Oct 14

ALCS Game Four, 2020

Rays vs Astros, 5:40 PM PDT, TV: TBS

The Rays are up 3-0 and can close the series with a win today. They’ll try to do it with RHP Tyler Glasnow, who’s 2-0 with a 4.05 ERA in three postseason starts this year. He’s struck out 20 in the 13 1/3 innings he’s worked in those games. He’ll face veteran RHP Zack Greinke, who ignored arm soreness and worked 4 2/3 innings in Game Four of the ALDS against the As, giving up four runs in the process. Greinke’s only gotten past the fourth inning twice in the postseason since he pitched for the Dodgers in 2015.

Oct 07

ALDS Game Three, 2020

Athletics vs Astros, 12:35 PM PDT, TV: TBS

The Astros lead the series 2-0.

LHP Jesus Luzardo tries to prevent an Astros sweep for the As, and RHP Jose Urquidy, pitching in a sore-armed Zack Greinke’s slot, tries to complete it. Luzardo gave up three runs in 3 1/3 innings against the White Sox in the As’ Wild Card Series, while Urquidy went 4 1/3 innings against the Twins in the Astros’ Wild Card Series, giving up one run on two hits and getting no decision.

Rays vs Yankees, 4:10 PM PDT, TV: TBS

The series is tied 1-1.

RHP Charlie Morton starts for the Rays after a twelve-day layoff. He’ll face the Yankees’ RHP Masahiro Tanaka. Tanaka gave up six earned runs to the Indians in Game Two of the Yankees’ Wild Card Series, more than he’d ever given up in eight previous postseason starts.

The Yankees have made plenty of postseason history on October 7, but so have a lot of other teams. The event with the most lasting significance was this: In 1969 the Cardinals traded Curt Flood along with Byron Browne, Joe Hoerner, and Tim McCarver to the Philadelphia Phillies in exchange for Dick Allen, Jerry Johnson, and Cookie Rojas. When Flood refused to report to Philadelphia, St. Louis sent Willie Montanez and a minor leaguer to complete the trade, but the outfielder’s courageous challenge to the reserve clause had a dramatic impact on the game.

Take a look.

Sep 29

AL Wild Card Series Game One, 2020

Astros at Twins, 11:08 AM PDT, TV: ABC (ABC? Really? When’s the last time ABC broadcast baseball? The network is going to draft some broadcasters from its sister cable network ESPN)

Two old friends start against one another: RHP Zack Greinke for the Astros meets RHP Kenta Maeda of the Twins. Greinke’s first five starts netted him a 1-0 record with a 1.84 ERA. He then fell off a cliff, going 2-3 with a 5.73 ERA in his last seven outings. Maeda will make his first postseason start since 2016 (he made 21 postseason relief appearances for the Dodgers from 2017-2019), and he earned it. He was 6-1 with a 2.70 ERA for the season.

White Sox at Athletics, 12:08 PM PDT, TV: ESPN

The White Sox hand the ball to RHP Lucas Giolito; he’ll make his 85th career start but first ever in Oakland. He was 4-3 with a 3.48 ERA this season. He’ll face LHP Jésus Luzardo, who was 3-2 with a 4.12 ERA and 59 Ks (second among AL rookies) for the year.

Blue Jays at Rays, 2:07 PM PDT, TV: TBS

RHP Matt Shoemaker (0-1, 4.71 ERA) is a surprise starter for the Jays, one who’s not expected to go deep into the game. He’ll face the Rays’ LHP Blake Snell (4-2, 3.24 ERA). Shoemaker was held out of his last regularly scheduled start to keep him fresh for this game. Snell faced the Blue Jays twice this year and surrendered just two runs to them over 7 2/3 innings.

Yankees at Indians, 4:08 PM PDT, TV: ESPN

The Yankees signed RHP Gerrit Cole last offseason for just this event: Game One of a postseason series. Cole did his part, leading the team in wins, starts, complete games, innings and strikeouts. He wound up 7-3 with a 2.84 ERA. He’s gone 6-4 with a 2.60 ERA in his postseason career. The Indians counter with RHP Shane Bieber (8-1, 1.63 ERA). He came close to postseason experience in 2018: he was scheduled to start Game Four of the Division Series that season but the Indians were swept in three games by the Astros.

