ALDS 3: TEX vs. TOR & NLDS 2: LAD vs. WAS — A sweep & a split

Well, it started raining early in Boston and didn’t let up or show any chance of letting up, so they postponed the third game of their series until tomorrow. With Cleveland leading the Red Sox 2-0 so far, I think they are hoping for a decisive victory either tomorrow or the next day, which would keep that series on track with broadcasting and the postseason in general.

But there were still two other games on the line-up today, and it certainly kept things interesting for October baseball.

Game 1: LA Dodgers at Washington Nationals
After being postponed due to rain (that seems to be plaguing the Atlantic Coast), the Dodgers came into this second game of their series already up a game over the Nationals. And it looked like they might keep that edge for the first section of the game.

Seager got the Dodgers on the board quickly with a 1-out solo home run in the top of the 1st inning. In the 3rd, Turner worked a 1-out walk, moved to 2nd on a single, and then scored on Reddick’s RBI single. After an intentional walk to Pederson, the Dodgers looked to increase their lead, but instead ground into a pretty standard double play that effectively ended the bulk of their offense this afternoon. I mean, even loading the bases again in the 5th inning didn’t mean anything without getting anyone to score a run. After getting a couple runners on base in the 6th, the Dodgers couldn’t seem to poke holes in the Nationals’ pitching or defense.

The Nats, on the other hand, took their time and collected their runs along the way. Murphy led-off the 4th inning with a walk and moved to 2nd on a hit-by-pitch. So Lobaton’s big 3-run home run set Nationals Park afire, especially for a crowd that’s been rather quiet for this series up until this point. Suddenly in the lead, the Nationals spent the game ensuring it.

A lead-off single in the 5th stole 2nd, moved to 3rd on Harper’s single, and then scored on Murphy’s 1-out RBI single before a great double play ended the inning. Now with an insurance run, the Nationals added an extra one. With 2 outs, Werth doubled in the 7th inning and then scored on Murphy’s RBI single. (This is the same Murphy that helped the Mets make it through the postseason last year, so he’s no stranger to October baseball feats.)

Worth noting, however, is that collectively Dodgers’ pitchers got the Nationals batters to strikeout 14 times over the course of the game. That’s high for a regular season game, let alone a postseason one. But we don’t count wins by strikeouts, so the Nationals take this one and split the series as they head across the country from a sea of red in the nation’s capital to a sea of blue in Hollywoodland.

Final score: 5-2 Nationals, series split 1-1.

Game 2: Texas Rangers at Toronto Blue Jays
The Blue Jays won the first two games in Texas and were looking to finish off this series tonight and rest up to face either the Indians (which is looking most likely) or the Red Sox for the ALCS next week. But this couldn’t be that easy, not even in front of the rabid crowd at Rogers Centre.

Truthfully, the Rangers’ starter didn’t do that great of a job to fend off the Blue Jays and the rest of the bullpen didn’t help matters. But then the Rangers’ offense certainly gave them a fighting chance. And if not for a few key sloppy defensive plays, they’d be playing a Game 4 tomorrow. It was quite a bit of back-and-forth all night.

In the 1st inning, the Rangers led-off with Gomez’s walk and stolen base, before he moved to 3rd on a ground out and then scored on Beltran’s ground out (yes, that Beltran, Yankee fans) to get the Rangers on the board first. It didn’t last long. Carrera led-off the bottom of the 1st for Toronto with a single and then scored as part of Encarnacion’s 2-run home run to jump the Blue Jays into the lead. Martin’s 2-out solo home run gave the Blue Jays a cushion before the game was out of the 1st inning.

The Rangers came back in the 3rd with Andrus’ lead-off solo shot, but the Blue Jays had a lead they were reluctant to surrender. In the bottom of the 3rd, Carrera led-off with a single, stole 2nd, and scored on Donaldson’s ground-rule double. That spelled the end of the Rangers’ starter’s outing right there. Encarnacion promptly hit an RBI single off the new reliever, all this before a single out was recorder in that inning.

So, down early, the Rangers fought their way through an uphill battle right away. In the 3th, with 1 out and a runner on 1st, Odor’s 2-run home run inched them closer to the Jays’ lead. And in the 6th, with 2 outs and runners on base with a walk and single, the Jays finally went to their bullpen (usually a good move), but a double to Moreland promptly scored both runners and gave the Rangers a 1-run lead.

It didn’t last long. The Blue Jays came back in the bottom of the 6th, and 2 outs and 2 pitching changes later, the bases were loaded with a single, a double, and intentional walk. Things were promising for the Rangers with a small exception of a passed ball, which had Tulowitzki dashing from 3rd to score the tying run that would eventually take them into extra innings.

In the bottom of the 10th, Donaldson led-off with a double and Encarnacion was intentionally walked before a strike out made things a little more comfortable for the Rangers. And then the messy play that would end the game and this series. So Martin hit a grounder to the shortstop who threw it to 2nd for one out and he passed it along to 1st for what should’ve been the second out (and 3rd out of the inning). But it was a sloppy throw and thus missed the second out, but the first baseman threw it home to get the runner for a possible second chance at a second out in the play. but that too was a sloppy throw and thus Donaldson slid head-first to score the winning, walk-off run.

The Rangers’ manager wanted to check and make sure all the calls were correct and asked for a replay. I don’t blame him. This is a big moment, in a big game. Now, what’s most interesting is that the call wasn’t “confirmed” (meaning there was inrefutable evidence that the original call was right) but rather “upheld” (meaning there was nothing glaring that proved the original call was wrong). A rather disappointing end for the Rangers’ season, but a thrilling and weird way for the Blue Jays to continue their march onward to the World Series.

Final score: 7-6 Blue Jays in 10 innings, Toronto sweeps series 3-0.

Three games scheduled for tomorrow: Nationals at Dodgers, Indians at Red Sox, and Cubs at Giants. That is unless nature has a different idea as they’re all open-air stadiums.

Go Yankees!

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