Game Day- Packers vs. Eagles

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PHI GB
W-L record 5-5 4-6
Game Time/Channel 8:30 PM EST ESPN
Starting Quarterbacks Carson Wentz (N Dakota) Aaron Rodgers (Cal)
Point Spread/O/U Line Eagles by 4 1/2 48 1/2 (Over/Under)
Head Coaches Doug Pederson Mike McCarthy
Last Five Games (W-L) 2-3 1-4
Stadium Lincoln Financial Field
Last five match-ups 1-4 4-1
Home/Road Records 4-0 1-4

Weather Report- 45, chance of showers, 6 MPH winds

Injury report:

  • Eagles: RB Ryan Mathews (knee) and OT Halapoulivaati Vaitai (knee) are out.
  • Packers: LB Blake Martinez (knee), OG T.J. Lang (foot), CB Demetri Goodson (knee), LB Kyler Fackrell (hamstring) and C JC Tretter (knee) are out. OL Don Barclay (shoulder), CB Damarious Randall (groin) and LB CB Damarious Randall (groin) are questionable

At home tonight vs. the Packers, the Eagles will try to bounce back from a tough 26-15 loss last Sunday in Seattle. Over the past few games, the Eagles have allowed over 300 yards in each game and their opponents have averaged 348 total yards per game. They lost two out of those three games.

For Green Bay, quarterback Aaron Rodgers has been red hot as of late, throwing for over 350 passing yards in the past two games and averaging 361 passing yards. Despite that, the Packers have lost their last-four games and are 1-4 this year on the road. He has a 96.7 quarterback rating in those five road games, with almost seven yards per pass.

 

On the flip side, Eagles’ rookie quarterback Carson Wentz is looking to rebound tonight after losing three out of his last four. In those games, he has four interceptions and in those three losses the Eagles were a combined 15 for 46 on third-down attempts (32.6%). They have to not only make offensive adjustments but take control of their mental mistakes. They are among one of the worst teams in terms of penalties.

Despite that, the Eagles are facing a poor Packers’ defensive unit, which ranks first this year in most yards allowed per pass attempt (8.6) and they’ve allowed their opponents to score on 46.2% of their drives. While the Eagles’ offense has had their fair share of turnovers recently, Green Bay’s defense is a huge hole that the Eagles’ offense could penetrate through easily.

Per NFL reporter Ian Rapoport, tonight the Eagles plan to limit struggling wide-receiver Nelson Agholor’s snaps, or possibly deactivate him for the game. Paul Turner, in the slot position, will replace Agholor in the lineup, while Jordan Matthews will be utilized much more during outside routes. In limiting Agholor’s snaps or deactivating him, Doug Pederson has a huge burden lifted off of his shoulders. Agholor has been far and beyond the Eagles’ worst offensive player this season and has been a huge bust after being drafted number 20 last season.

With Agholor gone or not, rookie Carson Wentz needs to improve his timing, as many of his passes recently have been either behind receivers or way overthrown. Although he got off to an excellent start, his recent mistakes have shown his lack of experience.

In early October, as week five was approaching, Pro Football Focus ranked all 32 NFL teams’ offensive lines. Green Bay’s unit ranked as the second best, with right guard T.J. Lang standing out. Unfortunately for Green Bay, their offensive lineman have been decimated by injuries. Lang is out indefinitely with a left ankle and foot injury, while his backup Don Barclay is questionable with a shoulder injury.

Since the Eagles switched from a 3-4 scheme to a 4-3 under defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, defensive end Brandon Graham has had an excellent, Pro-Bowl-caliber season so far. He’s gotten bigger, which has increased his stamina and improved his health, and has been a very good pass rusher. Under the Eagles’ 3-4 scheme over the past few years, he was a strong, yet still inefficient, linebacker, and now he’s showing his talents after the switch to a defensive end. After the switch occurred, Graham praised it and commented that he felt right at home.

He should be a huge part of the Eagles’ defense tonight, getting pressure on Rodgers and forcing throws.

Tonight both teams’ playoff chances are on the line. Most likely, from here on out Green Bay would have to win out to potentially slide in as a wild-card team. After tonight, unfortunately the Eagles’ five remaining opponents, three of which are against divisional opponents, have a win-loss record this year of 33-20-2 (a 62.2 winning percentage). If they can have success tonight vs. Green Bay and win at least four out of their remaining five games they have a shot at cracking the playoffs.

Be aware, Jordy Nelson has a touchdown reception in four-straight games.

