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#pounditFriday, September 24, 2021

Articles tagged: MLB Playoffs 2020

Nobody could understand why the Rays pulled Charlie Morton from Game 7

Kevin Cash

The Tampa Bay Rays made a decision during Game 7 of the ALCS against the Houston Astros at Petco Park in San Diego, Calif. on Saturday that left many fans confused.

Charlie Morton was the starter for the game and allowed just one hit through five scoreless innings. In the sixth, he got a strikeout, allowed a walk, got a groundout, and then gave up an infield single.

With runners on first and third and two outs, Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash removed Morton for reliever Nick Anderson.

Many watching the game could not understand pulling Morton, who had only allowed two hits and a walk in 5.2 innings. Morton had only thrown 66 pitches, too.

Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Andrew McCutchen expressed his disagreement with the move.

So did former Rays outfielder Steven Souza Jr.

Some of the modern thinking is that it’s better to pull a pitcher a batter too early than a batter too late. But the risk is you end up pulling a hot pitcher for someone who isn’t as good, like last year’s Game 7 backfire.

Cash pulled his starter quickly in Game 6 of the ALCS on Friday night and stood by the decision, even though it didn’t work out. The man has a plan and sticks with it … even if it doesn’t make much sense to the rest of us.

Who will start Game 7 for the Dodgers?

Dave Roberts

The Los Angeles Dodgers pulled off a big win by beating the Atlanta Braves 3-1 in Game 6 of the NLCS on Saturday at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas to force a Game 7. Just getting the win was a huge victory for the Dodgers, but it also brings up a big question: who will pitch Game 7?

The Braves are pitching Ian Anderson, who has been stellar in the postseason this year. The 22-year-old rookie hasn’t allowed a run in 15.2 innings over three starts. He has only allowed six hits, while striking out 22.

So what will be the answer for the Dodgers? As of Saturday evening following Game 6, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts did not have an answer, but he did provide some clues.

Roberts said that Tony Gonsolin, who is on schedule to start, would likely take a big portion of the innings for the game.

Gonsolin started in Game 2 but gave up five runs over 4.1 innings and took the loss.

The Dodgers could use Brusdar Graterol as an opener, and then go with Gonsolin and Julio Urias for a large portion of the innings.

Roberts will also check to see if Clayton Kershaw will be available to pitch in relief. Kershaw pitched in Game 4 and took the loss.

Winning Games 5 and 6 to force a Game 7 were the first tasks for the Dodgers before worrying about Game 7. They have taken care of those steps and now will need to patch together 27 outs in Sunday’s deciding game. Expect to see Gonsolin, Urias and Graterol during the early-to-middle parts of the game. The status of Kenley Jansen, who pitched on consecutive days for Games 5 and 6, is another question.

Video: Braves’ Ozzie Albies commits baserunning blunder in Game 6

Ozzie Albies

The Atlanta Braves committed a baserunning blunder for the second straight game in the NLCS.

Ozzie Albies was tagged out in the top of the sixth inning of Game 6 at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas after showing a lack of awareness. The Braves second baseman was facing Walker Buehler and hit a tapper up the first base line. He thought he was tagged out by first baseman Max Muncy, but Muncy dropped the ball.

Albies would have been safe at first, but he casually rounded his way off the bag at first and started to head towards the dugout. He got tagged out.

Oops.

Dansby Swanson followed with a single, so the Braves would have had a rally going with two on and only one out had Albies avoided the blunder. Instead, Austin Riley struck out to end the inning, and Buehler was bailed out.

That error was every bit as bad as Ozuna’s in Game 5.

Photo: Thomson200/Wikimedia via cc0 1.0

Video: Mookie Betts robs Marcell Ozuna with great catch against wall

Mookie Betts

Mookie Betts made a great catch to rob Marcell Ozuna of extra bases in Game 6 of the NLCS at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas on Saturday.

The Atlanta Braves were down 3-0 and had a runner on with two outs in the top of the fifth inning against Walker Buehler. Ozuna hit a breaking ball deep to right field. Betts drifted back and timed his leap perfectly to rob Ozuna of a big hit.

What a catch.

The Dodgers have been doing this throughout the postseason. Cody Bellinger in particular has been great with robbing home runs, highlighted by his catch against Fernando Tatis Jr. This time it was Betts making the catch to help keep the Braves off the board.

The Braves entered Game 6 with a 3-2 series lead.

Dusty Baker has funny quote about Astros after Game 6 win

Dusty Baker

Dusty Baker had a funny quote about his Houston Astros after the team’s 7-4 win over the Tampa Bay Rays in Game 6 of the ALCS at Petco Park in San Diego, Calif. on Friday night.

The Astros won their third straight game in the series to send things to a seventh game. They are trying to join the 2004 Boston Red Sox as the only other MLB team to come back from down 3-0 in a series.

After they won Game 6 to send things to a Game 7, the team’s spirit was praised, leading to Baker’s funny quote.

“You gotta love this team, well some people hate this team, but you gotta respect this team,” Baker said.

So what’s the issue? So many fans and players throughout baseball hate the Astros for cheating. Fans want to see them lose. But at the same time, it’s hard not to respect a team for not quitting down 3-0 and making such a strong comeback.

Framber Valdez allowed just one run and struck out nine over six innings to get the win. The Astros pounded out 11 hits and walked nine times as part of their 7-run effort. Game 7 will be on Saturday with the winner going to the World Series.

The Houston Astros are confirmed cheaters and deserve an asterisk. Send that message by wearing our Houston Asterisks T-shirt! You can buy it here:

The Will Smith memes were out of control after unusual matchup

Will Smith Spider Man meme

The Will Smith memes were out of control after the matchup between the Los Angeles Dodgers catcher and Atlanta Braves pitcher who share the same name.

