MLB playoffs 2014: Bracket, schedule and scores


Need a way to keep up with all of the results from the MLB postseason? We got you covered.

SB Nation 2014 MLB Bracket

The Major League Baseball postseason is officially back. Ten teams are hoping to reach the World Series this year but only two will advance that far.

The Kansas City Royals eliminated the Oakland Athletics on Sept. 30, and the San Francisco Giants knocked out the Pittsburgh Pirates on Oct. 1 in wild card action.

In Division Series play, the Royals swept the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, the Baltimore Orioles did the same to the Detroit Tigers, the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Los Angeles Dodgers in four games, and the Giants dispatched the Washington Nationals three games to one.

The World Series doesn’t begin until Oct. 21, with the AL champion holding home field advantage via the American League’s victory in the 2014 All-Star Game.

Schedule (all times Eastern)

Tuesday, Sept. 30

AL Wild Card Game: Royals 9, Athletics 8 (12 innings)

Wednesday, Oct. 1

NL Wild Card Game: Giants 8, Pirates 0

Thursday, Oct. 2

ALDS Game 1: Orioles 12, Tigers 3

ALDS Game 1: Royals 3, Angels 2 (11)

Friday, Oct. 3

ALDS Game 2: Orioles 7, Tigers 6

NLDS Game 1: Giants 3, Nationals 2

NLDS Game 1: Cardinals 10, Dodgers 9

ALDS Game 2: Royals 4, Angels 1 (11)

Saturday, Oct. 4

NLDS Game 2: Giants 2, Nationals 1 (18)

NLDS Game 2: Dodgers 3, Cardinals 2

Sunday, Oct. 5

ALDS Game 3: Orioles 2, Tigers 1

ALDS Game 3: Royals 8, Angels 3

Monday, Oct. 6

NLDS Game 3: Nationals 4, Giants 1

NLDS Game 3: Cardinals 3, Dodgers 1

Tuesday, Oct. 7

NLDS Game 4: Cardinals 3, Dodgers 2

NLDS Game 4: Giants 3, Nationals 2

Friday, Oct. 10

ALCS Game 1: Royals 8, Orioles 6 (10)

Saturday, Oct. 11

ALCS Game 2: Royals 6, Orioles 4

NLCS Game 1: Giants 3, Cardinals 0

Sunday, Oct. 12

NLCS Game 2: Cardinals 5, Giants 4

Monday, Oct. 13

ALCS Game 3 pushed to Tuesday by rain

Tuesday, Oct. 14

NLCS Game 3: Giants 5, Cardinals 4 (10)

ALCS Game 3: Royals 2, Orioles 1

Wednesday, Oct. 15

ALCS Game 4: Royals 2, Orioles 1

NLCS Game 4: Giants 6, Cardinals 4

Thursday, Oct. 16

NLCS Game 5: Giants 6, Cardinals 3

Tuesday, Oct. 21

World Series Game 1: Giants 7, Royals 1

Wednesday, Oct. 22

World Series Game 2: Royals 7, Giants 2

Friday, Oct. 24

World Series Game 3: Royals at Giants, 8:07 p.m., FOX

Saturday, Oct. 25

World Series Game 4: Royals at Giants, 8:07 p.m., FOX

Sunday, Oct. 26

World Series Game 5: Royals at Giants, 8:07 p.m., FOX

Tuesday, Oct. 28

World Series Game 6: Giants at Royals, 8:07 p.m., FOX*

Wednesday, Oct. 29

World Series Game 7: Giants at Royals, 8:07 p.m., FOX*

*if necessary

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Eric Bledsoe juked a Clippers player into the stands


I mean, this is a nice little crossover move by Eric Bledsoe …


… but I’m not entirely sure why the Clippers’ Jared Cunningham just kept stumbling until he was out of bounds in the crowd. Maybe that was a “WHAT? WHAT CROSSOVER? I ENTERED THE STANDS ON MY OWN VOLITION. I JUST WANTED TO SEE WHAT WAS UP OVER HERE” move, in which case … well done.

