In Short Order: The NLCS reminded us of the glory and joy of pitchers hitting
Welcome to In Short Order, a weekly look at all the baseball that I like and can't stop obsessing over. We'll mostly live at the edges of the game; at the intersection of the weird, the fun and the esoteric. Oh yeah, and hair.
When the balls weren't zooming out of the park in the NLCS presented by Camping World (every Cubs run in the series was via dinger), the real fireworks came when the pitchers strode to the plate. Even in the high-stakes world of postseason baseball, we need whimsy. And nothing was more whimsical than the hurlers taking hacks.
Like when Yu Darvish drew a bases-loaded walk. He may not have had any plans to swing the bat, but his psychological warfare worked as Carl Edwards Jr. suddenly became aware of just how tiny the strike zone really is and couldn't throw one over the plate.
Darvish was pumped by his act of passivity:
But it wasn't just Darvish who was excited -- this ignited the imaginations of fans. And the Cubs fans got their chance the next day when Wade Davis came to the plate in the true apex of the pitcher-hitting experience.
After going down 0-2, Davis fouled off the next six pitches with a series of butcher-boy swings. It worked the crowd into a frenzy of giggling mirth. One fan broke out into what is now the official dance of appreciation for pitchers hitting:
And this fan that organized an entire standing ovation -- simply for a pitcher making contact.
The postseason is rarely so fun and giggle-inducing. It's usually white-knuckled stress, with brief interludes of crushing sadness or ecstatic joy. But mirth -- at something so silly? That's the realm of regular-season baseball games. Well, it was.
Now on to the rest:
Aaron Judge is once again unstoppable
There was some concern that Judge was broken after the ALDS saw the slugger go 1-for-20 with 16 strikeouts. The Indians threw curves and sliders more than 50 percent of the time, and the massive slugger kept swinging big and coming up empty.
The Astros continued that trend in the ALCS, but Judge is now hitting the ball, with two homers and a .813 slugging percentage.
This double is something he definitely wouldn't have made contact on just a week before. This was a good slider below the zone, and a guy roughly 800-feet tall managed to go down and get it:
That bodes well moving forward.
Todd Frazier is the embodiment of the average Tri-State area Yankees fan
Proof? Let's count the ways:
- He's from New Jersey and then attended Rutgers. That alone would be enough to seal it.
- He loves pro wrestling.
- The thumbs-down. It didn't exist until September, but already feels like it's been a New York institution for decades.
- His excitement. If there's one thing you have to give Yankees fans, it's that you're constantly aware that they're Yankees fans. Any time there's a shot of the Yankees dugout, Frazier has been cheerleading his team with a fervor normally reserved for the bleachers.
Postseason bunt of the week
The Cubs may be eliminated, but you can never eliminate the joy I get from watching Kyle Schwarber collect singles by bunting against the shift.
Stance of the week
Mariners prospect Eric Filia started his Arizona Fall League campaign by hitting 13-for-23, to lead the league with a .565 batting average. But, more importantly, this is what he does every time before he steps into the box:
What to watch this weekend
If you're a neutral, you're likely rooting for Justin Verlander to get the win Friday night, so there will at least be postseason baseball on Saturday night (Game 7 would air at 8 p.m. ET on FS1). If the Yankees do wrap up the series on Friday, there will at least be some baseball this weekend ... if you can hop a flight to Europe. Italy and the Netherlands are squaring off in a three-game exhibition series known as the European Baseball Series.
There's even one Cubs player taking part: Catcher Alberto Mineo, who played for Chicago's Class A affiliate in South Bend this year, is on Italy's roster.