The 2016 Major League Baseball postseason got off to a great start this past Tuesday.
In the first game, in the AL Wild-Card game, Toronto won 5-2 over Baltimore, on a walk-off three-run home run by Toronto first baseman Edwin Encarnacion in the 11th inning. It was Encarnacion’s second career postseason home run. His first home run? Cole Hamels gave it up.
Speaking of Hamels, yesterday vs. Toronto, he got lit up by a Blue Jays’ offensive juggernaut, which certainly includes Encarnacion. Encarnacion hit 42 home runs this year, and led the league in RBIs (127).
In 3.1 innings, he allowed six earned runs, a career postseason high for him; his previous record was five vs. the ’09 World Series champion Yankees. In the regular season this year, Hamels surprisingly didn’t face Toronto at all, while, since 2008, it was the 20th time that he allowed six or more runs in a game.
With the loss, Hamels became the 13th former World Series MVP pitcher in the past 30 years to allow six or more runs after they won the award. Here’s the list of all 13, including what year they won the award, and how many times they allowed six or more runs.
Cole Hamels- 2008- 20
Josh Beckett- 2003- 34
Madison Bumgarner- 2014- 2
Randy Johnson- 2001- 22
Curt Schilling- 2001- 14
Mariano Rivera- 1999- 1
Livan Hernandez- 1997- 74
Tom Glavine- 1995- 44
Jack Morris- 1991- 18
Jose Rijo- 1990- 4
Dave Stewart- 1989- 31
Orel Hershiser- 1988- 29
Frank Viola- 1987- 17
Going back to Hamels, for now, at the earliest, he’s scheduled to make his second start of the series in game four next Monday. In his career, Hamels is 0-3 vs. Toronto, with a 8.30 ERA.
Former Phillies’ starter J.A. Happ, to many people’s surprises, won 20 games this year with the Blue Jays, with a 3.18 ERA. His previous career high for wins was only 12. Breakout year much? Toronto was 24-8 this season when Happ was on the mound. Then again, he also had a ton of run support; Toronto had 10 or more runs six times this season when Happ was pitching.
With his 20 wins, he’s the first former Phillies’ pitcher since Gavin Floyd in 2008 (he went 17-8 with Chicago) to have 17 or more wins in a season after they departed Philadelphia. Happ will start game 2 tomorrow afternoon; in eight career postseason games, he’s winless.
Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz, in his 20th season, announced this past off-season that he’s calling it quits after this season. This year, Ortiz went out with a bang, going on to set all-time records for most home runs (38) and RBIs (127) in a player’s final season, and he also led the league in RBIs. For the home run record, he surpassed Oakland’s Dave Kingman, who had 35 in 1986. For the runs batted in record, he surpassed Shoeless Joe Jackson, who had 121 in 1920 with Chicago.
In 82 career postseason games, Ortiz has 17 homers, 60 RBIs, a .295 batting average, and a .409 on-base percentage. He’s won three World Series titles (2004, 2007 and 2013), all with Boston, and he won World Series MVP honors in 2013. Next year and onward, the Sox will certainly miss his bat, clutch hitting and big heart.
Going backwards, on Wednesday night, Giants’ ace Madison Bumgarner had another stellar/insane/mind-boggling game; however you want to word his performance is up to you. He’s now furthering his case to be named the greatest postseason pitcher ever.
In that Wednesday night Giants-Mets game, another great ace, in Mets’ righty Noah Syndergaard, was on the mound. Bumgarner threw another postseason complete-game shutout.
The game was scoreless, a great pitching duel, until the Giants broke it open in the ninth with a three-run bomb by little-known third baseman Conor Gillaspie. Had Gillaspie not driven in a run, Bumgarner was going to be shelved for the night in favor of a pinch hitter. After the home run, Bumgarner ended up batting, flew out to left field, then ended the game with a 1-2-3 inning in the ninth.
It was only the third time in history that a eight-hole hitter hit a game-winning homer in a do-or-die game, one of which was in a World Series game (see below).
With the 3-0 win, he allowed only four hits, and struck out six. In postseason games that he pitched six or more innings in, that was the eighth occasion that he surrendered five or fewer hits, out of 10 total occasions. Most impressively, with the shutout, Bumgarner’s now in sole possession for the record for the fewest ERA in postseason history on the road, at 0.50. Overall, his 1.94 postseason ERA is second best all-time, ahead of Curt Schilling’s (2.23), who’s widely regarded as one of the best postseason pitchers. In 15 postseason starts, Bumgarner’s 8-3, with a save and 2014 World Series MVP hardware.
Syndergaard was just as good, although his pitch count was really high, and, thus, he wasn’t able to finish the game like Bumgarner was able to do. In seven innings, Syndergaard didn’t allow a run, had 108 pitches, only allowed two hits, and struck out 10. He went toe-to-toe all night long with Bumgarner, and it was one of the best postseason performances by a Mets’ starting pitcher in recent memory.
The last Mets’ starter to not allow a run in seven or more innings in a playoff game was Hall-of-Famer Tom Glavine, who did it in Game 1 of the ’06 NLCS vs. St. Louis.
ALWC Game- Toronto over Baltimore, 5-2
NLWC Game- San Francisco over New York, 3-0
ALDS Game 1- Toronto over Texas, 10-1
ALDS Game 1- Cleveland over Boston, 5-4
As the postseason continues, check back weekly for more stats and analysis.