Start with playoff newcomers Roy Halladay and Tim Lincecum. Throw in rocket-armed rookies Aroldis Chapman and Craig Kimbrel. Add a dash from pickups Cliff Lee and Lance Berkman. Mix in banged-up Josh Hamilton and Evan Longoria. Sounds like a pretty tasty October pie.
With all the matchups set after Game No. 162 – no tiebreakers necessary this year – baseball launches into the postseason Wednesday.
“Words can’t describe it,” San Francisco second baseman Freddy Sanchez said. “This is what I’ve played for ever since I was a little kid.”
Tampa Bay ace David Price will throw the first pitch against the Texas Rangers, the only current major league franchise that’s never won a playoff series.
The afternoon opener will be played under new rules – Major League Baseball made a change Monday, saying popups that hit the two highest catwalks at Tropicana Field are now dead balls, rather than in play.
Next up, the two-time defending N.L. champion Phillies host Cincinnati. Halladay starts Game 1 against Edinson Volquez, with Philadelphia aces Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels to follow in a formidable rotation.
The Reds are making their first postseason appearance since 1995.
“I think we got here sooner than a lot of people thought – to the playoffs,” general manager Walt Jocketty said.
“I think a lot of it is due to Dusty’s leadership,” he added
The World Series champion New York Yankees visit Minnesota on Wednesday night for the first postseason game at Target Field.
No need to worry about playing outdoors, either – it’s supposed to be sunny with temperatures in the mid-70s this week.
CC Sabathia, a workhorse throughout the last postseason, starts against Twins lefty Francisco Liriano. After his numbers dropped this year, Derek Jeter hopes to be at his best in October, as he often is.
On Thursday, the wild-card Atlanta Braves and retiring manager Bobby Cox begin their best-of-5 division series at San Francisco. Lincecum, a two-time Cy Young Award winner, pitches for the Giants against the Braves’ Derek Lowe.
The Giants and Braves clinched their playoff spots Sunday, eliminating San Diego.
“This is what it’s all about,” Atlanta closer Billy Wagner said. “You play all year long and it comes down to the last game and you get the champagne shower.”