Sometimes, the best team runs empty at the worst time

New York YankeesAfter the Yankees beat the Dodgers in the 1953 World Series, Duke Snider swore to New York Herald-Tribune writer Roger Kahn, much later to write The Boys of Summer, ”I still say we’re the better team.” The ’53 Dodgers owned the National League but lost the Series to the Yankees in five.

“That’s the hell of it,” Kahn replied. “That’s the rottenest thing in this life, isn’t it? The best team doesn’t always get to win.”

The Indians’ version of Trevor Time

It was Trevor Time in Cleveland Thursday.

It was Trevor Time in Cleveland Thursday.

A pitcher whose thing for drones almost cost the Indians a trip to last year’s World Series. A hitter who sometimes seemed like the unwanted man, the subject of trade rumours almost from the moment the Mets landed him in July 2016, until the Indians agreed to take his full salary on in a waiver-period deal with the Mets in August.

Weren’t Trevor Bauer and Jay Bruce the least likely guys you thought would give the Indians the first big leg up in their American League division series?

The biggest little kid on the Astros’ block

After a three-bomb Game One . . . ya think?

After a three-bomb Game One . . . ya think?

Justin Verlander was an eyewitness to the last time anyone hit three out in a single postseason game. Matter of fact, he was the victim twice, when he was a Tiger and Pablo Sandoval was a still-productive Giant. Kung Fu Panda’s three bombs in Game One of the 2012 World Series launched the Giants to a Series sweep.

Verlander thinks it’s far more fun to be just the eyewitness. Especially when he’s the beneficiary, as he was in Game One of his Astros’ American League division series against the Red Sox. And, perhaps even more, when it’s Jose Altuve hitting the three.

“Let me wear this uniform one more day!”

Unable to get past this year's division series, Red Sox gigastar David Ortiz settles for one more bath of Fenway love as his distinguished career ends Monday night.

Unable to get past this year’s division series, Red Sox gigastar David Ortiz settles for one more bath of Fenway love as his distinguished career ends Monday night.

Both American League Championship Series combatants get there by way of division series sweeps. For the Indians it had to be a little extra special to get there by sweeping the Red Sox.

Twelve years ago Indians manager Terry Francona managed an entirely different club of Red Sox to the Promised Land the franchise hadn’t seen since a kid named Ruth was in the starting rotation.

Jays could take Rangers badges and minds

Tulowitzki (left) and Bautista bump wrists after crossing the plate on Tulo's bomb . . .

Tulowitzki (left) and Bautista bump wrists after crossing the plate on Tulo’s second-inning bomb . . .

Police brutality—by or against—is a horrible thing. Unless you’re the Toronto Blue Jays against the Texas Rangers in the first two American League division games. The set goes to Toronto with the Rangers very much in danger of losing not only their badges but their minds.

Name one Ranger who expected to get destroyed 15-3 over the course of the two games. Name one who expected Cole Hamels to get billyclubbed for seven runs (six earned) in three and a third in Game One, or possibly still-slightly-ailing Yu Darvish to get bludgeoned for as many home runs as he had strikeouts in Game Two.

The running of the Indians’ bulls

Andrew Miller, Terry Francona's star lecturer in what to do when you need a stopper like five minutes ago . . .

Andrew Miller, Terry Francona’s star lecturer in what to do when you need a stopper like five minutes ago . . .

Attention, Buck Showalter. Pull up a chair, Mike Matheny. Join up, any other manager who thinks there’s no such thing as using your best relief pitchers in any situation other than closing it out when you take a lead to the ninth.

Class was in session in Cleveland’s Progressive Field Thursday night. Schoolmaster, Indians manager Terry Francona. Lecturers, Andrew Miller and Cody Allen. Special guest victims, the Red Sox.

The Astros’ surprise ride crashes

Gomez falling as he tries to field Hosmer's quail becomes a metaphor for the Astros' heartbreaking division series fall.

Gomez falling as he tries to field Hosmer’s quail becomes a metaphor for the Astros’ heartbreaking division series fall.

The good news is that the Houston Astros have more than a pleasant future ahead of them. The bad news is that the present now hurts like hell after spending a season surprising just about everyone walking the earth.

“None of us were ready to go home when we came here at one o’clock today,” said Carlos Correa, the splendid rookie who’s already considered the soul of this team. “We were ready to keep playing. Unfortunately, we’ve gotta go home now and be ready for spring training.”

The Rangers check into Heartbreak Hotel

Toronto Blue Jays

The Blue Jays start the victory party . . .

Elvis probably wanted to leave the building. So did Mitch and Rougnie. And there isn’t a man, woman, child, or extraterrestrial spirit in Texas, Ontario, or the world who’d blame them.

But they didn’t. And Elvis Andrus stood at his locker after it ended, took it like a man, and didn’t flinch once.

“Everything went down since my first error,” Andrus said, after the single most insane seventh inning perhaps in all baseball history dug the grave of the Texas Rangers’ otherwise miraculous season.

Smarts, smacks put the Rangers ahead to open

Odor (left) and Chirinos stunk the Blue Jays' plans Thursday

Odor (left) and Chirinos stunk the Blue Jays’ plans Thursday

Sometimes being one of nature’s lesser endowed base stealers pays off richly. Even in a game when maybe your biggest bopper has to come out with nasty back spasms. Even when the other guys figure they’ve got you dead to right on a planned pickoff contingency.

And in part because the Toronto Blue Jays forgot about what the man at the plate was thinking, when they set up on a leftward-heavy infield shift to try trapping Rougned Odor in the top of the third Thursday, the Texas Rangers came away from American League division series Game One with a 5-3 win.

The Tigers Puff the Magic Dragons

Home on a wild pitch to tie, a game-winning sac fly ahead . . .

All of a sudden, the Oakland Athletics don’t necessarily look like the magicians they spent the season and the wild card game proving themselves to be. The Detroit Tigers, all of a sudden, do.

These Tigers—who got to within a hair’s breadth just about of losing the American League Central to the Chicago White Sox—now sit halfway toward an engagement in the American League Championship Series, after spending Games One and Two proving they have a few spells of their own to cast.