(Editor’s Note: I know we’ve been cranking through these faster than originally planned. There’s a reason for that; one I can’t get into right now, but everything will be illuminated at 10am tomorrow morning. So maybe bookmark this one and keep it by your bedside, reading it—and the upcoming rounds of eight, four, and the championship round—a little at a time over the next two weeks. Sorry this is cryptic. It will all make sense soon.)
I like the sound of the Sundberg Sixteen. I still haven’t given much thought to what we’re going to call the round of eight, though. The Espy Eight? The Elster Eight? The Ohlendorf Ocho? We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it. For now, we have some best-of-five series to show you.
For the sake of rotation rest, I should set a schedule: Round One lasted two days, then there was an off-day in between. Round Two was held on days 3-5, then I gave each team two full days off so the pitching staff could rest up—to make this a fair assessment of each team’s peak ability, we want these squads as close to full-strength as possible. These games are taking place on days 8-12. There will be no off-days between games. The reasoning is that depth should count for something.
If these series go five games, we will see one start from each from every member of the five-man rotation. Home-field advantage (for what that’s worth here) will go 2-2-1, with the higher-ranking team getting the first two games (and the fifth game if necessary) at home.
With no further adieu, here are ALL EIGHT SERIES from Round Three!
SERIES ONE: #20 1995 (74-70) vs. #8 2010 (90-72)
WP: Kenny Rogers (9ip, 6H, 2R, 2ER, 3BB, 4K)
LP: Colby Lewis (7ip, 7H 4R, 4ER, 2BB, 8K)
HR: Rusty Greer (2), Juan Gonzalez (3), Mark McLemore 2 (2), Mike Pagliarulo (1), Ian Kinsler (2)
1995 leads series 1-0
Five home runs for the 1995 squad; all of them solo shots, but that’s good enough to take Game One.
WP: Darren O’Day (1.2ip, 2K)
LP: Roger Pavlik (7ip, 6H, 5R, 4ER, 5BB, 10K)
HR: Ivan Rodriguez (1), Josh Hamilton (1)
Series tied 1-1
The 2010 team entered the eighth inning in falling perilously behind in the series, but the bottom of the eighth featured 14 batters, two errors, and three pitchers (including Matt Whiteside and Mark Brandenburg) putting the home team squarely back on top. Cliff Lee pitched well, but O’Day picked up the win in relief. The teams will now trade dugouts.
WP: C.J. Wilson (6ip, 3R, 3ER, 5BB, 6K)
LP: Bob Tewksbury (4.2ip, 11H, 8R, 1ER, 1BB, 2K)
HR: Vladimir Guerrero (1), Will Clark (1) , Mickey Tettleton 2 (2)
2010 leads series 2-1
Four errors doomed the ’95 squad, leading to ten unearned runs. Alexi Ogando, Derek Holland, and Matt Harrison all gave up runs out of the bullpen for 2010, but a sloppy day in the field was too much for the old guard to overcome.
WP: Tommy Hunter (6ip, 6H, 4R, 4ER, 5BB, 2K)
LP: Bobby Witt (1.2ip, 5H, 4R, 4ER, 2BB, 1K)
HR: Nelson Cruz (1), David Murphy (1), Juan Gonzalez (4), Benji Gil (1)
2010 wins series 3-1
It was a 4-for-5 day for Josh Hamilton, and Nelson Cruz, Michael Young, and David Murphy also contributed three more hits each. Tommy Hunter wasn’t sharp, but Bobby Witt was worse and Danny Darwin gave up three runs in 4.1 innings for the 95 team. Juan Gonzalez had four home runs in the series, an accurate prediction of his real-life 96 ALDS (when he hit five in four games against the Yankees)
SERIES TWO: #14 1978 (87-75) vs. #11 1998 (88-74)
WP: Fergie Jenkins (9ip, 7H, 4R, 4ER, 1BB, 3K
LP: Rick Helling (8.2ip, 7H, 4R, 3ER, 3BB, 7K)
HR: Richie Zisk (2), Juan Gonzalez (2)
1978 leads 1-0
Tied at two going into the ninth, the teams traded wild final frames, as 78 got back-to-back RBI hits from Bump Wills and Mike Hargrove to take a 5-2 lead. But a Rusty Greer walk and a Juan Gonzalez home run pulled 1998 back to within a run, leaving Manager Bill Hunter with a decision to make. He opted to stick with his ace, and Fergie Jenkins rewarded him, retiring the next three batters in order to close the game.
