There are some things about which baseball players ought not to pop off, when it comes to their former clubs, especially when they’re about to face said clubs in a World Series. Things like .220/.273/.300 slash lines against their former teams. Things like their .258/.307/.335 slash lines when playing for said former teams, not to mention their measly two home runs and nine runs batted in.
For a few moments it looked as though Astros manager A.J. Hinch made a big mistake in the bottom of the fifth in Fenway Park Monday. With one out and one on for the Red Sox, he brought in Justin Verlander, his Game One starter and winner—who’d never thrown an inning of relief in his life until now.
Later, in the bottom of the ninth, it looked like Hinch made a mistake asking closer Ken Giles for a six-out save when Red Sox rookie Rafael Devers stepped up to the plate to lead off.
It was as if the Red Sox called a conference before Game Three at Fenway Park and said, If you don’t mind, we’ll decide if and when we’re dead and buried. Designated hitter Hanley Ramirez’s exclamation point was the “Believe in Boston” sign he carried out during pre-game lineup introductions.
The whispers, not the shouts, had it that the Mets had eyes for Jay Bruce but weren’t making that big a deal about it. Apparently it was a bigger deal than the whispers had it—on non-waiver deadline day, the Mets—according to sources cited but unnamed by ESPN—landed the Reds’ slugger and the National League’s RBI leader this season in a swap for Dilson Herrera and other prospects.
The Pirates and the Giants have their work cut out for them before they square off in the National League wild card game Wednesday. Unless they think they can come up with even half the hair-raiser the American League game was Tuesday night, that is.
Frankly, Bernard Malamud and Douglas Wallop themselves couldn’t have written Tuesday’s script. Kansas City, which hasn’t seen the Royals anywhere near the postseason since the Reagan Administration, wouldn’t have bought it prior to Tuesday night.
On opposite coasts, the team that led the majors in extra-inning wins picked the wrong time of the year, and an American League division series, to lose one for the first time Wednesday night. And, the team that led the majors in walkoff wins picked the right time of their series to pick up number fifteen, just a couple of hours later. And they couldn’t have chosen two more opposite ways for each to happen.
About the only thing each one had in common was that the hit that finalised the decisions came on the first pitch of each opposite coast at-bat.
Life During WARtime—If you’re looking for an entry into the wide world of WAR (wins above a replacement-level player), David Schoenfeld of SweetSpot has a pretty good starting point, with a couple of links to a couple of more pretty good starting points. In case you’re wondering before you go in, Mike Trout—the white-hot Los Angeles Angels rookie—leads the American League pack through this writing with a 5.2 WAR, followed by Robinson Cano (New York Yankees) at 4.8 and Josh Reddick’s (Oakland Athletics) 3.9. In the National League, the top three through this writing are David Wright (New York Mets), 5.3; Andrew McCutchen (Pittsburgh Pirates), 5.1; and, Joey Votto (Cincinnati Reds), 4.5.