Oct 09

Division Series Day 4

The first game today is at 5:30PM Eastern. It pits the Giants v. Reds at Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati. The Reds lead the series two games to none. It’ll be Homer Bailey (13-10, 3.68 ERA and a no-hitter this season) for the home team against Ryan Vogelsong (14-9, 3.37 ERA) for the visitors.

Obviously the Giants are fighting for their playoff lives, while the Reds have the luxury of knowing they only need to win one of potentially three games in their home ball park. If the Giants don’t solve Bailey or his successors on the mound, they’re done. They’re hitting an awful 9 for 63 (.143). If that doesn’t improve and quickly, they’ll be on the way back to Baghdad-by-the-Bay tomorrow.

The second game today is at 9:00PM Eastern and features the Tigers v. As. The As are in a similar position to the Giants, down two games to none, but at least they’re playing at home. They’ll go with the left-handed Brett Anderson, who pitched well (4-2, 2.57 ERA) after returning from Tommy John surgery. He’ll face Anibal Sanchez, who posted a combined 9-13 record with a 3.94 ERA for the Marlins and the Tigers.

Aside for the Dodgers fans: Adam Duritz of Counting Crows is an As fan and remembers the Gibson home run in 1988.

“The worst moment ever,” Duritz said of the famed 1988 World Series homer Gibson hit against Oakland. “I was at my friend Mike’s house, one of my best friends, and we were going to all the A’s games together and we were at his place for that game. God, Eckersley hadn’t walked anybody the entire year, he walked that guy — that was the worst moment ever. I’ve never watched another moment at Mike’s house ever.”

Ah, superstition. I know it well.

Update: Both Bay Area teams won, fending off the end of the season for another day.

Oct 08

Division Series Day 3

Only two games today. First, at 4:30PM Eastern, the Nationals take on the Cardinals with a one-game lead in the series. Today’s pitchers are Jordan Zimmermann for the Nats and Jaime Garcia for the Cardinals.

Then, at 8:30PM Eastern, the Yankees play the Orioles. The Yankees exploded for five runs in the top of the ninth inning in Game One off the best closer in the major leagues yesterday to take a one-game lead in the series. Today’s pitchers are Andy Pettitte for the Yankees and Wei-Yin Chen for the Os. This will be Pettitte’s 43rd playoff start and Chen’s first. Baseball being unpredictable, Chen will probably throw a shutout for six innings while Pettitte gets blown out after facing seven hitters.

Oct 07

Division Series Day 2

Today is the first big day of the Division Series games, with four on the schedule.

First, at 12:00PM Eastern, the Tigers host the Athletics. The Tigers lead the series one game to none on the strength of Justin Verlander’s strong pitching and a home run from Alex Avila. Doug Fister starts for the Tigers and Tommy Milone goes for the As.

Update: Detroit wins 5 – 4 on a sac fly by Don Kelly in the bottom of the ninth.

The second game of the day is Game One between the Nationals and Cardinals in St. Louis at 3:00pm Eastern. The Nats will pitch 21-game winner Gio Gonzales while the Cardinals put Adam Wainwright on the hill.

Update: The Nationals win 3 – 2 on a 2-run pinch-hit single in the 8th inning by Tyler Moore.

The third game of the day begins at 6:00PM Eastern and features Game One between the Yankees at the Orioles in Baltimore. The Yankees’ starter will be CC Sabathia; the Orioles will pitch Jason Hammel. There’s rain forecast for the city, however, so this game may or may not be begun or completed.

Update: The game is in a rain delay at 7:00PM Eastern with no word yet on when or whether it will be played.

Update 2: The game is underway. It began at 8:40PM Eastern.

Finally, Game Two between the Giants and Reds is at 9:30PM Eastern from San Francisco. The Reds will put Bronson Arroyo on the hill while the Giants pitch Madison Bumgarner. One hopes they each pitch better than their teams’ relievers did in the ninth inning in Game One, when there were 3 wild pitches and a passed ball between the two teams. That didn’t keep the Reds from winning the game, however.

Update: The Giants – Reds game has begun. It’s being televised on TNT.

Oct 06

Division Series Openers, Part One

Today’s first game starts at 6:00PM Eastern with the no-name Oakland As playing the star-laden Detroit Tigers. Wait a minute, you say. Isn’t that unfair to the As? Well, the only nationally-recognized player in their starting lineup is Coco Crisp, and I’d argue that while he’s an excellent player a lot of casual fans might know him more for his cereal-like name than for his talent. The Tigers, on the other hand, have the first Triple Crown winner in 45 years in Miguel (not Melky!) Cabrera; they have baseball’s answer to The Round Mound of Rebound Prince Fielder, and they have today’s starting pitcher and former Cy Young/MVP winner Justin Verlander. People are trying to label the As the Cinderella team in this postseason, but that devalues what they did. They were 13 games back and five games under .500 the last week in June and fought back to a series sweep of the Rangers last weekend.

