Henry Schulman asks if the Giants’ surprise callup of Buster Posey is designed to “light a fire” under Bengie Molina. Call me crazy, but when you’re in a tight race for the final playoff spot, your starting catcher is hurt, and your team’s best prospect, also a catcher, just put up a .900+ OPS across two levels of minor league baseball at the age of 22, maybe the reason to call him up is less about psychological motivation and more about, you know, winning ballgames. Indeed, given Molina’s .281 OBP and the Giants’ desperate need for offense, Posey may be the guy to play even if Molina’s fire is sufficiently lit and he’s able to play more.
But I’ll grant that there’s a more subtle play involved here. It just doesn’t involve Molina’s psyche. It involves his contract, in that he won’t — or at least shouldn’t — be offered one for 2010 if Posey shows that he can handle the job this month.
I have spent a lot of time over the past few years slamming Brian Sabean for doing shortsighted things. With the Posey callup, however, he is wisely looking to the future. What’s more, assuming Posey is anything other than a total loss at the plate at the big league level these next few weeks, this future play won’t do any violence to present interests either.
I don’t believe I’m saying this, but: Well played, Mr. Sabean.
Clayton Kershaw has looked sharp on the mound and at the plate so far in this must-win NLDS Game 4 at New York’s Citi Field.
After no-hitting the Mets in the first two frames, Kershaw smacked a one-out single to left-center field in the top of third inning. Howie Kendrick followed soon after with a two-out single to left and then Adrian Gonzalez blooped a ball to shallow center that drove in Enrique Hernandez, who had reached earlier on a fielder’s choice grounder to second base.
That all set up this Justin Turner two-run double down the left field line that put Los Angeles up 3-0 …
That’s now four doubles this postseason for Turner, which is a Dodgers franchise record for the Division Series. Los Angeles is trying to force a Game 5.
In the first postseason meeting between the two longtime archrivals, the Chicago Cubs prevailed over the St. Louis Cardinals.
Watch as Cubs closer Hector Rondon whiffs Cardinals outfielder Stephen Piscotty with a nasty 0-2 breaking ball to clinch a Division Series victory and send Wrigley Field into a frenzy (this is actually the first time in franchise history the Cubs have won a playoff series at home) …
Chicago dropped Game 1 but took three straight to finish off St. Louis. Next up is a matchup against either the Dodgers or Mets in the National League Championship Series.
After taking Game 1 of the NLDS in an outstanding performance from John Lackey, the Cardinals dropped three straight to the Cubs by scores of 6-3, 8-6 and 6-4. It’s not difficult at all to imagine a healthy Carlos Martinez swinging one of those games.
Martinez wasn’t the Cardinals’ best starter this year, but he was the one who could shut a team down by himself, with little help from the defense needed. Martinez struck out 184 batters in 179 2/3 innings while going 14-7 with a 3.01 ERA. He left his next-to-last regular season start with a shoulder strain that was going to cost him the entirety of the postseason no matter how far the Cardinals advanced. It was a killer blow for a team whose offense had already been slowed by injuries.
October just came at the wrong time for the Cardinals, what with Martinez down, Yadier Molina nursing a significant thumb injury, Matt Holliday and Randal Grichuk far from 100 percent and Adam Wainwright still weeks short of potentially pulling off a Marcus Stroman-like return to the rotation.
It’s Molina absence Thursday and lack of effectiveness otherwise that serve as a popular explanation/excuse for the Cardinals’ loss. And the downgrade from him to Tony Cruz behind the plate was huge, even if Molina is no longer the hitter he was a couple of years back.
Martinez, though, had the potential to even up the NLDS just by doing what he did in the regular season. And had Martinez been in the rotation, the Cardinals wouldn’t have moved up Lackey to start Game 4 on three days’ rest. They’d have been the clear favorites in a Game 5 Jon Lester-Lackey rematch back in St. Louis, though we’ll never know how that might have worked out.