Oct 11

ALDS Game Five, 2017

Yankees at Indians, 5:00 PM PT, TV: FS1

Game Five doesn’t have the resonance Game Seven does, but it’s the end of the line for one of these teams. The Yankees have to feel pretty good that they’ve gotten this far after fighting through the Wild Card Game to get into the series, while the Indians are probably annoyed that they lost two straight in the Bronx after taking a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five series.

The Yankees send C.C. Sabathia to the mound to face the Indians’ ace Corey Kluber. Again. This is a rematch of Game Two’s pitchers. In that game Kluber got knocked out early but the Indians came back from a five-run deficit and won in 13 innings. Sabathia gave the Yankees 5 1/3 innings and gave up four runs. The Indians also lost their slugger Edwin Encarnacion to an ankle sprain in the first inning and he hasn’t played since.

Today in baseball history:

  • 1948 In Game 6 of the Fall Classic, the Indians beat Boston at Braves Field, 4-3, to capture the team’s second World Series title in franchise history. Bob Lemon gets the win, with Gene Bearden pitching the final one and two-thirds innings to earn the save.
  • 1965 In Game 5, a 7-0 victory over the Twins at Dodger Stadium, Willie Davis becomes the second player to steal three bases in a World Series game. The L.A. center fielder joins Pirates shortstop Honus Wagner, who accomplished the feat on the same date 56 years ago against Detroit in Game 3 of the 1909 Fall Classic.
  • 1975 As the first host of Saturday Night Live, George Carlin compares baseball to football in the opening monologue of the ground-breaking show. The comedian jokes the national pastime a gentler game, portraying the sport as one which is pastoral and played in a park as opposed to football, in which the objective is to march downfield and penetrate enemy territory in a stadium.

  • 1999 An ailing Pedro Martinez, with both starters ineffective in the decisive Game 5 of the ALCS and the score tied at 8-8 in the fourth, enters the game and doesn’t yield another hit to the Indians for the next six innings. Troy O’Leary collects a grand slam and a three-run home run, both following an intentional pass to Nomar Garciaparra, contributing to the Red Sox’ 12-8 victory at Cleveland’s Jacobs Field.
Oct 10

NLDS Game Four, 2017

Nationals at Cubs, 2:30 PM PT, TV: TBS

This is the only game today, and it’s an elimination game for the Nats. They ask RHP Tanner Roark (13-11, 4.67 ERA) Stephen Strasburg (15-4, 2.52 ERA) to stop the Cubs, who have hardly been a juggernaut but have managed to get past excellent performances from the Nats’ aces Strasburg and Scherzer to take a 2-1 lead in the series. The Cubs counter with RHP Jake Arrieta (14-10, 3.53 ERA), who hurt a hamstring five weeks ago but had been 7-2 with a 1.79 ERA over the previous two months.

After much Sturm und Drang yesterday centered on Starsburg’s health and whether he was too queasy to pitch today on regular rest, apparently he recovered overnight. He’ll start today after all.

Yesterday in baseball history:

  • 1920 The Indians’ Bill Wambsganss becomes the only player in World Series history to complete an unassisted triple play when he makes a leaping catch, steps on second base, and then tags the [Dodger] runner arriving from first base. After the play, a dead calm engulfs Cleveland’s League Park as the hometown fans try to digest what they had just witnessed.
  • 1948 The largest crowd ever to attend a World Series game, 86,288 fans, jam into Cleveland’s Municipal Stadium to witness a showdown between two future Hall of Famers. Braves’ southpaw Warren Spahn beats Bob Feller and the Indians in Game 5 of the Fall Classic, 11-5.
  • 1968 Cardinal fireballer Bob Gibson sets the mark for total strikeouts (35) in a World Series, but loses the seventh and deciding game to ]Mickey Lolich and the] Tigers, 4-1.
  • 2009 The Dodgers advance to their second consecutive National League championship series, beating St. Louis 5-1 to complete a three-game sweep of the Redbirds in the NLDS. Solid pitching by late-season pick-up Vicente Padilla and timely hitting by Andre Ethier, who had three extra-base hits, and Manny Ramirez, who broke out of a slump with three hits and two RBIs, close out the series, which will be best remembered for the team’s dramatic Game 2 comeback when Matt Holliday’s error on James Loney’s ninth-inning two-out line drive leads to a stunning two-run walk-off rally.

