2014 Wild Card
Athletics 5 Royals 2
The pressure of one game is what makes the Wild Card round in the MLB postseason like no other. A win and you get a series a loss and its countdown to Spring Training. In this game all the pressure is on Oakland, as the Royals making their first playoff appearance in 29 years are happy just to be part of the postseason party. The Royals should have a tremendous home field advantage as playoff starved fans will make the Wild Card the hottest ticket in town. The A’s meanwhile are under pressure from all directions as they were the best team in baseball in the first half and struggled after the All-Star Break, they have been to the postseason the last two years and each time lost Game 5 in the ALDS to get eliminated. Most of all the pressure is on General Manager Billy Beane who traded cleanup hitter Yoenis Cespedes for Jon Lester at the trade deadline. The Athletics have not been the same since as they clearly missed Cespedes’ presence in the lineup. If the A’s lose this game, it could go down as one of the worst deadline deals in MLB history. Jon Lester was acquired for games like these and will be on the mound, inn Boston he was their money pitcher over the last five years. Lester has always pitched well against Kansas City, even throwing a no hitter in 2008. The Royals won five of seven games against the A’s in August, with Jon Lester getting both wins for Oakland. With the heat turned up Lester leads the way as the experience Athletics live to fight another day.
Giants 4 Pirates 3
The tale of the tape shows one thing between the Giants and Pirates and that they are evenly matched as any two teams can possibly be. Both teams finished 88-74, with the Pirates taking four of six match ups against the Giants to earn the right to host the Wild Card game. The Pirates had a .259 team average, the Giants had a .255 average. The Pirates averaged 4.2 runs per game, the Giants 4.1. The Pirates had a team ERA of 3.47 the Giants 3.50. In five of the seven games these two played in the regular season the game was decided by two runs or less. Each team will be sending their best pitcher to the hill with the Giants Madison Bumgarner facing Edison Volquez. Volques had a terrific September, with 18 scoreless innings, while Bumgarner has been steady all season. Playing at home should give the Pirates an advantage and playing in the Wild Card round last year will give them the needed experience. However, the Giants have a different type of experience, one that only comes from winning a World Series. In San Francisco’s case it’s actually two World Series they have won 2010 and 2012. The Giants in their 2012 champion, faced elimination six times, including four times on the road and made it through. Its this sense of knowing what it takes to win big games in the fall on the row that will help the Giants squeak by in Pittsburgh.