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2020 NATIONAL LEAGUE DIVISION SERIES #2

Sacramento Capitals @ Columbus Explorers

SacramentoColumbusSERIES PREVIEW –The Explorers (1st NL Central, 110-52) vs. the Capitals (1st NL West, 98-64) features a couple of teams split the season series 6-6. And in every category, the Capitals were just a bit better. Batting, the Caps hit .250 to Columbus’s .239, 226 homers to 217, 93 SBs to 84. But the Explorers did score more runs, 760 to 724.

Pitching, again the Capitals have slight leads with a 3.15 era to 3.25 for Columbus, 1582 Ks to 1332, and 183 homers given up to 200 by the Columbus pitchers. The one pitching area where Columbus excels is the bullpen – 2.48 era to 3.43 for Sacramento, 63 saves (16 BS) to 46 saves (20 BS) and 99 holds to 69 for the Caps. In a short series, can that be a difference?

And the defense, well that goes to Sacramento as well with a .983 to .980 fielding percentage advantage and a big lead in fewer unearned runs allowed (60 vs. 73 for Columbus).

7 games (maybe) to separate the 2 with Columbus starting with the home-field advantage. But Sacramento has the starting pitching advantage including a couple starts by Tyler Glasnow, Max Scherzer, and 3 from Zack Greinke (23-6. 2.52 era AND .389/.417/1.350 batting split with 11 homers!).  That is if the series goes 7 games.

GAME #1 – Zack Greinke (23-6 2.52) vs. Mike Fiers (11-9 2.93)

The game starts out very tight with the pitchers performing well. But Columbus scores 1st in the 3rd when Robinson Chirinos (late-season pickup) opens with a single and moves to 2nd on a Fiers sacrifice. With 2 outs, D.J. LaMahieu catches one in the league and Trevor Story (another late-season pickup) bloops a rbi single down the RF line for a 1-0 Columbus lead. Still 1-0 after 5, Columbus begins to make some defensive moves and brings in Matt Shoemaker to take over for Fiers (5 ip, 3 hits, no runs). But Shoemaker is good for 1 inning and then in his 2nd he gives up a lead-off homer to Corey Dickerson (1) and we have a tie ball game (and a Columbus blown save). Greinke continues the grind going 8 and Adam Ottavino (another late Columbus add) blanks Sacramento in the 8th.  To the 9th, Liam Hendriks comes in and shuts down the Capitals. Pedro Baez is called on by Manager Skiles for the 9th.  Baez led the team with 28 saves and a sported a 2.71 era in the regular season. He gets Charlie Blackmon for 1, and Giovanny Urshela for out #2 and then walks Brock Holt. Late inning defensive sub (and late-season pick up) Juan Lagares steps up and Baez hits him! That brings up Chirinos and he rams one down the RF line past a diving Mitch Moreland and it rolls and rolls for a walk-off rbi double, 2-1 Columbus wins.

SAC 1-4-0 LP Baez (0-1)
COL 2-6-1 WP Hendriks (1-0)

Columbus 2, Sacramento 1

GAME #2 – Tyler Glasnow (4-3 1.51) vs. Julio Teheran (13-7 3.86)

The pitching edge goes to the Capitals and they build on the edge right from the start! Trey Mancini opens the game reaching on an E3 when the throw to the pitcher covering was a bit short! Then with 2 outs, Avasail Garcia hits a laser for a single. Corey Dickerson follows with the 1st of his 3 hits with a 2 run double and goes to 3rd on the play at home. Francisco Lindor then walks and Yadier Molina lines one through short for a rbi and it’s 3-0 Sacramento before Glasnow has to throw a pitch. But it gets better for the Capitals in the 4th. Two outs, Teheran still pitching and Mike Moustakas draws a walk. Garcia singles moving Moustakas to 2nd. Then Dickerson hits his 2nd double of the game and drives in 2 more – that’s 4 RBIs for him so far. And it’s 5-0 by now.

