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NATIONAL LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES

Columbus Explorers @ Pittsburgh Lumber Company

ColumbusExplorers09092016PittsburghSERIES PREVIEW – National League LCS – Pittsburgh Lumber Company (1st NL East 112-50) vs. Columbus Explorers (1st NL Central 110-52)These teams led the National League in wins by a big margin, but it was the Lumber Jacks who made several big deals down the stretch that gave them the horsepower to catch up and overtake the Explorers in wins – and they did it in the final week of the season.  And that gives them the home-field advantage. It also brought them hereafter facing the NL Wild Card Triple Creek Patriots who they dispatched in 5 games. Columbus also made some late-season acquisitions in efforts to bolster their squad in hope of staving off the Lumber Company charge and be able to keep up should they meet in the post-season. Well, they didn’t stave them off, but they still won the division with the 2nd best record and ended up playing the Sacramento Capitals and that was an epic 7 game series that was finally decided in the 12th inning of game 7!

So that brings up to the NL LCS – Pittsburgh and Columbus (about 3 hours by car)! The season series was close, 7-5 Pittsburgh, but most of their wins came in the latter part of the season after the retooling. So the Lumber Company – they made their own bats and lead the league in scoring with 902 runs (almost 100 more than the next team). Columbus was 142 runs behind that total. 2nd in homers (250) and well ahead of Columbus (217). And their average was .262 about 30 points higher than the league average and 23 points higher than Columbus. Columbus did beat them out in triples (by 6). Pitching they were 1 and 3 in the NL, but Pittsburgh’s era was 2.89 (a run better than the league average) to Columbus’s 3.25. Columbus outsaved them 63-50, but the Lumber Company had 97 quality starts to 77 for the Explorers.

Both teams want to be in this series – but both managers hoped it wouldn’t be this matchup. But that’s what we got, so let’s play ball!

GAME #1 – Mike Fiers (11-9 2.93) vs. Justin Verlander (23-3 1.93)

After Verlander gets Columbus in order in the 1st, the Lumber Company bats get going. Jorge Polanco opens up with a single. Anthony Rendon singles him to 2nd with 1 out and then Josh Bell doubles into the corner scoring both runners for a 2-0 lead. Good start for Pittsburgh and Verlander. It gets better in the 2nd. With 2 outs, Polanco again singles. Howie Kendriksricks follows and leans in to close and gets drilled with a pitch and wanders down to 1st. Rendon then looks at Fiers with a glare and takes his 1st pitch way out of the park for a 3 run homer (1) and a 5-0 lead! Fiers stays out, but it looks like his day will end very soon.

In fact, he leaves in the top of the 3rd. Ian Desmond leads off with the Explorers first hit, a double. Robinson Chirinos walks and sure enough, Fiers’s day is over. Tyler Flowers comes into PH and he smacks a 3 run PH homer (1) and his too was way out of the park.  Suddenly the 5-0 lead Verlander and Pittsburgh had is cut to 5-3.  In the 4th the lead gets cut to 5-4 when Charlie Blackmon homers (1).  And again in the 6th, Blackmon homers again (2) and Verlander has seen his big lead totally evaporate.

When Fiers left, Homer Bailey was called on to pitch and he goes 4 innings giving up 1 hit, no walks. Verlander pitches the 7th and then gives it over to several relievers. Likewise, the Explores turn to their bullpen and both teams are kept scoreless through the 9th, 10th, and 11th innings. Matt Shoemaker goes 3 innings, Kirby Yates goes 2 innings of scoreless relief.

Pittsburg’s Tyler Clippard comes in for the 12th and things get exciting. Enrique Hernandez leads off with a ph double! Dee Gordon bunts, but it’s up in the air and Clippard grabs it for the out. D.J. LeMahieu singles to RF toward the gap but Hernandez holds at 3rd not testing Judges’ arm. That could be a mistake as Trevor Story follows grounding into a 3-6-3 DP to end the threat. The bottom has thrills of its own. Rendon leads off against Steve Cishek with a double. Bell gets a free pass to face Judge, really? Good move, Judge fails to make contact on 3 swings. To Joey Gallo comes to bat and he gives a Cishek pitch a good ride, back, back, back, back, gone – 3 run walk-off home run (1) in the 12th to end game 1.

