What Happened Last Night: The Tigers Won The Pennant, The Cardinals Are Close, The 49ers Rebound
Missed last night's sports action? Well then we'd hate to be you, because you missed out on a good one. Thursday was loaded on the baseball and football front: two LCS games, one potential clincher, Niners-Seahawks, and a pretty damn good college football matchup in Oregon-Arizona State, too. And now that you've been sufficiently shamed for missing out on it all, let's catch you up with how the games played out, shall we?
The [Tigers] win the pennant! The [Tigers] win the pennant!
The Yankees needed a miracle to come all the way back, beat the Tigers, and win the pennant. Instead, last night produced more of the same: Detroit, led by Max Scherzer, rode another dominant pitching performance (one run and two hits allowed) to an 8-1 win and the franchise's 11th A.L. pennant. DH Delmon Young, who hit two homers, drove in six runs, and batted .353 for the series, took home MVP honors. And when it was all over, the Tigers celebrated in tremendous fashion.
But as unbeatable as the Tigers looked, the Yankees were just as impotent. They hit .188 as a team over the entire postseason, which makes it amazing to think that they even won a series at all. Robinson Cano hit .056 during the ALCS (and .091 during the Division Series, for good measure). You're well-versed in A-Rod's struggles (he pinch-hit for Raul Ibanez last night but wound up 0-for-2). And those struggles extended to just about everyone. This will probably be analyzed a ton over the offseason, but it might be as simple as this: a bunch of Yankees just went cold at the wrong time. And now their season's over because of it.
The Cardinals are a game away.
It wasn't a clinching game in the National League, but the Cardinals put the screws to the Giants in a big way, winning 8-3, taking a 3-1 NLCS lead, and leaving America one game away from the 2006 World Series rematch for which it has clamored ever since David Eckstein gritted his way to glory six years ago. The Giants are left to fight for their lives tonight, but as Matt Holliday pointed out last night, they also had to fight for their lives three games in a row against the Reds in the Division Series. We know how that turned out. This ain't over.
NLCS Game 5 TV info: Tonight, 8 p.m., Fox.
The 49ers are still the 49ers.
What's the 49ers' deal? They're a smash-mouth team that wins primarily with running and defense. What's the Seahawks' deal? Well... pretty similar to that, actually. So it shouldn't come as a surprise that when the two teams meet, the result is a smash-mouth, defense-focused game where only one team finds the end zone (and that team only finds it once), as happened last night in a bounce-back 13-6 win for the Niners.
San Francisco, of course, was fresh off getting manhandled by the Giants last weekend in a game that made them look awfully vulnerable, so this game was important to win and re-establish themselves as a top Super Bowl contender. They did that, topping the team (especially given the Cardinals' struggles over the last couple weeks) that might be their biggest obstacle to NFC West supremacy this season. It wasn't pretty, but no one should have expected it to be. The Niners remain a team to be reckoned with.
Oregon is a nightmarish team to face.
It didn't start too well for Oregon against Arizona State last night. They lost a fumble on their first drive, and ASU delighted the home crowd by immediately converting it into a score and a 7-0 lead. By the end of the first quarter, the Sun Devils were behind 22-7. At the half, the deficit was 43-7. No one puts points on the board faster than Oregon, and they proved it again last night in a 43-21 win that sent a clear signal to the rest of the Pac-12: this team is going to be really, really tough to beat.
The Ducks' late-season schedule is brutal (three of their final four opponents - USC, Stanford, and Oregon State - are ranked), but they'll be favored in each of those games. At least for us, it's hard not to hope for an Alabama-Oregon title game, simply for the wildly contrasting styles of play that would present. Plenty of season to go before we get there, but it's going to take a Herculean effort by someone to keep Oregon out of the national title picture... or just out of the end zone for five seconds. Speaking of, ASU did hold the Ducks scoreless for the second half last night, so... there's that.
Getty photo, by Jonathan Daniel
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