Today in history:

  • 1978 Rookie right-hander Bob Welch strikes out Reggie Jackson with two men on base and two out in the top of the ninth inning, dramatically preserving a 4-3 Dodger victory over the Yankees in Game 2 of the Fall Classic. The relief performance will put the 21 year-old in the national spotlight.

Oct 08

ALDS Games Three, 2017

This applies to both of today’s games: Teams with 2-0 leads have won the series 66 times and lost nine.

First game: Astros at Red Sox, 11:30 AM PT, TV: FS1

The Astros try to close out the Sox today, sending RHP Brad Peacock (13-2, 3.00 ERA) to the mound to face the Red Sox’ RHP Doug Fister (5-9, 4.88 ERA). Peacock beat the Sox in his only appearance against them on September 28. He’s had no prior postseason experience. Fister lost to the Astros in his only start against them on September 29. He’s made eight postseason starts but none since 2014 with the Nats.

Second game: Indians at Yankees, 4:30 PM PT, TV: FS1

RHP Carlos Carrasco (18-6, 3.29 ERA) takes the hill for the Indians in the Bronx tonight. He’ll face the Yankees’ RHP Masahiro Tanaka (13-12, 4.74 ERA). Carrasco has had the best year of his career, but what’s even more germane is that on the road as he’ll be tonight he’s 11-2 with a 2.65 ERA and a .210/.266/.336 opponents’ slash line. Similarly, Tanaka is 9-5 with a 3.22 ERA at home in Yankee Stadium, far better than on the road.

Today in baseball history: It’s the anniversary of Don Larsen’s perfect game in Game Five of the 1956 World Series. It’s also the date of Ernie Lombardi’s “Swoon” in 1939, when the Reds’ catcher was run over at home plate by Charlie Keller of the Yankees and was so dazed that Joe DiMaggio was able to score all the way from first before he recovered. And in 1959 the Dodgers beat the White Sox in Game Six to win the World Series. More at National Pastime.

Oct 07

NLDS Games Two, 2017

First game: Cubs at Nationals, 2:30 PM PT, TV: TBS

The visiting Cubs trot out veteran (133 2/3 playoff innings!) LHP Jon Lester (13-8, 4.33 ERA), who made two starts against the Nats this season and came away with no decisions but a 2.84 ERA. He’ll face LHP Gio Gonzalez (15-9, 2.86 ERA), who saw the Nationals just once this year; he gave up two hits and five walks over six innings and took the loss in June.

Second game: Diamondbacks at Dodgers, 6:00 PM PT, TV: TBS

The D-Backs send LHP Robbie Ray (15-5, 2.89 ERA) to the mound to face the Dodgers, three days after pitching 2 1/3 innings of relief and making 34 pitches in the Wild Card game. He’ll face LHP Rich Hill (12-8, 3.32 ERA), who was 0-3 with a 5.03 ERA in four starts against the D-Backs this season. That ERA was skewed by one bad game in which they scored six runs in 3 2/3 innings against him.

Today in Dodgers’ history:

  • 1952 In the decisive Game 7, the Yankees beat the Dodgers at Ebbets Field, 4-2, to win their fourth consecutive World Championship. Gil Hodges finishes the Fall Classic hitless in twenty-one at-bats, which had prompted some Brooklyn fans to gather at local churches asking for divine help for their beloved first baseman.
  • 1977 In Game 3 of the NLCS, the Dodgers rally for three runs with none on and two outs in the top of the ninth inning to take a one-run lead in their eventual 6-5 victory over the Phillies at Veterans Stadium. The game appeared to be over when LA’s Davey Lopes is picked off first base for the final out, but a throwing error by Gene Garber advances him to second base, from where he will score the decisive run on Bill Russell’s single.
  • 1978 In Game 4 of the NLCS, Ron Cey scores in the 10th inning on Bill Russell’s two-out game winning single, giving the Dodgers a 4-3 victory over the Phillies and their second consecutive National League pennant. Cey, who walked after the first two batters were retired, advanced into scoring position when Garry Maddox misplayed Dusty Baker’s fly ball in center field.

  • 2001 Barry Bonds extends his major league record for home runs in a season to 73 as he drives a 3-2 first inning knuckleball off Dodger Dennis Springer over the right field fence. The blast also secures two more major league records for the Giants’ left fielder when he surpasses Babe Ruth (1920 – .847) with a .863 season slugging percentage and bests Mark McGwire (1998 – one HR every 7.27 AB) by homering in every 6.52 at-bats.
  • 2006 The Mets defeat Los Angeles at Dodger Stadium, 9-5, to complete a three-game sweep in the NLDS. The Dodgers have won only one postseason game in 13 attempts since beating the A’s in the 1988 World Series.