Pittsburgh 8, Columbus 5 (12 Innings)

GAME #2 – Julio Teheran (13-7 3.86) vs. Mike Clevinger (13-4 1.97) 

Clevinger controls the Explores through 3. In the bottom half things begin to heat up. Alex Avila leads off with a walk. Clevinger squares to bunt, Teheran fields it and Dee Gordon drops the throw covering 1st. Jorge Polanco grounds to Trevor Story, could be two, but Polanco beats the throw to 1st, 1 out runners on the corners. Greg Garcia then flies out to center and Avila tags and scores making it 1-0 Pittsburgh. Anthony Rendon then singles scoring Polanco and the Lumber Company ends up with 2 unearned runs in the 3rd for a 2-0 lead. Clevinger and Teheran then throw scoreless frames through 6 (although Kyle Ryan did come in to get the final out in the 6th helping Teheran). Teheran ends up going 5.2 innings, giving up 1 hit, 2 unearned runs, 8ks, but 5 walks.

Clevinger than gives up a leadoff homer in the 7th to Charlie Blackmon (3) and it’s 2-1. The next batter, Giovanny Urshela also homers (1) and the game is tied. Clevinger finishes the inning, giving up 4 hits, 2 of them homer, and 2 runs.

Well, as in game 1, the bullpens hold both teams scoreless the rest of regulation time and we again go to extra innings. Ken Giles comes in for the 10th and gets Columbus in order. Steve Cishek again is called on (the process of who’s available). He’s looking for redemption. He starts by grounding out Polanco. But Greg Garcia follows with a triple! Ian Desmond tried to make the sliding catch, but couldn’t. The infield is in for Rendon and he smacks a dying quail to end the game as Pittsburgh gets its 2nd straight extra-inning win.

Pittsburgh 3, Columbus 2 (10 Innings)

GAME #3 – Hyun-Jin Ryu (16-6 1.31) vs. Jordan Lyles (15-5 3.84)

A scoreless 1st is followed by a leadoff walk to Aaron Judge in the 2nd. Lyles gets 2 Ks but then Alex Avila lines one hard to right that moves Judge to 3rd. Ryu then comes up with 2 outs and bloops one toward short that gets over Trevor Story for a rbi single, helping his own cause as the Lumber Jacks scores first and lead 1-0 after 2. In the 6th they stretch it to 2-0 when Judge again starts the inning with a walk. Joey Gallo singles him to LF. David Peralta then grounds into a FC driving in Judge for his 2nd run and Pittsburgh lead 2-0.  

Pittsburgh is continuing with Ryu into the 8th. Robinson Chirinos opens the inning with a broken-bat single. Richie Martin comes into PR. Ian Desmond grounds out moving Martin to 2nd. Matt Carpenter comes into PH for Matt Shoemaker (2 IP, 2 walks and 0 runs). He grounds to short not moving up Martin. Asdrubal Cabrera comes up and oh my, he hammers one to CF that goes way over the wall for a game-tying two-run homer (1). Columbus has come back late to tie the game for the 3rd straight time.

And for the 3rd straight game, the game goes to extra innings. Ryu pitched the 9th and ends up giving up 5 hits, 1 walk, 10 ks, and those 2 runs. Lyles and Shoemaker pitched 8, and Liam Hendriks pitched the 9th – and the 10th giving up 1 hit and fanning 3. Sean Manea comes in for the Lumber Jacks to pitch the 10th. In a de ja vu moment, Enrique Hernandez hits an extra-inning leadoff double. Eric Haase fails to bunt him to 3rd and then flies out. Ian Desmond gets the IW and Brock Holt comes into PH for Hendriks. Manea’s first pitch is high and wide and goes to the backstop and Hernandez streaks to 3rd, Desmond to 2nd. Next pitch and Holt breaks his bat and the ball pops over 2nd into shallow right for a walk-off rbi single and it’s over, Columbus wins the game and cuts the series to 2-1!

