How the Royals starter survived a perilous sixth to steer his team to a 1-0 series lead.
The Royals’ third-best starting pitcher threw fully a third of his pitches in Game One in the sixth inning, facing the meat of one of the best offenses of the last five years for the third time. Edinson Volquez walked the first two batters on nine pitches apiece, bringing the tying run to the plate in the person of Edwin Encarnacion—who hit 39 home runs during the regular season. The case for leaving him in to start the inning was tenuous; the case for letting him face Encarnacion was nonexistent. The Royals’ 5-0 win on Friday night defied logical analysis, because no logical decision-making process leads to Volquez pitching his way through that sixth inning. There’s no stone I can turn over in order to find Ned Yost’s secret rationale for leaving Volquez in. He didn’t have one. He simply got caught unprepared when Volquez got into trouble, and decided (once Volquez began working his way out of it) to let him keep going.
The Tigers even the series behind Doug Fister and a suddenly useful Miguel Cabrera.
Eight days ago, Josh Donaldson hit a swinging bunt down the third base line. Miguel Cabrera charged and fielded it on a chop, wiggled into a throwing position, and missed getting Donaldson out by the smallest margin.
Will Justin Verlander pitch the Tigers past Boston?
The Detroit Tigers were founded in 1894. The Boston Red Sox were founded as the Boston Americans in 1901. Those two teams have shared a league for 112 years. Yet they have never, not once, not ever, met in a postseason series. That will change at Fenway Park on Saturday night.
A series that wasn't close ended with a game that wasn't close. The Tigers get a long break before the World Series, and the Yankees get a long offseason.
ALCS Game Four was decisive, but decidedly short on new narratives. What we saw, for the most part, was more of the same motifs that wove through the first three games. The Tigers pitched well; the Yankees couldn’t put anyone on. Some slumping Yankees batters were benched; Alex Rodriguez, despite not starting, still managed to steal some of the spotlight. We couldn’t get much more mileage out of a one-sided series: either the Yankees would do something drastic to change the script, or the Tigers would sweep. With Max Scherzer on the mound, the script stayed the same. The Tigers won the pennant, and the Yankees went quietly into what’s shaping up to be an eventful winter.
Detroit's pitchers toyed with Yankees batters in all four games of the ALCS. Here's a closer look at two striking Tiger sequences.
When I was in high school, the thing to do was play poker. Kids would play during free periods, lunch, whenever, sometimes winning and losing over $100 in a day. (And some of them could actually afford it.) Like any high schooler worth his salt, I followed suit, and soon I was a dependably willing player, relatively conservative but always game to try to fleece a freshman who’d just looked up the rules on his expensive new iPhone. As an editor of the school newspaper, I even planted this quote in a cover story we ran on the poker fad: “It’s the most intellectually challenging thing I’ve ever done.” Yeah, when it came to antagonizing our teachers, we had a lot of tricks in our bag.
Poker may not have taught me as much as I wanted my teachers to think it did, but I did introduce me to one piece of advice that has stuck with me ever since: a successful poker player focuses more on his opposition’s holding than his own hand. I find that’s true in many walks of life, nowhere more so than in the duel between batter and pitcher, when it’s just natural to do what feels most comfortable to you, rather than what might feel least comfortable to your opponent. In the most extreme example, Aroldis Chapman walks a Little Leaguer on four sliders because he fears he doesn’t have his best heat that day. In a real-world example, the Yankees don’t adjust to the way their ALCS opponent’s pitchers attack them, and their season ends because of it. (Oh, and Justin Verlander somehow allows a home run to Eduardo Nunez. But we’ll get there.)
It can be hard to know which players to keep, and which players to dump, if you're running a major-league baseball team. (Those are the only options; keep or dump. Players who are not kept are all dumped.) But the wisdom of crowds has never led anybody astray, so the New York Daily News has asked its readers whom to keep and whom to dump. There are a lot of Yankees that the crowd would like to dump: