It started out ugly. Real ugly. Matt Holliday. David Freese. Some guy named Salas. Michael Young 1,000 times it seemed made me actually “laugh out loud.” Not PHing for Colby Lewis in the 5th with the bases loaded. This game was a mess. This was before the baseball gods decided, “You know what? This offseason might suck a little, just because.” (I don’t actually believe that as a baseball fan.)
Joe Buck said the game could be on the line in the 6th. I mocked him. I shouldn’t have: everything made this game what it was. 4-4, Texas then tacks 3 on the board. 7-4. If it weren’t for 2002 I’d have thought the game was over. So you know, Neftali Feliz is on the mound, doo-do-doo, couple runners get on, dee-de-dee, then David Freese goes all DAVID FREESE!!!!! OMGGGG HOLY CRAPP WHAT WAS THAT?!?!?! And that was basically how we felt in a nutshell. RBI Triple over Nelson Cruz’s inability to play in a stadium he hadn’t played in since… last week.
So we go to the Top of the 10th. 1 out, Elvis Andrus singles up the middle. Better watch that runn–JOSH HAMILTON I’M A MAN, I’M 40! And then it’s 9-7. Wow, Cardinals can’t get this one. They tried. Oh ok, 1st and 2nd with 0 outs? Oh man, what’s happening now. RBI groundout then LANCE BERKMAN MY BEARD IS SPOTTED AND YOU WILL LIKE IT! Allen Craig grounds out because well, he can’t do it every time.
Then the top of the 11th happens. I think it did, but I can’t remember because the bottom of 11th went all BOOM because DAVID FREESE IS AMAZING. Walk off HR to CF. I can’t believe it. You can’t believe it. My cats can’t believe it.
I can believe baseball is the greatest sport ever. I can believe this was the greatest non-Giants game I’ve ever watched. I have a hard time believing I will see a game better than this. This is a game you tell your kids and grandkids about.
I turned on my phone last night while I was enjoying the public transportation in Long Beach as prior engagements would make it so I would be missing all of the ALCS Game 6. Shocked, but not shocked to see pitching staffs continued to not show up. Chicks dig the long ball, but I love quality pitching, and I think I’ve accepted that I might not see it throughout the rest of this postseason from at least the AL side. CJ Wilson? Despite this horrible postseason he’ll still be overpaid by someone. Derek Holland? Gross facial hair, just as bad performances. Matt Harrison’s been decent enough to pitch in the postseason and I’m having a hard time believing Colby Lewis with his 35 HR allowed this season in 200.1 regular season IP hasn’t imploded yet. This World Series is going to be the ultimate manager’s game is the Cardinals win. I can see it now: Rangers and Cardinals: The Battle of the Bullpens. What happen to the days when a starter could go 7 and we just used 5 relievers in the last 2 innings?
This postseason will feed the minds that “great hitting has beaten great pitching,” which is going to drive me nuts every time I hear some second-rate analyst say it. To be fair, Nelson Cruz is a monster. He’s going to get himself a pinstriped uniform and a 9 digit contract someday, replacing a old and grizzled overpaid veteran. The question is not about Texas’ hitting, though. It’s about their pitching. Specifically their Starting Pitching. Enough about that nonsense for now, though.
Seriously, back-to-back AL Championships? I did think a rematch of 2010 was possible but after the Giants decided to go all “me first” and “runs?” I realized that was probably a longshot. But that’s pretty darned good in these days — repeating. You have to go through some pretty good ballclubs to get there. Sure, they’re in a four-team division but it wasn’t so long ago a monkeyed-color team was the king of the West in the AL. Other clubs have had their chances and the team that’s on top right now has gotten there with some excellent behind the scenes work. They deserve all the congratulations in the world. Cliff Lee somewhere is smiling for them and probably rooting for them (what, you expect him to root for the Cardinals?). To me, there is no standout staff in the NLCS. A couple pitchers, maybe, but not staffs. This is the Rangers’ to lose, and I bet they know it.
I will predict things, and I will be wrong. It’s just fun to guess.
(2) Rangers vs. (4) Rays, 2:07 PM PST, Ballpark at Arlington
The world was expecting Red Sox Nation to show up, but the great Baseball Deities decided to give us one of the best nights of baseball ever that resulted in a little something Long Beach State likes to call “Evan Longoria.” True, there was Dan Johnson who kept them from Game 163, and Joe Maddon is a genius.
Game 1: Christopher John (CJ) Wilson (16-7, 2.94 ERA, 1.187 WHIP, 223.1 IP) vs. Matt Moore (1-0, 2.89 ERA, 14.49 K/9, 9.1 IP, 1 GS)
While the world is pondering why Kyle Lohse is a Game One starter, Joe Maddon tried to one-up Tony La Russa and say, “How about I throw out our Minor League Stud-Muffin out there?” It’s true, GM’s and scouts alike have dreams of Matt Moore and the future looks bright for the kid born in 1989 (really). As with any other postseason series, it’s going to come down to pitching, and both staffs are well equipped to go toe-to-toe (and that Texas bullpen? What the heck is that all about?)
What we have come to love about both of these teams though, are their bats. Who doesn’t love themselves some Longo, Zoborist, Upton (the tradeable one), Hamilton, Cruz, Beltre and hitting catching in Napoli? Oh and Kinsler had a 32 HR season, big whoop. I do that in video games all the time.
I respect Ron Washington and Joe Maddon a lot, but Joe Maddon has some crazy smart tactics he gets from those One-A-Day 50+ multivitamins which may hold the key to jumping over the 2010 AL Champions who do not have Cliff Lee to beat them twice again this year. But then again, Texas does have Tommy Hunter anymore to underhand pitches to batters so the Rays will have to counter that with something.
The Rangers have a scary good offense. Can the Rays young pitching hold them down? I say no. Texas takes care of business in game one, 5-1.
(1) Yankees vs. (3) Tigers, 5:37 PM PST, Yankee Stadium
Game 1: CC Sabathia (19-8, 3.00 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 237.1 IP) vs. Justin Verlander (24-5, 2.40 ERA, 0.920 WHIP, 251.0 IP)
Sure there are hitters involved, but as a Giants fan I know they don’t do anything. The game is in the starting pitching, and boy you bet America is excited for this.
The uneducated baseball fan will look at this matchup and say to themselves “holy crap, 43 combined wins between two aces! i love baseball for now until sunday!” They will feel like it gives them a clue as to the magic that could be awaiting them, what with Verlander’s two no-hitters he has under his belt, one coming this year in Toronto. There will be magic, but not because they have 43 wins between each other.
The scouting reports these guys get are processed and and executed to an “ace” level — these two having 480 K’s between them, the two of them averaging 4 K’s/BB. Sure, the ratio isn’t Sergio Romo-esque, but there’s only one person who pitches like Sergio Romo and that’s Sergio MF Romo. There might not be a repeat of Roy Halladay stature, but anytime these guys get on the mound you know you could be bearing witness to something special.
Weather reports are telling us we don’t even know what time this game will officially get started, but hopefully it’s just a bunch of clouds passing through. Wouldn’t want to watch the “Double-R” series and then have to wait hours to see Game One of this ALDS. That would be cruel.
When you watch these two, hopefully you think about two things: teaching your kid to either throw left-handed, or teaching your kid how to throw triple-digits with great control.
So who will it be for Game One? Both of these teams haven’t been in “playoff mode” for a while, but it doesn’t mean they haven’t worked. I like Verlander and Co. to take Game 1 and Valverde to do a little dance at the end. Tigers get first blood, 6-4.