I want the record to reflect that I have not trolled Philly fans all day. As a 1990s Braves fan I learned the hard way that awesome rotations aren’t always enough and that six months of brilliance can be erased pretty damn quickly once your depth advantage is reduced due to the nature of playoff baseball. It stinks, but it’s baseball life.
Now, don’t mistake my lack of trolling Philly fans for me rooting for them or something. I mean, I’m not rooting against them either, but it would certainly make life more interesting around here if Philly lost. After being informed by so many that the season should have just been suspended and the Phillies named World Series champs the day after the Cliff Lee signing I would certainly look forward to the post-NLDS loss spin should it occur.
That may be academic though. Why? Because for all of the issues with the offense recently and the anything can happen nature of an elimination game, I keep coming back to one thing. Or one man, really: Roy Halladay. He pitches tonight. And he’s pretty much God when he gets five days of rest, which is what he has now. Here’s Corey Seidman over at Phillies Nation:
Halladay has made 84 career starts on five days rest. He has a .714 winning percentage in those games and an ERA (2.59) almost one full run better than on normal rest (3.42). An extra-rested Halladay has held opponents to a batting average 22 points lower than usual and a slugging percentage 44 points lower. In such games, his opponents’ OPS is 15 percent worse.
You can’t predict baseball. Especially not playoff baseball. But for the Cardinals to overcome that tonight, they’re going to have to play out of their minds.
Following the Astros’ decisive 4-0 shutout over the Yankees on Saturday night, Justin Verlander was named the Most Valuable Player of the American League Championship Series. Hall of Fame outfielder and former MLB manager Frank Robinson handed the award to Verlander, who was beaming as he thanked his teammates and members of the Astros’ organization.
“I’ve got to say, it came down to the wire, and one thing kept going off in my head was Dallas,” Verlander told the crowd gathered at Minute Maid Park. “When he called me, he said that I won’t regret my decision to join the Houston Astros. And here we are right now, it’s the best feeling in the world. We’ve got four more wins to win a World Series, and I do not regret my decision to come here. This is the best feeling a player can have. So, thank you.”
Among a cast that boasted the likes of Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa and Dallas Keuchel, among others, Verlander was spectacular. He locked down a complete game win in Game 2, holding the Yankees to one run on five hits and a walk and striking out a postseason-high 13 batters. In Game 6, he saved the Astros from elimination with seven scoreless innings, helping propel the club to their eventual 7-1 finish that set up their series-clinching finale on Saturday.
The 34-year-old righty also took his place among some postseason greats. Thanks to an eight-strikeout outing on Friday night, his collective 136 postseason strikeouts are good for sixth-most in MLB playoff history, just a smidgen shy of Tom Glavine (143), Mike Mussina (145), Roger Clemens (173), Andy Pettitte (183) and John Smoltz (199). He also joined Bob Gibson, Curt Schilling and Sandy Koufax as one of just four hurlers to strike out 20+ Yankees in a postseason series.