Four teams won 90-plus games after finishing the 2011 season below .500: Nationals (98), Reds (97), Athletics (94) & Orioles (93)–a first in major league history. But, not a one remains in this year’s postseason.
The Orioles, despite a convincing 5-1 win against Texas in the AL play-in game, fell victim to Yankee Stadium’s postseason magic. Or in other words, they blew it.
Baltimore not only let Raul Ibanez beat them once, but twice in Game 3…and then floundered with the bases loaded in the top of the eighth with the tying and winning runs aboard against CC Sabathia in a decisive Game 5.
The Yankees left the door wide open for the O’s to take the series. Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson, Nick Swisher and A-Rod went a combined 9-for-75 (.120) with 26 strikeouts. Baltimore, however, went 8-for-37 with RISP, the worst mark in the AL in the Division Series.
The A’s, conversely, just couldn’t get on base against the Tigers, whose 88 regular season wins were the fewest among AL playoff teams. Granted, the A’s did face Justin Verlander twice, but the Athletics had the fewest hits (30) and most strikeouts (50) of any team in either league in the Division Series.
Cincinnati inexplicitly lost its Division Series after winning the first 2-games on the road at San Francisco, allowing the Giants to become the first-ever National League team to recover from an 0-2 deficit after losing the first 2-games. Not to mention, the Reds had 3 straight home games to close the series in this year’s 2-3 format, but failed to do so.
The Giants hit .185 with RISP for the series, the worst mark of any postseason team in 2012. The Reds, meanwhile, had the highest NL average with RISP (.220), but didn’t drive in runs when it mattered most, including having the tying runs aboard in the final four innings in Game 5.
Ah, then the Nationals, who now famously will be remembered for not only shutting down its best power-arm before the postseason, but also allowing St. Louis to overcome the largest-ever deficit in a winner-take-all game…rallying from 6-runs down in Game 5–four of which were plated in the top of the ninth.
So what does it all mean? Basically, the regular season means little, if anything, when it comes to postseason baseball. Some teams, like St. Louis and New York live for moment, and some teams, like the four above, crumble under the pressure. How else do you explain the slumping Bombers and cockroach Cardinals advancing?
The Reds, with arguably the most formidable bullpen in the majors, were suppose to be battle tested after being swept out of the Division Series in 2010 against the Phillies. The Orioles were figured to be battled tested having survived the tough AL East. Oakland was riding the huge momentum from its thrilling season ending sweep vs. Texas to win the AL West…and the Nationals entered the tournament with the most wins in all of baseball (98).
And not one of them has anything to show for it—eliminated, finished, collapsed.
It’s the teams that advanced who understand the postseason is not the same as the grind of a 162-game regular season schedule, but rather the awareness, ability and determination to not let a summer’s worth of hard work be undone.
Hey, 90-plus wins coming off a losing season, that’s nothing to sneeze at…we’re all happy for ya. But to actually make those wins mean something…you’ve got to make them count in October.
It’s like the Cardinals are the anti-Cubs. The bigger the moment, the more desperate the situation, the better St. Louis plays. I wonder what that’s like?
Of course, it can’t be ignored the Cardinals’ postseason opponents have crapped down their legs in the process, easing the way for St. Louis to win its last 6 elimination games.
The Nationals are just the latest team to soil its drawers vs. the Cards, joining the Phillies, Brewers and Rangers as recently as last year…and the Braves this postseason.
Oct. 6 Post: Heaven help me if the Nationals fall in line with the rest of the NL when it comes to finishing off the Cardinals. But quite honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if they do…everyone else seemingly has.
No team had overcome a 6-run deficit in a winner-take-all game until last night when the Nats unleashed a Cubs-like brain fart allowing 6-runs to score from the seventh-inning on, including 4-runs in the top of the ninth.
I couldn’t be more disgusted with the Nationals’ collapse. Davey Johnson was out-managed, his team out-played and out-willed. Where was Stephen Strasburg, by the way?
And as expected, there were the Cardinals, in ho-hum fashion continuing to do their thing…taking advantage of yet another team’s inability to close out the never-say-die boys from St. Lou.
So I wonder, will another National League team ever stand up to St. Louis, or is this how it plays out for eternity–choke jobs and gift wrapping championships for the Cubs’ most hated rival?
I know, I know…the Cardinals deserve some credit, too. But for heaven’s sake, enough is enough. For the love of baseball, San Francisco, do us all a favor and play an NLCS series that at least makes the Cardinals earn it.
Is that really too much to ask?
What a terrific comeback by the Giants who become the first team in the National League to win the NLDS after losing the first 2-games of the series…not to mention, doing so in this one-year format where they had to play the last 3-games on the road. Outstanding.
Buster Posey’s fifth-inning grand slam made the difference as part of a 6-run inning against Reds starter Matt Latos. Cincinnati had plenty of chances, including having the game-tying runs at the plate in four consecutive innings. It was too little, too late from the Reds who could never finish off the Giants after leaving the bay up 2-0.
“The Reds did not lose this series, the Giants won it.” -Ron Darling TBS
Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Here’s a quick thumbnail sketch of Friday’s decisive Game 5 between Arizona-Milwaukee. Fist pitch is scheduled for 4:07 CT on TBS.
Simply said, we’re looking at a rematch of Game 1, a 4-1 win for Milwaukee, between starters Yovani Gallardo & Ian Kennedy.
Gallardo is is 6-0 with a 1.18 ERA in six career starts against Arizona.
Kennedy, meanwhile, is a 21-game winner that was cruising through Game 1 until allowing a two-run homer in the seventh to Prince Fielder, who by the way, may be playing his last game in a Brewers uniform.
Ryan Braun, Fielder and Rickie Weeks are coming off a woeful 3-for-23 road trip in Arizona. The three, however, combined to go 10-for-22 in Games 1 & 2 at Miller Park.
The D-Backs are riding high offensively having plated 18 runs over the past two games, both victories in Arizona.
They also became just the second team ever to hit grand slams in consecutive postseason games, joining the 1977 Dodgers.
The Snakes are also looking to become just the eighth team to recover from an 0-2 series deficit in a best-of-five series, which isn’t out of the question considering they managed a major league best 48 come-from-behind wins during the regular season.
But Milwaukee isn’t likely to go down without a fight, where they too, set a major league mark in 2011 reaching 57 home victories.