Friday, October 04, 2013

10/4/13 playoff marathon liveblog!

12:55: Four games today. Over/under on time of games? 13:30?

12:57: Gerrit Cole is getting the start for Pittsburgh. Two notes about this. One, I'll always have a soft spot for Cole, because I saw his major league debut on TV in a bar in Monterey, CA, as part of one of the best vacations I've ever taken. Second, Cole deserves the full-on phenom treatment. Maybe we have phenom burnout? I dunno, but Cole is really, really good.

12:58: Chris Carpenter with the ceremonial first pitch. I can't remember another time with a technically active player throwing out a ceremonial first pitch.

1:02: Bob Costas calling a playoff game!!

1:03: Alice in my lap. She likes Cole for a big game. She also thinks Jason Grilli will represent Balswinsville with a perfect ninth. She knows a lot about baseball and the CNY for 22 days old.

1:06: Christine: I can't believe you managed to type that.
Jim: I type with two fingers normally, so going down to one isn't much of a handicap.

1:09: Marte totally bunted at that.

1:10: Apparently the umps agreed. My bad.

1:11: I can't hear "Michael Wacha" and not think of Fozzy Bear

1:21: Alice with her first "pitching change" of the marathon. She made it through half an inning. Is it wrong that I can see the game from the bullpen?

1:28: I still can't believe Marlon Byrd is good again. He was really, really bad last year.

1:30: If Lance Lynn went on the caveman diet, why does he look less like a caveman?

1:35: Don't like the intentional walk to Mercer here. Mercer isn't a great hitter, and if they get him out, Cole leads off next inning. Maybe in the seventh inning it's sensible, but here it is too early and there isn't much upside. Even if Mercer had an RBI single, so what, it's the second inning.

1:36: And then Gerrit Cole gets the RBI single anyway. Bad move by Matheny.

1:42: Jon Jay is totally the best Federalist in baseball.

1:43: I wonder if announcers who always talk about how great fans the Cardinals have are just trolling Cubs fans. I'm sure Cardinals fans are great (I've not yet been to Busch), but the "best fans ever" thing is a bit overdone.

1:46: Of the stadiums I've been to, I was very impressed by Reds fans. They were playing very well when I was there, so I'm sure that was part of it. Yankee fans were more polite than their reputation - gave me a lot of grief for my Sox hat, but it was good natured. I wonder if Red Sox fans were as good as I remembered in the 90's, or if that's just my sentimentality. Dodgers fans were the worst I've encountered, and it wasn't close.

1:50: Justin Morneau will always be a favorite. He "graduated" from Rochester about the same time I did, so  it's a bit disconcerting to think about him being on the downside.

1:51: Getting a little ahead of myself, the narrative in the Red Sox - Rays series seems to be pitching, but I'm not sure that Matt Moore is a better pitcher than Jon Lester. The biggest difference is that the Rays can go to Price twice, but Buchholz will only be able to go once. Lineups count too, though. Prediction: Price's second start becomes a non-issue - Red Sox in four.

1:53: I didn't make predictions in the NL series but I would've picked the Dodgers in four based on their superior pitching and top-end talent, and the Pirates in five based entirely on sentimentality.

1:54: Two-run homer, Pedro Alvarez. The low-OBP, high-SLG third baseman is definitely becoming a "type." Alvarez is the best of the group that also includes Mark Trumbo and Will Middlebrooks.

1:55: I wonder how short the leash will be with Lynn. Shelby Miller should be available.

1:56: I swear I typed that before Bob Costas said it. I swear.

1:57: Miller would have been the unanimous AL Rookie of the Year, but won't get a single first-place vote between Fernandez and Puig. Pretty amazing that after a 15-9, 3.10 ERA, 8.8 K/9 season, he doesn't make the playoff rotation. This Cardinals team is kind of stacked.

2:02: Lance Lynn comes up to hit. Interesting call.

2:03: Dominant inning from Cole. Made Matt Carpenter look silly there, and he's retired eight in a row since the Beltran double.

2:04: Three innings in under an hour. Cards and Pirates doing their best to limit the overlap with the Red Sox game. Good work, I appreciate it fellas.

2:05: This Fall Out Boy song is even more annoying that that "Written in the Stars" one from 2011. A bad '00's band making sounds like a bad '80's band. What's not to love? EVERYTHING. I want to wash my ears with batter acid. I'M ON FIIIIIAAAAAAAAAAAA.