Columbus 3, Pittsburgh 2 (10 Innings)

GAME #4 – Sonny Gray (10-9 2.94) vs. Mike Fiers (11-9 2.93)

Well, this game is different, Columbus scores first! After Gray gets the 1st 2 batters in the bottom of the 1st, Trevor Story works a walk. Charlie Blackmon then muscled a tight pitch and hits it into shallow RF then it rolls into foul ground and Blackmon ends up on 2nd with a rbi double. Giovanny Urshela then singles into LF scoring Blackmon and it’s quickly 2-0 Columbus in the 1st. Gray then gives up only 1 more hit in the next 5 innings and leaves after 6.

Fiers goes 4.1 innings but in the 5th trouble brewed big time. Alex Avila leads off with a double. Gray steps in to bunt, but Fiers walks him. Jorge Polanco then pops out for 1 out. But Howie Kendriksricks singles into RF, but lead foot Avila won’t test Juan Lagares and his canon arm. Too much going on for Fiers to stay in the game so Yusmeiro Petit comes in with the bases loaded with the task to keep Columbus in the lead. He starts by fanning Anthony Rendon – Rendon tempted getting ejected when he complained to the ump, but he got back to the dugout quickly enough to keep his spot in the lineup. Petit meanwhile looks pumped!! Josh Bell wants to test that pump and he swings for the fences, but as they say, it was all in his mind and he strikes out to leave the bases juiced. Petit then pitches the 6th and 7th keeping Pittsburgh in check, hometown fans turning up the volume with each pitch.

Aaron Bummer meanwhile comes in for Pittsburgh and pitches the 7th giving up nothing. Moving to the 8th and Columbus is setting up for the win. Adam Ottavino comes in. Josh Bell comes up with one out and again there is that big swing – but it’s more than just in his mind – it’s into the seats for a solo homer (1) and Pittsburgh suddenly only trails by 2-1! Aaron Judge then follows with a big double. Then in a bone head play by Ottavino he throws a pitch to Joey Gallo who hits it right back up the middle, Ottavino makes a terrific backhanded stab – but then throws it right past the first baseman and Judge gets to 3rd. Myles Straw is called on to PR for Gallo with David Peralta up. Peralta lofts a fly ball to LF for an out and Judges tags and scores to TIE the game.  Now it’s Pittsburgh’s turn to come from behind to tie it up late.  Bummer pitches a scoreless 8th and it’s 2-2 going into the 9th.

Columbus looking to change pitchers – get Ottavino out – and they call on Steve Cishek, REALLY?  He dropped the 2 extra-inning games in Pittsburgh. But at home, he gets a 1-2-3 inning! So Hector Neris will face LeMahieu, Story, and Blackmon in the 9th. Story rips a 1 out double to right-center. Pittsburgh won’t give Charlie Blackmon and chance to hurt them and walk him. Tyler Flowers doesn’t have it in him this time and pops out for the 2nd out. Asdrubal Cabrera steps up and pops one to RF that hum, might have a chance – it’s deep, high, and hard and Judge just watches it sail way over the wall for a walk-off 3 run homer (2). That’s the 2nd walk-off 3 run homer in the 1st 4 games – each team with one – and the series is TIED!    And it’s the first game that doesn’t go into extra innings.

Columbus 5, Pittsburgh 2

GAME #5 – Justin Verlander (23-3 1.93) vs. Julio Teheran (13-7 3.86)

Game fives are obviously pivotal. And this series has been crazy, but managers shaking their heads. Ebbs and flows, drama galore. To it’s the rented BIG ARM against the inning pounder who has shaky control.

Well, it’s the rented arm who flinches 1st. Charlie Blackmon leads off the 2nd with his 4th homer of the series! And for the 2nd time, Giovanny Urshela follows him with a back-to-back homer (2) and Columbus is up 2-0.

