Just as happened when the Washington Nationals were eliminated from the races, and the Matt Williams execution watch went from acute to get-it-over-with already, so has it been for Don Mattingly from just about the moment the Los Angeles Dodgers got bumped to one side Thursday night. Anything from speculating on when to speculating on successors, you name it.
Seemingly, anyone who was within reasonable proximity testified that Clayton Kershaw wasn’t just amped up for Tuesday night’s Game Four start against the New York Mets. He was as fully charged as an electric company power station. Perhaps if you touched him you might come away with a shock comparable to that delivered by the electric eel.
Kershaw did everything he could to dismiss talk of any postseason jinx, the seventh inning in particular, before the game. Including that which suggested, with the immediate history’s backing, that on short rest in elimination games Kershaw could be had in due course.
Believe it. The Chicago Cubs have clubbed their way into the National League Championship Series. How long it takes the St. Louis Cardinals to recover from this one is left best to the crystal ball hustlers and card tricksters.
How long it takes before these Clubs wake up from this peculiar dream—they’ve never before clinched any title in their home playpen, and the way they did it could get them charged with human rights violations—might be left best to the same.
They didn’t get Chase Utley’s head on a plate, or his body sprawling in the batter’s box, Monday night. Los Angeles Dodgers manager Don Mattingly—perhaps engaging a little gamesmanship—kept Utley out of the lineup as either a starter or a late-inning replacement. And New York Mets manager Terry Collins made a public enough show of ordering no retaliation, anyway.
Actually, Chase Utley was out at second base Saturday night. And while the line between hard nosed and plain dirty play is a very fine one, as often as not, trying to break up a double play isn’t half the crime that dropping into a takeout slide when you’re damn near even with the base and not even trying to touch it happens to be.
This one left the New York Mets with a broken shortstop and, in due course, a tied National League division series with the Los Angeles Dodgers. The set moves to New York starting Monday night. Citi Field isn’t exactly going to be the most sedate ballpark in baseball for that one.
Apparently, a problematic seventh inning in postseason play isn’t restricted to times when Clayton Kershaw faces the St. Louis Cardinals. Send him up against a kid like Jacob deGrom of the New York Mets, even to the point of him engaging a pitching duel for the books, and the Los Angeles Dodgers bellwether runs into problems that cost ballgames as well.
The Cincinnati Reds have thrown out the first manager of the 2013 postseason. Three days after his Reds suffered a humiliating loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates in the National League wild card game, Dusty Baker’s tenure ended with his head on the proverbial plate.
And, with his resume showing a man who’s managed and won the most games without winning a World Series since the late Gene Mauch.
Mark DeRosa, inactive for the division series but still regarded as one of their team’s leaders, should have spoken the final word on whether the Strasburg Plan ended up costing the Washington Nationals a trip to the National League Championship Series at minimum. The Plan, he tells the Washington Post, is now “irrelevant.”
With the second-best regular-season record in baseball, the New York Yankees couldn’t out-hit their pitching issues while the Detroit Tigers figured out ways to hang in against both the Empire Emeritus‘s batting holes and pitching inconsistencies. With the best regular season in baseball, the Philadelphia Phillies couldn’t out-pitch their hitting issues, while the tenacious St. Louis Cardinals—who weren’t even supposed to be in the postseason picture, you may remember—figured out ways to make the ballyhooed Four Aces resemble the Four Lads.