No-hitter leads into the playoffs

The climax of the Washington Nationals’ league-leading season came Sunday on the last game of the regular schedule when Jordan Zimmermann threw a no-hitter against the Miami Marlins.  The Nationals’ hand for the playoffs includes five aces in the starting rotation.  And yet, the playoffs and the World Series are often full of surprises.

So what are your predictions for the playoffs, which begin on Thursday?  (By the way, we also had baseball predictions on this blog at the beginning of this season.  We’ll see who was right!) [Read more...]

Midwestern virtues vs. Hollywood star power

Sportswriter Thomas Boswell sees two worlds colliding in the National League playoff between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Los Angeles Dodgers:

When the Dodgers meet the Cardinals on Friday with the Gateway Arch framed in center field to start the National League Championship Series, we’ll see a clash of baseball worldviews and a collision of regional cultures, too.

The Cards have always hugged Midwest virtues while the Dodgers loved movie stars in the box seats and star power on the field. But this year both teams are such extreme versions of their traditional selves it’s just delicious. [Read more...]

The playoffs

As far as baseball in concerned, to true fans of the game, this is the best time of year.  The playoffs tend to give us some of the best baseball and the most interesting games of the year.  This time we have some perennial powerhouses (St. Louis, Atlanta), a recently-developed powerhouse (Los Angeles), sentimental favorites (the two traumatized cities of terrorized Boston and bankrupt Detroit), a constant contender (Tampa Bay), and appealing underdogs (Pittsburgh, Oakland).

I am pulling for the Cardinals.  They are consistently outstanding year after year after year.  They seldom make mistakes, come through in the clutch, and keep coming back.  At least they have always been that way when I would watch them torment the teams I have followed lately (the Milwaukee Brewers, the Washington Nationals). [Read more...]

The agony and the ecstasy of playoffs

The baseball playoffs are on another level of sports enjoyment.  These games are not relaxing, as baseball usually is, at least if you have a favorite team in the mix.  You find yourselves fixating on every pitch.  The games are intense, suspenseful, stressful.  To be sure, they are great fun, but they are draining and exhausting.  This year, in the first round, every one of the best-of-five contests went to five games, the first time that has ever happened.

I stayed up until well after midnight watching the Washington Nationals play the St. Louis Cardinals.  The Nationals, my new home team, jumped to a 6-0 lead after three innings.  But the Cardinals chipped away.  In the 9th inning, the Nationals led by two points, 7-5.   With two outs, the reliable closer Drew Storen on the mound, though with the bases loaded, the team and its fans could taste victory, especially after two strikes to low-in-the-batting-order Daniel Descalso.  But then he hit a two-run single!  The score was tied!  Once again, Storen, letting Descalso steal a base so with runners on 1st & 3rd, had the next batter, Pete Kozma, down to the last strike.  And he got a hit, putting the Cardinals ahead 9-7 for the win!

It could have gone so many different ways.  The Cardinals had two last-bat, last-strike miracles in a row.  But then again, this is exactly the kind of things that the Cardinals did last year, over and over again, in the playoffs and then in winning the World Series.  So now I’m going to pull for the Cardinals, though I’m not sure how many games I can take.

Nationals win NL East

The Washington Nationals, my home team now, after years of being bad, have won the National League East, contending with Cincinnati–another team that came out of nowhere–for the best record in baseball.  (The Nationals lost to the Phillies, but Pittsburgh beat Atlanta, arriving at the magic number.)  I’m enjoying watching the players come out of the dugout to spray the fans with champagne!

Nationals win NL East with Braves’ 2-1 loss to Pirates.

No-hitter in the playoffs

Baseball’s playoffs–generally the best games of the year–got off to an amazing start as the Phillies’ Roy Halladay pitched the second no-hitter in the history of postseason play. (The first was in 1956.):

In the last 54 years of baseball history prior to Wednesday night, there had been 952 postseason games played, all of which shared two common traits of omission: None had ever included a no-hit game, and none had ever been graced by Harry Leroy Halladay.

But on a chilly, drizzly night at Philadelphia’s Citizens Bank Park, first one historic hole was filled, and then the other. At 5:08 p.m., Roy Halladay, the Phillies’ brilliant right-hander, threw the first postseason pitch of his career, and at 7:42 p.m. baseball’s first postseason no-hitter since 1956 was complete.

Halladay, 33, turned his postseason debut into the most impressive pitching performance in half a century of baseball history – holding the Cincinnati Reds hitless in a 4-0 Phillies victory in Game 1 of the National League Division Series.

via Roy Halladay no-hitter lifts Phillies past Reds in Game 1.

I can’t see anyone in Philadelphia’s league pitching-wise, but anything can happen.  I was hoping Cincinnatti (the victim of Halladay’s achievement) and Texas do well.  (And the Rangers did defeat the Rays for their first game.)  But I predict Philadelphia will win it all again.  What is your baseball analysis and prognostication?


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