WP: Aaron Sele (8ip, 9H, 4R, 4ER, 2BB, 5K)
LP: Jon Matlack (4ip, 12H, 8R, 8ER, 2BB, 6K)
S: John Wetteland (1)
Series Tied 1-1
Every ’98 Ranger had a hit except Fernando Tatis, and Pudge Rodriguez led the way with a 3-for-4 afternoon. Steve Comer pitched 4 innings of relief and will not be available until Game Five, should the series go that far.
WP: Doyle Alexander (7ip, 8H, 5R, 5ER, 2BB, 3K)
LP: John Burkett (4ip, 10H, 5R, 4ER, 1BB, 4K)
S: Paul Lindblad (1)
HR: Lee Stevens (2), Richie Zisk (3)
1978 leads series 2-1
1998 staked John Burkett to an early 4-0 lead, but he couldn’t get a single out in the fifth inning, allowing two runs, and leaving two baserunners, both of whom later scored, thanks to the ineffectiveness of Alan Levine. 1978 got multiple hits from every one of the fourth through ninth spots in the lineup, including three hits each from Al Oliver and Richie Zisk.
WP: Darren Oliver (6ip, 3H, 0R, 3BB, 5K)
LP: Doc Medich (1ip, 5H, 7R, 7ER, 3BB, 0K)
HR: Juan Gonzalez (3), Will Clark (1), Kevin Elster (1)
Series Tied 2-2
1998 sent nine men to the plate in the second inning before a single out was recorded. Len Barker pitched seven utterly ineffective innings of relief.
WP: Esteban Loaiza (6ip, 8H, 1R, 1ER, 0BB, 2K)
LP: Dock Ellis (1.2ip, 8H, 7R, 7ER, 1BB, 0K)
HR: Bobby Bonds (1), Juan Gonzalez (4)
1998 wins series, 3-2
For the second consecutive day, 1978’s vaunted rotation let them down. 1998 advances to take on 2010 in the quarterfinals.
SERIES THREE: #42 1970 Senators (70-92) vs. #12 1981 (57-48)
WP: Steve Comer (1.1ip, 1H)
LP: Darold Knowles (0.0ip, 3H, 2R, 1ER)
Journalistic integrity is fine and all, but for fake baseball I’m allowed to admit: I hope the 1970 Senators lose. I hope they lose so bad. And it’s not just because they’re technically not the Rangers, it’s because the SIM program can’t fit their name on the screen and gives up before the final letter. The Washington
lost in walk-off fashion when Mario Mendoza singled to Ed Stroud in center field, and Billy Sample dove headfirst across home plate, just under the tag of Paul Casanova.
WP: Jim Hannan (4.1ip, 2H, 1K)
LP: Steve Comer (.1ip, 1H, 3R, 2ER, 1BB, 1K)
S: Darold Knowles (2)
Series tied: 1-1
Two games in and no home runs, but somehow baseball has been compelling nonetheless. A double play could have ended the top of the tenth, but Buddy Bell booted a routine ground ball, and everything unraveled from there. The teams will switch sides, and—again, since the SIM program does not have RFK stadium as an option—we’ll keep it at Arlington stadium, but ditch the DH for games two and three.