The second game today starts at 9:30PM Eastern with the Giants playing the Reds. Nobody reading a Dodgers blog needs much background info on these teams. Here’s something I didn’t know, though:

Through the regular season, Baker stands No. 2 and Bochy No. 3 among active managers in career victories. Baker has 1,581 in 19 seasons and Bochy has 1,454 in 18, both short of Detroit manager Jim Leyland’s total of 1,676 in 21 seasons. This marks the sixth postseason appearance as a manager for both Baker and Bochy.

Pitching today: the Reds’ Cueto v. the Giants’ Cain in San Francisco.

Oct 05

Wild Card Knockout Night

None of the four starters in these two games with everything on the line — Lohse, Medlen, Saunders and Yu Darvish — have1 ever won a postseason game. Medlen and Darvish will be making their first such appearances. Saunders is 0-1 with a 6.00 ERA in four postseason games. Lohse is 0-4 with a 5.54 ERA in nine postseason games.

So writes Tom Verducci in this morning’s electronic Sports Illustrated. There are other analyses of these two games around, but Verducci’s is a good big picture view. Here’s Jay Jaffe of SI on the Atlanta – St. Louis matchup, and here’s Rany Jazayerli of Grantland on the Baltimore – Texas game.

Me? In the NL game I’m rooting for the Braves. I’d like to see Chipper Jones get back into the playoffs for the first time since 2005, and Furcal’s out for the year for the Cardinals; I have no other sentimental attachment to them.

In the AL game I’m rooting for the Orioles because they’ve been a forgotten team (and deservedly so) for the past 15 years or so. Besides, I’d like to see a Nationals – Orioles World Series. The Rangers aren’t playing well and blew a five-game lead with ten to play.

Both games are on TBS. Brian Anderson, Ron Darling and Joe Simpson will do the St. Louis at Atlanta game at 4 p.m. (Eastern). Ernie Johnson, John Smoltz and Cal Ripken will call the Baltimore at Texas game at 7:30 p.m. (Eastern).

If you want to comment as the games go along, this will be the game thread.

1 “None . . . has,” Tom.

Update: And the Cardinals win 6 – 3 in a game that is under protest by the Braves due to a bizarre infield fly call on a ball 50 feet deep into left field.

Update #2: The Orioles continue their winning ways and the Rangers continue to slump. The Os beat them 5 – 1, and it really wasn’t much of a game.

Oct 03

Playoff scenarios

Before the Dodgers’ game even starts this evening the American League playoffs may be a lot clearer than they are now. Here’s a sample for just one of many teams still in the hunt:

Baltimore Orioles (93-68, second in AL East by one game)

* Have already clinched no worse than a wild-card berth

* Can not clinch AL East today. Can be eliminated from AL East race with a loss to Rays or a Yankees win vs. Boston

* Can force AL East tiebreaker on Thursday in Baltimore with a win vs. Rays and a Yankees loss vs. Boston

* If lose to Rays today, will play at the loser of today’s Rangers-A’s game in wild-card playoff

* If beat Rays today and Yankees beat Red Sox, will play in wild-card game in Baltimore on Friday against loser of A’s vs. Rangers Game 162

* If beat Rays today, Yankees lose to Red Sox, and Orioles win AL East tiebreaker, Baltimore will be the No. 2 seed in the AL

The National League situation is much more straightforward: all the players are known, it’s just the seeding that could vary with today’s results. Like this, for example: If the Nats lose and the Reds win today, the Nats go to AT&T Park. Otherwise the Reds fly to San Francisco.

If you’re a baseball fan as much as you’re a Dodgers fan, this will be an exciting day.

Oct 02


The Dodgers’ six-game winning streak ended tonight at the worst possible time, after the Reds had defeated the Cardinals earlier to keep the Dodgers’ faint playoff hopes alive. With the loss the Cardinals win Wild Card #2 and the right to play the Braves in a one-game playoff Friday to determine who goes on to play the Nationals starting on Sunday, October 7.

This game might serve as a microcosm of the Dodgers’ season: down early to a couple of solo home runs from the Giants, they scratched back for one run, gave up two more, grimly fought back to within a run, and fell short at the end. There was a costly baserunning error by Mark Ellis, usually one of the steadiest players on the team; there was a short outing from the starter Chris Capuano; there were some hits from the new guys (Victorino, Gonzalez and Ramirez) and from the old (AJ Ellis and Ethier); and there was excellent relief pitching again from Belisario, Jansen and League.

