Aces Carpenter, Wolf show nerves in Game 1

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Chris Carpenter hadn’t issued four walks in a game since an NLCS start in 2006. Randy Wolf hadn’t walked five batters since a loss June 27, 2008 against the Mariners. In Wednesday’s Game 1, both fell victim to wildness in combining to pitch just 8 2/3 innings in the Dodgers’ 5-3 win.
Fortunately for Los Angeles, Wolf was able to pitch out of his jams until the fourth, when Jeff Weaver rescued him with the bases loaded and two out. He was charged with just two runs despite allowing six hits, walking five and hitting a batter in 3 2/3 innings. Two of his free passes were intentional, with both going to Albert Pujols. He was never in control of the game, though.
Carpenter’s command problems didn’t result in walks early on. Leaving too many pitches in the middle of the strike zone, he gave up a single, a two-run homer and then two more singles before escaping the first. In the third, he hit Andre Ethier and walked Manny Ramirez to start a rally, but he minimized the damage by allowing only a single in the frame. The run he allowed in the fifth was also aided by a walk. He was taken out after that inning, having allowing four runs.
Neither the Dodgers nor Cardinals achieved a 1-2-3 inning until Ronald Belisario induced three straight groundouts by the sixth. By the time the seventh inning rolled around, the teams had already set an NLDS record for men left on base. It ended up as a postseason record. Even though the bullpens combined just two walks in 8 1/3 innings, the game finished with the Dodgers having stranded 16 and the Cardinals 14.

Rays lose, clinching postseason berth for Athletics

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The Rays lost 4-1 to the Yankees on Monday night, which clinched a postseason berth for the Athletics just as they began their own game against the Mariners. For the 94-62 A’s, it’s their first postseason appearance since 2014 when they lost the AL Wild Card game to the Royals.

Major League Baseball celebrated the Athletics’ achievement by tweeting this fact: The A’s are the first team since 1988 to make the postseason with baseball’s lowest Opening Day payroll ($66 million).

Yay?

John J. Fisher, who has owned the A’s since 2005, has a net worth approaching $3 billion. The Athletics franchise is valued at over $1 billion. Yet the A’s have never had an Opening Day payroll at $90 million or above and have consistently been among the teams with the lowest payrolls. The cultural shift towards embracing analytics has allowed the A’s to get away with investing as little money as possible into the team. Moneyball helped change baseball’s zeitgeist such that many began to fetishize doing things on the cheap and now the league itself is embracing it.

What the fact MLB tweeted says is actually this: John J. Fisher was able to save a few bucks this year and the A’s still somehow made it to the postseason.

The Athletics’ success is due to a whole host of players, but particularly youngsters Matt Olson, Matt Chapman, Sean Manaea, Daniel Mengden, Lou Trivino, among others. All are pre-arbitration aside from Manaea. When it comes time to pay them something approaching what they’re actually worth, will the A’s reward them for their contributions or will they do what they’ve always done and cut bait? After reaching the postseason in 2014, the A’s traded away Josh Donaldson, Brandon Moss, Jeff Samardzija, and John Jaso. Each was a big influence on the club’s success. Athletics fans should be happy their favorite team has reached the postseason, but if the team’s history is any precedent, they shouldn’t get attached to any of the players. Is that really something Major League Baseball should be advocating?