The two Game 5s yesterday ended up, unfortunately, not very close. The Game 4s, however, were a very different story!
NLDS Game 5: San Francisco Giants 6, Cincinnati Reds 4 - This game was not really as close as the score makes it out to be. The Giants scored all six of their runs in the 5th inning on a run-scoring triple, an error, and two batters later when the bases were loaded, Buster Posey hit a monster grand slam. Matt Cain's the starter so the game's out of reach, right? Not so fast. The Reds got back two runs right away and added another off Cain in the 6th. For four straight innings, the Reds had the tying run at the plate, but couldn't do a thing with it. Actually, in the 9th it finally got interesting with the tying run on base, but Sergio Romo struck out Scott Rolen to end the game and send the Giants to the next round. The Reds become the first NLDS team to be up two games to none and
completely choke lose. It probably stings a little worse having all three of those losing games be at home. Giants win series 3-2.
NLDS Game 4: Cardinals 1, Nationals 2 - The Nats won this one in walk-off fashion. Washington scored first on an Adam LaRoche home run in the 2nd, and St. Louis tied it right up in the 3rd. They stayed at 1-all with very few baserunners on either side for the next six innings. Jayson Werth, the first batter of the 9th, homered into the St. Louis bullpen. Series tied 2-2.
ALDS Game 4: Orioles 2, Yankees 1 (13) - Various sports pundits have pointed out that in the 43 innings of this series, the teams have been tied or within one run of each other for 41 of them. Did anybody really think this series was going to be the most evenly matched?! But it is! Baltimore scored first on home run by Nate McLouth (who later made a dazzling defensive play to save a run). The Yankees soon tied it up on a groundout, the only run Joe Saunders allowed in 5.2 innings. Much like the Cards/Nats game, neither team did much offensively for the next six innings. Raul Ibanez pinch hit in the bottom of the 9th and harmlessly ground out. Rookie Manny Machado led off the 13th inning with a double, and scored on a double from Tucson native J.J. Hardy. Jim Johnson took care of business and the Orioles send it to Game 5. Series tied 2-2.
ALDS Game 5: Detroit Tigers 6, Oakland Athletics 0 - This was the same matchup, Parker vs Verlander, as in Game 1, but this time, Justin Verlander didn't give an inch. The A's couldn't get anything out of him last night - just four hits and a walk. I think they only twice had a runner as far as second base. It was just a dominating performance by one of the best in the game, and you tip your hat to that. (He threw a complete game in 122 pitches just for emphasis.) Jarrod Parker gave up two runs in the 3rd inning, and his two runners in the 7th both scored after he left the game. Aaron Cook really struggled in relief of Parker - he gave up a hit, a walk, and hit Miguel Cabrera to force in a run. Jerry Blevins got all three outs in the inning, but not before the Tigers had made it 6-0. The A's went quietly in the 8th and 9th to end their magical, improbable run to the postseason. Oakland fans proudly cheered and chanted after the game was over, and the players stayed on the field to say good-bye to the crowd and each other. Tigers win series 3-2.
Can you believe this is the first time since its inception in 1995 that all 20 Division Series games will be played? I was kind of surprised at that statistic. Here we are, 18 games in the books, and two more to go...