But that is about to change, somewhat. The bottom of the 4th Charlie Blackmon leads off with a double. With 1 out, Brock Holt grounds out moving Blackmon to 3rd. Dee Gordon then hits a dying quail to RF for a rbi. Then Robinson Chirinos lines one deep to RF, it’s got extra bases written all over it. Garcia chases it, but it clears the fence for a 2 run homer (1) and it’s now 5-3 Sacramento as Columbus gets back into the game. In the 5th, Steve Cishek (another late-season pickup) comes in for Columbus and holds the Capitals scoreless. Then in the bottom half, Asdrubal Cabrera leads off with a double. Glasnow gets D.J. LaMahieu and Trevor Story for 2 outs but then Blackmon singles driving in Cabrera and gets 2nd on a Trey Mancini miscue in the outfield. It proves costly as Giovanny Urshela doubles driving in Blackmon and the game is tied 5-5 after 5.

Cishek pitches one more inning and Yusmeiro Petit comes in for the 7th and nails down a perfect inning. Jandel Gustave comes in for the 7th runs into some issues. Cabrera leads off and reaches on a Mitch Moreland error at 1st. He then is safe at 2nd on a steal when LeMahieu misses the ball. LeMahieu than walks and that walk is followed by a Trevor Story 3 run homer (1) and an 8-5 lead. Liam Hendriks then tossed a perfect 9th for the save and 2-0 Columbus lead in the series.

SAC 5-7-2 LP Gustave (0-1)
COL 8-8-1 WP Petit (1-0) S Hendriks (1)

Columbus 8, Sacramento 2

Series shifts to Sacramento where the Capitals hope to turn things around!!

GAME #3 – Jordan Lyles (15-5 3.84) vs. Max Scherzer (14-10 3.05)

The game goes scoreless through 3 ½ but then Sacramento chips away at Lyles. It starts when Trey Mancini leads off and bangs a single to LF. With one out, Mike Moustakas steps in & takes a Lyles pitch the other way to deep LF, and Brock Holt turns and watches it not only go over his head but over the wall (1) as well, 2-0 Capitals! The 5th is scoreless and in the top of the 6th Robinson Chirinos leads off and takes Scherzer deep over the LF wall to cut it to 2-1. That was his 2nd homer of the series. Columbus then brings in Matt Shoemaker in the bottom half to keep it close. He starts out fanning Avisail Garcia but Mancini lines one down the RF line, fair, and it clears the fence for a solo homer (1) and the Caps regain the 2 run lead. Will it hold. Sacramento a bit leery of the bullpen keeps Scherzer on the hill for the 7th and Max responds by fanning Trevor Story to start the inning. Charlie Blackmon then draws a walk. After a flyout for the 2nd out, Holt steps up and bounces one to the right side that Mancini can’t reach. Starlin Castro knocks it down but it’s an infield single for Holt. Dee Gordon then comes up with 2 on, 2 outs, and grounds to Moustakas but he fires it right past Mancini at 1st and Blackmon scores to cut it 3-2 Caps. But Chirinos pops out to end the threat.

After Shoemaker couldn’t blank Sacramento in the 7th, the Explorers turn to Adam Ottavino. Francisco Lindor grounds out, Yadier Molina flies out but Castro gets a 2 out single for his 1st hit of the series. Scherzer is lifter for PHitter Wilmer Flores and he responds with a short fly to LF that falls in front of Holt and it bounds away from him and Castro scores making it 4-2. The 8th is a big double goose egg as Jacob Webb comes in for the Capitals and gives up a walk, but nothing else – in fact, Enrique Hernandez gets the walk and then gets nailed stealing. Sacramento failed to score in the bottom half so we move to the 9th.  Pedro Baez, the regular-season saves leader (28) gets the call and faces Story, Blackmon, and Urshela. He gets the 1st two but Urshela tags him for a single to right but Holt bounces into a 6-4 FC and the game is over and the Capitals have moved into the win column with a 4-2 victory. A 2-hitter from Scherzer!

