In the 3rd or 4th inning, with a KC runner on first and nobody out, Eric Hosmer poked a hard-hit grounder up the middle, looking like it would go through to center field. Out of nowhere Panik (the Giant’s second-baseman) dove and just managed to catch the ball in the tip of his glove. Somehow he managed to flip the ball, back-handed, to his shortstop Brandon Crawford who was at second base, getting the runner out there! Crawford then fired the ball to first base. But, the runner was called safe on a very close play. The Giants elected to challenge that call, and after a very long delay while officials in NYC studied all the videos, the call was over-turned and the runner at first was called out! So the Royals, who could have had runners on first and third with NO OUTS, ended up with NO RUNNERS on base and two out!
Had Panik not caught that grounder, there was a high likelihood of the Royals scoring at least one run and maybe more, giving them a lead. Their great bullpen would have then soon entered the game with either a lead or a tie. Over the last 5 innings of the game BOTH bullpens (not just MadBum) put nothing but zeroes on the scoreboard!
That is how close the 7th game really was folks!
Don’t miss Tom Boswell’s article in today’s Washington Post. It is all about sabermetric’s analysis of the Royals chances of winning the World Series up to the start of last night’s game. For the past 32 World Series, the team that goes home for the last 2 games becomes almost unbeatable! And ten of those teams were BEHIND 3 games to 2 when they returned home. The winning percentage for the home teams in those final 2 games is .885. For American League teams in this group (think Kansas City) that means even more because they get to use their designated hitter
So we now have two wild-card teams in the Fall Classic. Who-da-thunk?
While Ned Yost’s managing has been oft-questionned, his players have silenced those drumbeats. And so far this year’s playoffs have been the best in recent memory. We have seen once again that when the regular season ends, the game changes radically and the teams that can get HOT at the right time, with good defense and pitching are most likely to end up in the World Series.
As for the Nats, they have all winter to wonder how all but two hitters suddenly went cold when the playoffs began. Baseball is often inexplicable, even to the experts.
Both the Nats and the Os won home-field advantage for initial round of the playoffs by winning more games than anyone else in their leagues in the regular season. But both went 0-2 for those 4 home games! And most of the baseball pundits predicted both would roll over their weaker opponents who were very lucky to even be in the playoffs.
Tom Boswell, as usual, comes through today with another excellent article. As he says, “Luck and breaks prey on minds at this time of year.” And some players and teams get hot while others don’t. And it’s also interesting that Las Vegas has been betting on the teams that have been losing this year! This shows us once again that Pete Rose was betting on the wrong sport.
The 2012 Nats playoff performance was way better than that of the 2014 Nats! The players who performed up to their ability this time were few: Harper, Rendon, Strass, JZimm, Fister, Cabrera, Blevins and —are you ready—-Soriano. 8 out of 25. Maybe we should bring Davey Johnson back. The Giants didn’t play much better than the Nats either.
Matt Williams cost them game 2, by removing JZimm when he was one out away from a victory! And bad defence played a major role in the losses of games 1 and 4. But the biggest problem was the near lack of any offense.. And most of the Nats played with little EMOTION! They often looked like robots. Maybe that is partly a reflection of William’s managerial style; he rarely shows ANY emotion. He tried explaining why he took JZimm out in the 9th inning of game 2 by saying that was his game plan he put together before the game even started! One wonders if he has any “feel” for how the game is flowing or how his players are feeling. JZimm had thrown 8 and 2/3 innings of a three-hit shutout and was looking strongly in control of what he was doing!
Nope, the Nats/Giants playoffs were not fun to watch. I find myself looking forward to watching the Orioles/Royals playoff series. Both teams are playing exciting baseball as if they really want to get to the World Series.
In the Orioles 9th inning yesterday Buck Showalter came out to the mound to talk with his pitcher and the infielders. In the words of Ryan Flaherty (O’s third-baseman) what he said was “short and sweet.” Here it is: “We’re going to walk this batter, and the next guy is going to hit into a DP, and then we’re gonna go home.” Maybe the fact that Buck had never won a post-season series in three previous tries had taught him something.
Ned Yost, the manager of the K.C. Royals (who also won a three-game sweep), has been roundly criticized for ineptitude for such sins as starting Vargas on the mound in their game one. But with our 20/20 hindsight I’ve had a hard time finding fault with the way he he’s managed thus far in the post season.
I think we will see a couple of lineup changes when the Nats take on the giants today. For one, Ryan Zimmerman will likely be somewhere, most likely 1B. Jose Lobaton could be the starting catcher. Those are the only changes I’d make if I were managing.
I encourage readers to enjoy the great articles in today’s Washington Post sports section
Why did Manager Matt take JZimm out in the 9th after he only needed one more out to close out a 3-hit shutout?
Why couldn’t the Nats offense manage to score more than ONE RUN in 18 innings? How could they play 164 games this year and forget how to hit a baseball?
Oh well, we’ve got the Redskins to watch:)
The Nats have not yet announced their starting ratation for the first round, beginning tomorrow. But I will tell you what I’d do if I were Matt Williams: Zimmermann, Fister, Strassburg, Gio Gonzales. I say that having considered the most important factors such as “stuff,” heart, mind, body and recent outings of the past six weeks or so, plus the now knowing who the opponent is—The Giants:)
The gurus at MLB.com have ranked the Nats at the TOP of their power rankings, as we head to the playoffs. That has me worried a bit mainly because I’ve had a lifetime of experience watching favorites NOT being able to live up to expectations, ESPECIALLY in the game of baseball!
Yes, Matt Williams has the team peaking at just the right time. And even Ryan Zimmerman finally got some ABs at the end of the regular saeson. Winning the most games in the NL (96) is quite an accomplishment for a rookie mgr. and the players. (Before the season began, I predicted they would win 88-92 games). And The Nats “run-differential” was huge (+131 I think). That is a very important stat.
But even more important in baseball playoff games is starting pitching. This is why teams will pay the big bucks for John Lester, David Price, John Shields, Zack Grienke, etc. The Nats have 5 playoff-ready starters, more then any other team! Their only problem is which of the 5 gets added to the bullpen. I’m thinking it will be Roark because he has done it before and was effective. In their final 13 starts the other four guys (Strass, Zimm, Fister and Gio) went 13-0! In their last “turn” (meaning the last 4 starts) they pitched 31 innings, gave up ZERO runs, 6 hits, had 38 strikeouts and only 4 walks!
Here’s hoping they play the Giants rather than the Pirates in the first round. The Pirates have given the Nats a harder time this year:)
Note: the 4-day layoff (Monday to Friday’s game) could be a problem, but I know Williams is trying to counteract that with simulated games and other activities.
Here are my picks for the post-season roster:
1. Bullpen: Storen, Roark, Clippard, Barrett, Stammen, Detwiler, Thornton, Blevins. Why Blevins? Because he has been very effective against lefties (but NOT Righties!).
2. Bench: R-Zimm, Frandsen, Lobaton, Espinosa, Schierholtz. Why Schierholtz? Because he is a good backup outfielder and has more experience than Michael Taylor. And he’s a better overall player than Hairston.