The Padres and Giants battled to a tight finish in the National League West standings last season.
It all came down to one final three-game series in San Francisco that almost saw the Giants blow a three-game division lead. They eventually wrapped up that series with a win in Game 162 and went on to win the World Series.
Both the Giants and Padres, whether thinking in realistic terms or not, are expecting a tight race again in 2011. Fuel: meet fire.
According to the Associated Press, via NBCSports.com, a San Diego-area memorabilia store is selling three baseballs signed by Mat Latos that read “I hate SF” under the right-hander’s signature.
This probably won’t lead to anything. It’s just a case of Latos having a little fun, and the Giants’ players probably won’t want to start a war of words by making some kind of comeback remark. But that stuff between the Cardinals and Reds last season was pretty exciting and saying you “hate” a team is at least somewhat close to calling that team a “bunch of little b–ches.” Right?
So, uh, Fight!?
The ALCS had a weird play in Game 4 on Tuesday night, but Game 4 of the NLCS did as well. This one involved Cubs outfielder Albert Almora, Jr. and his attempt to spark a rally in the bottom of the ninth inning against Dodgers reliever Ross Stripling.
After Alex Avila singled, Almora ripped a double to left field, past a diving Enrique Hernandez. The ball rolled to the ivy in front of the wall. Most outfielders there would’ve put their hands up, which would have alerted the umpires to call an immediate ground-rule double. Hernandez didn’t, instead fishing the ball out and firing it back into the infield. Avila had stopped at third base, but Almora kept running. Much to his surprise, he pulled up into third base to see his teammate standing there, resigned to his fate as a dead duck. Third baseman Justin Turner applied the tag on Almora for what he thought was the first out of the inning.
Almora, however, was then sent back to second base after the umpires correctly called a ground-rule double.
Unfortunately for the Cubs, the lucky break didn’t help as closer Kenley Jansen came in and took care of business, retiring all three batters he faced without letting an inherited runner score. The Dodgers won 6-1 and now lead the NLCS three games to none. They’ll try to punch their ticket to the World Series on Wednesday.