Yesterday's Playoff Games
Kansas City 6, Baltimore 4 - Kansas City leads series 2-0
The magical run continues, with Kansas City winning late yet again. None of their playoff wins have been easy, and last night's win was no exception. They took an early 2-0 lead on an Eric Hosmer single in the first, but that lead didn't last long, as the game would be tied 3-3 by the bottom of the third. The Royals re-took the lead in the fourth on Mike Moustakas' home run, but the Orioles tied the contest again in the fifth. That score lasted until the ninth inning, when closer Zach Britton came on to try to set up a walk-off in the bottom of the ninth. Omar Infante led off with an infield single, and was pinch-run for by Terrance Gore. Moustakas then sacrificed Gore to second, and Alcides Escobar doubled home the go-ahead run. Lorenzo Cain capped a great night at the plate by later driving in a second run with a one-out single.
With last night's win, the Royals just have to win two of the three games at home to advance to the World Series. They've now won six playoff games in a row, and almost every one of them have been won either in extra innings or in the ninth inning.
San Francisco 3, St. Louis 0 - San Francisco leads series 1-0
Home-field advantage doesn't seem to matter too much this postseason, as the Giants, who have won four of their five playoff victories on the road, blanked the Cardinals behind ace Madison Bumgarner. Last time out Bumgarner lost to the National, but in Game 1 of the NLCS he was again dominant, twirling 7.2 scoreless innings.
All the scoring happened early. Travis Ishikawa flared a two-run single in shallow left field to open the scoring in the second inning, an inning set up when Randal Grichuk made a great leaping catch at the wall in right only to have the ball trickle out of his glove when he fell to the ground. Brandon Belt drove home the third run of the game with a sacrifice fly in the third inning. Those three runs were more than enough of Bumgarner, who would allow just four hits and one walk in his outing. The only time the Cardinals had more than one base runner on in an inning was the seventh, when Yadier Molina and Jon Jay hit back-to-back singles with one out.
The Cardinals began the NLCS without Justin Masterson, who they acquired from the Indians in late July. It has been a disaster a season for Masterson, who began the year in negotiations with the Indians for an extension. The extension didn't happen, and now Justin is probably going to look for a one-year deal on the free agent market to build back his value for the 2015-2016 offseason. In retrospect failing to ink Masterson to an extension was good for the Indians on two fronts: one, they will have more payroll flexibility heading into free agency this winter, and two, Carlos Carrasco doesn't get a shot in the rotation if the Indians don't trade Masterson.
Also noted by Pluto is that the Indians once again had great TV and radio ratings, ranking sixth in TV ratings in MLB. I know attendance gets the headlines because it's a more visible way of showing fan interest, but people in Northeast Ohio do care about the team.
Yesterday's NLCS opener was broadcast on two FOX networks. The mother ship had the traditional broadcast, but FOX Sports 1 had the game video feed along with commentary by CJ Nitkowski, Gabe Kapler, Rob Neyer, and Bud Black.