AL Wildcard Series --- Springfield Isotopes (97-66)
verse Los Angeles Halos (103-69)
Before jumping into the series, I wanted to pay
tribute to the historic “Division of Death”, the American League
West. Since the TBBL realigned for the 2017 season, one division as
stood out as the most difficult division in the TBBL. The AL West
has produced nine 100-win teams over the 4 seasons and 2 trips to
the World Series (out of the 3 completed seasons) and a championship
(Springfield). The second-best division at producing 100-win teams
was the AL West who had four teams. In 2020, the AL West recorded
408 wins (two 100-win teams, San Carlo and Los Angeles) for a .627
win% (.673 win% against team outside of their division). The next
best division was the NL West with 344 wins and a .531 win%. As a
further testimony to the dominance of the AL West, they collectively
had a +849 run-differential. While the NL West was only a +535
run-differential. The AL West is also the only division in TBBL
history to have all its teams play more than 162 games. The division
produced 3 playoff teams and needed a 1-game playoff between
Springfield and Colorado to settle that 3rd spot.
Congrats to Jeff Thomas (San Carlo Aces 112-50), Greg W (Los Angeles
Halos 103-59), John Eaton (Springfield Isotopes 97-66)) and Casey
Judson (Colorado Gladiators 96-67) for achieving such a high level
Now on to the Wildcard series …. Since the
realignment in 2017, John Eaton has had the Springfield Isotopes on
an amazing run as the have won 107, 108, 113 and 97 games for an
average of 106+ wins per year. The run included 2 straight trips to
the World Series in 2017 and 2018, and a World championship in 2017.
They advanced to the AL LCS series in 2019. Meanwhile, the once
dominate Los Angeles Halos did not fare as well during that period
as they won only 43, 83, 75 and then finally 103 in 2020 where they
have made the playoffs for the 1st time since 2016. Los
Angeles saw their streak of 12 straight trips to the playoffs end in
2017. The Halos spent most of their time outside the playoffs
trading bull-pen pieces to the Isotopes for their World Series runs.
These two teams are meeting in the playoffs for the 1st time
ever after Los Angeles took the season series 8-6.
Game #1 – at Los Angeles
Noah Syndergaard (14-8) for ISO against Luis Castillo
(22-5) for LAH
We got the expected pitchers duel for the 1st 6
innings as both pitchers put up goose eggs. Castillo only allowed a
BB & HBP in the 2nd and finally a single in the 5th to
Carpenter. Syndergaard allowed some runners (3 hits & 3 BB’s) but
really didn’t stress during the 1st 6 innings. Things
changed in the 7th as Avila started the inning with a
solo blast to put ISO up 1-0. That was not the end of the damage as
Eaton doubled and eventually scored on a sac fly by Carpenter to put
ISO up 2-0. That was still not the end of it as Hernandez doubled
and Bettis tripled to put ISO up 3-0. That was all for Castillo as
Taylor came on to finally end it by getting Freeman to ground out.
With a 3-run lead and Syndergaard at 87 pitches, ISO
goes to the bullpen after a lead-off double by Jo Ramirez (thank you
Casey). Hirano came on and looked like he would put out the small
fire as he got Gardner and Chavis to ground out. Sanchez had other
ideas as he lines a single to right to score Ramirez cutting the
lead to 3-1. Turner also singled to right putting runners on the
corners with 2-outs. Choo (thank you Casey) did what he is good at
and draws a BB to load things up. That was all for Hirano as Holland
came on to face Merrifield. His 1st pitch goes to the
backstop and the lead is down to 1, 3-2. Then 4 pitches later,
Merrifield takes him deep to center for a 3-run shot and LAH now
That was the end of the scoring as Workman and
Hendriks go the final 1.2 innings allowing only a BB with 4 k’s to
preserve the 5-3 win.
Despite their strong starts, Syndergaard 6ip 4h 1er
3bb 3k and Castillo 6.2 ip 6h 3er 1bb 7k neither got a decision.
Hirano took the L while Holland was tagged with a BS. Taylor got the
W, Workman the H and Hendriks the S.
Game #2 – at Springfield
Eduardo Rodriguez (21-8) for LAH against Mike
Clevinger (9-4) for ISO
The scoring started sooner in this one as a pair of
doubles (Turner and Meadows) plated a run in the 1st for
LAH. While ERod faced only 1 batter over the minimum over the 1st 3
innings (only allowed a BB), Clevinger after a perfect 2nd ran
into trouble again in the 3rd. He wiggled out of 1st and
3rd by getting Jo Ramirez (Curses Casey) to ground out to
end the inning keeping the game at 1-0 LAH. He was not as
skilled/lucky in the 4th as this time with 2 on and 2
out, Sanchez takes him deep for a 3-run shot and LAH is up 4-0.
Erod is perfect in the 4th and 5th but
finally ISO gets to him in the 6th. Donaldson BB’s to
open the inning but is immediately erased on a GBDP. Hilliard then
goes deep to right as ISO now trails 4-1.
Clevinger who had settled down finally gives way to
Kela in the 7th after 106 pchs. Erod gives way to Workman
in the 7th as well after 100 pchs. No more excitement the
rest of the way as ISO bully goes 2.2 ip 1h 0er 0bb 3k and LAH bully
goes 2.1ip 0h 0er 2bb 2k.
LAH holds on to win game #2 4-1 and wins the series
Erod gets the W after 6.2ip 2h 1er 2bb 7k, Workman
his 2nd H and Hendriks his 2nd S.
Clevinger takes the L after 6.1ip 7h 4er 1bb 8k.
Congrats John on a great season … and a really
amazing multi-year run!