The baseball playoffs got underway this week with the two wild card games on Tuesday and Wednesday, followed by the division series starting Thursday. This means we have an entire month of the best baseball action to look forward to and I, for one, am excited by the prospect.
We already had a dramatic collapse as well as a dominant pitching performance in the first two games, which are the types of things that make the playoffs worth watching. The Milwaukee Brewers blew what looked like a pretty sure victory, falling to the Washington Nationals Tuesday, October 1. Milwaukee was up 3-1 in the bottom of the eighth inning. Their closer was on the hill and they even had two outs. But, then disaster struck as Josh Hader gave up a hit to the Nationals’ Juan Soto that somehow got past Milwaukee right fielder Trent Grisham and ended up plating three runs, effectively ending the Brewers’ season in the process. I hated to see this one happen. I have a Brewers’ hat and it would have been easy to wear it all month if the team had kept on winning. I also don’t really like the Nationals. Speaking of which, something I felt got lost in all the excitement was Soto being tagged out as he celebrated his hit between second and third base. That right there is bad baseball. He should have been safely on second, in position to score an added run that the team might very well have needed. Instead, he made a boneheaded base running mistake as bad as anything Fred Merkel ever did. Of course, his team won, so no one will ever remember.
As for the dominant pitching, it came courtesy of four Tampa Bay pitchers who limited the Oakland A’s to just one run and sent the Rays on to face the Houston Astros in the next round. As I get older, I am becoming more of a baseball purist, which means I don’t really like the way Tampa Bay plays. I do not like openers, or teams that build their offense on launch angles, but it works for the Rays, so more power to them. I will suggest, however, they will have a lot more trouble shutting down the potent Houston Astros than they did with the A’s fairly anemic offense.
After the wild card games, we are left with just eight teams still playing baseball. The Rays and Nationals are joined by the St. Louis Cardinals, Los Angeles Dodgers, Atlanta Braves, Astros, New York Yankees and Minnesota Twins. I believe way back in the spring I predicted a Dodgers–Yankees World Series, and while I think that still could happen, I would revise my prediction now and put the Astros in the Yankees' place. Houston did not have Zack Greinke at the beginning of the year, and his addition gives them the best 1-2-3 punch in the game. I still like the Dodgers to win it all though, but I think Houston is the team they must beat to finally bring home the Commissioner’s Trophy. But, who knows? There is still a lot of baseball to be played and a lot more dramatic finishes for fans to enjoy as we work our way through what promises to be a wild month of October.