2:09: Neil Walker is from Pittsburgh.

2:17: Gerrit Cole 2013 = Matt Moore 2011.

2:18: One problem with those postseason prospect lists is that fast-rising college players like Cole generally graduate without totally getting their due. If he hadn't been ready in June, he'd be right with Buxton as the #1 prospect for 2013, but he's "too advanced." Prospect lists can be useful, but "Best Under-25" lists are a better indication of a team's young talent. Mark Appel is in Cole's position. He'll probably be a marginal top-10 prospect after his first half-season as a pro, and a good major league by the time the next prospect list is out.

2:23: Lynn's curve has looked sharp the last couple innings. Leaving him in looks like the right decision for now.

2:24: As I write that, Morneau takes a meatball down the middle off the center field wall for a double.

2:25: Another flat slider or curve (I'm not a scout - I can't tell the difference). Byrd with a double, 4-0 Pirates.

2:32: BABIP Gods not with Seth Maness there.

2:33: Someone just found this blog searching for "Lance Lynn caveman diet." Google, you need to do better.

2:39: Home run Yadier Molina. If I were a Cardinals fan, I'm pretty sure Molina would be my favorite player. Watching him develop from defense-first lesser-known brother-of-Bengie to an elite player has been amazing.

2:41: Before Jon Jay struck out, he resigned from the Supreme Court to become Governor of the state of New York. Yes, I'll be here making dorky historical jokes all day.

2:44: Totally unrelated tangent time! So there is a show on TV called "Scandal" that a lot of people seem to talk about. Christine and I watched a couple episodes last year, and it is seriously terrible. Like, just an awful show. But what makes it memorable was that whenever main character Olivia Pope isn't on screen, all the other characters are asking "Where's Olivia Pope?" It's seriously like someone watched the Poochie episode of The Simpsons, and thought the line "whenever Poochie's not on screen, all of the other characters should be asking 'where's Poochie'" was serious show-making advice.

Bottom line. Scandal would be better if Olivia Pope were louder, angrier, and had access to a time machine.

2:47: High socks!

2:48: Oh, John Axford. The Brewers screwed up by not trading him while he still had his Proven Closer credentials.

2:54: Wonder where Morneau ends up next year. He's still ok, but he really has trouble with lefties now. In a closer game, it'd be worth pinch-hitting Sanchez for him against Choate. He's the better defender though, so I don't think it makes sense here.

3:02: Adron Chambers with the fly out. One thing the Cardinals seem to do well is roster stability. Chambers has been a backup for what seems like years. He didn't have a great year, but the Cardinals don't overrespond to small-sample slumps. If they think someone is good enough to be on their roster, they don't like 80 bad at-bats change their mind. They are stable without being intransigent, which is a fine line to walk.

3:04: Ok, Red Sox - Rays getting close. This will be hectic.

3:07: Gerrit Cole just hit 100 mph. The Red Sox are taking the field.

3:08: Ugh, red jerseys? Seriously Boston? SERIOUSLY?

3:11: This looks like a spring training game. I can't take it.

3:12: Lester doesn't look like spring training.

3:15: Lester strikes out the side, which is encouraging if you root for the Red Sox. And lets face it, everyone is either rooting for or against the Red Sox. Nobody is rooting for the Rays. Some people might root against the Rays though, because Luke Scott and Delmon Young.

3:16: Crazy play in St. Louis. The sky there must be terrible - Freese, who is pretty good defensively, just whiffed a pop-up. Jay and Molina had trouble and misplayed skied balls as well.

3:18: Moore has outstanding stuff, but I agree with the announce crew that his lack of efficiency could be his undoing against Boston. He doesn't throw a ton of strikes, and the Red Sox tend to a abuse pitchers like that.

3:20: Shane Victorino is Alice's favorite player. There is a back story behind it that doesn't really make any sense.

3:21: 6-1 Pirates on a Russell Martin sacrifice fly that scores Marlon Byrd.

3:23: Jordy Mercer with an infield hit - let's see if the Piates let Cole hit. In Clint Hurdle's shoes, I'd like to get another inning out of him.

3:24: Nope, Gaby Sanchez. Oustanding outing for Cole. 6 innings, 2 hits, 1 run, 1 walk, 5 strikeouts.

3:27: NESN's prominent placement of the pitch count has spoiled me. I was looking for it for Moore's, and was impatient to wait for their little pitch tracker box.