COL 2-3-0 LP Lyles (0-1)
SAC 4-8-2 WP Scherzer (1-0) S Baez (1)

Sacramento 4, Columbus 2

GAME #4 – Homer Bailey (14-10 3.79) vs. Zack Greinke (23-6 2.52)

Opening 2 innings draw blanks as the teams do the 2 step, but in the bottom of the 3rd, Josh Reddick rips a single to RF that Urshela misplays, and Reddick ends up on 2nd. Mitch Moreland grounds one slowly up the middle for a single and Reddick scores to make it 1-0. Bailey leaves and Kyle Ryan comes in and he settled the Caps. But he starts the  4th and started it poorly. Mike Moustakas leads off with a solo homer (2) and it’s quickly 2-0 Sacramento. In comes Steve Cishek. He gets one but then Starlin Castro bunts one down 3rd which Asdrubal Cabrera misplays for an E5 and Castro is on first. Yadier Molina grounds out bringing up Greinke.  3rd out, right – NOPE. Zack homers (1) – no doubt about it – for 2 unearned runs and a 4-0 Capitals lead after 4. In the bottom of the 5th Francisco Lindor bloops a single and Moustakas launches his 2nd homer of the game (3) for2 more runs off Cishek and a 6-0 Sacramento lead.

Greinke goes 1 more inning, giving up 3 hits and 3 relievers blank Columbus for the final 2 innings and the Capitals win the game 6-0 and even up the series at 2 games apiece.

COL 0-3-2 LP Bailey (0-1)
SAC 6-9-0 WP Greinke (1-0)

Sacramento 6, Columbus 0

GAME #5 – Mike Fiers (11-9 2.93) vs. Tyler Glasnow (4-3 1.51)

In a 2-2 series is often the BIG game. Sacramento goes back with Troy Glasnow who had a 5-0 lead in game 2 only to lose that lead and later see his team go down 8-5 after a late-inning 3 run Columbus homer. So what does Glasnow do in this one? He misses a PERFECT GAME by 1 pitch. That pitch was resulted in a lead-off single in the 6th by Asdrubal Cabrera. That was the only blemish on his card and he fans 7 and pitches a complete game. Fiers was almost as good but in the 5th with 2 outs and no one on, Josh Reddick singles (his 2nd hit of the game). Corey Dickerson follows and blasts one way out the park for a 2 run homer (2) and a 2-0 lead. Turns out, that was all the scoring in the game as Matt Shoemaker and Liam Hendricks keeps it scoreless the last 3.  So Sacramento gets their 2nd straight shutout, 2-0, and takes a 3-2 series lead as they win all three in Sacramento. The Columbus bats have cowered real low under the weight of the Sacramento pitching and only get 8 hits and 2 runs in the 3 games on the West Coast.

COL 0-1-0 LP Fiers (0-1)
SAC 2-6-0 WP Glasnow (1-0)

Sacramento 2, Columbus 0

5 games into the series and the Explorers D.J. LaMahieu is hitless! But Josh Reddick (.417) and Corey Dickerson (.429) are leading the Capitals attack. So the series heads back to Columbus with the Capitals up 3 games to 2 and so far the home teams have won all the games.  Can that continue?

GAME #6 – Max Scherzer (14-10 3.05) vs. Julio Teheran (13-7 3.86)

Explorer fans drop to their seats quickly. Josh Reddick pops up into foul grounds to open the game and Trevor Story lets the ball pop out of his glove. Reddick then lines a single to RF. Mitch Moreland follows up with a big opposite-field homer (1) and two batters in it’s 2-0 Sacramento!  In the 2nd, Charlie Blackmon gets the home fans back on their feet when he leads off with a homer (1) over Avasail Garcia and over the wall and cut the score to 2-1. Columbus takes Teheran out after 3 for a pinch hitter and sends Matt Shoemaker out there to hold the Caps. Scherzer buckles down and after 5 the score still stands 2-1 Sacramento.

Liam Hendriks comes in for the 6th, and then in the bottom half of the inning, Trevor Story leads off hitting his 2nd homer of the series to tie the game.  However, Hendriks couldn’t hold the tie as Mike Moustakas leads off the 7th with his 2nd double of the game. One out later Starlin Castro singles and Moustakas slides around the tag at the plate and Sacramento regains the lead, 3-2.

We move to the bottom of the 8th and D.J. LaMahieu leads off, still hitless. Jacob Webb pitching and LaMahieu connects – it could be, but it falls a few feet short and rattles off the wall for a double and his first hit. However, Webb settles down and gets Story, Blackmon, and Giovanny Urshela to keep Sacramento up after 8, 3-2.

