MLB Playoff Recap: Giants Win Marathon

There were only two games on the schedule on Saturday, but when the dust settled, 27 innings were in the books, leaving one team on the verge of elimination, two teams in a dead-heat and a third team sitting as pretty heading into Game Three of its division series.

NLDS: Giants Drive Dagger Into Nationals’ Hopes In Marathon Win

Score: Giants 2 – Nationals 1, 18 innings

Series: Giants up 2-0

Game Hero: Yusmeiro Petit, six innings of shutout relief, 1 H, 3 BB, 7 K

Game Summary: One out from tying the series at one, the Washington Nationals couldn’t close out the game in regulation and then dropped a heart-breaker in the longest post-season game in MLB history. Nine innings after Pablo Sandoval hit a two-out double to tie the game in the top of the ninth, the Giants secured a 2-1, 18-inning win. The game last six hours and 23 minutes and may have been the death-knell for the Nationals’ season.

Early on, the story of the game was Washington starter Jordan Zimmermann, who dominated the Giants through 8.2 innings. He walked Joe Panik on a close three-one pitch with two outs in the top of the ninth. Manager Matt Williams elected to go to the bullpen and the decision backfired. Drew Storen came on and quickly allowed a line-drive single to Buster Posey to move Panik to second. Sandoval then lined a ball down the left field line. Panik scored easily and Posey tried to give the Giants’ the lead, but he was thrown out at the plate on a close play. The Giants challenged the out-ruling, but the call stood, sending the game into the bottom of the ninth tied.

The game would remain tied for nine more innings, with neither team mounting much by way of rallies. Yusmeiro Petit took over in the 12th inning for the Giants and never gave the Nationals much of a chance to walk-off winners. He allowed just one hit and three walks over six shut-out innings. Petit struck-out seven.

In the top of the 18th, first baseman Brandon Belt strode to the plate to face Nationals’ right-hander Tanner Roark. In a night when the ball wasn’t carrying in the outfield thanks to cold air and a sharp wind, Belt took a three-two pitch way out to right field.

The Giants called on rookie Hunter Strickland to close out the game. Strickland quickly retired the first two batters before walking Anthony Rendon on a three-two count. That brought to the plate Jayson Werth, who had an excellent at-bat, spoiling several high-90s fastballs. On a two-two pitch, Strickland threw a slider that Werth didn’t quite get all of and his drive landed a few feet short of the warning track in right to end the game.

What’s Next: The Nationals now have the unenviable task of heading back to San Francisco needing to defeat Madison Bumgarner to avoid elimination. The National League’s best regular season team could see its season end without even one post-season win. Washington’s offense has produced just three runs in 27 innings thus far.

NLDS: Kemp Saves The Day For LA

Score: Dodgers 3 – Cardinals 2

Series: Series tied 1-1

Game Hero: Matt Kemp; 2-for-4, game-winning HR in the eighth

Game Summary: A day after blowing a big lead late, the Dodgers appeared to be following the same script in Game Two of the NLDS. That was until Matt Kemp stepped into the box in the bottom of the eighth and launched a solo homerun to lead-off the inning, giving the Dodgers back a lead they wouldn’t relinquish again.

Game One was supposed to be a pitcher’s duel between Clayton Kershaw and Adam Wainwright. Instead it turned into a slugfest, with the Cardinals winning, 10-9. Saturday’s match-up between Zack Greinke and Lance Lynn was the well-pitched game everyone expected on Friday.

Greinke was on his game on Saturday. He allowed just two hits and two walks in seven innings, striking out seven. Greinke was also dangerous with the bat, collecting two hits and scoring a run.

Lynn nearly matched Greinke, but for a rough spot in the bottom of the third inning. A.J. Ellis led-off the inning with a double. Greinke followed with a soft line-drive single that moved Ellis to third. Dee Gordon then grounded into what was originally ruled a run-scoring, four-three double-play. The Dodgers challenged whether Greinke had been tagged at second base and the replay showed that Cardinals’ second baseman Kolten Wong tagged Greinke with an empty glove. When play resumed, Greinke was at second with one out and one run in. That replay call turned out to be important, as Adrian Gonzalez singled home Greinke with two outs, giving the Dodgers a 2-0 lead.

Lynn was in control most of the rest of his outing. He threw six innings, allowing just those two runs on seven hits and two walks. Lynn struck-out eight. In his final inning, Lynn got Greinke to bounce out to third to end the inning with the bases loaded.

In the top of the eighth, Greinke came out to the mound with 103 pitches thrown. As he was warming up, the Cardinals announced left-handed hitter Oscar Taveras as a pinch-hitter. LA manager Don Mattingly decided to pull Greinke in favor of left-hander J.P. Howell. As with most of the decisions on whether or not to pull a starter during this playoffs, the manager’s decision turned out to be the wrong one.

Howell allowed a single to Taveras, bringing up Matt Carpenter, the hero of Game One. Carpenter turned on the first pitch from Howell and put it deep into the seats in right, tying the game. The Cardinals had a chance to take the lead later in the inning. Jon Jay singled and then moved to second on a Matt Holliday ground out. Brandon League – who had come in for Howell after the Jay single – intentionally walked Matt Adams to get to Jhonny Peralta. The strategy worked, as Peralta grounded into a six-four-three double-play.

The Cardinals had the momentum going into the bottom of the eighth, but Kemp quickly stole that thunder back. Facing sidearming reliever Pat Neshek, Kemp jumped on a 2-1 pitch and blasted it deep to left, just inside the foul pole.

Armed with the one-run lead, the Dodgers turned to closer Kenley Jansen to close it out. Jensen induced a groundout from Yadier Molina and then struck-out Wong and Randal Grichuk to seal the win.

What’s Next: With the series tied at one game a piece, the Dodgers and Cardinals will square-off on Monday in St. Louis. In a pivotal Game Three, LA will send Hyun-Jin Ryu to the mound against the Cardinals’ John Lackey. Ryu will be pitching for the first time since September 12, when he left a start with left shoulder soreness. The game on Monday will be the only Game Three that won’t be a possible elimination game.

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