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Player of The Game Prediction

Fletcher Cox

With Green Bay’s offensive line decimated, the opportunities will be huge for the Eagles. They rank in the top 10 in sacks (26), although Green Bay’s rushing attack has been strong, ranking fifth best in yards per attempt (4.6). The Packers’ balanced offensive attack will be a tough task for the Eagles’ defensive tackles and defensive backs.

With that being said, I believe Cox will stand out and plow through the Packers’ o-line with relative ease. Despite Cox’s prowess, the Eagles need to focus and improve their rushing defense, as they rank sixth best in most rushing yards per attempt (4.5).

Game Prediction

Eagles 37-31

Eagles-Seahawks preview

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On 4:25 PM this Sunday, the Eagles will face-off against the 6-2-1 Seahawks, in what should be a very competitive game. The Eagles are looking to go on their second winning streak of the season, while Seattle’s looking to continue their hot start at home.

This year, Seattle’s undefeated at home (4-0), while the Eagles are looking to improve upon their poor record this year away from home (1-4). This will be the 15th match-up all-time between these two teams, and the third since 2010. The all-time series record is tied 7-7. Philadelphia’s last road win at Seattle occurred almost exactly eight-years ago, on November 2nd, 2008 (they won 26-7).

Leading back to last season, Seattle’s 8-1 in their last nine home games. From last season to this season so far, the Eagles are 5-8 on the road. During last season’s playoffs, Seattle beat Minnesota 10-9 in the wild-card round, then lost to number-one seed Carolina 31-24 in the divisional round. Not only did Philadelphia miss the playoffs last season, but they haven’t won a playoff game since January 11th of 2009.

For Philadelphia, Sunday’s match-up will be a tough test for sure.

Eagles’ head coach Doug Pederson grew up in Washington; in Ferndale, which is two hours away from Seattle. He mentioned that he was a Seahawks’ fan growing up.

In a conference call on Wednesday, he recalled his fond Seahawks’ memories when he was a child, going to games at the old Kingdome and watching ’70s Seahawks’ quarterback Jim Zorn play. In this game, Pederson’s a huge underdog, having only coached since this year, while Seattle’s head coach Pete Carroll started coaching in 1994.

Seattle’s defense is, and has been, one of the best in the league. This season, their unit ranks as one of the best vs. the pass, ranking seventh best in worst quarterback passer rating against (82.5), fourth in sacks (29), and second best in fewest rushing yards per attempt (3.5). They not only bring speed and size, but experience, too. Last season, five out of their seven Pro Bowlers were defenders. The five of them were: right defensive end Michael Bennett, strong safety Kam Chancellor, corner Richard Sherman, free safety Earl Thomas, and middle linebacker Bobby Wagner. In February of 2014, almost their entire defensive unit propelled them to a 43-8 Super Bowl XLVIII win over Denver; the first win in franchise history.

For this game, what’s exciting for the Eagles is their recent defensive play. Seattle half-back Christine Michael will have a tough time vs. the Eagles’ rushing attack. Last week vs. Matt Ryan and the Falcons, weak-side linebacker Mychal Kendricks fared great. Kendricks had one run stop, a hurry, and only allowed one catch for five yards receiving.

X Factors

Seattle

Russell Wilson

Wilson will have to go up against a tough Eagles’ front four. After they switched to a 4-3 scheme this past off-season, they’ve been blitzing a lot more. This season, Wilson has a 99.4 QBR, eighth best in the league, with eight yards per attempt (fifth best in the league), and a 66.8 completion percentage. He’s been very smart in not forcing throws, whether under pressure or in double coverage. In his first and only game vs. the Eagles so far, (on December 7th, 2014) he won 24-14 at the Linc.

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Philadelphia

It may sound cliche to pick both quarterbacks as the x-factors, since they’re the most important players on the field, but with both defenses playing solid this year, there’s even more emphasis put upon the quarterback’s in-game decisions.

In his first three games, Carson Wentz not only went undefeated but had a 103.8 passer rating and zero turnovers. Since then, he’s gone 2-4 with more interceptions than touchdown passes (5-4) and a 79.7 passer rating; almost a 25% decrease in passer rating. He’s overthrown/sailed throws, thrown behind receivers, and has forced throws into double coverage; all expected rookie mistakes. Considering he has zero experience, he’s playing better than expected; with a respectable 87.6 passer rating and five wins.

Key Match-ups

Doug Baldwin vs. Nolan Carroll (Baldwin has five touchdowns; Carroll was solid vs. NY)

Fletcher Cox vs. Germain Ifedi (Ifedi’s a rookie tackle, while Cox had 9.5 sacks last year)


Line

Seattle’s currently 6.5 point favorites. The over/under’s listed as 43.

