St Louis Cardinals v Los Angeles Dodgers - Game Three

Shocker: the Cardinals think the Dodgers celebrate too much


Sometimes baseball players are criticized for not appreciating that they get paid a lot of money to play a kids’ game. Sometimes they are criticized for realizing that they’re playing a kids’ game and acting accordingly. Just can’t win!

That was the case with the Dodgers last night anyway. First, Adrian Gonzalez doubled and was pumped up about it, gesturing enthusiastically to his teammates in the Dodgers dugout. Then, later, Yasiel Puig tripled and — because his depth perception was off and because he’s faster than hell — he (a) celebrated what he thought was a homer out of the box; and (b) celebrated what actually turned out to be a triple when he got to third:

Not surprisingly the Cardinals who, with the Braves out of the playoffs, are the ranking active Fun Police, took issue. First Adam Wainwright on Gonzalez’s enthusiasm:

“I saw Adrian doing some Mickey Mouse stuff on third base, but I didn’t see what Yasiel did. Those guys are fired up. This is playoff baseball, they want it over there.”

Translation: it’s OK to be pumped, but you should be pumped in a particular way or else it’s “Mickey Mouse.”  Here’s Carlos Beltran on Puig:

“I think he doesn’t know,” Beltran said. “He still thinks he’s playing somewhere else, I don’t know. He has a lot of passion, no doubt about that. Great ability, great talent, and I think with time, he will learn that you have to sometimes act a little bit more calm … It’s not great, I don’t like it, but what can I say? I don’t play for them. I just play over here and need to do my job.”

My view: Gonzalez wasn’t taunting anyone. He directed nothing at the Cardinals. He was fired up and was trying to fire up his teammates. Not sure how anyone can call that “Mickey Mouse.” Heck, until recently I thought the knock on Gonzalez was that he lacked fire and was dour. Again, can’t win.

Puig? Puig is, well, Puig. And while I can imagine you don’t like it if he’s doing that against your team, I can’t see how anyone can watch that guy and not smile. He’s enjoying himself. Yes, the game will humble him — until yesterday it had been pretty well in recent days — but there’s nothing wrong with being pumped up and enthused. And it is enthusiasm. It’s spontaneous. It’s not like he’s choreographing moves out there.

Don’t want those guys doing that stuff? Keep ’em off base. That shuts everyone up.

Maybe Alcides Escobar shouldn’t bat leadoff

Alcides Escobar
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Alcides Escobar finished with a .292 OBP this year. He came in at .246 in 117 at-bats in August and .257 in 109 at-bats between September and October, so he wasn’t exactly flying high entering the postseason. Still, that didn’t stop Ned Yost from putting him into the leadoff spot for Thursday’s Game 1 against the Astros.

Yost finally did reconsider hitting Escobar first in September. It took Alex Gordon‘s return to health, plus the previous addition of Ben Zobrist to the lineup, in order to make that happen. However, it didn’t stick. Escobar hit ninth in each of his starts from Sept. 7-26, batting .236 with a .276 OBP during that span. With five games left to go, he was suddenly returned to the leadoff spot. The Royals went on to win all five games. Yost saw it as a sign, even though Escobar went 5-for-22 with no walks in those games.

Escobar went 0-for-4 in Thursday’s loss to the Astros. He did not swing at the first pitch of the game, which probably explains the defeat.

It’s been difficult to argue with Yost since last year’s World Series run and this year’s incredible run out of the game. The blind spot with Escobar, though, gets rather infuriating. One can defend hitting him leadoff against the Astros’ lefties. His career OBP against southpaws is .319 (.316 this year). Against righties, he’s the most obvious No. 9 hitter alive, with a career .258/.290/.342 line (.252/.284/.314 this year). He’s not a pace-setter. He’s not a spark plug. He’s a liability.

Astros top Royals in Game 1 of ALDS

Houston Astros' Jose Altuve, left, celebrates with teammate Luis Valbuena after scoring a run during the first inning in Game 1 of baseball's American League Division Series against the Kansas City Royals, Thursday, Oct. 8, 2015, in Kansas City. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

After shutting out the Yankees in the AL Wild Card game on Tuesday, the Astros beat the Royals 5-2 in Game 1 of the ALDS on Thursday at Kauffman Stadium. Road teams are now 4-0 to begin the 2015 postseason.

The Astros grabbed an early 3-0 lead against Yordano Ventura through two innings. Chris Young took over for the Royals after a 47-minute rain delay and was very effective for the most part, allowing just a solo homer to George Springer over four innings while striking out seven batters. Colby Rasmus, who homered in the Wild Card game, took Ryan Madson deep in the eighth inning to give the Astros’ bullpen some extra breathing room.

Collin McHugh stayed in after the rain delay and ended up tossing six innings while allowing just four hits and one walk. Kendrys Morales did all the damage against him with a pair of solo homers. He’s the first Royals player to hit two home runs in a postseason game since George Brett in the 1985 ALCS.

The Royals’ offense showed some signs of life in the bottom of the eighth inning with back-to-back two-out hits against Will Harris, but Oliver Perez got Eric Hosmer to foul out to end the threat. Luke Gregerson tossed a scoreless ninth inning to finish off the victory.

Consistent with their identity during the regular season, the Astros won despite striking out 14 times. The same goes for the Royals, as they struck out just four times. Despite putting the ball into play more often, the Kansas City lineup wasn’t able to muster anything aside from the home runs by Morales.

Game 2 of the ALDS will begin Friday at 3:45 p.m. ET. Scott Kazmir will pitch for the Astros and Johnny Cueto will get the ball for the Royals.

George Springer homers to extend Astros’ lead over Royals

Houston Astros' George Springer (4) celebrates with teammates after scoring a run in the first inning in Game 1 of baseball's American League Division Series against the Kansas City Royals, Thursday, Oct. 8, 2015, in Kansas City. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
AP Photo/Charlie Riedel
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After Kendrys Morales brought the Royals within one run in the bottom of the fourth inning with his second solo home run of the game, George Springer took Chris Young deep in the top of the fifth to extend the Astros’ lead to 4-2 in Game 1 of the ALDS.

According to Statcast, the ball traveled an estimated 422 feet and left Springer’s bat at 109 mph. Royals fans are happy it was just a solo home run. It could have been worse, as Jose Altuve singled to lead off the fifth inning before being thrown out trying to steal second base during Springer’s at-bat.

The Royals will try to answer as we move to the bottom of the fifth inning at Kauffman Stadium.