Hi all. Here’s how I see baseball on this Thursday, October 5.
The D-Backs’ Archie Bradley forgot which comic strip he was a part of for just a moment last night. Instead of hanging with Veronica and Betty, Archie stepped into a Superman comic and launched a 2-run triple faster than a speeding bullet and leading his team to an 11-8 win over the Rockies.
Just like 2016, the two wild card games were sensational leaving the upcoming LDS and LCS with a hard act to follow. Tuesday it was the Yankees, down 3-0 before most of the fans had cleared the George Washington Bridge but then tying the game before those same fans could decide to turn back around and go home. The Twins never recovered from Didi Gregorius’ home run in the last of the first to tie the game and set the Yankees on a course they wouldn’t stray from. Last night’s game at Chase Field in Phoenix could easily have been confused with a game at Coors Canaveral. The Rockies’ John Gray, like the Yankees’ Luis Severino on Tuesday couldn’t handle the pressure and was gone in the second inning. He had given up a 3-run home run to Paul Goldschmidt before leaving.
Daniel DeScalso would hit a 2-run tater to make it 6-0 D-Backs and probably cause a lot of people here on the East Coast to flip to whatever mindless display of sex and violence was being offered on another channel. With no taste for either of the above I kept the Rockies’ broadcast on. The D-Backs’ live transmission was marred by technical problems. After Zack Greinke looked his best in the first 3 innings he unaccountably went to pieces in the visitors’ half of the 4th. The Rockies’ bats came alive with 4 runs that inning, sending Greinke to the showers. The Rockies put up one tally in the 7th to make it a 6-5 game. The D-Backs hadn’t scored since the third and their fans had to wonder who would provide the spark to ignite their bats again. The answer was-Goldschmidt? No. DeScalso? Not at all. A.J. Pollock? See below for word about him. This time It was the career .098 hitter Archie Bradley, relief pitcher who had batted all of 4 times all season. At age 25 and wearing 25 on his back, Bradley is a true to life Okie from Muskogee; and yes that’s a real town in Oklahoma as I found out after years of believing Merle Haggard made it up for his song of that name. In the past Bradley has been on the wrong end against the Rockies. In 2015 He was hit in the face by a line drive off the bat of the Rockies’ all-star Carlos Gomez and carried off the field unconscious. Last night was another story. With two men on and a 2-2 count he took a mighty cut and crushed a two-run triple to make it an 8-5 D-Backs lead in the home 7th. He had no extra base hits in his entire career. Taking nuttiness to another level, no relief pitcher-no, not one-had tripled since postseason play began during Teddy Roosevelt’s first administration. It didn’t seem to matter that Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story hit home runs back-to-back off Bradley in the visiting 8th. Another 2-run triple, this one by A.J. Pollock made it 10-7 and Pollock scored on a bunt on the next pitch following his 3-bagger. All told the home team hit 4 triples in the contest. Besides Bradley and Pollock, Ketel Marte steamed from home plate to third on 2 occasions. He was the first man to notch 2 triples in a playoff game since 1993 when the Phillies’ Mariano Duncan did it to the Atlanta Braves on Philadelphia’s famously fast astroturf. No playoff team had tallied 4 triples in a contest since the very first World Series when the Boston Americans (Red Sox) hit 5 in 2 different games against Pittsburgh. That’s 10 3-baggers in 2 games by those long-ago members of the Old Town Team. Entire teams can go a year without 10 triples in modern baseball.
Next up for the D-Backs is a best 3 out of 5 series with the Dodgers starting tomorrow night. Their two best starters-Greinke and Robbie Ray both threw too many innings last night to be considered as starters tomorrow night against the best pitcher on the planet, Clayton Kershaw. I wouldn’t be too concerned that the D-Backs won their last 6 meetings with the Dodgers. That was in the midst of the Angelinos’ biblical collapse of late August and early September. The Dodgers have righted the ship since then and are out to take down the D-Backs and make all the world forget there was a collapse.
After the poor pitching we’ve seen the last two nights, today’s first game should be a breath of fresh air. It’s the kind of matchup that any fan of good pitching hopes will live up to its billing. The old maestro, Justin Verlander will look most unfamiliar in Astros’ garbe after a dozen years with the Tigers. His opponent will be Boston’s Chris Sale, who struck out 308 men this season. The last American Leaguer to strike out 300 also played home games at Fenway Park. That would be Pedro Martinez who whiffed 300 batters in 1999. Sale faces the Astros who he managed not to meet during 2017. After 180 MLB starts this is Sale’s first postseason outing. By contrast Verlander has made 16 postseason starts while the Tigers appeared in two World Series. It’s amazing Sale’s record is as good as it is. His lifetime mark is 91–58 though he toiled in obscurity from 2010–2016 with the White Sox. He’s been a continual All-Star since 2012 and even lead the league in strikeouts in 2015, but nobody knew about it because he was with the White Sox, one of the sorriest teams the league has had in recent years. They were so inept that Sale was on the mound in the majors with them in 2010-the year he was drafted. Unlike David Clyde whose career was in ashes within a year, Sale survived being thrown to the wolves as a new draftee with all of 11 minor league innings under his belt. Through 2011 he worked in the bull pen. As a starter in 2012 he struck out 15 Rays in a game early in the year. Only one White Sox pitcher-Jack Harshman-has struck out more, once fanning 16. While he has never thrown a no-hitter, he once took a perfecto into the 7th inning. The Angels’ Mike Trout got the only hit and was the only base runner that night.
After the Red Sox and Astros have their 4 PM tilt, the Yankees and Indians will meet shortly after 7:30 in Cleveland. After Luis Severino’s flameout Tuesday it’s up to Sonny Gray to take the ball today and work long enough to rest some of the relievers who got 26 of the needed 27 outs on Tuesday night against the Twins. Gray has been a bust since the Yankees got him, with an ERA of almost 4. But without Severino the Yankees have little to choose from-Gray, CC Sabathia and Masahiro Tanaka. As I said from day 1 their starting pitching will prove to be their Achilles’ heel. Gray will face the Indians’ Trevor Bauer who hopefully threw his toy drone in a dumpster after last year’s fiasco. He won 17 games with 196 strikeouts, so barring any more unfortunate encounters with drones he should cause his foes’ fits. He’s been at his best at home, with a 10-4 record at what should still be Jacobs Field.
On this day in baseball in 1921 the first World Series game was broadcast on radio. Two stations-KDKA in Pittsburgh and WJZ from Newark, NJ carried Grantland Rice describing the action of the first subway series with the Yankees and Giants meeting head on like two trains on a collision course. A third station, WBZ in Boston carried a re-creation based on reports from Western Union. Both teams played at the Polo Grounds. What would be officially called The Yankee Stadium wouldn’t open for another 18 months. The Giants under John “Mugsy” McGraw had a 94-59 record under the 154-game format used at the time. The Yankees under Miller Huggins had 98 wins against 55 losses. The Yankees won game 1, played on this date and also won game 2 but would lose the series 5 games to 3. It would be the last World Series played in a 5 games out of 9 format. As radio grew, the World Series became an event covered by as many different outlets as possible.
By 1938, both of NBC’s two networks-the Red and the Blue covered the series as well as CBS and Chicago’s local station. That madness would end in 1939 when Mutual was granted exclusive rights to the World Series which they would hold through the 1956 classic.0