G3:WP: Dick Bosman (9ip, 6H, 1BB ,6K)
LP: Danny Darwin (8ip, 8H, 1R, 1ER, 3BB, 7K)
Washington leads series 2-1
Dueling complete games for Bosman and Darwin, but the star of the game was the future Rangers’ pitching coach, who also drove in the game’s only run with a bloop single to score his catcher, Paul Casanova. The Rangers will have to win two straight to avoid becoming the latest casualty of the upstart Senators.
WP: Steve Comer (0.1ip)
LP: Jackie Brown (1ip, 3H, 2R, 0ER, 1BB, 0K)
S: Charlie Hough (1)
Series tied: 2-2
Ed Brinkman’s error extended the ninth inning, allowing Buddy Bell’s Texas Leaguer in the left-center field gap to score both Mario Mendoza and Bump Wills. Fergie Jenkins and Casey Cox each pick up a no-decision, allowing just a single run each.
WP: Bill Gogolewski (5ip, 6H, 4R, 4ER, 2BB, 4K
LP: Jon Matlack (3ip, 7H, 8R, 5ER, 3BB, 0K)
HR: Lee Maye (1), Frank Howard 2 (5), Rick Reichardt (1), Aurelio Rodriguez (3)
Washington wins series: 3-2
The biggest underdogs in Round Three carry the torch into the quarterfinals. I am not pleased, and I am not pleased that I am not pleased. I usually love underdogs.
SERIES FOUR: #31 1980 (76-85) vs. #3 2016 (95-67)
WP: Cole Hamels (8ip, 5H, 1R, 1ER, 3BB, 7K)
LP: Jon Matlack (5.1ip, 8H, 3R, 3ER, 0BB, 4K)
S: Sam Dyson (2)
HR: Buddy Bell (3)
2016 leads series: 1-0
Another one-run game from the 2016 team? You don’t say. This time it was three walks from Sam Dyson in the ninth that let the 1980 team nearly come from behind, but after a Pepe Frias sac fly scored Mickey Rivers, Dyson got Bump Wills to fly out to right field, and the rally was over.
WP: Doc Medich (9ip, 6H, 0R 2BB, 4K)
LP: Yu Darvish (6ip, 5H, 3R, 3ER, 2BB, 6K)
HR: Buddy Bell (4), Richie Zisk (3)
Series tied: 1-1
WP: Matt Bush (1.1ip, 2K)
LP: Danny Darwin (1.1ip, 2H, 1R, 1ER, 1BB, 2K)
S: Sam Dyson (3)
HR: Shin-Soo Choo (1), Nomar Mazara (1)
2016 leads series: 2-1
Colby Lewis got the nod over Martin Perez in the third game, and he went 7.2 innings for the no-decision. Fergie Jenkins went 8 innings on the other side, also leaving with no win-loss mark to show for it. Nomar Mazara’s tenth inning home run was the difference, as Sam Dyson was again shaky-but-ultimately-successful in closing out the game.
G4:WP: Gaylord Perry (7ip, 7H, 2R, 2ER, 1BB, 3K)
LP: Martin Perez (3ip, 7H 8R 6ER, 2BB, 1K)
HR: Al Oliver (2)
Series tied: 2-2
Everybody from the 1980 squad got at least one hit. They sent nine to the plate in the first inning, and leadoff hitter Bump Wills drove in four runs. We move to the rubber match…
G5:WP: A.J. Griffin (6ip, 3H, 0R, 4BB, 2K)
LP: Steve Comer (3ip, 9H, 7R, 7ER, 2BB, 0K)
HR: Nomar Mazara 2 (3), Elvis Andrus (2)
2016 wins series: 3-2
Finally, the 2016 side wins a game that isn’t a one-run contest. Modern Texas got two home runs and five RBI from Nomar Mazara in the elimination game, and they’ll move on to face the 1970 Washington Senators. In related news, the 2016 team is now my favorite team in this tournament.
