Following the Home Run Derby from on-site is … weird. It’s a made for TV event, really. And when you’re sitting out behind the left field foul pole in a temporary press box that is sort of insulated from the sounds of the ballpark you lose your gravity pretty quickly. I had the MLB.com feed on for a while but it was on a delay. Then they started pumping some foreign language broadcast of it. Eventually they caved and gave us Chris Berman. Back-back-back and, really, most of the writers here would be better following this on TV from home. Perhaps with the sound off. It’s be the same product for us with the added bonus that our employers would not have to pay for our dinner.
I got a steak sandwich from Pat LaFrieda’s, by the way. It was glorious. Thanks, NBC.
Anyway, the first round happened. Here are the results:
Yoenis Cespedes: 17
Chris Davis: 8
Bryce Harper: 8
Michael Cuddyer: 7
Pedro Alvarez: 6
Prince Fielder: 5
David Wright: 5
Robinson Cano: 4
Cespedes’ performance was pretty impressive. Lots of long shots. Seemed to have a much better groove than anyone, and his total certainly reflects that. Bryce Harper’s advancing was somewhat surprising given that his dad — who pitched to him — was busting him inside a lot. Probably a lot of latent family issues there.
Cespedes, Davis, Harper and Cuddyer are now in the second round. Cespedes’ first round total almost ensures him a trip to the finals, but we’ll see. This thing will eventually end. And since it started with a performance by Pitbull, it will end better than it began.
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.