In the 9th with Adam Ottavino in for his 2nd inning, Francisco Lindor leads off with double deep to CF. With Moustakas up, Ottavino balks moving Lindor to 3rd, no outs. The infield is pulled in and Moustakas grounds to Story at short, Lindor breaks for home, the throw, the slide, the tag – OUT! One less run for Columbus to try and recover in the 9th. However, Garcia then works Ottavino for a walk and it’s runners at 1st and 2nd -1 out. But Ottavino gets Castro to fly out and Yadier Molina to pop out to end the top half. Sacramento just needs 3 outs to win the series and they give the ball to their closer Pedro Baez. Well, he doesn’t get it done as Ian Desmond leads off the bottom half with a solo homer (1) to TIE the game, 3-3. But then Baez shuts down the Explorers and it’s into FREE postseason baseball.

Yusmeiro Petit comes in for the 10th and pinch-hitter Melky Cabrera greets him with a line-drive single to RF. Delino DeShields, Jr. comes into PR, Eric Haase comes in to catch. Reddick grounds to the Petit who goes to 1st for the 1st out. Moreland then draws a walk to put runners at 1st and 2nd. Trey Mancini flies out and then Lindor grounds into a FC to end the inning. Jandel Gustave is not the Capitals hurler and he starts by fanning Enrique Hernandez. LaMahieu then dribbles one to 1stfor the 2nd out. Trevor Story up and he hits one to LF that might, it could, it carries to the wall, Mancini jumps – he comes down empty-handed and Story was hit a walk-off extra-inning homer (3), his 2nd of the game!  The series is now tied!

SAC 3-8-0 LP Gustave (0-2) BS Baez (1)     (10 innings)
COL 4-8-2 WP Petit (2-0)

Columbus 4, Sacramento 3 (10 Innings)

GAME #7 – Zack Greinke (23-6 2.52) vs. Jordan Lyles (15-5 3.84)

The TV sponsors and networks are thrilled, the series moves to 7 games, and so far filled with lots of drama.  Greinke makes his 3rd start – has been strong in both of the previous ones. Lyles will try to stay up with him as Columbus seeks to complete the comeback, nothing has been easy for them.

Both starters control the 1st two innings but in the 3rd, Lyles has to face Greinke in the batter’s box. Not good for Columbus but a big blasting boost for Sacramento as Zack hits his 2nd HOMER of the series and gives himself a big 1-0 lead! Lyles shrugs it off (but you can see he’s worried).  But he doesn’t allow anything else in his 5 innings.

Columbus fans begin to make noise the home team responds in the 5th. D.J. LaMahieu leads off with a single to RF. Giovanny Urshela singles him to 2nd. After Ian Desmond flies out, Robinson Chirinos launches one that Josh Reddick and Corey Dickerson begin to chase, but it’s no use as it flies into the stands for a 3 run homer (3) and a 3-1 Columbus lead!  So, it’s the top of the 6th, Columbus up 3-1, game 7, turn it over to Liam Hendriks! Greinke leads off and flies out, Reddick whiffs, but Corey Dickerson doubles to right-center. Trey Mancini walks and then Francisco Lindor singles to center field and drives in Dickerson and Mancini moves to 3rd, 3-2 Columbus. Mike Moustakas then bloops a single to TIE the game – and Hendriks is driven to the showers! Steve Cishek comes in, quells the riot, but the damage is done and the Capitals have climbed back to tie it up, 3-3!

Greinke has a new life with the score 3-3 as he comes out for the bottom of the 6th and he starts by getting Brock Holt to fly out. But then Trevor Story mashes a monster homer (4) and Columbus is back on top, 4-3. Greinke then gets Charlie Blackmon to ground out. But LaMahieu, who seems to have found a groove, doubles down the RF line. Urshela follows with a single to drive in LaMahieu and then he’s cut down at 2nd trying to advance. But the Explorers are now up 5-3. Columbus then brings in the defensive subs and after Cishek blanks the Capitals in the 7th, they turn it over to Yusmeiro Petit for the 8th (and 9th?). Jacob Webb and Pedro Baez gets the Caps through the 8th so we move to the 9th with Columbus up 5-3 needing 3 outs to wrap up the series!

