Dodgers face elimination, the Orioles and Royals advance

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One week ago who would have thought the best team in the major leagues would have been swept out of the post season in the division round? The Angels got swept by Kansas City Sunday. Nobody thought this wild card champ team would beat anybody. The Angels were number one in the major leagues and were unbeatable, but Kansas City got fired up after beating Oakland and since then they haven’t stop playing baseball.

The Royals are playing smart and most important with all their hearts. They want this so bad.

After the Angels lost at home twice, the team couldn’t get back on track and by Sunday it seemed like they gave up. Having the best record in the major leagues didn’t mean anything. The bats got cold and the energy level was very low.

The Royals battled the visiting Oakland A’s in an epic 12-inning duel that had Brandon Moss get five RBI’s for the A’s, a personal effort that might not be remembered by anyone who isn’t an A’s fan. Of the game he and his team lost to the Kansas City Royals, Moss said, “That was definitely the best baseball game I’ve ever been a part of.”

Then the Royals came to Southern California to play against the best team in baseball this season. Could they take one game in Anaheim, in the heat with the Angels’ best pitchers starting games one and two?

Delmon Young’s game winning hit in Game Two. (YouTube)
Delmon Young’s game winning hit in Game Two.

It was not only possible, but they exceeded that and beat the Angels at their best, in Angels Stadium, twice. And then in front of a hometown crowd they clinched their division series win and stood in the raining Missouri sky to celebrate with their fans.

Baltimore Orioles fans were given a quick, three-game treat when their O’s swept the Detroit Tigers. Some people around the league thought the Tigers would be the team to represent the American League in the World Series. They were only one run behind the O’s going into the bottom of the 8th inning in Game One. But then the Orioles scored eight runs in the 8th, going on to win that game 12-3. The O’s won Game Two 7-6 and then in Detroit they swept the Tigers with a score of 2-1 to end the series.

They will meet the Kansas City Royals in Game One of the American League Championship Series this Friday, October 10, in Camden Yards. Two teams that swept their opponents in the divisional round.

There wouldn’t be a finish to the series between the Washington Nationals and the San Francisco Giants on Monday. The Nats have the best season record in the National League and the San Francisco Giants blasted into the National League Division Series with a Wild Card win in Pittsburgh in an 8-0 shut out over the Pirates.

That was the clue the Nationals would have a tough series when the Giants came to town. They beat the Nationals twice in the nation’s capital, the second time in an 18-inning drama that the Nats were winning, 1-0, going into the 9th inning. Then Pablo Sandoval doubled to left that scored Joe Panik and nearly brought Buster Posey safely over home plate, who was thrown out trying.

The game stayed tied until the top of the 18th inning when Brandon Belt belted a solo homer. The Nationals couldn’t answer in the bottom of the 18th and the Giants had won the first two games, on the road.

Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly at the post-game press conference. (Claudia Gestro)
Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly at the post-game press conference.
(Claudia Gestro)

Which set up the possibility that the best team in the National League could be swept out of the post season as the Angels were on Sunday. But that didn’t happen. The two starters, Madison Bumgarner and Doug Fister, threw six shutout innings. And then in the top of the 7th the Giants made an error, specifically, Bumgarner tried to throw out Ian Desmond at third, but instead threw the ball into left field. Desmond and Bryce Harper scored and Wilson Ramos, who hit the single that started the rally wound up on second. Asdrubal Cabrera singled to bring home Ramos and the Nationals were leading, 3-0.

Harper hit a solo homerun in the top of the 9th to make the score 4-0. Now the Giants needed a five run miracle to win the game, four runs just to tie. They could only score one run on two hits and a sacrifice fly, so the Nationals live to play another day.

