Thursday’s Division Series games once again blew my mind. You want October amazement? You got it yesterday, big-time. Let’s recap the games.
DODGERS 10, CUBS 3
I don’t remember the last time I heard Wrigley Field so quiet, and for long-suffering Cubs fans, this was a tough one to swallow. The Dodgers offense has come to play, and for the second straight night, they got great pitching, too. In Game 2, it was Chad Billingsley dealing. But enough about the Dodgers. What about the Cubbies? The best record in the National League and they lose two in a row at home? Unreal. But remember, folks. Strange things happen in October. The Yankees went down 2-0 at home in 2001 and came back and beat the A’s in their Division Series. It can happen.
PHILLIES 5, BREWERS 2
This one was all about Shane Victorino’s grand slam, and maybe about a team finally finding its postseason groove after getting swept in the first round last year. The Phils left for Milwaukee on a serious high point and can you blame them? They did something that hardly anyone could do down the stretch — beat CC Sabathia — and now have huge numbers in their favor. Teams with a 2-0 lead in NL Division Series have won their last 16.
RAYS 6, WHITE SOX 4
And how about those Rays? Experts claimed they didn’t have enough talent to make it to October, and they shot that down. Critics said they didn’t have the experience to make it all the way through October. Well, maybe they don’t, but they certainly didn’t look intimidated yesterday in improving their league-best home record. And who did a huge portion of the damage? The probable AL Rookie of the Year, Evan Longoria, who looked about as ready for the postseason as anyone ever has in his first crack at it.
It’s starting to get crazy in these series, and I’m watching every inning. Now I want to hear from you. What was your favorite Thursday moment? Did any team make a major statement? Will the Cubs rally? How far can the Rays go?
I’m all ears.
Three Division Series Game 1s yesterday and already more than a few surprises. And isn’t that typical of October?
Let’s go game by game.
PHILLIES 3, BREWERS 1
It isn’t surprising that Cole Hamels dealt the way he did, but the Brewers, particularly Yovani Gallardo, showed a lot of poise for a young team that has practically no postseason experience to speak of. If the Brew Crew can clean up a few mistakes, this might become a very competitive series very quickly — especially when CC gets his say. Here’s Chase Utley’s big hit in the third inning.
DODGERS 7, CUBS 2
Now I didn’t expect this one. Who would have thought the best team in the National League would go down at home in Game 1 in the 100th anniversary year of their last World Series title? But James Loney had the big hit, the grand slam in the fifth inning, Manny and Russell Martin homered later, and that was all she wrote. The Cubs will have to regroup in a hurry tonight, but their big horse, the Big Z, is on the hill, so Cubs Nation has to be feeling good about that.
RED SOX 4, ANGELS 1
The Angels had the best record in all of baseball this year and were at home with their ace, John Lackey, in Game 1, but the same old same old happened again — the Red Sox beat them in October. This time it was lefty Jon Lester giving the Angels hitters fits and the newest member of the defending world champs’ outfield doing most of the damage.
Almost too much to blog about, but I want to hear your thoughts. What was the best moment of the first day of October baseball in 2008?
And what’s going to happen tonight as the Rays-White Sox series starts and two other series continue?
Let me know.
Any baseball fan knows that when you get to October, you throw everything out the window because you know crazy things are bound to happen.
And this year? Turns out crazy stuff is happening all over the place ALREADY.
Who would have thought that it would be late August and the Tampa Bay Rays would still be in first place in the American League East … over the Red Sox AND Yankees? Not me, but here they are.
If you told me in April that CC Sabathia would be leading Milwaukee’s rotation on a serious Postseason run, I would have flat-out spilled coffee all over my keyboard in a fit of laughter. But, again, here’s CC, dealing for the Brew Crew when it counts the most.
I think I could have believed that the Angels would be in first place, but I NEVER could have predicted them trading for Mark Teixeira in the heat of a pennant race. That’s what I call serious October commitment.
And Manny Being Manny, Hollywood style? Now that’s just too much.
And that’s the point. As the calendar inches ever closer to October, you gotta get ready for crazy, because once the Postseason starts, it just gets crazier.
Everyone knows that pitching gets the job done in the postseason, and I’m here to tell you that you can bank on it playing out that way again this season.
Just check out all the pennant races cooking right now in the middle of August. Everywhere you look, the teams on top have the arms to get the job done. And once you’re in a best-of-five or a best-of-seven series? Forget it. Pitching is EVERYTHING.
So who’s going to be this year’s Bob Gibson or Jack Morris or Dave Stewart?
Who’s this year’s El Duque, John Smoltz, Fernando Valenzuela or Curt Schilling?
Maybe it’ll be Big Z in Chicago.
Maybe it’ll be K-Rod in Anaheim, just like in 2002.
Maybe it’ll be CC Sabathia, the new ace of the Brew Crew.
Or maybe it’ll be Josh Beckett, just like last year.
The bottom line is this: Someone is going to step up on the mound in a key situation, take that ball in his right or left hand, and use every single one of its 216 stitches to do something in October that nobody will ever forget.
And I can’t wait to see who that someone is.