SERIES FIVE: #26 2008 (79-83) vs. #4 1977 (94-78)
WP: Bert Blyleven (8ip, 8H, 1R, 1ER, 4BB, 7K)
LP: Vicente Padilla (3ip, 7H, 7R, 7ER, 1BB, 2K)
HR: Josh Hamilton (1), Toby Harrah (1), Willie Horton (1)
1977 leads series: 1-0
Here’s a fun fact about this matchup: Of the top five starters for the 1977 team (Bert Blyleven, Dock Ellis, Gaylord Perry, Doyle Alexander, and Nelson Briles), only one had an ERA above 4 (Nelson Briles, 4.24). Of the top five starting pitchers for the 2008 team (Vicente Padilla, Kevin Millwood, Scott Feldman, Matt Harrison, Kason Gabbard) only two had an ERA under 5 (Padilla, 4.74, Gabbard, 4.82).
WP: Kevin Millwood (7ip, 11H, 3R, 3ER, 2BB, 5K)
LP: Dock Ellis (5ip, 6H, 4R, 3ER, 3BB, 2K)
S: C.J. Wilson (1)
HR: Toby Harrah (1)
Series tied: 1-1
The sixth inning was the most important inning in this one: a bases-loaded single Ramon Vazquez scored Chris Davis and David Murphy, and Ian Kinsler followed with a sac fly to the wall in left field to score Gerald Laird.
WP: Kason Gabbard (5ip, 3H, 1R, 1ER, 2BB, 5K)
LP: Gaylord Perry (8ip, 9H, 4R, 4ER, 4BB, 6K)
S: C.J. Wilson (2)
HR: Ian Kinsler (1)
2008 leads series 2-1
It’s not surprising that the 2008 offense is making life difficult for a good pitching staff. It is surprising that their pitching is holding these games in single-digits.
WP: Scott Feldman (6ip, 4H, 1R, 1ER, 4BB, 4K)
LP: Doyle Alexander (8ip, 8H, 6R, 5ER, 3BB, 4K)
HR: Chris Davis (2), David Murphy (1)
2008 wins series: 3-1
Yeah, so forget everything I said up there about the rotations. 1977 gets back-to-back complete game losses from Gaylord Perry and Doyle Alexander, and the ’08 Rangers advance to take on the winners of…
SERIES SIX: #30 1992 (77-85) vs. #2 1999 (95-67)
WP: Rick Helling (8ip, 4H, 3R, 3ER, 4BB, 5K)
LP: Kevin Brown (3ip, 10H, 9R, 9ER, 1BB, 3K)
HR: 92 Juan Gonzalez (1), 95 Rafael Palmeiro (1), 95 Lee Stevens (1), 95 Royce Clayton (1), 95 Mark McLemore (1)
1999 leads series: 1-0
There’s that 1999 team we know. Every batter in the lineup had at least one hit, and everyone but Pudge (2-for-6) had at least one RBI. Rafael Palmeiro drove in six runs, including one in the second when he beat out a double play, and stood and talked to his past self while Juan Gonzalez worked a 9-pitch single. “I asked him how our knees felt,” 92 Raffy said after the game. “I told him we figured things out,” 95 Palmeiro answered with a wink after the game. Of note: during the conversation in the second inning, a mysterious-yet-svelte man in his 50s stood up in the front row and began yelling “ENJOY THIS MOMENT! DON’T GIVE UP, DON’T WALK AWAY UNTIL YOU’RE READY, I BELIEVE IN YOU” until he was escorted from the premises.
