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.
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.