Another 4-game day. 14 hours and 23 minutes of baseball. Forced into both ALDS Games 5. Series split all over the NLDS. And it’s still very much anyone’s game, anyone’s championship to win. There are no obvious leaders this postseason. It’s going to be a very long October.
Game 1: ALDS 4a — Royals at Astros
Honestly, the Astros had this game and the ALDS sealed up and done right up until the 8th inning. Like I said before, you want to beat the Royals, you’ve got to stop or break up their momentum, because once they get on that roll, they just don’t stop.
Okay, quick recap: the Astros were floating along rather nicely with a very solid lead, despite a Royals 2nd inning 2-run home run. A lead-off solo home in the bottom of the 2nd got the Astros on the board. And while the Astros’ starter McCullers was keeping the Royals from doing any more damage, the Astros kept adding to their score. A 2-out 3rd inning home run tied the score, and a nice 2-out RBI double in the 5th pushed the Astros ahead. Even after McCullers left in the 7th, the reliever kept the Astros firmly in the lead.
But it was the 7th inning that was spectacular for the Astros. Already 2 deep into the Royals’ bullpen, with 1 out and a walk, a big 2-run home run followed immediately by a solo home run just set the Astros up to ride high for the rest of the game. Except they didn’t. That same reliever started the 8th inning, when the entire defensive staff just crumbled.
This is how the Royals won today’s game: 3 consecutive singles to load the bases, a single to score the 1st run of the inning, a pitching change, another single to score another run, a force attempt with a fielding error that scored 2 more runs to tie up the game, a stolen base, a strike out (the 1st one of the inning, by the way), a walk, an RBI ground out to put the Royals ahead by 1 run, a walk to load the bases, and finally a strikeout to mercifully end the inning.
But just to ensure their victory, the Royals came back and got a 2-run home run in the 9th inning. Here’s some totals from the 4 hour game: 17 hits, 15 runs, 10 walks, 28 strikeouts, and 6 home runs. All that enough to force a Game 5 back in Kansas City, winner take all.
Final score: 9-6 Royals, series split 2-2.
Game 2: ALDS 4b — Blue Jays at Rangers
Unlike the game played some 250 miles south of them, there was no confusion at all as to who was in control of the game being played in Arlington. Between the offense that finally woke up and the stellar pitching through most of 8 innings by 2 of Toronto’s better starters (Dickey and Price), the Blue Jays were clearly determined to take this series back to Toronto for a Game 5 in this series too.
The Blue Jays led-off with a bunt single and a 2-run home run and then a 2-out solo home run for an easy 3-run lead right in the 1st inning. Then they proceeded to just keep adding to that lead, with a solo home run in the 2nd. In the 3rd, a walk and double put runners in scoring position and forced the Rangers to dip into their bullpen very early. A fielder’s choice then allowed a run, a double scored another, and an RBI single gave the Blue Jays a 7-run lead in the mid-3rd inning.
This certainly made the Rangers game a bit harder. In the bottom of the 3rd, with 2 outs, 2 singles put runners on the corners, and a run scored on a wild pitch. They got back 1 run. And it seemed like just a blip. But the Rangers’ bullpen (for the most part) is rather a strong part of their roster and kept the Blue Jays from doing anything more really, save an RBI single in the 7th to round out Toronto’s scoring.
The Rangers attempt at a rally in the final third of the game at least halved the score. In the 7th, with 2 outs, a double scored on an RBI single. And in the 8th, a lead-off single moved to 3rd on a single and then scored on a ground out. An RBI single scored one final run for the Rangers. Just not enough to challenge the dominant birds from the North.
Totals for this game: 23 hits, 12 runs, 5 walks (all to Toronto), 12 strikeouts, and 3 home runs (all by Toronto).
Final score: 8-4 Blue Jays, series split 2-2.