Lineup when available.

Oct 06

NLDS Games One

First Game:Cubs at Nationals, 4:30 PM PT, TV: TBS

The Cubs’ RHP Kyle Hendricks (7-5, 3.03 ERA) faces off against RHP Stephen Strasburg (15-4, 2.52 ERA) of the Nationals. Hendricks started Games Three and Seven of last year’s World Series. In the final game he went 4 2/3 innings, gave up four hits and two runs and left without the decision. Strasburg didn’t pitch last postseason and famously sat out the 2012 playoffs as well. He made his only playoff start in 2014.

Second Game: Diamondbacks at Dodgers, 7:30 PM PT, TV: TBS

The Diamondbacks used both of their aces in the Wild Card Game, so they’ll ask RHP Taijuan Walker (9-9, 3.49 ERA) to get them of on the right foot against the Dodgers’ LHP Clayton Kershaw (18-4, 2.31). Walker was 2-0 with a 3.24 ERA against the Dodgers this season in three starts. Kershaw was 2-0 with a 0.59 ERA against the D-Backs this year. This will be Kershaw’s 18th playoff appearance; it will be Walker’s first.

Today in Dodgers’ history:

  • 1941 In Game 5 of the Fall Classic, Tiny Bonham goes the distance, limiting the Dodgers to just four hits to give the Yankees their 12th World Championship in franchise history. In one inning during the Bronx Bombers’ 3-1 victory at Ebbets Field, the New York fireballing right-hander will need just three pitches to retire the side.
  • 1949 In Game 2 of the World Series, only one run is scored again, but Preacher Roe and the Dodgers win this contest at Yankee Stadium, 1-0. Gil Hodges’ second inning single drives in Jackie Robinson to even up the Fall Classic at a game apiece.
  • 1959 The largest crowd ever to attend a major league game, 92,706 fans, watches a nail biter as White Sox hurler Bob Shaw beats Sandy Koufax and the Dodgers, 1-0, in Game 5 of the Fall Classic.
  • 1963 The Dodgers complete a four-game World Series sweep of the Yankees as Sandy Koufax wins his second game, 2-1. Frank Howard leads the offense with a home run and a single, the only two hits Whitey Ford gives up, and New York’s first baseman Joe Pepitone’s error (loses a thrown ball in the white-shirted crowd) leads to the decisive run in the seventh inning.
  • 1965“Hey, skip, bet you wish I was Jewish today, too.” – Don Drysdale, commenting after the game about his poor performance on the mound with manager Walt Alston. Sandy Koufax declines to pitch the first game of the World Series against the Twins because the game is scheduled on Yom Kippur, the most sacred of the Jewish holidays. As the Dodger southpaw attends shul and fasts on the Day of Atonement, Don Drysdale gives up seven runs in three innings in the team’s 8-2 loss at Minnesota’s Metropolitan Stadium.
  • 1966 Jim Palmer becomes the youngest player to pitch a shutout in the World Series when the 20 year-old Oriole right-hander blanks Sandy Koufax and the Dodgers, 6-0. The contest will become more memorable next month when Koufax surprises the baseball world by announcing his retirement, making this game his last major league appearance.
  • 1966 In the same Game Two loss to the Orioles at Dodger Stadium, Willie Davis establishes a World Series record by committing three errors in one game. The center fielder’s blunders come on two consecutive plays in the fifth inning, the first by losing a fly ball in the sun, then by dropping the next fly ball, followed by overthrowing third base.
  • 1980 In the 163rd game of the season, 35 year-old knuckleballer Joe Niekro earns his 20th victory, going the distance to defeat the Dodgers, 7-1, in the winner-take-all contest for the NL West. With the win, the Astros hold on to capture their first title in the 19-year history of the franchise after losing a season-ending three game series to LA, (3-2, 2-1, and 4-3) that forced the one-game playoff.

Lineup when available.

