I seriously didn’t think I could get more stressed out than watching a tie game with minutes left in Game 7 of the NBA Finals, but last night topped it. Game 1 of the first round of the playoffs topped it. My god do I love baseball. I wish I was a better writer, because I’ve got so many emotions about that game I’d like to describe, but I’ll leave that to the pros:
Indians 5, Red Sox 4
Perhaps my favourite things about baseball is the idea that almost every game offers an opportunity to see something you’ve might never have seen before. Last night offered the chance to see two #9 hitters go yard, an ace reliever used in the 5th inning, the Indians handing a Cy Young candidate his worst start of the season, and three homers in an inning. The only thing that could have surpassed the awesomeness of the Tribe belting three homers in an inning is watching a garden gnome argue a check-swing third strike call to end the game. This one was so, so stressful but so, so fun. If we can just win ten more of these things...
More Tribe news & notes
Nine pitches set the tone for Indians in Game 1 | Cleveland.com - There were a lot of huge performances last night: Andrew Miller’s two innings, Cody Allen’s 9th inning shutdown, Lonnie’s single to tie the game in the 1st... all incredibly important, but the three-homer inning was what truly set the Indians apart last night. Jason Kipnis sums it up best:
What life was like for the Indians fans in right field when home runs started flying | Cleveland.com - Ever been this close to catching a homer but end up with nothing but a bruised palm to show for it? Yeah, me neither. But some of the folks in right field did yesterday. It’s all fun and games until someone jams a finger out there.
In appreciation of Terry Francona’s masterful use of the bullpen in Game 1 | CBS Sports - I’ll be shocked if you can name a bigger disparity in managerial strategy than between these two things:
- Buck Showalter not using his Cy Young candidate reliever in a tied 11-inning Wild Card game
- Terry Francona using his best reliever with the lead in the 5th inning of Game 1 of the ALDS
Last night, Tito took the book on pitcher use conventions and threw it in the trash. Maybe we’d be singing a different tune if his moves didn’t work out, but they did, and so here we are marvelling at his genius.
Terry Francona would gladly pay you Tuesday for a cheeseburger today | Hardball Talk - Bill Baer offers an alternative take on Fracona’s “genius,” arguing that in attempting to be bold, he actually wasted (or misused) his relievers in situations where leverage wasn’t that high.
Trevor Bauer: X-Factor | Waiting For Next Year - It’s a piece written earlier in the season and reposted recently, but it’s a great read. Scott Sargent discusses why Bauer might just be the one to put the Tribe over the top. He may have only pitched 4 2⁄3 last night, but it was a gutsy out, and it’s hard to say the guy doesn’t have what it takes.
Other playoff news
Texas’ ‘tails whipped’ by Toronto in game 1 | MLB.com - There was another ALDS game yesterday, except this one featured a home team failing spectacularly instead of rising to the occasion. Jays starter Marco Estrada went 8 1⁄3 dominant innings while Toronto’s offense lit up Cole Hamels and the Rangers bullpen.
- The Rangers basically have no shot to win the World Series if Hamels is going to be that bad
- Fangraphs suspects the Red Sox middle relievers might be the key in a series where they favour Boston to win - but perhaps that calculus has changed since the end of Game 1
- Toronto police have charged a man suspected of throwing a can at Hyun Soo Kim
- Joe Maddon’s grandson cut his hair and someone at Fox decided it was newsworthy
ALDS Game 2: (Toronto leads 1-0): Blue Jays @ Rangers, 1:00 pm ET (TBS)
ALDS Game 2: (Cleveland leads 1-0): Red Sox @ Indians, 4:30 pm ET (TBS)
NLDS Game 1: Dodgers @ Nationals, 5:30 pm ET (FS1)
NLDS Game 1: Giants @ Cubs, 9:00 pm ET (FS1)