Ah, Game Seven. I wrote this five years ago on my blog, and I see no reason to change my mind.
There’s no more dramatic phrase in sports, as far as I’m concerned. I’ve said so before and I’ll say it again: Game Seven is evocative of heroics on the field in do-or-die circumstances: Bill Mazeroski’s and Joe Carter’s home runs, Sid Bream’s slide, Carlos Beltran’s strikeout, Luis Gonzalez’s dribbler off Mariano Rivera, Koufax’s gutty 10K, three-hit shutout on two day’s rest … so many instances of melodrama.
Today’s edition offers two former Cy Young Award winners, righthanders Max Scherzer for the visiting Nationals and Zack Greinke for the Astros. I’m sure Scherzer will be on a very short leash with all hands on deck to relieve him if the neck spasms which prevented him from starting yesterday recur. Greinke dodged and weaved for 4 2/3 innings in Game Three of this series in a game the Astros eventually won.
The Dodgers try to close out the series again today with LHP Clayton Kershaw (18-4, 2.31 ERA) pitching against the Cubs’ LHP Jose Quintana (11-11, 4.15 ERA). It’s a rematch of last Saturday’s Game One pitchers.
Kershaw went five innings in that game and got no decision. Quintana also went five innings and got no decision, giving up the tying runs and watching his bullpen and offense fail him.
Today in Dodgers’ history:
1981 The first Canadian pennant hopes are dashed when Dodger Rick Monday’s ninth inning two-out dramatic home run beats the Expos, 2-1, in the deciding game of the NLCS. It will be the first and last time in franchise history the team makes it into the postseason until 2012, when the Washington Nationals, the team’s new name and home for the past seven seasons, finishes first in the National League East Division.
In other baseball history, in 2004 in an ALCS game which features two reversed calls by the umpires, the Red Sox become the first team in baseball history to force a Game 7 after trailing the series 0-3. Boston, which was three outs from being swept in Game 4, gets an outstanding pitching performance from Curt Schilling to beat the Yankees at Yankee Stadium 4-2. Schilling played with a dislocated ankle tendon, thus this game was called “the bloody sock” game. Also, in the NLCS Game 7 in 2006 Endy Chavez made a leaping catch at Shea’s left field fence, grabbing a ball seemingly destined to be a Scott Rolen two-run home run and starting an unbelievable double play. The heroics are overshadowed in the ninth inning as Yadier Molina hits a two-run homer and Carlos Beltran, who has the best HR ratio (11/81) in postseason history, looks at a third strike with the bases loaded with Mets, giving the Cardinals a 3-1 victory and the pennant.
The Dodgers send the very well-rested LHP Alex Wood (16-3, 2.72 ERA) to the mound to try to close out the series. The Cubs will ask RHP Jake Arrieta (14-10, 3.53 ERA) to put up a roadblock in front of the Dodgers’ seemingly-unstoppable steamroller.
Wood hasn’t pitched in three weeks; he was scheduled to start Game Four of the Dodgers’ NLDS but they swept the D-Backs in that series. He’s been throwing simulated games and yesterday he declared himself ready to go. Arrieta pitched in Game Four of the Cubs’ NLDS against the Nats, going four innings, throwing 90 pitches, giving up an earned run and losing 5-0. He’s a former Cy Young Award winner and once threw a no-hitter at the Dodgers; presumably they won’t take him lightly.
Today in Dodgers’ history:
1988 At Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, Mark McGwire goes deep off LA’s Jay Howell with one out in the bottom of the ninth inning, giving the A’s a 2-1 victory for its only win in the Series. With Kirk Gibson’s heroics in Game 1, ‘Big Mac’s’ walk-off home run marks the first time that two game-winning round-trippers are hit in the same Fall Classic.
2013 The Cardinals advance to their second World Series in three seasons, routing the Dodgers, 9-0, in Game 6 of the NLCS. St. Louis, behind the timely hitting of Carlos Beltran and the strong pitching performance of rookie right-hander Michael Wacha, beats Clayton Kershaw (16-9, 1.83) for the fourth time this season, including a pair of victories in this round of the postseason.