Then in the 3rd when Teheran walks Howie Kendriksriks to start the inning, Columbus turns to Homer Bailey for relief. Anthony Rendon walks on 4 pitches and Columbus yanks Bailey – this game is important!  Matt Shoemaker comes in, he’s been near flawless in this series and he gets Josh Bell to bounce into a DP. He walks Aaron Judge but then gets Joey Gallo swinging to end the threat. He goes on to pitch 2 more scoreless innings.  He leaves in the bottom of the 5th for a pinch hitter – Matt Carpenter and Carpenter is hit by Verlander.  And Carpenter leaves the game and will miss 7 days!  Not good for a roster thin Columbus.

But Columbus did have some good things happen in the bottom of the 4th. Blackmon leads off with a double. Urshela pops out then Brock Holt singles to RF and Blackmon comes around to score for a 3-0 lead.

In the 5th more bad things happen to Columbus. With 1 out, Howie Kendriksriks pops one foul on the 3rd base side. Robinson Chirinos waves off Asdrubal Cabrera – they collide and the ball drops. Cabrera is hurt and he has to leave the game – word is he’ll miss 7 days!  Wow, the Explorers are losing players left and right. Urshela moves to 3rd and Juan Lagares moves to RF – defensively they up their game.

So, it’s 3-0 Columbus after 5 and J.B. Wendelken (2.1 innings) and Liam Hendriks (1.2 innings) keep it that way as Columbus gets a 5 pitcher shutout over the Lumber Company and take a 3-2 series lead back to Pittsburgh. Two straight NL series where the home teams have won the 1st 5 games (and in the COL-SAC series, the home team won them all).

Columbus 3, Pittsburgh 0

GAME #6 – Jordan Lyles (15-5 3.84) vs. Mike Clevinger (13-4 1.97) 

Clevinger opens up strong but gives up a 2 out single to Trevor Story in the 1st. The bottom half, things heat up quickly as Jorge Polanco walks to lead off, and then Howie Kendrick works a free pass. Lyles then gets Anthony Rendon to whiff and Josh Bell saunters into the box and promptly grounds into the 4-6-3 DP to end the threat. After Gio Urshela takes a Clevinger pitch to the wall for a loud, long out, the Explorers bow out of the 2nd. But the scoring finally gets underway in the 2nd when David Peralta hits a booming homer (1) over the right-centerfield wall and the home crowd erupts as the Lumber Company grabs an early 1-0 lead.

And then the bats from both sides go dormant again. 3rd inning blanks, 4th inning blanks but in the 5th Urshela leads off with his 9th hit of the series, a single to RF. Brock Holt then lays down a perfect bunt moving Urshela to 2nd. But Clevinger stares in at Ian Desmond and fans him looking. But Robinson Chirinos smashes a big double to left-center driving in the tying run!  Looked like some 2x4s were smashed on that one. Lyles continues his mastery in the 5th but does give up a double to Peralta off the wall, he nearly had his 2nd homer of the game. But Alex Avila and Clevinger strikeout to end the inning. As an aside, former Explorer Avila has been hampering the Columbus running game with his quick arm from behind the plate. and Clevinger does the same in his 6th frame. He’s 1 for 2 in OCS – but they aren’t running on him like they want to.

Bottom of the 6th, Polanco leads off and walks. Kendrick follows and grounds into a DP. Rendon gets into the box and BLASTS one to center, Blackmon turns but all he does is watch. The 2x4s make a big racket in the stadium as the home team regains the lead, 2-1. That was it for Lyles as he turns it over to the bullpen.  And the combination of Yusmeiro Petit and Liam Hendriks blanks the Lumber Company the rest of the day.

