MLB Postseason Takes Center Stage

Chris Carpenter and the St. Louis Cardinals will look to spoil Washington’s first postseason game at home since 1933.

There’s only one place you need to be today: in front of your television screen watching as the MLB postseason unfolds without the distraction of football (college or pro). Well, I guess being at the ballpark would give you a second option of somewhere to be, but you get the picture.

Wednesday sees all eight remaining teams in action, with Oakland and San Francisco looking to stave off defeat and a postseason exit for the second straight night. Here are some things to look out for then, starting with this afternoon’s NLDS clash in the Capital.

 

St. Louis Cardinals @ Washington Nationals Series tied 1-1

1 PM ET

Pitching Matchup: Chris Carpenter (0-2, 3.71 ERA) Vs. Edwin Jackson (10-11, 4.03 ERA)

Wednesday’s lunchtime game at Nationals Ballpark marks the first postseason game to be played in the Nation’s capital since October 7, 1933.

That game took place at the long-gone Griffith Stadium – the Howard University Hospital stands in its place today – and saw the New York Giants defeat the Washington Senators (now the Minnesota Twins) 4-3 in 10 innings. With the win, the Giants took the World Series and sent Washington spiraling into mediocrity, and on to Minneapolis.

Today’s Nationals side will be looking for a better result.

St. Louis rebounded from a tough loss on Sunday with a huge (12-4) win on Monday to even the series. While MLB Futures may still consider the Cards an outsider, the victory proved that writing off the defending champs is a bad idea.

Chris Carpenter takes the mound despite only pitching 17 innings this season. The Cardinals are confident their ace can do the business against the Nationals. Washington meantime will be burdened by the knowledge that a loss will cast even more shadows over that decision to shut down Strasburg. Edwin Jackson will be looking to shine against his old team.

Take: Washington. This, like all baseball picks at this time of the year, is a tough call but there’s something about postseason home debuts. This series will most likely go five though.

 

San Francisco Giants @ Cincinnati Reds CIN leads series 2-1

4 PM ET

Pitching Matchup: Barry Zito (15-8, 4.15 ERA) Vs. Mat Latos (14-4, 3.48 ERA) or Mike Leake (8-9, 4.58 ERA)

San Francisco (and Oakland) had its backs against the bay on Tuesday night but managed to get the job done. Can they do it for a second game in a row? Oddsmakers think not, making the Reds favorites.

Barry Zito takes the hill for the Giants for his first postseason game since 2006 – he was left out of the rotation on the way to the World Series in 2010. Cincinnati fans will rejoice, knowing that the Giants have not beaten Cincinnati in the last four games Zito has started.

Cincinnati meanwhile will make the decision later today as to whom to go with. Mat Latos is available, and took Game 1 of this serious. Alternatively, Mike Leake could go leaving Latos available for the decider on Friday (if necessary). Leake doesn’t have great numbers this year, but he pitches well against the Giants.

San Francisco – batting an anemic .126 – need some kind of offensive output if it’s to force this series to a fifth game.

Take: Cincinnati. First in the postseason, first to advance. Having scored just four runs in three games, the Giants simply look worn out.

 

Baltimore Orioles @ New York Yankees Series tied 1-1

7:30 PM ET

Pitching Matchup: Miguel Gonzalez (9-4, 3.25 ERA) Vs. Hiroki Kuroda (16-11, 3.32 ERA)

The Orioles continue to do their best Boris Karloff impression, simply refusing to die. A 3-2 victory on Monday knotted this series, and proved that separating the Yankees and O’s this season is simply impossible.

Baltimore arrives at Yankee Stadium tonight looking to upset the Yankees. Will they? Won’t they? As has been the case all season, it’s tough to tell.

Hiroki Kuroda takes the mound for New York. The argument can be made that Kuroda was the Yanks’ best pitcher this season, but he’s just 1-1 against Baltimore this season. He’ll be up against Miguel Gonzalez. The O’s righty is 2-0 against the Yankees this season, and has proven to be one of the bright spots in the young Orioles rotation.

Baltimore has a 6-3 record at the Stadium this season, a rare blemish on the Yankees’ best home record in baseball. Rather than be in awe of those legendary statues and the heritage of the franchise, Baltimore comes into town and rolls with it. Doing the same tonight would give the Orioles a huge boost, and cut down those MLB Futures odds.

Take: Baltimore. Upsets are in the air and the Birds might just sneak this one. Expect the series to go five though.

 

Detroit Tigers @ Oakland Athletics DET leads series 2-1

9:30 PM ET

Pitching Matchup: Max Scherzer (16-7, 3.74 ERA) Vs. A.J. Griffin (7-1, 3.06 ERA)

Oakland pulled out the stops in Tuesday’s 2-0 game to stave off elimination and force a Game 4 tonight. Detroit – taking advantage of the skewed homefield ‘advantage’, something that really needs to be fixed next year – will look for a second straight night to eliminate their upstart opponents.

For Detroit, Max Scherzer takes the mound, and we’re assured by Jim Leiland at least) that he’s 100 percent and good to go. If that’ true, trouble could be brewing for the A’s. Scherzer was lights out this season.

However, A.J. Griffin proved to be no slouch this year, and he’ll be looking to prove himself following last Wednesday’s outing that saw him give up five early runs to Texas before the A’s miraculously took the AL West.

So far this series has been tight, with the largest scoring margin just two runs. Anyone else thinks we might see some likely bats tonight?

Take: Oakland. After the season the A’s have had, how could you possibly bet against the Bay Area team pulling off another unthinkable escape?

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