David Shovein

Baseball Daily Dose

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Postseason Dose: Turneround

Sunday, October 14, 2018


Turneround


The Dodgers looked resigned to heading back home to Los Angeles facing a 2-0 deficit and massive uphill climb against the Brewers in the National League Championship Series.


They had been dominated by Brewers’ initial out-getter Wade Miley, who allowed just two singles over 5 ⅔ innings of shutout baseball. They entered the seventh inning facing a 3-0 deficit, as Orlando Arcia had clubbed a solo homer off of Hyun-Jin Ryu in the fifth inning and Ryan Braun plated another with a fielder’s choice. Travis Shaw had extended the lead with an improbable solo shot off of left-hander Alex Wood in the sixth inning.


It was in the seventh inning though, that the Dodgers’ offense showed signs of life against right-hander Corbin Burnes. Max Muncy got the rally started by drawing a leadoff walk. Manny Machado followed with a single, then Cody Bellinger delivered a run-scoring single to plate Muncy and trim the deficit to two.


Brewers’ skipper Craig Counsell turned to Jeremy Jeffress at that point in an attempt to stop the bleeding. Joc Pederson kept it going by blooping a single into right field to load the bases, putting the tying runs in scoring position and the go-ahead run on base with no outs in the inning as Yasiel Puig strode to the dish.


Jeffress battled back, striking out Puig swinging for the first out of the inning. He then issued a walk to Austin Barnes though that forced another run home, making it a 3-2 ballgame. Dodgers’ manager Dave Roberts then used the last remaining position player on his bench, Yasmani Grandal, to hit for the pitcher’s spot in the lineup.


Grandal, coming off one of the worst all-around games in recent postseason history with a pair of errors and passed balls in Game 1, had his opportunity for redemption on the biggest stage. Instead, he grounded into an inning-ending double play to the shortstop, which ended on a laughably terrible decision to slide feet-first into first base.


With momentum seemingly back on the Brewers’ side, Pedro Baez delivered a shut-down inning, finished off with a nice sliding catch by Cody Bellinger in center field that may have taken an RBI double away from Ryan Braun.


The Dodgers then got right back to work against Jeffress, as Chris Taylor led off the inning with an infield single. Justin Turner then got ahead in the count 2-0 before pulverizing a baseball into the seats in left field for a go-ahead two-run homer. Not only did it change the game, it changed the entire outlook of the series.


Kenley Jansen came on to protect the one-run lead in the ninth, and though he allowed a one-out walk to Hernan Perez, he came back to punch out Lorenzo Cain and then got the likely National League MVP Christian Yelich on a weak ground ball to third base to end the game.

The Dodgers stole this one from the Brewers’ bullpen, which has been an extremely rare occurrence all season. Including the postseason, the Brewers entered Saturday’s game with an 84-3 record when leading after seven innings.


Now, instead of heading back home faced with a 2-0 deficit, the Dodgers will host the next three games with momentum on their side and an opportunity to put the series away while they are there.


It’ll be Walker Buehler taking on Jhoulys Chacin in a pivotal Game 3 on Monday night.




Astros Steal One on Road


It was largely anticipated that the baseball viewing public would be treated to an epic pitcher’s duel in Game 1 of the ALCS on Saturday night, with Justin Verlander taking the hill for the Astros against Red Sox’ southpaw Chris Sale.


That wasn’t quite how it wound up playing out.


Sale struggled badly with his command, allowing two runs on one hit and four walks over his four innings of work. When Sale missed his spots early in the game, he missed badly and also exhibited diminished velocity throughout the night. He threw only 50 of his 86 pitches for strikes in the ballgame.


Even without his best stuff, Sale battled out there, registering four strikeouts over his four innings. All of the damage against him came in the second inning, where George Springer was able to sneak a two-run single under the glove of third baseman Eduardo Nunez that could have been ruled an error. Had it not been for that one ground ball single, Sale would have navigated through four scoreless innings.


Speaking of Springer, that two-run single in the second inning not only gave the Astros an early lead in the game, but it also extended his postseason hitting streak to 10 straight games, matching Lance Berkman’s franchise record.


On the other side, Justin Verlander was actually quite good, aside from the fifth inning where he inexplicably lost command of the strike zone. There, he allowed a leadoff single to Steve Pearce, then issued one-out walks to Eduardo Nunez and Jackie Bradley Jr. to load the bases. A third consecutive walk, this one to Mitch Moreland, forced in a run, then a second run dashed home on a wild pitch.


Overall, he allowed just those two runs on two hits and four walks over his six innings, earning his 13th career postseason victory for his efforts. Verlander has allowed a total of just nine hits over his last four postseason starts, matching the fewest hits ever allowed over any span of four postseason starts in MLB history. The only other player to accomplish that feat was Don Larsen from 1955-1957, a stretch that included his perfect game.


This game remained tight throughout, as Carlos Correa’s two-out RBI single in the sixth inning gave the Astros a 3-2 advantage. That’s how it would remain until the ninth inning when the Astros broke the game open. Josh Reddick clubbed a solo homer off of Brandon Workman and Yuli Gurriel added a three-run blast to seal the deal and send the Astros to a 7-2 victory.


It wasn’t only Chris Sale who struggled with his command for the Red Sox. As a team, Red Sox’ hurlers issued a jaw-dropping 10 walks in the game and hit three batters. According to Baseball-Reference, it’s the first time that any team has walked 10 or more hitters and hit three or more in the same postseason game.


After dropping the first game at home, the Red Sox will enter Sunday’s Game 2 in a near must-win situation, as they don’t want to fall into an 0-2 hole with the series shifting back to Houston for three games.


In order to come out on top on Sunday, they’ll need a strong performance from David Price. For whatever reason, the star southpaw has struggled mightily when pitching as a starter in his postseason career. In 10 playoff starts, he’s a cringe-inducing 0-9 with a 6.03 ERA.


It’ll be interesting to see if Brian McCann starts behind the plate for the Astros on Sunday, as he’s 11-for-35 (.314) with three homers in his career off of Price.


The Astros, meanwhile, will give the ball to Gerrit Cole, who boasts a 3.13 ERA and minuscule 0.74 WHIP over 23 innings in his four career postseason starts.




American League Quick Hits: Red Sox’ manager Alex Cora was ejected from Saturday’s Game 1 of the ALCS after arguing balls and strikes with home plate umpire James Hoye. Given the inconsistency of Hoye’s strike zone and a few absolutely inexcusable calls, it’s easy to understand Cora’s frustration… Vladimir Guerrero Jr. went 3-for-5 and drove in two runs in Friday’s Arizona Fall League contest. He’s hitting a ridiculous .643 (9-for-14) through his first three games in the annual showcase… Shi Davidi of Sportsnet reports the Blue Jays' search for a new manager began by conducting a series of phone interviews and will culminate with in-person interviews next week…


National League Quick Hits: Reds’ prospect Hunter Greene has opted to rehab the sprained ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow and is not expected to need Tommy John surgery. The second overall selection from the 2017 draft, the 19-year-old has yet to throw since suffering the injury in late July… Brewers’ left-hander Josh Hader declared that he will be available for Game 3 of the NLCS against the Dodgers on Monday after throwing a career-high 46 pitches during his three innings on Friday night.




Dave Shovein is a baseball writer for Rotoworld. You can follow him on Twitter @DaveShovein.
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