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The Cubs Are Sweating
[Posted Wed. a.m.]
MLB / Postseason Quiz: In judging career postseason pitching records, BaseballReference.com requires six decisions or 30 innings. So, with this in mind... 1) Who are the only two to win 15 postseason games? 2) Who am I? Needing six decisions to qualify, I am the only pitcher with a 1.000 winning percentage. I did this in the 1930s and am a Hall of Famer. Answers below.
Monday, Cleveland brought their 2-0 series lead into Toronto as Blue Jays fans hoped their boys’ bats would come alive, but Cleveland’s pitching staff shut them down again, 4-2, as the Indians were forced to use six relievers the final 8 1/3 innings, after starter Trevor Bauer’s injured pinkie started to bleed so badly he couldn’t continue; Bauer originally cutting it, and missing his scheduled Game 2 start, while he was working on his drone. [Seriously.]
At the back end of the pen, once again it was the Andrew Miller and Cody Allen show, only this time Allen went first and Miller closed, the two combining for three innings of one-hit ball, striking out five. Mike Napoli and Jason Kipnis went deep for the Indians.
So the Indians were 6-0 in the postseason...on to Game 4 Tuesday....Cleveland ace Corey Kluber took the mound on just three days’ rest and allowed two runs in five, but the Blue Jays staved off elimination behind Aaron Sanchez’ six strong innings and Josh Donaldson’s third-inning home run as Toronto won 5-1 to make it 3-1. Game 5 this afternoon.
First, just a note on Sunday’s game that was played after I posted the last B.C. L.A. evened it up at 1-1 on another heroic effort from Clayton Kershaw, who has exorcised his playoff demons, this time with 7 innings of two-hit ball, fanning six, in the Dodgers’ 1-0 win over the Cubs, Kenley Jansen closing it out with two innings of overpowering heat, striking out four.
The only run of the game was on a second-inning Adrian Gonzalez off loser Kyle Hendricks.
Andy McCullough / Los Angeles Times
“As the Dodgers boarded a flight home Sunday night, soon after Clayton Kershaw had almost single-handedly evened the National League Championship Series against the Chicago Cubs at a game apiece, Rich Hill cracked a joke to his wife.
“ ‘I think Clayton’s going back to the Bat Cave,’ Hill said. ‘And we’re all going to hop on the plane and go back to L.A.’
“Kershaw is not a superhero. But he has reclaimed his status as the organization’s hero during the last four postseason games. In a six-day span, Kershaw pitched three times, including recording the save in the Game 5 clincher to defeat Washington in the division series and logging seven scoreless innings in Game 2 against Chicago on Sunday.”
But now Kershaw isn’t scheduled to pitch any of the three games in L.A., though we’ll see what happens come Game 5, which would be three days’ rest for Kershaw. Manager Dave Roberts said, “As the series moves on, you always have to be open to adjusting.”
So out to Los Angeles they went, and Tuesday the Dodgers did it again, this time shutting out the Cubs 6-0 behind a masterful six innings of two-hit ball by 36-year-old journeyman Rich Hill and another great effort from the Dodger bullpen. Yasmani Grandal had the big blow, a 2-run, fourth-inning homer off Jake Arrieta (5 innings, 4 runs) that made it 3-0. Justin Turner hit a solo shot in the sixth.
Game 4 is tonight. The Cubs are feeling the pressure. Addison Russell and Anthony Rizzo are a combined 3-for-50 in the postseason. Chicago has six hits in the last two games. How will the Cubs respond?
There are very few big games this coming weekend. As in like just a handful....
The biggie is 6 Texas A&M at 1 Alabama, 3:30 ET, so plan your Saturday errands, including the beer run, accordingly...just as we do here in the home office.
The other ‘kind of big’ games are so only if you assume the opponent will put up a fight. So in this category we have....
TCU at 12 West Virginia and 2 Ohio State at Penn State, but I’m guessing both are blowouts (20+ points).
Two entertaining games could be N.C. State at 7 Louisville, and Memphis (5-1) at 24 Navy.
