It isn’t exactly tempting the wrath of the Boston gods anymore, ladies and gentlemen. “Party like it’s 1918.” So said a fan’s none-too-large placard in the Fenway boxes, while Koji Uehara was at his office in the top of the ninth Wednesday night, three outs standing between himself, his Red Sox, and hysteria.
It came forth within half an hour after Game Three ended with Yadier Molina in self-professed shock, Allen Craig sprawled across the plate in disbelief, the Red Sox slinking to their clubhouse, the Cardinals whooping it up between their dugout and the plate area. All because of an unusual but no-questions-asked correct obstruction call.
Even if he was lost to explain what just happened, manager John Farrell took it like a man.
Two teams who’ve made a fine art of shoving back with their backs against the proverbial wall returned to San Francisco to square off in Game Six of the National League Championship Series Sunday night. This time, it was the San Francisco Giants with their backs to that wall—again—and a pitcher who’d gone from prospect to reclamation project making certain enough that the St. Louis Cardinals joined them in the same position for a seventh game.
Jayson Werth went home Wednesday night to flip on the Orioles-Yankees American League division series game and got a powerful enough message from a former Philadelphia Phillies teammate.
“I got a little something last night,” he huffed happily Thursday afternoon. “Watching my boy Raul Ibanez do it, he gave me a little something today.”
Ibanez, of course, blasted a game-tying bomb in the bottom of the ninth and a game-winning bomb in the bottom of the twelfth. Nowhere near twenty-four hours later, Werth—the high-priced Nat who’s struggled to live up to his mammoth deal for most of his time since—showed just what Ibanez gave him.
Sunday’s division series opener saw the Washington Nationals squeeze out a win with not an extra base hit between themselves and the St. Louis Cardinals. Monday saw the Cardinals even things up, and how, in the set, by way of a 12-4 burial featuring nine extra base hits, seven off St. Louis bats, and some fatal miscues by these Nats who didn’t make too many such miscues in piling up baseball’s best regular-season record.
The greats don’t always get to choose the manner in which they leave the game. But whatever you believe about instant or at least same-day karma, Chipper Jones surely deserves better than to have his Hall of Fame-in-waiting career end like this.
His own throwing error, opening an unwanted door to the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League’s first-ever wild card game; his own Atlanta Braves victimised by a soft fly to the shallow outfield ruled an infield fly when the Braves might have loaded the late-tying runs on base.
Nelson Cruz’s walkoff grand slam in Game Two of the American League Championship Series? Gone with his other eight postseason record-tying bombs. Ian Kinsler’s theft of second, channeling Dave Roberts, to spark a World Series-tying rally in the first place? You won’t even find it on the police blotter now. The Rally Squirrel? Who the hell needed him?
Albert Pujols channeling Babe Ruth and Reggie Jackson in Game Three? Fuggedabouddit. Derek Holland’s masterpiece pitching in Game Four of the World Series? Prove it. (And those were the two events that helped turn this World Series from good to great in the first place.)
The Milwaukee Brewers, with apologies to Dave Anderson, died with their boots. They were buried at the mercy of the St. Louis Cardinals’ seemingly bottomless bullpen. The officiating minister was a fellow who once seemed so burned out by baseball that he thought a ring on his cell phone while sitting in a Burger King, buried in the San Diego organization, informing him he’d been traded to the Cardinals, was a practical joke, at first.
Nobody’s laughing at the Rev. David Freese now. But everyone except citizens of Milwaukee might be laughing with the National League Championship Series’s most valuable player.