Player of the Game Prediction

Bobby Wagner, MLB, Seattle

Wagner will have a tough task in trying to contain Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles. Despite a couple poor outings earlier in the season, last week Mathews ran through the Falcons’ front four, scoring two touchdowns and rushing for 103 yards. Meanwhile, backup half-back Darren Sproles surprisingly almost played 40% of the snaps last Sunday and had 76 all-purpose yards.

Three-weeks ago, in a week-eight match-up at New Orleans (on October 30th), Wagner was a huge factor and contributed significantly, despite Seattle’s 25-20 loss. Wagner chipped in with 12 solo tackles, 14 total tackles and seven run stops.

So far this year, Wagner has had 15 quarterback hurries and 36 stops at either the line of scrimmage or behind it. If Wagner continues his consistent play and aggressive run stopping, it’ll be a long day for Mathews.

Prediction

Seattle, 27-10

After going 3-0 and putting together several excellent outings to start his career, Eagles’ quarterback Carson Wentz has struggled the past-few weeks. Last week vs. Atlanta, he played good, with a 86.5 quarterback rating and a 92.3 completion percentage throwing outside the numbers, despite having some clock management problems before the half. When under pressure, he went 5-9, with 4.9 yards per attempt and a 68.7 passer rating. He’s still learning and growing from his rookie mistakes, so — for a rookie — learning to adjust vs. pressure is a tough task.

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(AP Photo)

Surely, Jim Schwartz and the Eagles’ front four will bring as much pressure as possible, but Russell Wilson will be prepared for it. Not only is he intelligent and fast outside the pocket, but last week at New England, he was very solid under pressure. In 18 drop-backs, he went 10/14 with 143 passing yards, 10.2 yards per attempt, two touchdowns and a 143.7 passer rating.

Entering this season, Pro Football Focus ranked all NFL offensive lines from best to worst. Seattle’s was ranked dead last, while Philadelphia’s defensive line was ranked 21st. While Seattle’s offensive line has struggled and forced Wilson to carry it more, Philadelphia’s defensive line started out shaky then has gotten better and better each week. Philadelphia’s best shot at winning will be their d-line knocking down offensive lineman, putting continuous pressure on Wilson, and making him force throws.

The 2016 World Series, the home field factor, and a Game Two preview

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The 2016 MLB World Series is officially underway.

Chicago was heavily favored coming into last night’s game one, which resulted in a 6-0 home victory for Cleveland. Despite having home-field advantage, Cleveland had nine-fewer total wins this season than Chicago did (94-103). That fact not only raises critics and fans’ eyebrows but questions about how fair baseball’s rules are.

Fairness

To me, winning over 100 games and having the best record warrants a team to have the home-field advantage. However, that’s not the case here. At home this year, Chicago was 57-24 (.704), while Cleveland was 53-28 (.654). The amount of effort they put in towards not only making the postseason and winning the division but winning over 100 games almost seems meaningless. The Wrigley Field fans are passionate, loyal and knowledgeable people, who deserve to start the series at home.

We can thank that lack of fairness to former commissioner Bug Selig, who, for whatever logical reason, decided that the Fall Classic’s home-field advantage should not be decided by who had the better record but by what League won that year’s All-Star Game. This has occurred ever since the 2002 season. Tell me how two teams playing in one non-regular season game with nothing to do with either team playing in the World Series should decide who has more World Series home games than the other?

A friend of mine and a fellow Philadelphia sports enthusiast Matt Froonjian had this to say about the series and the fairness of home-field advantages.

“I still think that the Cubs will win, they have a much deeper lineup and rotation and Andrew Miller looks beatable. As for home field advantage, it’s absurd that a 103 win team doesn’t have home field advantage against a 94 win team. And when I watch the All Star Game I don’t know who to root for until three months after the game. Take last year for example; I rooted for the NL during the game but then when the Mets made the World Series I was thinking, “thank God the NL lost.”
Background

Chicago’s 103 wins this season were the most they’ve had since 1935 (100-54) and the fourth-most wins they’ve ever had in a single season. Meanwhile, after beating Toronto four games to one in the American League Championship Series, Cleveland made their third World Series appearance since 1995. They haven’t won a title since 1948, while Chicago’s drought dates back to 108- before the Indians even existed. Yesterday was Chicago’s first World Series game since 1945.