--I turned off the Jets-Cardinals game Monday night when Arizona took a 21-3 lead, in what would end up being a 28-3 loss for New York, the most devastating of the season because it is, indeed, the season...though I correctly told you it was over at 1-3 because of the way they were playing, not just the losses.
Yes, one final time, us Jets fans looked at the schedule last spring and said, ‘Uh oh.’ Five playoff teams in the first six games (the toughest NFL opening schedule in 13 years), the exception being Buffalo, which suddenly is playing like one. Us fans, realistically, would have taken 2-4, assuming they played well in their defeats. But here’s what happened.
Cincinnati, L, 23-22...late 47-yard field goal to win for the Bengals
Buffalo, W, 37-31
Kansas City, L, 24-3
Seattle, L, 27-17
Pittsburgh, L, 31-13
Arizona, L, 28-3
Monday night was an abomination and quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick finally got benched late in the fourth, though coach Todd Bowles, who seems a certainty to be fired after the season (zero reason to do so now since it’s not like someone is going to turn this team around for a playoff run), said Fitzpatrick would play against the Ravens next weekend, though Tuesday, Bowles seemed to waffle a bit.
Fitzpatrick was 16/31, 174, 0-1, 55.0 rating, bringing his season numbers to 5 TD passes, 11 interceptions (including four in the red zone, 8 in the fourth quarter), and a godawful 63.4 rating.
One more for a last time. I said last spring, correctly, that when it came to re-signing Fitzpatrick, we could finish 8-8 with him, and 8-8 without him. I was about to say Geno Smith deserves to see substantial playing time the rest of the way, but he was such a jerk on the sidelines Monday night, I’d let Bryce Petty take the reins.
Meanwhile, the vaunted defensive line, supposedly as good as any in football, had 7 sacks in the first game against Cincinnati, but has had all of five, total, in the next five contests. The players have given up.
Brian Costello / New York Post
“The Jets hoped to be playing in January. Instead, their season ended in October.”
Yup. No meaningful games in December, which is the minimum every football fan wants.
And there is this. It was obvious they missed receiver Eric Decker against Arizona, Decker slated to miss the rest of the season with rotator-cuff surgery.
Or so we thought. Tuesday we learned he underwent hip surgery! The Jets must have the Mets’ team doctors. Rotator-cuff surgery was put off for now. But the combination of the two means Decker may not be available for the start of the 2017 season. No one seemed to know he had a hip problem in the first place.
--After six weeks, there are very few surprise teams in the NFL. Perhaps Buffalo is a slight surprise at 4-2, mainly because they’ve won their last four when they were being buried after losses the first two weeks, ditto Washington, which has arrived at its 4-2 mark the same way.
But both were expected to be decent this season.
Dallas is perhaps the biggest positive surprise just in how good they’ve looked under rookie Dak Prescott, going 5-1 out of the gate, and of course 5-0 Minnesota is a surprise in as much as no one expected them to perform so well without starter Teddy Bridgewater, but management quickly brought in Sam Bradford and voila! The guy is playing the best football of his career.
Finally, on the down side, it’s obviously Carolina, hot off a Super Bowl appearance, at 1-5.
--So when I wrote of Odell Beckham Jr. last time I cited his spectacular performance in the Giants’ 27-23 victory over Baltimore, as Beckham had eight receptions for 222 yards and two touchdowns, but I also noted he remained a supreme jerk.
Monday, you should have heard WFAN’s Mike Francesa go off on Odell, and Francesa was right. This whole act of Beckham’s with the kicking net is almost beyond belief. What I hadn’t seen when writing last was Beckham’s comments after the game that “Me and the net are going to get married sometime soon. She seems like a pretty nice gal.”
OK, Odell. Whatever you say. And now the Giants are headed to London for a game against the Rams.
Paul Schwartz / New York Post
“Fifty-two years after England gave us the Beatles, America is returning the favor, shipping Odell Beckham Jr. across the Atlantic.
“The star receiver could not be trending any hotter, having amassed 222 yards... He thrilled with his immense talent, he chilled with his new romantic interest, Ms. Kicking Net, and he spilled his emotions by yanking off his helmet after scoring, prompting a 15-yard penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct. It is all part of the Odell File.
