October 11, 2012 [LINK / comment]
Do or die time for the Nationals
Midway through NLDS Game 4, at home in D.C., the Washington Nationals are faced with the possibility of elimination if they can't straighten up quick and start scoring runs. The good news so far is that Ross Detwiler has a quality start, allowing only one run in six innings. Thanks to a second-inning home run by Adam LaRoche, the Nats took an early lead. Jordan Zimmermann just came in as a relief pitcher in the top of the seventh, striking out the side. That's a welcome improvement from what happened on Monday in St. Louis. The score is now tied, 1-1.
UPDATE: Jordan Zimmermann, Tyler Clippard, and Drew Storen put in flawless relief pitching performances in the final three innings, striking out eight batters and allowing just two men to reach base on walks. In the bottom of the ninth, with the score still 1-1, Jayson Werth stepped up to the plate and faced down relief pitcher Lance Lynn. Werth kept fouling off pitch after pitch, and then smashed the 13th ball he saw into the left field bullpen. A walk-off home run, just like I saw him do on September 8! And so the Washington Nationals survive for another day and take the series to a full five games, with the momentum back on their side. Final score: Nats 2, Cards 1, with 44,392 in attendance, almost as many as yesterday.
Way to go,
You ARE Natitude!!!
Yesterday's game, the first postseason baseball game in Our Nation's Capital since 1933, was an outright disaster. Nats starting pitcher Edwin Jackson, who is sometimes hot and sometimes not, was the latter. He was hired by the Nationals precisely because of his postseason experience, but it didn't show at all, as he gave up one run in the first inning, and three more in the second, thanks to a home run by Pete Kozma. That was a dagger blow to the Nats' hopes of keeping the game close. Unlike Game 1 and 2, the bullpen buckled under the pressure, as the Cardinals scored four more runs in the late innings. Final score: Cards 8, Nats 0, with 45,017 in attendance, a record crowd for Nationals Park. Too bad all those fans didn't have more to cheer about. See MLB.com.
Do or Die time for the Reds
Who saw this one coming? After the Cincinnati Reds took a 2-0 series lead on the road in AT&T Park, all but guaranteeing an easy pass to the next playoff round, the San Francisco Giants came roaring back and won three straight games at Great American Ballpark. The Giants got six runs in the fifth inning, and the Reds cut the lead in half going into the bottom of the ninth inning. That's when things got interesting, as the Reds scored a run and had two men on base, but then veteran Scott Rolen struck out. That ended the 2012 season for Cincinnati, the team with the second-highest winning percentage in the majors this year.
So the Giants become the first team to advance to the League Championship Series.
Amazing comebacks in the AL
In both New York and Oakland last night, it looked like the visiting teams were going to win going into the bottom of the ninth inning. The Orioles had a 2-1 lead over the Yankees, and the Tigers had a 3-1 lead over the A's. With one out, Manager Joe Girardi pulled Alex Rodriguez and replaced him with Raul Ibañez. On the second pitch, the pinch hitter slammed a ball over the right field wall for a home run, tying the game. Yankee magic once again! The game went to the 12th inning, whereupon none other than Ibañez once again homered, this time into the second deck in right field, sending Bronx fans into a fit of euphoria. Un-be-lievable!! See MLB.com.
In Oakland, meanwhile, the A's fans looked glum as their team faced elimination with a two-run deficit going into the final inning. But the A's bats got hot all of a sudden, with several hits that were very uncharacteristic of the Tigers' closing pitcher, Jose Valverde. Two runs scored on a double by Seth Smith, tying the game, and putting huge smiles on Oakland fans' faces. The next two batters were out, and then Coco Crisp delivered the game-winning RBI, a single that was mishandled by the right fielder. That marked the 15th walk-off win by the Athletics this year; see MLB.com. Wow!!!
So, tonight, it will be the decisive game in Oakland, and one team's season will come to an end. In New York, the Yankees enjoy a 2-1 series lead, so Baltimore faces long odds in striving for a comeback.
Is this a great sport, or what??!
Another "baseball" movie
On Turner Classic Movies recently, I noticed a scene in the movie Test Pilot (1938) with the Los Angeles version of Wrigley Field. Later on there was a great aerial view as Clark Gable (supposedly) flew over the stadium. It was awesome.