Steve and I planned to play three games of this series Sunday evening (12/4/2016). In a way, we did.
Game 1 – These teams split their regular season, so both managers look for a tight series. Blake Swihart coaxes a walk against Jake Arrieta to begin the proceedings. Adrian Gonzalez singles (H&R 31) Swihart to 3rd. Immediately, Manager Steve mentions that in the #5 vs. #4 series, David Ortiz plated a run by grounding into a double play. That’s exactly what he does here to give the ABs an early 1-0 lead.
Kevin Pillar begins the ABs 3rd with a ringing single (7). Addison Russell lays down a successful sacrifice bunt (33-0!). However, the top of the order fails to increase the lead against Arrieta.
The Speakers surround a pair of singles with 3 Max Scherzer whiffs in the 4th. The line score at the 7th inning stretch: 1-2-1 to 0-3-0.
Carlos Gonzalez greets Scherzer with a single (8) to start the bottom of the 7th. The ABs turn to Mark Melancon, who gets Kris Bryant on a lazy fly to center. Manny Machado struck out twice against Scherzer. Melancon goes 2-0 to Machado before uncorking a wild pitch. With Gonzalez at 2nd, Machado gets a 3-0 green light and launches a 2-run home run.
Arrieta continues to deal. That 3rd-inning Pillar single was the last hit Jake surrendered. The only other base runner was Gerardo Parra’s lead off walk in the 5th. He was stranded at 2nd.
Joe Panik, Pillar and Russell go 1-2-3 in the 8th. Ian Kinsler strokes a lead off double in the bottom half, but the Speakers leave him at 2nd.
Arrieta begins the 9th having faced 27 batters. Russell Martin had replaced Swihart defensively and grounds to 2nd. AGon strikes out for the third time in the game. Ortiz keeps ABs hopes alive with a solid double. Brett Gardner pinch runs, representing the tying run with Mike Trout at the plate. Trout takes a quick swing … and lifts a pop up. Buster Posey tosses aside his mask, circles and squeezes it to preserve the 2-1 final.
Scherzer strikes out 9 and Arrieta 10.
ABs 1 -3 – 1
Speakers 2 – 6 – 0
W – Arrieta (1-0); L – Melancon (0-1)
Game 2 – Logan Forsythe doubles with 1 out in the top of the 1st. David Price had struck out Giancarlo Stanton before and Trout after, but Evan Longoria stings an RBI single that CarGo mishandles in right field. Again, the ABs take a 1-0 lead in the 1st.
This time, the Speakers don’t wait as long to come back. Bryant homers off Shelby Miller in the 2nd to knot the game at 1-1. Both pitchers stymie hitters over the next 3 innings. Forsythe breaks the streak with a harmless 2-out single (8) in the 6th. Price Ks Trout for the third time to snuff that minor threat.
Kinsler starts the bottom half with a single (9). Anthony Rizzo grounds to 2nd, where Forsythe flips to Russell for a force. Posey grounded out twice, but had a pair of singles in Game 1. A clean hit-and-run single (55-7) moves Rizzo to 3rd. Yoenis Cespedes (0-6 in the young series) grounds to short, but Russell can only get the out at 1st as Rizzo scores the go-ahead run, 2-1. The Speakers threaten again in both the 7th and 8th, but come up empty.
Meanwhile, the top of the 8th is a half-inning for the ages. Price strikes out AGon. Gardner lays down a beautiful bunt and legs out an infield hit. Price departs; Trevor Rosenthal enters. So Elvis Andrus departs and Parra enters. On the hit-and-run, Parra singles in the hole (34-31) as Gardner motors to 3rd. Stanton whiffs for the 2nd out. Forsythe (2-3, D, R) heads back to the dugout. As Justin Turner is announced, Roberto Osuna is summoned from the pen. Turner does an about face as Ortiz grabs a bat. The Speakers walk Ortiz intentionally to face Trout with the bases loaded! Osuna dodges a bullet by firing Ball 1 and Ball 2. But then Ball 3 and Ball 4 follow to force in Gardner with the tying run! The young closer gets Longoria on a fly to right to keep the game at 2-2.
Over the next few innings, both teams get runners into scoring position as the parade of relievers dwindles. With 2 outs in the 12th, the ABs call for southpaw Matt Thornton, who pitched to 3 batters yesterday.
He gets Rizzo to pop up to end the 12th and then wriggles out of a jam in the 13th. Rajai Davis had been 0-5, but singles (9) to start the bottom of the 14th. Andrelton Simmons converts an odd hit-and-run single (16). With runners on the corners, Kinsler lifts a fly ball to Gardner in CF. Davis outruns Gardner’s throw to score the winning run, 3-2.
ABs 2 – 10 – 0
Speakers 3 – 11 – 1 (14 innings)
W – Tony Sipp (1-0); L – Thornton (0-1)
Both Sipp and Thornton went 1.2 IP. The ABs struck out 20 times in 14 innings. Both teams will have pen issues to consider going to Game 3 (Matt Harvey vs. Chris Young).
On Thursday (12/8/2016) the venue changes. The ABs get to host the next three contests.
Game 3 – Cespedes is the first hitter to reach and score, leading off the top of the 2nd with a solo homer off Chris Young. After being acquired July 12th from the Lemonheads, Young has come up big and won his playoff start against the Shooting Stars II.
With 1 out in the bottom of the 3rd, Kinsler boots Parra’s grounder. Russell singles to set up Trout, who leads off today. After striking out in 7 of his first 11 PAs, the young star doubles in the gap to score a pair. Turner singles. Stephen Piscotty singles over short to plate a 3rd run.
