No, the Yankees probably weren’t beating the Tigers four times in five days either. Still, Wednesday’s rainout made the assignment that much tougher.
– Because they’re playing four games in four days, the Yankees have lost the ability to pitch Game 4 starter CC Sabathia on three days’ rest in Game 7. At best, he’ll be available for a couple of innings out of the pen. Their Game 7 options would be Phil Hughes and his achy back, David Phelps, Derek Lowe or perhaps someone not on the roster. They’d have the option of disabling Hughes and activating Ivan Nova, though that would mean losing Hughes for the World Series.
– The Tigers, on the other hand, suffer from no such problems there. Their Game 4 starter, Max Scherzer, wasn’t a candidate to come back and pitch later in the series. Justin Verlander would start Game 7 on four days’ rest.
– One of the things that makes it more difficult to reel off a winning streak in the postseason is that teams often have to use up their quality relievers to get their wins. In Games 3 and 4 against the Orioles, the Yankees had Rafael Soriano throw 3 1/3 innings and David Robertson throw three innings. They may well need similar efforts from those two if they hope to win Games 4 and 5 against the Tigers. Now with no days off between Games 5 and 6, the Yankees will likely head back to New York with a tired pen if they do somehow manage to survive.
– Detroit’s pen, on the other hand, just earned a day off for unexpected ace in Phil Coke. Coke said he’d be ready to go tonight regardless, but after throwing 3 2/3 innings the previous four days, he probably needed the little break.
OK, so that’s pretty minor. The Game 7 issue looks like a backbreaker, though.If they could find out a way to eke out wins the next two days, the Yankees’ chances wouldn’t have looked so bad with Hiroki Kuroda and Sabathia back in the Bronx. Instead, it’d now be TBA versus Verlander.
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:
So much for Clayton Kershaw posing a threat tonight. The Cubs got their knocks in early and often against the Dodgers’ ace during Game 6 of the NLCS, racking up three runs in the first three innings before rookie catcher Willson Contreras unleashed his first postseason home run in the bottom of the fourth inning.
According to MLB.com’s Phil Rogers, Contreras became the 10th Cub to homer in the 2016 playoffs, following big hits by Addison Russell, Anthony Rizzo, Dexter Fowler, Miguel Montero, David Ross, Jake Arrieta, Kris Bryant, Travis Wood, and Javier Baez. Of the ten home run hitters, Contreras joins catchers David Ross and Miguel Montero as yet another backstop capable of driving the long ball (and, less importantly, as another player capable of a sweet, sweet bat flip).
Rizzo, whose last homer was a deep drive to right field off of Los Angeles right-hander Pedro Baez in Game 4 of the NLCS, piled on Kershaw’s five-run outing with another home run in the bottom of the fifth inning. Kershaw called it a night after five frames, and the Cubs currently lead the Dodgers 5-0 in the sixth inning.