Sep 13

Game 47, 2020

Astros at Dodgers, 5:00 PM PDT, TV: ESPN

RHP Zack Greinke (3-1, 3.27 ERA) goes for the visiting Astros, while the Dodgers have designated this a bullpen game and haven’t yet named their opening pitcher. Greinke’s been up and down: “After going 1-0 with a 1.84 ERA and 0.89 WHIP in his first five starts, Greinke is 2-1 with a 5.09 ERA and 1.17 WHIP in his past four starts.”

Finding a bright spot in last night’s game wasn’t easy:

Today in Dodgers’ history:

  • 1925 In the first game of a twin bill, Robins’ (Dodgers) starter Dazzy Vance no-hits the Phillies at Ebbets Field, 10-1. The Brooklyn hurler had one-hit the team from the City of Brotherly Love five days earlier.
  • 2005 During the six-run second inning uprising by Colorado, each Dodger outfielder commits an error. The fielding of Ricky Ledee (lf), Jose Cruz Jr. (right field), and Jayson Werth (cf) contributes to the 6-4 loss to the Rockies. (The Dodgers finished 71-91 that year, in fourth place in the division. The Rockies finished last.

Also, in 1902, Johnny Evers, acquired to replace second baseman Bobby Lowe, who broke his ankle, joins shortstop Joe Tinker and first baseman Frank Chance on the Chicago infield, marking the first time the three Cubs’ infielders have played together. The legendary double play trio will be immortalized in Franklin Pierce Adams’ baseball poem, “Baseball’s Sad Lexicon,” better known as “Tinker to Evers to Chance”. (And only one of the three really had any business even being considered for induction into the Hall of Fame, as far as I’m concerned. There were a bunch of romantics or cronies on the Veterans Committee in 1946.)

Lineup when available.

Oct 30

Game Seven, 2019 World Series

Nationals at Astros, 5:07 PM PDT, TV: Fox

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.

Nationals lineup:

Astros lineup:

Oct 25

Game Three, 2019 World Series

Astros at Nationals, 5:07 PM PDT, TV: Fox

The Astros ask RHP Zack Greinke to win what really can be called a must-win game for them. He’s made three starts this postseason; the first was horrid but the last two were acceptable (3.48 ERA in 10 1/3 innings). The Nationals counter with RHP Aníbal Sánchez, who’s got an 0.71 ERA in 12 2/3 innings this postseason.

Astros lineup:

Nationals lineup:

Oct 22

Game One, 2019 World Series

Nationals at Astros, 5:00 PM PDT, TV: Fox

On paper this is a starting pitcher’s series like we haven’t seen in quite a while. Each team’s rotation has three excellent starters: Verlander, Cole and Greinke for the Astros and Scherzer, Strasburg and Corbin for the Nats.

All six of those starters performed admirably this season. In fact, they were all top 20 in ERA among qualified pitchers: Cole was third, Verlander fourth, Scherzer eighth, Greinke ninth, Corbin 13th and Strasburg 16th. It’s the first World Series since 1945 to feature six of the top 20 pitchers in ERA, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

[snip]

That’s when the Tigers, with Hal Newhouser (1st) and Dizzy Trout (T-10th), faced the Cubs, who had Claude Passeau (4th), Paul Derringer (T-10th), Hank Wyse (T-15th) and Ray Prim (T-15th).

Game One will feature RHP Max Scherzer for the Nationals and RHP Gerrit Cole for the Astros. Scherzer took a no-hitter into the seventh inning of his last start, Game Two of the NLCS against the Cardinals. Cole has won all three of his postseason starts, giving up ten hits and one run in 22 2/3 innings.

Nationals lineup:

Astros lineup:

Oct 12

ALCS 2019

Game One: Yankees at Astros, 5:08 PM PDT, TV: Fox

Two righthanders go at one another: Masahiro Tanaka for the Yankees and Zack Greinke for the Astros. Tanaka’s career postseason ERA is 1.54. Greinke has not been his usual dominant self in recent postseason appearances: he’s got a 9.49 ERA in his last three.

Game Two: Yankees at Astros, 5:08 PM PDT, TV: FS1

LHP James Paxton takes the hill for the Yankees. He’ll try to match innings with the Astros’ RHP Justin Verlander. Paxton faced the Houstonians twice during the year, giving up five runs in an April game but just one in a game in July. Verlander beat the Yankees twice in the 2017 playoffs, but of course that was a different Yankee team. He made two starts against them in 2019 for a total of 13 innings, giving up six runs and going 1-0.

