We’re down to eight. In a few short hours, there will be a major update on the site and our social media channels explaining why we had to blast through this all so fast and post the quarterfinals, semifinals, and final round all at once. I don’t recommend reading all of the posts at once. Maybe stretch it out over the next, ohhhhhh twelve days or so. But I had to get them all posted today.
Just like the last round, we gave each team a break; this one for three days, to allow the bullpens and rotations to return to full strength. Round Four is taking place on days 17-21 of the tournament.
Here we go!
SERIES ONE: #11 1998 (88-74) vs. #8 2010 (90-72)
WP: Cliff Lee (7ip, 7H, 3R, 3ER, 0BB, 7K)
LP: Rick Helling (2.1ip, 10H, 6R, 6ER, 3BB, 0K)
HR: Ian Kinsler (3)
2010 leads series: 1-0
So much for the rested bullpen. 1998 ran five relievers out to the wolves, and two of them (Todd Stottlemeyer and Tim Crabtree) threw 26 pitches, rendering them unavailable for anything more than a batter’s worth of work in Game Two. 2010 did damage early (Kinsler’s home run was on the first pitch of the game) and late, failing to score in only the fifth and eighth innings. David Murphy drove in four runs.
WP: Aaron Sele (8.1ip, 7H, 1R, 1ER, 3BB, 9K)
LP: C.J. Wilson (7ip, 10H, 4R, 4ER, 2BB, 5K)
S: John Wetteland (2)
HR: Juan Gonzalez (5)
Series tied: 1-1
Ceej was fine, but Sele was masterful, working into the ninth inning and allowing only a single run on a second-inning RBI double by David Murphy. But in the top of the third, 1998 Juan Gonzalez hit his fifth home run of the tournament, and Sele never looked back.
WP: Colby Lewis (6ip, 10H, 3R, 3ER, 1BB, 6K)
LP: John Burkett (3.2ip, 9H, 5R, 5ER, 5BB, 5K)
S: Neftali Feliz (2)
HR: Josh Hamilton (2), Juan Gonzalez (6)
2010 leads series: 2-1
Colby Lewis grinded out the win despite Juan Gonzalez hitting his sixth home run of the tournament. In the third, 1998 loaded the bases with one out, then kept them loaded with a Will Clark RBI walk. With the infield in, Pudge Rodriguez made bad contact, and Mitch Moreland charged hard, flipping the ball with his glove to Bengie Molina covering home. Lee Stevens was up next, and his RBI single kept ’em loaded for Fernando Tatis, who grounded a ball through the left side to score Clark. But Pudge Rodriguez blew through a stopsign and was thrown out at home by David Murphy to end the inning. Josh Hamilton led off the fourth with his second home run, and 2010 continued to build a lead until the ninth inning, when a two-run home run by Gonzalez capped a four-run rally against Darren Oliver and Chris Ray. But Neftali Feliz—after initially issuing Clark his second free pass of the game, put out the fire, inducing a lazy fly ball to left from Rodriguez.
G4: EIGHTEEN INNINGS.
WP: Derek Holland (0.2ip, 2H, 3R, 3ER, 2BB, 0K)
LP: Scott Bailes (1.2ip, 7H, 6R, 6ER, 1BB, 1K)
HR: Vladimir Guerrero (2), Nelson Cruz (2), Will Clark (3), Lee Stevens (3), Kevin Elster (2)
2010 wins series 3-1
With both bullpens already running low on steam, this eighteen-inning affair featured 535 combined pitches, 23 runs, 32 hits, three ejections, and (remarkably) our first two injuries of the tournament.
At the end of nine innings, the teams were deadlocked at two runs per side. Both starters (Tommy Hunter and Esteban Loaza) had acquitted themselves nicely, but—after two runs and a bout of elbow discomfort from Tim Crabtree—it was bullpen time. Back and forth they went until the top of the 13th, when rookie umpire Kerwin Danley called an obvious strike to Josh Hamilton ball four. Todd Stottlemeyer threw his head back in frustration, and as Danley began barking at the pitcher, Johnny Oates took matters into his own hands, yelling a string of confusing epithets at Danley. Accounts vary, but at least two players say they heard Oates call Danley a “three-headed son of a snout-sniffing prairie weasel” as he emerged from the dugout. After a lengthy argument, Oates was ejected, and two batters later, Nelson Cruz gave 2010 a 4-2 lead with a two-run home run.