Same time, Clevinger works 8 innings, leaving for PH in the 8th. Kirby Yates comes in for the 9th and promptly gives up a leadoff single to D.J. LeMahieu. Enrique Hernandez comes into PR. Will this be a typical 9th inning run around the bases for Columbus?  Trevor Story up and he bunts!  And the sacrifice works and Charlie Blackmon is up 1 out, the runner at 2nd. Yates is told to walk him to face Urshela (hitting over .400). Yates stays in and gets Urshela to fly out to shallow center for the 2nd out and not deep enough to move up the runners. The crowd lets out a collective sigh and then begins to pound the 2x4s again. Brock Holt up and Pittsburgh turns it over to Sean Manaea. This is the same batter-pitcher combination that ended game 3 when Holt singled in the winning run. The pitch, he hits it, but it’s a high pop that Garcia gobbles up and Manaea saves the game and Pittsburgh staves off elimination and regains the home-field advantage as we move to game 7 all tied up 3-3!  Each team managed just 4 hits and the Lumber Company bounced into 3 DPs!

Pittsburgh 2, Columbus 1

GAME #7 – Mike Fiers (11-9 2.93) vs. Hyun-Jin Ryu (16-6 1.31)

The only thing we know for sure about game 7 is there won’t be a game 8. The crowd has their Lumber Company 2x4s and after game 6 they added another notch to them – 7 so far for this playoff season – and they’re ready to notch 8! The 3 Columbus fans that we’re able to sneak in past the Pittsburgh security are still alive (as is the team) and they are making a lot of noise near the famed saw dust section (and avoiding a lot of swinging 2x4s). Both managers are up for this one as they square off head-to-head.

Ryu gets 2 ks in a 1-2-3 first and Fiers does him one better with 3 ks in his half. In the 2nd, Charlie Blackmon leads offlining one to RF for a single. Giovanny Urshela follows and flies out to the track in CF. Robinson Chirinos gets nailed in the shoulder moving Blackmon to 2nd. Columbus faithful (those 3 fans and the manager) note that a tired Alex Avila did not make the start and they face Carson Kelly behind the plate – will that make a difference? Ian Desmond then faces Ryu and he smacks a single to RF that goes off Aaron Judge’s glove, Blackmon scores easily but when the ball goes wide, Chirinos breaks for home, and he scores and Desmond ends up on 3rd with a single and 2b error on Judge.  And Columbus grabs a 2-0 lead in the 2nd.

Fiers has a strong 2nd and another 1-2-3. Top of the 3rd Enrique Hernandez (starting at 1b with the injury-depleted Explorers still making adjustments), leads off and reaches on a Josh Bell error when the throw to first pops out of his glove. 2nd error for Pittsburgh this game! Hernandez then tests Kelly’s arm and wins with a SB. D.J. LaMahieu then walks. But Trevor Story whiffs for the 2nd time. Then with Blackmon up, the Explorers send Hernandez to 3rd – LeMahieu however doesn’t follow to 2nd.  And this time Kelly does his Avila impression and nails Enrique at 3rd for the 2nd out. Blackmon then follows with one jacked to deep left, Joey Gallo back, back, back, and he catches it with his back up against the wall. The crowd (and Pittsburgh manager John Niespodzianski) breathe a collective sigh and then begin to roar.

Bottom of the 3rd and Columbus up 2-0 David Peralta leads off with a single to RF. Pitcher Mike Fiers with 4 ks, 1 hit and no runs so far but Bill Schindel decides Fiers did his job and calls for Matt Shoemaker. His season-long strategy had been to use Shoemaker in relief and during the season he did a so-so job, but in the postseason he has been remarkable in long relief roles. So far in this series, he has pitched 8 innings giving up 1 hit (and 6 walks – that’s not so good), but no runs and none of the 3 inherited runners have scored).  So Matt will get the ball. He gets Kelly to pop up but then walks his counterpart Ryu to get a runner in scoring position. But he then induces Jorge Polanco to hit into a DP to end the threat.

