Well, it wasn’t unexpected, but the (Damn) Yankees beat the Baltimore Orioles today in the fifth game of their ALDS series. And yesterday the Detroit Tigers beat the Oakland Athletics in their fifth game. The Division Series is best of five games, so now the Yankees (can we just assume there’s always a “Damn” in front of that name?) and the Tigers move into the next round, the ALCS.
Yesterday the San Francisco Giants beat the Cincinnati Reds in the fifth game of their NLDS series. This has all made for some exciting playoff baseball. It’s painful to see a team lose 1-2-3 (such as, say, a certain Minnesota team did to a certain New York [cough, spit] team in 2010). It’s much more exciting to see the series go to 2-2. That way you get the maximum number of games, and that fifth game breaks the tie and wins the series. And that fifth game is very intense.
But wait! Astute readers may be thinking, aren’t there four Division Series games? I count only three. Indeed you do, but did you notice the title of today’s post?
If you remember my last (and also first) baseball post, I want the Cards to lose almost as bad as I want the Yankees to lose. Sadly, so far, not getting my wish vis-a-vis the Yankees. (I can only hope Detroit kicks their ass, but that doesn’t seem like a winning bet.)
As much as I love baseball—and I do love baseball—it hasn’t really given me what I want, Twins Wins being tops on the list. I wanted the Texas Rangers to win the World Series in 2010 and again in 2011. Nope. I wanted them to win the AL West Division this year. Nope.
They did sneak in as the top wildcard team this year, and while I do like the Baltimore Orioles, I rooted Rangers. Nope. For that matter, I rooted for the Atlanta Braves over the Cardinals. Nope. Orioles over Yankees? Hell, nope.
Think I stand a chance rooting for Tigers over Yankees? The top team(95-67) in the American League over a team that may have won its Division, but ranks in the middle of the AL (Tigers have an 88-74 record)? I like to think miracles happen, but some of my brain cells still seem to function—sort of—so I’m not getting my hopes up.
Had the Athletics won, one could really imagine a miracle. The A’s are the second ranked team in the AL with a 94-68 record, and it would be pretty cool to see them go to the World Series. But, nope, Tigers and Yankees, so probably those New Yorkers are going to the October Classic.
[I really should be happy, since I was born in New York City, but we’re talking Yankees. The devils in pin-stripes. The best team money can buy.]
In any event, the Cardinals have been very strong, and going into tonight’s game I would have thought them a safe bet.
But in the first inning, the Nationals’ first batter, Jayson Werth, doubles. Next up, young phenom Bryce Harper triples on a ball to the wall and drives in Werth. Then Ryan Zimmerman homers, and it’s 3-0 for the Nationals in the first inning (and no outs so far!). Very nice way to start a ballgame!
And then the next three batters strike out. (Still, great start!)
Second frame, no score. In the top of the third the Cardinals go down 1-2-3, and now it’s the Nationals turn again. Right off the bat (pun, oh so definitely intended), Harper puts one easily out of the yard. Zimmerman doubles, and LaRoche strikes out, but Michael Morse homers, and now it’s 6-0 Nationals.
Let’s go Nats!! Let’s go Nats!! Let’s go Nats!! Let’s go Nats!!
That’s what the crowd, on its feet for much of this, is chanting. The game is only one-third over, and it’s 6-0. Sweet, and (hopefully) bye-bye birdies.
Okay, that can’t last forever; Cardinal batter Matt Holliday doubles, allowing Carlos Beltran (who was walked) to score. (Never, never walk the lead-off batter. It always comes back to haunt you.)
And now, in the time it’s taken to write this, the Cardinals have the bases loaded with no outs in the top of the fifth. This game could change just like that.
And these teams, like the ones I mentioned in the opening, are 2-2, so tonight is do for someone and die for someone else. A situation like this, bases loaded, no outs, really tests a defense. Can they get out of this jam? They just got one of the outs they needed. A double-play would end the inning safely. Or a strike out followed by any old out.
And now, after a wild pitch allows a runner to score, one walk refills the bases and another walks in another run. The Nats finally get out of the inning, but now the score is 6-3. (Anyone who says baseball isn’t exciting does not know the game! Or maybe just doesn’t like baseball.)
I’ll be back to tell you how it ends. I was just so excited to see the Nationals possibly taking this game that I had to share. Go get a beer (that’s what I’m going to do), and I’ll be back after the game. (Or if it gets really exciting again.)
Like right now in the top of the seventh inning. Cardinals have picked up another run (making it 6-4 Nationals), and there’s a runner on second with two outs. (Runners on second and/or third are referred to as being “in scoring position,” since a decent hit will allow them to score. [gulp])
More beer! We need more beer here, ya hear?!
B.E.E.R = “Beer!” … H.E.E.R = “Here? ” “Hear?” Nope.
Oh, oh… in the top of the eighth, the Cards get another run making this a one-run ballgame! Let’s go Nats? (Please?)
And the Nats do go! They answer that run with a run of their own in the bottom of the eighth, so now it’s a 7-5 ballgame with three outs remaining for the red birds. If the Nats can get those three outs, they are going to the NLCS!
And now, top of the ninth, a lead-off double puts a runner in scoring position. Two outs later, that runner is on third, and now the count is 1-1 to Molina. A ball makes it 2-1, and a foul makes it 2-2. One strike is all it takes. A ball puts the count at 3-2, and ball four puts a runner on first. The crowd is anxious!
Now we start over again. (Get that out; get that out; get that out…) A foul, a ball, a foul, and it’s a 1-2 count. The Nationals are one strike away (again). The fans are on their feet screaming. Another ball makes the count 2-2. A third ball, and the count is full again (the tension is so intense I’m sober, damn it).
Aw, geeze, a fourth ball fills the bags. Talk about a tense game.
Here we go again… and, oh fuck me, a base hit drives in two runs, and the game is tied. The Nationals closing pitcher, Drew Storen, pretty much just lost this game for the team.
I don’t think I can take this!!
And another two-run single makes it 9-7 Cardinals. That’s it folks, the Nationals blew it. It’s highly unlikely Washington can make up the two runs let alone get ahead.
Now it’s the bottom of the ninth, and the Cardinals closer shows how it’s done. The Nationals go down 1-2-3, and a very quiet and disappointed home crowd and their team go home to lick their wounds.
Once again, baseball says to me, “Nope.”
That’s it! I’ve had it, and I’m never, ever watching baseball again.
Until, you know, like tomorrow, ’cause there’s some Championship games to watch! 🙂