PostSeason

Astros shut out Yankees in ALCS

On Saturday night in Houston, the Astros defeated the Yankees by a score of 4-0 (box score) in Game 7 of the ALCS. The Astros will now advance to take on the Dodgers in the World Series, which begins Tuesday in Los Angeles.
As for Game 7, Houston starter Charlie Morton and Lance McCullers pitching in relief combined for the three-hit shutout. For the Astros, Evan Gattis and Jose Altuve homered, and Alex Bregman shined on defense. On the other side, CC Sabathia allowed only one run despite putting eight men on base in 3 1/3 innings. However, Tommy Kahnle, who had been perfect in the 2017 postseason, gave up three runs in 1 1/3 innings. On offense, the Yankees as a team went 0 for 3 with runners in scoring position.
Here are 14 more things to know about Game 7.
Morton was nails
What an effort from Charlie Morton in the biggest game of his life. He coughed up seven runs in 3 2/3 innings in his previous ALCS start, but this time around, he threw the ball very well.

Morton was efficient, needing only 54 pitches to get through five innings, 37 of those pitches going for strikes. He had the stuff, sitting mid-90s with the fastball and masterfully weaving in the ol’ 12-to-6 curveball. He allowed just two hits while striking out five and walking one.
The Astros were likely prepared for anything when it came to the pitching plan in this one. Among the most unlikely outcomes heading in, at least for outside observers, was Morton dealing for five scoreless.
It was only five innings — by design — but Morton deserves heaps of praise in this one. He stifled a very good offense.

Home field rules

We just witnessed a seven-game series in which the home team won every game. It feels like this happens often in the NBA, but in MLB it’s not commonplace. In fact, there have only been four postseason series where the home team won every single game (via Dan Hirsch):
1987 World Series – Twins over Cardinals
1991 World Series – Twins over Braves
2001 World Series – Diamondbacks over Yankees
2004 NLCS – Cardinals over Astros

Read more and CBS News


Astros’ offense and emotions wake up

Jose Altuve has led the American League in hits each of the last four seasons, his total adding up to 845. It’s likely none of them evoked the kind of animated display the Houston Astros second baseman let loose after his fifth-inning single Friday.

Jose Altuve was the Astros’ emotional leader in Game 6, firing up the team with a pair of huge key hits.

His fellow Astros hitters were nearly as pumped.
For five-plus games, the most prolific offense in the majors had been bottled up in the AL Championship Series, held to a mere nine runs and a .147 batting average by the New York Yankees pitching staff.

Friday’s do-or-die Game 6 was looking much the same until Brian McCann broke through with a fifth-inning double for the night’s first run, after Houston had gone 4-for-27 in its previous chances with runners in scoring position in the series.

But it wasn’t until Altuve followed three batters later with his two-RBI hit that Minute Maid Park truly exploded, as the sellout crowd of 43,179 sensed a decisive Game 7 would be in the offing.

GAME 6: Verlander dominates again as Astros force decisive Game 7

Read more


Wow, it’s hard to believe the season is almost over! 2017 has been an exciting pennant race with the Boston Red Sox going out early and my local favorite – Washington Nationals losing again.

It just seems like Dusty Baker chokes when it counts. They say that baseball is a game of inches. Well, their lost to last year’s World Series Champions – Chicago Cubs was very disappointing given the fact that they had an incredible regular season.

What has been very frustrating this year is the fact that the Baltimore Orioles started off the season with one of the best winning records. However, by late April / early May they fell apart and never saw first place again.  The O’s finished in last place.

So, now I’ve switched to the Houston Astros, which I predict are going to beat the Yankees and play the Dodgers in the World Series.

Rain Rebound

5 Ways To Help Your Infield Skin Rebound From Rain Quickly

(following excerpts are from original material at Ballfields.com)

While the western quarter of the US is battling a daunting drought, the central portion of the US has been dealing with lots of rain over the past couple of months. Think about it. In a three week span, the entire state of Texas went from a major 4-year drought to being totally drought free. It takes a lot of rain to knock out four years of drought in just three weeks. With all that rain, surely there are many who are having issues with trying to get their fields ready after a rain. Let’s take a look at what you can do to help your fields recoup from a rain event as quickly as possible.

