|Descalso came up huge for the Cardinals in their stunning comeback win. (US Presswire)|
An unbelievably dramatic division-series round is now in the books. It's easily the best division-series round in MLB history, as it was the first with all four series to go five games and we saw dramatic game after dramatic game. Words can't describe the past week of baseball. And there are still three series to go. Wow. Anyway, let's get out the red pen.
CC Sabathia is an obvious A, as was the entire Cardinals offense. Well, the entire Cardinals team after the third inning, really. I'm in awe right now. That's a 6-0 deficit on the road against a possible Cy Young winner. Yes, Gio Gonzalez left the door open (we'll get to him, trust me), but the Cardinals ended up with nine runs in the final six innings. This included the insane four-run ninth inning off closer Drew Storen. How about Daniel Descalso, too? He hit two homers in the series after hitting four in the regular season and came through with the game-tying hit.
Nationals offense. You have to give them credit for chasing Adam Wainwright after just 2 1/3 innings and putting up seven runs on 11 hits. On the other hand, the had a 6-0 lead and never extended it until the bottom of the eighth, when they scored one run to make it 7-5. Given what we've seen from the Cardinals the past two postseasons, six just never really felt like enough from where I sat (I can prove it with this tweet). So it was a good effort for the Nationals' bats, but not an A effort.
The Yankees not named CC. Hey, they won. They still only mustered three runs on five hits. Nick Swisher, Robinson Cano and Russell Martin continued to struggle (yes, I remember Martin's huge Game 1 homer, but he's done nothing since). The Orioles' pitching staff does deserve some credit, but it was still Jason Hammel making his second start since Sept. 11 on a balky knee as the starter. So it was pretty much a C effort from the bats. Those Yankees bats better wake up, or Detroit's starting rotation will bury them quickly.
It's the Orioles offense here. They avoided an F because they were facing playoff ace CC Sabathia and had a mini-rally in the eighth inning. Of course, that was helped by Lew Ford's RBI single having eyes and Sabathia's poor decision on Robert Andino's infield chopper. How about this one? The Orioles offense was hitting .197/.238/.296 in the series before going 4-for-30 with two walks against Sabathia Friday. Yuck.
Nationals pitchers, including Davey Johnson leaving Gio Gonzalez out there too long. It's one thing to get hit when you're throwing strikes with a huge lead. It's quite another to walk four guys, including one with the bases loaded. Not to mention Gonzalez allowing in a run on a wild pitch. It was just a terrible effort for a Cy Young candidate at home when spotted a huge early lead. But he wasn't alone. Edwin Jackson allowed a run (and why was he pitching with Ryan Mattheus available? And if Jackson was available before extras, why didn't Gio have a shorter leash?), as did Tyler Clippard (a Descalso homer? Really?). And then Drew Storen was lit up for four runs in the ninth. What a painful way to end the season, especially since they'll be forced to listen to a bunch of crap about Stephen Strasburg all offseason now.