Royals Take Game 1; Something Missing this Postseason

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It would take a journalist alchemist of the 1920’s or 1930’s to make golden prose out of  last night’s leaden 5-0 win by the Royals over the Blue Jays. Grantland Rice could do it in a column, Graham McNamee and Harry Wismer could do it on the radio. I’m no Grantland Rice, and a few letters I got in my radio days made it plain I was no McNamee or Howlin’ Harry Wismer. The Royals are, in a word boring. They don’t have a George Brett who can wreck your whole day by his presence alone. They don’t have a Jake Arrieta who can throw a no-hitter. Their pitchers don’t have the electric stuff the Mets’ pitchers have. You never tune in a Royals game and wonder if their pitcher might strike out 10 or more. They have a good bull pen, maybe the best of the 4 teams left,  but the need for a highly developed bull pen is a necessary evil, a sign of how baseball has deteriorated. The Blue Jays, like the Cubs have the hitters, above all  Joe Bats-their nickname for Jose Bautista. But last night Edinson Volquez and 3 relievers kept the Blue Jays bats quiet. In the last of the third, Alex Gordon opened hostilities with a double to right. After Jays’ starter Marco Estrada struck out Alex Rios, Alcides (Al See Days) Escobar also doubled to right bringing Gordon home. The able Lorenzo Cain singled home Escobar to make it 2-0. An inning later, with two out Salvador Perez launched an Estrada offering into the night over the left center field fence for a 3-0 Royals lead. Estrada lasted into the sixth when Aaron Loup, who the experts thought would be out of the loop for the ALCS came in and got a double play ball of the bat of Mike Moustakas. Loup, an off season bow hunter will be a valued arrow in manager John Gibbons’ quiver if he stays effective. In the 8th,   ageless LaTroy Hawkins came in for the Jays. He hit Escobar with a pitch and gave up an infield hit to Ben Zobrist. Eric Hosmer and Kendrys Morales drove home a run each, Hosmer with a double and Morales a scoring fly ball. The rest was up to the Royals’ bull pen. Kelvin Herrera worked the 7th, Ryan Madson the 8th and Luke Hochevar the 9th. Their second game will be this afternoon at 4:07 PM, also in Kansas City.

Meantime, after a day off yesterday the Mets host the Cubs tonight at Citi Field in game 1 of the NLCS. While Jake Arrieta won both starts against the Mets with 17 K’s and a 1.13 ERA, he didn’t see the same Mets team he’ll see in game 2 tomorrow night.  He looked human on Monday against the Cardinals giving up 4 runs but the Cubs’ offense was up to the task. Tonight’s start goes to John Lester. He lost his only NLDS start, the only game the Cardinals won in that series. He won one of the 2 starts he made against the Mets and got no decision in the other. The Mets have Matt Harvey, who won his game 3 start against the Dodgers, and has been 8-3 with an ERA of 2.23 at Citi Field this year. Each team will be without a stortstop. The Cubs will miss Addison Russell who suffered a hamstring injury in game 3 Monday and won’t play in this series. Ruben Tejada is out with his much-publicized broken leg suffered in game 2 in Los Angeles a week ago tonight. It will be a classic confrontation of the Cubs’ formidable bats against the Mets crop of young and talented starting pitchers. The Mets have made one change in the bull pen, putting lefty Sean GilMartin there in place of righthander Eric Goeddel who wasn’t effective against the Dodgers.

It doesn’t seem right watching the postseason on Fox and not hearing Tim McCarver on color commentary with Joe Buck. Mccarver, who turned 74 yesterday played his first major league game in 1959 when he was but 17. The Memphis native covered 24 World Series on TV starting by replacing Howard Cosell in 1985. He and Joe Buck were Fox’s A team from 1996 to 2013 when McCarver called it a career as far as national coverage was concerned. Fox had lightened his load gradually in the last two seasons but it still wasn’t fun finding out he wouldn’t be back after the 2013 World Series. In it, two teams he played for-the Red Sox and Cardinals met, making it unwatchable for Yankee fans like me.  Since then McCarver has been seen and heard  on  a handful of games on cable for the Cardinals in the last two seasons. He has won 3 Emmy awards and the Ford C. Frick Award given every year for the best in broadcasting by the Hall of Fame. From 1978 to 2000 the Memphis Chicks played minor league ball in Tim McCarver Stadium until a new park, AutoZone Park was built. He’s written 3 baseball books, but the best of any of them “Oh Baby I love It,” is out of print. That’s an autobiography written in the late ’80s.  A day late, but Happy Birthday Tim. We all miss you on Fox.

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