(Moshe asked me to repost this, and so I have)
The baseball playoffs are just three days old, but already there seem to be certain things that we’ve, if not necessarily learned anew, then have had reinforced to the point where it’s almost comical.
1) What postseason jitters?
In their first career postseason starts, Roy Halladay, Tim Lincecum and CJ Wilson were all fantastic–of course, Halladay’s no-hitter and Lincecum’s 14-strike out game, with game scores of 94 and 96 respectively, exist on a different level entirely.
In fact, it’s going to be a fun question to ponder–which pitcher had the better game?
Lincecum’s bevy of strikeouts argues that he had better pure swing-and-miss stuff (and he had a lot of those, swings and misses, 31 total), but the Reds never came close to hitting Halladay–their hardest hit baseball came off the bat of their pitcher, Travis Wood.
Halladay’s stuff was so good, that by the fifth inning the tweets were telling everyone to call friends and neighbors, that the one walk seemed an unfortunate aberration more than anything else.
You also have to consider that the Reds offense is invariably considered better than the Braves’, and that AT&T Park plays bigger than Citizens Bank Ballpark.
Then again, when you’re striking out fourteen batters, you could be pitching in a silo and it still wouldn’t matter.
There’s also that the Giants won that game 1-0, the lone run scoring after the umpire botched a call at second base, which brings me to point number two
2) The umpires are not very good.
Yesterday, in the River Ave Blues chat, RAB writer Mike Axisa mentioned that umpires are loathe to toss managers from postseason games, and yet yesterday two managers were so ejected.
No one is blaming the managers.
So far we have egregious strike zones in the Rays/Rangers and Yankees/Twins series, Greg Golson’s should-have-ended-the-game catch, Posey’s-steal-but-he-was-out of second that eventually scored last night’s only run, a nice summation of Hunter Wendelstedt’s inconsistent zone last night, Carlos Peña’s hbp-but-was-he-really, so on and so fourth.
There are six umpires assigned to postseason series.
Get it right, or go get robots.
3) The Yankees own the Twins in postseason play.
I’ve been over the tropes in my recaps, but when Minnesota’s scored first in eight straight games and lost all eight, you kind of have to start to wonder if maybe the Twins are hoping that just once the Yankees score first, or something.
Like the games last season (with the exception of last year’s ALDS game one), these games have been close and decided in the seventh inning on, where the Minnesota bullpen simply has no match for the Yankees’ relievers, even the ones not named Mariano Rivera.
You almost hate to give credit to the idea that the Yankees’ are in the Twins head, but barring a spectacular collapse on the part of the Yankees, you almost have to wonder if maybe the Yankees played down for the Wild Card…okay, it’s unlikely, but it’s hard to argue that thus far the Twins in round one has made for a much better outcome than the Rangers in round one may have been.
4) The Rays are not infallible. Much was made that the winner of the AL East was arguably the best team in the American League, but not only have the Rays lost the first two games of their ALDS matchup, you can argue that they’ve hardly even competed.
Part of this is no doubt due to the stellar pitching of Cliff Lee and CJ Wilson, but Tampa’s first two starters, David Price and James Shields, haven’t held onto their end of the bargain, allowing Texas to stake to large leads early, giving the Rangers’ pitchers all they need to get their job done.
Yankee fans are no doubt rooting for the Rays to win the next two games and thus force a game five, and thus hopes of “tiring out” their potential ALCS opponent (assuming the Yankees hold up their end of the bargain), but now it’s the Rangers that have the benefit of heading home, and all the confidence in the world…