Lindor leads off and grounds out on a great play by LaMahieu. But Mike Moustakas then drills a Petit pitch that clears Juan Lagares in RF and clears the wall, and Sacramento is now just one run behind. And when Avasail Garcia walks, Petit walks to the dugout and J.B. Wendelken trots in from the bullpen. Delino DeShields comes into PR, Eric Haase comes in to catch. With Yadier Molina up, DeShields steals 2nd. That was one of the very few successful steals in the game (and series – the catchers have been something more than amazing). Molina then takes advantage and delivers a base hit to RF, DeShields never hesitated and goes for home against Lagares great arm, but it was no contest as he crosses the plate standing up and the GAME IS TIED in the 9th.  The crowd moans! Still, just 1 out but Wendelken gets the next two batters so we go to the bottom of the 9th.

Oliver Drake comes in for Sacramento and he gets the first two batters but then pinch-hitter Asdrubal Cabrera singles but the rally ends when Matt Carpenter pops out.

Adam Ottavino comes in for the 10th and gets 2 Ks and a flyout. Drake still in and he gets 2 Ks and a flyout, so it’s on to the 11th!! Ottavino gives up a 1 out walk to Moustakas but that’s it. In the bottom half the Capitals turn the ball over to Kyle Hendricks and he sets down Columbus in order.

Top of the 12th – the crowd has not stood since the 9th, they are getting restless. Ottavino still hurling. Robinson Cano leads off with single and Schindel turns to a tired Matt Shoemaker and Mitch Moreland greets him with a single to RF moving Cano to 2nd.  Then Shoemaker throws the WP and the runners move up!  Columbus pulls in the infield and Josh Reddick steps up and chops one to 1st, only play is at 1st and the run scores and Sacramento takes the 6-5 lead and Moreland moves to 3rd! Corey Dickerson, along with Moustakas has been a wrecking machine, steps to the plate, and launches one high and far to RF. Lagares gets under it and catches it, Moreland tags, the throw – he’s OUT at home and that ends the top half – BUT THE CAPITALS TAKE the LEAD.

The bottom half, Hendriks looks to close it out. But Ian Desmond has other ideas and he leads off hitting a double off the wall in right-center! Cabrera then walks. Enrique Hernandez then comes into pinch hit for Shoemaker and he spanks one hard to the hole on the right side skipping it past Cano. Reddick fields it and Desmond heads for home, Cabrera heads for 3rd. The throw to the plate – SAFE – TIE GAME and Hernandez goes for 2nd on the play and is safe. So, no outs, runners at 2nd and 3rd, 12th inning, and it’s tied and it’s game 7. Capitals don’t bring in the infield as Eric Haase comes to the plate. Hendricks to pitch and throws it in and it gets by Molina for a PB, the ball goes to the backstop and Cabrera races home to score and WIN the GAME and WIN the series!!  The 12th inning is defined 1st for a WP and then by a PB!

SAC 6-10-0 LP Hendricks (0-1)   (12 innings)
COL 7-12-0 WP Shoemaker (1-0) BS Hendriks (1), Wendelken (1)

Columbus 7, Sacramento 6 (12 Innings)

SERIES SUMMARY –Well, this was an unbelievable series – both teams had big ups giving them momentum, but couldn’t follow up on it and then the final two in Columbus going to extra innings and then that wild 12th. Dickerson (.350, 2 hrs, 7 RBIs) and Moustakas (.296, 4 hrs, 7 RBIs) led the Capitals.  Story banged 4 homers and drove in 7 for the Explorers but the series MVP goes to Robinson Chirinos who hit .364, 3 homers, and 7 RBIs and seemed to be there when needed.

Congratulations to George on a great season and these games were all played live in one amazing sitting – and the heart rates of both managers took a long time to settle down.  Columbus now heads to Pittsburgh to take on the amazing Lumber guys who are prepped to batter their way to the World Series –  home town Columbus fans hope not and the quick drive between the two cities will be getting lots of use.

TRADING WILL
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TUESDAY 10/13/2020
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