What a start to the playoffs last night! The Chicago Cubs hosted the Colorado Rockies in a one-game playoff for the National League wild-card round. The game was intense all night, and the crowd at Wrigley was as loud as any crowd I remember seeing, the atmosphere was wild! The game itself was just an intense as runs were hard to come by, so every swing of the bat meant a lot.
The Rockies took an early 1-0 as they got to Cubs starter Jon Lester in the first inning. That was the lone run of this game until the Cubs tied things up on a Javier Baez RBI double in the eighth inning. The game was tied at one run apiece until the 13th inning when Tony Wolters knocked in Trevor Story on an RBI single. Rockies reliever Scott Oberg struck out the side in the bottom of the 13th, and the Rockies are headed to Milwaukee to play the Brewers in the divisional series!
It was a huge statement by the Rockies as just about nobody, myself included, thought they could go into Wrigley Stadium and knock off the Cubs. But that is just what they did as Kyle Freeland proved he is the real deal by pitching six and two-thirds of shutout baseball. And the Rockies proved they could win a low scoring game against a good team, something they are going to have to do a lot in the playoffs this year if they want to continue to advance. For today’s pick, we switch gears and head over to the American League as the New York Yankees host the Oakland Athletics in the AL wild-card game.
The Oakland Athletics are in New York City Wednesday for the American League wild-card game. The Athletics finished the second half of the season as one of the best teams in baseball and won 97 games this season. They are certainly not your typical second wild-card team that snuck in by the skin of their teeth. As for the Yankees, they are in a similar position as the won the third most games in all of baseball this year and would have been champions of four of the other five divisions.
Starting for the Yankees is their ace, Luis Severino (0-0 0.00 ERA) and for the Athletics, it is Liam Hendricks (0-0 0.00 ERA). The Yankees are -174 home favorites. The game total over-under is set at eight and a half runs. First pitch is scheduled for 5:08 PM PST from Yankee Stadium in the Bronx.
Luis Severino has had an interesting year this season. At the All-Star break, he seemed like a shoo-in to win the AL Cy Young Award this year. He was 13-2 with a 1.98 ERA. The young man had finally arrived, and it looked like the Yankees would ride him to a division championship. But in the second half of the season, things just haven’t been the same for Severino.
Since the All-Star break, Severino is just 5-6 with a 5.66 ERA. That has been awful. And the Yankees felt the pain as well as they quickly faded from the division championship talks. There was a lot of talk that Severino wouldn’t even start this game, as JA Happ looked to be getting the nod with a couple days left in the season. So, here we are, with the Yankees as a wild card, and a struggling Severino taking the mound, not exactly what Yankees fans thought 97 wins would get them this year.
When the Tampa Bay Rays traded away pretty much their entire starting rotation this year at the trade deadline many wondered just what the heck they were up to. And what they did, might end up changing baseball forever. The Rays went to a bullpen by committee starter. Where they would have an “opener” not a starter. Then use 6-7 pitchers for an inning or two each and finish out the game.
Many people laughed at the tactic at first. But they stopped laughing once the Rays went on a tear and finished the season as the best team in baseball over the last two months of the year. I wondered how long it would take for other teams to try this method out, and I don’t have to wonder anymore, as the A’s are going with an opener today in New York.
The A’s did have a front-line starter in Sean Manaea, but he got hurt and is out for the rest of the year, so they are left with a bunch of washed up farmhands in the rotation, so it doesn’t surprise me that they are going to experiment with an opener in this one. The A’s have used this opener nine times this season and are 4-5, so they haven’t had the success of the Rays, but it will be interesting to see what the A’s bullpen can do in this one.
What a game! Two of the best offenses in the American League squaring off. Both with somewhat interesting starting pitching selections. I for one, am shocked not to see JA Happ starting for the Yankees in this one. He has quite frankly, been by far the best Yankees starter in the second half of the year. To say this Oakland team won’t be able to hit Severino is a stretch, these guys can swing the bats.
The uncertainty in the starters for both squads have scared me off taking a side in this game. But what it has done, it made me look at the game total of 8.5 runs. In a game where the pitching is shaky, and the bats are both elite, I am going to look for a high scoring game. Playoff games are generally lower scoring, but when you get the number one and number four home run hitting teams in the majors matched up together, I expect fireworks. Give me the over 8.5 runs in the Bronx tonight!