Jim_Thome_2012_Orioles

A Year Without a Postseason: Wild Card thoughts

Today the 2012 Major League Baseball postseason will officially begin and for the first time since 2006 it will not involve the Phillies. Each of the past five seasons the Phillies have opened up their playoff schedule at home in Citizens Bank Park. There will be no white rally towels waving in the stands and no dancing by the Phillie Phanatic this October, but some fans may be keeping an eye on the postseason anyway. We certainly will be watching here, and keeping some tabs on former Phillies in the postseason.

Today the first-ever one-game Wild Card games will be played to determine which teams will advance to the Division Series in each league. First up is the National League, where the Atlanta Braves will get a chance to dethrone the reigning World Series champions, the St. Louis Cardinals.

St. Louis Cardinals at Atlanta Braves
Kyle Lohse (16-3, 2.86 ERA) vs. Kris Medlen (10-1, 1.57 ERA)
First pitch: 5:07 p.m., TBS

The Braves have positive energy going right now, far different from 2011.

When I think of Kyle Lohse I think of one thing: Kaz Matsui grand slam. Lohse gets slammed for tossing up a grand slam in game two of the 2007 NLDS but blame has to be rightfully be placed on Kyle Kendrick for loading the bases with a 3-2 lead. But that is ancient history at this stage.

The ghosts of Lohse’s playoff past will have to be silenced if the defending World Series champions want to live to see another day this October. The Braves counter with Kris Medlen, and the Braves have not lost a game he has started in two years. Those trends tell you to go with Atlanta in this game. I know I will be pulling for the Braves because I am not ready to see the Chipper Jones farewell tour come to a stop just yet. I also respect how Atlanta put last year’s downfall behind them the way they did and feel they are entering the postseason on a positive note, and playing at home for one game is huge.

I think Atlanta advances to host the Washington Nationals, and that could give Atlanta the upper hand in that NLDS match-up.

For more coverage on the Braves and Cardinals, check out Chop-N-Change and Cards Diaspora.

Baltimore Orioles at Texas Rangers
Joe Saunders (9-13, 4.07 ERA) vs. Yu Darvish (16-9, 3.90 ERA)
First pitch: 8:37 p.m., TBS

I want to hop on that Orioles band wagon this postseason, I really do, but I just do not like their chances in this winner-take-all format against the Texas Rangers. Texas gets to play at home, with a solid starting pitcher in Yu Darvish and there is plenty of postseason experience on the roster, with two consecutive American League championships coming in to this postseason. Of course, experience can only get you so far. After all, experience did not seem to matter in the final regular season series for the Rangers in Oakland, so maybe Baltimore’s breath of fresh postseason air can carry the O’s in to the ALDS against the division rival New York Yankees.

Like the Athletics, Baltimore has been a true feel good story this season. A young ball club with some developing star players proving many doubters wrong all year long. Now they have an opportunity to really make a statement if they can find a way to knock off the two-time defending American League champions. Much easier said than done of course, but I would love to see Baltimore get a chance to go up against the Yankees in a playoff series for the first time since Jeffrey Maier happened in 1996. The Orioles returned to the ALCS in 1997 but lost to Cleveland and the franchise had been in a tailspin ever since ntil this season.

But to get redemption, Baltimore needs to have a flawless game in Texas. I do not know if I see that happening.

For more coverage of the Orioles check out Camden Crazies and Orioles Post. For Rangers coverage check out Stephen Francis on Examiner.com.

 

For continuing coverage of the postseason, visit our friends at The Outside Corner.

All images via Getty Images.

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