For the Los Angeles Dodgers, they split their two-game homestand with the St. Louis Cardinals. Friday’s Game One was supposed to be a classic pitchers duel. Two 20-game winners, Clayton Kershaw and Adam Wainwright, battling it out to see who scored more K’s than the other. But Wainwright hit Yasiel Puig with a pitch in the third inning and Wainwright was never the same after that. The Dodgers took a 6-2 lead into the top of the 7th inning … and then it unraveled for Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers. Ninety pitches was Kershaw’s limit, but Don Mattingly kept him in for 111 pitches and that cost the Dodgers the game.

In Game Two on Saturday Zack Greinke started for the Dodgers and he pitched six and a third scoreless innings. In the bottom of the third the pitcher hit a single that sent A.J. Ellis to third. Dee Gordon hit a sacrifice grounder that scored Ellis and sent Greinke to second. Then Adrian Gonzalez singled to shallow right and, yep, the pitcher, Zack Greinke scared everyone in the Dodgers dugout by rounding third and scoring. How many managers want their number two starter running bases full speed like that?

The Cardinals tied it up in the 7th, when Matt Carpenter hit a two-run homer. The Dodgers pitching staff kept the Cards from scoring again. Matt Kemp gave the lead back to the Dodgers with a homer in the 8th and then the Dodgers closer, Kenley Jansen shut down the Cards with a three up and three down 9th.

In yesterday’s game, the first in St. Louis, John Lackey started for the Cardinals and pitched five scoreless innings, while Dodgers started, Hyun-Jin Ryu, gave up a solo homerun to Matt Carpenter in the third. It was the only run scored in Ryu’s six innings on the mound, but the Cardinals came back to score in the 7th inning with a two-run homer by Kolten Wong.

The Dodgers managed a run in the 6th inning with a double by Hanley Ramirez that sent Yasiel Puig across the plate.

Busch Stadium III, the site of Game Four of the NLDS between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the St. Louis Cardinals. (Wikipedia)
Busch Stadium III, the site of Game Four of the NLDS between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the St. Louis Cardinals.

The game ended with some excitement for Dodgers fans. Down 3-1, Hanley Ramirez singled and then Carl Crawford hit another single. Juan Uribe hit a sacrifice fly to right, allowing Ramirez to advance to third, but the Dodgers hope of winning ended when A.J. Ellis flied out to right.

One thing that has hurt the Dodgers down the stretch is leaving runners stranded in clutch situations, like they did Monday in the 9th inning. In the first inning lead off hitter Dee Gordon singled and then stole second. He took third on a ball that got past Cardinals catcher Yadiel Molina. There was still only one out, but neither Adrian Gonzalez or Matt Kemp could score Gordon. A key runner left on base.

And manager Don Mattingly has made mistakes, like keeping Kershaw in Game One too long. Then last night, after Ryu pitched six good innings, Mattingly called on Scott Elbert. His ERA is 2.08, but he has only pitched four and a third innings during the season. He faced Yadier Molina first and Molina belted a double and then two batters later Kolten Wong hit a two-run homer.

Claudia Gestro reporting for PasTV Deportes and the Los Angeles Post-Examiner. (Claudia Gestro)
Claudia Gestro reporting for PasTV Deportes and the Los Angeles Post-Examiner.
(Claudia Gestro)

Brandon League relieved Elbert and then Brian Wilson and J.P. Howell finished up the game for the Dodgers. League has had some great innings pitched; maybe he should have been called in first, not Elbert. It’s up to the pitcher and catcher to make the right pitches, but Dodger fans are wondering why Elbert?

The Dodgers face elimination today. It’s hard to win in St. Louis, especially in the post season. Even if your ace, the leading player for MLB MVP, is starting. Twice the Cardinals have faced Clayton Kershaw in the post season, last year during the NLCS and last Friday. Both times the Cardinals won those games. Everyone in the Dodgers world is hoping Kershaw changes his luck with the Cards. He got the win against them on June 29 — in fact he shut out St. Louis.

But they are in Busch Stadium III, not Dodgers Stadium I. This will be the biggest game of Kershaw’s career. He can prove he deserves that MVP title by beating the Cardinals in St. Louis. If the Dodgers do win and bring the series back to L.A., Zack Greinke will get the start.