Last night’s rainout in St. Louis could dramatically change the pitching plans for Game 7, but the Cardinals will have to get there first by winning tonight’s Colby Lewis-Jaime Garcia matchup.
They faced off in Game 2, combining for 13.2 innings of one-run ball. Garcia exited after seven shutout innings with a 1-0 lead, but the Rangers scored two runs in the ninth inning off Jason Motte to grab the victory.
Lewis has been excellent for the Rangers nearly every time out in the playoffs, both this season and last season, combining to make seven postseason starts with a 2.22 ERA and 40 strikeouts in 45 innings. Texas is 5-2 in those seven games and Lewis allowed more than two runs just once, coughing up four runs to the Tigers in Game 3 of the ALCS.
Garcia’s postseason track record is limited to four starts this year and his performance has been a mixed bag. He turned in a stinker against the Brewers in Game 1 of the NLCS and was yanked early in Game 5 of that series, but also tossed a Quality Start versus the Phillies in Game 3 of the NLDS and shut out the Rangers for seven frames in his last appearance.
On paper at least it looks like a pitchers’ duel and a very close matchup, with the gamblings odds pegging the Cardinals as slight favorites at home. Clear skies are expected for tonight (and tomorrow night) and like four of the first five games in the series Lewis vs. Garcia looks likely to be another tight, low-scoring game that may come down to the fully rested relievers. Hopefully the Cardinals’ bullpen phone is working.
Former Yankees closer Mariano Rivera deservingly became the first player ever inducted into the Hall of Fame unanimously, receiving votes from all 425 writers who submitted ballots. Previously, the closest players to unanimous induction were Ken Griffey, Jr. (99.32% in 2016), Tom Seaver (98.84% in 1992), Nolan Ryan (98.79% in 1999), Cal Ripken, Jr. (98.53%), Ty Cobb (98.23% in 1936), and George Brett (98.19% in 1999).
Because so many greats were not enshrined in Cooperstown unanimously, many voters in the past argued against other players getting inducted unanimously, withholding their votes for otherwise deserving players. That Griffey — both one of the greatest outfielders of all time and one of the most popular players of all time — wasn’t voted in unanimously in 2016, for example, seemed to signal that no player ever would. Now that Rivera has been, this tired argument about voting unanimity can be laid to rest.
Derek Jeter will appear on the Hall of Fame ballot for the first time next year. He may become the second player ever to be elected unanimously. David Ortiz appears on the 2022 ballot and could be No. 3. Now that Rivera has broken through, these are possibilities whereas before they might not have been.
Another tired argument around Hall of Fame voting concerns whether or not a player is a “first ballot” Hall of Famer. Some voters think getting enshrined in a player’s first year of eligibility is a greater honor than getting in any subsequent year. I’m not sure what it will take to get rid of this argument — other than the electorate getting younger and more open-minded — but at least we have made progress on at least one bad Hall of Fame take.