3:28: Shane Victorino with the stolen base. The Red Sox have eliminated getting caught stealing from their repertoire of possibilities, which was a good decision.

3:31: Wait, the Pirates double switch has the pitcher spot coming up sooner than Barmes. That's pretty funny.

3:32: The Pirates game isn't the only place a pitching change might be necessary. Alice seems to be stirring in the 'pen.

3:34: Four batters, four swinging strikeouts by Lester. Jon Jay also struck out looking. But before that, he plays a minor role in Peter L. Bernstein's fabulous Wedding of the Waters. It's the story of the building of the Erie Canal, and you should read it if you like history stuff.

3:35: Delmon Young is on his fifth consecutive postseason roster, apparently. He's like the bigoted, bad-at-defense Luis Sojo.

3:37: Lester might have struck out Rodriguez there, but he does a bad job staying poised when he doesn't get a call.

3:39: Both games between innings at the same time? Not cool, Zeus.

3:43: Una Notta a Napoli! Also, the idea that the Red Sox signed guys who are "less talented, but gamers" is a crock. They signed guys who are immensely talented. Shane Victorino and Mike Napoli might be great teammates, but the Red Sox are winning because both are really, really good at baseball.

3:44: Missed this - Starling Marte homered on an 0-1 pitch from Shelby Miller. 7-1 Pirates. Good shape for two games at PNC Park, which means everyone is a winner.

3:47: Jarrod Saltalamacchia's breakthrough was really one of the things that surprised me this season. I don't think the BABIP spike at the center of it is sustainable, and he still swings and misses far too much, but he's established himself as a major league starter, which I was very skeptical of seven months ago. He'll be a free agent, and he's earned himself a good pay day.

3:50: Salty walks, and it's time for a pitching change. I obviously prefer to do that kind of things between innings, but sometimes you really just need to take that long walk to the mound. Also I'm probably about 45 seconds from Christine giving me an evil eye. We're in very dangerous territory here.

4:02: Jason Grilli in, representing Baldwinsville!

4:04: Grilli strikes out Holliday on a 94-mph fastball. One out in the ninth. Over in Boston, Matt Moore heads out for the third. He has thrown two scoreless, but it's taken him 42 pitches.

4:10: "Jon Jay is all that stands between the Pirates and evening this series." The Barbary Coast is a dangerous place.

4:11: Grilli strikes out the side to send it back to PNC.

4:12: Shane Victorino strikes out swinging, but it was after a solid at-bat. Moore has thrown a lot of pitches, but the Red Sox can't hit any of them.

4:14: Professional Red Sox murderer Ben Zobrist with a solo homer to lead off the fourth.

4:17: A walk and a single. Not sure who the Red Sox turn to early. Dempster, probably. Realistically, they need Lester to get through six.

4:19: Catching that foul pop reminds me - an underrated part of the Red Sox season was how excellent of a first baseman Mike Napoli turned out to be. The statistics liked him, and he passed the eye test. His footwork wasn't always perfect, but he had the sort of soft hands one would expect from a converted catcher.

4:23: Dustin Pedroia breaks up the no-hitter with a single up the middle.

4:25: That was a weird play with awkward camera work. It looked like Myers was calling off Jennings, then deferred at the last second. Fortunately for the Rays, it bounced into the stands. Could be a huge turning point, because Napoli/Gomes can be rough on a lefty.

4:32: Gomes comes through with a double off the Monster. 2-2 tie. The misplay in right field proves to be a big deal.

4:33: Gomes and Jorge Cantu are the two players I associate most with the "Devil Rays" era in St. Pete.

4:35: Over on the forums, my other baseball home, the Stephen Drew vs. Xander Bogaerts discussion is pretty hot, with many people calling for Bogaerts against lefties. Drew's superior defense makes it a tough call. Bogaerts is going to be very, very good, though.

4:36: Statheads like me can be cynical about "hustle," but Stephen Drew and Jonny Gomes running hard just gave the Red Sox a run. The 2011 Red Sox don't score there. How many ground balls to first base score a run from second?

4:43: Fielding percentage is a useless statistic. Rays with no errors, but some awful plays defensively - two players reaching who should not have. Moore is now up over 80 pitches.

4:48: I am excited about the Red Sox success. Alice is more stoic.

