Saturday, October 06, 2012
2012 Major League Baseball Playoffs
The Wild-Card games were just that last night---wild. In the controversial single game winner-takes-all format, the Saint Louis Cardinals defeated the Atlanta Braves 6-3, while the Baltimore Orioles eliminated the defending AL Champion Texas Rangers 5-1.
Braves’ fans said good-bye to the most-likely Hall of Fame third baseman Chipper Jones, (who committed a crucial error in the 4th inning that allowed the Cards to score three times). For the record, the Braves, (who were tops in the Majors in team defense), committed three errors in the game and even out-hit the Cards 12-6, while stranding 10 runners on base. But the real fireworks erupted in the eighth inning:
"But this one-and-done game will be remembered for the eighth inning, when a disputed call on a fly ball that dropped in short left field cost the Braves a chance at extending Jones' career.
The Braves thought they had the bases loaded with one out after the ball dropped between two fielders, who appeared to get mixed up over who had called for it. But left-field umpire Sam Holbrook, who has 11 1/2 years of major league service and previously had worked four playoff series, called Andrelton Simmons out under the infield fly rule -- even though the ball landed at least 50 feet beyond the dirt. When the sellout crowd of 52,631 realized what had happened, and a second out went up on the scoreboard, they littered the field with whatever they could get their hands on."
By the time the “littering” occurred, the “damage” was already done when the Cards’ Matt Holliday homered in the 6th, and scored two more in the top of the 7th, when the Braves committed two more errors, giving the Cards a 6-2 lead.
In the second game, the Orioles added more damage to an already bruised Rangers’ team, who had lost their division lead to the upstart Oakland A’s on the final day of the regular season. Both teams committed two errors apiece as the Birds came away with the 5-1 win, setting a date with the NY Yankees.
Today’s games feature the A’s at the Detroit Tigers at 6:07 PM ET, followed by the Cincinnati Reds at the SF Giants at 9:37 PM ET. Both series will be a best 3 out of 5 format with the first two games being played at Detroit and San Francisco, followed by the last three, (if necessary), in their opponent’s park.
As most baseball fans know by now the A’s stunned the league, (and the Texas Rangers), by finishing an improbable season with a 6-game winning streak that included sweeping the Rangers out of the division. “The first team in major league history to win a division after trailing by five games with less than 10 to play, even as they endured a nine-game losing streak in May and were buried 13 games out of first place as late as June 30.”
The Detroit Tigers won the AL Central Division by finishing with an 8-2 record in their final ten games. The Tigers are starting Justin Verlander, (17-8 with a 2.64 ERA), tonight while the A’s will start 23 year old rookie Jarrod Parker, (13-8, 3.47 ERA). This first game should be a nail-biter.
In the nightcap, the Giants start their ace Matt Cain, (16-5, 2.79 ERA) up against the Reds’ Johnny Cueto, (19-9, 2.78 ERA). Both teams won their divisions handily with Cincy outpacing St. Louis and the Giants leaving their rival Dodgers in the dust, by 9-8 games respectfully. Possible MVP and NL Batting Title winner Buster Posey, (.336, .385 since the all-star break), will lead the Giants offensive cast that includes additions Marco Scutaro, (15 triples), and Hunter Pence, (104 RBI’s--5th in the NL). The Giants also sport a pretty stubborn pitching staff that includes manager Bruce Bochy’s stellar “Bull Pen by Committee”.
The Reds aren’t shy on offense either, with Brandon Phillips, (.281 BA, 163 hits, and 77 RBI’s) and power hitter Jay Bruce, (34 HR’s and 99 RBI’s). Their pitching staff also sports a .334 team ERA, one of the best in the NL. San Francisco leads Cincinnati in total runs scored, (718-669) and team batting average, (.269-.251), but these two teams are closely matched with their respective pitching staffs. This should be a great series to see who moves on to play either Washington or St. Louis for the NL title.
(Disclaimer: I am a rabid SF Giants fan who has attended Candlestick games all the way back in the 60’s watching Hall of Fame players like Willie Mays, Willie McCovey, Gaylord Perry, Orlando Cepeda, among other greats. The Bleacher Report states that Barry Bonds is the greatest all-time Giant, but that’s BS in my book. Willie Mays will always be heads and tails ahead of any Giant (or arguably any MLB player for that matter), simply because of May’s all around abilities. After the Giants’ first World Series victory since 1954, the 2012 G-men look to be even stronger than the 2010 Champions---we shall see.)
2012 MLB Postseason Schedule ~ Link