Hi all. Here’s how I see baseball on this Friday, Oct. 14.
When Don Larsen pitched his perfecto against the Dodgers in 1956, the game went quickly, like reading “The Postman Always Rings Twice.” Last night, in a game longer than “War and Peace,” the Dodgers defeated the Washington Nationals 4-3 to advance to the NLCS and face the Cubs tomorrow night in Chicago. Things might have been relatively normal but for the interference of DC manager Dusty Baker. With six innings done his ace Max Scherzer had thrown just 98 pitches and was ahead 1–0. It happened that Joc Peterson tied the game with a home run on the first pitch of the inning. Scherzer, a 20-game winner and a man capable of silencing any offense should have been given more room. But Baker panicked, instantly pulled him, and took the consequences. The first pitcher walked Yasmani Grandal and gave a single to Howie Kendrick. So much for him. Sammy Solis was next from the bull pen and he gave an RBI single to aging Carlos Ruiz who the Phillies saw fit to unload in July. Exit Solis, enter Shawn Kelly. HE served up a two-run triple to Justin Turner, making it 4-1 Dodgers. Baker should have watched what happened to the Giants’ bull pen when one by one they were outdone by the Cubs’ hitters in the 9th inning on Tuesday night. Somehow, with starter Rich Hill failing to survive the third inning the Dodgers’ kept the Nationals at only one run. Julio Urias was declared the winning pitcher but should send thank-you notes to the Nationals. Urias picked off Bryce Harper to end the fifth inning, and Jason Werth-who wouldn’t be confused with Usain Bolt on his best day-being thrown out by a kindly estimate of 30 feet trying to score from first on a Ryan Zimmerman double to end the sixth. After a pinch-hit home run by Chris Heisey brought the score to 4-3, Dodgers’ manager Dave Roberts took a page out of the Goose Gossage handbook, turning to closer Kenley Jansen in the 7th. Like Sparky Lyle and Gossage of old, Jansen kept it together until there was one out in the 9th. Jansen threw a career-high 51 pitches and in fact put two men on in the 9th before he was replaced by his old Gulf Coast League teammate of 10 years past, Clayton Kershaw. Thing was, in 2006 Kenley Jansen was a catcher, not a closer and he caught Kershaw’s only save, against the Gulf Coast Nationals. This time Kershaw channeled his inner Randy Johnson and shut the big league Nationals down cold. He got a pop fly from Daniel Murphy and struck out Wilmer Difo to clinch the series victory for the Dodgers. It doesn’t get any easier-Saturday the Dodgers will probably start Kenta Maeda who has been dreadful in his last two starts, one to end the regular season and one in game 3 of the NLDS which the Nationals won. The Cubs’ last game was Tuesday, allowing their pitchers all the rest they need.
The Indians and Blue Jays, both having swept their opponents are more than ready to start their series tonight at 8 PM in Cleveland. As they did in the LDS against the Rangers, the Indians go with Marco Estrada who had a 9-9 regular season and leave 20-game winner J.A. Happ to pitch game 2. Estrada lasted into the 9th against Texas giving up only a run. The hitters cooperated by getting ahead 7–0 and ultimately winning 10-1. Meantime, the Indians will go with Corey Kluber who kept the Red Sox scoreless through 7 in his one outing in the LDS.