This year, Chicago fielded three pitchers with 16 or more wins, with game one pitcher (who allowed three runs last night in a 6-0 loss) Jon Lester having won 19 games this year.

Cubs

Talk Sports Philly creator Chris Leomporra had this to say about the Cubs and the series’ outcome.

“Well i want the cubs to win, so I think the series will go six or seven games, with the Cubs winning in an upset and breaking the drought since 1945. But with that monkey on their back it is a big feat to overcome so i think in a sense they are the underdog (despite winning 103 games).”

Chicago’s lineup bolsters two star, MVP-caliber infielders, in third baseman Kris Bryant and first baseman Anthony Rizzo. This season, Bryant had a .292 average, a .385 on-base percentage, 39 home runs and 102 RBIs. Rizzo also hit .292, while putting up 32 home runs and 109 RBIs. Center fielder Dexter Fowler led the team with a .393 on-base percentage. Bryant and Rizzo are not only two of the best sluggers in the league but a formidable tandem.

Former Rays’ manager, in his second World Series appearance and season with Chicago, Joe Maddon led Chicago to its first NL Central division title since 2008. Ironically, Maddon made his first World Series appearance that season, losing with Tampa Bay to the Phillies in five games.

Cleveland

Probables

Chicago will go with right-hand 18-game-winner Jake Arrieta, while, attempting to go up 2 games to none, Cleveland will counter with Trevor Bauer, w ho went 12-8 with a 4.26 this season.

Lineups

Chicago

Dexter Fowler, CF
Kris Bryant, 3B
Anthony Rizzo, 1B
Ben Zobrist, LF
Kyle Schwarber, DH
Javier Baez, 2B
Willson Contreras, C
Jorge Soler, RF
Addison Russell, SS

Jake Arrieta, P

Cleveland

Carlos Santana, DH
Jason Kipnis, 2B
Francisco Lindor, SS
Mike Napoli, 1B
Jose Ramirez, 3B
Lonnie Chisenhall, RF
Coco Crisp, LF
Tyler Naquin, CF
Roberto Perez, C

Trevor Bauer, P

Predictions

Fairness and backgrounds aside, I see Chicago furthering the series to at least six games, and winning the decisive game in Cleveland in game six. Tonight, considering how poor Bauer was this season, Chicago could significantly benefit from that, and should win the game in a close one.

Cubs-Dodgers preview, and Flyers-Kings preview

Before I get to hockey, last night’s NLDS decisive game between the Dodgers and Nationals set a record for the longest nine-inning postseason game in history; four hours and 32 minutes.

National League Division Series

The previous record holders were the Red Sox and Yankees, in game three of the 2003 ALCS. Also of note, Dodgers’ ace Clayton Kershaw made his debut as a relief pitcher, cleaning up closer Kenley Jansen’s mess in the ninth inning. Jansen, who normally only pitches an inning, went two and a 1/3. It was Kershaw’s first appearance since throwing 110 pitches two days prior in game four, and his first career postseason save. The Phillies had a huge impact on the Dodgers’ win.

In the top of the seventh, former Phils’ All-Star catcher Carlos Ruiz knocked in a run, which broke a 1-1 tie and ended up being the game-winning hit. Ironically, Ruiz pinch hit for Chase Utley, who, in six innings, went 0-3 with a strikeout. In his last 17 postseason at-bats, Utley only has three hits. The last time Utley had a multi-hit postseason game was in game four of the 2011 Cardinals-Phillies NLDS.

Continuing the Phillies’ theme, Joe Blanton was traded from the Phillies to the Dodgers four-years ago, and last night he pitched one and a 1/3 and didn’t allow a run.

In Blanton’s last five postseason games, he’s yet to allow a run, striking out five batters in six innings. Late last year, and more so this year, Blanton switched from being a starter to a middle reliever, a role that’s worked out great for him. He was 7-2, with a 2.48 ERA, this year, averaging nine strikeouts a game.

On the opposite side, the only other player in the game from the Phillies’ 2008 World Series champion team was Washington left-fielder Jayson Werth. This year, in a combined 86 at-bats vs. both Philadelphia and Los Angeles, Werth only hit .244 (which also was his batting average for the entire year) and had four home runs. In last night’s bottom of the sixth inning, Werth was tagged out at home after first baseman Ryan Zimmerman lined a double to left.

After a promotion, Dodgers’ quality assurance coach, former infielder Juan Castro, also played for the Phillies (in 2010).

Also of note, Hall of Fame broadcaster Vin Scully made his last National League Division series’ game call, as he’s retiring following the season.