“(Coach) Ben McAdoo, though, wants to delete some of these files.
“ ‘He knows we can’t have it,’ the Giants coach said, sternly, Monday.”
Eli Manning said Monday in his weekly appearance with Francesa: “With the win you can ignore it a little bit easier. It’s one of those deals where you can get real sick of it if he’s not going out there and making plays. But when he goes out and has a couple of huge catches and 200 yards and a game-winning touchdown, you still want him to be smarter but you accept it a little easier.”
“Then there is the strange matter of Beckham and the kicking net. He slammed it in frustration during his sideline meltdown against the Redskins, hitting the net so hard it rocked back and hit him in the face. Last week in Green Bay, Beckham finally got his first touchdown of the season and he promptly went over to kiss the net. After his 75-yard touchdown in the third quarter against the Ravens, Beckham got down on a knee and pretended (we hope) to propose to the kicking net.
“This is either funny – in an unusual way – or odd or weirdly self-involved. It did not make McAdoo laugh.
“ ‘We, as a team, need to focus on the ballgame,’ McAdoo said of Odell and his kicking net friend.”
So now Odell is headed to London, where he undoubtedly will seek to create a stir.
Schwartz: “Everyone will want to get a look-see, as another entry in the Odell File awaits Mr. Beckham.”
--Update: Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger underwent surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee and is expected to only miss one game, though it’s next Sunday against the Patriots.
The thing is, Big Ben hurt the knee in the first half of Sunday’s Dolphins game, the team doctor thought his knee was only hyperextended, and Roethlisberger played the entire second half with the tear.
The quarterback has missed at least one game because of injury in eight of his 13 seasons, including four games last year with a knee injury.
--I didn’t realize in writing up games last time that Case Keenum of the Rams broke a franchise mark with 19 completions in a row, part of his 27 of 32, 321 yards and three touchdowns effort. Plus he also ran for a score.
But it was all overshadowed because he threw a game-ending interception as the Rams were trying to come back against the Lions, falling short, 31-28.
Keenum has 7 touchdown passes and 6 interceptions, with a respectable 85.3 rating, so he’s keeping the job for now, the Rams being 3-3. Ergo, No. 1 pick Jared Goff is unlikely to see his debut for a few weeks more, but that day is coming. Unless Keenum has more games like Sunday.
--Following the Bills’ whipping of the 49ers 45-16 on Sunday, Colin Kaepernick’s season debut, several Bills players were less than impressed with Kaepernick’s game. One player told Bleacher Report: “Done. Terrible. More a distraction than a contributing member of the team.”
Cornerback Stephon Gilmore wasn’t afraid to speak out publicly, most of the other Bills players choosing anonymity.
“I mean he’s an athlete. You can’t take that from him. But when it comes to passing the ball, he can’t really throw.”
Kaepernick, after a solid start, ended up just 13 of 29 for 187 yards and a touchdown, but coach Chip Kelly announced Monday he would start against Tampa Bay. Kaepernick did rush for 66 yards on eight carries.
NCAA Men’s Div. I Soccer Rankings (Oct. 18)
1. Maryland 11-0-2
2. Wake Forest 10-2-2*
3. North Carolina 10-2-1
4. Notre Dame 10-2-1
5. Denver 12-0-2
6. Syracuse 9-2-1
7. Indiana 8-1-5
8. Clemson 9-2-3
9. Charlotte 8-2-0
10. Creighton 8-2-3
*Wake then had a nice 1-0 road win at South Carolina Tuesday night. Maryland stayed undefeated with a win over American University.
Premier League...China’s Woes...
--It was a disappointing show on Monday as Liverpool hosted Manchester United at Anfield, a 0-0 draw, though for Man U coach Jose Mourinho a needed point. Liverpool blew a chance to tie Arsenal and Man City for first and instead now sits in fourth place after the first 8 of 38 matches.
--If you didn’t appreciate just how truly historic Leicester City’s Premier League title was last season, you probably do now. Leicester is struggling big time...2 wins, 2 draws, 4 losses.
