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October 23, 2016

MLB Playoffs [BCochran]

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Playoffs? PLAYOFFS?!?

Alright, fine!

Let's talk some baseball.


How did we get here? Let's take a quick recap.

Wild Card Play-In Round

Arguments vary on whether or not this game is "real postseason playoff baseball." I mean, a one game "series?" Do we count the play-in games as part of March Madness? But the team that wins this game has just as much of an opportunity to win the Series as the team with the best record in baseball. So...here we go.

It took 11 innings but the Blue Jays eventually took out the Orioles and, well, Bumgarner was Bumgarner and threw a complete game shutout to lift the Giants over the Mets.

There.

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Divisional Series

American League

The Blue Jays dispatched the Rangers in short order. They swept the best of 5 series and capped it off with a bizarre play to win Game 3 in 10 innings. With runners 1st and 2nd and 1 out, Russell Martin hit a ball in the hole at SS that was at least 1 out and likely an inning ending double play. Except...Elvis Andrus made a mediocre throw to Rougned Odor, who then turned and made an awful throw to 1st, which not only pulled Mitch Moreland off the bag, but Moreland was unable to cleanly field the throw. The Jays' Josh Donaldson, who doubled to start the inning, never let up, rounded 3rd and headed for the plate and the series ending run. Moreland turned completely the wrong way, had to do a 360 to make the throw to the plate, made the third bad throw of the play, and Donaldson was easily safe at the plate. Game over. Series over. Season over for the Rangers. I don't think this rivalry is dead by a long shot. Next season should be interesting.

The Indians faced off against David Ortiz...I mean the Red Sox...in the other side of the ALDS. Big Papi got an ignominious send off to an amazing career as the Indians basically dominated the Sox and sent them packing in the minimum 3 games. Game 1 saw the two teams combine for a total of 6 home runs, which tied a record. Game 2 had the Indians jumping on David Price and scoring 4 runs in the 2nd which was more than enough for their phenom, Corey Kluber, who threw 7 scoreless innings in his postseason debut. The Sox tried to stay alive in Game 3, but fell just short. A 4-3 win for the Indians sent them to the ALCS to face the Blue Jays.


National League

Game 1 between the Dodgers and the Nationals featured two pitchers of Cy Young Award level talent in Clayton Kershaw and Max Scherzer. Neither was at their best with Kershaw giving up 3 in 5 innings and Scherzer 4 in 6. Both bullpens held and the Dodgers took Game 1 4-3. Game 2 was all about the Nats bullpen, which threw 4 2/3 scoreless innings, and Daniel Murphy who was 3 for 3 with a pair of RBI singles. Nats take Game 2 5-2. The Nats lumber woke up in Game 3 as they scored 4 runs in the 3rd and again in the 9th to take a 2-1 lead in the Series. Facing elimination, the Dodgers turned to Kershaw on 3 days rest. Kershaw got smacked pretty good, giving up 5 runs, but the Dodgers line up had his back and the Dodgers forced a Game 5 with a 6-5 win. The decisive Game 5 looked like the Max Scherzer show as he held the Dodgers scoreless through 6. But then the Dodgers exploded for 4 runs in the 7th. Ultimately Kershaw came back, yes on 1 day's rest, and got the final 2 outs and the save. Dodgers advance.

On the flip side of the NLDS, baseball's best record, the Chicago Cubs, took on the San Francisco Giants. Game 1 was an amazing pitcher's duel. Johnny Cueto gave up only 1 run on 3 hits...and lost. Jon Lester tossed 8 shutout innings and then Aroldis Chapman slammed the door in the 9th. The Cubs won Game 2 with a score of 5-2. Which is frankly amazingly low scoring considering the two teams combined to use 13 pitchers. The Giants showed a little life in Game 3. What was supposed to be a duel between Arrieta and Bumgarner turned into a game of offensive momentum swings. A 3 run 8th by the Cubs was then matched by a 2 run 9th by the Giants. Joe Panic finally ended the game in the 13th inning with an RBI double for the Giants. The Giants joy was to be short-lived. Chicago came right back in Game 4 and flipped the score and moved on to the NLCS with a 6-5 win. The Cubs scored 4 in the top of the 9th and then Chapman emphatically ended things by striking out 3 in the bottom of 9th to earn his 3rd save of the series.


