Welcome to the WILDCARD EDITION, of the MLB pennant report. The regular season has wrapped with some exciting division chases, such as the Texas Rangers coming out of nowhere to claim the American League Western Division title from the Houston Astros and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. In the National League, the Washington Nationals, at one time looked like a contender, and were a preseason favorite to repeat as division champs, but terrible team chemistry and lack of clutch hitting failed their excellent pitching staff as the Nationals went 11-18 in August and 14-15 in September, including 0-5 against the young New York Mets who sailed right by Washington.
Who can forget the late summer runs of the Toronto Blue Jays, led by pitching ace David Price to snag the division out of the New York Yankees hands or the young Chicago Cubs reeling off 12 wins out of 13 games in early August to shove their way into absolute contention and finish the regular season with 8 more wins in a row to land with the MLB’s third best overall record of an awesome 97-65 games?
The next step in the chase for the MLB pennant is of course the one gamer between the wildcards in each respective league. I have not had as much luck prognosticating in college football lately, and some of my baseball predictions did not come true either, but what the heck, that’s sports. Thus, I am going to attempt to pick winners regardless.
American League Wildcard game Tuesday Houston Astros versus the New York Yankees
Throughout his career in the early rounds of baseball, Mr. Alex Rodriguez, has quite hit well, it’s been the later rounds, when he usually seems to get tight shall we say. Perfect example, even during his best post season run, 2009, when he scorched opposing pitchers for a .455 batting average and 2 dingers in the ALDS, and a .429 average with 3 homers in the ALCS, but then he dropped to a more pedestrian .250 in the world series against Philly, with 1 clutch home run. A hunch tells me this guy knows it could be his last run and he is going to be loose for once. I predict Alex will get a couple doubles off the wall and drive in some runs for a Yankee win against Houston. Who knows maybe even a game winning hit late to seal the victory for New York. Besides, the Houston Astros faded down the stretch showing they are not yet ready for the big-time.
National League Wildcard game Wednesday Chicago Cubs versus the Pittsburgh Pirates
The Cubs are the young team, really with nothing to lose and one of their aces Jake Arietta will take the hill in this pivotal game. Arietta has notched 22 wins, 236 strikeouts, with a 4.92 strikeouts per walk ratio (can you stellar?), and hurled a no-hitter on the road against the Los Angeles Dodgers, just when the Cubs were threatening to start a big losing streak. Their manager Joe Maddon has been in the playoffs many times, and made 1 trip to the World Series, his calm hand seems to really guide this club. Their general manager, Theo Epstein built the Boston Red Sox club who ended the horror of Boston’s curse, he is the right guy to end the pain of every Cubs fan. Now on the other hand the Pittsburgh Pirates are in their third straight post-season appearance and loaded with a ridiculous outfield that showcases, defense, thunder, and lightning, kind of like their 1979 World championship outfield. I predict this game will have HUGE television ratings, and the winner of this game will then upset the Saint Louis Cardinals. My heart says the Cubs will win in 9 innings, but my brain says Pittsburgh has paid it’s dues and will take it in extra innings off a clutch pinch hit, by you guessed it, Travis Ishikawa, the dude who’s pinch hit home run sent the Giants into the world series. I like predictions like this where I give myself a win-win scenario.