Baseball's Wild-Card Winners Advance In Playoffs
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
OK. Let's review an exciting weekend of Major League Baseball playoffs. Two teams won single game playoffs to get into the full-blown playoff series that are now underway. The Yankees, Reds, Nationals and Tigers have all been winning. And if I did not just mention your team, that's because your team is now in a hole. NPR's Mike Pesca's here to help feel your pain.
Mike, good morning.
MIKE PESCA, BYLINE: In a hole, or out of it entirely.
INSKEEP: OK. The Cardinals are alive. They eliminated the Braves. That's a win in a game that included a controversial call.
PESCA: Controversial, yes. Blown call is maybe the more blunt way to put it. But this is concerning the infield fly rule. And it's one of those rules that's entirely subjective. The Supreme Court likes rules like this sometimes. And it's based on the fact that you don't want to allow an infielder to drop a pop fly and then turn a double play because he did so. So they give the umpire the ability to call the batter out when there's a pop fly to the infield.
Unfortunately for the Braves on this particular play, the pop fly wasn't to the infield. It was about 225 feet from home plate, really in the middle of the outfield. And the umpire signaled for it very late. So the Braves were shocked that they didn't have the bases loaded after the ball dropped. They were shocked that the umpire called for the infield fly. Braves fans pelted the field with garbage for 19 minutes.
And Major League Baseball upheld the call because, like I said, it's very subjective. There's no way to say this was a misapplication of the rules. You know, if there's a ground ball, I guess, they could say it. But other than that, it's hard to. Braves lose is the upshot of that. Defending champion Cardinals win. But in their first game against the Nationals the Cardinals have already gone down 1-0.
INSKEEP: I didn't know that the Supreme Court liked rules like this. I thought Justice Scalia said the infield fly rule is very clear.
PESCA: Well, yes. She's an original infield fly contexturalist, but...
INSKEEP: There you go.
PESCA: Yeah. It's very hard to know what Abner Doubleday was thinking.
INSKEEP: OK. Anyway, the Orioles advanced in wildcard game. And their reward is to get smacked down in their first game against the Yankees.
PESCA: Yeah. That's - and they were going well. The Orioles beat the Rangers, so bye-bye former American League champions. And so here come the Yankees into town. Now, the Orioles have this 16-2 record in extra innings. And it was 2-2 in the ninth, so you figure the Orioles are in good position.
Although, we do have to say that their two losses were to the Yankees. But the Yankees just opened the spigot, homerun to lead off the inning. And final score was 7-2, because the Yankees found their bats. Orioles are up against it now.
INSKEEP: OK. So there's also a couple of teams that have lost two games already, both in the San Francisco Bay Area. What's going on there?
PESCA: Well, the San Francisco Giants - in kind of an odd series - they've lost two games to Cincinnati. Odd for the first lost because Johnny Cueto, the Reds ace, one pitch, one batter and then he kind of came up lame, back spasms. So you figure this would give San Francisco the advantage. Uh-huh, Cincinnati won. And then Cincinnati won big yesterday, 9-0.
And then the other Bay Area game, the A's, the scrappy, plucky A's, lost some of that scrap or pluck or simply ran up against a really good Tigers team. Justin Verlander mowed them down in the first game. And in yesterday's game the Tigers won in the ninth.
INSKEEP: The Tigers like to think of themselves as the scrappy, plucky guys.
PESCA: We're all scrappy and plucky.
PESCA: I think the - that's - you know, thank god for the Yankees, the one team that doesn't rely on scrap and pluck. They just want to be big bad and an empire. And they're happy to do it.
INSKEEP: Those plucky underdogs, the New York Yankees.
PESCA: So refreshing.
INSKEEP: Mike, thanks very much.
PESCA: You're welcome.
INSKEEP: OK. Just reviewing the scores from last night. Detroit beat Oakland 5-4, Washington beat St. Louis 3-2, the Yankees over Baltimore 7-2, and as Mike mentioned, Cincinnati over San Francisco by a score of 9-0. NPR sports correspondent Mike Pesca bringing us up to date with the latest on the Major League Baseball playoffs here on MORNING EDITION from NPR News.
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