Consider that last campaign Leicester had just three losses all season. 23 (W) 12 (D) 3 (L). And they have largely retained their roster.
But, in first-ever Champions League play for Leicester, they have won their first three, including a 1-0 victory over FC Copenhagen on Tuesday; meaning Leicester is already virtually guaranteed of advancing to the Round of 16 next year.
[Tottenham had a 0-0 draw, Tuesday, against Bayer Leverkusen and is 1-1-1 in its three Champions League matches.]
--And this...I didn’t have time to write about it last time but in World Cup qualifying matches for 2018 in Russia, China failed to get out of its group, which included Iran, Korea Republic, Uzbekistan, Syria and Qatar. After the first four, a draw with Iran and losses to Korea, Uzbekistan and Syria, China is already out of qualifying. Think about those last two losses.
Charles Clover and Gloria Cheung had some of the following for the Financial Times:
“Xi Jinping’s dream of making China a soccer superpower is crashing to earth amid a public backlash over defeats that left the national team’s 2018 World Cup hopes in tatters.
“The straight losses – to war-torn Syria and fellow football minnows Uzbekistan – unleashed an outpouring of anger among fans and in the press. Even the Global Times, a tabloid bastion of chest-thumping Chinese nationalism, exhorted the country to abandon the beautiful game and ‘go play ping pong instead.’
“ ‘How could the hopeless Chinese fans continue to support such a national team?’ the paper whined on Weibo, China’s equivalent of Twitter.
“Team coach Gao Jongbo resigned immediately after this week’s 2-0 loss to Uzbekistan [Oct. 11]. A 1-0 loss to Syria last week prompted fans to take to the streets to demand his removal.
“Despite its prowess in Olympic sports such as gymnastics and swimming, China’s football team has been a failure on the world stage, qualifying for the World Cup finals just once in 2002, when the team was ejected without scoring a single goal.
“That was all supposed to change after Mr. Xi, a big football fan, said in 2011 that he had three dreams for Chinese football: to qualify, to host, and to win a World Cup. As part of his football plans, the president has decreed that China will have 20,000 training centers and 70,000 pitches in place by 2020.”
The thing is, since Xi became president in 2012, Chinese businessmen have been rushing to buy into European clubs such as Manchester City and Atletico Madrid.
During the latest winter transfer window, Chinese Super League clubs outspent the Premier League for top talent.
But now some believe the arrival of top European and foreign players is stunting the growth of their Chinese counterparts.
--The final tally for the 2015-16 wraparound PGA Tour season is in and it was not the longest-hitting year ever, but certainly one of them. As reported by Golf World, the average driving distance for the year was an even 290 yards, trailing the all-time mark set in 2011 of 291.4.
But get this...there were 760 drives hit on tour longer than 360 yards, though this is not the all-time high. The year’s longest drive was 414 yards from Justin Thomas at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.
One of every 14 drives was hit more than 320 yards (7.24 percent, above the 10-year average of 6.19 percent).
--Tim Rosaforte had a piece in Golf World trying to explain Tiger Woods’ withdrawing from the Safeway Open after saying he would play just days earlier.
“There were no shortage of theories and rumors circulating around the Silverado Resort and Spa about those four days in Northern California. Speculated causes included the impending rains that eventually doused Napa as well as a video that showed Tiger making cautious three-quarter swings at a clinic in Pebble Beach. Then there was the scrutiny Woods would be under in his marquee pairings with Steph Curry in the pro-am and with Phil Mickelson in the tournament proper....
“Mark Steinberg, Tiger’s long-time manager, told me it was simply a case of misjudging the effect of lost practice time during Tiger’s week at the Ryder Cup in Minnesota and while at home in Florida during Hurricane Matthew....
“The good news? It wasn’t Tiger’s back. ‘It’s not like a physical setback,’ Steinberg told me. ‘The game’s not there yet. It could be fairly soon, but it’s just not there yet.’....
“ ‘I feel bad; it’s going to be even harder now if he decides to play someplace else,’ said the always candid (Johnny) Miller. ‘People are going to start thinking, Is he going to show up or not? He shouldn’t have said anything and just committed last week and showed up.’”
