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Snake Bytes 10/12: Shaping Up

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Both Championship Series can be set with teams as early as today.

Tampa Bay Rays Vs. Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park in ALDS Photo by Matthew J. Lee/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Arizona Diamondbacks News

[D’backs.com] D-backs’ top 5 offseason questions this year - How can they minimize losing stretches? The past two seasons there have been long losing stretches that have cost the D-backs any chance at the postseason. In 2020 it was a 2-18 stretch, while in 2021 they followed a 14-12 April with a 5-24 May and a 3-24 June. It left Hazen trying to understand why his team couldn’t diagnose the issue and at least minimize some damage. “We need to do a better job of digging out those issues quicker,” Hazen said. “And our players do, too. They are accountable in this, too. What we have seen is that that stretch in May and June, it just can’t happen. That’s an anomaly that we should have done — and we should do — a better job of righting that ship and leveling that ship somehow and maintaining some level of consistency.” Part of that, it appears, will be some kind of reconfiguring how information is passed from the front office through the coaching staff and to the players. All of the different processes the organization has for that will have to be evaluated. Work on that has already started.

ALDS

[Yahoo Sports] Alex Cora’s message to Red Sox after beating Rays was on brand - Plenty of teams play the “nobody believed in us” card, but the Red Sox actually have grounds for doing so. After they finished last in the AL East in 2020, many projected Boston as a .500 team at best in 2021. And when they hit a rough patch in August amid a COVID outbreak, most wrote the Red Sox off as first-half overachievers who were coming back to earth. Doubts about the 2021 Red Sox weren’t unwarranted, either: The club dealt with a suspect rotation and a shaky bullpen all season and committed the second-most errors in baseball (107 in 162). But now that they’re in the postseason, anything seems possible for a group that’s an incredible 15-4 (and 7-2 at home) in the playoffs under Cora.

[USA Today] Early exit stings Rays after 100-win year: ‘I truly believed we were going to win the World Series’ - “I truly believed we were going to win the World Series,” says center fielder Kevin Kiermaier, who played two splendid games at Fenway Park only to come up on the wrong end both times, the final blow a 6-5, walk-off loss in Game 4 Monday night. “I really did, with our pitching and our bullpen, just with how many runs we can score offensively. We had all the right pieces to do it, but we just got beat by a really good team over there.”

NLDS

[Brew Crew Ball] Brewers fall to Braves in game three, 3-0; on the brink of NLDS elimination - Freddy Peralta and Ian Anderson posted dueling zeroes across the first four innings to begin this game; Peralta yielding just three singles and one walk while punching out five batters on 57 pitches. In his final inning, he escaped a two-outs and runner on third situation, which only occurred after Lorenzo Cain nearly made a highlight-reel catch, only to drop the ball when he hit the ground after colliding with the outfield wall. But sensing that runs would be at a premium, manager Craig Counsell elected to pinch-hit for Peralta in the top of the fifth when his spot came up with two runners on and one out. Daniel Vogelbach was the substitute batter, and a hit-and-run was put on. Luis Urias broke from third on contact; unfortunately, the ball was fielded by the third baseman Austin Riley, and Urias was cut down in a rundown between third and home. The Brewers failed to score. That would loom large in the bottom of the inning, with Adrian Houser as the first man out of the bullpen. Travis d’Arnaud got things rolling with a leadoff single, then Dansby Swanson singled to bring up the pitcher’s spot. Anderson was pulled after 5.0 shutout innings for pinch-hitter Joc Pederson. Houser — who struggles against left-handed hitters — had to stay in for the three-batter rule, and his fourth pitch of the at-bat was a letter-high fastball that Pederson smashed out of the park for a three-run homer.

[The Washington Post] ‘I lost on one pitch’: Max Scherzer and the Dodgers find themselves on the brink against the Giants - Maybe if the wind hadn’t been gusting like it did all night, the flyball Gavin Lux hit nearly 107 mph into the air with two outs in the bottom of the ninth would have traveled out to tie the score. Maybe the ball Chris Taylor hit nearly as well a few innings earlier would have gone out, too. Or maybe, just maybe, the 2021 San Francisco Giants are built to withstand baseball’s whims, whether weather or luck or anything in between. Because Monday night, they turned one of the few mistakes Cy Young candidate Max Scherzer made into a run when Evan Longoria hit an 0-2 fastball out to left, then turned that run into a gutsy 1-0 win on a gusty night at Dodger Stadium. The team that bested the defending champion Dodgers for the National League West title and still entered this series as underdogs is now one win from the National League Championship Series. Maybe, just maybe, the Giants are well constructed for October nights such as these.