Dugout Digest – home woes

I'm seeing an interesting tidbit being thrown around after our first weekend of playoff action: including the two wild card games, the road teams are 6-2 in all eight games that have been played so far. The two losses both came by the A's in Detroit, who lost the two games by a total of three runs. So all that talk about the team with the better record getting screwed isn't playing out so far in the Division Series matchups…interesting.

Yesterday's action was largely good. In case you missed it, the scores and recap links to all four games…

Tigers 5, A's 4 (2-0 Tigers)
Nationals 3, Cardinals 2 (1-0 Nationals)
Yankees 7, Orioles 2 (1-0 Yankees)
Reds 9, Giants 0 (2-0 Reds)

The two games today will be in St Louis and Baltimore. The Nationals and Cardinals will play at 4:37, and the pitching matchup is Jordan Zimmermann against Jaime Garcia. The Yankees and Orioles will play at 8:07, and the pitching matchup is Andy Pettitte against Wei-Yin Chen. The other two series are off today due to travel.

Thoughts from yesterday? The A's got what they needed out of Tom Milone and their offense, but rare breakdowns from their defense and bullpen cost them the game. The Cardinals couldn't do anything against Washington's pitching despite Gio Gonzalez not being able to find the plate with a road map, and Mike Matheny's lack of experience as a manager came through in a big way. The Orioles suffered a similar fate as the A's, playing the game they needed to play for eight innings before Jim Johnson melted down. The Reds are looking like the most complete team out of the eight remaining, steamrolling a very good Giants team with both their bats and their arms. Consider this with the Reds: they haven't even faced Ryan Vogelsong or Barry Zito yet. They won the first two games of this series against Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner, San Francisco's two best pitchers this year. Also, the starting pitchers that shut down the Giants included just eight pitches from Johnny Cueto. That is a flat-out nasty turn of events.

What to watch for today? Wei-Yin Chen has been the Orioles' most dependable, consistent starter this season, even if he did have his difficulties in September. Chen needs to give Baltimore a start similar to that of Jason Hammel's last night, if not better, if the Orioles want to win this game. Andy Pettitte in the playoffs is generally money, and in 2010, both of Pettitte's starts were seven inning, two run masterpieces. That's what the Orioles might have to contend with tonight, and that's what they need to beat. In the NLDS, the potent Cardinals lineup needs to be able to capitalize on any mistakes that Jordan Zimmermann may make. Zimmermann's control is nowhere near as iffy as Gonzalez's, and he's not going to walk seven batters unless something severely goes wrong. The Cardinals aren't going to be afforded the luxury of five free baserunners in the first two innings like they were yesterday, and they need to do better than a three hit effort.

Enjoy your day of baseball, everyone.

About Joe Lucia

I hate your favorite team. I also sort of hate most of my favorite teams.