  1. Keep Your Infield Properly Graded
    First and foremost, make sure that your infield is properly graded to promote positive surface drainage. Ideally, the infield should be graded so that the area around the base of the pitcher’s mound is the highest point on the infield with the surface grade then sloping away from the mound in all directions. However, depending on the lay of the land that the field was built on, the other way of grading an infield would be to “sheet drain” it. This means the entire infield is tilted in one direction; for example, the infield may tilt from the first base foul line towards left field. In either instance, both of these surface grades are only efficient at draining the water off it if the surface is smooth and consistent. In other words, there are no high spots or low spots to impede or deflect the drainage. Proper nail and float dragging are crucial maintenance practices that, when done correctly, will keep your skin surface in smooth and consistent surface draining condition.
  2. Maintain Your Turf Edges
    Maintaining your turf edges to prevent lip buildup will allow the water to easily pass over from infield skin to turf area without any issues. When infield soil and infield topdressing buildup in the edges of the grass, that ridge or “lip” impedes the water from freely moving off the field. The more severe the lip, the more water it will hold back onto the infield skin. Properly maintain those lips to keep them from slowing your field from recuperating.

  3. Choose Appropriate Infield Soil Material
    The right infield soil material has a huge impact on speed of reentry onto an infield after a rain. Infield soils that are either high in silt or high in fine and very fine sand drastically effect how quickly the field is playable again after a rain. Even worse is when you have both problems! High silt and high fine sand content infield soils can take a day or multiple days to recuperate. Have your infield soil tested to check to see how your soil material lines up with the acceptable specifications. Strive for a balanced infield soil with the right amounts of medium to coarse sand and the proper ratio of silt to clay. It’ll make all the difference in the world as to how easy it will be getting the infield back into playing condition.
  4. Use an Infield Top Dressing
    Use a topdressing on your infield skin surface. An infield topdressing is a ¼” to ½” layer at the infield skin surface of a granular material that will not stick to a players cleat, even when wet. These materials, usually made of calcined clay, vitrified clay, expanded shale, crushed aggregate or crushed brick, tend to dry more quickly on the surface then if you just had the bare soil exposed. The topdressing will dry on the surface while your infield soil underneath is still moist, but the topdressing allows you still to reenter the field. It acts much like a mulch in a landscape bed and provides many benefits in the performance of the infield.
  5. Drag the Field Before Rain Storms
    When you know a rain is coming, keep the field dragged smooth if at all possible. The water will flow more easily and rapidly off the infield if it is smooth and not pock marked with cleat marks and divots. Additionally, keep the field TIGHT! A tight field absorbs less water than one that has been deeply nail dragged, which will create pore space for water to fill and slow the drying process down considerably after the rain event.

How it rains also can have an impact in how fast your field will recuperate and come back up online for play. A long, slow light to moderate rain of a couple hours or more is very penetrating and will be deeply absorbed by your infield soil. This type of a rain usually requires longer for the field to dry from. Compare that to a heavy rain lasting 15 to 30 minutes, or even an hour. This kind of rainfall, while possibly dumping many times the amount of water than a slow rainfall did, is a violent rainfall to the soil.

 

Paul Zwaska

A former head groundskeeper for the Baltimore Orioles, Paul graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 1984 with a Bachelor’s in Soil Science with a specialty in Turf & Grounds Management. Paul took over as head groundskeeper for the Orioles’ final season at old Memorial Stadium in Baltimore and then was heavily involved throughout the design and construction phases of Oriole Park at Camden Yards which debuted on April 4, 1992.   Read more

Every game is game seven.

Blaze-Pilots Semi-Finals ScorecardGame seven is the final game of a best of seven series. This game can occur in the postseasons for Major League Baseball (League Championship Series and World Series), the National Basketball Association (all rounds of the NBA playoffs), and the National Hockey League (all rounds of the Stanley Cup playoffs). Read more

Last year, the Blaze finished the regular season in last place (0-14).  There is something to be said for coming back from a large deficit.  But what about turning around your entire life?  Take Rollie Hemsley for example.  Nevertheless, we finished the 2016 season with 9 wins, 2 loses and 2 ties which was good enough for the #3 seed going into the Playoffs.

Game of the Century

Blaze-Pilots Semi-Finals Scorecard

What is particularly interesting is the fact that our team really came on strong after May 16 disappointing loss to the Bears.  We fault hard against the Royals a few days later and tied.  But, best of all, going into the playoffs we had a 4 game winning streak.