4:50: The fielding percentage thing really bugs me. Pitching wins gets a lot of grief, but at least they generally correlate with good pitching, even if they are ultimately the wrong measure. Fielding percentage, though? It really don't even correlate with how good a team is at turning batted balls into outs. Let's stop using it under any circumstance. Defensive efficiency fits just as well in a baseball telecast.

4:55: Lester strikes out Jennings to finish a one-two-three fifth. The game feels very different than it did half an hour ago.

4:57: Half-way through the Boston game. Time for a Dogfish Head 90-Minute and some Pringles. AND for David Ortiz

5:04: Una Notta a Napoli!

5:05: Not sure what to make of the Jonny Gomes IBB. Normally I wouldn't think it was a great call, but Saltalamacchia and Drew really don't hit lefties well. Then again, the best option might have been to just take Moore out.

5:07: A Red Sox win today would put a ton of pressure on Price tomorrow. Not that he can't handle it, but it becomes more of a must-win for the Rays.

5:09: Saltalamacchia made Maddon pay with a double off the wall, and that's the end of Matt Moore. 7-2 Boston.

5:14: Wesley Wright IS a pretty good relief pitcher name.

5:15: There are a solid seven hours to go here folks!

5:16: Intentional walk to a guy with a .271 OBP this season to pitch to a guy who might have won the MVP in 2011 with a little bit of luck. Dumb.

5:18: Ellsbury with the base hit off of Wright's glove. Chris Archer coming in. Maddon is usually a good manager, but walking Middlebrooks on purpose is never a good idea. 8-2 Boston.

5:19: Christine is on the couch with Alice and me. She is considering joining the liveblogging fun.

5:21: Alice is excited by the Shane Victorino infield hit. And by "excited" I mean "sleeping."

5:23: This is Dustin Pedroia's third plate appearance in two innings.

5:24: But he struck out.

5:28: Christine has started her own live blog. It will be unpretentious.

5:28: Alice feels left out and has decided to make a wicked lot of noise. Pitching change coming?

5:30: Eight in a row retired by Lester. Christine is now holding Alice, while eating yogurt, liveblogging and watching baseball.

5:31: The yogurt is Chobani pineapple.

5:33: Ortiz foiled by the shift. Half an hour until Dodgers vs. Braves.

5:36: Christine uses a larger font than I do.

5:37: Christine just made a "Steve Madden" reference. I had to ask who that was. He is a "shoe guy."

5:40: I wonder if he and this Homer Nixon are related?

5:41: CORRECTION: I've made a huge mistake. It is NOT Chobani pineapple yogurt. It is Oikos. I apologize to anyone who I hurt with this gross incompetence.

5:43: Roughly four and a half hours in, this blog has generally become complete nonsense. I apologize if anyone is actually reading this.

5:46: Baseball? Lester has retired 11 in a row. Clearly outpitched Moore, who got all the hype coming in.

5:48: Alice and I just sang "Take Me Out to the Ballgame." It was lovely.

5:49: Heh, a Bobby Valentine reference. Valentine surpassed Rick Pitino as the awful-est coach/manager of a team I root for.

5:50: Not sure why Maddon took out Archer after only four outs. He looked sharp and could have saved the 'pen. Torres has good stuff though. 1.71 ERA in 58 innings.

5:55: Torres with a one-two-three inning. Seven in a row retired by the Rays bullpen.

5:56: Alice? You'll probably blame that on me, won't you.

5:59: Lester into the eighth. He got an out in the eighth inning only five times this season. He's been uncharacteristically efficient, with less than 100 pitches and only one walk.

6:01: Hey, it's John Travolta for some reason!

6:02: Lobaton strikeout, and Alice is calling for a pitching change!

6:10: Came back to an actual pitching change. Obviously a very strong performance by Lester. Meanwhile, Carl Crawford with a grounder to first to kick off the Dodgers game.

6:17: Jamey Wright, who was drafted by the Rockies in 1993, is making his playoff debut. Ellsbury greets him with a single. Wright has the reputation of a journeyman but has had three straight quality seasons.

6:18: Dodgers take the 1-0 lead on a Hanley Ramirez double.

6:20: There is a large truck outside that sounds like a sick dog whimpering.

6:25: Red Sox execute the old hit-and-run. They have a seven run lead, so I'm not sure why, but it worked.

6:29: Bases loaded walk to Napoli. Wright is not sharp.

6:32: Boston takes an 11-2 lead on a 6-3 double play by Jonny Gomes.