But that was far from the end of the story. In the bottom half of the inning, a Rusty Greer RBI single and a Juan Gonzalez sac fly scored Mark McLemore and Tom Goodwin, respectively, and Frank Francisco had blown a save. Onward to the 14th, where Stottlemeyer would become the latest casualty, leaving with what appeared to be a serious shoulder injury.
In the 17th inning, 2010 struck again. With Scott Bailes on the mound, Josh Hamilton’s single scored Elvis Andrus. Hamilton later scored on a Nelson Cruz double, but in the bottom of the inning, the 2010 bullpen again failed to hold the line: with runners at the corners and one out, Derek Holland entered the game. Bengie Molina whiffed on a pitch in the dirt to allow Kevin Elster to score, and two batters later, Greer drove McLemore home. All tied again.
As fans, players, and broadcasters alike openly booed Scott Bailes and Darren Oliver, they combined to allow seven runs in the top of the inning, including a three-run home run from Vlad Guerrero. But the night was not over. Holland opened the bottom of the 18th by giving up a home run to Will Clark, then walking Ivan Rodriguez and Lee Stevens. Ron Washington stomped out of the dugout and punched Holland square in the jaw, wordlessly pointing to the dugout. He was instantly ejected.
Dustin Nippert wasn’t much better.
After a Fernando Tatis flyout, Nippert threw a middle-middle fastball to Kevin Elster and it was crushed. Four runs had scored, and—with the security guards having been ejected themselves for hurling abuse at the pitchers—fans began taking turns walking to the front row, vomiting on the field, and leaving the stadium.
Nippert walked McLemore.
Vladimir Guerrero emerged from the dugout and demanded the ball, refusing to leave. Guerrero could clearly be seen pointing to his own chest, telling Nippert: “I’m the designated pitcher now. Go home.” The two had to be separated, and Guerrero was ejected.
The pep talk must have worked, however. a visibly emotional Nippert induced a comebacker to the mound from Tom Goodwin and struck out Rusty Greer on three pitches. The nightmare was over, and the 2010 Rangers advanced to the Round of Four.
SERIES TWO: #42 1970 Senators (70-92) vs. #3 2016 (95-67)
WP: Dick Bosman (8.1ip, 7H, 3R, 3ER, 0BB, 11K)
LP: Cole Hamels (6ip, 12H, 4R, 4ER, 1BB, 5K)
S: Darold Knowles (5)
HR: Lee Maye (2), Jonathan Lucroy (1), Mitch Moreland (2)
1970WAS leads series: 1-0
Are you kidding me with this. Lee Maye with four RBI.
WP: Matt Bush (2.0ip, 1H, 2K)
LP: Joe Coleman (5.2ip, 11H, 9R, 9ER, 5BB, 4K)
HR: Aurelio Rodriguez (3), Adrian Beltre (1), Jonathan Lucroy (2), Rougned Odor 2 (2)
Series tied: 1-1
Rougned Odor drove in five runs, including a sixth-inning grand slam that broke a five-all tie. Yu Darvish struck out eight, but only lasted five innings. Bush and Tony Barnette are both unavailable for game three, having pitched in both of the first two contests.
WP: Colby Lewis (8ip, 4H, 2R, 0ER, 1BB, 6K)
LP: Casey Cox (6.1ip, 7H, 3R, 3ER, 0BB, 2K)
S: Sam Dyson (3)
HR: Elvis Andrus (3), Nomar Mazara (4)
2016 leads series: 2-1
Colby Lewis, in what will be his final season in baseball, looked like World Series-era Colby, and Nomar Mazara’s 2-run home run in the seventh inning put the 2016ers up 2-1 in the series, and the massive underdog 1970 Senators are one game from elimination.
