It was appropriate that the great Tim Kurkjian, whose catchphrase headlines this article, was in the booth for ESPN’s broadcast yesterday. We saw a couple of epic games.
Diehard baseball fans had already enjoyed (or endured, depending on your point of view) a five-hour bonanza between the Cleveland Guardians and the Tampa Bay Rays. Entering Game 2 of the series with a 1-0 lead, Cleveland extinguished every opportunity for run production from the Rays in 15 consecutive innings.
In the end, it was Oscar Gonzalez who took former Cleveland ace, Corey Kluber, deep to move the Guardians into an enticing matchup with the Yankees, while simultaneously allowing us neutral viewers to turn our attention to the action that had already started in Toronto.
BT Sport/MLB.tv coverage felt sloppy for a second time this week, when Mariners and Blue Jays fans were unable to see the start of the game until the over-running Cleveland game had ended. And there were many disgruntled comments on social media from fans unable to watch coverage on MLB.tv despite the promised removal of the blackout.
Teoscar Hernandez had already given the Blue Jays a two-run advantage when the broadcast was finally available. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. drove in Santiago Espinal before Teoscar sent his second homer of the day into the stands to make it 4-0.
Adam Frazier reduced the deficit to 4-1 but then the elite relief duo of Paul Sewald and Diego Castillo were inexplicably unable to find the strike zone. Toronto blew the game open (thanks in part to two HBP and a passed ball) and ended the fifth inning with an unassailable 8-1 lead.
Well, at least, it seemed unassailable. The Mariners had looked toothless in the face of the Blue Jays’ pitching, and I was already thinking that Seattle should preserve bullpen arms for the decider.
Three straight singles meant Kevin Gausman left the game with a two-out, bases-loaded situation, and flamethrower Tim Mayza was brought in to dispose of Carlos Santana. Instead, Mayza’s wild pitch allowed Ty France to score. Even if the Mariners cleared the bases, they would still be trailing by three runs. There seemed little danger. Mayza pitched, Santana connected, the three-run homer made the score 8-5. Hmmm, surely a comeback wasn’t possible?
And the last gasp of Mariners’ motivation was quashed when Teoscar Hernandez scored the Blue Jays’ ninth after singling, swiping second, and running home on a Danny Jansen line drive. Hernandez had himself a game.
With the score 9-5, attention was turning to Game 3 on Sunday, and (for the neutrals watching) the more imminent appearance of Jacob deGrom in Mets vs. Padres in the 12:30am game.
Eugenio Suarez made the score 9-6 but further damage appeared to have been avoided when Jordan Romano was brought on to rescue Anthony Bass. With the bases loaded, Romano struck out Carlos Santana and then Tyler Moore, before getting the number nine hitter, J.P. Crawford, to blop the ball into shallow centre. Off the bat, it looked like a simple play, but as the ball looped over the infield, there was an ominous feeling that it would fall between the three ensuing fielders. And it did. To make matters worse, there was a horrific clash of head-on-elbow which saw Bo Bichette and George Springer needing on-field medical attention. Springer would play no further part in the game.
With the scores tied at 9-9, the Blue Jays were unable to take advantage of triple-digit reliever, Andres Munoz‘s inability to find the strike zone. Mariners fans sighed with relief and now had a chance to take the lead for the first time in the game. Their man-of-the-match, Cal Raleigh doubled and with two out at the top of the ninth, Adam Frazier drove him home.
Completely demoralised, Toronto had no ninth-inning answer to the Game 3 starter-cum-Game 2 closer, George Kirby.
What a game! Seattle progress to face Houston in the Division Series. The Astros enjoyed a 12-7 winning record over the Mariners during the regular season, but this Mariners team is special.
With the two AL Wild Card series decided, it was up to one of the NL teams to force a Game 3, and that is exactly what the Mets did.
Unfortunately, the rubber game is not at a convenient time for British viewers, but hey, we’re used to that.
Sunday night (12:30am Monday morning): Padres @ Mets
Blake Snell and Jacob deGrom were not allowing much. Trent Grisham‘s second home run of the series cancelled out Francisco Lindor‘s first-inning bomb. Pete Alonso muscled the Mets into a 3-2 lead before Adrian Morejon cracked under the pressure and a series of single, wild pitch, walk, and another walk, loaded the bases. The score was 7-2 to the Mets when the inning finally came to an end. A late Padres consolation run to make it 7-3 was not even scant consolation.
Joe Musgrove takes the mound for San Diego in the decider and will face Chris Bassitt. The Padres starter will need to quieten the raucous New York crowd early if San Diego is to meet their Southern Californian neighbours from Los Angeles in the Division Series.
The final game of the Saturday quartet also failed to produce the level of tension the AL games had provided. The Pujols/Molina/Wainright tour came to an anti-climatic end when the Cardinals failed to trouble the scorer, going down 2-0 to Philadelphia.
Nothing clicked for the Cardinals. Even late-inning rallies featuring Albert Pujols and Yadier Molina ended with nothing to show. Superstar sluggers, Nolan Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt combined for 1-for-15 over the two games. It just wasn’t St Louis year or the fairytale ending.
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