It’s impossible for this writer to imagine a viewer not liking the National League Wild Card Game on Wednesday night, assuming they aren’t fans of the Colorado Rockies, as the Arizona Diamondbacks held on to win 11-8 and advanced to face the Dodgers in the NLDS.
This game had everything. Dingers? Check. Triples? Check. Triples by pitchers with two strikes in a one-run game? Check. Clutch hitting? See last question. The Fernando Rodney Experience? Alive and well.
It didn’t look like we were going to get a very good game, as the Diamondbacks jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first on a three-run blast from Paul Goldschmidt. That lead would extend to 6-0, but the Rockies showed the resolve they have all year, roughing up Arizona starter Zack Greinke in the fourth, and a Charlie Blackmon RBI bunt cut the lead to 6-5 in the seventh.
That’s when we saw one of the most improbable plays of the 2017 season. With two runners on and two outs, Torey Lovullo left Archie Bradley in to hit against Pat Neshek, one of the best pitchers in baseball vs. right-handed hitters. Archie Bradley came into the game with a career .098 average.
So of course, Bradley tripled, scoring two, and giving the Diamondbacks a lead they never relinquished.
Last night’s game wasn’t bad by any means, but this really was a classic. Even though Arizona led throughout, you never sensed Colorado and their potent offense was out of the game. Unfortunately, the Rockies top hitters -- sans a Nolan Arenado solo homer -- couldn’t do much, and the Rockies bullpen couldn’t keep the potent Arizona lineup from adding to leads anytime the Rockies came back to striking distance.
Both of these teams have tremendous futures because of their young talent, but it’ll be the Diamondbacks who move on to face Los Angeles starting on Friday.
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Cubs Announce NLDS Rotation
The Chicago Cubs announced their rotation for their series against the Nationals on Wednesday, and while there weren’t any major surprises in who will be starting, there was a few eyebrow raisers in when they’ll go.
Kyle Hendricks gets the start in Game One, where he’ll likely face off against Stephen Strasburg (Dusty Baker had yet to name his rotation at the time of publication). Game Two will see John Lester; a starter that many believed would get the ball in the first game. Jose Quintana will get the ball in Game Three, with Jake Arrieta starting the fourth game, if necessary. The Cubs would then be able to go to Hendricks or Lester -- both on full rest -- in an elimination Game Five.
In terms of talent and postseason experience, this is a tough rotation to beat. The Nationals have their own group of talented hurlers, obviously, but at least on paper, you might have to argue that the Cubs have the advantage in terms of starting pitch.
Yanks Also Name Rotation
Now that the Yankees have assured themselves a place in the ALDS, it’s their turn to name their rotation for their series with Cleveland. Like the Cubs, the names are the usual suspects, but there’s a couple of surprises in the placement.
Sonny Gray gets the nod on Thursday in the first game, which isn’t a shock to anyone. It’s also not terribly surprising to hear that CC Sabathia will start Game Two. What might surprise you is that Masahiro Tanaka -- and not Luis Severino -- will be the starter in Game 3, with Severino instead getting the ball in a fourth game, if necessary. Whether or not Severino is won’t start ahead of Tanaka was due to his struggles in the Wild Card Game is impossible to prove, but it couldn’t have helped.
This rotation pales in comparison to the loaded Indians’ rotation, but it’s certainly talented enough with the powerful Yankees’ lineup and flame-throwing bullpen to give Cleveland a run for their money, if everything goes well.
Quick Hits: The Rangers released former 1B Prince Fielder on Wednesday. Fielder retired in August of 2016 due to neck problems … Twins OF Byron Buxton will undergo more tests on his back after slamming into the wall in Tuesday’s American League Wild Card Game in the third inning … Nationals RHP Max Scherzer wasn’t able to throw his scheduled bullpen on Thursday, but was able to throw off flat ground. It’s still believed that he’ll make a start in Game 3 of the NLDS against the Chicago Cubs … Dodgers Manager Dave Roberts announced that Enrique Hernandez will start against left-handed pitchers in the NLDS. Hernandez hit .270/.367/.579 against southpaws this year … Astros OF Josh Reddick (back) says he’ll be ready to play in Game 1 of the ALDS against Boston on Thursday … Cardinals RHP Adam Wainwright underwent an arthroscopic procedure on his right elbow. The procedure was only a scope, and it shouldn’t keep cause Wainwright to miss any regular season time.