Hi all. Here’s how I see baseball on this Monday, Oct. 9.
While the Yanks faced the Indians on a Sunday night, their motivation was that hook from a bad song in a worse movie from the 1970’s, “Saturday Night Fever.”. “Stayin’ Alive” was what it was all about in the Bronx, and Masahiro Tanaka, of whom I have been sharply critical in this forum rose up as he never has in the postseason. The Yankees beat the Indians 1-0, their first 1-0 win in a playoff since 2001. Tanaka was the winning pitcher in the first postseason win the Yankees have picked up in 5 years. The Yankees had won at least one game in every postseason series they played from 1995 until being swept 4 straight by the Tigers in 2012. That was the series where Derek Jeter broke his ankle in game 1 and the Yankees were spectators the rest of the way. Since then the Yankees have been October spectators and it seemed they would be swept in 3 straight by the Indians after blowing an 8-3 lead on Friday night.
Tanaka, whose record of 13-12 and ERA approaching 5 may have seemed ill-suited to be a hero unless you remember he had a few notable games this season. He struck out 15 Blue Jays in his final start, and earlier in the year he struck out 14 Rangers in a duel with his countryman Yu Darvish. Tanaka was equally brilliant last night, and he needed to be. Through 5 innings neither Tanaka nor Indians’ starter Carlos Carrasco had allowed a run.
In fact no Yankee had passed first base against Carrasco, the Indians’ 18-game winner who missed the entire 2016 postseason. With no score in the 6th it looked like the Indians might have driven the last nail in the Yankees’ coffin. Francisco Lindor, who hit the grand slam in game 2 that turned the momentum for good appeared to hit a 2-run home run into the seats in right field. But Aaron Judge, who hasn’t had a hit in the series leapt as high as he could, reached to his limit and maybe an inch beyond-and hauled in the drive keeping the game scoreless. Tanaka hopefully picked up the check for anything Judge wanted to eat following the game, and if he didn’t he should one day. The pitcher owes his right fielder, a giant of a man at six-seven.
When the Yankees finally scored, it was off a former teammate. Andrew Miller had been part of the 2016 Yankees but had been unloaded when ownership decided to throw in the towel on the 2016 season and shipped Miller to the Indians among other trades. Miller has been all the Indians could have hoped for since the trade. But for just one moment he threw a hittable pitch to a power hitter. Greg Bird, who has missed most of 2016 and 2017 with injuries took out his pent-up frustration on Miller’s pitch and unleashed a home run for the only run either team got. After a brief appearance in the 8th by David Robertson, Aroldis Chapman was summoned to get the last 5 outs. He has been openly critical of both his present boss, Yankees’ skipper Joe Girardi and his former employer Joe Madden of the Cubs. Whether choosing to forget Chapman’s indiscretion or trying to take him down a peg, who can say. But Chapman was summoned and got the job done. Though he allowed two base runners in the 9th Chapman struck out Bruce and got a pop fly off the bat of Carlos Santana to end the contest. Earlier in the day Boston routed the Astros 10-3. As a result the Red Sox have also survived to play a game 4.
Just when the two ALDS games will be played rests with Mother Nature. Both New York and Boston are threatened by rain. If it holds off Boston will send out Rick Porcello against the Astros’ Charlie Morton. Again, pending the weather the Yankees’ Luis Severino will face the Indians’ Trevor Bauer in the Bronx. Neither of the NLDS games are in danger of being rained out. At 4 PM Max Scherzer of the Nationals faces the Cubs’ lefty Jose Quintana in a series that is presently even at a game apiece. The Dodgers send out Yu Darvish in Phoenix in game 3 of the series where they lead 2 games to None. Zach Greinke of the D-Backs has the daunting task of trying to lead his team back from the brink. This no longer looks like the Dodgers who the D-Backs swept in their last 6 regular season meetings. The pitchers don’t look like the same men off whom J.D. Martinez hit 4 home runs in a single game on Labor Day. These Dodgers won both games in Los Angeles and hope to wrap up the NLDS tonight in the desert.