There are some days when the games are easy, even predictable. But this is October baseball, and nothing about postseason should be easy or predictable. And today’s long games certainly proved that point.
Game 1: Washington Nationals at LA Dodgers
Nothing about this series is predictable. The Dodgers and Nationals headed across the country to LA, after yesterday’s make-up game, with the series split. And battled it out for most the game until the Nationals decided to run away with the game.
The Dodgers struck first in the 1st inning when Turner worked a walk and then scored when Seager (who’s keeping the Dodger’s offense alive this series) hit a nice RBI double. But the Nationals came back in the 3rd and charged forward in a big way. A lead-off single scored on Werth’s double, and a 1-out single by Harper scored Werth. Harper then stole 2nd, ending up at 3rd on a throwing error. He then scored as part of Rendon’s big 2-run home run to give the Nats a big edge over the home team.
In the 5th, the Dodgers came back with Pederson’s 1-out single, followed immediately by Ruiz’s 2-run home run to put the Dodgers within a run of the Nationals. And both teams’ bullpens and defense fought each other off for the majority of the game from this point.
But all that changed as the Dodgers needed a clean and run-filled 9th inning to flip the game to their favor. Well, they got a clean and run-filled one, just not in their favor. Werth led-off things with a solo home run. Then with 1 out and Murphy and Harper on base, with a walk and hit-by-pitch respectively, Zimmerman’s double scored both runners, ending with Zimmerman at 3rd on the unsuccessful throw home for the out. Zimmerman would then score on Heisey’s sacrifice fly to cap off the scoring of the night.
Final score: 8-3 Nationals, Nationals lead series 2-1.
Game 2: Cleveland Indians at Boston Red Sox
Well, the ALDS has basically blown my entire postseason predictions and bracket out of the water. Thanks in part to the fact that the Indians just burst forth and ended the Red Sox season in one fell swoop (or sweep, in this case).
The Indians starter Tomlin matched Boston’s starter Buccholz during their first bit, holding off the other until their last respective outings. Cleveland struck first in the 4th with Ramirez’s single and Chisenhall’s walk. Crisp’s sacrifice bunt moved the runners to scoring position, which they did on Naquin’s single.
The Red Sox answered back in the 5th when Bogaerts hit a 1-out single and then scored on Benintendi’s double. But the Indians pushed forward in the 6th under a new Boston pitcher with a lead-off walk by Ramirez, who moved to 2nd on Chisenhall’s sacrifice bunt. Crisp’s 2-run home run over the Green Monstercemented the Indians’ lead.
But that didn’t stop the Red Sox’s push back in the bottom of that inning. Pedroia led-off with a single, which brought in Miller (former Yankees’ reliever), and then Pedroia moved to 3rd on Betts’ double and scored on Ortiz’s sacrifice fly. The Red Sox edged closer in the 8th with 2 outs and Betts on 2nd and Ortiz on 1st. Ramirez’s single scored Betts, and the Red Sox pulled Ortiz from the game for a pinch-runner, just in case. It would be the last time Ortiz would ever be on base as a player.
In a rather nail-biting bottom of the 9th, the Indians’ closer Allen had severe trouble with the strike zone, but still managed to power through — fly out, strikeout, single, walk, and finally a fly out. And with that, the Indians win the series and will advance to face the Blue Jays in Cleveland beginning on Friday for the ALCS.
Final score: 4-3 Indians, Indians sweep series 3-0.
Game 3: Chicago Cubs at San Francisco Giants
Nothing was normal in the Bay Area either. The Cubs and Giants hopped a couple of planes to jet to the Left Coast for the second part of their series. The Cubs were looking to shut things down with a sweep, but much like the Cubs do at Wrigley, the Giants have a big hometown advantage in their fans. And this game was just a rollercoaster for both teams until we ran out of innings.
Honestly, it started off as a bit of a possibility of a pitching duel between the Cubs’ ace Arrieta and the Giants’ postseason icon Bumgarner for the first half of the regular game with some minor bumps along the way. In the 2nd, the Cubs pounced first with a big 2-out 3-run home run by Arrieta. Yes, you read that right. The Cubs’ pitcher was the one who got them on the board first.
But the Giants kept things close by inching back in the 3rd when Span hit a 1-out double and then scored on Posey’s RBI single. And then in the 5th, Span smacked a big 1-out triple and scored on Belt’s sacrifice fly. This allowed the bullpens of both teams to really battle it out for the next few innings, but neither team was happy with the status quo and saw their last-minute opening.
In the bottom of the 8th, the Giants’ just commanded the scene. Belt led-off with a single and moved to 2nd on Posey’s walk, and then the both of them scored on Gillaspie’s 1-out triple to give the Giants the lead. Crawford singled home Gillaspie to give the Giants an insurance run they would need. As the Cubs came back in the top of the 9th with a 2-run home run by Bryant to tie up the game.
So with both teams now recording a “blown save”, the game tied, it was on to extra innings. 13 in total, actually. The Cubs got a few opportunities, especially in the top of the 13th with 1 out and 2 runners on base with singles, but a pinch-hitter ground into a double play to end that attempt. However, the Cubs relied on a double check challenge to make sure everyone touched the bases they need to for the double play, but HQ upheld the call.
So it was the Giants’ chance to do something in the bottom of the 13th, and the AT&T Park sell-out crowd were on their feet especially when Crawford led things off with a big double. Of course, things exploded when Panik’s double scored Crawford for a walk-off win after over 5 hours of play. (Yes, a very late night for this East Coaster!)
Final score: 6-5 Giants, Cubs lead series 2-1.
And a big farewell to retiring power-hitter and Red Sox icon David Ortiz. One of the major players of the recent Red Sox-Yankees rivalry and dynasties has officially hung up his cleat. The Fenway faithful hung out around the park, despite the loss, just to say goodbye to their hero. I have to say that I just don’t think the rivalry will be the same without Ortiz wearing his #34 trying to hit some ball out of the park against a pinstriped pitcher.