Hi all. Here’s how I see baseball on this Monday, Oct. 17.
Over the last 3 postseasons, the media has printed and spoken all too often about the fact that Clayton Kershaw, the Dodgers’ ace can’t get it done when it matters. Admittedly he had a few rough outings particularly against the Cardinals which kept the Dodgers from advancing. But surely now all is forgiven, following his whitewash of the Cubs 1-0 last night. That outstanding performance followed a win in game 4 and a save in game 5 of the NLDS against Washington.
The Cubs had flattened the Dodgers Saturday night thanks to a Miguel Montero grand slam and looked to have all the momentum in the world as last night’s game got going. But if you’ve been around baseball a while you know momentum is your next day’s starting pitcher and in the Dodgers’ case it was Kershaw the Magnificent. He gave up but two hits and a walk over 7 innings and was pulled having thrown only 84 pitches. This could turn out to be a wise move considering the battered state of the rest of the Dodgers’ starters. However, this is a 7-game series, and Kershaw can only do so much even with the two built-in off days for cross-country travel. After he left last night, his old battery mate Kenley Jansen, now the Dodgers’ closer got a 6-out save. The only offense was an Adrian Gonzalez home run in the second inning making a hard-luck loser out of Kyle Hendricks, the NL’s ERA champ this year. Amazingly, the Dodgers have only_ managed to win during this postseason if Kershaw has pitched. This time, the first 14 Cubs who came up were sent away before a hit by Javier Baez in the fifth. The next man, Wilson Contreras singled but Kershaw got out of it and only walked one man until he was relieved in the 8th. Both starters entered with an ERA under 2.25. That hasn’t happened in postseason play since game 1 of the 1968 World Series when Bob Gibson bested Denny McClain and set a World Series strikeout record of 17 that still stands and may stand forever. The game had a total of 5 hits. The last postseason game to approach that low total was in the 1913 World Series when a combined 6 hits were registered. The series continues tomorrow night in L.A. at 8 PM Eastern. Jake Arrieta goes for the Cubs, and he hasn’t forgotten he threw his first no-hitter against the Dodgers at Chavez Ravine. The Dodgers go with Rich Hill, who hasn’t come close to lasting 5 innnings in the playoffs. He got the hook in the third inning of game 5. By the law of diminishing returns and the Cubs’ potent bats he might be showering before the second inning tomorrow night.
Now, I want you all to close your eyes and repeat after me. I do not have to watch Monday night football. I do not have to watch Monday night football. Hope that helps because the Indians and Blue Jays play at 8 PM tonight in game 3 of the ALCS, while the 1–4 Jets play the Arizona Cardinals. Hopefully the return to Rogers Center will mean the return of the Blue Jays’ bats which must have been detained at customs leaving Canada last week. The two games in Cleveland were deadly dull, a 2-0 win and a 2-1 win by the Indians over a Jays’ lineup that had undone the Texas Rangers while the Indians were sweeping away the Red Sox. While the dimensions at Rogers center look to be fair, the park plays smaller than its size. The home runs have flown out of there since its opening in 1989 when a hotel operated within viewing distance of the outfield. Josh Donaldson, former MVP and Jays’ third baseman launched 21 of his 37 home runs north of the border. Edwin Encarnacion hit .282 at home and .246 in the U.S. Troy Tulowitzki only managed 11 home runs in this country against 13 in the land of Labatts and Molson. The Indians turn to Trevor Bauer, who was to have pitched game 2 on Saturday but couldn’t owing to a freak injury to a finger on his pitching hand. While the Indians won game 1 against Boston which he started, he did not survive 5 innings which is required for a starter to get a win. The Blue Jays go with Marcus Stroman, who came back at the tag end of last season following a devastating knee injury to pitch in September and in the playoffs. He’s put up a 9-10 record this year with an ERA north of 4. However, He saw the Indians twice and gave them his best, striking out 15 in 14 innings over the two starts.
The Mets’ pitcher Rafael Montero is 26 today. He’s pitched off and on with the Mets since May of 2014, putting up a 1–5 record and a 5+ ERA. He signed at age 20, ancient for a Dominican to be signing his first contract. His first major league strikeout was future Hall of Famer Derek Jeter. Montero can tell that to his kids if nothing else. He got his lone win so far in that 2014 season. He lost most of 2015 to rotator cuff trouble and spent most of 2016 in AAA.
The man the Rockies call “CarGo,” Carlos Gonzalez is 31 today. After breaking in with Oakland in 2008 he went to Colorado where he has remained. He’s been an All-Star 3 times, most recently this past summer. He won the league batting title in 2010. He had been signed as early as 2002 by the Diamondbacks as a lad of 16, the customary age for Latin-American players to sign. He was part of a massive trade in 2007 where the D-Backs got pitcher Dan Haren from Oakland. His first 7 hits were doubles. The last man to have 7 extra base hits in his first 7 hits did it during the Great Depression. Johnny Mize, the Big Cat did it and he’s a Hall of Famer now. After being shipped to Colorado, Gonzalez had an NLDS like no other in 2009. He had 10 hits, tying a Rockies’ record. In spite of this they lost to the Phillies. This Thursday will be his 4th wedding anniversary.
The always colorful, sometimes controversial John Rocker is 42 today. It’s a known fact that relievers have a short shelf life but I have to wonder if Rocker did himself in by forgetting to put duct tape on his mouth when talking to media men with tape recorders rolling. As it was, he reached the bigs in 1998 and was finished in 2003. The Braves unloaded him in 2001 to Cleveland, after which he went to Texas and Tampa Bay for brief stops. He had made the show as a dark horse, an 18th-round Braves choice in 1993 from high school in Georgia. He put up 38 saves in 1999, the year the Braves lost the World Series to the Yankees and 24 more the next year. In mid-season of 2000 he was demoted for threatening a reporter. What got Rocker in serious trouble was a tirade that appeared in “Sports Illustrated” at Christmas 1999. He rambled on about Mets’ fans, calling them every offensive and derogatory name in the book. Said tirade was caught on tape by S.I. reporter Jeff Pearlman with a hot mike. He now had a hot scoop that landed Rocker in hot water. He caught a month’s unpaid suspension courtesy of commissioner Bud Selig which was commuted to 14 games.
Tampa Bay Rays’ coach Charlie Montoyo is 51 today. He was the 6th-round choice of the Brewers in 1987. His MLB career was brief, a few games in Montreal. Born in Puerto Rico, he went to college at Louisiana Tech in Ruston, Louisiana. He wrote about the culture shock in later years. When he first arrived on campus with very little English to start with, he heard a native say “Ah’m fixin’ ta dew thayat,” which anywhere else is “I’m going to do that,” or “I plan to do that.” And that was just one sentence in the new lingo he had to learn playing for the LA Tech Bulldogs. He hit .266 in 10 minor league years. None of that is why he gets a mention. He managed the 2000 Charleston RiverDogs, where my broadcast partner and I were newcomers. It was his second season in that city and he would be replaced by Buddy Biancalana in 2001. Montoyo managed the AAA Durham Bulls from 2007–14, then became third base coach for the Rays.1