Huge Day For MLB

Four elimination games yesterday.

Jim Rome
October 08, 2019 - 11:38 am
Max Scherzer

USA Today

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Yesterday was a huge day for Major League Baseball. Four elimination games. October drama at its best. And the sport had itself quite a day.

Tampa Bay started it off by tagging Zack Greinke with not one, not two, but three jacks.

Ballgame, thanks for coming. Of course, there were still more innings to be played after Tampa chased Greinke before the end of the fourth inning, but it was done.  Even if the rays weren’t.   And now we’re running it back again in Houston tonight for Game 4.

And whoever wins this series, already knows who they’ll face in the ALCS – the Yankees. Because New York did what it always does to Minnesota – ends their season. And they did it in a hurry. This time was supposed to be different. It was not. 

They’ve now lost 13 straight postseason games to the Yankees. It’s essentially, what’s the word, disgusting. And incredible. And amazing. 13 games, zero wins. And those aren’t bad Twins teams, and they aren’t all amazing Yankee teams. 13 games and they haven’t even stumbled into one  win. That’s not easy to do.

The Twins were supposed to have the bats to compete with the Yankees, but they didn’t. The team that had an regular incredible season, that set the major league record for home runs, saw their run end in three games. Three games that weren’t even close. 10-4, 8-2, and last night’s 5-1 win in Minnesota.

This is a reminder that while the Yankees are not perfect, they’ve got holes in their rotations and their swings, but they are tough. Very, very tough. They just outscored the best home run hitting team in MLB history by a margin of 23-7. 

The next round in the American League is half set. The next round in the National League is wide open, thanks to Washington and St. Louis.

You never want to be the team on the verge of elimination, but if you are, it’s not bad to have Max Scherzer pitching. And he did exactly what you’d expect him to do in that spot: 7 innings, 7 strikeouts, 4 hits, 1 run, and one season-saving performance in Washington’s 6-1 win. And he did all of that on short rest.

The Nationals had their hearts ripped out by the Dodgers two out and two-strike hitting in Game 3, but Scherzer wasn’t about to let that happen again.

This is the same guy who allegedly went up to Dave Martinez in Game 3 and volunteered to pitch hit, pinch run, and pitch in relief.  In other words, this cat is a freaking gamer. An absolute beast.  

Justin Turner homered in the first inning, but after that, it was all Scherzer. And the guy was all in, leaving everything he had there.

Just listen to him on this strikeout of Gavin Lux to end the fourth. With a runner on second in a 1-1 game, Scherzer went hard.

Two sounds: Scherzer grunting and the ball hitting the glove. 

Then Ryan Zimmerman who broke open the game in the bottom of the fifth with a 3 run shot.

That wasn’t just a three-run homer that was a three-run moonshot. And now, thanks to the two old dudes in Nats gear, Washington is coming out to LA to play a winner-take-all Game 5. Stephen Strasburg v. Walker Buehler. Is that matchup any good?

And if you didn’t see this coming, you should’ve. Because as an executive told Jeff Passan months ago, when the Nats looked like they were circling the drain, quote, "The only thing that's going to stop the Dodgers is the Nationals in a short series." 

This is precisely so many Dodgers fans wanted Milwaukee instead of Washington.   Because the Nats are a bad matchup in a short series. And not just for the Dodgers, but for anyone. A bad matchup because of their starting pitching. A bad matchup, because a short series means plenty of Scherzer and plenty of Strasburg. Any time you’re seeing a lot of a three-time Cy Young winner and a three-time All-Star in a short period of time, anything can happen. And tomorrow night, anything could happen. The Dodgers have won 7 straight division titles, and lost back to back World Series: anything short of a ring is going to be a disappointment; and a loss in the divisional series would be calamitous.  Game 5. Lock it in baby.

And speaking of insanity and anything happening, do not for a moment, sleep on the Atlanta-St. Louis series. Because that has become very spicy in a very short time. 

You’ll recall that after St. Louis won Game 1, members of both teams were pissed about Ronald Acuna Jr. And then after Atlanta won Game 3 to take a 2-1 lead, Acuna went with a gesture that seemed to bother Yadier Molina.

Sorry, did I say “seemed to bother Yadier Molina”? I meant, really pissed off Yadier Molina. At least, it sure looked that way when Molina stepped into the batter’s box in the bottom of the 10th of a 4-4 game yesterday.

Molina had already tied the game in the bottom of the eighth with a two-out single. And now he was the plate, in the tenth, with one out. Runners on first and third. Roll it.

Sac fly. Ball game. Bat toss. And throat slash. 

Holy crap that is one hell of a dramatic ending to a game. There is so much going on there. The fact that Molina had the absolute perfect sacrifice fly to score Kolten Wong to win the game.

And then there’s the fact that he carried the bat with him down to first base, rounded first base, and then fired it into the outfield. That’s right, I said outfield.

There’s flipping your bat. And then there’s running it up the first line and chucking it into the outfield. When was the last time you saw someone fire the bat into the outfield after a critical plate appearance. ? Answer: never. That’s the best thing I’ve seen since Lou Piniella dug second base out of the ground, ran into the outfield and threw it over center field wall: nothing will ever top that. But this was pretty damn good. 

And I’m still not sure that thing has landed.

As Molina himself said: "I lost it right there. I think I tossed the bat in the bullpen."

That made Joey Bats epic toss look like he just set it down. That wasn’t a toss.

He launched that thing. He was trying to chuck that bat out of the stadium. 

And then there’s the throat slash gesture, which sure seemed to be a response to Acuna. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I don’t claim to be an expert on baseball’s code and all the rules that are written in invisible ink, but I have to think there’s some clause or footnote about a bat toss that goes into the outfield and a throat slash gesture. 

Then again how the hell would I know: I stopped playing baseball in little league. And unless you played the game at the highest level, there’s way you can interpret their code.  Here’s what I do know, even if he did violate the code or disrespect the game, I don’t give a damn.  Because I’m here to tell you, a dude carrying his bat up the first base line, and then chucking into the outfield after a game winning sac fly and chasing that with a throat slash, is one of the best things I’ve seen in that game in a long time. That may bother some of you. And ALL of the old school, but that doesn’t bother me at all. 

 And now we have a Game 5, tomorrow, in Atlanta. LET’S GET IT.