Twice. Two years in a row, the Rangers were knocked out of the playoffs in the first round by the Blue Jays. The sadness would have swept over me if I hadn’t had an ominous feeling about the Rangers chances in October from the start. It wasn’t all about the Blue Jays--the sweep stings more considering it was at the hand of the Toronto--but that wasn’t what the apprehension was totally about.
The team with the AL's best record was sunk by a great offensive team and a narrative they couldn't escape.
If there’s one annoying thing about being a baseball fan, in my experience, it’s dealing with the expectation of narratives. Baseball, especially over a long 162-game season, has such a granular quality that defining any team with a sentence or two glosses over so much as to be barely descriptive. You get the feeling, as a fan, that the way the media, other fans, heck even your own family understands your local team is so detached from reality as to be barely recognizable. You’re telling me the team I’ve lived and died with since April chokes in big spots, or doesn’t have the pitching they need for October, or needs more pop to really succeed in a short series? Hoo boy, we’re going to have to settle in for a long talk about how wrong you are!
Josh Tomlin vs. Clay Buchholz in Boston and Colby Lewis vs. Aaron Sanchez in Toronto.
After getting blown out in Game 2, the Red Sox head home with their season hanging by a thread. Obviously the first two games didn’t go well for Boston, but Cleveland’s short-handed staff gives the Red Sox a chance to get back in the series.
Toronto takes a 2-0 lead over Texas as the ALDS heads to Canada.
Here’s the thing: The Texas Rangers are a good team. Maybe they’re a good team that was helped a little by whatever luck or deity-type-thing you prefer in the regular season, but they’re a good team. The Toronto Blue Jays are also a good team. Their luck was maybe a little more confined to simple human err in a one-game playoff, but luck it still was, and so they found themselves in Arlington these last two games, riding on a wave of momentum that seemed like it could take on any day’s pitcher.
J.A. Happ vs. Yu Darvish in Texas and David Price vs. Corey Kluber in Cleveland.
Texas looks to bounce back from a Game 1 shellacking with their second ace, right-hander Yu Darvish, on the mound. Toronto looks to bring a commanding 2-0 lead back home and try to finish the series Sunday.
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Toronto bashed Cole Hamels into submission in Game 1 of the ALDS, raising questions about Texas' ace.
Long after Cole Hamels retires to his palatial suburban estate outside of Dallas--perhaps with another World Series ring or two and a borderline Hall of Fame resume--and looks back on all the innings he tossed (2,300 and counting entering this postseason), it’s safe to assume the third inning of Game 1 of the ALDS against the Blue Jays will not rank high on his all-time list. The numbers were grisly:
If you believe the earnest quotes of every Texas Rangers and Toronto Blue Jays player or coach, there won’t be a basebrawl during this series because everyone very much wants to play baseball and win baseball games. We’ll see how long that decision actually stands, though.
Previewing what promises to be a slugfest of a five-game series, again.
Last year's Rangers-Blue Jays series was one of the most compelling ALDS of all time, as Toronto escaped with a Game 5 win at home thanks to Jose Bautista's three-run homer and benches-clearing, hot take-generating bat-flip. Since then the two teams have exchanged brush-back pitches, takeout slides, and actual punches, not to mention endless quotes about how much they dislike each other. And now they're ready for a rematch, this time with the Rangers holding homefield advantage.
Adrian Beltre is a Hall of Fame player, but his impact goes beyond the numbers.
There has never been anyone like Adrián Beltré.
This is where one would normally jump into a dissection of his incredible talent and on-field accomplishments, and then end in a rigorous whacking-over-the-head with his Hall of Fame-worthy accreditations. Maybe we should, anyway, but what really stands out when Adrián Beltré plays baseball is joy.
Beltré is one of the best third basemen to ever play the game, with one of the more unusual careers. He’s an offensive dynamo, a defensive wizard, and his successes on the biggest stage could be an excuse for him to be any average dour and over-serious veteran player--or at least, the kind of personality void that happens from prolonged exposure to the media.
Instead, Beltré approaches games like there’s nothing else he’d rather do. He’s one of the rare people in the game who can treat it with the levity it deserves without inciting the ire of less-forgiving opponents. He approaches every plate appearance with purpose--with dedication to his craft and an honoring of his talent--but imbued in all that is joy.
It’s difficult to talk about this kind of thing without tipping straight over into raw sentiment, something that has its place in this game, but not overmuch. It might even be easy to diminish the accomplishments of the player in over-simplifying him to a set of reactions and meme-able GIFs, instead of taking it all in as a whole and marveling at both the humor and the pride.
Ubaldo Jimenez's surprising palatability, a rare off-night for Edwin Diaz, and more from Tuesday's slate of games.
The Tuesday Takeaway
The number that describes Ubaldo Jimenez’s performance as a starter this year is perhaps not one of his individual stats, but instead one of the Orioles’ collective ones—a team rotation DRA of 4.65. Baltimore’s starters have been the worst of any team with a winning record, and yet Jimenez struggled so greatly that he was deemed unfit even for them. After a month in the bullpen, however, Jimenez is back as a starter courtesy of Chris Tillman’s trip to the disabled list. And two outings in, his return to the rotation been remarkably not bad. By the standard he set as a starter earlier this year, remarkably good, even! (When that standard involves averaging fewer than five innings per game and putting up an ERA over 7, “remarkably good” is perhaps not so hard to come by, but regardless.)