In the 4th Urshela leads off with a double. Chirinos grounds him to 3rd. Ian Desmond is given the IW so Ryu can try his magic against Juan Lagares and it works as he bounces into an inning-ending DP! 3 up and 3 down in the bottom half as Shoemaker gets it done again.  Explorers exit the top half of the 5th in the order. In the bottom half, Howie Kendrick leads off with a double. Kevin Newman comes into PR for him. Josh Bell works Shoemaker for a walk but then Shoemaker fans David Peralta, 1 out. Carson Kelly pops out for the 2nd out and David Freese comes into PH for Ryu and he draws a walk to load up the bags! Bottom of the 5th, 2 out, bases loaded, down 2-0 in game 7 and Jorge Polanco steps in against Shoemaker. He piles into the pitch, it’s going places in right, Lagares races to the wall and he PICKS IT CLEAN for the 3rd out. The groan resonates throughout Pittsburgh. Schindel begins to breathe again!

Story leads off the Columbus 6th and strikes out against Tyler Clippard the new Lumber Company pitcher. That’s 3 whiffs for Story. Aaron Bummer then comes in to face Blackmon and Charlie takes it deep to RF – it rattles the wall and it’s a stand up double. Urshela then grounds out moving Blackmon to 3rd and with 2 outs, Hector Neris is called on to face Chirinos and pops him out. Shoemaker is asked to go a 4th inning and he responds getting Judge and Anthony Rendon. Then Joey Gallo loops one to RF, Lagares races in, coming hard and he nabs it just above the grass for the 3rd out.

So we go to the 7th and Ian Desmond leads off with a double to right-center. Schindel playing small ball has Lagares up there bunting. He lays down a great bunt, Neris fields it and throws it to Newman covering first – but he throws it into RF and Desmond scores, Lagares ends up on 2nd and the Lumber Company has committed their 3rd error of the game-tying the total for the first 6 games. And Columbus has a 3-0 lead! Neris leaves, Sean Manaea comes in to face – yup, Brock Holt who pinch hits for Shoemaker. Holt bunts moving Lagares to 3rd with 1 out. Hernadez up and he pops it up in front of home plate, Kelly circles under it and he drops it! Hernandez gets to 2nd, Lagares had to hold, and that’s Pittsburgh error #4!  Columbus is ready to pounce big time especially with LaMahiue and Story coming to the plate. But LaMahiue continues his spotty postseason hitting and pops out. Story on the other hand ropes one hard to RF. Aaron Judge gets the late start, its got extra bases written all over it, but Judge is tall and he goes hard after it and at the last moment reaches over his should and makes the falling catch for the final out and saves at least 2 more runs. But Columbus now has a 3-0 lead.

So, it’s game 7, up 3-0, 7th inning, Schindel decides to give the ball to Liam Hendriks! Who wouldn’t in this situation? Kevin Newman didn’t mind and he leads off with single to RF. Josh Bell follows with a double to right and Newman didn’t test Lagares and stops at 3rd. David Peralta then works Hendriks for a walk. Schindel is seeing a nightmare, but he sticks with Hendriks. Carson Kelly then pops out – 1 down. Greg Garcia into PH for Manaea and he lines it hard to RF, Newman scores, but they hold Bell at 3rd. So there is 1 out, bases still loaded and the score is now 3-1 Columbus and Hendriks is told he has to keep pitching. Polanco up, Columbus looking for the DP, but Polanco has other ideas and he clobbers one to RF that is going places – except Lagares catches up to it and leaps and picks it clean for the 2nd out. Bell tags and scores easily and it’s 3-2 Columbus instead of 5-3 Pittsburgh as Lagares again makes a big play at the wall! The inning finally ends when Aaron Judge whiffs for the 3rd out.  But it’s now a game again as Pittsburgh trails 3-2, home fans are way back into it and the top of the 8th is raucous.