WP: Nolan Ryan (6ip, 7H, 2R, 2ER, 1BB 7K)
LP: Aaron Sele (5ip, 10H, 5R, 5ER, 0BB, 4K)
S: Jeff Russell (3)
HR: Todd Zeile (1)
Series tied: 1-1
WP: Jose Guzman (8ip, 8H, 4R, 4ER, 4BB, 4K)
LP: Esteban Loaiza (2ip, 2H, 2R, 2ER, 0BB, 0K)
S: Jeff Russell (4)
HR: ’99 Pudge Rodriguez 2 (3), 92 Ruben Sierra (1), 92 Dean Palmer (1), 92 Jeff Huson (1)
1992 leads series: 2-1
’99 Pudge Rodriguez ignored the disturbingly specific trash talk coming from behind the plate and hit two home runs, but Esteban Loaiza took the loss in relief of John Burkett, who only made it 3.1 innings. Burkett started the fourth inning with a strikeout of Juan Gonzalez, but then Palmeiro singled, and Ruben Sierra took a breaking pitch off the knee. Dean Palmer followed with a three-run blast, and that was the end of Burkett’s night. The winning run came in the sixth when Rusty Greer could do nothing but watch Ruben Sierra’s home run clear the left field wall.
Uhhhh is 1992 about to knock off the #2 seeded team??
WP: Mike Morgan (5ip, 5H, 2R, 2ER, 2BB, 3K)
LP: Bobby Witt (6ip, 7H, 4R, 2ER, 4BB, 3K)
S: John Wetteland (3)
HR: 92Ruben Sierra 2 (3)
Series is tied: 2-2
With two on and one out in the sixth inning, Tom Goodwin should have been out, but Pudge Rodriguez dropped a pop foul. Two pitches later, he should have been out again, but Jeff Frye made a bad throw to first base. Royce Clayton scored on the play, and the 99 team took the lead. Three pitches later, Rusty Greer’s groundout to second scored Mark McLemore from third for the insurance run.
WP: Esteban Loaiza (3ip, 5H, 0R, 0BB, 3K)
LP: Roger Pavlik (3ip, 9H 11R 6ER 5BB 2K)
HR: 92 Ruben Sierra (4), 99 Rafael Palmeiro (2), 99 Pudge Rodriguez (2)
1999 wins series 3-2
It was another situation where we can’t teach the SIM urgency, so e-Bobby Valentine (or e-Toby Harrah, depending on the date) left Roger Pavlik out there to suffer the consequences of his teammates’ bad defense (and his own bad pitching) and give up eleven runs in an elimination game. 99 team decision went to Loaiza again in relief, this time for Mark Clark, and this time he pitched better than game two. Meanwhile, the ’99 offense went bonkers, besting their game one tally by a run. They move on to face the upstart 2008 team, who entered the tournament ranked #26.
SERIES SEVEN: #21 1979 (83-79) vs. #6 2013 (93-69)
WP: Jim Kern (2.2ip, 5H, 2R, 2ER, 0BB, 3K
LP: Tanner Scheppers (.2ip, 4H, 3R, 3ER, 1BB, 0K)
HR: Al Oliver (1)
1979 leads series 1-0
Yu Darvish allowed six runs in as many innings, but the Rangers still had a chance when Jim Kern blew a chance to save Steve Comer’s win. Instead, Kern poached the victory when Tanner Scheppers allowed RBI singles to Billy Sample and Jim Sundberg. 2013 rallied in the bottom of the inning, scoring a run when Kern’s wild pitch sent Mitch Moreland scrambling home, but with Pierzynski on second base and no one out, David Murphy, Leonys Martin, and Ian Kinsler couldn’t get a ball out of the infield.
WP: Neal Cotts (1ip, 0R, 1BB, 2K)
LP: Fergie Jenkins (7.2ip, 6H, 6R, 6ER, 3BB, 2K)
HR: Nelson Cruz 2 (2), Leonys Martin 2 (1)
Series is tied: 1-1
The modern game triumphed over the old school in this one, as Nelson Cruz’ second home run of the game was an eighth-inning grand slam off a visibly tiring Fergie Jenkins. “Take him out earlier?!” Pat Corrales retorted after the game. “Why would I do that? We had just tied it up for him, and he was one strike away from getting out of the inning!”
WP: Martin Perez (6ip, 6H, 1R, 1ER, 2BB, 4K)
LP: Doc Medich (7ip, 7H, 5R, 3ER, 1BB, 4K)
HR: Alex Rios (1)
2013 leads series: 2-1
The big damage was done in the third inning, when 2013 sent ten to the plate. Adrian Beltre’s double pushed Kinsler and Andrus home, and he later scored on an Alex Rios single.
