|Brandon Crawford unloads on this Edinson|
Volquez pitch. He hit 10 homers in the regular
season, a career high.
Brandon Crawford, former Mankato Moondog (2005) and current San Francisco Giant, put this one on ice with a grand slam in the fourth inning.
Of course, the Giants' Bay Area neighbors for Oakland were unable to sustain a four-run lead of their own in the AL wild card game. The difference: Jon Lester let the Kansas City Royals back into the game, and Madison Bumgarner did not.
So the National League team I was most interested in rooting for (Pittsburgh) is eliminated. Let's go down the list of division series match-ups:
AL: Anaheim versus Kansas City; Baltimore vs. Detroit.
The Angels had much the better record and do more things well than the Royals do, plus manager Mike Scoscia is far less likely to make a mess than is Ned Yost. But Anaheim's starting pitching has been thinned by injuries; Matt Shoemaker, who will start Game 2, hasn't pitched in more than two weeks. (I saw him against the Twins in early September and was not impressed.)
I'll almost always root for the Midwest team over one from Southern California, and this will be no exception. And while Anaheim is the better team, I'll go with K.C. to take this series. Hope so; the longer Yost is the Royals manager, the better for the Twins.
The other series is a genuine test of two postseason power theories. Theory one is that power arms win in October, and the Tigers have a genuine advantage in power arms. Theory two is that teams based on power hitters struggle in October; the weather is colder and the pitchers don't make as many mistakes. Baltimore's offense is based on the home run.
Both theories point to Detroit, so that's my pick. As far as rooting goes, I'm torn. I like the Orioles; they were my favorite non-Twins team in my formative years of fandom. I may well find as the series progress that I want the O's. I start without a preference.
NL: Washington-San Francisco; St. Louis-Los Angeles
I see no reason to pick against the Nationals. Deep rotation, solid lineup. Former Twin Denard Span had his best season since 2009 (led the National League in hits) and gives me a rooting interest. The Giants always seem to have enough pitching to be tough in October, but I gotta go with the Nats.
The Cardinals and Dodgers? I'd like them both to lose. Only one will, however. And I'll pick the Cardinals to win his one. As for rooting, I dislike both operations, so I'll refrain from making any emotional investment.