Although The Plague topped the OOTL much of the regular season, they got a formidable scare from the Lymebees, the perennial #2 or #3 team, in the playoffs. The Speakers squeaked by both teams late in the season to enjoy the #1 seed. The Speakers then had to tamp down the Arrogant Bastards in five games to reach the finals.
Game 1 – Jake Arrieta walks Lorenzo Cain with 1 out in the 2nd. Cain swipes 2nd base and trots home on AJ Pierzynski’s single, which Rajai Davis fumbles in center field.
After Jose Fernandez K’s Davis to start the Speakers’ 3rd, Ian Kinsler rips a double. Andrelton Simmons singles him home. Manny Machado follows with a 2-run home run for an early 3-1 lead.
Pierzynski doubles to start The Plague 5th. Mike Moustakas takes one in the ribs. Michael Brantley sacs the runners to 2nd and 3rd. That sets up Kevin Kiermaier’s perfectly placed RBI single (8). 3-2.
One out in the 7th when Moustakas walks. Brantley whiffs for the 2nd out, but Kiermaier comes through again — this time with an RBI double. Jason Kipnis singles him home as Davis boots another ball in center.
On the other side of the ball, Anthony Rizzo doubles immediately after Machado’s homer. The Speakers would muster only one more hit, a Kris Bryant single, the rest of the way.
The Plague 4 – 6 – 1
Speakers 3 – 5 – 2
W – Fernandez (1-0); L – Arrieta (0-1); S – Blaine Hardy (1)
Game 2 – Southpaws Jaime Garcia and David Price lock horns in an epic battle. Matt Wieters’ solo shot in the 3rd brings home the only run of the game.
Chris Young attempted the same trot in the 2nd, but Garcia (+41) denied him. The Speakers never got a runner to 3rd base.
The Plague 1 – 6 – 0
Speakers 0 – 4 – 0
W – Garcia (1-0); L – Price (0-1); S – Jeff Manship (1)
Game 3 – Through the first 18 innings, the Speakers have scored in only one. To make matters worse, Matt Harvey would fare much worse than his two predecessors to put the Speakers in a major predicament.
Kipnis walks in the 1st. DJ LeMahieu triples him home for a quick 1-0 lead.
Machado hits his 2nd homer of the series to lead off the 3rd, but The Plague come right back. With 2 away and no base runners, Denard Span singles (7) and steals 2nd. Kipnis singles him home (8).
Two additional candlesticks in the next two innings open a 4-1 lead. Cain’s fielder’s choice scores Paul Goldschmidt in the 4th. Francisco Lindor singles home Kipnis, who had doubled to lead off the 5th.
The Plague add two more on Cain and Brantley RBI doubles in the 8th. Meanwhile, the Speakers again muster just two hits after Machado’s 3rd inning home run.
Speakers 1 – 4 – 0
The Plague 6 – 11 – 0
W – Stephen Matz (1-0); L – Harvey (0-1); S – Blaine Boyer (1)
Game 4 – The Speakers hand the ball to young Luis Severino to prevent an embarrassing sweep. Machado continues to do his part by going deep twice more (both solos) in the 1st and 3rd innings.
On one swing, Yoenis Cespedes brings home 3, launching a 6th inning 3-run HR. The Speakers have now scored 5 in Game 4, equaling their series total runs.
On the hill, Severino steps up, surrendering two Kipnis singles until the 9th. LeMahieu homers to start the inning. Goldschmidt walks. After two infield outs, Moustakas ropes a 2-run shot.
At 5-3, a shaken Severino walks Kiermaier to bring the tying run to the plate. That also brings Darren O’Day to the mound.
With Brantley at the dish, Kiermaier breaks for 2nd. Buster Posey finally nails his first base runner to end the game, 5-3. O’Day earns a save without an official batter faced.
Speakers 5 – 7 – 1
The Plague 3 – 4 – 1
W – Severino (1-0); L – Aaron Sanchez (0-1)
Game 5 – After beating Arrieta in Game 1, The Plague were determined to win their first ever championship at home. Jake and Fernandez fire blanks through the first 3 innings.
Rizzo walks to begin the 4th. Posey singles him to 3rd and Carlos Gonzalez lifts a sac fly to RF to score the first run of the game.
Again, The Plague storm right back in the bottom half. Kipnis and LeMahieu each single (both 9’s) to put runners at the corners. Goldschmidt walks to load the bases.
Lindor grounds to Machado, who steps on 3rd for the first out scoring Kipnis. Then Pierzynski singles (7) in the go-ahead run, 2-1.
The Plague tack on another in the 5th. Span strokes a leadoff single (11) and steals 2nd. Kipnis bunts (9), but the Speakers can’t get an out. LeMahieu singles home Span (9) for a 3-1 advantage.
The Speakers manage a one-out triple, a two-out single (but the runner gets picked off down by 2), and a 9th inning one-out single (on a 0). So the Speakers are held to just 4 hits for the third time in the series.
That allows the 3-1 score to become The Plague’s very first OOTL Championship! Manager Ed, in the preseason predicted to finish 7th, brings home the hardware with a fast, aggressive offense, solid defense and a shutdown bullpen.
Speakers 1 – 4 – 0
The Plague 3 – 8 – 1
W – Fernandez (2-0); L – Arrieta (0-2); S – Manship (2)
Manager Brian saw the The Plague’s potential from the first four-game series between the two teams last spring. After two lopsided Speakers’ victories, The Plague carved themselves a pair of dramatic come-from-behind wins, getting clutch steals and hits at exactly the right times. “This Championship series presented more of the same. While most OOTL teams build with power, The Plague went in an excitingly different direction and proved it could work through an entire season and post-season,” said the losing manager. “Congratulations to the new champs!”
During the post-game celebration, Manager Ed, awash in a bath of iced tea, stated, “I knew that I could stay in games this season as long as opponents didn’t crush a ton of extra-base hits.” The strategy worked well enough to earn an OOTL Championship plaque. There will now be a new name on the trophy and a new defending champ.