Tomorrow’s game is for pride only (and Kershaw’s attempt to retake the NL strikeout lead from R.A. Dickey — he needs nine to tie and ten to go ahead), but pride might be enough. It’s the Giants, after all.

Oct 02

Sword of Damocles hangs over Dodger Stadium

Reds – Cardinals Gameday

It’s Chris Carpenter for the Redbirds and Mat Latos for the Redlegs. Game time 5:15PM PDT.

If the Cards win the Dodgers are done. If the Cards lose and the Dodgers win, the Cards’ magic number remains at one. If both the Cards and the Dodgers lose, the Dodgers are done. Not that there’s any pressure on the Dodgers or anything.

The home team sends Chris Capuano (12-11, 3.69 ERA) out to face Barry Zito (14-8, 4.19 ERA). Capuano has been pretty steady all season long for the Dodgers, while Zito has mounted somewhat of a comeback from the disappointment he’s been since coming over to the Giants. In fact, this is year 6 of a 7- year, $126M deal he signed in 2007, and it’s the first year he’s had more wins than losses in any season.


Ellis, M, 2B
Victorino, S, LF
Kemp, M, CF
Gonzalez, A, 1B
Ramirez, H, SS
Cruz, L, 3B
Ethier, A, RF
Ellis, A, C
Capuano, C, P

Giants – Dodgers Gameday

Annoyingly, the game is only being televised by KCAL and not on Prime Ticket, so I’m out of luck. If I were the MLB.TV people I’d have made this game the free one today, since it’s the only one with any playoff implications, but no. The free one is the Mets – Marlins game for unfathomable reasons.

Oct 01

Walkoff win!

It’s not every day you see a manager pull a double switch which involves pulling the guy who hit a two-run home run earlier in the game and putting a relief pitcher in his spot. That’s what Don Mattingly did in this game, however, taking Andre Ethier out of the number-two spot and replacing him with closer Brandon League while putting little-used utility-man Elian Herrera in the number-nine spot. It paid off in spades when Herrera came up with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth inning and lined a single off the glove of the drawn-in Marco Scutaro at second base, scoring Hanley Ramirez to give the Dodgers a 3 – 2 win and keeping their slim playoff hopes alive.

This was a tight game all evening, with the Dodgers falling behind 1 – 0 on a double by Buster Posey in the very first inning, scoring Scutaro, who’d walked. Ethier got the run back and one more with a booming home run to center field after a Mark Ellis single. The Dodgers had a chance to score an insurance run in the sixth inning, but Adrian Gonzalez’s career-high 47th double of the year was wasted when he was out at the plate on an excellent throw by Dodger cast-off Xavier Nady after a single by Shane Victorino. Then in the eighth inning the Giants tied the game on a double by Angel Pagan and a single by Scutaro, who took second on Victorino’s ill-advised throw to the plate. Fortunately for the Dodgers, pitcher Kenley Jansen got the next two Giants out with no further damage. League got the Giants out in the ninth, allowing a single by Aubrey Huff but no further damage. That set the stage for Herrera’s heroics in the bottom of the inning.

St. Louis defeated Cincinnati 4 – 2 earlier in the evening, reducing its magic number to one. The Dodgers’ only hope is to win the final two games against the Giants while the Reds defeat the Cardinals in the final two games of the season. That would leave the Dodgers and Cardinals with identical 87 – 75 records and force a one-game playoff between the two teams to determine which goes on to another one game playoff against the Atlanta Braves, who won the National League’s Wild Card #1.

Oct 01

Game Thread 10/1/12

It’s Cain v. Abel Harang at 7:10PM PDT at Dodger Stadium.

Matt Cain has a perfect game mixed into his 16 – 5 record this year. He’s taken over the #1 starter role from Tim Lincecum, at least this season. Aaron Harang had a late slump but recovered to win his last outing against the Padres on Wednesday. He’s 10 – 10 on the year.

It’s Giants – Dodgers with a playoff berth on the line. If you’re a Dodgers fan with a pulse, you’re either at the game or glued to the couch watching it on TV.


Ellis, M, 2B
Ethier, A, RF
Kemp, M, CF
Gonzalez, A, 1B
Ramirez, H, SS .256
Victorino, S, LF
Cruz, L, 3B
Ellis, A, C
Harang, A, P


Update: Cards – Reds Gameday It’s 3 – 1 Cards going to the bottom of the 4th.