WP: Doyle Alexander (5.2ip, 3H, 1R, 1ER, 3BB, 2K)
LP: Alexi Ogando (3ip, 9H, 8R, 8ER, 2BB, 1K)
HR: Nelson Norman (1)
Series is tied: 2-2
Ogando was baaaaaaad.
WP: Tanner Scheppers (2ip, 1H, 0R, 1K)
LP: Jim Kern (1.2ip, 2H, 2R, 2ER, 1BB, 2K)
HR: Elvis Andrus (1), Nelson Cruz (3), David Murphy (1)
2013 wins series: 3-2
A walk-off! With two outs and two strikes in the bottom of the ninth inning, and the 2013 Rangers facing elimination, Adrian Beltre hit an absolute rocket to left field that found just a little grass in front of Billy Sample’s glove. Beltre advanced to second when Nelson Cruz walked, and it was up to Alex Rios. His liner just cleared the glove of Pat Putnam at first, and with two outs, the runners were moving on contact. Richie Zisk—accustomed to Arlington field—played the carom imperfectly, and the slight bobble was just enough: Bump Wills’ relay throw was on the money, but Cruz’ right foot snuck under Jim Sundberg’s tag, and the 2013 Rangers advance to the field of eight.
SERIES EIGHT: #7 1996 (90-72) vs. #1 2011 (96-66)
WP: C.J. Wilson (9ip, 4H, 1R, 1ER, 2BB, 7K)
LP: Ken Hill (3.2ip, 10H, 7R, 7ER, 0BB, 2K
HR: Ian Kinsler (1), Mike Napoli (2)
Look at that dang lineup. Just look at it!
WP: Dave Bush (1ip, 0R, 2K)
LP: Mike Henneman (0.1ip, 3H, 2R, 2ER, 0BB, 0K)
HR: Mark McLemore (1), Mickey Tettleton (2), Josh Hamilton (1)
2011 leads series: 2-0
Matt Harrison and John Burkett went five innings each, giving way to the bullpens. We got our first Yoshinori Tateyama sighting (1.1ip, 1H, 0R), and in classic Josh fashion, Josh Hamilton hit a walk-off two run home run to seal the victory. By the way, if you’re wondering how Mike Henneman’s line makes sense, I’ll tell you: Ian Kinsler singled to lead off the ninth, but was caught stealing.
WP: Dennis Cook (1.1ip, 1H, 0R, 1K)
LP: Neftali Feliz (1.1ip, 1H, 1R, 1ER, 0BB, 1K)
HR: Ian Kinsler (2),
Two walk-offs in a row! What started off as a matchup between two future assistants to the GM (Colby Lewis and Darren Oliver) got wild late, and ended when Mickey Tettleton’s sac fly to the corner in right field sent Will Clark home as Nelson Cruz’ throw sailed just a little up the line.
2011 leads series: 2-1
WP: Dave Bush (0.1ip, 1H, 1BB, 1K)
LP: Roger Pavlik (3.2ip, 6H, 7R, 7ER, 1BB, 0K)
HR: Mickey Tettleton (3), Kevin Elster (3), Josh Hamilton (2), Adrian Beltre (1), Nelson Cruz (2), Mitch Moreland 2 (2), Mike Napoli (3)
2011 wins series: 3-1
The teams combined for thirteen runs in the sixth inning, including a homer-triple-homer sequence by Josh Hamilton, Adrian Beltre, and Nelson Cruz. Josh Hamilton went 10-for-19 in the series. Adrian Beltre went 9-for-18. Nelson Cruz went 9-for-19. The 2011 team scored 45 runs in 4 games.
We now know who the Oliver Ocho will be (you can say that’s for Al or Darren, we won’t correct you).
Here’s the updated bracket!