The Dodgers’ Will Smith got the best of the Braves’ Will Smith by slugging a 3-run home run in the sixth inning to change Game 5 of the NLCS and make it 4-2. The Braves went from possibly leading 3-0 to suddenly being down in the game, and they never came back.

Not only was the Will Smith vs. Will Smith matchup historic, but it also produced plenty of predictable yet funny memes.

Take a look:

The Dodgers won the game 7-3 to send things to a Game 6. Atlanta still has a 3-2 series lead. The fans will get to watch another game between the teams, but may not be treated to the same matchup again. That’s why we have to enjoy the memes when we have the chance.

Marcell Ozuna costs Braves with baserunning error in Game 5

Marcell Ozuna baserunning error

Marcell Ozuna’s baserunning blunder in Game 5 of the NLCS at Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas on Friday night cost his Atlanta Braves badly.

The Braves were leading the Los Angeles Dodgers 2-0 in the bottom of the third. Ozuna singled to lead off the inning against Joe Kelly. Travis d’Arnaud followed with a single, and the two moved to second and third after a groundout by Ozzie Albies.

Then with one out, Dansby Swanson hit a ball to right field. Ozuna went to tag up after Mookie Betts made the catch and was able to beat the throw home for a run to put the Braves up 3-0. But there was one problem.

The Dodgers challenged and said that Ozuna left third base early. They turned out to be right.

Ozuna was found to have left early and ruled out, which wiped the run off the board. That was a huge play.

The Braves would have been up 3-0 if the Dodgers didn’t challenge. Instead, it was 2-0 after the play was overturned. And then Corey Seager hit a home run the next inning to make it 2-1. Couple that with Will Smith’s home run off Will Smith, and those are the big plays in the game.

The Dodgers won Game 5 7-3 to make it a 3-2 series. The Braves need one more win to take the series, while the Dodgers have to win two in a row.

Will Smith homers off Will Smith in historic matchup

Will Smith Will Smith

Baseball fans were treated on Friday to a matchup they were dying for, and they got one crazy result.

In the top of the sixth inning of Game 5 of the NLCS on Friday at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Atlanta Braves, Will Smith the catcher faced Will Smith the pitcher.

The Dodgers had two on and two out and were trailing 2-1 with catcher Will Smith at the plate. Atlanta brought pitcher Will Smith in the batter before, and he walked Max Muncy to put runners on first and second. Then on the sixth pitch of the at-bat, catcher Will Smith smacked a 3-run home run to deep left field.

That was a huge blow. It made the score 4-2 and gave the Dodgers their first lead of the game. They added three more runs the following inning on an RBI single by Mookie Betts and 2-run home run by Corey Seager.

The two Smiths have actually faced each other before. Catcher Will Smith struck out in 2019 in his lone plate appearance against pitcher Will Smith. But Friday’s matchup marked the first time in postseason history since the Expansion Era in 1961 that two players with the same name faced each other.

Unsurprisingly, the rare matchup produced an exciting result.

Kevin Cash stands by decision to pull Blake Snell from Game 6

Blake Snell

Tampa Bay Rays manager Kevin Cash made the controversial decision to remove Blake Snell from Game 6 of the ALCS with a lead, and ended up paying the price.

Snell got through four innings, allowing three hits and four walks with four strikeouts on 82 pitches. After Snell allowed a walk and a single to open the 5th with the Rays nursing a 1-0 lead, Cash made the move to pull his starter and bring in standout reliever Diego Castillo. Snell was visibly upset when Cash came to get him, but the manager’s mind was made up.

Castillo had been excellent in the postseason, but was unable to hold the Astros. After a sacrifice bunt, George Springer singled through the shift, giving the Astros a 2-1 lead. RBI hits later in the inning by Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa expanded that lead to 4-1, and the Astros ultimately went on to win 7-4.

Cash was questioned for pulling Snell, a former Cy Young winner. After the game, he stood by the decision, saying he felt Snell was out of gas.

The questions will keep being asked. There’s no guarantee Snell gets out of the inning unscathed, but he clearly felt he had more to offer when he was pulled.

The move is even more controversial because of the comparison to how Astros manager Dusty Baker has handled his starters. In a similar situation in Game 4 with two on, one out, and a two-run lead, Baker stuck with starter Zack Greinke. Greinke got out of the jam and made clear that he was pleased that Baker had left him in. Cash didn’t have the same faith in Snell, and if the Rays lose Game 7, expect a lot more second-guessing as to whether he should have.

Video: Yandy Diaz has words with Astros players after drawing walk

Yandy Diaz

Tampa Bay Rays first baseman Yandy Diaz seemed to lose his cool a bit during Game 6 of the ALCS at a very bizarre time.

With a man on and a man out and the Rays trailing by 4 in the 6th, Diaz laid off on a 3-2 breaking ball from Houston pitcher Framber Valdez and drew a walk. As soon as he took the pitch, Diaz began yelling at Valdez, and players and umpires had to intervene.

It wasn’t clear what Diaz was so upset or emotional about. TBS commentator Ron Darling theorized that Diaz was frustrated to get a breaking ball on 3-2 and was taunting Valdez for not challenging him with a fastball. After the incident, Astros shortstop Carlos Correa had to come in to give Valdez an intense pep talk.

Valdez kept his composure and proceeded to get Brandon Lowe to hit into an inning-ending double play.

It was a strange moment, as there didn’t seem to be any reason for Diaz to challenge Valdez like he did. The Astros are famous for playing with a chip on their shoulder and taking every perceived slight or criticism as motivation. Diaz’s actions may end up firing up the Astros even more, which would be bad news for the Rays.