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Playoffs get wild with wild pitches

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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.''

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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.''

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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.

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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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What to make of the Strasburg-Scherzer shouting match in the Nationals' dugout

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USA Today Sports

What to make of the Strasburg-Scherzer shouting match in the Nationals' dugout

Stephen Strasburg and Max Scherzer had a heated exchange in the Nationals dugout Friday night.

It was another not-so-great moment in an otherwise unspectacular season for the Nats so far.

Things like this often appear worse than they are based on what we can see, not hear, on television. In any case, it has fans and pundits talking about a perceived off-the-field issue instead of the actual game. There's nothing "good" about this, but there are important factors that are "bad" and ones that are "not bad."

Davey Martinez, Strasburg and Scherzer already said this has been settled and wasn't a big deal in the first place, but for a manager who's already faced some scrutiny this year for how he manages his pitchers, having two of them go at it in the dugout isn't ideal.

It also doesn't present the best optics for a team that came out of the All-Star Break 5.5 games back of the division-leading Philadelphia Phillies. The Nationals need to build some momentum heading into the dog days of summer, and after a lackluster first half, this isn't how anybody would want to start the second half.

This was also Strasburg's first start back from a month-long stint on the disabled list. Ryan Zimmerman just rejoined the club as well. Things are shaping up to make for a solid second-half run, but all this does is detract from that.

The Nationals also just hosted the first All-Star Game in Washington since 1969. Having something like this happen in the dugout where everybody can see it takes away from some of that good publicity.

But there are also positives, or at least non-negatives, to take from this. Scherzer has always been ultracompetitive, and as the best pitcher on the staff, he needs to harness that into leadership. With Strasburg coming off a rough inning, Scherzer may have thought he needed a little tough love from a veteran. There's nothing wrong with that. Strasburg, to his credit, has never been one to focus too much on himself, so if there's anyone who can take something like this constructively, it'd be him.

This isn't Jonathan Paplebon fighting Bryce Harper for not running out a pop fly the day after the Nats were eliminated from playoff contention. These are two veteran guys who play the same position who are both competitive and want to win. It's akin to an older brother pushing his younger brother to do better. Strasburg even hinted at the family aspect after the game.

In the end, there's really nothing to see here. Frustration is part of the game. Talking it out is a part of remedying the frustration.

What really matters is tracking down the Braves and the Phillies. The Nationals can get started on that Sunday in the second game of a rain-shortened two-game series against the Braves.

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Saturday's Nationals game rained out, to be postponed

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Saturday's Nationals game rained out, to be postponed

Following a dicey matchup between the Nats and Braves Friday night which featured a heated argument between Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg, the Nationals are getting a much-needed opportunity to regroup.

The Washington Nationals' official Twitter account announced that Saturday evening's matchup will be postponed due to inclement weather just after 2 p.m. Saturday afternoon.

The Nationals had planned to host "JMU Night" at the ballpark as a part of their "College Day" series, and due to more forecasted inclement weather Sunday, the Nationals decided to call the game off sooner rather than later.

The Nationals have yet to announce when the game will be made up.

If Sunday's game is played as scheduled, Max Scherzer will start.

This post will be updated when more information regarding a makeup date has been announced.

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