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Clippers owner Steve Ballmer goes bananas for preseason


We know new Clippers owner is a “cool dad” who makes great magazine covers and goes wild over his team (and everything). Seeing it during live game action is still impressive:


This is a preseason game. Imagine if the Clippers make a deep postseason run? Ballmer will actually catch fire on the sideline.

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Texas OC claims in lawsuit that he’s the Longhorns’ play-caller


At stake is a substantial buyout from the coach’s previous job as Oklahoma State’s offensive line coach.

When is an offensive coordinator not an offensive coordinator? And is Texas assistant Joe Wickline really one? A Texas judge is set to consider these questions after Wickline filed suit in Travis County, claiming he is the Longhorns’ play-caller.

That sounds all terribly bizarre—until you realize a substantial amount of money is involved. Wickline’s lawsuit isn’t against anybody at Texas; it’s against Oklahoma State, Wickline’s former team, who is demanding he buy his contract out after taking the job at Texas, thanks to one unusual clause. Here’s more from the Austin American-Statesman:

The same day Wickline was announced as Texas’ new offensive coordinator and offensive line coach, OSU officials hurriedly forwarded a copy of his contract to the American-Statesman. There was a noticeable clause. According to the contract, Wickline would owe OSU the balance of his contract unless he was named offensive coordinator “with play-calling duties” or went to the NFL. At the time, Wickline was signed at OSU through 2016.

All Austin-based media who cover the team daily now refer to quarterbacks coach Shawn Watson as the team’s play caller. Texas officials have never disputed this or made any effort to correct anyone.

Then on May 6, OSU sent another letter and “claimed that coach Wickline was lying about his position” and that Texas officials were “attempting to aid” him in avoiding the terms of the deal. OSU claimed that UT gave Wickline “the misleading title of offensive coordinator.”

Wickline seems like he’s been caught on this one, unless there’s some sort of shadow play-calling system that Wickline controls and Texas chooses not to publicize for whatever reason. The Play-call-uminati!

Watson, shown above next to head coach Charlie Strong, recently caught the nation’s attention with this press box fireworks show in the waning moments of last week’s Iowa State game. You’ll notice the Burnt Orange Nation headline credits Watson as the “play caller.”

Wickline was a longtime offensive line coach for the Cowboys (and successful at that), so the reason the contract was even worded as such was to remove any incentive that may have existed for Wickline to take a similar OL job for another college team—which is precisely what Oklahoma State thinks Wickline in fact did.

Sports and money, man.

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Trainwreck Oilers possession somehow produces beautiful goal


The Oilers are bad, even when they’re good.

The Edmonton Oilers are the laughing stock of the NHL. I hate to be blunt, but there’s no getting around it: They make people laugh because it’s the only thing they can do not to cry.

And they were especially funny during their power play at the end of the second period.

Nikita Nikitin started out with the puck behind the Oilers goal and began a standard breakout:

sbn

Which resulted in Leon Draisaitl and Teddy Purcell running into one another:

oilers

And continued with Nail Yakupov enigmatically throwing the puck away:

oilers

Which led to Purcell falling down:

oilers

And ultimately resulted in …

oilers

…A beautiful passing play that gave the Oilers the lead?

Well. That was unexpected. A comedy of errors ultimately working out in the end … hopefully we’ll be able to say the same about the Oilers someday.

Edmonton leads Washington with a little over 10 minutes remaining in the third, 3-2.

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Ned Yost’s aggressive, optimal managing helps Royals to Game 2 win


Ned Yost started managing for Game 2 before Game 1 had even finished, and it helped lead to a Royals win and a tied World Series.

Game 2 of the World Series was about as much of a must-win of a situation for the Royals as you can get without it being an elimination game. As it is, teams who have won the first game of the World Series have a 70-39 record in the Fall Classic, so dropping Game 2, while not an impossible hole to dig out of, would have made things difficult for Kansas City. Royals’ manager Ned Yost responded appropriately, going all out with his managing style before Game 2 even began. The result was a Royals’ 7-2 victory, a tied series, and now what is essentially a best-of-five between San Francisco and Kansas City from here on out.

