World Series Games 3 & 4

Ok…so before I get to the thing everyone writing about the World Series wants to write about, let me just say a few words about Game 3.

We. Won. We. Should. Have.

We just played better baseball and the score reflected that. It was a communal effort – even Barnes, who’s primarily a defensive asset, got a sac bunt and a home run in. It wasn’t even a game that Betts and Seager carried for the team. Yeah, we stranded too many guys on base, but, with 10 hits, you can afford to let that happen.

But the hero of the night was Buehler, who was fuckin lights out for 6 innings. The offense backed him up, certainly, but he won the ballgame for us. You can’t say enough good things about that kind of pitching. And that’s how you win a World Series game.

Ok…so Friday night was great.

Except…

Jansen gave up a homer to Arozarena.

Yeah, Jansen got us out of the 9th and we won the game…but we had a 5 run lead and we could afford a fuck up from a closer who’s proven that he just doesn’t have it anymore. He was fine, I’ll give him that, but he was nothing better than fine. I know Jansen used to be a lights out closer, but he’s not that anymore. You can’t be giving up home runs in the 9th and be a lights out closer. The one thing you need to be is dependable to get those last 3 outs.

Ok, fine…I wasn’t all that worked up about Jansen’s performance on Friday night. But – you can ask Keaton – I said that there were danger signs and that, although people were saying that he did, I didn’t think that he redeemed himself enough to be considered the go to closer for the rest of the series.

Y’all know where this is going, of course…

Last night.

It was a crazy game, and that’s before getting into the 9th. I don’t know how many games I’ve seen like that where the lead went back and forth like that – or where there was only one scoreless inning (the 2nd) – but the point would have been that, every time they scored in the bottom of an inning, we scored in the top of the next one. We kept pulling ahead – ‘grinding it out’ like Seager always says when they interview him and he’s looking for something to say.

Urías was dang good on the mound. Yeah, he gave up 2 runs in 4 2/3 innings, but, if that’s not a Buehler-caliber performance, it’s still not fatal, especially when you’re getting run support from the offense, which he was. And look at this stat: 9 Ks and 1 walk. That’s pretty dang impressive.

If there was one question to be asked about Urías’ performance it’s why he wasn’t left in for another inning. He wasn’t exactly falling apart out there…and not too much of what followed him was too stellar.

Like Báez, for example…

If the question is why Urías didn’t get to pitch longer, the question is why Báez got to pitch as long as he did. He was clearly in trouble…and then he comes out for the 7th?

The story behind that is even worse. Seems that Roberts told him he was done for the night after the 6th…and then he fuckin changes his mind and sent him back out for the 7th? You just can’t do that to a pitcher. You tell him he’s done and he figures he’s done and his brain stops being locked in the way it needs to be if he’s going to take the mound again. What the fuck Roberts was thinking is a dang good question. And of the course the result was that they tied it up.

Ok…that was bad enough, but we managed to pull ahead again in the 8th.

And then Roberts makes the boneheaded decision of the Series (at least so far, although I’m not sure how he can beat this one): he sends in Jansen in a 1 run game.

Jansen, the dude who gave up a home run of Arozarena the night before…with Arozarena conceivably due up to bat, and who was 3 for 4 on the night.

You just can’t do that.

Ok, I guess you can defend Jansen a little bit (if you even want to) by saying that he only got soft contact from Kiermaier and Phillips…but soft contact is contact, and, as the results show, that was more than enough to drive in a pair of runs and win them the ballgame.

And I guess you can say that he had ‘help’ from some pretty terrible fielding – 2 errors on the play as they finally scored it, one from Taylor and one from Smith, although Muncy’s throw to home sucked to begin with – but, on the other hand, Arozarena fuckin fell down running the bases and should have been caught in a rundown. And, oh yeah, where was Jansen when he should have been covering the plate? (I’m not sure it would have made a huge difference, but it’s like he wasn’t even trying.)

Taylor, Smith and Muncy probably all deserve to hang their heads in shame (although I’m sure they all feel terrible about it), but if Jansen hadn’t let the ball get put into play, those errors wouldn’t have happened…and if Roberts hadn’t put Jansen in in the first place, he wouldn’t have been making the soft contact excuse he did at his press conference.

(That press conference was pretty typical of Jansen. He kept saying tomorrow is another day and never once took responsibility for his fuck ups. And those included the walk to Arozarena as well as the two hits by Kiermaier and Phillips. At least Roberts admitted he’d made a mistake with Báez.)

I’ve seen hundreds of ball games, and been in hundreds more, and don’t think I’ve ever seen a play like the one that ended last night’s game. But that’s not an excuse for the pitching and defensive breakdowns. (Question they asked on MLB Network: would it have been different if Bellinger had been available to play in center? Taylor’s a great outfielder, but he’s been playing mostly in left. That could help to explain the error.) Or the managerial breakdown that led to the final disaster.

Yes, folks: Dave Roberts is once again managing us out of a World Series title.

The ballplayer in me is, I should add, dang glad for Brett Phillips. If I’m not mistaken, I saw that the trainer had to sit him down afterwards, maybe because he was afraid he was gonna have a heart attack. That probably was the hit of his lifetime.

I’d be more glad if Phillips was on my team, though. (I’d put lol after that, but I’m still too pissed off.)

Today’s another day, though – at least Jansen was right about that – and it’s now a 2 game series. There are positives and maybe we should try and dwell on those. We’ve got Kershaw pitching tonight, and I’m looking at that as a good thing. I know that there are people who are cringing at the thought of another postseason meltdown from him, but I’ve got some faith in the man. All he needs to do is settle down and be Clayton Kershaw. I know that’s easier said than done given his track record in the postseason, but I think he can do it.

Other positive: we did score 7 runs last night against some of the their best pitching, and we pretty much showed that we can put away their bullpen. I certainly wasn’t impressed with Castillo, and he’s supposed to be their big leverage closer. And they’ve got Glasnow starting, and we pretty much showed we can handle him, too.

So let’s try and look at it from the bright side. It’s definitely not over until it’s over, even if it still kinda feels that way after last night. The series is tied 2-2, which is a lot better than being down 3-1 like we were against Atlanta, and we pulled ourselves out of that hole. I do believe that we’re the better team, but that’s not necessarily going to translate into winning 2 out of the next 3 games. It’s a 3 game series now, and anything can happen in one of those. Tampa Bay’s a good team, they’ve proven that. And the baseball gods were certainly helping them out on that last insane play last night.

But we still can do it. I still believe we can.

Assuming that we’ve seen the last of Jansen and that Roberts doesn’t get in the way of the team doing what we all know it can do.

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