October baseball: teams move on to pennant races
It’s already been an extraordinarily eventful October for baseball. There’s been the first ever postseason cycle, a position player pitched in a 16–1 blowout, Aaron Boone telling his players the wrong start time for a game, and that’s all just in the series of the eternal rivalry between the Yankees and Red Sox. The big news outside of the games has been the threat of legal trouble for the Dodgers because of their involvement in the trafficking of players from Cuba to the States to play baseball; but, there is little else at the moment, as the investigation is ongoing. The games are news enough, for now.
In the first National League Division Series between the Milwaukee Brewers and Wild Card Winner Colorado Rockies, the Brewers were able to sweep the Rockies by scores of 3–2, 4–0, and 6–0. Led by strong pitching, the Brewers gave up only two runs in the series, with both coming in a single ninth inning. There’s no way the Rockies could have won the series if 27 of 28 total innings were scoreless. The star of the series was 38-year-old journeyman catcher Erik Kratz. Kratz is the oldest player to start in a postseason debut since 1905, and he went 5-for-8, with one run and two runs batted in, in the second half of the series. With the help of the Brewers pitching and Kratz, they were able to advance to the National League Championship series, where they face the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Dodgers, who made it to the NLCS by way of a four-game series with the Atlanta Braves, have won their third NLDS in as many years. In all three Dodger wins this series, they handedly took down the Braves by at least three runs. Dodgers pitchers Hyun-Jin Ryu and the standout Walker Buehler began the series strong with two quality starts and no earned runs allowed. However, the one Braves win in the series did demonstrate the future potential of their young team. Rookie Ronald Acuña Jr. showed off his talent for long home runs in the Braves’ 6–5 win by accounting for 4 of the 6 runs with a grand slam, becoming the youngest player to hit one in the postseason. But the Dodgers easily beat the Braves back in Game 4. The NLCS began Friday, Oct. 12 between the Dodgers and the Brewers.
In the American League, the Houston Astros faced off against the Cleveland Indians, who finished the regular season just over .500. Coming into the series, baseball journalists were writing about the lack of credentials for the Indians — they barely won the worst division in baseball this year, the AL Central. Three games later, it was clear that every critic was right. In the Astros-Indians series, the home-run hitting talent of the Astros was on display and the Indians’ lack of talent showed almost everywhere on the field. Game 3 featured 11 Astros runs to three for the Indians, and in the seventh inning, the Astros capitalized on two errors by Cleveland pitching for three runs. The unfortunate part for the winner of this series is that they will be facing the momentum-driven winners of a Yankees-Red Sox Division Series.
Both the Yankees and Red Sox had 100-win records coming into the postseason, and for the first time in 14 years, the storied rivalry was renewed in October. It can only be good for baseball if the most intense rivalry in sports is rejuvenated. Baseball was buzzing for Yankees-Sox games, much to the ire of the Astros organization who lost primetime spots throughout the regular season and postseason so far to the rivalry. But we just love to watch two teams play great baseball with an intense hatred for the opponents.
Through the first two games, everybody got what they wanted in close games, great baseball, and a 1–1 split for the series. The third game was building up to be a classic. It was, in a way, classic. The Red Sox put up sixteen runs to a single one by the Yankees, and Brock Holt completed the first postseason cycle in history off a two-run home run in the ninth inning at the hands of position player-turned-pitcher, Andrew Romine. Game 4 was a close game, but not too close, until two Yankee runs crossed the plate in the ninth inning. However, it wasn’t enough as the Red Sox carried the momentum from their massive win back to Fenway, where they controlled all but one inning of the final game. Now, the Red Sox move on to face the reigning World Series champion Astros in the ALCS, which began on Saturday, Oct. 13.