Although our primary focus today is rightly on the beginning of the NLDS, the two AL Division Series kicked off yesterday …
- And started with something of a dud. Well, for anyone but Blue Jays fans, that is, because the AL Wild Card winner showed up in Texas and stomped the Rangers 10-1. Really, the game was over by the fourth inning when the Rangers went up 7-0, and the Blue Jays did that damage against Cole Hamels, of all pitchers. Marco Estrada, for the Blue Jays, was dominant through 8.1 innings. The whole thing was just a one-sided whooping.
- The Rangers will try to knot things up today at 12pm CT, with Yu Darvish hosting J.A. Happ.
- That first Blue Jays-Rangers game is be contrasted with the Red Sox-Indians opener, which went right down to the wire with the game ending on a full-count not-quite-checked swing by Dustin Pedroia with the tying run on base. The Red Sox got homers from Andrew Benintendi, Sandy Leon, and Brock Holt, but all were solo. The Indians also got three solo homers (Roberto Perez, Jason Kipnis, and Francisco Lindor).
- The difference in the game, arguably, was Indians manager Terry Francona’s extremely unconventional bullpen usage, bringing in Andrew Miller with two outs and nobody on base in the fifth inning, and then having him throw 2.0 innings and 40 pitches. Bryan Shaw and Cody Allen finished the game from there. Heck, between Miller and Allen, those two relievers threw more pitches (80) than starter Trevor Bauer (78). But the Indians won, and they maximized the performance they got out of their best arms, so it’s hard to argue with it. (Certainly harder than arguing with leaving your best pitcher in the bullpen as your team loses.)
- An awesome Game Two match-up today at 3:30pm CT will see Corey Kluber hosting David Price.
- In the NL, of course, the NLDS round kicks off with Max Scherzer and the Nationals hosting Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers at 4:30pm CT. You want to start your rooting interest already in that series? Pull for the banged-up Nationals, in my opinion.
- As for the Cubs, they’ll start at 8pm CT tonight at Wrigley Field against the Giants. Jon Lester hosts Johnny Cueto in a battle for all the coconuts.