Postseason Filled With Improbables

You can’t predict baseball as witnessed by the improbable which has dominated this postseason. And, we haven’t even seen the start of the two League Championship Series, let alone the World Series.

AL Wildcard (Baltimore/Toronto)
Two teams combined for 474 home runs during the season. The Blue Jays eliminated the Orioles, 5-2, in 11 innings on a walk-off home run by Edwin Encarnacion. All seven runs came on homers. Oddly, the Orioles didn’t use their outstanding closer, Jack Britton. Improbable that he would sit for 11 innings in a one-game playoff.

NL Wildcard (San Francisco/New York).
Conor Gillaspie hit a three-run homer in the top of the ninth off Mets closer, Jeurys Familia, to give the Giants a 3-0 win. Gillaspie is a left-handed hitting bench player signed to a minor league deal in February. He was playing because Eduardo Nunez, the Giants third baseman, was injured.

The improbable list goes on and on.

ALDS (Boston/Cleveland)
The Red Sox scored in the first inning of their first game against the Indians and never led again. Cleveland, without its two best starting pitchers, swept three games from the Red Sox who scored a total of seven runs after leading the universe with 878 in the regular season. Terry Francona had two closers in his pen, Andrew Miller and Chad Allen, and he used them to perfection. In Game #1, Francona brought Miller in the game in the 5th inning. Game #3, the 6th. Allen, in the 8th inning twice. Miller threw 75 pitches in his four innings, Allen 80 in his 3.1 innings. Highly improbable that a reliever throws 80 pitches and comes away with two saves.

ALDS (Toronto/Texas)
The Rangers led the AL with 95 wins but the staff ERA was 13th (4.37). Scoring 22 runs, the Blue Jays (89 season wins) swept the Rangers in three straight. Only time Rangers had a lead was 1-0 and 6-5 in Game #3. They lost, 7-6, on a walk-off error. A year ago, the Rangers had a 2-0 series lead over the Blue Jays who won the next three. So, they have six straight postseason wins over the Rangers.

NLDS (Washington/Los Angeles)
7 runs, 13 hits, 11 innings. Those numbers are the combined totals for two premier starting pitchers, Clayton Kershaw and Max Scherzer, in the Dodgers 9-4 win in Game #1. It wasn’t until Game #4 of the series that a starting pitcher worked into the 7th inning, Kershaw on three day’s rest. Andrew Toles, who was out of the game a year ago, was hit-by-a-pitch in LA’s eighth inning and scored the winning run on a two-out single by Chase Utley. Until then, the Dodgers hadn’t scored a run after the fifth inning in three games. Toles was the 11th batter HBP in the series, an MLB postseason record with one more game to go (Thursday night in DC). Joe Blanton got his first postseason win since Game #4 of the 2008 World Series with the Phillies.

NLDS (San Francisco/Chicago)
Cubs won a classic pitcher’s duel, 1-0, in Game #1. Game #2 was a normal 5-2 score that included an improbable. Cubs’ starter Kyle Hendricks left in the 4th inning with an injury. Travis Wood relieved and hit a home run in the bottom of the inning, the first homer by a relief pitcher in the postseason since the 1924 World Series.

Series switched to AT&T Park for Game #3 which turned into a 13-inning classic in which 424 pitches were thrown. The Giants won, 6-5, their 10th consecutive win in a postseason elimination game. The game took 5-hours, 4 minutes, only 29 minutes shy of the total time it took to play the first two games.

Want more improbable moments? OK.

**Madison Baumgarner gave up a three-run homer to opposing hurler Jake Arrieta. It was the first home run Baumgarner has given up to a pitcher.

**5 runs, 13 hits, 11 innings. Combined numbers of Arrieta and Baumgarner.

**Gillaspie, there’s that name again, hit a 102-mph fast ball for a two-run triple off Aroldis Chapman in the 8th inning. It was the first triple ever hit off the fire-balling left-hander by a left-handed hitter.

**The two runs were the first the Giants scored off the Cubs bullpen since August 27, 2015. That time was also the 8th inning.

Game #4 goes down as one of the greatest comebacks or meltdowns in baseball history, depending upon which team you are rooting for. Trailing, 5-2, going into the top of the ninth, the Cubs scored four runs on four hits and a walk off five Giants relievers. Matt Moore held the Cubs to two runs and two hits through eight innings. His RBI single in the fourth gave the Giants the lead. It was his fourth career hit and second career RBI.

The Cubs move on to face the Dodgers or Nationals while the Giants’ streak of winning the World Series in 2010-2012-2014 ends. Their bullpen was largely responsible for those crowns. This year, the bullpen failed. During the regular season, 31 blown saves.

Baseball withdrawal tonight as there are no games. Dodgers and Nationals Thursday night for the right to meet the Cubs in the NLCS.

This Date In Phillies History
October 12, 1965
Larry Bowa, a skinny 19-year-old shortstop from Sacramento, CA, is signed by the Phillies for a $1,200 bonus. In the first ever draft that June, 824 players were selected but not Bowa. As a player, coach, manager and coach again, Bowa’s now worn the Phillies uniform longer than anyone else.

October 12, 1980
NLCS #5 at Houston: Phillies score five in eighth inning off Nolan Ryan, Astros tie with
two in same inning before Garry Maddox’ single in 10th wins thriller, 87, for club’s third
NL pennant.

October 12, 2009
NLDS #4 at Denver: Ryan Howard hits a two-out, two-run double and Jason Werth
follows with a game-winning RBI as the Phillies score three times in the top of the ninth
for a 5-4 win which clinches the series against the Rockies, 3-1.

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