Game 3: NLDS 3a — Cardinals at Cubs
Call it the Goat Curse or whatever, but when you’ve got a fan base that hasn’t had a World Series win since 1908 (not a misprint), the Cubs had extra incentive to push forward and try to make all nerds from the 1980s happy. (If you don’t get that reference, you either live under a rock or were born in this century, so ask your parents.) Add in the fact that the Cardinals’ pitchers couldn’t help but surrender runs to the Cubs’ batters at every turn, and you’re setting up a rather interesting Game 4 tomorrow.
The Cubs got things going in the 2nd with a 1-out solo home run, but the pitching match-up of starters was rather interesting to watch for the first part of this game — the veteran Cardinal vs. the rookie Cub, both with a pretty impressive resume. But then something shifted in the 4th inning. Two walks to Cardinals batters allowed them to jump ahead on an RBI double and a ground out.
Well, that didn’t sit well with the Cubs so they tied up the game with a 1-out solo home run in the bottom of the 4th inning. And then came back to set things in motion for their win in the 5th inning. A 2-run home run pushed the Cubs ahead and forced the Cardinals’ starter out of the game. But then a solo home run gave that insurance run everyone always wants. But the Cardinals weren’t just going away. A 2-run home run put them within a run of the Cubs’ lead.
But then the Cubs took over once again with a 2-run home run of their own in the bottom of the 6th and a 1-out solo shot in the 8th. The Cardinals’ attempt at a 9th inning rally was a 2-out 2-run home run, but ultimately fell short.
Game totals: 21 hits, 14 runs, 7 walks, 23 strikeouts, and 8 home runs.
Final score: 8-6 Cubs, Cubs lead series 2-1.
Game 4: NLDS 3b — Dodgers at Mets
The much anticipated game following the most talked about play this weekend was met with boos on a certain introduction at Citi Field, but a fairly normal game other wise. Well, I say normal because the Mets played like, well, the Mets have been playing for most of this year — dominant from start to finish. Maybe a little fuel to the fire was added as they made it very clear that the best revenge wasn’t some petty “hit-by-pitch” but rather to win and win in a really big way. And that they did.
The Dodgers had the first bite of the Big Apple in the 2nd inning loading up the bases with consecutive singles and then clearing those bases on a 3-RBI single with a throwing error. That didn’t last long. Not when the “Dark Knight” (Mets starter Harvey) was pitching. (Really, someone is obsessed with comic books in the Mets organization.) The Mets declared home turf advantage quickly and exceedingly. In the bottom of that inning with 2 singles, an RBI single, another single to load the bases, a ground out that kept the bases loaded, a strikeout, and then a 3-RBI double that leapt the Mets over the Dodgers.
And then they added 2 more in the 3rd with a 2-run home run. In the 4th, the Mets got an early taste of the Dodgers’ bullpen and used it to their advantage. A lead-off double and a 2-out intentional walk set the stage for some more scoring — an RBI double and a big 3-run home run.
Things settled down a bit through the middle of the game, but when the Dodgers got a 2-out solo home run in the 7th, the Mets sealed their win by coming back strong in the bottom of the 7th, loading the bases with a single and 2 walks. A sacrifice fly scored 1 run and a double scored 2 more.
A new Mets reliever in the 9th was called on to seal the ridiculous lead they had over the Dodgers, except he didn’t. Two singles allowed a 3-run home run to blast the Dodgers up in their own scoring. Another single allowed with no outs, and this reliever was done, forcing the Mets to call on one of their tried-and-true guys to finish off the game — 3 batters, 3 outs. Game over. Mets win for Tejada.
Game totals: 26 hits, 20 runs, 7 walks, 22 strikeouts, and 4 home runs.
Final score: 13-7 Mets, Mets lead series 2-1.
Today’s overall stats totals (just because the only common thread is how high some of these numbers are): 87 hits, 61 runs, 29 walks, 85 strikeouts, and 21 home runs. Even dividing evenly that over 4 games is ridiculous. A lot of the scores today read more like football scores. I’d say that doesn’t say much for the pitching, but those 85 total strikeouts kind of dull that argument. Like I said, this is going to be a long October.