The key to the game was forged the day before; Yost avoided using any of his key relievers in a Game 1 that got out of hand early. James Shields lasted just three innings while allowing five runs, and then Danny Duffy — a starter during the year who had yet to appear in the postseason — threw three innings of Biting the Bullet relief to allow another two. Tim Collins and Jason Frasor ended up handling the other two innings, and while both are good, neither is a central cog in the playoff version of the Royals’ pen. Those roles belong to Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis, and closer Greg Holland.

All three appeared in Game 2, even when the contest was very much in the Royals’ favor. Yost could afford that kind of aggressive overdoing it, as Thursday is the first off day in the series and everyone should be fresh once again by Game 3. Yost once again used Herrera somewhere besides the comfort zone he had created for his setup man, replacing starter Yordano Ventura with one out in the sixth rather than waiting until the seventh as was seemingly always the case until a week ago. Herrera finished the sixth and then threw the entire seventh, logging 32 pitches in the process. Wade Davis came in for his typical eighth-inning performance, and then closer Greg Holland did his thing in the ninth even though it wasn’t a save situation. Yost wasn’t messing around; the Royals were not in a position to do so.

Gore
Photo credit: Elsa

It wasn’t just the pitching or Yost’s writing off Game 1 that helped lead to a Game 2 victory, though. He was also aggressive on the position-player side of things, and it helped lead to the Royals blowing this thing wide open. After Billy Butler hit a go-ahead RBI single in the bottom of the sixth inning, Yost replaced him with their fastest pinch-runner, Terrance Gore. Gore would end up scoring from second on a Salvador Perez double to push the lead to 5-2, which was further increased with an Omar Infante home run in the same inning. This was a risky move for Yost to make, because, despite the seven runs the Royals put on the board on Wednesday, they just aren’t a great offensive team. They were last in the AL in OPS+ this year, and while they’ve hit well enough in the postseason to get to the World Series, they’ve had a lot of things go their way: bloop singles, seemingly every bunt and hit-and-run coming up Royals, as well as uncharacteristic — and timely — homers push them to wins that their pitching and defense had earned them. Removing Butler, one of the few credible threats in the lineup when he’s right, was a risk, but a calculated one.

Yost would also upgrade his outfield defense immediately after, pushing Lorenzo Cain to right field in favor of Jarrod Dyson, who replaced Norichika Aoki. This is a normal defensive arrangement for the Royals late, but Yost went to it early to do everything he could to make sure the Kansas City left Kauffman Stadium with this series tied 1-1.

The Giants managed to interrupt the Royals’ home field advantage by taking Game 1, but the Royals now get to turn to two mid-rotation arms in Jeremy Guthrie and Jason Vargas who will enjoy the pitcher-friendly nature of AT&T Park. They’ll miss Billy Butler’s bat in the lineup with the pitcher hitting, but they now have him as well as Josh Willingham on the bench for pinch-hitting situations, in addition to the toys Yost had already been deploying effectively from his bench this October. The bullpen will once again be rested, and the Royals are no longer down in the series. They still need to win three games, but thanks to Wednesday’s aggressive tactics and some timely hits, so do the Giants.

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Giants vs. Royals, 2014 World Series Game 2 results: 4 things we learned from Kansas City’s 7-2 win


A five-run sixth inning gave the Royals a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.

SB Nation 2014 MLB Bracket

Yordano Ventura delivered 5⅓ quality innings and Omar Infante went 2-for-3 out of the eight-hole in the lineup, with a double and a home run to lead the Kansas City Royals to a 7-2 victory in Game 2 of the World Series on Wednesday.

While he might not have been an “ace,” Ventura did more to live up to his nickname than James Shields, and the Royals desperately needed it. he helped himself by not walking anyone, allowing him to tiptoe through eight hits from the Giants, allowing only two runs. It was his shortest outing of the postseason, excepting his one-out relief appearance in the wild card game.

It was a back-and-forth affair until the sixth inning, as the two teams traded leads. While the Royals scored five in the sixth, there was still tension on the field as the Giants’ Hunter Strickland and Royals’ Salvador Perez participated in a verbal scuffle.

Infante hit a two-run home run as part of that five-run frame, with Alcides Escobar, Lorenzo Cain and Billy Butler joined with him two hits on the night, powering the Royals offense.

