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WeekEnd HaloLinks: Off to the Pennant series we go!

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We are back to pre-Wild Card Baseball, last seen 1993. Two teams battle for the Pennant and a trip to the World Series. Next stop: 1967. Back when only one team from each League made it to the postseason, going directly to the World Series.

Rob Carr/Getty Images

Hahahahahaha!! Dusty pulls a "Baker" last night. I promised not to do playoff recaps with these links, but teh awesomeness of the games is getting to be just too much to believe.

Baker arrived at the stadium with a 25-man roster but since starter Gio Gonzalez pitched on the 10th, really he had only 24 guys at his disposal. He burned through nearly all of them. And he did it in 2 calendar innings.

Everything was pretty stable for the Nats roster through the first 6 innings. 9 players. No pitching changes. No pinch hitters. No pinch runners. Max Scherzer sailing along. But with the first pitch of inning #7, Scherzer gave up a game-tying solo home run to Joc Pederson with his first pitch, and Baker made his first substitution. 10 players. One batter later another change; 11 players. Two batters more, a double-switch with an injured pitcher substitution; 13 players. One more batter, one more change; 14 players. Next batter triples, one more change; 15 players. The final batter of the frame, Adrian Gonzalez, grounds out.  To the bottom of the inning we go.

The first Nats batter walk, we have a change; 16 players. Home run. Base hit. Fly out for 1st out, and NOW Baker makes another change with a pinch-runner, having to use one of his pitchers to so do; 17 players. Single, strikeout, walk, strikeout, inning finally over.

The 8th inning starts and before the fist pitch, we have some changes. We get a new position player to replace the pinch-runner (who is a pitcher) and that position player takes over center field. The center fielder moves to second base, and the second baseman moves to first base; 18 players. And we get another substitution at catcher; 19 players. Ground out, walk, sac bunt, pitching change; 20 players.

There are 12 outs remaining in regulation innings, and Baker has gone through 20 of his 24 guys. He has 1 position player left, the end-of-the-bench kid Wilmer Difo.

Meanwhile, Dodgers skipper Dave Roberts is doing his own mind-blowing trick from the opposing dugout. He has his reliever Kenley Jansen out on the mound in the 7th inning with the tying runner on base and nobody out. That's not the mind-blowing part. The mind-blowing part is that Jansen is STILL out there in the 9th inning! As I noted in the game thread, that was the most innings and most pitches Jansen had pitched in his entire MLB career. And, totally out of gas, there he was reaching into the mid-90's through the top of the Washington lineup. He got a strikeout and then two walks, putting the tying run into scoring position and the wining run on base. Doom and Showalter-level ignobility seemed right around the corner.

In comes Clayton Kershaw. The last time Kershaw had closed a game was September 22, 2009, against the National, on the mound in Washington. But it was a 14-2 Dodgers blowout and he didn't get a Save. The last time Kershaw DID get a save, it was in the minor leagues, and you won't believe who his catcher was.

Kershaw got David Murphy to pop out to 2B on his second pitch. A huge out. And here is where Dusty had bit his own ass. The cleanup spot was now due up. Bottom of the 9th inning, tying and winning runs on base. 2 outs. The entire season on the line. But Dusty had worked things so that he had the pitcher spot now batting cleanup and had to go fetch a pinch-hitter. And the only guy he had left was the kid at the end of the bench, Wilmer Difo, and he had to send them up to face Clayton Kershaw to save the entire season and all the hopes of Washington fans,everywhere. Shocking as this may come to you, I realize, but that did not work out for Dusty. And now we have Dusty Baker, riding a 9-game losing streak in playoff clinching games. And left to sit and do nothing but but snark against the Dodgers' more modern methods of benching his butt.

The Dodgers won. The Nats lost. The entire parade took 4 1/2 hours, where that extra hour took place in the 7th inning alone. But for those who stuck with it, it was a hell of a game. And we have a new youngest pitcher in history to be credited with a playoff "Win": Julio Urias. We are having some serious fun this post-season. It's a good time to be a baseball fan. It's now Blue Jays vs. Indians and Dodgers vs. Cubs. Three blues and an orange. No red for this October.

I would just like to take a moment and point out that last night, in an elimination game, one for all the marbles and on national TV and the whole world of baseball breathless, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts used Rich Hill as his starter, and Joe Blanton as one of his relievers. Those two guys went the first 4 innings and gave up only 3 hits and 2 walks against 6 K's and a single run. If you haven't been paying attention, both of those guys were Angels at one point and, for us, they both did absolutely nothing. Deep sigh.

