I know a lot of you are at-work-only readers and actually try to have lives and/or watch football on the weekend. Whatever, I can’t stop you from doing silly things.
If you are one of those people with bad priorities, however, we would like you to know that there was all kinds of fun playoff activity over the weekend, we were writing about it, and here is a little rundown of what you missed:
- The Rangers and Braves are gone thanks to the wild card game, the A’s and Giants are down 0-2 to the Tigers and Reds, respectively, the Yankees hold a 1-0 lead on the Orioles and the Nats have the same on the Cards.
- There was an awful infield fly rule call in Atlanta on Friday which, for some reason, Braves fans are starting to believe was the reason they lost that game as opposed to Braves players throwing the ball all over the infield and leaving runners in scoring position. Whatever. That call was bad, but it didn’t cost the Braves the game. The Braves cost the Braves the game.
- That awful call caused Braves fans, for the first time in living memory, to display passion. So I guess something good came out of it all! Actually, no: that was just pathetic, Braves fans. Just uncalled for bull, and I was rather embarrassed to count myself in your number on Friday night. There is never an excuse to throw stuff on the field. I doubt baseball would do it in a playoff game, but that’s the kind of thing that could have caused a forfeit. Go back to watching Georgia football, you jerks, and let us few dozen real Braves fans continue to root for our team in a quiet, but far more dignified manner.
- Despite last night’s ninth inning implosion against the Yankees, the O’s have had something to celebrate in the playoffs for the first time in 15 years.
- In contrast, the Rangers skipper and star player caught some heat. And the star suggests that he’s played his last game for the Boys from Arlington.
- And in contrast to that, Dusty Baker hinted that he will be back with his team next year.
- The Atheltics are wearing a logo in memory of Pat Neshek’s son. Pat Neshek showed heart supreme by taking the ball and pitching. The A’s bats were silenced by Justin Verlander.
- The Reds’ ace? Not as good. Johnny Cueto threw eight pitches and left with back spasms in Game 1 of the NLDS. No worries, though, the Reds had it all along.
- In Game 2, the A’s pen shows that all the work its been getting of late may be taking its toll. Don Kelly, meanwhile, plays hero.
- Oh, and the A’s are not a big fan of Al Albuquerque, who planted a wet one on a baseball before making a putout. Hey man, let no one judge someone else’s love.
- The Nats — despite Gio Gonzalez acting like he was the singer in a Rick Ankiel cover band — beat the Cardinals.
- Bronson Arroyo stymied the Giants in Game 2. People still say “stymied,” right?
- CC Sabathia shows us all the value of an ace. The Orioles’ bullpen shows us that the post season is a whole new ballgame.
- The San Francisco Giants’ offense is on the side of milk cartons, asking “have you seen me?”
And we keep on going today: the Nats and Cardinals play in St. Louis at 4:37 PM Eastern time. The Orioles and Yankees play in Baltimore at 8:07 PM.
The Cubs obliterated the Dodgers in Game 6 of the NLCS, riding nine shutout innings to their first pennant win since 1945. Here’s what you should know about their historic finish:
- By virtue of the Cubs’ 71-year World Series drought, Jon Lester and Javier Baez became the club’s first and only postseason MVPs in franchise history. The World Series MVP award was first distributed in 1955, while the NLCS MVP awards have been issued since 1977.
- Lester and Baez are also the first co-MVPs of the Championship Series since the 1990 Reds celebrated left-hander Randy Myers and right-hander Rob “Nasty Boy” Dibble following the team’s ninth pennant win (per MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch).
- Anthony Rizzo’s fifth inning solo shot in Game 6 tied him with Miguel Cabrera, Alex Gonzalez, and Kyle Schwarber for the most postseason homers hit at Wrigley Field, with three (per Comcast SportsNet’s Christopher Kamka).
- Rizzo and Willson Contreras’ home runs were the first Clayton Kershaw had given up in the playoffs since Game 4 of the 2015 NLDS. The twin blasts also accounted for a fifth of the total home runs Kershaw had given up in 2016.
