The Hilarity of Playoff Baseball

The first game of the Cardinals postseason didn’t disappoint.  It also didn’t do much for the long term health of Cardinals’ fans either.  A game that had the promise of a great pitching duel, was anything but.  Who would have thought that a pitching match up of the two best pitchers in the National League would end up to be a slug fest?  Or that the best pitcher in baseball would leave the game looking like he had just fought a major military campaign.  I can’t help thinking that Clayton Kershaw probably never wants to face the Cardinals again for the rest of his life.

I have to be honest, I went into this thing believing that the Cardinals were going to be carved up like a Christmas ham.  For the first 6 innings of the game, they kind of were, sans two solo dingers from Randal Grichuk and Matt Carpenter.  Although those two shots were rather uncharacteristic of Kershaw, they didn’t portend, for me at least, what was to come in the 7th inning.  Adam Wainwright had pitched uncharacteristically as well, uncharacteristically bad, so the feeling of doom was not abated at all.

What happened in the 7th inning will likely be the subject for debate for a while.  The first batter up, Matt Holliday, hit a hard single to center field.  A single from each of Jhonny Peralta, Yadier Molina, and Matt Adams rapidly followed.  Then it looked like Kershaw was going to escape his fate when he struck out Pete Kozma, but Jon Jay followed with another single.  Two runs had scored, bringing the game lead to within two.  Once again, Kershaw regained form and struck out Oscar Taveras.  Then, Kershaw saw the thing of his playoff nightmares, the thing that makes him break out in a cold sweat, the thing that sealed his fate.  This thing coming to the plate was…….(begin playing that shark music from Jaws)……no, it wasn’t Albert Pujols…….it was…….Matt Carpenter.  Yep, skinny Matt, with the patience of Job and the peskiness of a gnat flying in your face.  Matt Carpenter, who only a year previously had been the catalyst for Kershaw’s last playoff caststrophe, the 12 pitch AB in the 2013 NLCS that sparked the game winning and pennant winning rally for the Cardinals.

There he was, looming, ready to yank the scab off the old wound.  Was this the picture that was in the mind of Clayton Kershaw at that moment?  Did he have PTSD flashbacks?  You have to wonder.  Whether he did or not, the result of that meeting at that moment was like being in a scene from the movie Groundhog Day.  After 7 pitches were thrown, Carpenter tattooed the eighth pitch, a fastball, into the right center field gap for a bases clearing double that gave the Cardinals the lead.  That was the last pitch Kershaw would throw in the game.  His manager came and got him.  His relief then promptly walked Randal Grichuk and then served up a 3 run home run to Matt Holliday.  All total, Kershaw was tagged with 8 ER in the game.

Now all this sounds like great drama, but the reality is that despite last night’s results and the NLCS disaster of last year, Clayton Kershaw is still the best pitcher in baseball.  Putting all the narratives aside, these results prove nothing about Kershaw as a playoff pitcher.  He has had very good results against the Cardinals in other games, including playoff games.  Things like last night and Game 6 in 2013 just happen.  It’s the randomness of baseball.

What isn’t random, however, is the bad feelings that exist between these two teams.  Apparently there are some member of this Dodgers squad that believe they are too special to be subjected to the natural order of baseball.  That what happens to other players on other teams shouldn’t happen to their special selves.  I’m referring to the all too common hit by pitch.

Last night Adam Wainwright threw an errant fastball that hit Yasiel Puig in the back.  He took his base, like he was supposed to.  He wasn’t injured, he wasn’t traumatized, he was just a victim of one of the garden variety occurrences that happen from time to time in the game of baseball.  Except in the vaulted minds of some Dodgers.  The same thing happened to another Dodger, Hanley Ramirez, in the NLCS last year, when he was injured by a errant pitch from Joe Kelly.  Now, let’s keep in mind that Hanley Ramirez gets injured a lot, and I mean A LOT.  He should wear a sign that says “Touch me and I’ll break like a piñata”.  Many Dodgers and their fans believed that the hit was intentional. Many Dodgers and their fans are delusional.  Joe Kelly is famous for his lack of control.  If someone didn’t get hit while Joe Kelly was pitching, it would be a cause for a front page headline.

So the hit by pitch on Yasiel Puig last night got the Dodgers going again.  Because, you know, they’re SPECIAL.  Adrian Gonzalez was the next up to bat after Puig, and Gonzalez likes to shoot off his mouth, so he decides to shoot it at Yadier Molina.  BAD IDEA.  A scrum ensues, as they are wont to do when players behave this way.  Adam Wainwright, as he is wont to do, attempted to bring peace.  He took Puig aside and said, “My bad”.   Wainwright did not intend to hit Puig.  He isn’t that stupid.  I can’t say the same for Adrian Gonzalez.

The scrum appeared to spark a rally for the Dodgers.  It didn’t do them any good ultimately because the 7th inning happened.

Narratives, narratives, about this game.  Harold Reynolds says the Cardinals were stealing signs.  Harold Reynolds is a moron. Adrian Gonzalez says Wainwright hit Puig on purpose.  Ditto.

What happened is this.   Baseball.  End of story.

 

 

Thank you for reading.

 

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4 Comments

  1. baseballmania

     /  October 4, 2014

    Couple of other things that happened. Matheny got to choose who he wanted on the roster. Leaving out Pete and Cruz would have been another reason to let some more air out of the balloon. Its called chemistry and I hear things are good in the clubhouse these days.
    After the series you are going to hear that all is not right with Adam Wainwright. I am going to say shoulder issues. Very common after a pitcher has had elbow surgery, the shoulder had been compensating or this can happen in reverse, the shoulder has an issue the elbow compensates. This is what happened to Jaime Garcia. When you keep the ball up its a giveaway.
    Carpenter owns Kershaw and I think that at bat just finished him off. Carpenter got paid what he did for a reason. His eye never leaves the ball, never! You cant say that about everyone.
    The cardinals always have some type of issue going on. It was clear and evident that Puig was hit by a pitcher who really had little control of the ball. But this brought up memories and not good ones.
    The closer needs another pitch.

    What happened last night WAS baseball. You are correct.

    But just remember, it ain’t over until the fat lady sings!

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  2. I don’t give a crap about the clubhouse. They are paid to play baseball games, not decide who is or who isn’t on the roster. That has been part of the problem with this team. The inmates (and that includes Matheny) have been trying to run the asylum. Letting Matheny “choose” who is on the roster is the worst idea, because his method of choosing is counterproductive. It should be who are the best players, not who are the most popular players.

    If Mozeliak is bending over for Matheny, then I will lose all respect for him. If I had my way, Matheny would be fired when the season is over, because he is a horrible manager. But that won’t happen, and I understand why. What Mozeliak should do is control Matheny more, not less, because as a manager, he is a menace.

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  3. bw52

     /  October 4, 2014

    Cards win in spite of Matheny sometimes.I thought he would improve with experience.IMHO he has not.For a former Catcher he mishandles the pitching staff too often .His choice of personel is poor (too much favoritism or too much a buddy buddy manager).

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  4. baseballmania

     /  October 7, 2014

    Regardless Matheny gets them to the playoffs.
    Probably not good enough. Cardinal fans never happy.

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