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Playoffs get wild with wild pitches


Playoffs get wild with wild pitches

These playoffs sure are getting wild.

With wild pitches, that is.

By the bay in San Francisco to Motown's Comerica Park and Busch Stadium in the Midwest, pitchers are flinging balls to the backstop with a regularity rarely seen in October.

Jitters? Adrenalin? Just plain overthrowing? It's something, all right.

``Perhaps some of the guys might be trying too hard and they're bouncing the balls way in front of the plate,'' Reds manager Dusty Baker said. ``The ones I've seen didn't give the catchers much chance to catch it. I just hope we don't have any.''

Actually, all the wildness got the Reds coaches chatting about it on the way to AT&T Park for Sunday's Game 2 against the Giants.

Cincinnati closer Aroldis Chapman threw a pair of wild pitches Saturday night, including one that scored a run in his team's 5-2 victory in the playoff opener at San Francisco.

There were two more in the eighth inning at Detroit on Sunday that brought home runs - one for each team in the Tigers' 5-4 win against the Oakland Athletics. That's the first time in postseason history in which both teams scored a tying run on a wild pitch in the same inning, according to STATS LLC.

``Man, that Oakland game was wild, wasn't it?'' Giants manager Bruce Bochy offered without prompting. ``It's a little different time. Pitchers are trying to put a little bit more on it, trying to make that great pitch.''

Then, Washington Nationals 21-game winner Gio Gonzalez had one of his own. The wild pitch scored a run after Gonzalez walked four of the first five batters in a 3-2 Game 1 win against the defending World Series champion Cardinals in St. Louis.

``If you see that, you have to be ready on the bases,'' San Francisco switch-hitter Pablo Sandoval said. ``All the teams have been doing that. A situation like this, you have the pressure on you to try to do too much. That's the situation with the pitchers. They try too much and that's the time they throw wild.''


FADING MEMORY: Andy Pettitte was in his second season in the majors when the New York Yankees last faced the Baltimore Orioles in the playoffs, so forgive the left-hander if his memory of the 1996 AL championship series is a little fuzzy.

``I remember it was a good series. I believe I had the opportunity to pitch,'' Pettitte said Sunday, hours before the Yankees were to open their AL division series against Baltimore. ``It helped us get to the World Series, that's something I remember.''

Other than that, not much.

``It was a long time ago,'' he said. ``I'm trying real hard right now but it's as good as I can get. I may be wrong, but I believe I was able to pitch here in Baltimore.''

Not only did Pettitte pitch, but he won the clincher. He also started Game 1, although fan Jeffrey Maier's performance was arguably more memorable.

Pettitte is scheduled to start Game 2 of the ALDS on Monday. He will take 42 games of postseason experience to the mound, along with a 19-10 record and a 3.83 ERA.

It's been a crazy year for Pettitte, who came out of retirement to pitch in May and then missed three months with a broken lower left leg. Now here he is, pitching in the playoffs again.

``A lot of ups and downs. A rollercoaster for sure,'' he said. ``When I came back this is what I was hoping to get the opportunity to do. All in all, it's been a good year so far.''


PROBABLY PITCHING: When the Oakland-Detroit series shifts from the Motor City to the Bay Area for Game 3 on Tuesday night, the A's are hopeful left-hander Brett Anderson will be ready to make his first start since getting hurt Sept. 19 against the Tigers.

After missing the last couple weeks of the regular season with a strained right oblique, the A's put Anderson on their postseason roster. He was 4-2 with a 2.57 ERA in a season limited to six starts by elbow surgery and the side strain.

A's manager Bob Melvin said Anderson feels good, but he wants to wait until Monday to announce whether he'll start the next night.

``Whether we win, lose or draw (Game 2) we'd like to pitch him sooner than later,'' Melvin said before the A's lost 5-4 to the Tigers and trail 2-0. ``Probably not going to draw, though, right?''

The Tigers will send right-hander Anibal Sanchez to the mound in Game 3. Sanchez has been largely lackluster with the Tigers since they acquired him and second baseman Omar Infante from Miami in July for highly touted Jacob Turner and two minor leaguers.

Sanchez was 4-6 with a 3.74 ERA, including a loss in which he gave up five earned runs to Oakland on Sept. 20, but he has given up a total of one run in his last two starts.

``The stuff that he's been throwing out there the last couple of outings, definitely the guy I thought we got,'' Detroit catcher Gerald Laird said.


WHO NEEDS LEFTIES?: Cardinals manager Mike Matheny is playing the NL division series with just one left-handed reliever.

Matheny, however, has reason to be confident in the late innings: his three righties.

Marc Rzepczynski is the lone left-hander in the St. Louis bullpen after the Cardinals opted not to include rookie Sam Freeman. Since acquiring Edward Mujica in a trade-deadline deal, he has generally handed the seventh inning, Mitchell Boggs the eighth and Jason Motte the ninth.

``We have been pretty consistent in our formula with seven, eight, nine, sticking with our three guys,'' Matheny said. ``And that's something that we'll most likely continue to do. We'll have the one lefty to pick a spot, whether to get one of those three out of trouble, or if need be, before that.''

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The sound of Bryce Harper's first spring training HR is beautiful


The sound of Bryce Harper's first spring training HR is beautiful

It's that wonderful time of year again — when baseball teams flock to warmer climates for spring training and the regular season is practically around the corner — and Bryce Harper is already killing it.

It took the Washington Nationals a few games to brush away their offseason cobwebs and get back into gear, but since the beginning of March, they're riding a five-game win streak as of Sunday the 4th.

They are 6-4-1 in spring training going into Monday's matchup against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Since Thursday, the Nats have taken down — in order — the Atlanta Braves, New York Mets, defending World Series champion Houston Astros, the Detroit Tigers and the Mets again. Sunday's 6-2 win against the Tigers was in large part thanks to Harper's bat, as the star of the team drilled his first home run of spring training. 


Turn up the volume for this one because the sound of Harper's contact with the ball is just beautiful — and perhaps enough to get you pumped for the March 29 opener.

Harper blew this ball away in the bottom of the third for a two-run homer with Howie Kendrick on base. He also had a single in the fourth and finished the game with three RBI.

Gio Gonzalez was the winning pitcher for the Nats. 


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Per usual, Max Scherzer strikes out Tim Tebow on three pitches


Per usual, Max Scherzer strikes out Tim Tebow on three pitches

We are fortunate enough to live in a world where we can watch a former Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback (attempt to) hit against a three-time Cy Young pitcher in a Major League Baseball preseason game.

Max Scherzer took less than a minute to strike out Tim Tebow, who was batting cleanup for the Mets in a spring training game Friday. You can watch the whole at-bat here:

It looks like Tebow and Scherzer are starting to develop a pattern - last year’s matchup between the two went down the exact same way.

Tebow was able to redeem himself later in the game with his first hit of the year against Nats prospect Erick Fedde. He will likely begin the season with the Double-A Binghamton Rumble Ponies, but Mets GM Sandy Alderson said he believes Tebow will eventually see some at-bats in the Majors.