Heck, I'm not even mad, that's amazing

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In case you missed Friday night’s wildly entertaining, exciting and
ultimately infamous Mets-Yankees game, here are a few things you should

… Robinson Cano hit one over the ridiculously short porch in right
center to open the scoring, but to be fair, it was a legit homer. More
on this later …

… Joba Chamberlain only allowed one hit and two runs. Unfortunately,
he also walked five, hit two, and lasted a mere four innings. Before
the game, a buddy of mine was furious over the previous night’s
disaster in Boston, and sarcastically noted that at least the Yanks’
eighth inning guy was resting up to throw five mediocre innings the
next night. One short pal …

… Keith Hernandez was absolutely on fire, describing an ugly third
inning by Joba as “like watching A ball.” Later, after Gary Sheffield
questioned a called strike on the inside corner, Hernandez said “That’s
the old Derek Jeter move, who never saw an inside fastball he didn’t
think was a ball” …

… Speaking of Sheff, he momentarily time-warped back to 2002,
crushing a hanging curve from Brett Tomko for a three-run homer. It was
one of those rising line drives hit so hard down the line it didn’t
have a chance to go foul. And Sheff wasn’t even halfway to first by the
time the camera cut back to him after it landed in the seats, clearly
milking the moment …

… That homer gave us a great trivia question: name the four players
who hit homers for the Yankees against the Mets AND for the Mets
against the Yankees. Answer: Sheffield, Robin Ventura, Tony Clark, and
Miguel Cairo (!) …

… Continuing a brutal week in the field, Nick Swisher Lupused a
Carlos Beltran line drive that was the catalyst for a four-run rally …

… Trailing 6-3, Jeter hit a fly ball to right-center that probably
traveled about 360 feet. But since this was at The Cathedral They Call
Yankee Stadium (man I despise Michael Kay), the ball landed four rows
deep. REALLY glad we didn’t have to hear John Sterling give his “El
Capitan!” …

… So with the Mets leading 6-4 in the sixth, Livan Hernandez ran out
of gas. And naturally, with the tying runs on base, Jerry Manuel
brought in Jon Switzer, who had been called up from triple-A about
three hours earlier and was now making his debut. What Manuel did was
put this kid in the best possible situation to succeed, only the exact
opposite. In the coming years, I’m sure Switzer will be able to laugh
about giving up a go-ahead three-run homer to Hideki Matsui, the first
major league batter he ever faced. Just not now …

… Because their best setup guy had just thrown four mediocre innings
a couple hours earlier, Joe Girardi brought in Mariano Rivera with two
outs in the eighth to face Beltran. Incredibly, Rivera walked only his
third batter of the year. Then, with Beltran running, David Wright
ripped an opposite field double that put the Mets in front. See, Mike
Francesa, he is clutch …

… Now it’s the bottom of the ninth, Francisco Rodriguez is on the
mound, and he has not blown a save yet this year. Of course, Mets fans
are terrified and assume that number one is about to happen, because
they’re getting flashbacks to all those closers who blew games against
the Yanks: Armando Benitez (at least three, including Game 1 in the
2000 World Series), John Franco (just threw up in my mouth), Billy
Wagner (four run lead in 2006!), and Braden Looper (I’m assuming) …

… Brett Gardner popped up to lead off, and Omir Santos caught it.
This seemed like a mundane feat at the time. Then Jeter singled up the
middle, and Johnny Damon pinch hit for Swisher. On a 3-2 count, K-Rod
threw a hellacious changeup that Damon swung through, but Jeter stole
second on the play. K-Rod wisely unintentionally intentionally walked
Mark Teixeira (who hit one in the third that probably still hasn’t
landed yet) and now Alex Rodriguez is up. And I’m only worried because
K-Rod likes to throws a ton of curveballs, and A-Rod probably has a
better chance of hitting that than his fastball …

… And A-Rod pops up a 94 mph fastball on a 3-1 count! Luis Castillo
is under it! No, wait, he’s drifting. And drifting. And drifting. And
just when he appears to be under it, he uses ONE HAND to try and catch
it. The ball pops out. Castillo stumbles to the ground. Then, almost as
egregiously as muffing the pop-up, HE THROWS TO SECOND BASE! WHY??
Teixeira, who clearly hustled the entire way, scored behind Jeter for
the winning run. 9-8 Yanks. K-Rod gets credited with a blown save and a
loss. Castillo really wishes he were somewhere else, and frankly, so do
Mets fans. Like, for good …

… Some beautiful replays: A-Rod, slamming the bat down, looking
crushed as he jogs to first, then eyes bulging as he sees the drop and
realizes he should start running hard, then shocked elation, probably
more so because he won’t have to deal with everyone calling him a
choker than the fact his team just won; Manuel, poker-faced as the ball
is hit into the air, and Sandy Alomar slides into the shot next to him,
ready for the postgame handshake, only to mouth a stunned “Oh s***” as
he sees the disaster that unfolds; and poor K-Rod, who simply put his
hands on his head in disbelief. Welcome to the Mets, Frankie! …

… Strange as it sounds, the ending to the game was so absurd, I’m
not as upset as you’d think a Mets fan might be (can’t speak for
everyone, of course), and this one will probably sting a lot more when
they’re a game out in September and you think back to all those ones
that got away. But right now, for me, it’s like that Ron Burgundy line:
“You pooped in the refrigerator? And you ate an entire wheel of cheese?
How’d you do that? Heck, I’m not even mad. That’s amazing.”

