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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
Howard Cole has written a fun column about the changes in baseball for those Rip Van Winkles who have been asleep for the past fifty years.
Here’s a taste:
The Yankees were good again until they weren’t, but were again later. The team was purchased by a shipbuilder from Ohio who at one time was suspended from the game for illegally contributing to the campaign of one Dick Nixon (a presidential campaign; which he won!) and pardoned years later by President Ronald Reagan. Like I said, you’ve missed a lot.
Eric Stephen has a look at the Dodgers’ signees during Day One of the International Draft: the big bucks went to a 19-year-old RHP from Cuba, followed by a 16-year-old Dominican outfielder and a Dominican shortstop (from San Pedro de Macoris! Remember when it seemed like half the shortstops in the big leagues came from that little town?) who’s also 16.