Despite pitching on three days' rest, Dallas Keuchel held the Yankees to three hits and a walk while striking out seven over six innings. The bearded left-hander, a frontrunner for the Players Choice Award for AL Outstanding Pitcher, threw a combination of two-seam fastballs, cutters, sliders and changeups that kept the Yankees off-balance for six innings. It was the first time he'd pitched on three days' rest since the 2009 College World Series when he pitched for the University of Arkansas.
Perhaps the Yankees and their fans could have seen this coming? In two previous games against New York, a predominantly left-handed hitting club built for Yankee Stadium, Keuchel had thrown 16 scoreless innings including a shutout in June, allowing just nine hits and one walk while striking out 21 batters.
With two Yankees on base and Alex Rodriguez at the plate as the potential tying run in the sixth inning, Keuchel, knowing he'd gotten Rodriguez to line to right on a first-pitch fastball in the fourth inning, had a plan: "I knew with his first-pitch swing in his second at-bat, I was definitely throwing a cutter," he said. "I knew if I could elevate it or get it middle-in, I had a good shot to have him pop it up, and luckily that's what he did. But I was playing blackjack there, and it paid off."
The Stat Line
Dallas Keuchel: 6 IP, 3 H, 1 BB, 7 K
"He's so challenging because he crosses the black on both sides and almost never hits the white. He's Greg Maddux from the left side, with a little better slider. He's as good as it gets."
-- Alex Rodriguez on Dallas Keuchel
The Coverage I
We've been listening to her analysis since August on ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball broadcasts, but softball star Jessica Mendoza made history again last night when she became the first woman in the booth for a postseason contest. Mendoza was a two-time Olympic Gold Medal winner with Team USA. She made her MLB broadcast debut in August and did so well she earned a seat on Sunday Night Baseball and is now covering the playoffs. Mendoza was a four-time first-team All-American at Stanford.
The Coverage II
The one person even newer to ESPN's broadcast booth than Jessica Mendoza was Rays All-Star pitcher Chris Archer, who seems like a natural. After coming off warm, at ease and knowledgeable during a pregame segment, he slipped comfortably into the broadcast booth between John Kruk and Mendoza for a couple innings of sharp analysis. Only 26 and possessing one of the best sliders in baseball and under contract through 2021, Archer isn't ready to begin looking for a full-time gig just yet, though.
The Next Matchup
In tonight's NL Wild Card game (8:08 p.m. ET on TBS), the Cubs begin another postseason in hopes of ending their 107-year curse. But they face the Pirates' Gerrit Cole, a former first overall Draft pick out of UCLA who has started his career with a 40-20 record. Fortunately for the Cubs, they're starting the hottest pitcher on the planet: Jake Arrieta is 16-1 with a 0.86 ERA in his last 20 starts. He has a 0.75 ERA since the All-Star break. Pirates superstar Andrew McCutchen told the The Players' Tribune that he was looking forward to playing in his third straight NL Wild Card game.
Follow us @MLB_Players and to catch our postseason social media series, titled #WinOrGoHome #ItsBlackandWhite, featuring some up close photos courtesy of Getty Sports.