I’m not a huge fan of the wild card format, because it supports the illusion that four teams not quite good enough to win their division still deserve a shot at the World Series tournament. This year, fans in Kansas City and San Francisco probably oppose my point of view.
I do love the way the Royals play baseball—speed and defense, hearkening back to the old Whitey Herzog ‘80s-era Cardinals. Seven stolen bases in a game? I love it. Alcides Escobar had a stolen base, two sacrifice bunts, and two hits. Most of this activity led directly to runs, and thus, the wild 9-8 Royals victory.
Salvador means “savior” in Spanish. Hence, All-Star catcher Salvador Perez’s 12th inning walk-off single against the tragic Oaklanders should come as no surprise. His first five at-bats were just a warmup for the big event, a one-hopper just past 3B Josh Donaldson.
Alberto Callaspo of Maracay did his part to move the A’s on to the next round, but his 12th inning RBI was negated by the a Royal deuce in the bottom of the frame. Also contributing two hits to the winning cause was Puerto La Cruz’s own Omar Infante.
In Pittsburgh, there was little drama after the third inning, but another Venezuelan showed he’s ready for October. Crucial to the Giants’ early run production were two, two-strike singles by third baseman Pablo Sandoval. The Panda also made two marvelous defensive plays, bare handing a bunt attempt and gunning out Russell Martin at first, and then performing a gymnast-like pirouette over the dugout railing in snaring Martin’s foul-out in the bottom of the seventh inning.
As Pirates scattered, Sandoval used his free right arm to neatly vault the railing in front of the dugout, then proudly displayed the ball in his gloved hand for the umpire. I must borrow from the ESPN radio announcer, who exclaimed, “you see? Pandas always land on their feet.”(If you see Russell Martin at the Pittsburgh Zoo this week, staring down the pandas, you’ll know why).
The teams with the most Venezuelan players (3 on KC, 2 on SF) have moved on. Let the real playoffs begin.