I Guess They Want to Play Game 163; all 4 Put up Double Digits to Get There

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Hi all. Here’s how I see baseball on this Monday, October 1. Good thing I took most of September off from writing in this forum. If I thought I could have today to relax, 4 National League teams thought otherwise. The Brewers, Dodgers and Rockies all demolished their foes, shutting them out by double digits in the final regularly scheduled game. While the Cubs gave up a few runs, they put up double digits on the Cardinals who had beaten them Saturday.
The Cubs were the only one of the 4 contending teams scored on, beating the Cardinals 10–5. The Brewers beat the Tigers 11–0, the Rockies shut out the Nationals 12–0 and the Dodgers whitewashed the Giants 15–0. In Denver, the Rockies’ Charlie Blackmon became the first man to hit for the cycle in game 162 of a regular season. His team will meet the Dodgers in the second of today’s games (starting at 4 PM Eastern.) The earlier game will feature the Cubs and Brewers meeting in Chicago. The Brewers’ Christian Yelich will take this extra chance to win the first triple crown in the National League since New Jersey’s own Joe Medwick pulled it off in 1937. Yelich went hitless with two walks against the Tigers yesterday. It’s a long shot. The Rockies’ Nolan Arenado hit two home runs yesterday at Coors Canaveral to pass Yelich by. The Cubs’ Javier Baez has 111 RBIs to the 109 of Yelich. The one category the Brewer can claim is the league’s batting title at .323. The last two triple crown winners were the Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera in 2012 and the Red Sox’ carl Yastrzemski in 1967.
The Brewers waited as long as they could to name Gio Gonzalez as yesterday’s starter, and they also played it close to the vest before naming Jhoulys Chacin to face the Cubs’ Jose Quintana. With the Cubs apparently a cinch for the division, it seemed Chacin would pitch tomorrow night’s wild card game. Now, if the Crew can win today they can forget about a wild card game and wait for the NLDS. Unlike the Mets’ notably poor performance when Jacob DeGrom pitched this year, the Brewers have gone 22-12 when Chacin was on the bump. Chacin claimed 15 wins, a career high. While the Cubs’ Quintana owns an undistinguished mark of 13-11 with an ERA north of 4.0, he’s done his best pitching against the Brewers. He has come out on the winning side 4 times, losing 1 in 6 starts against the Cubs’ nearest neighbors. The Brewers hit but .177 against him. As bad as that is, the triple-crown hopeful Christian Yelich has just a hit in 11 tries, call that .091 against Quintana. The Cubs at least have insurance if they should lose. They have their 18-game winner, John Lester set to go tomorrow night if needed.
In Los Angeles, Walker Buehler makes today’s start. He was replaced yesterday by Rich Hill, but I mistakenly assumed Clayton Kershaw would try to lock down the Dodgers’ sixth NL west flag in a row. I was unaware he had pitched on Saturday, leaving him unable to start until game 1 of the NLDS, should the Dodgers get there. Meantime, the Rockies turn to German Marquez to carry the mail as they try to win their first ever NL West. In his last outing he struck out the first 8 Phillies he saw and struck out 11 men in 7 innings. However, I think any strikeout records for the last couple of seasons need to be taken with at least a grain of salt, if not an entire shaker. Not only did the Phillies collapse late in 2018, hitters like Joe DiMaggio and Tony Gwynn no longer exist. backing up Marquez if needed for tomorrow is Kyle Freeland who would be working on short rest.
Once divisional play began in 1969 it was determined that if a tie happened, a one-game playoff would break the tie. There have been a couple of great games in seasons when this was necessary. The most recent game 163 for a division flag was in 2009, when the Twins walked off the Tigers 6–5 in 12 innings. The most famous of course took place 40 years ago tomorrow, October 2, 1978. That was the day the Yankees took on the Red Sox. The Red Sox that year played early on like the 2018 Yankees, then collapsed as this year’s Yankees did. The 1978 Yankees, down 14.5 games in July charged back, swept the Red Sox in a 4-game weekend series still known as the Boston Massacre and ended tied with the archrival. Teenage Yankee fans like I was had never felt such a thrill. Meantime, Red Sox fans of any age experienced yet another dose of futility. With the Red Sox Holding a 2–0 lead in the visiting half of the 7th, Russell Earl “Bucky” Dent hit the one famous home run out of 40 he would hit in the big leagues over a dozen years. Two men were on and it put the Yankees ahead 3–2. They would hold on to win 5–4. I can’t imagine either of today’s games topping that, but the 4 teams involved would like to give it a try.

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