Be sure to forget to watch Jack Morris and John Smoltz talking Game Seven on MLB Network this Sunday

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I sure know that I’ll forget to watch it!

MLB Network’s MLB’s 20 Greatest Games continues on Sunday, May 8 at 7:00 p.m. ET when Jack Morris and John Smoltz join series hosts Bob Costas and Tom Verducci to discuss Game Seven of the 1991 World Series between the Atlanta Braves and Minnesota Twins, which is ranked second in the series. In a showdown featuring two teams that finished last in their divisions the previous year, Morris and Smoltz discuss the intensity of this series, the crucial missed opportunities by both teams to break a scoreless tie, and the famous pitchers’ duel that developed over ten innings.

A preview is here.

I know I’ve mentioned this before, but for complicated reasons involving a trip home from college to visit my girlfriend that weekend and a big hassle parking my car out at the remote undergraduate lot when I got back to town that weekend, I didn’t actually see this game. I listened to much of it on the radio though, including the ending. And it was heart-wrenching enough with no pictures. I subsequently saw a replay of it, and that was hard enough. To think that I’m going to sit through an extended autopsy of it, even 20 years later, is crazy.

But if you’re not a sick and damaged Braves fan like me, you probably do want to watch it. Given that it, you know, was an awesome game from an objective perspective. And it has, like, a ton of  historical significance.

Grr.

Kershaw-Sale anything but a pitcher’s duel

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World Series Game 1 was billed as a battle of aces, the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw against Chris Sale of the Red Sox. Between them, they have 14 All-Star Game nominations. Kershaw has won three Cy Young Awards. Sale could his first Cy Young Award this year. Among his 10 seasons with at least 110 innings pitched, Kershaw has never posted a sub-2.92 ERA. Sale has been at 2.90 or below in each of the last two seasons. The two have combined for over 4,000 career strikeouts and both have averaged better than a strikeout per inning over their careers.

And yet Tuesday’s Game 1 was anything but a pitcher’s duel between Kershaw and Sale. Though a couple of fielding mistakes weren’t of any help to Kershaw in the first inning, Red Sox batters were squaring him up good. Of the five balls put in play in the first inning, three had exit velocities of 100 MPH or higher. Of the 12 total balls put in play against him overall, five reached triple digits in exit velo.

Kershaw gave up a pair of runs in the first, another run in the third on a J.D. Martinez double to straightaway center field, and another two in the fifth. Kershaw led off the fifth by walking Mookie Betts, then giving up a single to Andrew Benintendi, ending his night. Ryan Madson relieved Kershaw and proceeded to allow both inherited runners to score. All told, Kershaw yielded five runs on seven hits and three walks with five strikeouts on 79 pitches in four-plus innings.

Sale, meanwhile, was on the hook for individual runs in the second, third, and fifth. Dodger hitters weren’t squaring him up quite as well as the Red Sox batters squared up Kershaw, but Sale was still more hittable than usual. Of the eight balls put in play against him, four were at least 90 MPH in exit velo. One of the runs was a no-doubt solo home run to Matt Kemp in the second. The Dodgers chased Sale in the fifth when he issued a leadoff walk to Brian Dozier. Matt Barnes relieved him allowed the inherited runner to score. Overall, Sale threw 91 pitches in four-plus innings, serving up three runs on five hits and two walks with seven strikeouts.

The game is now, as has been generally the case throughout this postseason, a battle of the bullpens.