The Stage Has Been Set for the Championship Series

It’s hard not to watch the postseason, even though the Red Sox are not in it. This postseason had two teams looking for their first World Series win, one team looking for their 28th ring, and another looking to win their second. There’s even one team that has never made it this far. That team is the Washington Nationals. After tying up Game 5, they won it thanks to a grand slam off of Joe Kelly in the 10th inning.

The other Game 5’s were quite exciting as well. The Cardinals took care of business rightchampionship series off the bat. Literally. They scored ten runs in the first inning to beat the Braves in Atlanta 13-1. The Cardinals will be looking to get back to the World Series for the first time since 2013. First, they face the Washington Nationals tonight in the NLCS. Houston took down the Tampa Bay Rays last night with a 5-1 final, and will be facing the Yankees tomorrow night in the ALCS.

The Championship Series Begins Tonight

The National League Championship series begins tonight in St. Louis. Anibal Sanchez will go up against Miles Mikolas in the first game of the championship series. Last time out for Sanchez was on October 6th in which he pitched five innings only allowing one run off of four hits against the Dodgers. Mikolas last pitched against the Braves on October 7th, where he earned the win in the game while pitching in relief.

Game two of the National League Championship Series will be on Saturday afternoon prior to the American League Championship Series. The Cardinals will call on veteran Adam Wainwright for the game. The Nationals haven’t named a starter yet for the second game.

The Yankees and Astros start the American League Championship Series on Saturday night in Houston. Neither team has named a started, but this will be a series to watch. While the Astros look to return to the World Series after missing it last season, the Yankees will be looking to make an appearance in the World Series since 2009.

Notable Players in the Championship Series

By notable, I mean soon to be Free Agents. Players who are looking to not only lead their team to a World Series title, but a player who is showcasing himself to teams who may need him. One of those players is Astros catcher, Robinson Chirinos. He played in four of the five ALDS games against the Rays, batting .222 with one home run. In 2019, he hit .238 with 17 home runs and 58 RBI’s while being an everyday player.

Third baseman Anthony Rendon will be known as one of the guys who homered off of Clayton Kershaw in Game 5 of the NLDS. The 29 year old had a great 2019 season, batting .319 with 34 home runs and 126 RBI’s. He was named to his first All Star game this past season, and won the NL Comeback Player of the Year Award in 2016. Another infielder that’s a free agent is Didi Gregorius. The 29 year old shortstop was traded to the Yankees prior to the 2015 season to fill the void left by Derek Jeter. Despite spending time on the injury list, Gregorius hit .238 with 16 home runs and 61 RBI’s in 78 plate appearances. He is batting .400 with a grand slam this postseason.

One name that will sound familiar to Red Sox fans is Daniel Hudson. The 33 year old relief pitcher was acquired by the Nationals at the 2019 trade deadline. Since joining DC’s bullpen, he was 3-0 with a 1.44 ERA in 24 appearances. He also is 1-0 this postseason with a 0.00 ERA in four games. In 3.2 innings, he’s only allowed four hits and struck out five in the postseason.

ALCS Game 1: A Pitcher’s Duel and Silent Bats Lead to a Red Sox Loss

ALCS Game 1

Jon Lester faced Anibal Sanchez in Game 1. Courtesy of mlb.com

Indeed it was a pitcher’s duel between Anibal Sanchez and Jon Lester during the ALCS Game 1 last night between the Red Sox and Tigers. Lester pitched well, but could not get umpire Joe West on his side. Sanchez pitched well, too and got all the breaks from the home plate umpire. Pitches that were strikes with Sanchez were balls with Lester. The zone needs to remain consistent for both pitchers. You could see on many a players face the disappointment in calls. To add insult to injury, this is the weakest of the Tiger’s pitching rotation.

In my last blog I wrote about the importance of offense. Well, during Game 1 Red Sox bats were silent. The game featured 17 strikeouts by Detroit pitchers. The first Red Sox hit occurred in the 9th inning. How is this happening when Boston had the best record in the league during the regular season? What happened to the small ball?  Apparently we only get on base when we walk or get hit by pitches. Wonderful! Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury, and David Ortiz did nothing. Strange.

I believe the three days off hurt us offensively. Detroit played on Thursday and only had one day off. Again, I come back to momentum, and overcoming inertia as the X factor in all things sports. On the bright side, in previous ALCS series’, the Sox took it to 7 games.  I hope this is the case and my optimism is not misplaced.

Today is a new day. Let us hope that Red Sox bats do not subscribe to the belief that on the seventh day they rest (again). Let’s get fired up, hit some balls, steal some bases, and break the silence at Fenway Park.