Oct 06

ALDS Games Two, 2017

First Game: Red Sox at Astros, 11:00 AM PT, TV: FS1

The Red Sox ask LHP Drew Pomeranz (17-6, 3.32 ERA) to stop the Astros in his first playoff start. He appeared out of the bullpen for the Sox last year. The ‘Stros counter with LHP Dallas Keuchel (14-5, 2.90 ERA). Pomeranz beat the Astros last Sunday, allowing three hits and one run in six innings. Keuchel has faced the Red Sox three times in his career, two of them starts, and has a 9.88 ERA to show for it.

Second Game: Yankees at Indians, 2:00 PM PT, TV: MLBN (subject to blackout)

The Yankees ask hulking LHP C.C. Sabathia (14-5, 3.69 ERA) to throw a spanner into the Indians’ works in Game Two. He’ll face Cy Young Award front-runner RHP Corey Kluber (18-4, 2.25 ERA), whose record since June 1 is startling: 15-2 with a 1.62 ERA in 23 starts. This is a storyline the writers like: former Indians ace Sabathia (c. 2008) versus current ace Kluber. Kluber started against the Yankees twice in August and gave up just three runs on six hits with 18 strikeouts in 17 innings. Sabathia made 27 starts this year but didn’t face the Indians. He has a ton of postseason experience: he’s made 18 starts and gone 9-5 with a 4.53 ERA.

On this date in baseball history Babe Ruth became the first man to hit three HRs in a single game in the World Series in 1926. He did it again in 1928. In 1945 William Stanis cursed the Cubs because they wouldn’t allow his ticket-holding billy goat Murphy into Wrigley Field for Game Four of the World Series. October 6 is also the anniversary of “the midge game” in Cleveland, when rookie reliever Joba Chamberlain was so distracted by the bugs that he threw a wild pitch which allowed the Indians to tie Game Two of the ALDS in 2007.

Oct 05

ALDS Games One, 2017

First Game: Red Sox at Astros, 1:00 PM PT, TV: MLBN

Boston got LHP Chris Sale last offseason for precisely this moment: to pitch Game One of a playoff series. He went 17-8 with a 2.90 ERA this season, striking out 308 along the way. This is his first postseason start. He’ll face RHP Justin Verlander, who came to the Astros from the Tigers at the trade deadline, waiving a no-trade clause to do so. He was 15-8 with a 3.36 ERA between his two teams, and he’s been in the postseason a lot; this will be his 17th playoff start.

Second Game: Yankees at Indians, 4:30 PM PT, TV: FS1

The Yankees start RHP Sonny Gray (10-12, 3.55 ERA), whom they got from the As at the trade deadline. He wasn’t quite as good (4-7) for them as he had been for his former team (6-5), but he’s had two postseason starts in his past. He’ll face RHP Trevor Bauer (17-9, 4.19 ERA), a surprise starter over their Cy Young candidate Corey Kluber.

Today in baseball history: From Mickey Owen’s passed ball to Al Gionfriddo’s catch to Mickey Mantle’s knee injury to Glenn Burke’s invention of the high five, a lot has happened on the fifth day of October in baseball.

Oct 03

Wild Card Games, 2017

Tuesday, October 3: Twins at Yankees, 8:00 PM ET, 5:00 PM PT, TV & Radio: ESPN

I think it’s fair to say the Twins are the surprise team in these playoffs. The Yankees beat them 4-2 in the season series, including a three-game sweep two weeks ago. But as the prospectuses tell us, “Past performance is no guarantee of future results,” so the Twins and Yankees have an equal chance of winning a single game against one another. Here’s a position-by-position breakdown of the two teams.

The Twins probably feel good about pitching RHP Ervin Santana (16-8, 3.28 ERA) since he’s had eight previous post-season appearances including two starts. On the other hand, the most recent of those was in 2009 with the Angels. The Yankees counter with RHP Luis Severino (14-6, 2.98 ERA), who’s in his third year in the big leagues but his first postseason at any level.

Wednesday, October 4: Diamondbacks at Rockies, 8:00 PM ET, 5:00 PM PT, TV: TBS; Radio: ESPN

These two teams have been locked into the Wild Card game since midsummer when it became apparent they’d be chasing the Dodgers for the NL West title all season. There were only two other teams who came close to catching them, the Brewers and the Cardinals, falling short by one and four games respectively. It’s astonishing to note that the NL only had seven teams finish above .500 — the three division leaders, the Rockies, D-backs, Brewers and Redbirds.

