Giants, Rangers still have to be favored, but . . .


The good news for Rangers and Giants fans: in Major League Baseball history, 35 teams have been up 3-1 and then lost Game 5. Of those 35 Game 5 losers, 24 still went on to win the series. The good news for Giants fans: 17 of those Game 5 losers had to go on the road for Games 6 and 7, and 12 of those ended up winning the series. So yes, the odds still favor the plucky underdogs from Texas and San Francisco. Purely on history, the Rangers have a 67% chance at going on to the World Series and the Giants a 71% chance.

But as a great philosopher once said: never tell me the odds.

Why? Because of the 1987 NLCS. Because of the 2002 World Series. Neither of those Giants teams ever had a 3-1 lead, but each took a 3-2 lead on the road for games 6 and 7, and each of those teams woofed the final two. I like Matt Cain’s chances in a Game 7 better than Atlee Hammaker’s, and for all of the hostility in Citizens Bank Park, they don’t have the power of the Rally Monkey on their side in Philly, but you just know that Giants fans feel like they’ve been here before.  I still worry about the Phillies’ offense, but the juju of it all is in their favor, and that’s not nothing.

The Rangers, in my mind, are in a much, much better position. They’re at home. They face a shaky Phil Hughes tonight. If worst comes to worst they have the best postseason pitcher in baseball going in Game 7. Nothing in life, and especially nothing in baseball is guaranteed, but I’d probably give the Rangers something better than the two out of three odds history gives them.

Tense times for Philly, San Francisco, New York and Texas partisans. Awesomely entertaining times for the rest of us. Here’s to a fantastic weekend of playoff baseball.

Clayton Kershaw completes spring training with a 0.00 ERA

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Clayton Kershaw had nothing left to prove when he exited the mound during his last Cactus League start on Friday. He finished camp with a 0.00 ERA, made all the more impressive after he extended his scoreless streak to 21 1/3 innings following 6 2/3 frames of one-hit ball against the Royals.

In six spring training starts this year, the Dodgers southpaw racked up 12 hits, four walks and 23 strikeouts. His velocity appeared to fluctuate between the high-80s and low-90s from start to start, but manager Dave Roberts told reporters that he expects Kershaw to get back up to the 93 m.p.h. range next week. Kershaw is tabbed for his eighth consecutive Opening Day start on Thursday.

The 30-year-old lefty is poised to enter his 11th season with the club in 2018. He went 18-4 in 27 starts last year and turned in a 2.31 ERA, 1.5 BB/9 and 10.4 SO/9 over 175 innings. He suffered his fair share of bumps and bruises along the way, including a lower back strain that required a five-week stay on the disabled list.

The Dodgers will open their season against the Giants on Thursday, March 29 at 7:08 PM ET. Given the sudden rash of injuries that hit the Giants’ rotation earlier today, Kershaw’s Opening Day opponent has not yet been announced.