National League Championship Series

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With the win, tomorrow night the Dodgers will face off in Wrigley Field against the National League Central Division-winning Cubs. Game one’s first pitch is scheduled for 8:08, with Cubs’ ace Jon Lester set to start. The Dodgers have yet to name their game one starter, but it certainly won’t be ace Clayton Kershaw, based on the amount of pitches he’s thrown the past few days. This year vs. the Dodgers, Lester had a 0.60 ERA and a record of 1-0.

It seems likely Kershaw will start game three in Los Angeles, as he’ll be more well rested by then (game three’s next Tuesday). Tuesday will be Kershaw’s first game vs. Chicago this year, due to a herniated disc injury he suffered in late June. In eight career starts vs. the Cubs, Kershaw’s 5-3, with a 2.18 ERA and 11.4 strikeouts per game. In five career starts vs. the Dodgers, Lester’s 2-2, with a 3.06 ERA and 9.5 strikeouts per game. The two aces have never faced off against each other before.

Many expert baseball columnists are predicting Chicago to win. Besides Kershaw, even though he’s been a horrible postseason pitcher, the Dodgers’ pitching depth is weak, while Chicago will field three of the best starters in baseball (Lester, Arrieta and Hendricks). Chicago manager Joe Maddon, who made a World Series appearance in 2008, is more experienced than Dodgers’ manager Dave Roberts, who’s in his first career postseason appearance as a skipper.

Prediction

Chicago in six. With a win, Chicago would advance to their first World Series since 1945.

Flyers-Kings

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The start of hockey season began two-nights ago, and tonight the Flyers begin their season inside the Staples Center at Los Angeles. Tonight, center Claude Giroux will enter his fifth season as Flyers’ captain, the first to accomplish that feat since Eric Lindros did it from 1995-2000. All time, Philadelphia’s 21-19-8 in season openers, having lost their last four.

Flyers’ backup Michal Neuvirth is slated to start in net for Philadelphia, while Kings’ Conn Smythe Trophy-winning netminder Jonathan Quick is out with a lower-body injury. This morning, he was placed on the injury-reserve list, and will be out for a significant amount of time. With that being said, backup Jeff Zatkoff, who only played 14 games last season, will get the nod.

In 178 postseason minutes last year vs. Washington, Neuvirth was spectacular, stopping 103 out of 105 shots, winning two games and posting a minuscule 0.67 goals against average. He’ll be making his fourth career start vs. Los Angeles.

The Flyers will bring aboard a couple young newcomers into the fold, with 2015 first-round pick Travis Konecny starting as the second-line left-winger. The Flyers’ 2015 seventh-overall pick, highly-touted defenseman Ivan Provorov will also make his debut and will pair up with veteran Mark Streit on the second defensive pairing.

Konecny, 19, is very competitive, leads by example, and is a great skater and puck handler. Last season with the Ontario Hockey League’s Sarnia Sting, he put up 56 points in 31 games, and was a +26. Sarnia Sting’s head coach, former NHL defenseman, is Derian Hatcher, who also played for the Flyers — from 2005-08.

Meanwhile, Provorov is very skilled on the PK, manning the power play (he’ll be inserted into the team’s second power-play unit) and he’s very intelligent; especially in reading opponent’s passes.

Last season, the Flyers were 0-1-1 vs. Los Angeles, and their last win in Los Angeles was in early December of 2014 (on December 6th). Last postseason, both teams got knocked out in the opening round, with Los Angeles losing to rival San Jose in five games and Philadelphia losing to the President’s Trophy-winning Capitals in six.

Los Angeles is one and a half point favorites, with a 5 1/2 over/under line. Tonight’s game will be the first time since 1967 (the team’s inaugural season) that the Flyers will open their season against a California team. On October 10th, 1967, the Flyers lost 5-1 to the Oakland Seals.

Without Quick in net, I see the Flyers winning tonight in a close one, and making the playoffs this year again. Kings’ first-line center Anze Kopitar is still a threat, with his elusiveness and puck handling, but the Flyers’ improving defense should be able to lighten his production. In the off-season, Los Angeles lost two-way center Milan Lucic to Edmonton.

Prediction

Flyers 4-2

Depth Chart

Their updated depth chart — with all the line combinations, defensive pairings and goalies — is listed below.

Goalies
Steve Mason
Steve Mason
Michal Neuvirth
Michal Neuvirth

MLB’s Divisional and Championship Series

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.

Cole Hamels

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.

J.A. Happ

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.

David Ortiz

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.

Madison Bumgarner

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).

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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.

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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.

Final Scores

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.