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American and National League Division Series Heating Up

The embodiment of two baseball philosophies, the high octane American League vies with the consistent excellence of the National League Division Series

Chicago (United States), 10/10/2021.- Chicago White Sox center fielder Luis Robert (L) scores behind Houston Astros catcher Martin Maldonado (R) on a base hit by Chicago White Sox catcher Yasmani Grandal in the fourth inning of game three of the Major Lea

Tampa Bay Rays vs Boston Red Sox Game 4

The American League Wild Card Boston Red Sox are one win away from sending the Tampa Bay Rays back to Florida. Their epic 13-inning 6-4 win in game three shifted their leg of the ALDS in their favor two games to one.

In a back-and-forth joust between these two sides, the top half of the 13th saw a very colorful, though ultimately textbook, ground-rule double. Yandy Diaz was on first when Kevin Kiermaier hit a shot to right center that bounced off the wall and into the charging Hunter Renfroe before ending up over the wall in the Red Sox bullpen. There was a lot of fan anguish and column ink devoted to the fact that, being two outs, Yandy Diaz took off on contact and when the ball went over the wall was rounding third and would have easily scored had the ball remained in play. However, from an umpiring point of view, there was never any question in the matter. The play was, by rule, a ground-rule double.

Baseball Rule 5.05(a)(8) states: ''Any bounding fair ball is deflected by the fielder into the stands, or over or under a fence on fair or foul territory, in which case the batter and all runners shall be entitled to advance two bases.'' Diaz was at first when the play started so could not advance beyond third. Ultimately, the one run that he represented was of no consequence when, in the bottom half of the same inning, Christian Vazquez hit a bullet over the green monster with Renfroe on first for a two run walk-off home run. Even with Diaz scoring, the Sox would still have walked it off.

Houston Astros vs Chicago White Sox Game 4

In the other leg of the American League Division Series, the Chicago White Sox won a 12-6 blowout after dropping the first two games to Houston to go to two games to one. Game four has been rained out and will be played on Tuesday the 12th, in a series that isn’t without its own controversy. Accusations flew, when after the game three win, Chicago pitcher Ryan Tepera implied that Houston was perhaps cheating, bringing to mind the all-too recent scandal around the Astros using cameras in center field to steal the opposing team’s signs.

Sign stealing is a legal and time-honored part of baseball, as long as it is done with the naked eye. It was the use of technology that saw Houston sanctioned in 2020. Astros manager Dusty Baker shot back, “I don’t have much response to that other than I was listening to Eric Clapton this morning, and he had a song, ‘Before you accuse me, you need today to look at yourself.’ You know what I mean? That’s all I got to say.” This was a clear reference to Yasmani Grandal’s interfering with a throw home, costing Houston the run at the plate and a further two runs in that inning. The play drew strong criticism from all quarters of gamesmanship by the White Sox.

Milwaukee Brewers vs Atlanta Braves Game 3

The National League Division Series is an altogether more sedate thing. What it lacks, perhaps, in excitement, it more than makes up for in quality. Atlanta looks to win game three in their leg against the Brewers and are doing so through solid small-ball tactics by both teams. They have split the series so far at one game apiece and each of the contestants have rallied behind stellar pitching, fielding, and putting the ball in play, illustrating the old maxim that offensive play puts numbers up, but defense wins games.

San Francisco Giants vs Los Angeles Dodgers Game 3

On the other side of the NLDS chart, the Dodgers are trying to gather momentum on the heels of their 9-2 win in game two. The series started with a bit of a whimper from the visitors to the Bay Area, when they dropped a 4-0 game one to the Giants. Sure-thing hall of fame pitcher Max Scherzer will be trying to regain his mojo after struggling in the Wild Card Game against St Louis, limping through with the win but after a very shaky performance. He can afford no such luxury against San Francisco, they are not the team to let any mistake go unpunished.

Monday, Oct. 11

Brewers v. Braves, Game 3 (1 p.m. ET)

Rays v. Red Sox, Game 4 (7 p.m. ET)

Giants v. Dodgers, Game 3 (9:30 p.m. ET)


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