“It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get up.”-Vince Lombardi

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Final Four: Game Summary

  • Blaze took an early lead 3-1 after the 1st inning.
  • However, we gave up 7 runs in the 2nd inning and 4 runs in the 3rd inning.
  • At the end of three, we were losing 12-4 (down 8 runs).
  • Next thing you know, the Blaze came alive in the bottom of the 4th inning with 9 runs batted in during a 2 out rally.
  • In particular, Amelia smashed a 3 RBI homerun out of the park, followed by another 2 RBI homerun by Blake.  This was enough to regain the lead.
  • Blake had 3 Ks in the top of the 5th inning and Henry struck out the final batter to get the save in the top of the 6th inning.
  • Blaze win 13-12. On to the World Series Championships!
  • Arguably, the most thrilling game of the century.  At least the ONLY one that I was ever involved with that had such an amazing come from behind victory.

As a matter of fact, my very first Blog was about Victory and Defeat which I published back on April 17, 2016.  Having attended Boys Latin High School, our slogan was Esse Quam Videri.  Later in life, my favorite Latin expression became Carpe Diem after watching the movie “Dead Poet Society”.

Robin Williams, was another hero of mind.  In this scene above, he concludes by  saying,

“Thank you boys”

Keep in mind, we were one of the few teams with a girl.  And to make it more interesting, she won the MVP twice during the regular season.

So, when I sat down to write this blog, I struggled for the best title.  I love the expression, “Every game is game seven” because it remind me of the famous “One Day at a Time” proverb.  But then I thought about the Roland Park Baseball League Mission “Little League, BIG FUN! The purpose of Roland Park Baseball is to instill sportsmanship and to provide a nurturing environment, which will allow the children to mature physically, mentally, and emotionally. Further, the league strives to work with parents to develop realistic expectations of their children.”

I love U2

I continued to wrestle for a title and thought about naming it “Never forget!” If this game doesn’t build a child’s memory, I don’t know what does.  In fact, I believe that everyone that was at that game witnessed a miracle.  Speaking of miracles, listen to the following song…

Have you ever looked up the lyrics of a song?  I love U2.  They are by far, my favorite band for a lot of reasons.  Mostly because of the spiritual words in their songs.

“As long as I am in the world, I am the Light of the world.”
John 9:5  (fast forward 4 minutes and 15 seconds)

When my wife and I dated for about 10 years, she always used to say, “I love you”.  I was not ready to commit and often jokingly said, “I love U2”!

Getting back to the game, rather than clutter this blog with a bunch of images, I’ll let readers browse “Final Four” photos on their own by Clicking Here. These are some amazing candid shots by one of our parents.

Another title for this blog indicative of the drama we went through is “And now the end is near. And so I face the final curtain.”  When we started the top of the 4th inning, I started to prepare our Coaches game summary “Defeat speech”.  I told the team afterwards that I honestly thought there was no way we could come back and they all booed and hissed me, and even started throwing grass at me.

See if you can get some hidden messages in this classic…

Another possible title is “Repetition is the mother of skill.”  I am a firm believer that if you practice fielding ground balls and swinging a bat, eventually you’ll become a master.  Obviously, I love quotations and started compiling a list of my favorites about 20 years ago (Click Here).

“You can spend all your love making time”

I was listening to this song immediately following our “emotional roller-coaster”.  Do you notice the resemblance? Here are the lyrics:

“All alone at the end of the evening
And the bright lights have faded to blue.
I was thinking ’bout a woman who might have loved me
I never knew.
You know I’ve always been a dreamer
Spent my life runnin’ ’round

And it’s so hard to change
Can’t seem to settle down
But the dreams I’ve seen lately keep on turning out
And burning out and turning out the same.
So put me on a highway and show me a sign
And take it to the limit one more time.
You can spend all your time making money,
You can spend all your love making time…

Take it to the limit, take it to the limit
Take it to the limit one more time.”

Check out the Wiki facts

Finally, you may be wondering what’s the point?  It’s simple.  Success is much more than just a trophy. If you play every game like it’s the last game of the World Series, field every ball like the game is on the line, get in the batter’s box with all the confidence in the world that you are going to hit a hard line drive, then you are well on your way to enjoying the purpose of life.