Y’er out: Both sides agree Molina made tag
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Whether Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina tagged Mark Ellis at home plate in the ninth inning of the NL championship series opener is beside the point.
A day later, most everyone agreed: The Gold Glover earned the out.
Molina received right fielder Carlos Beltran’s one-hop throw with plenty of time to brace himself for the onrushing Ellis. As Ellis barreled in, Molina turned his shoulder and held onto the ball as he absorbed the blow for an inning-ending double play that kept the score 2-all.
Did Molina actually tag Ellis? Replays were inconclusive.
“The fact of the matter is if you run over the catcher and the guy holds on to the ball, you’ve been out since 1888,” Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright said Saturday.
Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said if replay covers that type of play next season, he might have an argument. He said “everybody basically in the ballpark” watched Ellis get up and walk away thinking he was out, and Molina walk away satisfied.
“Anybody who says there is a controversy hasn’t looked at the slo-mo replay,” Wainwright said, adding it was clear Molina tagged him on the forearm.
Dodgers reliever J.P. Howell said from his view, he’d have called Ellis out, too. He used an NFL analogy to support that.
“Honestly,” Howell said, “If I’m the pitcher I’m hoping the red flag has already been used and I get to keep that call.”
GUESS AGAIN: Like it or not, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly has had to justify his strategy in Game 1.
After a 3-2, 13-inning loss to the Cardinals on Friday night, Mattingly explained and re-explained why he took out Adrian Gonzalez for pinch-runner Dee Gordon, saying he felt it was a good time to take a shot.
Then on Saturday, he was asked about his use of closer Kenley Jansen in the 13th inning with two on and one out. Jansen faced one batter, giving up Carlos Beltran’s winning RBI single.
“Well, we thought it was just that kind of game,” Mattingly said. “Usually, you’re not going to use him until you have the game. Once they get into a situation where it’s a guy in scoring position there, we’re going to try to stop it right there with Kenley, our best guy.”
Mattingly said he talked to Jansen after making the move mid-inning, “kind of the old-time way of using a guy,” instead of at the start of the inning. But he pointed out Cardinals closer Trevor Rosenthal worked two innings and added, “It’s just that time of year.”
WINNING COMBINATION: Max Scherzer won his first 13 decisions. Clay Buchholz won his first 11.
One of their teams will lose Sunday night when Scherzer starts for the Tigers against Buchholz and the Red Sox in Game 2 of the AL championship series.
Scherzer is a favorite to win the AL Cy Young Award after going 21-3 with a 2.90 ERA.
“My confidence level has always been the same from the day I arrived into the big leagues to now,” Scherzer said. “I believe confidence is a choice. And I always choose I’m going to believe that I’m always going to come out on top.”
After his first loss July 13, he won his next six decisions. Scherzer finished the regular season with a 1-0 win at Minnesota on Sept. 25, won the AL division series opener against Oakland and got the victory in Game 4 when he allowed one run in two innings of relief.
“You could tell that he was a little unsettled, because it’s totally different than coming to the park and preparing for a start and going over your game plan and the whole ball of wax,” Detroit manager Jim Leyland said.
Buchholz was 9-0 before going on the disabled list for three months with a strained neck. He won his first two starts after returning on Sept. 10, then lost before winning his final start. He finished with 12-1 with a 1.74 ERA.
“Didn’t think I’d ever be that good,” Buchholz said. “The frustrating part was I couldn’t go out and pitch and try to keep it going. So it was definitely a fun first half for me, which I would have given a lot of it up to pitch throughout the season.”
Boston manager John Farrell said Buchholz is in good shape.
“In the starts that he’s made since coming off the DL, there’s still been a little bit of a building component, building his stamina and endurance,” Farrell said. “Coming out of, particularly, the last three starts, where we’ve been able to get him over 100, 110 pitches on each of those outings, I think he comes away with greater confidence on the physical side of things.”
LEYLAND PEEVED: Leyland certainly wasn’t a fan of the Fox crew about two hours before Saturday night’s ALCS opener.
With a light drizzle falling and the Red Sox taking batting practice, the Tigers skipper noticed a large amount of the dugout was taken up by Fox personnel.
“You’re going to have to move that when the players come out,” he said.
He later said, “What is this: a TV studio or a dugout?”
About 15 minutes later — as the Tigers’ players were starting to make their way out to stretch — he got up from his seat and searched out a Detroit public relations staff member, insisting the crew move to the field.
The crew moved its lights and equipment, then interviewed Detroit left fielder Jhonny Peralta in front of the dugout.
CRAZY CAROMS: Leyland wasn’t worried about shortstop-turned-left fielder Jhonny Peralta playing in front of the Green Monster.
Fenway Park’s 37-foot-high left-field wall has a ladder hanging from it that’s in play. It was used before seats were built atop the wall in 2003 as a way to retrieve balls from a 23-foot-high net atop the wall. The Red Sox left the ladder there because it was one of Fenway Park’s quirks.
“Everyone is making a big deal out of it,” Leyland said. “When it hits that ladder, I don’t think any Red Sox, Tiger or Kansas City Royal, or anyone else knows where it’s going.
“It’s a little tricky to play the wall,” he said. “And the Red Sox do that better because they’re used to it. As far as getting carried away, talking about the ladder, that’s ridiculous. Nobody knows what it’s going to do when it hits that thing.”
Looking for better infield defense, Leyland inserted former Red Sox slick-fielding shortstop Jose Iglesias, a trade-deadline acquisition, into the starting lineup and moved Peralta to left.
In Boston’s AL division series, Tampa Bay left fielder Sean Rodriguez misplayed two caroms in Game 1. In Game 2, he misplayed a carom into a triple.
During Game 1 of the 1975 ALCS, Oakland outfielder Claudell Washington misplayed a couple of balls off the wall.