We have a classic on our hands

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When do you know that a classic World Series is afoot? We certainly know it when it’s over. But at what point as it’s happening can one safely say that, yes, we’re seeing something special? The kind of series that only comes along once or twice a decade? Something memorable?

I’m prepared to say that we have one now.  With the Rangers’ 4-0 win over the Cardinals we now have played four games, and nothing has been decided.  We’ve had a solid outing from Chris Carpenter in Game 1 paired with a clutch pinch hit. We had a a ninth inning comeback in Game 2. We had one of the best — possibly the best — single offensive performance by a player in a World Series game from Albert Pujols in Game 3. And now, in Game 4, a gem from Derek Holland.

Are you not entertained? What else could you ask for? And we have at least two more games to play.

Holland was masterful tonight, mixing the best velocity he’s shown in three postseason starts with a curve ball that obeyed his every command. Twenty-four hours after the Cardinals bats made mincemeat of everything tossed their way, they had no answers for Holland. He gave up two hits, both to Lance Berkman. There was never a threat until the ninth, and that was aided by Neftali Feliz who came in and walked the first batter he faced after Holland ran out of gas.  Just ask Tony La Russa and Ron Washington how dominant Holland was. First La Russa:

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And then Washington:

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But this World Series is about more than Derek Holland. Or Albert Pujols. Or Jason Motte. Or Chris Carpenter. It’s building in much the same way an individual game builds. Each night, we’ve seen something wonderful yet something totally different than we saw the game before.  At this rate Game 5 is going to turn on a triple play. Or a steal of home. Or the hidden ball trick.

Or maybe something else entirely. All I know is that neither the Rangers nor the Cardinals seem to have mailing-one-in on their agenda. And each time we think we know what may happen — the bullpens dominating, continued pitchers duels, or offensive outbursts — someone comes along the very next game and flips the script.

Predicting what happens next is a sucker’s game at this point. It’s been some time since we’ve had four straight World Series games this much fun for so many different reasons. We’ve all bought the ticket. Time to just sit back and take the ride.

Braves clinch NL East title

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So much for a last-minute, nail-biting finish to this division race. The Braves cemented their division title with a dominant 5-3 finish over the Phillies on Saturday, laying claim to the NL East title for the first time since 2013.

The Braves asserted themselves right off the bat after amassing a four-run lead from Johan Camargo and Freddie Freeman, both of whom cleared the bases with two-run singles in the first two innings. Ronald Acuna Jr., meanwhile, found another way to make his presence known after swiping his 15th stolen base of the year and joining Alex Rodriguez, Orlando Cepeda, and Mike Trout as one of the youngest players to collect at least 25 home runs and 15 stolen bags in major league history.

Not to be outdone, Atlanta right-hander Mike Foltynewicz delivered one of the strongest starts of his season to date. The righty set down six innings of no-hit ball against the Phillies, and, with just 62 pitches under his belt, looked ready to go the distance before he lost his bid on Odubel Herrera‘s leadoff single in the seventh.

Unfortunately for the Braves, the Phillies not only upended Foltynewicz’s no-hit attempt, but the shutout as well. In the eighth inning, Cesar Hernandez and Rhys Hoskins wrestled two RBI singles from Atlanta’s bullpen and brought Philadelphia within one run of tying the game. Hoskins was the last Phillies batter to reach base, however, as Jonny Venters and Arodys Vizcaino tossed a combined 1 2/3 scoreless innings (backed by a final RBI hit from Kurt Suzuki in the bottom of the eighth) to cap the Braves’ win — and the NL East title.

With the loss, the Phillies sit seven games back of a wild card spot in the National League. They’ll need to outpace the Diamondbacks, Rockies, and Cardinals in order to make 2018 their first postseason-qualifying year since 2011.