6:35: Did you all know that T-mobile is offering a program where you can qualify for a phone upgrade in less than two years? Sweet merciful goodness.

6:39: Ryan Dempster and his Canadamullet in for Boston.

6:40: Jacoby Ellsbury's biggest flaw as a player is getting too close to the wall on fly balls that he can't catch, and having them carom far away from him. When he was a rookie I thought he'd figure that out, but he hasn't. It's not a fatal flaw for a player, but it is an eternally frustrating one.

6:43: Escobar grounds to Pedroia for the 4-3 putout. Red Sox win 12-2. Attention moves to Atlanta vs. Los Angeles, where Evan Gattis has led off the inning with a single

6:44: Again, I swear to god I said that before Ernie Johnson. Believe me, gosh darnit.

6:46: For those of you who don't know the Evan Gattis story, I encourage you to read this piece from David O'Brien at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Even if you DO know his story, it's an excellent article.

6:49: Puig didn't take a great route, but what a rocket off the bat of Simmons. Double to score Gattis and tie the game at one.

7:03: Jason Heyward hasn't turned into the superstar his rookie year seemed to portend, but Barry Bonds is his second closest comparable player, according to Baseball-Reference. Of course, Bonds put up those similar numbers in 125 fewer games (407, instead of 532). He seems to move his hands a lot at the plate. Again, not a scout, but a quieter approach would seemingly help.

7:08: Unlike Heyward, Adrian Gonzalez seems to just have perfect balance through his body in his swing.

7:09: Tommy Lasorda, you are wonderful.

7:14: Beef stew for dinner: Today is glorious.

7:19: The Braves lead the league in guys who seem like they've been around forever but aren't really old. Brian McCann is 29, Justin Upton is 26, Mike Minor is 25.

7:25: The Braves also have the leagues most expensive backup, B.J. Upton. Or, as Christine famously said: "B.J. Upton? More like B.J. DOWNton."

7:27: The Chris Johnson who never had 2000 rushing yards in a season singles home Freddie Freeman to put the Braves up 2-1.

7:35: "Is Maury Povich still on?" Christine asks.

7:36: "Yeah, it's still on."

7:36: Carl Crawford strikes out. Six in a row retired by Minor. If there is a Red Sox-Dodgers World Series, Crawford is unlikely to be well-received.

7:46: I may have spelled Povich correctly, but I was getting "Greinke" wrong for years.

7:49: With Placido Polanco falling away, Mark Ellis is my new default useful baseball player.

7:55: Full speed - Yasiel Puig beats out an infield single. I think he's the closest thing we've gotten to Bo Jackson since Bo got hurt. Just an unreal raw athlete.

8:05: Beef stew, a can of 'gansett, and some Freddie Freeman vs. Zack Greinke. I can deal with this.

8:09: Greinke has settled in - he's retired seven in a row. The Braves have a bullpen advantage on paper, so the seventh is big for LA.

8:13: Skip Schumaker is playing in his 24th career playoff game.

8:15: Both Greinke and Minor coming out. Greinke is getting lifted for Michael Young, who had a better season than I realized. Both pitchers had good outings, a first for this postseason.

8:20: Another example of the uselessness of fielding percentage. A batted ball that wasn't turned into an out, and it has a chance to play a critical role.

8:23: Fantastic 1-6-3 double play. Avilan made that turnaround throw that so many pitchers struggle with, and I'm very impressed with Simmons at short. Huge play. If they don't turn it cleanly, it is a tie game.

8:31: I don't know a ton about Chris Withrow, but he is a great example of what a team is hoping for when they convert a pitcher to the bullpen. Pitchers with a specific flaw or defect are the best candidates for moving to the 'pen, because a good manager can work to limit the exposure of that flaw. In Withrow's case, it's left-handers. He dominates righties, so that's how Mattingly uses him.

8:33: Agree with Cal and Ron. I do NOT like pinch running for McCann here. It's a one-run game, and he's the team's starting catcher. The likelihood that Upton scores a run that McCann wouldn't isn't outweighed by the chance that McCann on his own would make an impact on this game. We'll see if this comes back to haunt the Braves.

8:40: CO-STANZA!

8:41 Overmanagement spectacular! Gonzalez calls for a pinch hitter. Mattingly brings in the lefty. Gonzalez goes back to the bench for another pinch hitter. Mattingly intentionally walks him with his new pitcher to load the bases. My head hurts.