--Last time I wrote of Australian tennis player Nick Kyrgios and his misbehavior at the Shanghai Masters last week when he tanked a match. The next day, Kyrgios was suspended for eight weeks by the ATP, but he could be eligible to return Nov. 7 if he agrees to enter “a plan of care under the direction of a sports psychologist” or equivalent treatment approved by the men’s governing body.
Kyrgios is ranked No. 14 in the world and the eight-week suspension, should he not go along with the ATP’s conditions, would keep him out until the eve of the Australia Open in January.
This guy is screwed up.
--I knew about the death of sprinter Tyson Gay’s daughter, 15-year-old Trinity, before I posted last time but opted to ‘wait 24 hours,’ as is my wont. We learned Monday that Trinity was fatally shot in the neck by a stray bullet outside a Lexington, Ky., restaurant and that three have been charged in connection with the shooting thus far; Dvonta Middlebrooks, Chazerae Taylor, and his son, D’markeo Taylor.
I feel like I know Tyson Gay a little, having seen him up close and personal (within feet) at the 2008 and 2012 U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials in Eugene, Oregon. I saw him blow out his hammy once, which was one of the worst things I’ve ever seen in person, knowing all the time and effort he was putting in to mount a challenge to Usain Bolt.
But the death of his daughter was so senseless and tragic, and by all accounts he did his best to be a good father, even though he and her mother lived apart from each other. As Tyson said upon learning of her death while in California, preparing to go to Lexington: “I’m so confused. She was just here last week for fall break. It’s so crazy.”
Monday, thousands turned out for a vigil at Tiffany’s high school, with Tyson, who went to the same school, leading the prayers.
--The world’s oldest giant panda in captivity, Jia Jia, died at Ocean Park in Hong Kong aged 38 – about 114 in human terms. Jia Jia had been in Hong Kong since 1999, after spending her first 21 years in China.
--Uh oh...there is a legitimate “large cat” sighting in south Jersey, as in photos and video taken with a hunter’s game camera of what clearly looks like a mountain lion! In New Jersey! There have been rumors of one in the northwest part of the state, but not here.
Winslow Township officials said, “It is not possible to determine with certainty what the animals are but we can’t rule out the presence of a large cat or cats. Mountain lions were indigenous at one time in this area.”
“Lions”? Plural? Is this the October surprise?
Top 3 songs for the week 10/18/69: #1 “I Can’t Get Next To You” (The Temptations) #2 “Hot Fun In The Summertime” (Sly & The Family Stone) #3 “Sugar, Sugar” (The Archies)...and...#4 “Jean” (Oliver) #5 “Little Woman” (Bobby Sherman) #6 “Suspicious Minds” (Elvis Presley) #7 “That’s The Way Love Is” (Marvin Gaye) #8 “Wedding Bell Blues” (The 5th Dimension) #9 “Easy To Be Hard” (Three Dog Night) #10 “Tracy” (The Cuff Links)
MLB / Postseason Quiz Answers: 1) 15 or more postseason wins: Andy Pettitte was 19-11, 3.81 ERA; John Smotz was a superb 15-4, 2.67. The only pitcher with 14 wins is Tom Glavine, but he was 14-16, 3.30. 2) Hall of Famer Lefty Gomez was 6-0, 2.86, in helping the Yankees win five World Series (Gomez pitching in 1932, 36-39). Of his six starts, four were complete game victories. He pitched just one inning in 1939. For his career he was 189-102.
While on this topic, I can’t help but note Curt Schilling, who was a stupendous 11-2, 2.23, in his postseason career, including 4-1, 2.06 in his four World Series.
Next Bar Chat, Monday.
And don’t forget to check out the new All-Species List site. This is a work in progress, but sign up and feel free to comment on who should be in the top ten and who shouldn’t. I will be posting a new piece each week which will contain work I’ve already done for Bar Chat, but it will be one repository for all animal chat...plus I’m trying to reach a new audience that then is exposed to the other material on StocksandNews.com.