018 Baseball Post-Season

Posted: Wed Oct 03, 2018 11:33 pm
by Mister Tee
I can exhale, at least for a day or so, as the Yanks prevailed, to move on to face Boston.

Severino -- who, we may recall, was knocked out in the first inning of last year's Wild Card -- came out smoking, and, while he only lasted into the 5th (thanks to a lot of grinding at-bats by the A's), he kept the A's off the scoreboard with 7 Ks. The Yanks had a thin 2-0 lead at that point (courtesy of a very Judge-ian home run in the first), and Dellin Bettances -- a surprise choice for middle innings -- kept it that way with two perfect innings. Tension finally broke when the Yanks scored four additional runs in the 6th, the key hit a 2-run Luke Voit triple, on the 9th pitch of an epic at bat against Oakland's premier closer Treinen. (Who's Luke Voit, you ask? A late season acquisition who couldn't crack the Cardinals' line-up, but has been hitting out of his mind for the last month-plus. He may be just another Shane Spencer -- who hit ten home runs in September 1998, but never did anything special after -- but for right now, we're loving him.)

The TBS announcers think all the pressure is on Boston for the coming series, given their 108 wins, but I think pressure is always equal in a NY/Boston series. (Especially for me this weekend, as I'll be at a family gathering with lots of Boston cousins.) I'll venture some thoughts about that tomorrow.

Re: 2018 Baseball Post-Season

Posted: Wed Oct 03, 2018 2:31 pm
by FilmFan720
Mister Tee wrote:So, if you had the Cubs as first team to be bounced from the post-season...your predictive powers are way better than mine.

It was an absorbing game, gripping if you had a rooting interest. A danfrank kind of game, I assume -- low-scoring, no home runs, the ultimate rally built on three weakish two-out singles.

The Cubs started September with a 4 1/2 game division lead. It's harder to blow something like that than you might think -- a less than 10% proposition. So they stumbled into the playoffs, and managed only 1 run in each of its two games this week. The ESPN guys said a full 40 of their 162 games, they scored either 0 or 1 run, which is hard to believe with that line-up.

On to the A.L.