The Yankees are 37-22. After last night that record is comprised of a 10-1 mark against the Orioles, a 4-0 mark against the Indians and a 5-1 record against the Twins. Against everyone else the Bombers are under .500.
I would not be at all surprised to hear New York talk radio fret about this sort of thing at some point because New York talk radio is always looking for something to fret about, but it’s worth remembering that this is not at all uncommon. Indeed, it’s usually the case that the best teams beat the living tar out of the worst ones and basically break even against the better teams (and, I suppose in the case of the Twins, beat up on those good teams whose number one simply seems to have). The Yankees did this last year and managed to win a World Series. They also did this in their previous championship year — 2000 — going 42-43 against .500+ opponents en route to a 87-74 record.
And it’s not just the Yankees. As Darren Everson pointed out in the Wall Street Journal last year, the last time a team won a World Series while doing better than breaking even against .500+ teams was 1995 when the Braves did it. Everson also noted that the Angels frequently kick the snot, relatively speaking, out of good teams and they usually get a first round playoff exit for thier troubles. All the other recent champs have cruised against the pushovers and done no better than hold their own against the toughies.
So while some people may want to see the Yankees play better against the Rays and Red Sox of the word, this pattern is just dandy. At least if you’re not an Orioles or an Indians fan.
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.