Friday, October 12, 2012

Traveling Through The Quad

For the second straight weekday, the MLB Division Series provided 4 games strung in a row. With the constant tension, looming elimination, close finishes, and overlapping action it was reminiscent of March Madness.

I couldn't just sit in front of the TV as I had to travel today so I caught bits and pieces in the afternoon. When I pulled up at the Savannah airport, the Giants and Reds were scoreless in the 3rd in their Game 5.

When I landed in Atlanta I had an hour to kill in Terminal D - not a lot of options, but hit Atlanta City Blues for some BBQ nachos. I couldn't stay for the end, but I did see Angel Pagan's game-sealing diving catch in the 8th.

I had to board the plane for Shreveport but the 2010 champion Giants sealed the deal, winning 3 straight on the road in Cincinnati and advancing to the NLCS.

It reminded me of what Rudy Tomjanovich said in 1995, when his Houston Rockets won their second straight NBA title as the #6 seed in the West.

"Never underestimate the heart of a champion."

I mean seriously. They lost closer Brian Wilson for the year. They lost top hitter Melky Cabrera to suspension. Two-time Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum wasn't even near the shadow of himself (until they needed him the most in relief in Game 4). They dug deep and found the team unity and resiliency of two years ago.

I checked the phone when I landed in Shreveport and saw the Giants result, and the Cardinals and Nationals were tied 1-1 in the 8th. I hopped in the rental car, drove a mile to the hotel, checked in, and dashed up to the room - just in time to see Jayson Werth circling the bases after a walk-off home run.

So Game 5 in Washington Friday night, and it's a great pitching matchup: 21-game winner Gio Gonzalez for the Nats, and Adam Wainwright and his 0.77 career postseason ERA dealing for the Cards.

So double down that Rudy T quote for the defending champs from St. Louis. And what of the 2009 champion Yankees? Well, you gotta score runs to win.

Since erupting for 5 runs in the 9th inning of Game 1, the Bronx Bombers have bombed. In Games 2-4, they have 6 runs total in 34 innings. They've batted .192 as a team in those 3 games.

And while much has been made of A-Rod's struggles at the plate, and granted he's been terrible in key spots, but at least he's hit a few line drives. Robinson Cano is 2-for-18 (.111) and Curtis Granderson is damn-near an automatic out at 1-for-16 (.063) with 9 Ks.

On this night, the Yankees stranded runners in scoring position in the 3rd, 6th, 7th, and 8th before eventually succumbing due to non-support in the 13th.

Now they'll have to lace 'em up and ride CC Sabathia just 17 hours later. And he'll have to go the whole way after Rafael Soriano and David Robertson each pitched multiple innings two days in a row.

But this is why you have to win the division in a 162-game season. The Yankees didn't have to go through the Wild Card - they have one game at home with their top pitcher on the hill. It's a decided advantage that they earned, but anything is possible.

Due to the length of the Yankee debacle, I missed most of the nightcap between the Tigers and the A's. But unlike the Oakland Athletics' season, it was anticlimactic. They had the unfortunate assignment of going against this guy.

Justin Verlander's postseason resume is fairly undistinguished (4-3, 4.96 coming into the game), but seriously who would you rather put out there in one game with the season on the line? And he of course delivered in spectacular fashion with a complete game, 4-hit shutout and 11 Ks.

I didn't watch a second of the NFL game, but I understand there was some Matt Hasselbeck magic and the Titans upset the Steelers. I also didn't watch Arizona State roll Colorado, which was expected. I did stream the VP debate through the laptop, and that was about what I expected.

Now it's time for the Yankees to do the unexpected on Friday... score some runs.

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