WP: Martin Perez (7ip, 8H, 2R, 2ER, 2BB, 3K)
LP: George Brunet (4.1ip, 8H, 4R, 3ER, 0BB, 1K)
HR: Rougned Odor (3), Nomar Mazara (5)
2016 wins series: 3-1
Well, the 1970 Senators put up a good fight and made a run, but it was inevitable: their lack of starting pitching, relief pitching, defense, or hitting talent eventually caught up to them, and the death knell was a 6-run sixth inning that included back-to-back triples by Shin-Soo Choo and Ian Desmond and a 2-run home run by Rougned Odor. Senators pitchers struggled all day, only getting shutout work from D– …hang on. This can’t be a real name.
SERIES THREE: #26 2008 (79-83) vs. #2 1999 (95-67)
WP: Rick Helling (6ip, 7H, 3R, 3ER, 1BB, 5K)
LP: Kevin Millwood (4.2ip, 6H, 5R, 5ER, 1BB, 3K)
S: John Wetteland (4)
HR: Michael Young (1), Josh Hamilton (2), Rafael Palmeiro (3), Todd Zeile (2)
1999 leads series: 1-0
The 1999 SIMs did just what the real life 1999 team did: persistently and aggressively hit the mess out of the ball and spread out the scoring over the whole lineup. Their pitching is not good (but neither was the 2008 rotation) so maybe this classifies as a pitcher’s duel, all things considered
WP: Vicente Padilla (7ip, 8H, 1R, 1ER, 4BB, 5K)
LP: Aaron Sele (2.2ip, 6H, 6R, 6ER, 2BB, 6K)
HR: Ramon Vazquez (2)
Series tied: 1-1
We have our first Sidney Ponson sighting! He and Kameron Loe held the 99ers scoreless in garbage time as the 08 squad peppered Sele, Danny Kolb, and Esteban Loaiza relentlessly.
WP: Tim Crabtree (0.1ip, 1H)
LP: C.J. Wilson (0.0ip, 2H, 2R, 1ER)
S: John Wetteland (5)
1999 leads series: 2-1
Frank Francisco blew the save in the 7th when Rusty Greer singled home Royce Clayton, wasting Kason Gabbard’s six scoreless innings. C.J. Wilson’s bobble of a routine grounder in the ninth led to the loss, but 08 made it interesting in the bottom of the inning: after Michael Young singled home David Murphy, Josh Hamilton came to the plate with runners on the corners and two outs. Alas, he struck out swinging at a breaking ball low and outside.
WP: Scott Feldman (6ip, 8H, 5R, 5ER, 2BB, 2K)
LP: Mark Clark (0.2ip, 4H, 4R, 4ER, 0BB, 1K)
HR: Rafael Palmeiro (4), Royce Clayton 2 (3), Ramon Vazquez
Series tied: 2-2
I had to run this game a few times, because it kept knocking Mike Morgan out in the first inning and putting in John Burkett for six innings of relief. Getting a 1999 Mike Morgan start exactly right is a feature, not a bug, but the problem was that Burkett had just thrown over 100 pitches the night before. It happened like 30 times in a row. “Yeah, I see you’re starting Mike Morgan,” the machine seemed to imply. “Why would you do that. There’s a perfectly good John Burkett right here.”
The machine was right, but I couldn’t convince it to just trust me. So I let Mark Clark start, and lo and behold, the machine had him pegged pretty well too. And ohhh look who it is coming in and throwing 5.1 innings of (terrible) baseball: Mike Morgan. Can you imagine if the 1999 team had been able to run even one marginally decent back-of-the-rotation pitcher out there? Like, replace Mark Clark with, I don’t know, Brian Boehringer, and you probably win 100 games. Still would have lost to the Yankees, though. How do I know? Because…
WP: Matt Harrison (6ip, 3H 2R 2ER 4BB 0K)
LP: Rick Helling 6ip, 10H, 4R 4ER 1BB 6K)
S: Joaquin Benoit (1)
HR: David Murphy (2), Ivan Rodriguez (5)
2008 wins series: 3-2
Because they lost to the dang 2008 Texas Rangers, that’s how. The ninth inning got interesting, as ninth innings have a tendency to do in Arlington. C.J. Wilson started the inning, but only retired one batter before… you know what, actually I’m just going to let you look at what happened in the bottom of the ninth.
