If you want to know the true difference between playoff baseball and the regular season, check out this quote from Frank Thomas. His words cut to the heart of the matter without any clichés or platitudes.
?The games through the season, they just say, ?Hey, we need to win two out of three and move on,?? Thomas explained. ?It?s not like that anymore. You need to win eve ry ballgame. This is the time of the year you put up or shut up and go home.?
Put up or shut up, Frank? Okay, so there was one cliché in there. But there?s no question Oakland wants to come out today and beat the Twins, putting Minnesota in a seemingly insurmountable hole. Ask the 2005 White Sox about the importance of dispatching a team quickly and not being satisfied with one win when you can get two.
Ozzie Guillen?s crew was able to dispose of the Red Sox in three games during the American League Division Series and the Angels in five games in the ALCS, thus setting up their rotation for the ensuing series. Meanwhile, the Angels were battling the Yankees for five games to get into the ALCS, flying from Anaheim to New York to Chicago over the course of three days. And Albert Pujols? ninth-inning home run off of Brad Lidge in Game 5 of the NLCS deprived Houston of using Roy Oswalt in Game 1 of the World Series against the White Sox.
In fact, Oswalt didn’t work until Game 3. Of course, there nothing wrong with all-time greats Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte, but Oswalt is and was Houston’s best pitcher, and teams always want to grab the series’ first game, if possible.
Forget about every game meaning something. Every pitch of every inning plays a significant role in advancement.
— Scott Merkin