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2012 MLB Playoffs Game 3 Recaps: Giants-Reds, Athletics-Tigers
Two elimination games, but zero eliminations. Bay Area baseball fans had a very good night on Tuesday.
This was a tight contest all the way through, locked in a 1-1 tie for more than six innings, yet it had trouble exceeding the median WPS Index (roughly 310), with the 10th inning being the only breakout. What gives?
It's more a matter of what didn't give: the pitchers. Homer Bailey lost a no-hitter in the sixth despite having yielded a run in the third, and Giants hurlers were not far behind in effectiveness. Of the 20 half-innings played, only seven saw any baserunners. A tie, yes, but without serious threats to break the deadlock, one gets not tension but stasis. The hero does not look nearly as heroic if he does not have to struggle before prevailing.
A great final inning can brush away memories of tedium, and the drama of Scott Rolen's bobble that let Joaquin Arias reach first and Buster Posey reach home was a fine jolt. But then the Reds went down 1-2-3 in their half, which seems almost a microcosm of the game: a quiet inning when we were hoping for things to pop.
Another instance where the pitching, primarily Oakland pitching, was too good to make for a very interesting game. Detroit managed more than one baserunner only in the second inning, and it's no coincidence that's when they posted their highest inning WPS score. It is probably a coincidence that this game's WPS Index is identical to yesterday's 12-4 St. Louis win over Washington. Two different styles of being kinda boring: the runaway win, and the offensive shutdown.
If you wanted excitement, your best bet was to watch Oakland's outfielders robbing Prince Fielder. In the second, Fielder hammered a ball deep to center, but Coco Crisp (perhaps still smarting from that misplay that cost Oakland dearly in Game Two) went over the wall to steal the home run. Five innings later, Fielder lined a pitch to left field, but Yoenis Cespedes made a tumbling catch to take away what even Fielder could have made a double.
After this second play, Oakland reliever Ryan Cook could be seen shouting, "Big Boy!" to Cespedes. Somewhere, Rico Carty was smiling.
Read more great baseball stuff at The Hardball Times.