Here we are. 3-2 in favor of the Rangers in the ALCS and a 2-2 draw in the NLCS. The Rangers and Tigers are headed to Game Six while the Brewers and Cardinals will go at least that far after tonight’s Milwaukee
This deep into the postseason, you would expect Mt. Rushmore-types to be leading the charge. Don’t look for them on any of the pitching mounds in play.
The Rangers lead with C.J. Wilson, a tough lefty who won 16 regular season games. Detroit has Justin Verlander as its undeniable ace who will, without question, take home the Cy Young award when all this is over. (MVP talk is even on the table for the Tiger ace).
Both have remarkably unspectacular numbers in this season’s prime time. Wilson is 0-2 with an 8.24 ERA and a 1.85 WHIP in three outings against the Rays and Tigers. Verlander is 2-1 with a 5.31 ERA and a 1.59 WHIP in his three times on the mound against the Yankees and Rangers.
Not the worst numbers in the world, and nothing that kept their clubs from advancing. But both staff Number Ones have dominated absolutely nobody. Tonight’s media spin is that Verlander was brilliant in staving off elimination for the Tigers. Uhhhh… sorry…I watched the game.
Verlander gave up four runs in 7 1/3 while allowing eight hits and three walks. That’s a 5.56 ERA and 1.5 WHIP. It got the job done. The Tigers survived. His cycle has been blown to smithereens with rain this postseason. But that’s not what I’m calling dominant. Phil Coke left more of an impression with his inning and one-third.
But it goes beyond the LCS’s. Step back and you see Roy Halladay getting rocked early, Cliff Lee blowing a substantial lead and the young guns of Tampa Bay getting hung with losses. 21-game winner Ian Kennedy went 0-1 in two LDS starts while running-mate Daniel Hudson got rocked in his only outing.
It’s different this year. We’re not seeing anything like Jose Rijo or Orel Hershiser shutting down the ridiculous power of the Bash Brothers-era Oakland A’s. There’s no Jack Morris rolling through the postseason or Curt Schilling and his bloody sock. Not even Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain outduelling the more well-known names.
We’ve got Texas OF Nelson Cruz with five HRs in five LCS games and Tigers OF Delmon Young, with an oblique injury, sitting at five HRs over eight postseason games . The clutch, shutdown pitching performance of this postseason happened tonight in St. Louis. None other than Brewers lefty Randy Wolf went seven strong innings and silenced the Cardinals’ bats, along with the home crowd, to even the series and guarantee a return to Milwaukee.
That’s how this postseason is playing out. These games have been electrifying in any number of ways, even from a pitching standpoint in isolated moments. But so far, from all we’ve seen from all involved…
Don Larsen isn’t walking through that door.
It’s made for several dramatic series to this point. Unabated offense isn’t making a mockery of the proceedings but, at the same time, we’re a long way from the Year Of The Pitcher stuff where there could be a no-hitter on any given night.
With starters failing to dominate and moves for role-relievers becoming so important, isn’t this what Tony LaRussa was born for?