Baseball is designed to break your heart: Example 10,246,893

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Obviously there is still a lot of baseball left to play. And if I had to bet, I’d bet that the Detroit Tigers are going to be just fine. But the past two weeks has to convince Tigers fans that, yes, there are Baseball Gods. And that they are not benevolent. Indeed, they’re like the gods of Greek mythology who seem to enjoy toying with mortals.

Less than two weeks ago the Tigers traded for David Price, giving them a rotation consisting of the last three Cy Young Award winners, last year’s ERA champion and a kid in Rick Porcello who is having as good or better a season than all of them. The big question on everyone’s mind was how to fit all of those starters into the Tigers’ playoff rotation, with said playoffs being inevitable.

Flash forward: the Tigers started Robbie Ray last night. They are starting a guy named “Buck Farmer” today. If you had said “Buck Farmer” to me a couple of days ago I would have said it was either the name of a second tier porn star or the name Justin Verlander uses to check into hotels without being noticed. Meanwhile, two starters the Tigers considered superfluous — Doug Fister and Drew Smyly — spun gems for their new teams in the past 48 hours.

This isn’t an indictment of any move the Tigers have made. No one would choose Smyly over Price and not having Fister around did not hurt the Tigers until very recently. And obviously no one can predict injuries. It’s merely to note how damn fast everything can change in baseball and how things you thought were sure things one moment become something far less than sure the next.

It sucks to be reminded of this when it happens to your team. And no one wants injuries to happen. But in a cosmic sense, the quick turn of fortune that can happen in this game is one of baseball’s most exciting phenomenons.

Aaron Judge set a new postseason strikeout record

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For a few days, it looked like Aaron Judge was finally hitting his stride in the postseason. He was still striking out at a regular clip, piling more and more strikeouts atop the 16 he racked up in the Division Series, but he was mashing, too. He engineered a three-run homer during Game 3 of the Championship Series, followed by another blast and game-tying double in Game 4. His one-out double helped pad a five-run lead in Game 5, while his 425-footer off of Brad Peacock barely made a dent during a 7-1 loss in Game 6. And then Lance McCullers‘ curveball found and fooled him, as it did five of the 14 batters it met in Game 7:

The strikeout was Judge’s first of the evening and 27th since the start of the playoffs. No other major league batter has racked up that many strikeouts in a single postseason, though Alfonso Soriano’s 26-strikeout record in 2003 comes the closest. Within that record, Judge also collected three golden sombreros (four strikeouts in a single game), narrowly avoiding the dreaded platinum sombrero (five strikeouts in a single game).

It’s an unfortunate footnote to a spectacular year for the rookie outfielder, who decimated the competition with 52 home runs and 8.2 fWAR during the regular season and was a pivotal part of the Yankees’ playoff run. Thankfully, the image of McCullers’ curveball darting just under Judge’s bat won’t be the image that sticks with us for years to come. Instead, it’ll look something like this: