St Louis Cardinals v Los Angeles Dodgers - Game Three

The improbable continues in NLCS

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Game 1: Zack Greinke versus Joe Kelly.

Cardinals win.

Game 2: Clayton Kershaw versus Michael Wacha.

Cardinals win.

Game 3: Adam Wainwright versus Hyun_jin Ryu.

Dodgers win.

The Cardinals led the National League in runs scored both for the season as a whole and in the second half. The Dodgers started slowly, but they were third in the league in runs and second in OPS after the All-Star break. 31 innings into the NLCS, the teams have combined to scored nine runs.

And if that wasn’t unlikely enough, one of those three runs that scored tonight was charged to Cardinals reliever Kevin Siegrist. It’s the first earned run he’s allowed in three months. It’s just the second he’s surrendered in 42 innings as a major leaguer.

Finally, a fan dressed as a bear was thrown out of the ballpark tonight.

Tonight’s game could have seen the Cardinals virtually clinch the series with their ace on the mound. Wainwright allowed two runs over 16 innings in his two NLDS starts against the Pirates. Ryu gave up four rins in three innings in his NLDS loss to the Braves.

Yet, Ryu, amid rumors of elbow and back problems, came out throwing his hardest pitches of the season tonight. It’s not even an exaggeration: he hit 95 mph on the gun for the first time as a major leaguer.

Wainwright was fine, but Ryu was better. The lefty pitched seven scoreless innings, allowing three hits. It was just the second time in 32 starts this year that he went without allowing a run.

With the loss tonight, the Cardinals will definitely see Greinke again. They don’t necessarily have to win another Greinke or Kershaw start to advance, but now it’s a series, even if it’s still an incredibly odd one.

Terry Francona isn’t sure how long his health will allow him to manage

BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 19:  Terry Francona #17 of the Cleveland Indians reacts during batting practice before a game with the Boston Red Sox on August 19, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
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Terry Francona just won the American League pennant, the Manager of the Year Award and his Cleveland Indians will likely be among the favorites to win it all in 2017. Between that and his 17-year track record as one of the best managers in the business, he will have a job, somewhere, for as long as he wants one.

He said yesterday, however, that his body will likely limit how long he manages:

“It gets harder and harder physically. It really does. It takes me longer to recharge every year . . . I’ve had a lot of surgeries, a lot of health problems. It just takes a toll on you. I love [the game of baseball]. I really do, but I can’t see myself doing something else. But there is going to come a day when I feel like I’m shortchanging the team or the organization. That’s not fair.

“Even now, during batting practice, I’ll come in and get off my feet a little bit. I think everybody understands. But when there comes a day when it gets in the way, I’m going to have to pull back, and it’s not because I don’t love managing. You have to have a certain amount of energy to do this job right.”

Francona experienced some chest pains and had an elevated heart rate that caused him to leave a game early last season. In 2005 a similar episode caused him to miss three games while managing the Red Sox. He also has a history of embolisms and blood clots, some of which have hospitalized him.

With multiple World Series rings there isn’t much more in baseball that Francona can accomplish, but here’s hoping he sticks around and accomplishes a lot more before he trades in his baseball spikes for golf spikes and calls it a career.

David Ortiz could be in the Red Sox TV booth this season

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A month or so ago it was reported that David Ortiz was going to meet with the Red Sox and NESN to discuss, maybe, spending some time in the broadcast booth in 2017. He’s retired now, of course. Gotta keep busy.

Today we read that, yes, Big Papi may take the mic. Red Sox president Sam Kennedy said that Ortiz may be in the booth on a limited basis, and that Ortiz has talked about wanting to “dip a toe in that water.”

I’m quickly becoming a fan of ex-players who want to, as Kennedy puts it, “dip a toe” in broadcasting as opposed to those who want to make it a full-time job. Former players who become full-time broadcasters tend to start out OK, but eventually burn all of their good anecdotes from their playing days and just become sort of reactionary “back in my day” dudes. There are some exceptions to that of course — guys like John Smoltz and Dennis Eckersley have kept it fresh and Tim McCarver never rested on his playing laurels as he forged a long career in the booth — but for any of those guys there are just as many Rick Mannings Bill Schroeders.

The part time guys who dip in and dip out — I’m thinking Pedro Martinez, Alex Rodriguez and even Pete Rose, who did a good job this past fall after a rocky 2015 postseason — tend to be more fresh and irreverent. They really don’t give a crap on some level because it’s not their full time job, and that not giving a crap allows them to say whatever they want. It makes for good TV.

If Papi can hold off on the F-bombs, I imagine he’d be a pretty good commentator. If he can’t, well, at least he’ll be a super entertaining one for the one or two games he gets before getting fired.