- Clayton Kershaw’s Game Score of 33 was not only the lowest the left-hander had put up since the start of the 2015 season, but the lowest the Cubs had seen from an opposing pitcher in the postseason since 1989. During Game 4 of the 1989 NLCS, Giants’ right-hander Scott Garrelts pitched 4 2/3 innings with eight hits, four runs, and two homers en route to a 6-4 loss and a 33 Game Score.
- By contrast, Kyle Hendricks’ Game Score of 86 was the third-highest among Cubs’ postseason starters, ranking just below Jake Arrieta’s 11-strikeout complete game during the 2015 wild card tiebreaker and Orval Overall’s three-hitter in Game 5 of the 1908 World Series.
- The last major league season to feature an ERA leader on the Cubs’ roster was 1945, also the last season in which the Cubs rode to the World Series. In 2016, the MLB ERA leader is Game 6 winner Kyle Hendricks (2.13 ERA); in ‘45, it was left-hander Ray Prim (2.40 ERA), who capped a dominant year with a loss against the Tigers in Game 4 of the World Series and blown save in Game 6.
- Not to be overlooked in the lefty’s gem on Saturday night: Hendricks and Aroldis Chapman combined to face the minimum number of batters, at 27. According to MLB Stat of the Day, only the 1956 Yankees had also faced the minimum batters in a postseason game, though they did it with just a bit more panache.
- With Kris Bryant, Willson Contreras, Albert Almora Jr., Javier Baez, and Addison Russell penciled into the lineup, the Cubs became the first MLB team to utilize five starters under 25 years old to clinch the NLCS (also via MLB Stat of the Day).
- If you want to talk postseason drought, the Cubs-Indians World Series will set a precedent for combined championship-less streaks, at 174 years between the two clubs (per ESPN Stats & Info).
- Speaking of unpleasant streaks, there’s this: with the Dodgers’ loss in the NLCS, they’ve now gone to the postseason four consecutive times without participating in a World Series showdown. According to ESPN’s Buster Olney, that’s a first in major league history.
After 71 years, the Cubs are headed back to the Fall Classic.
The dominance with which Clayton Kershaw attacked the Cubs in Game 2 of the NLCS was nonexistent in Game 6 as the Dodgers’ ace loaded the bases to start the first inning and scattered five extra bases and five runs over five frames. By the time Dave Roberts pulled his starter in the sixth inning, Kershaw was sitting on a Game Score of 33, the lowest he’s mustered since the start of the 2015 season. Only one of his strikes came via curveball, and whether he was having difficulty locating his off-speed stuff or felt more confident with the fastball-slider combo, it was the fewest curves he’d seen land for strikes all year (per David Adler).
Where the Dodgers were able to give Kershaw the edge in Game 2, they found themselves powerless against opposing hurler Kyle Hendricks. Hendricks turned out 7 1/3 scoreless frames with two hits and six strikeouts, preserving the Cubs’ second shutout of the postseason and the first since they bested the Giants in Game 1 of the NLDS. After his 1-0 loss to the Dodgers early in the NLCS, seeing the MLB ERA leader turn out a gem was a relief for the Cubs, especially one as spectacular as an 88-pitch two-hitter.
With Hendricks effectively stymieing the Dodgers’ best attempts to get on base, the Cubs played to their strengths at the plate. Kris Bryant and Ben Zobrist cleared the bases in the first inning for a two-run lead, followed by a Dexter Fowler RBI single in the second. Willson Contreras came through in the fourth inning for the Cubs, lifting an 87 m.p.h. slider to left field for his first home run of October, while Anthony Rizzo hit his second homer of the postseason on a 1-1 fastball in the fifth.
Neither bullpen allowed a single run from the sixth inning onward. Dodgers’ right-hander Kenley Jansen took the ball from Kershaw in the sixth, scattering four strikeouts over three innings and denying the Cubs so much as a single baserunner through the end of the game. Aroldis Chapman, meanwhile, issued just one walk in 1 1/3 scoreless frames, inducing a Yasiel Puig double play to clinch the Cubs’ 17th franchise pennant.
With the win, the Cubs will face off against the Indians in Game 1 of the World Series on Tuesday at 8 PM EDT. And, in case you needed a reminder: