We’re now into October, believe it or not. All of the regular season records can get thrown out the window because postseason baseball is its own animal (Clayton Kershaw can attest to that fact). Let’s see what the last week has brought us!
Playoffs Are Underway
If you would’ve told me at the start of the season that we could be looking at a Kansas City Royals/Baltimore Orioles showdown in the ALCS, I would’ve immediately called you crazy. Sure, the Royals were expected to be improved and the Orioles had playoff aspirations, but I don’t think anyone saw this coming.
In Los Angeles, the Royals took two from the Angels in a pair of thrilling games that both went beyond nine innings. That, coupled with their huge comeback victory over the Athletics, has shown many that they might be the hottest team in baseball at the moment.
Over in Baltimore, the O’s have used huge 8th innings (and some crucial mistakes by Tigers’ manager Brad Ausmus) to take a commanding lead in the series. Just a little ways away in Washington, the Nationals have dropped their first two games to the Giants and are on the verge of elimination.
There is one series that did not go 2-0, which is the Los Angeles Dodgers and St. Louis Cardinals matchup. From the way that those games have been decided, I fully expect that this will go the full 5 games. As we’ve been able to see, I’m pretty terrible at predicting how each series is going to go. If things hold up in the series that are 2-0, I will be 0-3 with my picks; Yikes. How are your predictions going, and what have you thought about the playoffs thus far?
Giants/Nationals Go 18 Innings
As noted in the previous section, the San Francisco Giants managed to steal two games on the road in the NLDS against the Washington Nationals. In these two games, however, they’ve managed to play enough innings for three full games.
That’s because on Saturday night, the teams went punch-for-punch in a pitcher’s duel that lasted an astounding 18 innings, and qualified itself as the longest postseason game in MLB history (not a great game to watch for those who complain about the length of games).
It was a 1-1 game all throughout extra innings, until Giants first baseman Brandon Belt, who had been 0-6 leading up to his final at-bat, took Nationals pitcher Tanner Roark out of the park for the team’s second run of the game. Hunter Strickland, who was brought in to close out the game in the bottom half of the 18th, certainly made things interesting (needing 29 pitches to end it) but he wound up getting the job done.
I had personally tuned into the game right around the 3rd inning, but eventually ended up leaving my house in the 7th. I came back (assuming the game was over) and started watching football, when, to my surprise, I saw on the bottom ticker that the game was in the 16th inning. I was incredibly pleased with my decision, as every pitch had you on the edge of your seat. Did you watch any of the game?
Teams Make Managerial Decisions
One of the best managers that this generation of baseball fans has seen is now on the open market, as the Minnesota Twins decided to let go of their longtime skipper Ron Gardenhire. Gardenhire, who had been with the team for 13 years, is surely at the top of many team’s wish lists.
Along with Gardenhire, Kirk Gibson was let go in Arizona. He got off to a hot start his first year in the desert, leading the team to the playoffs as well as being named Manager of the Year, but things went south pretty quickly. He went 81-81 the next two years and finally bottom out this year at 64-98.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, the Houston Astros announced their new manager. A.J. Hinch, also a former manager of the Diamondbacks, was signed on to lead the slowly improving team. His stint in Arizona left a lot to be desired, but he should be able to follow the plan that management sets in place for him.
We’ve just begun October, which means there will certainly be more moves to be made in the coaching world. The Atlanta Braves announced that Fredi Gonzalez would be back, so whom do you think will be the next manager to get fired?
This Week’s MVP: A.J. Ellis (.625/.667/1.125, 1 HR, 2 RBI)