Taylor Rogers takes the mound in the 8th and he fans Blackmon, pops up Urshela but Chirinos singles to LF. But he’s stranded when Desmond grounds out. Schindel keeps Hendriks out for the 8th and he gets Rendon to ground out. But then in what was a groan in Columbus that everyone in Pittsburgh could momentarily hear, Joey Gallo connects that was a big no-doubter as the ball sails way over the wall for his 2nd homer of the series and he TIES it up, 3-3 in the 8th. After the momentary load groan from Columbus, the crowd erupts, and the 2x4s are in full chorus.  And why not, game 7 is shaping up just like 5 of the previous 6 games.  It’s going down to the wire. Newman then fans for out 2 and Bell flies out to CF to end the 8th, but Pittsburgh got the run and got 3 runs off Liam Hendriks to tie it up going into the 9th.

Rogers comes to the mound for the 9th and Lagares leads off with a line drive to short that makes it to LF for his 1st hit of the series. Hendriks due to bat but is called back for pinch hitter Tyler Flowers. Heck, why not Flowers he’s already got 1 PH homer this series. But he’s called on to advance Lagares and the hit and run play is called for. Lagares goes, the pitch comes in and Flowers takes it to RF to advance him. However, the ball had different ideas and it goes deep to right, deep to right, Judge to the wall and it’s bye-bye baseball. Flowers hits a 2 run PH homer (2) in the top of the 9th and suddenly Columbus leads 5-3!  You could hear a pin drop (except in the sawdust section where the 3 Columbus fans are going nuts).

Rogers reshapes the mound, and get Hernandez for out 1. Kenley Jansen then comes in and gets outs 2 and 3. So we go to the bottom of the 9th with the anticipation of another late rally, what will Pittsburgh do? Whatever it is, they will have to do it off Yusmeiro Petit who comes in for the 9th. This is his 4th appearance and he’s given up nothing to the Lumber Company so far. Peralta leads of grounds out. Myles Straw comes into PH for Kelly and he flies out to Lagares in short RF. That brings up Ryan Braun to PH for Jansen. Petit and Flowers get their signals straight and Petit freezes Braun at the plate for a series end whiff and Columbus pulls off the big win and takes the NL Pennant!! The 3 fans escape security and join the Explorers on the field for the celebration.  Outside the stadium, there is a big bonfire as the 2x4s are burnt up in flames.  Next year! Next Year! Is the chant.

Columbus 5, Pittsburgh 3

SERIES SUMMARY –4 Pittsburgh errors in game 7 and that lead to 3 unearned runs for Columbus.

Series stars and stats. We already touched on the defensive gaffs in game 7 – but those 3 unearned runs were the only ones given up in the 7 games. Both teams hit under .200 (.190 for COL, .178 for PIT) and the Explorers outscored the Lumber Company 24-20 in the series and actually outhomered them 10-6 and that was a key weapon. Columbus showed a big weakness with control walking 38 batters during the series while drawing only 15 of them off the Pittsburgh staff (and several of those were IWs).   Both teams scored 45% of their runs from the 7th inning on.  Amazing when you think about the bullpens these teams have.

Individual stars – Anthony Rendon led the Lumber Company attack. 2 homers, 6 RBIs and a .357 average – 10 hits! For Columbus Matt Shoemaker was clutch. 12 innings, 2 hits (a glaring 9 walks), and in spite of all those walks, he gives up NO runs and he gets 1 of the wins. It was tough not to award him the MVP homers. And Tyler Flowers – 6 abs and two of them were PH homers for 5 RBIs. Then we look at Giovanny Urshela – 10 for 26 and a .385 average with 2 homers and 3 RBIs.  But that was topped by Charlie Blackmon who also was 10 for 26, .385 and 4 homers and 5 RBIs. The voting was close but turns out the MVP honors are shared by Shoemaker who kept them in games and Blackmon who provided clutch hitting throughout.

CONGRATULATIONS go out to John Niespodzianski who terrorized the NL with his dominant pitching and crushing hitting.  And he made all the moves to get his team in this position. Columbus is amazed at the outcome, very pleased, but the Lumber Company was a terrifying opponent to have to take on. Columbus leaves happy, will get Asdrubal Cabrera and Matt Carpenter back soon, and look forward to a fun World Series.

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