Did you catch that???
“If he pinch-runs, he can’t pitch“. Good point, computer.
Anyway, I’m not messing with it. The upset is official, and the 2008 team advances to the semifinals, where they’ll try to make life hard for the #3-ranked 2016 team. That actually seems like a fun matchup.
SERIES FOUR: #6 2013 (93-69) vs. #1 2011 (96-66)
WP: C.J. Wilson (7ip, 8H, 3R, 3ER, 1BB, 6K)
LP: Yu Darvish (5.2ip, 8H, 6R, 6ER, 1BB, 5K)
S: Neftali Feliz (2)
HR: 11David Murphy
It was Murphy’s home run that capped the five-run sixth inning, but here’s the more interesting story: 2013 Adrian Beltre singled in the first inning, and advanced to third base before scoring on a Mitch Moreland single one batter later. And for nearly fifteen minutes, the game was delayed as Adrian Beltre and Adrian Beltre faced off, first talking trash and later making attempts at touching one another’s head. Before long, the two Beltres were swordfighting with bats, before settling the score with a dance-off. Anything else that happened in this game doesn’t matter.
G2: WP: Derek Holland (7.1ip, 5H, 1R, 1R, 3BB, 7K)
LP: Derek Holland (7ip, 8H, 5R, 5ER, 3BB, 4K)
HR: A.J. Pierzynski (2), 13Leonys Martin (2)
Series tied: 1-1
For the first time all tournament, a starting pitcher faced off against himself. Post-mustache Derek Holland got the better of pre-mustache Holland (Mustache Holland was eliminated in the second round against the 1970s Senators)
WP: Colby Lewis (7ip, 5H, 2R, 0ER, 1BB, 5K)
LP: Alexi Ogando (6ip, 9H, 8R, 8ER, 4BB, 2K)
HR: 11Ian Kinsler (3), 11Mitch Moreland (3)
2011 leads series 2-1
2011 Adrian Beltre made two errors, stating after the game “I’m really in my own head right now.” Later, he clarified that he was talking about the 2013 version of himself, who had been yelling at 2011 Beltre that since he lived two years in the future, he could predict what 2011 Beltre was about to do. Then every time a ball was popped up near third base, 2013 Beltre would yell “I KNOW YOU MISS THIS ONE! I SAW A VISION!”
The taunts didn’t bother him at the plate, however, he went 2-for-5, one of four 2011 Rangers with multiple hits. Everyone in the lineup got at least one.
WP: Nick Tepesch (7ip, 9H, 4R, 3ER, 1BB, 4K)
LP: Matt Harrison (5.1ip, 9H, 7R, 7ER, 2BB, 1K)
S: Joe Nathan (2)
HR: 13Nelson Cruz (4)
Nick Tepesch over 2011 Matt Harrison is not a thing I expected to see. Errors by Andrus and Leonys Martin on the 2013 side didn’t hurt them much, as the offense pecked away at Harrison all night. No runs went on the ledger of Mark Lowe, Darren Oliver, or Yoshinori Tateyama, but Lowe did allow an inherited runner to score in the sixth. It wouldn’t have mattered, however, as the mighty 2011 offense was unable to muster anything of note against Tepesch.
WP: Alexi Ogando (7ip, 5H, 1R, 1ER, 1BB, 5K)
LP: Martin Perez (7ip, 7H, 4R, 1ER, 1BB, 4K)
HR: 11Mitch Moreland (4)
The 2013 team took a gamble saving Perez for Game Five. It did not pay off. Though the fault was not entirely that of Perez. Errors by Elvis Andrus and Leonys Martin contributed to the early deficit, and the combo of Neal Cotts and Jason Frasor could not stop the bleeding. Meanwhile, the 2013 offense was utterly stymied by Alexi Ogando (we could and probably should have followed the Holland/Holland matchup with one for the Ogandos). 2011, as expected, advances to the Round of Four.
#1 2011 vs. #8 2010
#26 2008 vs. #3 2016
Speaking of which… hit that back button on your browser, and let’s roll.