Hitting with runners in scoring position is important

If you fell off your chair reading that sub-header, you’re forgiven. The Royals had made it hard to believe this to be the case, given how they won Games 3 & 4 of the American League Championship series without the benefit of a hit with a runner in scoring position. The Giants are no stranger to scoring runs without hits, as over one stretch during the NLCS, they managed nine runs on zero hits:

Even with those precedents though, both teams found the value of well-timed hits tonight, as outside of the lead-off home run from Gregor Blanco, all the runs came via hits with runners in scoring position. Billy Butler drove in Lorenzo Cain in the first, and Alcides Escobar doubled home Omar Infante in the second. The Giants evened things up on a Pablo Sandoval double, followed by a Brandon Belt double in the fourth.

Butler and Cain reprised their act in the 6th, as Butler singled off of Jean Machi, as Cain scored to take the lead. An errant pitch meant two runners in scoring position for Perez, who doubled them both home, and Infante followed with a home run. Outside of the home runs, every run that scored came from scoring position.

Scoring first doesn’t mean much

We learned it early too. Gregor Blanco’s leadoff home run was the third in Giants’ postseason history, with the other two coming off the bat of Angel Pagan. The previous six times the Giants scored first in these playoffs they won the game. Not so in the case of Game 2. The Royals tagged Jake Peavy for a run in the first two innings, and then opened things up in the sixth, dropping a five-spot on a quartet of Giants’ pitchers. This is nothing new for Kansas City, as they’d amassed three wins in games that the opposing team scored first, before tonight.

Ned Yost (finally) knows how to use his bullpen

The oft-criticized Royals manager has shown himself to be malleable in the postseason. While he set rigid roles for his dynamic bullpen cerberus in the regular season, rarely using them outside of their allotted seventh-, eighth- and ninth-inning roles, he’s been willing to turn to Herrera in the sixth fairly often in October.

Herrera appeared in the sixth inning seven times all season. Game 2 of the World Series marked the fourth time he’s done so since October, with the Royals winning each of those games. Bruce Bochy has earned a reputation for being an adept bullpen manager, and he’s earned a ton of postseason victories. Causation? Perhaps. Correlation? Very much so. Yost mostly has a push-button bullpen at his disposal, but his willingness to use it earlier in games than he’s used to, has been a difference-maker.

What BBQ costs in KC (and some beat writers are cheapskates)

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Tim Lincecum leaves World Series Game 2 with apparent injury


San Francisco Giants pitcher Tim Lincecum left Wednesday night’s Game 2 of the World Series in the eighth inning with an apparent injury.

Lincecum, who hadn’t pitched in a game since Sept. 28, entered Game 2 with a 7-2 deficit to open the seventh inning. He retired all five batters he faced, including two strikeouts, but after inducing a foul popup by Alex Gordon in the eighth inning Lincecum was visited on the mound by team trainer Dave Groeschner.

After a brief consultation, Lincecum left the game in favor of Giants closer Santiago Casila.

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Hedo Turkoglu makes an accidental AND1 Mixtape


Hedo Turkoglu did not do a crossover dribble here. He didn’t do anything. He just dropped the ball:

hedo

And yet, Anthony Tolliver took a spill and Hedo got himself an exceedingly dumb fall-away three. PRESEASON FOREVER. HEDO FOREVER.

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Titans to start Zach Mettenberger against Texans, per report


The rookie quarterback will start over Charlie Whitehurst and the injured Jake Locker.

With Jake Locker injured and Charlie Whitehurst not a long-term option, the Tennessee Titans will turn to rookie quarterback Zach Mettenberger against the Houston Texans this week, per a report by The Tennessean’s Jim Wyatt.

Though Locker was limited in practice and may not be able to play, the move to start Mettenberger could be viewed as the franchise given up on the former first-round pick. Mettenberger could have potentially competed for the starting job earlier, but an ACL tear suffered during his final year at Louisiana State forced him to miss some time during organized team activities this past summer. Prior to that injury, Mettenberger threw over 3,000 yards and 22 touchdowns. The Titans selected him in the sixth round this past May.

Wyatt reports that Mettenberger learned of the news Tuesday night. None of the Titans three quarterbacks were made available to the media to discuss the change at quarterback.

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