8:46: When both managers over-manage, one ends up being right. Jason Heyward makes Freddy Gonzalez look un-foolish with a two-run single. Mattingly goes back to his bullpen. 4-1 Braves.

8:47: B.J. Upton hit .184/.268/.289 this season. Holy wow.

8:52: I really like Ron Darling on commentary, but I disagree that Justin Upton needs to play like he did in April for the Braves to win. The Braves won a lot from May to September with Upton playing like... he did from May to September. If Upton gets hot it obviously helps them, but he's not essential.

8:53: Another batter, another pitcher! Can you tell that Mattingly learned his bullpen management from Joe Torre?

8:56: J.P. Howell, the fourth reliever of the inning, gets the third out. Well done, everyone involved. That half-inning lasted nearly half an hour and included a goodly number of incorrect things.

9:01: Remember when David Carpenter was on the Red Sox? To get John Farrell, the Red Sox traded Mike Aviles to Toronto for Farrell and Carpenter. Aviles and Carpenter were in the new organizations maybe a month.

9:05: Hanley Ramirez with a two-run shot to bring the Dodgers within one. Adrian Gonzalez at the plate. Craig Kimbrel waiting to save a game in case lesser relievers can hold the lead for him.

9:06: Interesting question in the comments: "As a long time Dodgers fan, do you think that Mattingly will be wooed by the Yankees since Girardi is a free agent?"

My sense is maybe, but nothing will come of it. First off, I think Girardi stays. The Cubs are still a year or two from contending, and the Yankees may be able to put it together for a 2014 run (though I doubt it, personally). We're not in a Doc Rivers situation where he leaves a rebuild for a team ready to win. Even if Girardi does leave, I think Mattingly is pretty entrenched in LA. First off, the Dodgers position is a better job right now. Better ownership, better team, and apparently even more money than the Yankees. Second, I think Mattingly felt a little jilted that he didn't get the job over Girardi back after the '07 season. The Dodgers gave him his chance to manage and the Yankees didn't, so whatever loyalty he had to the Yanks as a player probably isn't an issue anymore.

Also, managing the Yankees in year one of the post-Rivera era is going to carry a lot of grief. Rivera is going to hang over every game the team loses late.

9:09: Carpenter DOES strikeout Gonzalez and Puig, and Freddy is going to Kimbrel for the last out of the eighth.

9:12: Kimbrel only has one career save of longer than an inning? That says more about Gonzalez that it does about Kimbrel.

9:21: Another successful pitching change on this end. Back on the teevee, B.J. Upton strikes out to the surprise of everyone involved. Brian Wilson may be an oddball, but he's good at pitching.

9:25: On to the ninth. 10 minutes to our nightcap!

9:27: Cal Ripken pulls out a Troy Percival reference! This is a good announce team.

9:28: And Duane Ward!

9:31: Dee Gordon - son of Tom - in to pinch run.

9:31: And Gerald Laird throws him out. I continue to be impressed by Simmons.

9:35: Gerald Laird is only 33? Does signing with the Braves allow a player to take two years off of his birth certificate?

9:38: Kimbrel strikes out Carl Crawford to send the series back to Atlanta tied at 1-1. Within 30 seconds,
Bartolo Colon throws strike one to Austin Jackson.

9:41: Miguel Cabrera with a single up the middle to put the Tigers up 1-0. This happened quickly.

9:42: Prince Fielder, who didn't have a great year, grounds into a double play. Hunter comes in to score, but as the announcers said the A's will take that exchange in the first.

9:45: Victor Martinez with a base hit. After a miserable start, Martinez hit .336/.394/.490 from June 1 onward.

9:47: Didn't get much of a chance to look over the lineups. Jhonny Peralta is not starting for Detroit. He got into a couple games in left field after he returned from his suspension, but Andy Dirks gets the start. Jose Iglesias pretty well solidified himself as the starting shortstop.

9:49: Another question from the comments: "Which two teams do you think will face off in the World Series and why?"

My preseason prediction was Tigers over Reds, so nothing too embarrassing! Obviously it won't be the Reds. My guess is the Dodgers - they were the best team from June forward, and a lot came together for them. As we saw tonight Mattingly has a habit of over-managing his bullpen, but so did Joe Torre and Tony LaRussa and they have about eleventy billion rings between them.  There's just so much talent that I can't find a reason to pick against them.

