The Cardinals are heading to the NLCS for the fourth consecutive season, and for the ninth time since 2000.
Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw had allowed just one hit through six scoreless innings in Game 4 of the NLDS on Tuesday night at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, but Matt Holliday and Jhonny Peralta kicked off the bottom of the seventh with singles and then Matt “Big Mayo” Adams slugged an improbable go-ahead three-run shot into the St. Louis bullpen in right field on a Kershaw curveball that hung just a little too high.
It was the first time a left-handed hitter had EVER homered off a Kershaw curveball. Oh, and Adams has a .197 career average against left-handed pitchers.
Pat Neshek tossed a clean eighth inning and then Cardinals closer Trevor Rosenthal pitched in but out of danger in the top of the ninth inning to ice the 3-2 Game 4 victory, delivering St. Louis the best-of-five National League Division Series. A series in which the Cardinals got to Kershaw for a whopping 11 runs — all earned — in 12 2/3 innings. A series in which Kenley Jansen — the Dodgers’ best reliever — faced only three batters. A series in which Yasiel Puig — the Dodgers’ best position player — was used merely as a pinch-runner in the deciding game.
St. Louis will meet either the San Francisco Giants or Washington Nationals in the next round.
The Astros and Nationals share a spring training facility, so it was only natural that they would open Grapefruit League play together. The Astros were the home team. Here’s the lineup they rolled out.
Teams typically include at least a few regulars in their spring training lineups as a courtesy to the fans, who are spending money to see big league players play baseball. This is especially the case for home games. However, the Astros have decided to roll out a lineup with a combined 323 MLB plate appearances.
There might be a reason for that. Houston was lustily booed as they took the field. This was after running a video on the scoreboard celebrating their 2019 AL championship.
That’s all with the team that beat them in the World Series (and is widely regarded as baseball’s current heroes for beating the big bad cheating Astros) in the other dugout, of course. Nationals starter Max Scherzer has not thrown at any Houston player, and the game is now in a rain delay. But it seems like the Astros decided to spare their players from some possible rough treatment, both from fans and opposing pitchers.
The same could not be said for Astros mascot Orbit, who was also booed.
One can quibble with the merits of booing a bunch of players who have barely touched the big leagues because you’re mad at Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman, but sports fandom is something of an irrational business. Fans are going to want their pound of flesh, especially when they paid for the right to be in the ballpark and give the Astros a piece of their mind. Some of them even brought props! This is just how it all works, unfortunately. If you’re in an Astros uniform, you’re probably going to get booed.
Welcome to the 2020 season, Astros. It’s probably going to be like this all year.