Game Three: Astros at Yankees, 1:08 PM PDT, TV: FS1

The Series is tied at one game apiece. The Astros give the ball to RHP Gerrit Cole, who’s been virtually untouchable in his first two postseason starts, giving up six hits and only one run in two wins against the Rays in the ALDS. The Yankees counter with RHP Luis Severino, who went four scoreless innings against the Twins in Game Three of the Yankees’ side of the ALDS. Four innings, oddly, is the average length of the seven postseason outings he’s made in his career, posting a 1-2 record with a 5.33 ERA.

Game Four has been postponed until Thursday at 8:08 p.m. ET due to inclement weather.

Game Four: Astros at Yankees, 5:08 PM PDT, TV: FS1

The Astros send RHP Zack Greinke to the mound in the Bronx to face the Yankees’ RHP Masahiro Tanaka, who, thanks to yesterday’s rainout, will be pitching on regular rest. He’s been spectacular in his postseason appearances: 1.32 ERA over 41 innings in seven starts. Despite a quality start in Game One, Greinke was the loser as Tanaka shut out the Astros over six innings and the bullpen did the rest.

Game Five: Astros at Yankees, 4:08 PM PDT, TV: FS1

This is a rematch of Game Two with the Astros’s Verlander going against the Yankees’ Paxton. That game displayed a stark difference in the teams’ pitching philosophy: Verlander went 6 2/3 innings while Paxton came out after 2 1/3, not because he was injured or tipping pitches or getting shelled (one run on four hits), but because Yankees manager Aaron Boone trusts his bullpen more than he does most of his starters.

Game Six: Yankees at Astros, 5:08 PM PDT, TV: FS1

Both managers are calling this a bullpen game, so no “starters” have been named by either side. It’ll be a surprise!

Oct 07

ALDS Games Three, 2019

Here’s the road map which lays out how that might happen.

On this day in baseball history Whitey Ford beats the Phillies to complete a World Series sweep, Gil Hodges finishes a World Series 0-21 at the plate, Curt Flood is traded from the Cardinals to the Phillies and refuses to report, and Benny Agbayani hits a 13th-inning HR to beat the Cubs in the longest NLDS game ever played — 5 hours and 22 minutes.

The early game is really early for me at 7:05 AM my time. It features the Astros at Rays, 10:05 AM PDT, TV: MLBN

The Astros have a 2-0 lead in the series. They send out their third starter, RHP Zack Greinke, to face the Rays’ RHP Charlie Morton, who’s already distinguished himself this postseason by winning the Wild Card Game last week. Morton was 16-6 with a 3.05 ERA on the year, while Greinke was 8-1 with a 3.02 ERA for the Astros after coming over from the D-Backs at the trade deadline. He was 18-5 with a 2.93 ERA overall.

Astros lineup:

Rays lineup:

The late game showcases the Yankees at Twins, 5:40 PM PDT, TV: FS1

The Yankees lead the series 2-0. They’ll send RHP Luis Severino to the mound in Minneapolis. He spent most of the season on the IL, making just three starts in September. He’s got a career 6.26 ERA in six postseason starts. His opponent will be RHP Jake Odorizzi, who gave up nine runs in four innings against the Yankees on July 24 and hasn’t allowed more than three earned runs in any of the ten starts he’s made since.

Yankees lineup:

Twins lineup:

Jun 24

Game 80, 2019

Dodgers at Diamondbacks, 6:40 PM PDT, TV: FS-A, SPNLA

Dodgers’ lefty Kershaw (7-1, 2.85 ERA) versus D-Backs’ righty Greinke (8-3, 2.91 ERA). Kershaw is 16-9 with a 2.59 ERA in his career against the Diamondbacks, 6-8 and 3.70 ERA at Chase Field. Greinke is 7-6 with a 4.28 ERA lifetime against the Dodgers.

Here’s young Mr Smith’s walk-off HR yesterday:

Today in Dodgers’ history:

  • 1947 At Forbes Field, Jackie Robinson steals home in the Dodgers’ 4-2 victory over the Pirates. It is the Brooklyn infielder’s first theft of the dish, something the rookie will accomplish 19 times during his ten-year career.

Lineup when available.