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Championship Series

American League

Game 1 saw excellent pitching performances from both Kluber and Estrada. Estrada only gave up 6 hits and 2 runs in 8 innings of work, but it wasn't enough. Kluber was on again, throwing 6 1/3 shutout innings. Andrew Miller kept the shutout going through 8 and then Cody Allen came in for the 9th and the save. The Indians' Francisco Lindor was responsible for the only runs of the game. A 2 run homerun in the 6th were all the Indians needed to take Game 1.

Game 2 went much like Game 1 with the Indians winning it 2-1. Toronto's Happ gave up 2 runs through 5 innings and Cleveland's Tomlin gave up 1 through 5 2/3. Both pens did their respective jobs and not another run was scored. Indians DH Carlos Santana led off the bottom of the 2nd with a solo HR and Francisco Lindor drove in Rajai Davis in the bottom of the 3rd, while the Jays only run came in the top of the 3rd when Josh Donaldson drove in Darwin Barney. The Indians hold a commanding, but not insurmountable, 2-0 series lead.

Game 3 saw Indians starter Trevor Bauer leave in the 1st inning when an injury to his pinkie finger started gushing blood. The home plate umpire said he had to go. Kids, drones might be awesome, but perhaps they should wait for the offseason. Nevertheless, the Indians bullpen went 8 1/3 and were supported with a couple long balls in route to a 4-2 win and a commanding 3-0 lead.

With their season on the line, the Jays answered in Game 4 with a 5-1 win over Cleveland stud, Corey Kluber. Kluber only gave up 2 runs in 5 innings of work, but the pen got touched up for another 3 runs in 3 innings. Meanwhile the Indians offense sputtered and only accounted for 2 hits and 1 run.

Game 5 is ongoing as I'm writing this. The Indians are up 3-0 in the 7th. Estrada started for the Indians and is basically a kid. The best endorsement and description I can give of what was expected of him and what he gave is this: When Francona came out to remove him, every infielder came to the mound smiling, clapping him on the back, shaking his hand, laughing, etc. Francona refused to allow him to leave the mound without shaking hands. As he walked off the field, several of the guys on the mound were applauding him.

UPDATE: Boom. Done. The Indians cleaned up and took it home. The Cleveland Indians are headed to the World Series. Could the city of Cleveland finally be turning things around? I mean, we all know the Browns are hot garbage and that isn't going to change, but the Indians and the Cavs in the same year??? AlextheChick...there will be no living with her after this


NLCS

Game 1 was Cubs early, Cubs late, Cubs win. The Cubs scored 1 in the bottom of the 1st and two in the bottom of the 2nd. It was the 2nd in the 2nd that raised eyebrows. Javier Baez was on 3rd and aggressively extended his lead as the pitch was delivered. Dodgers' Catcher Carlos Ruiz came up throwing, expecting Baez to head back to 3rd and obviously intending to pick him off. But Baez didn't return to 3rd. Instead he gave a slight pause and then broke to the plate. It was close, but Baez got safely under the tag and was credited with "stealing home."

In Game 2, well, Kershaw was Kershaw. 7 innings, 2 hits, no runs. Jansen came in and got the 2 inning save. The Cubs couldn't hit water if they fell out of a boat, but their pitching was on point. Hendricks gave up 1 in 5 1/3 and then 4 guys combined out of the pen to not give up another run. LA ties it 1-1 with a 1-0 victory.

The Cubs offensive woes continued in Game 3. It's now been 18 straight innings without a single run. Only 6 hits in that same stretch. The Dodgers started with Rich Hill on the mound and he went 6 shutout innings. The pen went the rest of the way to finish off Game 3. LA is now up 2-1 and if the Cubs don't figure out how to hit like they did during the regular season (they scored the 3rd most runs in MLB), they're going to be bounced in short order.

And it's done. A dominating performance by Hendricks and the Cubs offense jumping on Kershaw early and often finished off the NLCS with a Cubs win. I don't think I've seen Kershaw hit like he was last night. Even the outs were just frozen rope smashes. The Cubs were all over him early and never looked back. Hendricks was on fire as he gave up 0 runs and only 2 hits over 7 1/3 innings. Yes folks, prepare for SMOD. It's the Indians and the Cubs in the World Series. Surely this is in the Book of Revelation somewhere.


Ok, that was a ridiculously lengthy post, but we're now all caught up on the postseason. Sit back, crack a beer, throw a little ketchup on that hot dog, and let's enjoy what's shaping up to be a damn fine World Series. And big thanks to MisHum for putting this up!

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posted by Open Blogger at 06:43 PM

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