In the eighth inning, the Astros seemed to be daring them—and the Royals are not noted for their baserunning timidity.
Something strange happened in yesterday's Astros-Royals game—well, a lot of strange things probably happened, but one of them particularly caught my attention. Astros' closer Luke Gregerson entered the game in the eighth inning after Houston's bullpen blew a four-run lead, bringing with him a glacially slow delivery.
With a six-run lead and a game to go, the Blue Jays call on the man who might win this year's Cy Young award. What gives?
The Texas Rangers attempted to finish off the Toronto Blue Jays again, and failed, again. In the battle between a talented lefty and a crafty knuckleballer, the knuckleballer won, but didn’t get the win.
For fans, the value added to the MLB playoff structure by the Division Series is in the buildup of drama. The best stories have fairly gradual rising action, not a sudden surge to an unearned peak of excitement. Sometimes September can provide a pitch-perfect buildup to the grand finale that is the World Series, but when September doesn’t cooperate, early October can pick up the slack. In other words, before the hero of the season’s story finishes off its final opponent in the Series, we get to see them overcome a few of their lesser foes--mini-bosses, so to speak. Certain matchups and moments can be not only terrifically exciting and important in their own right, but a priming of the pump so that the discerning fan feels the cumulative drama of the season.
The rest of this article is restricted to Baseball Prospectus Subscribers.
Not a subscriber?
Click here for more information on Baseball Prospectus subscriptions or use the buttons to the right to subscribe and get access to the best baseball content on the web.
Toronto hits and pitches and generally outplays Texas to push the ALDS to Game Four.
No one was surprised that the Toronto Blue Jays weren’t going to go down without a fight after losing the first two ALDS games at home. On Sunday night, they came out ready to beg, steal, borrow, or barter for every run they could possibly find—and this plan worked, as they took game 5-1 to send the series to Monday.
The Rangers win both on the road, as Toronto's right-handed sluggers fail to slug.
The Rangers weren’t supposed to be here. Not in the playoffs and not a game up in the American League Divisional Series against the mighty Blue Jays (who, if you go back just far enough but not too far, weren’t supposed to be here, either). And the Rangers were certainly not supposed to be the winners of a 14-inning marathon that looked like it would be a blowout in the first few frames.
A series in which the team from New York qualifies as the small-market club.
The Dodgers were the presumptive favorite in the NL West coming into 2015. They boasted a league-high $271 million payroll and two bona fide aces at the top of the their rotation. They spent the offseason making a series of high profile moves to improve the team up the middle of the diamond, and the middle of their lineup already boasted two offensive stars in Adrian Gonzalez and Yasiel Puig. While they may not have been as dominant as expected, the Dodgers led the division almost wire-to-wire, despite some injury and underperformance issues in the lineup. So you could say things went more or less as planned on the way to their third consecutive division title.
The two teams that made #process famous square off in a battle of #product.
Last year, while the Royals and Tigers were battling for the AL Central crown, Russell Carleton noted a bit of doublethink that many of us successfully maintain: The veteran Tigers had the advantage because they’d been there, because they had age and wisdom and leadership and experience; or the Royals did, because they were young, loose, didn’t know enough to be scared. The piece got to a truth that is particularly applicable to this series, in which one team hits homers while the other hits singles; in which one avoids whiffs while the other wears them like teardrop tattoos; in which one club is run by unmanned computers while the other is run by a farmer sending his orders in by telegram; in which one platoons and the other hot-glues its players into the lineup; in which one is young and loose and doesn’t know enough to be scared, while the other has been there, has age and wisdom and leadership and experience.
Pittsburgh's worst fears came true: Bud Selig proposed and implemented a one-game playoff between wild card winners.
There were two trillion possible half-versions of you. And your father, he encountered thousands of women in his life, any of whom could have been your mom, bringing us into the quadrillions of possibilities for you. And there were two trillion possible half-versions of him, and there were thousands of women in his life, all of whom had two trillion possible half-versions and thousands of possible mothers who all had two trillion possible half-versions of themselves, besides, of course, having thousands of possible mothers (who each had two trillion possible half-versions of themselves). This sentence stretches back millions of years, every word of it snapping together in just such a way that of those trillions to the power of trillions of possible outcomes one survived and produced you. You are alive because math finally just gave up and guessed an answer, and the answer was you, and the answer was loved, and the answer loved back, because life is good and sweet heavens are we lucky to be part of it.