Grandal gets a start, Ethier and Utley get second starts, and Granderson gets a start. This may be the Dave Roberts “keep guys happy as much as I can within the needs of the team” approach to managing.
Despite yesterday’s resounding win, the Yankees are still down a game in this series. Today RHP Lance McCullers (7-4, 4.25 ERA) takes the hill for the Astros versus the Yankees’ RHP Sonny Gray (10-12, 3.55 ERA). This will be McCullers’ third postseason appearance; he went 6 1/3 innings in a start against the Royals in the 2015 ALDS and he pitched 3 innings of relief last week against the Red Sox, giving up two runs on three hits. Gray will be making his fourth postseason appearance; he started two games for the As in 2013 and started Game One of this year’s ALDS, going just 3 1/3 innings against the Indians while giving up three runs on three hits and four walks.
Today in Astros’ history:
2004 In Game 4 of the NLCS at Minute Maid Park, Carlos Beltran goes deep in the seventh inning, giving the Astros an eventual 6-5 victory over the Cardinals. With the round-trippers, the Houston center fielder sets a new postseason record, hitting a homer in five consecutive play-off games, and ties Barry Bonds’ 2002 mark with a total of eight play-off round tippers.
2005 The juiced Minute Maid Park crowd, anticipating the Astros’ first National League crown, after the first two batters are quickly retired, is ‘pulperized’ when Albert Pujols hits a two out three-run ninth inning homer. A two-strike single stroked by David Eckstein and a walk worked out by Jim Edmonds set the stage for the Cardinals’ dramatic 5-4 comeback.
Today in Yankees’ history:
1964 The Yankees, who finished with a 99-63 record, fire Yogi Berra after the team drops the World Series to the Cardinals in seven games. The 39 year-old dismissed skipper will join the crosstown Mets as a coach, becoming team’s the manager in 1972, following Gil Hodges’ unexpected death in spring training. At the same time Johnny Keane, who had been rumored in August to be replaced as the Cardinals’ manager by Leo Durocher before the Redbirds surged to win the World Series, surprises team owner Gussie Busch and GM Bob Howsam with a letter of resignation that he had written at the end of September during the height of the pennant race with Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Cincinnati. The former St. Louis skipper will take the Yankee job, which opens as the result of the firing of Yogi Berra.
1985 Billy Martin, who had become the team’s skipper for the fourth time after the Yankees fired Yogi Berra in April, is replaced by Lou Piniella. “Billy the Kid’ piloted the 97-64 Bronx Bombers to a second place finish, ending the season two games behind Toronto.
2000 David Justice’s three-run homer propels the Yankees to their record 37th American League pennant in a come-from-behind victory over the Mariners, 9-7. The victory sets up a Subway Series in New York for the first time in 44 years.
2003 Early editions of the N.Y. Post include an editorial claiming the Yankees lose to Boston and couldn’t get the job done in Game 7 of the ALCS. Although the Bronx Bombers did trail the Red Sox, the team rallies to beat their arch rival in 11 innings, 6-5.
Bud Norris (6-9, 4.27 ERA) goes for the Dodgers and Patrick Corbin (4-9, 5.31 ERA) pitches for the D-Backs. It’s a rematch for these two pitchers: between the two of them they gave up 10 earned runs and 15 hits in nine combined innings in a 13-7 Dodgers win on July 15.
Roberts said Yasiel Puig will start on Sunday for the first time in a week. There have been several different rumors about a possible trade including Puig, so I’m wondering if this is a showcase game for him. CBS Sports came up with eight different teams to which he might be traded. He’s also been rumored to be part of a three-team deal with the Reds for Jay Bruce.
Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez is one home run away from joining the 300-homer club. He would become the seventh active player to reach 300 homers and 400 doubles. The other six are Miguel Cabrera, Albert Pujols, David Ortiz, Alex Rodriguez, Adrian Beltre, and Carlos Beltran.
Pretty good company, I’d say. I think five of the six are locks for the Hall of Fame, and A-Rod would be were it not for his PED use.
Lineup when available.
Today's lineup: Kendrick LF Seager SS Turner 3B Van Slyke 1B Grandal C Puig RF Hernández CF Taylor 2B Norris P