Between this, the Giants-Reds game and my well-known yet uncontrollable pitching fetish, I am really not liking living in the eastern time zone today. If NBC would act on my long-standing request to set me up in a nice little flat in that interwar Pacific Heights co-op I would have been awake for both of these, dammit.
Anyway: Felix Hernandez was wicked good last night, throwing his fifth career shutout and striking out 13. He allowed five singles and walked a dude, but that was about it.
The Sox got good pitching too, though, with Franklin Morales allowing only three hits in his seven inning, and it was 0-0 entering the ninth. The Red Sox had a chance to draw first blood that inning, putting runners on first and second with one out. But then Adrian Gonzalez flied out and Will “1 for 15 since the Youkilis trade” Middlebrooks popped out. Sorry, but you know people are thinkin’ it.
The M’s won it in the bottom of the inning when John Jaso singled to right field to score Casper Wells from second base. Cody Ross actually had Wells dead to rights on the throw — it beat him to the plate — but Jarrod Saltalamacchia couldn’t keep a handle on it.
I guess on a night where Felix Hernandez pitched so brilliantly, the fates couldn’t keep the W from him.
The Cubs had a nice night last night. Javier Baez finally broke his hitless streak with not one but two homers. Willson Contreras hit a nearly 500-foot homer. Jake Arrieta, possibly pitching for the last time as a Cub, dug down for a gutsy performance, pitching into the seventh inning, working around some walks to allow only one run while striking out nine.
After the game, Cubs players sounded hopeful notes about believing in themselves, taking them one game at a time, getting the series back to L.A. for a Game 6 and Game 7. They’re professional athletes who know better than any of us that to achieve a thing you have to believe you can achieve that thing, so it’d be dumb to expect anything else from them in this situation. Ballplayers, quite admirably, don’t sound a note of defeat until they are actually defeated.
But let’s be realistic there: they’re still a dead team walking.
- They’re dead because, as we have been reminded oh so many times, only once in 35 tries has a team come back to win a seven game series in which they’ve found themselves down 0-3. That team did so because Dave Roberts worked some magic. Dave Roberts is working for the other team now.
- They’re dead because their biggest weakness this postseason — their bullpen — is not going to have its best pitcher, Wade Davis, available today in Game 5 after throwing 48 pitches in Game 4.
- They’re dead because while the Dodgers used five relievers last night, none of them were worked particularly hard and neither Brandon Morrow nor Kenley Jansen were used at all, allowing them to come in and work hard and heavy tonight if need be.
- They’re dead because the man on the mound to start tonight’s game is Clayton Edward Kershaw. Yes, he has had some less-than-glory-filled moments in the postseason in recent years, but all of those have come at the tail end of starts, when his managers have left him in perhaps an inning too long. See the above bullet point — and Dave Roberts’ early hook in Game 1 — if you think that’ll be a problem tonight.
The Dodgers lost last night, yes, but it was their first loss in the postseason. All teams have lost at least one postseason game since it went to the three-round format, so it was likely inevitable that L.A. would drop one. Heck, maybe they’ll drop two before the NLCS is over, but they’re not going to drop the next three in a row.
Last night’s Cubs win was nice for them, but it only delayed the inevitable.