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Rangers’ miscues to blame for ALDS Game 1 loss to the Blue Jays

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Though it’s no surprise to see double digit runs next to the Blue Jays’ logo in the score bug of any TV broadcast, it was rather interesting how the Jays came about those runs as the Rangers lost 10-1 on Thursday evening in Game 1 of the ALDS. The Jays registered third in the AL in home runs for the 2016 regular season, but truly didn’t need that power to beat the Rangers.

If the Jays are looking for someone or something to thank for Thursday’s win, it’s the Rangers’ sloppy defense and mental miscues. It began in the third inning. Facing Josh Donaldson with Ezequiel Carrera on first base, starter Cole Hamels uncorked a wild pitch, moving Carrera to second. Then the normally sure-handed Adrian Beltre couldn’t snag a Donaldson line drive for the final out of the frame. Instead, it caromed off of his glove into left field, allowing the Jays’ first run to score. The next batter, Edwin Encarnacion, hit a weak liner back to Hamels but the lefty couldn’t snag that one either as the ball instead dribbled out to Elvis Andrus at shortstop. Jose Bautista promptly brought another run home with a single.

After Hamels walked Russell Martin, the Rangers’ biggest miscue happened. With the bases loaded, Troy Tulowitzki slammed a 92 MPH fastball out to right-center field. It appeared that center fielder Ian Desmond had a beat on it, but as he approached the wall, he slowed up and the ball dropped in for a bases-clearing triple. Desmond is a shortstop by trade, but he played the entire regular season in center for the Rangers. It’s a play he has to make, especially in the postseason. Hamels finally got Kevin Pillar to ground out to end the inning.

The beatdown continued in the fourth inning as Melvin Upton, Jr. led off with a solo homer to right field. After Carrera flied out, Devon Travis hit a grounder to shortstop that appeared to be a routine 6-3 out, but Andrus threw wide of first base, pulling Mitch Moreland off the bag. Facing Donaldson, Hamels threw a fastball that catcher Jonathan Lucroy couldn’t handle and that moved Travis to second base. Donaldson then sent a soft liner to right field to bring Travis home.

Along with the handful of defensive miscues, Hamels’ mental unraveling was a big factor in the Rangers’ loss. As a Phillies fan, I had the pleasure of watching Hamels pitch in Philadelphia from 2006-15. For as good as he was, Hamels was prone to getting tilted. “Tilted,” for those not familiar, is a poker term that means letting unfortunate results affect your mentality, making you play worse from that point forward. If an umpire’s strike zone was too small, if a Phillies defender made a bad play, if Hamels couldn’t hit his spots… he would devolve, becoming increasingly stubborn as if he needed to fit a square peg into a round hole. Longtime catcher Carlos Ruiz and/or the pitching coach would have to come out to the mound to get Hamels back on track but it rarely ever worked. Hamels’ biggest enemy is himself and that was on display for everyone to see on Thursday.

As the Blue Jays showed last year, losing the first game of a best-of-five series isn’t necessarily a death knell for a team’s playoff hopes. But it’s just one more hurdle that the Rangers need to clear if they are to advance to the ALCS. They certainly can’t afford to have any more sloppy games like Thursday’s.

Will fans be allowed to attend MLB playoff games?

The MLB Playoffs are underway!
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After a condensed 60-game regular season, the MLB playoffs kicked off this week with an usual 16-team format that you can read more about below, but one of the many questions on everyone’s mind is whether or not fans will be allowed to attend MLB playoff games.

Will fans be allowed to go to MLB playoff games?

There have been no spectators at any games this season but fans will finally have the opportunity to go to the NL Championship Series and World Series at new Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas–one of the few states allowing spectators to attend events this year. The NLCS is scheduled on seven straight days from Oct. 12-18 and the World Series from Oct. 20-28, with traditional off days between Games 2 and 3 and Games 5 and 6, if the Series goes that far. Major League Baseball said Wednesday that about 11,500 tickets will be available for each game.

Below is the format and locations for each round. Unlike the regular season, there will be a bubble setup for each series in the postseason with the exception of the Wild Card round. Click here for the MLB schedule and scoreboard.

MLB Playoffs Format

Wild Card Series (Best-of-three): September 29 – October 2

All games will be held at the higher seed’s ball park.

American League

No. 1 Rays vs. No. 8 Blue Jays
No. 2 Athletics vs. No. 7 White Sox
No. 3 Twins vs. No. 6 Astros
No. 4 Cleveland vs. No. 5 Yankees

National League

No. 1 Dodgers vs. No. 8 Brewers
No. 2 Braves vs. No. 7 Reds
No. 3 Cubs vs. No. 6 Marlins
No. 4 Padres vs. No. 5 Cardinals

Division Series (Best-of-five): October 5 -10

The American League Division Series will be contested at Petco Park in San Diego and Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. The National League Division Series will be held at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas and Minute Maid Park in Houston.

League Championship Series (Best-of-seven): October 11-18

The American League Championship Series will be held at Petco Park in San Diego while the National League Championship Series will take place at Globe Life Field in Arlington.

World Series (Best-of-seven): October 20-28

The World Series will be held at Globe Life Field in Arlington. Home field advantage will go to the team with the best regular-season record.

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