I have preferred the TBS playoff coverage to the FOX coverage over the past couple of years for two reasons: (1) Unlike FOX, TBS’s producers don’t appear to have ADHD and can keep to a single camera shot for more than a half second, resisting the urge to cut from closeup to closeup to closeup between pitches; and (2) in the grand scheme of things, Chip Caray + Ron Darling > Joe Buck and Tim McCarver. Based on last night’s game, however, these assumptions may no longer be operative.
The direction in the Twins-Tigers tilt was practically seizure-inducing. If there was a woman in the Metrodome stands holding her hands together in prayer that the cameras didn’t cut to in between pitches I’ll be utterly shocked. Also, Tigers’ third base coach Gene Lamont needs to give his publicist a raise, because whatever it is he’s doing to get his client more camera time while he sits uncomfortably in his too-tight uniform in the dugout while the Tigers are in the field is obviously working. Between the fan shots and Lamont-o-vision it was rare to actually see a catcher give the signs and the pitcher come set in the late innings.
Caray has reached a whole new level. The one everyone is talking about today is his call of Nick Punto’s “Line drive! Base hit!” to left in the 10th inning. It was the first line drive base hit I’ve ever seen result in the batter being out and the runner being killed at the plate following a tag-up. But that wasn’t Caray’s only delightful moment. Every foul ball was “fisted”. Every fair ball was a “hot shot!” In a game where there was no shortage of organic drama, Caray tried to infuse every call with instant phony drama rather than let the game speak for itself. By the time we were in extra innings, Ron Darling was spending more time trying to cover for Caray’s screwups than he was offering analysis. Which, while entertaining in its own right, almost makes one pine for Buck and McCarver. At least we’ve had more practice tuning them out.
There are three games today, all on TBS. The only saving grace is that Chip Caray can only call one of them.
In the end, the Mets’ march into the playoffs played out just how they imagined: three innings of a Bartolo Colon perfecto, four combined innings of one-run ball from five different relievers, a James Loney home run. Well, maybe it looked a little different when they drew it up.
Colon guided the Mets through five innings for his 15th win of the year, striking out six and giving up a two-run homer in the fifth. Behind him, the Mets combined for five runs off of RBI base hits from T.J. Rivera and Jose Reyes, finding an edge with Loney’s go-ahead homer in the sixth and a bonus RBI single from Asdrubal Cabrera in the ninth inning. Despite a pair of well-placed home runs by Ryan Howard and Darin Ruf, the Phillies found themselves in scoring position just twice and were unable to close the two-run gap to tie the game.
The Mets’ 5-3 win over the Phillies clinched their spot in the postseason, sans tiebreaker. They also secured home-field advantage for Wednesday’s wild card game, during which they’ll face either the Cardinals or the Giants. On Friday, the wild card winner will advance to the Division Series against the Cubs at Wrigley Field.
As MLB.com’s Jeff Passan and Joe Trezza simultaneously pointed out, it will be an unconventional playoff run for the Mets, who approach October without Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Steven Matz, Neil Walker, David Wright, Zack Wheeler, or Ben Zobrist. Now, if ever, seems like an appropriate time for some champagne.
With Game 1 of the Red Sox-Indians ALDS set to commence on Thursday, there’s no better starter for the job than Corey Kluber. The only question is whether or not the right-hander will be up to the task after sustaining a mild quadriceps strain earlier this week.
Indians’ manager Terry Francona appeared optimistic about Kluber’s chances of recovering in time for the Division Series, but admitted that he doesn’t have his rotation set in stone for the first couple of postseason games. Complicating matters is Monday’s potential make-up game between the Indians and the Tigers, which they’ll be forced to play if the outcome has bearing on playoff seeding.
Per MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian, Francona doesn’t have a starter for the make-up game, either, though he clarified that rehabbing right-hander Danny Salazar would not be eligible. Salazar is still working his way back from a forearm injury in hopes of joining the Indians for their postseason run, and needs to toss another simulated game before he can be expected to return to the mound. Kluber, meanwhile, will throw off the mound on Sunday.
With Kluber or Salazar limping out of the gate, the Indians will likely have to fall back on right-handers Trevor Bauer and Josh Tomlin. Bauer is slated for Saturday’s face-off against the Royals and confirmed his willingness to pitch on short rest through the playoffs. The 25-year-old also spoke to the Indians about his ability to pitch out of the bullpen, though it’s an option they appear unlikely to exercise. While Francona’s comments on Friday stressed the club’s patient approach toward their rotation, Bauer appeared revved and ready to go:
If it was up to me, […] I’d pitch and be ready to start or be available out of the ‘pen every game. In the playoffs, there’s really no reason to save anything. So, whenever I can get in there, whenever they want me to get in there, I’ll be ready.