The comments are a fertile place for discussion topics this morning. This one comes from rockthered1286 in the And That Happened thread, giving kudos to Orioles’ GM Dan Duquette for pushing buttons to give this team Nate McLouth, Jim Thome, Omar Quintanilla, Manny Machado, Randy Wolf and Joe Saunders.
I’ll grant him Machado as a good move before it was made and after, and one that some GMs wouldn’t have made. And I’ll note that not all of those guys have performed well for the O’s (i.e. Wolf), but man, how often do a series of moves involving guys like that, either in age or talent, bring about a playoff appearance? Who said when any of those guys were acquired that yes, now, the Orioles are going to the playoffs? No one, obviously.
I don’t want to oversell the “Orioles are lucky!” angle because (a) it doesn’t matter now because the wins and the playoffs are in the bank; and (b) it’s been beaten to death. However, to say that the 2012 Baltimore Orioles have not been the beneficiaries of good fortune and all manner of happy shiny phenomenon would be to miss the essence of the season. And as far as I’m concerned, it’s what makes it all the more special and fun.
In other news: if your team isn’t playing the O’s in a playoff series, how can you not root for them?
The book heading into the series was that the Dodgers’ starters needed to come up big for them due to questions in the bullpen and that the Brewers’ bullpen was going to dominate Dodgers batters, so they had best do what they can to score off of Milwaukee’s starters. So, of course, the Dodgers starters turned in performances of three and four and a third innings and eight of their nine runs the Brewers have given up have come from their relievers. I dunno, man. It’s baseball. It lends itself to anticipatory analysis worse than any other sport.
All I do know for sure is that this series has been as close as it gets so far, with each game being decided by a run and the outcome being determined late. The first two games have given me a sense that the teams are just feeling each other out and that the next three, in Los Angeles, will provide a bit more coherence to all of this. Not that there isn’t something a bit fun about incoherence when it comes to a playoff series.
Your viewing guide:
NLCS Game 3
Brewers vs. Dodgers
Ballpark: Dodger Stadium
Time: 7:39 PM Eastern
Pitchers: Jhoulys Chacin vs Walker Buehler
Jhoulys Chacin had an excellent NLDS start against the Colorado Rockies, turning in five scoreless innings. If he does something approaching that tonight the Brewers will be in pretty good shape given that Josh Hader — who pitched three shutdown innings in Game one — is available again tonight. To the extent Craig Counsell needs to dig more deeply into his reliever corps, however, things could get dicey. Corbin Burnes, Jeremy Jeffress, Corey Knebel and Joakim Soria have combined to allow seven earned runs in four innings. Brandon Woodruff, who has been dominant thus far, throwing five scoreless innings, stands a good chance of being the opener for Game 4, so Counsell will likely try to keep him off the mound tonight. That puts a decent amount of pressure on Chacin to get the game to Hader with as few innings remaining as possible.
For Los Angeles, it’s Walker Buehler who, the grand slam he gave up to Ronald Acuña in the NLDS notwithstanding, was the Dodgers’ most dominant starter down the stretch. In keeping with the somewhat flipped script so far, however, the Los Angeles bullpen has been solid, allowing just two runs over their ten and two-thirds innings in Games 1 and 2. Not that Dave Roberts wouldn’t love to see Buehler go deep tonight too.