ALDS, Game 2: Rangers vs. Blue Jays lineups

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Here are the Rangers and Blue Jays lineups for Game 2 of the ALDS in Toronto:

CF Delino DeShields
RF Shin-Soo Choo
DH Prince Fielder
1B Mitch Moreland
SS Elvis Andrus
LF Josh Hamilton
2B Rougned Odor
C Chris Gimenez
3B Hanser Alberto

SP Cole Hamels

Adrian Beltre is out of the starting lineup after leaving Game 1 with what appeared to be a significant back injury, leaving Hanser Alberto to fill in at third base. With a right-hander on the mound Mike Napoli goes to the bench and Mitch Moreland starts at first base, and manager Jeff Banister also switched up the batting order a bit without Beltre in the No. 3 spot. Robinson Chirinos homered in Game 1, but he takes a seat in Game 2 so that Chris Gimenez can catch Cole Hamels.

LF Ben Revere
3B Josh Donaldson
RF Jose Bautista
DH Edwin Encarnacion
SS Troy Tulowitzki
1B Chris Colabello
C Russell Martin
2B Ryan Goins
CF Kevin Pillar

SP Marcus Stroman

Josh Donaldson and Jose Bautista are both in the starting lineup after leaving Game 1 with injuries, which is particularly good news in Donaldson’s case because he suffered a potentially serious head injury sliding into second base. Toronto’s only change from Game 1 is subbing Chris Colabello for Justin Smoak at first base with a left-hander on the mound. There’s right-handed power all over the place, so Hamels’ changeup may be the key to the entire game.

Royals will bring back Yordano Ventura to start Game 4

Yordano Ventura
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Thursday night’s rain delay cut Yordano Ventura‘s start short after just two innings, as the Royals opted to turn to reliever Chris Young instead of bringing the 24-year-old right-hander back out to the mound following the delay.

One benefit to that is what manager Ned Yost has decided to do now, which is use Ventura to start Game 4 on Monday. Had he thrown, say, 102 pitches instead of 42 pitches Ventura likely would have started Game 5, forcing the Royals to go four starters deep in their ALDS rotation.

Ventura struggled before the delay Monday, allowing three runs in two innings. However, he finished the regular season by going 7-1 with a 2.38 ERA and 81 strikeouts in 68 innings over his final 11 starts, which was enough to convince Yost he was the right pitcher to start Game 1 rather than trade deadline pickup Johnny Cueto.

Playoff Reset: Four games in one day!

Cole Hamels

Oh baby.

There’s baseball from noon to midnight today, with a pair of Game 2s in the American League and a pair of Game 1s in the National League.

Tons of great starting pitchers–including the best in the world and a trio of big-name trade deadline acquisitions–and we’ll find out if a home team can actually win a game after starting the playoffs 0-4.

The Game: Texas Rangers vs. Toronto Blue Jays
The Time: 12:45 PM Eastern
The Place: Rogers Centre, Toronto
The Channel: MLB Network
The Starters: Cole Hamels vs. Marcus Stroman
The Upshot: Stroman coming back from what was deemed a season-ending knee injury in spring training to start Game 2 of the ALDS is a helluva story and the Blue Jays need him to come up big after David Price failed to do his part in Game 1. Yovani Gallardo somehow wriggled out of trouble against Toronto’s scary lineup, but as a left-hander Hamels has an even tougher assignment versus the never-ending right-handed power. Assuming it’s all in the lineup, of course. There are big health question marks for both sides, as Adrian Beltre, Josh Donaldson, and Jose Bautista all exited Game 1 with injuries and their respective statuses could swing the balance of power in the series.

The Game: Houston Astros vs. Kansas City Royals
The Time: 3:45 PM Eastern
The Place: Kauffman Stadium, Kansas City
The Channel: FOX Sports 1
The Starters: Scott Kazmir vs. Johnny Cueto
The Upshot: Two headline-grabbing trade deadline pickups with a lot to prove, as Kazmir and Cueto both struggled for their new teams. Cueto was bumped back to Game 2 after being acquired to front the Royals’ rotation and there was some speculation that Kazmir might not even have a spot in the ALDS rotation. Kansas City losing Game 1 last night and Houston having Dallas Keuchel waiting in the wings for Game 3 puts a ton of pressure on Cueto’s shoulders. Generally one of the toughest pitchers to homer against, he allowed 10 homers in 13 starts for the Royals and the Astros’ power-packed lineup will put him to the test all afternoon. Can the defending AL champs get off the mat quickly or will they head to Houston in need of a win to keep the season alive?

The Game: Chicago Cubs vs. St. Louis Cardinals
The Time: 6:45 PM Eastern
The Place: Busch Stadium, St. Louis
The Channel: TBS
The Starters: Jon Lester vs. John Lackey
The Upshot: Former Red Sox teammates Lester and Lackey square off in Game 1 of the first ever playoff series between two of the biggest rivals in baseball, with the Cubs fresh off their Wild Card game triumph over the Pirates and the Cardinals coming off an MLB-high 100 wins. Yadier Molina‘s ability to play through a thumb injury will be key for the Cardinals and it’ll also be interesting to see how much faith manager Mike Matheny has in Adam Wainwright to get late-inning outs as a reliever after returning from a torn Achilles’ tendon.

The Game: New York Mets vs. Los Angeles Dodgers
The Time: 9:45 PM Eastern
The Place: Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles
The Channel: TBS
The Starters: Jacob deGrom vs. Clayton Kershaw
The Upshot: Quite a way to finish an entire day of baseball, as the Mets go looking for their first playoff win since 2006 and Kershaw tries to cement his legacy as an all-time great by dominating in the playoffs like he does in the regular season. And don’t overlook deGrom, because last year’s Rookie of the Year winner has a 2.61 ERA and 349 strikeouts in 331 innings since debuting last May. Among all starters with at least 300 innings during the past two seasons Kershaw ranks first in ERA and deGrom ranks fourth, with Jake Arrieta and Zack Greinke in the 2-3 slots. This is a speculator pitching matchup.