In the AL, I think it's wide open. People get excited about the Rays because of their front-line pitching, but I don't think their lineup has the depth of the other three teams. Boston and Oakland really don't have any weaknesses in their lineup, and nobody else competes with Detroit's middle of the order. I think Boston's lineup depth gives them an edge, and I think Dempster and Doubront moving to the bullpen are going to be valuable depth in the bullpen. I think Boston, Detroit, and Oakland are all very close though, an argument can be made for any of them.

9:51: Coco Crisp hit 22 home runs this year. From 2006 to 2008 with the Red Sox, he hit 21. 

10:03: I don't know that Jose Iglesias hits .300 every year, but I'm not totally surprised that his bat took such a big step forward here. He does EVERYTHING well on defense, and his hand-eye coordination was so obviously a plus tool. He both caught everything, and was able to make quick transfers look effortless. His contact rates were going in the right direction from 2011 to 2012, so a lot was coming together. He doesn't hit the ball with authority all the time, but he's quick out of the box, which is how he ended up with 35 infield hits. His defense is so good that he's a plus player with a .300 OBP. If he keeps it over .330? He'd be one of the more valuable shortstops in the league.

10:10: Brandon Moss strikes out. Of the four ex-Red Sox in the A's lineup, Moss was the only one where the Red Sox got fair value in return. He went in the Manny Ramirez deal, that brought back Jason Bay. Coco Crisp was dealt for Ramon Ramirez, Jed Lowrie for Mark Melancon, and Josh Reddick for Andrew Bailey. The moral: the Red Sox get burned when they trade for relievers.

The Lowrie deal was the most damaging. He was injury prone, sure, but trading a starting major league shortstop for Melancon was hard to defend at the time. Reddick and Crisp didn't have jobs with Boston, so those deals were more defensible.

10:14: Are there players who always seem to do great whenever you watch, and you can't understand how they aren't better? Yeonis Cespedes is like that for me. I feel like every time I watch him he triples and gets an outfield assist. I call these people "Chris Haney All-Stars." Chris Haney used to be great whenever I'd see him, and I'd check the papers and he'd have like a 4.85 ERA.

10:23: Torii Hunter has had a fascinating career. He was overrated in his 20's because of his speed, but he became a much better and smarter hitter in his 30's. In some ways he's like Chili Davis, who reinvented himself as a hitter when he lost his speed, and it was a better hitter than ever. When he left Minnesota he was heading into his age-32 season and had a sub-30 career rWAR. He's now 38 and the rWAR is above 50. He'll get Hall of Fame votes.

10:42: Updates are getting less frequent here in our ninth hour together. For that, I apologize. I'll just stick in a note here that the Bleacher Report stinks and it's unfortunate that MLB or TBS associates with a site that has gotten ahead on the free work of people who want to be writers.

10:48: Omar Infante beats out an infield hit. Infante has hit .293/.330/.410 since 2006 but doesn't get credit for being as good as he is for a couple of reasons. The first is that he came up very young and wasn't at all good on one of the worst teams of all time, meaning he had a pretty bad first impression. Second, he's very inconsistent from year to year. In the last eight years, he has four seasons with an OBP higher than .338 (good Omar!) and three of .315 or lower (bad Omar!). Only once has he been between .315 and .338, which is what his overall number has been during that stretch. It's hard to depend on him, because Bad Omar might show up.

10:53: Josh Donaldson. I still don't know what to make of his season. Is he the new Edgar Martinez or Kevin Youkilis, left to rot in the minors for far too many years?

10:56: Max Scherzer strikes out Donaldson and Moss. Buck Martinez calls him "locked in." Seems accurate. Scherzer finally had the season that his peripherals, stuff, and arbitrary endpoints seemed to suggest he was capable of. He was always one of those players who was "from May 18 on he was this good" but never fully put it together. This year he did, and it will probably win him a Cy Young Award.

10:59: Scherzer K's Cespedes. Remember that crazy Tigers-Yankees-Diamondbacks deal back in the 09-10 offseason? The early returns were that the deal worked out for everyone. Four years later, the deal was a clear winner for the Tigers.

11:03: From the comments: "Unfortunately as long as people are willing to put up with it and write for free nothing will change."

That's true to an extent. Organizations like the Bleacher Report will always be out there looking to exploit cheap "volunteer" labor. However, my bigger problem in this instance is with Turner and MLB, who have plenty of means and should know better.