With runners at 1st & 2nd and Ortiz at the dish, Posey throws behind Piscotty to pick him off. Matt Harvey whiffs Ortiz to end the inning, 3-1 ABs.
Swihart doubles to start the 4th. With 2 outs, Parra provides the clutch RBI single to extend the ABs lead to 4-1. Martin replaces Swihart defensively and walks to lead off the 6th. Gonzalez singles to 1st as Rizzo has no play (12). Forsythe (11-0!) bunts them both into scoring position. Then Parra comes through again. His second RBI single lifts the ABs to 5-1.
Meanwhile, Young completely shuts down the team in gray. He allows 2 walks and 2 singles since Cespedes’ long ball — all in separate innings. Only Rizzo makes it beyond 1st base, reaching 2nd with 1 out in the 9th following the Speakers’ final hit. Young’s brilliant outing brings the series to 2-1 Speakers with 2 more to be played at home.
Speakers 1 – 3 – 2
ABs 5 – 9 – 0
W – Young (1-0); L – Harvey (0-1)
Game 4 – The Speakers hope a 17 with double negatives comes up big for them the way Chris Young baffled the Speakers offense yesterday. Rookie 17s, Luis Severino and Jerad Eickhoff, attempt to make their mark on the series, but it won’t be easy.
Kinsler starts with a single (10). After Eickhoff strikes out Rizzo, Posey walks. Cespedes singles (44-0) home Kinsler for an early Speakers lead.
After Kinsler crosses the plate, with Bryant up, the skies open up, halting the proceedings for an hour and 20 minutes! Eickhoff loses 4 grades while Severino, who has yet to take the mound, loses 6! All of a sudden, we’re faced with 13 and 11 rookies battling in a pivotal game.
Although Eickhoff wriggles out of further 1st inning trouble and Severino retires the first 4 ABs, Stanton knots the game on a solo blast in the 2nd. Both young starters would continue to battle through scoreless frames (Eickhoff 5 IP and Severino 6 IP), allowing just 2 more singles each.
Rizzo breaks the 1-1 tie in the 7th with a long home run off Matt Thornton. Trout walks to begin the bottom half against Osuna. A wild pitch and ground ball get Trout to 3rd. Stanton Ks, Turner comes through (9) with a 2-out RBI single to tie at 2-2.
Thornton retires his 7th Speaker by striking out Cespedes to start the 8th. Bryant, who Eickhoff struck out 3 times, singles (11-0) to chase Thornton after 9 batters. Wade Davis returns to strike out Young, but then allows Machado to reach on a his own overthrow at 1st. Manny steals 2nd to put 2 in scoring position. Rajai Davis delivers the 2-run single (44-8), which would not have been a hit with runners at the corners. Simmons (2-2, BB) triples into the corner. Ryan Madson enters and Kinsler doubles home Simmons. The ABs go from a 2-2 tie with 2 outs, an innocent runner on 1st, and their dominant closer in the game, to a 6-2 deficit on 4 unearned runs.
Parra helps get one back with a single (22-0) against Tony Sipp with 1 away in the bottom of the 8th. Elvis Andrus pinch hits for Russell and executes a beautiful hit-and-run single (4!) to allow Forsythe to notch an RBI grounder to Rizzo.
6-3 Speakers to the 9th. One out when Cespedes triples. Bryant singles him home to regain a 4-run lead. Trout’s leadoff double and Longoria’s walk give the ABs something to work with against Rosenthal, but Jeremy Jeffress records the final out — a liner to Simmons to end the threat.
Speakers 7 – 14 – 0
ABs 3 – 7 – 2
W – Osuna (1-0); L – Thornton (0-2)
Game 5 – The ABs look to give the hometown crowd a thrill in their final home game of the series. Both Game 1 starters (Arrieta and Scherzer) look ready.
Machado assumes the leadoff role and singles (9). Rizzo doubles sending Manny to 3rd. Posey lifts a shallow fly to left. Scherzer then walks Cespedes to fill the bases. Trout catches Bryant’s fly ball, which is deep enough to score Machado for another early 1-0 lead.
Kinsler drops to the 8-hole and homers in the 2nd. 2-0 Speakers.
Rizzo walks to lead off the 3rd. Posey strikes out. Cespedes grounds to Gonzalez, who has to eat the ball for an infield single (12). That would prove costly to the ABs. After Scherzer whiffs Bryant, CarGo connects for a 3-run homer and a quick 5-0 advantage.
Rizzo doubles and Posey singles in the 5th. Cespedes grounds to 3rd scoring Rizzo with the 6th run.
Simmons singles (9) off of Melancon with 1 away in the 9th. Machado flies to center. Rizzo singles (9) with 2 outs. Davis takes over and grooves a pitch to Posey, who ropes a 2-run double (turned back) for a commanding 8-0 lead.
Arrieta begins the 9th having allowed 2 doubles (one was a turned back Ortiz solo) and 2 walks, having faced just 28 batters. However, the ABs are determined to kick up another 9th inning fuss.
Gonzalez flies to left. Trout walks. Ortiz singles (9). Turner comes through yet again: a 3-run big fly. The home crowd appreciates the effort as Darren O’Day takes his warm up tosses.
O’Day strikes out Parra and gets Panik on a grounder to Simmons to send the Speakers to the championship series against The Plague.
Speakers 8 – 11 – 1
ABs 3 – 4 – 0
W – Arrieta (2-0); L – Scherzer (0-1)