Playoff Reset: On to San Francisco and St. Louis

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The ALDS featured two sweeps. The NL still has a chance for one, as the Giants look to put away the Nats. Meanwhile, our only shot at a five game — or even a four game series resumes in St. Louis.

The Game:Washington Nationals vs. San Francisco Giants, National League Division Series Game 3
The Time: 5:07 PM Eastern
The Place: AT&T Park, San Francisco, California
The Channel: MLB Network
The Starters: Doug Fister vs. Madison Bumgarner
The Upshot: After Saturday evening’s marathon, both managers will want their starters to go deep into this one. And both managers have the starter to do it, too. Madison Bumgarner dominated the Pirates in the Wild Card Game and his presence puts the Giants in an excellent position to sweep. The last time Doug Fister faced the Giants in the postseason it was a tough-luck loss in a low-scoring Game 2 of the 2012 World Series. This should all be familiar to him then, as the combined score for the entire series so far is a mere 5-3 in favor of San Francisco.

The Game: Los Angeles Dodgers vs. St. Louis Cardinals, National League Division Series Game 3
The Time: 9:07 PM Eastern
The Place: Busch Stadium, St. Louis, Missouri
The Channel: Fox Sports 1
The Starters: Hyun-Jin Ryu vs. John Lackey
The Upshot: Here’s a deep thought: yesterday John Lackey said of his upcoming playoff start “I want to pitch well this time of year, but things I’ve done in the past aren’t going to help me tomorrow.” John Lackey won Game 6 of the 2013 World Series and Game 7 of the 2002 World Series among his 19 playoff appearances. If John Lackey of all people isn’t going to fall back on “playoff experience” when looking ahead to a pitching matchup, why should any of us? Going to that cliche is understandable, but it’s also less-than-helpful. The bigger question is probably the health and strength of Ryu’s left shoulder.

Bryce Harper letting his haters be his motivators

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When the Phillies go on the road, and even sometimes at home, outfielder Bryce Harper is a magnet for hecklers. Fans have been chanting things like “overrated” at him. But it hasn’t really been working.

Last night, Harper was being booed and ridiculed by fans at Fenway Park according to MLB.com’s Jessica Camerato. Harper shut them up with a two-run home run in the fifth inning which gave the Phillies a 3-2 lead, the score by which they would eventually win. Manager Gabe Kapler said, “I thought it was really interesting. There were some hecklers. I don’t know if they were Red Sox [fans] or who they were, but they were on him pretty good up until that moment. That was a pretty explosive moment for the dugout celebration.”

It is not the only time Harper has been heckled only to homer shortly thereafter.

Last week, Harper was 0-for-3 in a game against the Cubs. On his way back to the dugout, a fan yelled, “$330 million, 0-for-3.” Per TMZ Sports, Harper responded, “Shut the f–k up, stupid!” He would go on to hit a walk-off grand slam in the bottom of the ninth inning.

Two weeks ago in San Francisco, fans chanted “overrated” at Harper. He promptly hit one of his two home runs in the Phillies’ 9-6 victory.

Harper was on the cover of Sports Illustrated in 2009, when he was 17 years old. Tom Verducci compared him to LeBron James, a comparison that has stuck with Harper ever since. He was the No. 1 overall selection in the 2010 draft. He’s more than used to being in the spotlight and more than used to hearing a little criticism. He lets his haters be his motivators. Maybe his detractors should approach it from the opposite angle — try killing him with kindness. Yelling, “Bryce, you have great hair!” might get him to go on an 0-for-54 skid.