In the playoff baseball world yesterday, we all got to see a couple of underdogs going against established teams. The Orioles (93-69), who won the wild card, were going against the Yankees (95-67), who have won the division 12 of the past 14 years. Meanwhile, the Cardinals (88-74) against the National League’s best, the Washington Nationals (98-64). There were also similar patterns in the pitching matchups with Andy Pettite (19-10 in playoffs, most all time) against Wei-Yin Chen– a Japanese rookie– along with Jaime Garcia and Jordan Zimmermann.
The Nationals-Cardinals game yesterday was very one sided virtually from the start. There were scoreless first innings on both sides, but after the Nationals got a run in the second, the Cards exploded. The first four batters of the inning– Allen Craig, Yadier Molina, David Freese, and Daniel Descalso– all scored runs as part of a four-run second inning. They were far from done, though, as Allen Craig netted them another run in the third with a solo shot to left. A Daniel Descalso home run kickstarted a two-run fourth as the Cardinals were up 7-1 by the end of the inning. The Nationals did get back-to-back home runs in the fifth by Ryan Zimmerman and Adam LaRoche. However, Carlos Beltran got one of those back with a homer of his own in the sixth, pushing it to 8-3. The Nationals would get a run in the seventh, but the Cards still had one more rally in them– Jon Jay drove in a run with a triple, Carlos Beltran his second home run of the game– a two-run shot, and Allen Craig knocked an RBI double as the Cardinals toppled the Nationals 12-4.
The Orioles-Yankees game was very different, however. Not only was it low-scoring, but it was pretty close throughout. The Yankees got a run in the first on a missed play at the plate by Orioles catcher Matt Wieters. However, aside from that, Wei-Yin Chen was excellent for the Orioles– tossing 6.1 good innings, with only one earned run allowed. The Orioles would get their runs in exciting fashion off Andy Pettitte, loading the bases with two outs in the third. Chris Davis would deliver with an two-run single to put the O’s on top. In the sixth, the Orioles struck again, with a leadoff double by Matt Wieters turning into a run on Mark Reynolds‘ single. The Yankees got another run on a Derek Jeter single, but the Orioles were able to hold out and beat them 3-2.