Pitching for the Diamondbacks in Coors Field will be RHP Zack Greinke (17-7, 3.20 ERA), one of five 17-game winners in the big leagues this season (there were four 18-game winners; no one won more). His opponent will be RHP Jon Gray (10-4, 2.67 ERA). Greinke is 3-3 with a 3.55 ERA in nine postseason appearances; this will be Gray’s first. Gray’s on a 13-game run of allowing three runs or fewer and has gone 4-0 with a 2.10 ERA in his last five starts. Greinke is 1-1 with a 3.90 ERA over his last five.

Today in baseball history:

  • 1947 In Game 4 of the Fall Classic, Bill Bevens comes within one out of pitching the first no-hitter in World Series history. The Yankee hurler loses his claim to fame and the game when Cookie Lavagetto, pinch-hitting for Eddie Stanky, hits a two-out ninth-inning double, giving the Dodgers a 3-2 victory.
  • 1951 In Game 3 of National League play-off series at the Polo Grounds, Bobby Thomson’s one-out three-run homer beats the Dodgers in the bottom of the ninth, 5-4, and the Giants win the pennant, the Giants win the pennant. The round-tripper, better known as the ‘shot heard around the world’, becomes one of the famous home runs in baseball history.

  • 1962 At Dodger Stadium, the Giants beat Los Angeles, 6-4, to take the rubber game of the best-of-three National League playoffs, clinching the National League pennant. LA shortstop Maury Wills sets a major league record for the most games played in a season, appearing in all of his team’s 165 games.
  • 1972 Surpassing Honus Wagner, Roberto Clemente appears in his 2,433rd game for the most ever played by a Pirate. Sadly, it will be the last regular season game the Pittsburgh outfielder will ever play as he will be killed in a plane crash during the off-season.
  • 1976 After being at the Dodger’s helm for 23 years, Walter Alston’s managerial career comes to an end when the team drops a 3-2 decision to the Padres, finishing the campaign 10 games behind the Reds. During his tenure, which began in Brooklyn in 1954, the skipper known as Smokey to his players compiles a 2040-1613 (.523) record en route to capturing seven pennants and four World Series titles.

There are a lot of other things that happened on this day in baseball history; you can see the rest at National Pastime.

Dec 31

End of another year

The Dodgers got close again in 2016, but they were beaten by what appeared to be the season’s Team of Destiny, the Cubs, in the NLCS. It was frustrating at the time, but I can appreciate the effort more now, and I can look back at the wonder that was Game Five of the NLDS against the Nationals and smile with delight.

Jon Weisman has some thoughts about remembering the little things, although I don’t think he’d classify that game as little.

Hau’oli Makahiki Hou to all my favorite Dodger fans. Pitchers and catchers report in less than two months.

Oct 02

Goodbye, Vin, and thanks for all the fish

The Dodgers’ legendary broadcaster Vin Scully called his last game today in San Francisco. The Bay Area did itself proud in paying tribute to him and to his 67-year career.

That plaque on the wall reads in part “Vin Scully’s Final Broadcast.” It’s inside the visitors’ broadcast booth at AT&T Park in San Francisco, and the two gentlemen are Willie Mays and Vin Scully. Vin has always said Willie was the best player he ever saw.

The crowd in the Giants’ park gave him a rousing welcome and ovation when he arrived in the broadcast booth:

And then he said goodbye

and flew off into the sunset with a friend also named Scully:

Thank you, Vin. I first heard you in 1959 or 1960 when my family moved to Westwood, Ca. I scored games in spiral notebooks as you and Jerry Doggett called them from distant places like St. Louis and Milwaukee and Philadelphia as well as right across town in the Coliseum. When I went to the nearest Union 76 station the portraits I got for free represented more than just my imagination, for you had made the players and the games real.

We moved across country after the 1962 season and I rarely heard you for twenty years until my work took me back to Los Angeles in the mid-1980s. I’ll never forget the first night I was back in that city hunting for the Dodgers’ game on the radio and hearing your voice again, a little older and with an additional partner (Ross Porter). It was wonderful.

For the last twenty years the local cable company has carried the Dodgers’ games on either Prime Ticket or the newer Sports Net Los Angeles channels and Scully has done all the home games and until recently away games west of the Rockies, so I’ve had the great pleasure of hearing him even more than I did when I was a kid.

What the hell, the man’s 88 years old. He’s entitled to retire.

Thanks, Vin, for the highlights and the joy as well as the reminder when the team failed that there was always another game next day or next year. Enjoy your retirement with Sandi.