But, hey, have more Playoff Links:

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2016 PLAYOFFS ON DECK

Today's game: American League Championship Series Game 1

Toronto Blue Jays @ Cleveland Indians - Progressive Field, Cleveland, Ohio
Date Time Probable Pitchers TV

Friday, 10/14/2016

5:00PM PDT Marco Estrada (9-9, 3.48 ERA) avs. Corey Kluber (18-9, 3.14 ERA) TBS
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Everywhere In Baseball

Mike Trout: The Best Player in Baseball. As proclaimed by one of the premier sources of facts and information that lesser minds use to learn the facts of the sport. Many of those lesser minds will vote on their own award, tarnishing it with a lessor honoree..........

Garrett Richards is now all set to be our Opening Day pitcher. He was blistering yesterday in his Instructional league outing. That part of the news is great. After hearing his early return on stem cell therapy i wasn't too worried about that. I am worried if his therapy will have him healthy enough to survive a full season. If he is still our #1 next October, remind me to send a nice bottle of champagne to the Garrett, via the LAA FO..........

Our Bud Black ain't the only guy interested in the managerial opening in Colorado. So is our Ron Roenicke..........

It's a cold, cruel, world. Just a couple of days after the Giants got bounced from the playoffs, pretty much because the players they suit up as a bullpen are fairly incompetent at their job, the Giants took immediate action to correct matters and improve their chances of regaining baseball prominence. They fired their base coaches..........

There is an MLB base coach out there that might be thinking hard over the above news about Giants base coaches. That would be Bob Henley, the Nationals third base coach, who did this last night. In the video, you see that is Henley near the top, wandering off towards right field with his back to the ball and the mess of a play he just created, glancing over his should at Ryan Zimmerman cruising into second base.........

This is great. Some guy started texting his own deceased grandpa's old phone number, trying to invoke grandpa's ghost and get some mojo going for grandpa's beloved Cubs. It worked. Because, of course it did. The current owner of that number must be a Red Sox fan...........

Shifty business. Using an old-school defensive system to deal with stubborn offensive juggernauts. And, by "old", I mean as far back as Ted Williams "old"..........

The Yankees seem to have a rather hostile front office these days. 16 claims in 4 years? Once a quarter? One would think that the HR department would have noticed some sort of trend by now, a trend that would mean the HR department is rather incompetent..........

Everybody in the DC Metro area has been pretty pumped up for playoff baseball these days. Everybody except the public employees who manage the human transportation systems that everybody else relies upon in order to be fans. No, not them. No metro service for after last night's Nats playoff games. Fans, declared the Mayor, you are on your own, because you are  "amazingly persistent and creative". I wonder if those DC residents, left to their own devices well after midnight in the dark of the DC Metro area after a devastating and frustrating end to their season, are just as amazingly persistent and creative in their search for a new chief public servant?..........

This year's Qualifying Offer value has been set. Up from last year's $15.8 million, it will now come in at $17.2 million. That's nearly a 9% increase. Not bad in a world that is starting to chase negative interest rates on savings accounts..........

Terry Collins, who a few lifetimes ago actually managed the Angels, is just now (at the age of 67) realizing that a baseball season is a real grind. Next year will be his last, which will be when he is 68 1/2. Yeah. Time to settle down and spend the rest of his days just relaxing and watching baseball games..........

Here we go again. The NLCS is going to get all the media attention this year, because the Cubs draw the eyeballs. Of the games that are now set, the ALCS is getting 2 guaranteed evening games, 3 max, and all on TBS. The Cubs, however, will be showcased playing against some minor promotional foil and get all 5 of the planned games in prime time on Fox Sports. At this point, I'm now hoping the Cubs lose the NLCS in 4 straight, and the WS viewership will be mystified by all the unknown strangers in baseball uniforms running around on television, MLB and Fox Sports having messed up their opportunity to promote the stories of the other contender for the title..........

AFL update, Tim Tebow Time: "Tools-wise, Tebow takes big, fun, aggressive hacks and he has some bat speed and power but his hand-eye is lacking and his swing is very long in the back. Several times he swung through hittable 89-91 mph fastballs because he couldn’t get there in time to punish them. His routes in left are raw, he has a 40 arm and is an average runner underway but below average from home to first. He isn’t a prospect, but he’s been gracious..."

Give them credit. The Nationals were going all in last night..........

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