It was really the first weekend that actually felt like spring, at least from a baseball perspective. Yeah, the previous weekend was nice, but we were still getting a lot of rainouts and cold games. This weekend, no matter which game I turned to, it looked and felt like baseball. Ah.
- Roy Oswalt is on the DL. First chink in the Big Four’s armor? Apart from the fact that only Kyle Kendrick got a win in the Atlanta series?
- This item from Saturday about Jose Reyes was headlined “The Dumbest Thing You’ll Read Today.” I just read it again and it’s the dumbest thing you’ll read on Monday too.
- B.J. Upton got suspended because Joe West’s umpire crew is terrible.
- The Chase Utley shakedown cruise starts off well.
- Justin Verlander to the Blue Jays: “No, you cannot have hits. Not yours.” And he was still cooking with gas at the end of the game.
- Todd Wellemeyer retired. In five years he well be inducted to the Hall of Had A Pretty Good Half Season as a Swingman After Being Claimed Off Waivers By The Cardinals in 2007. It’s not a very big Hall, but the gift shop is pretty nice.
- The Julio Teheran Era did not start off quite as awesomely as one might have hoped.
- Andre Ethier fails to extend his hitting streak to 31. Vlad Guerrero, Ken Landreaux, Ron LeFlore, Rico Carty, Willie Davis, Vada Pinson, Sam Rice, Napoleon Lajoie, Ed Delahanty, and Jimmy Wolf continue their tradition of cracking open a bottle of champagne when yet another pretender fails to enter a tie for the 25th all-time longest hitting streak with them.
- Oh, and Joey Votto’s on-base streak ended at 33. No one cares about that one, though.
- The Red Sox call up Jose Iglesias. All leather, no bat at the moment.
- Tony La Russa has an awful eye infection thing and is going to have it examined at the Mayo Clinic. I hope he feels better soon. I also kind of hope that his course of treatment includes staying away from bullpen phones for 4 to 6 weeks.
- The number of reports about Derek Jeter which will use the hacky old “the reports of Derek Jeter’s death …” cliche this morning will be considerable.
- Mike Scioscia gets his 1000th victory. Sadly, none of the Angels’ runs in yesterday’s game came as the result of a squeeze play or a delayed double steal or good catching defense or anything all Mike Sciosciay like that.
And into the new week we plunge.
Alcides Escobar finished with a .292 OBP this year. He came in at .246 in 117 at-bats in August and .257 in 109 at-bats between September and October, so he wasn’t exactly flying high entering the postseason. Still, that didn’t stop Ned Yost from putting him into the leadoff spot for Thursday’s Game 1 against the Astros.
Yost finally did reconsider hitting Escobar first in September. It took Alex Gordon‘s return to health, plus the previous addition of Ben Zobrist to the lineup, in order to make that happen. However, it didn’t stick. Escobar hit ninth in each of his starts from Sept. 7-26, batting .236 with a .276 OBP during that span. With five games left to go, he was suddenly returned to the leadoff spot. The Royals went on to win all five games. Yost saw it as a sign, even though Escobar went 5-for-22 with no walks in those games.
Escobar went 0-for-4 in Thursday’s loss to the Astros. He did not swing at the first pitch of the game, which probably explains the defeat.
It’s been difficult to argue with Yost since last year’s World Series run and this year’s incredible run out of the game. The blind spot with Escobar, though, gets rather infuriating. One can defend hitting him leadoff against the Astros’ lefties. His career OBP against southpaws is .319 (.316 this year). Against righties, he’s the most obvious No. 9 hitter alive, with a career .258/.290/.342 line (.252/.284/.314 this year). He’s not a pace-setter. He’s not a spark plug. He’s a liability.
After shutting out the Yankees in the AL Wild Card game on Tuesday, the Astros beat the Royals 5-2 in Game 1 of the ALDS on Thursday at Kauffman Stadium. Road teams are now 4-0 to begin the 2015 postseason.
The Astros grabbed an early 3-0 lead against Yordano Ventura through two innings. Chris Young took over for the Royals after a 47-minute rain delay and was very effective for the most part, allowing just a solo homer to George Springer over four innings while striking out seven batters. Colby Rasmus, who homered in the Wild Card game, took Ryan Madson deep in the eighth inning to give the Astros’ bullpen some extra breathing room.
Collin McHugh stayed in after the rain delay and ended up tossing six innings while allowing just four hits and one walk. Kendrys Morales did all the damage against him with a pair of solo homers. He’s the first Royals player to hit two home runs in a postseason game since George Brett in the 1985 ALCS.
The Royals’ offense showed some signs of life in the bottom of the eighth inning with back-to-back two-out hits against Will Harris, but Oliver Perez got Eric Hosmer to foul out to end the threat. Luke Gregerson tossed a scoreless ninth inning to finish off the victory.
Consistent with their identity during the regular season, the Astros won despite striking out 14 times. The same goes for the Royals, as they struck out just four times. Despite putting the ball into play more often, the Kansas City lineup wasn’t able to muster anything aside from the home runs by Morales.
Game 2 of the ALDS will begin Friday at 3:45 p.m. ET. Scott Kazmir will pitch for the Astros and Johnny Cueto will get the ball for the Royals.
After Kendrys Morales brought the Royals within one run in the bottom of the fourth inning with his second solo home run of the game, George Springer took Chris Young deep in the top of the fifth to extend the Astros’ lead to 4-2 in Game 1 of the ALDS.
According to Statcast, the ball traveled an estimated 422 feet and left Springer’s bat at 109 mph. Royals fans are happy it was just a solo home run. It could have been worse, as Jose Altuve singled to lead off the fifth inning before being thrown out trying to steal second base during Springer’s at-bat.
The Royals will try to answer as we move to the bottom of the fifth inning at Kauffman Stadium.