11:09: The camera work through the playoffs has really left something to be desired. Plays on the bases are getting missed consistently.

11:16: Someone made contact with a Scherzer pitch! Vogt with a lazy fly to shallow right field. I'm not sure his line will look as good, but Scherzer has better stuff tonight than Kershaw did last night.

11:19: Scherzer Ks Barton. He's now struck out 9 of the 17 batters he's faced.

11:30: That single by Avila was smashed, but it really showed off Jed Lowrie's lack of range at short. The A's get great defense on most of the diamond, but Lowrie is a liability at short.

11:31: Josh Reddick is one of those plus defenders. Excellent throw to get his former teammate Victor Martinez at the plate.

11:34: Second straight inning the Tigers lost a runner on the bases. Scherzer has made it so it hasn't come back to haunt them, but Colon has only had to get four outs in the last two innings.

11:40: Scherzer with two walks, both to Coco Crisp. Along with his big home run total, he also had the highest full-season walk rate of his career.

11:43: On-field bullpens are silly. Come on guys, it's 2013!

11:44: For a pitcher with a) a one-hitter, and b) 16 of 19 first-pitch strikes, Scherzer's pitch count is starting to get up. 91 with two outs in the sixth. He looks good to get through seven, but I don't know if Leyland lets him go longer.

11:49: Scherzer labored more in the sixth than in any previous inning, but finishes off Donaldson for his 10th K. Needs four more to get into the all-time playoff top ten.

12:00: It's midnight and they are playing Carly Rae Jepsen at the Oakland County Coliseum. Either that or after 11 hours straight of watching baseball Carly Rae Jepsen somehow turns on in my head. It really could be either.

12:01: Moss has had terrible swings at Scherzer all night, and manages to get a hit on a slow bouncer to short. Second hit for the A's.

12:03: Are the numbers on the back of the A's uniform too big? There's something that bugs me about them, and I think that might be it.

12:06: Yeonis Cespedes hits the ball really really hard and it is a one-run game.

12:12: Alice is signalling the bullpen.

12:25: Cespedes's error puts Victor Martinez on second with two outs. Doolittle takes care of it, then goes off to talk to the animals.

12:31: The Max Scherzer show is over. Drew Smyly is on, and he strikes out Alberto Callaspo. Smyly is an excellent candidate to move back to the rotation next year.

12:32: I swear I said that first. Why must you keep copying me, announcers?

12:37: For the second time today, the closer in the eighth inning. Managers should be sent a memo that this is allowed during the regular season as well.

12:41: If this was mentioned during the broadcast I didn't hear - the Reds have fired Dusty Baker. Baker wasn't much of a strategist, but I'm still pretty surprised by this. It was the third straight playoff appearance for the Reds, in what has become a pretty tough division.

12:47. Hm. Agree that it is curious to pinch hit Peralta for Dirks here. Sacrificing defense for offense with a one-run lead in the ninth? We'll see how this plays out.

12:50: Doolittle strikes out Iglesias to end the ninth. He finishes with three strikeouts to six batters.

12:54: Don Kelly takes over in left, as Buck Martinez speculated. Moss, Cespedes, and Reddick here in the ninth. Benoit had a very good season but really isn't a shutdown closer.

12:57: Benoit with the strikeout. Question - does he also get credit for an assist? I don't know if I've ever seen that before.

12:59: Cespedes with a strikeout. Benoit's changeup is nasty when it works (which has been quite a lot this season).

1:02: Reddick strikes out. Game one goes to the Tigers. Benoit was very strong in a four-out save, striking out the side in the ninth.

1:03: Final Tally: Pittsburgh vs. St. Louis - 3:03; Tampa vs. Boston - 3:33; Los Angeles vs. Atlanta; 3:29; Detroit vs. Oakland - 3:24; I set the over-under at 13:30 when I started. Actual amount of baseball? 13:29. I'll finish on top - good night everybody, thanks for following along!


Anonymous said...

I think Ellsbury will figure that out next Citi Field.

Anonymous said...

Maury Povich is still on TV.

Anonymous said...

As a long time Dodgers fan, do you think that Mattingly will be wooed by the Yankees since Girardi's is a free agent?

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Which two teams do you think will face off in the World Series and why?

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately as long as people are willing to put up with it and write for free nothing will change.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

At least the audio on TBS is better tonight.

Anonymous said...

2 run Home run. Now the game just got interesting.