Date: October 6, 2012

Elias Says...

By Elias Sports Bureau, Inc.
Special to ESPN.com

MLB

2 ROAD TEAMS WIN WILD CARD GAMES? NOT A SHOCK

From Elias: We've said it for many years now: In Major League Baseball, home-field advantage means nothing in the winner-take-all Wild Card game. OK, so maybe we haven't said exactly that, being that this is the first year for such a game, but we have pointed out that one of the many good reasons for the Wild Card game to exist at all is that home-field advantage in the league playoffs (that is, not including the World Series) is not a good enough prize, by itself, to offer teams in the postseason format. The two losses by home teams on Friday night lowered the home-field winning percentage in intraleague postseason games over the last 20 postseasons to just .521.

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Saunders

SAUNDERS WINS WHERE HE NEVER HAD BEFORE

From Elias: Joe Saunders was the winning pitcher for the Orioles in their 5-1 victory over the Rangers in the American League Wild Card Game. Saunders had been 0-6 in six previous games (six starts) at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, games that were played from 2006 to 2010 while Saunders was with the Angels. He was the first pitcher ever to start a postseason game at a venue at which he had never won a game in six-or-more decisions. And Saunders is also now the first pitcher in Orioles franchise history to have won a winner-take-all postseason game.

Baltimore Orioles, Texas Rangers

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Matusz

MATUSZ FANS HAMILTON FOR KEY OUT

From Elias: With no disrespect to Jim Johnson, who closed out the Orioles' 5-1 win over the Rangers on Friday night, the key relievers in the Birds' victory were Darren O'Day and Brian Matusz. O'Day tossed two scoreless innings, and then Matusz came out of the bullpen to strike out Josh Hamilton, representing the potential tying run (and on three pitches, no less) with two out in the eighth inning and Baltimore leading, 3-1. Matusz's strikeout of Hamilton marked only the second time in major-league history that a pitcher had struck out a player who had hit 40-or-more homers that season, with the potential tying run at bat or on base, in the eighth inning or later of a winner-take-all postseason game - and that the pitcher's team then won the game. The other case came when the Cardinals' Adam Wainwright struck out the Mets' Carlos Beltran (who had hit 41 homers that season) with the bases full and two out to finish off a 3-1 victory in Game Seven of the 2006 National League Championship Series.

Baltimore Orioles, Texas Rangers

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Lohse

LOHSE, 0-4 PREVIOUSLY IN POSTSEASON, WINS FOR CARDINALS

From Elias: Kyle Lohse went 14-8 last season and 16-3 this season but had been winless in his four postseason decisions before earning the victory in the Cardinals' Wild Card victory at Atlanta. Lohse became the first pitcher in major-league postseason history to win a game for a team facing elimination after having previous been winless in at least four postseason decisions. Steve Carlton in 1978, Jerry Reuss in 1981 and Charlie Leibrandt in 1985 had won elimination games after bringing 0-3 postseason records into those games.

St. Louis Cardinals, Atlanta Braves

CARDINALS GET ANOTHER BACK-TO-THE-WALL POSTSEASON WIN

From Elias: The Cardinals continued their pursuit of a second consecutive World Series championship by dispatching the Braves, 6-3, in the National League Wild Card Game. It marked the fifth straight time that St. Louis has won a postseason game in which a loss would have spelled elimination; last year, the Cardinals won Games Six and Seven of the World Series over the Rangers after having defeated the Phillies in Games Four and Five of a National League Division Series. The Cardinals became only the second major-league team in the last 10 postseasons (2003-12) to win five straight so-called elimination games; the Red Sox won five straight games of that type, all in the American League Championship Series, in 2007 (against the Indians) and 2008 (against the Rays).

Atlanta Braves, St. Louis Cardinals

BRAVES LOSE ANOTHER GAME 1... THIS ONE, WITHOUT A CHANCE TO REBOUND

From Elias: For the Braves, unfortunately, the one-game nature of the new first round of the playoffs could not disguise the fact that, essentially, it was the first game of a postseason "series." The loss to the Cardinals marked the seventh straight time that the Braves had dropped the first game of a postseason series, a streak that dates back to the 2001 National League Championship Series. Atlanta owns the second-longest streak of that sort in major-league postseason history; the record belongs to the Indians, who lost eight straight postseason series openers from 1995 to 1998.

Atlanta Braves, St. Louis Cardinals

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Jones

BRAVES ERRORS CONTRIBUTE TO TOUGH LOSS

From Elias: The Braves committed three errors on Friday, by third baseman Chipper Jones, second baseman Dan Uggla and shortstop Andrelton Simmons. Six other major-league teams saw errors by their second baseman, third baseman and shortstop in the same postseason game, but in none of those games was the team eliminated from the postseason.

The error by future Hall-of-Famer Jones was particularly pivotal, coming in what was apparently his final game. Several other longtime major-leaguers, including Jim Gilliam, Tim Wallach and Will Clark, committed a postseason error in a loss in what turned out to be their final game. But no major-leaguer who played as many regular-season games as Chipper (2,499) committed a postseason error in his final game.

Atlanta Braves


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