The ninth inning of today’s Reds-Phillies series finale was full of statistical improbabilities. First, Delmon Young drew a four-pitch walk (yes, Delmon Young walked) against Aroldis Chapman. He was immediately replaced by pitcher and pinch-runner Cliff Lee. With Erik Kratz at the plate battling Chapman in a 2-2 count, the lefty reliever picked Lee off of first, seemingly a momentum and rally killer.
(Why did Phillies manager Charlie Manuel pinch-run with a pitcher instead of John Mayberry, Jr.? He wanted to save a right-handed bat to pinch-hit for reliever Antonio Bastardo later in the inning. Lee has pinch-run for the Phillies many times in the past, and is better at the task than Young.)
Kratz worked the count to 3-2, then drove a Chapman fastball over the fence in left field for a game-tying solo home run. It was the second consecutive game in which Chapman has forked over a lead. On Thursday, Chapman allowed an inherited runner to score on a Marcell Ozuna triple.
With a freshly-tied game and one out, Freddy Galvis — getting a rare start today — took his turn at the dish. With a 1-1 count, Chapman placed a fastball letter-high over the plate, which the normally light-hitting Galvis laced down the left field line, whizzing over the top of the fence above the 334-foot sign in the corner, giving the Phillies the walk-off 3-2 victory. It is the first time in Chapman’s career (157 games) that he allowed two home runs in one outing.
Despite the good vibes from the win, the Phillies did receive some bad injury-related news. Carlos Ruiz had left the game with a hamstring injury and Ryan Howard was given the day off due to soreness in his right knee, and both will be out tomorrow as they will have MRI’s. Matt Gelb reported that the duo did not fly with the team as they head to Miami for a nine-game road trip.
Ben Badler of Baseball America Reports that Major League Baseball has cancelled its Dominican national showcase, which was scheduled for today and tomorrow. Why? Because, Badler reports, trainers and players in the Dominican Republic planned to skip the showcase in protest over Major League Baseball’s push to implement an international draft.
The kicker: Major League Baseball explored bringing in lesser prospects to serve as replacement players for the showcase. MLB, you might recall, has a poor track record of getting replacement workers to fill in for picketing players.
As Badler noted recently, the international draft proposed by Major League Baseball is, despite whatever MLB says, all about paying international players less money. From the Players Union’s perspective, it’s all about selling out amateur players to the supposed benefit of current union members. The allegedly altruistic justifications for the draft simply don’t hold water.
They certainly don’t fool the Dominican players who, even if they are ultimately powerless to stop MLB from stripping them of their bargaining power, will not give it up quietly.
The Game: Chicago Cubs @ Cleveland Indians, World Series Game 2
The Time: 7:00 PM EDT
The Place: Progressive Field, Cleveland
The Channel: FOX
The Starters: Jake Arrieta (Cubs) vs. Trevor Bauer (Indians)
We get going an hour earlier tonight due to the threat of rain. As of now, that still looks like it will be the difference between getting this one in or not, as the chance of rain looks to be a lot higher after a 7pm game would reasonably end:
Still, it’s going to be dicey and the conditions will be less than ideal. It will be especially less-than-idea for Cleveland if the game is delayed early and they have to go to their bullpen earlier than expected tonight. Andrew Miller escaped some jams last night and did his job, but he used a lot of pitches to do it — 46 — and may be pretty limited tonight, if he’s available at all. That puts a lot on Trevor Bauer’s shoulders. Or, actually, his fingers, including the pinky finger on his pitching hand which is full of stitches. Those stitches not holding cost him his ALCS start. Terry Francona is hoping to get a lot more out of his starter tonight. Given how little he has pitched in the playoffs he should have the energy as long as his finger holds up.
As for the Cubs, teams that have lost Game 1 of the World Series are 40-70 and, in recent years, have a worse winning percentage than that, losing it all in 12 of the past 13 years. Eh, not too impressed with that stat as it doesn’t actually deal with the series at hand. At hand, the Cubs have superior starters set to go in each of the next two games, starting tonight with Jake Arrieta. He’s not been fantastic in the playoffs this year, but he’s capable of dominating a game any time out.
The Cubs figure to have a better night at the plate now that Corey Kluber is out of the way. Particularly a lefty like Anthony Rizzo, who is probably happy to see Bauer. Jason Heyward will likely be back in the lineup as well. They had better have a better night. Being down 1-0 is not a death sentence in the World Series, even if it has looked like one recently. Being down 2-0 is not something Chicago wants to chance.