In what was an unconventional playoff game, the Boston Red Sox eliminated the Tampa Bay Rays by a final score of 3-1 in Tampa. Boston joins the Los Angeles Dodgers as 2 of the 4 teams to make it to the next round of the postseason. For Boston this is the first time they made it to the ALCS since 2008 and for the Dodgers its the first time they have moved on to the NLCS since 2009.
What makes this Red Sox victory so unconventional? Perhaps the fact that Rays skipper Joe Maddon used 9 pitchers in this game, setting a postseason record for most pitchers used in one game. This was no extra inning game either, this was your regular 9 inning affair. It was known that Rays starter Jeremy Hellickson would get a short leash. Hellickson threw a perfect 1st inning but in the 2nd he gave up a hit and walked 2 men with no outs leading to his exit. From there Maddon had put together an interesting carousel of pitchers including starter Matt Moore.
Boston starter Jake Peavy went 5 2/3 innings giving up 5 hits, 1 earned run and striking out 3. He did his job and the bullpen did theirs, including a wonderful performance by Craig Breslow who many Red Sox players say he was the game MVP for keeping the Sox in a close game having been down by 1. Red Sox turned in a small rally in the 7th and get the go ahead run off a wild pitch from Joel Peralta. Tazawa and Sox closer Uehara threw brilliantly as they have done all year to seal a spot in the ALCS for the Boston Red Sox.
There are a few notable things in this series. Boston took 8 walks and gave up zero in game 4 of the ALDS. The bullpen was excellent. Shane Victorino was hit 4 times tying a postseason record. Jacoby Ellsbury went 9 for 18 including 4 stolen bases and David Ortiz went 5 for 13 and clubbed 2 home runs. All the means to fend off a hungry Tampa Bay Rays ball club.
The Boston Red Sox will meet the winner of Fridays game 5 winner between the Oakland Athletics and Detroit Tigers.
The St. Louis Cardinals held off the Pittsburgh Pirates with a 2-1 victory in Pittsburgh in large part to Michael Wacha’s near no-hitter and Matt Holliday’s 2 run blast. This is Wacha’s first postseason start and this 6’6″ rookie is making quite a name for himself in Major League Baseball. Wacha was a first round pick (19th overall) out of Texas A&M in the 2012 draft. A pick which the Cardinals received from the Los Angeles Angels for the signing of Albert Pujols.
Wacha, 22, made 11 appearances in 2012, making it all the way to AA Springfield. 2 of his 11 appearances were starts and his 2012 statistics looked a little like this..
2012: 21 innings pitched, 4 walks, 2 earned runs and a whopping 40 strikeouts with an ERA of 0.86.
This gave plenty of reason for Cardinal fans to be excited about their young arm and he continued his success this season at AAA Memphis in 15 starts posting an ERA of 2.65, 73 K’s and 19 walks in 85 innings.
St. Louis had brought Wacha up a few times this season and he made 15 appearances, 9 for starts for the red birds and just keeps dealing. He’s averaging a K per inning and his ERA sat at a nice 2.78 by the years end. His 15th MLB appearance was probably the most notable of his career almost no hitting the Washington Nationals… Up until today, facing elimination against the Pirates and at PNC Park, he picked up where he left off. Wacha carried a no-hitter into the 8th inning up until third baseman Pedro Alvarez hit a pitch into the seats, bringing Pittsburgh a run closer to tying the game. Ultimately the Pirates fell short in what was quite a pitchers duel between Wacha and Charlie Morton.
The series will go to a very exciting game 5 which will be played in St. Louis on Wednesday 10/9. The winner will play either the Dodgers or Braves in the NLCS.
Surely by now you have realized or heard by now that this is the first time the Pittsburgh Pirates have made the postseason since 1992. A lot of things has happened over the last 21 years in baseball but it’s finally time for baseball fans in the steel city to throw on their eye patches and root for their Pirates as they take on the division rivals and champion, the St. Louis Cardinals.
First the Pirates had to survive the one game playoff game against another division foe, the Cincinnati Reds to get the shot to move on and play the National League’s best record (97-65) St Louis Cardinals. Francisco Liriano spun a gem and Russel Martin smacked 2 home runs en route to a 6-2 victory over the Reds, the first postseason victory at PNC Park.
Starters: The St. Louis Cardinals closed out the regular season with 6 straight victories and are putting their ace, Adam Wainwright on the hill for game 1. The NL leader in Wins (19), will face the Pirates for the 4th time this season and owns a 3.00 ERA over the first 3 starts. The Pirates are throwing AJ Burnett on the mound who has faced the Cards 6 times this season, posting a 3.67 ERA. I give the Cardinals the starting pitching advantage in game 1 of the NLDS.
The two teams have faced each other 19 times this season, with the Pirates taking the booty 10 times. But the Red Birds have won the last 4 of their match-ups. Pittsburgh has displayed more power, hitting 14 more home runs than the Cards in their 19 games but give St. Louis the upper hand if you’re talking recent postseason experience. I do feel that if it is close late in the game, the Pirates can do a better job keeping the lead close with their bullpen arms.
Statistics really only go so far when it comes to October baseball. Who will be the hero? I think the St. Louis Cardinals will take Game 1 but mark my words, without Allen Craig I think the Pirates have a legitimate shot at taking the Cardinals down in the NLDS.