Last night in Sacramento, one inning, the fourth, both cost the New Orleans Zephyrs their third playoff game and knocked them out of the playoffs.
In the fourth, starter Jason Vargas made the mistake of allowing the leadoff hitter to get on base. He walked him. Jeremy Brown, a player whom Michael Lewis devoted a chapter to in his book, Moneyball, singled. A fielding error, a double, a single, a sacrifice bunt, and a throwing error by Vargas followed before Vargas could get the final two outs. Four runs crossed the plate, one more than the River Cats would need to win the game. They were the only runs Sacramento scored in the game.
During his six innings, Vargas surrendered six hits, two walks, and four runs. He threw 97 pitches. If it weren't for the fourth inning his stats would have been three hits, two walks, no runs. And the Z's would have won the game.
On the same night the Zephyrs were eliminated from the playoffs, so were the Brooklyn Cyclones. Their opponent, the Auburn Doubledays, also scored four runs, however, the Clones were able to score only one. And, as in the Zephyrs game, all the opponent's runs were scored off the Clone's starting pitcher, Michael Antonini. Unfortunately, Antonini's regular season ERA of 0.46 didn't carry over into the playoffs.
Antonini had held Auburn scoreless until the fifth. But then, in the fifth, he walked the leadoff batter (Sound familiar?) and then served up a gopher ball. In the sixth, he got the first batter out, but then gave up a single and a home run to put the Cyclones behind 4-1, which is how the game ended.
The Men of Shea didn't have better luck. The New York Mets latest nemesis, the Philadelphia Phillies, found a way to defeat them again. If it weren't for the sixth inning, Tom Glavine would have notched his 14th win. But he allowed the Phillies to tie the game when, after walking the leadoff batter (Sound familiar?), he plated a pitch that left-handed batter Chase Utley hit over the right field fence.
Then, in the tenth, Mets catcher Mike DeFelice, who was in the game after Paul Lo Duca was tossed out of it earlier in the inning for arguing a third strike, dropped a foul ball. That allowed the batter, Carlos Ruiz, to get another chance at the plate, which he used to advance the runner on first to second. Soon after, that runner scored the winning run on a sacrifice fly.
That wasn't the first time that Lo Duca couldn't control his temper. And in as important a game as that was, his failure to control it played a factor in the team's loss. If I were Willie Randolph I let Lo Duca sit on the bench for at least a game. He needs a cooling-off period, a chance to reflect on the fact that when he loses his temper, it could result in the Mets losing the game.