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MLB Playoffs Roundup: Game Fives All Around

by Photo of Ross Bernhardt

The Giants come back, the Tigers advance, and Washington and Baltimore force deciding fifth games.

MLB Playoffs Roundup: Game Fives All Around

As if the MLB playoffs weren't already great enough, with Washington and Baltimore's walk-off wins, every series will have gone the full five games.  Detroit and San Francisco were able to finish up their series in the deciding fifth games (on the road, no less), but the Yankees and Cardinals couldn't finish the job.  They both will play tonight to extend their seasons while Washington and Baltimore try and complete their comebacks. 

This is the first time in the history of the format that every series has gone the distance.  The closest we came to that was 2001, when three of the four match-ups went five games but Atlanta swept Houston.  MLB could not have asked for a better start to the playoffs.  There has been drama in every series, including all four Yankees/Orioles games.  We've seen fantastic pitching performances and some incredible hitting in the clutch.  All of that is culminating in two deciding games tonight.  Let's see how everyone got here.

Giants Complete Their Comeback

Matt Cain was terrific and the Giants offense jumped all over Mat Latos in the fifth inning.  After Buster Posey's grand slam gave San Francisco a 6-0 lead in the frame, things looked all but over.  But Cincinnati didn't quit, cutting the lead to 6-4 in the bottom of the ninth and still threatening.  Jay Bruce put in an epic at bat against Giants closer Sergio Romo that lasted 12 pitches, but flew out with runners at first and second.  Scott Rolen was Cincinnati's last hope, but Romo struck him out swinging to end the game.

When the Reds took the first two games of the series on the road, it seemed impossible for them to blow the series.  But the Giants were able to manufacture an extra-inning win in Game Three, crushed the Reds in Game Four, and found a way to pull out the deciding game.  Let's not forget, the Giants are just a year removed from a World Series win.  A lot of these guys know how to get it done when it counts.  Their pitching can't be overlooked, especially with Tim Lincecum finally looking like Tim Lincecum (albeit out of the bullpen, but he'll get a start in the NLCS).  

Washington Walks Off

Who's laughing Jayson Werth's contract now?  A lot of people, still, but he came through when it mattered for Washington last night.  His solo home run with two outs in the bottom of the ninth on a full count (that's almost scripted, it's so good) off Lance Lynn won the game for Washington.  The Nationals will have a chance to win at home tomorrow.

After St. Louis embarrassed the Nationals in Game Three, they looked almost as doomed as the Giants after Game Two.  But this Washington team has some serious mettle.  Ian Desmond has been a monster in the middle of the lineup this series, and they got a fantastic overall pitching performance.  Ross Detwiler, Jordan Zimmerman, Tyler Clippard, and Drew Storen combined for a three-hit, ten-strikeout effort over nine innings.  It will be all hands on deck for both teams again when they play tonight.

Baltimore Outlasts New York

Over the last two games, the Orioles and Yankees have played 25 innings.  New York and Baltimore each used eight pitchers last night and four the night before.  Both teams have failed to get that key hit in many situations and have come through in unexpected times.  Last night, it was Baltimore's turn to pull off a stunning win.

In the top of the 13th, Manny Machado led off the inning with a double and J.J. Hardy promptly doubled him home on a hanging slider from reliever David Phelps.  The Yankees had the meat of their order coming up in the bottom half and would face Jim Johnson, the man that had already blown two saves in the series.  Mark Teixeira struck out looking on a filthy curve, Robinson Cano hit one right on the screws but right to Nate McClouth, and Eric Chavez (pinch-hitting for Alex Rodriguez) lined out right to Machado at third.

For my money, this has been the most competitive and entertaining series of them all.  No team has really had an edge in any of the games.  With the exception of the 7-2 win (which was only extended in the 9th inning of that one after Russell Martin's home run), all of the games have been decided by one run.  This is thrilling playoff baseball with an emphasis on terrific starting pitching.  Game Five this afternoon likely won't be any different.

Verlander Ends Oakland's Comeback

Justin Verlander showed last night why he is probably the best pitcher in the American League.  In his two starts, Verlander threw 16 innings (including all nine last night), allowed just one run, and struck out 22 batters.  Verlander raises his game in big moments, and for Detroit, preventing a collapse in this series was the biggest moment of the year.  His complete-game shutout and some timely hitting by Detroit led the Tigers to a 6-0 clincher over Oakland.

This series was a lot of fun, and plenty of credit has to go to Oakland for hanging in there and challenging a good team like the Tigers.  With all of the youth on that roster, things can only go up after a season like this.  Detroit now looks ahead to the ALCS, which already starts tomorrow.

Let CHARGED.fm get you tickets to see the Detroit Tigers in the ALCS.


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