Friday, September 30, 2011

Saturday's Pitching Matchups

We've got a full slate of postseason games on Saturday. Here's who you can expect to see on the mound.


Kyle Lohse (14-8, 3.39 ERA)
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Lohse has pitched in 4 previous postseasons, with the Twins and Phillies, but he's made just one playoff start which he lost back in 2003. He certainly hasn't pitched poorly in the postseason though logging an ERA of 3.38 and allowing less than a baserunner per inning. Lohse split a pair of decisions against the Phillies this year, but his ERA in his two starts was just 1.76.

Roy Halladay (19-6, 2.35 ERA)
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The 34 year old Halladay just narrowly missed his 4th 20 win season this year, and if not for the amazing season had by Clayton Kershaw, you'd probably be hearing a lot more about the numbers he put up: 19 wins, 2.35 ERA, 220 strikeouts, 8 complete games... Halladay threw a no-hitter in his postseason debut last year and finished 1-1 with a 2.45 ERA in 3 starts. Against St. Louis this year, Halladay was 0-1 with a 3.21 ERA in 2 starts.


Ian Kennedy (21-4, 2.88 ERA)
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Kennedy is 12-1 with a 2.11 ERA in 14 starts since the All-Star break as he tied for the National League lead in wins with 21. Kennedy won more than twice as many games this year than he did in his first four seasons COMBINED (10) as he really came into his own at the age of 26. Kennedy made one start against Milwaukee this season and threw 7 shutout innings while earning the win.

Yovani Gallardo (17-10, 3.52 ERA)
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Gallardo eclipsed 200 strikeouts for the 3rd straight season and set career highs in games started (33), innings (207 1/3), strikeouts (207), wins (17), WHIP (1.22) and ERA (3.52). He made two appearances for Milwaukee in the 2008 postseason logging 7 innings and while he didn't allowed an earned run, he was saddled with a loss. Gallardo beat the D-Backs twice this year and had a 1.38 ERA against them in his two starts.


James Shields (16-12, 2.82 ERA)
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Shields had 11 complete games this year and 4 shutouts as he lived up to the monicker Big Game James. This will be Shields' 6th postseason start and so far he's 2-3 with a 3.68 ERA. He faced the Rangers last year in the Divisional Round and didn't make it through the 5th inning in a Game 2 loss, but the results this year were a little different as he beat Texas twice during the regular season allowing just 1 run in 17 innings of work.

Derek Holland (16-5, 3.95 ERA)
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In 14 second half starts, Derek Holland is 9-1 with a 3.06 ERA, and like Shields, Holland also finished the year with 4 shutouts. After spending the 2010 playoff run as a reliever appearing in 6 games with a 4.76 ERA, this year's strong second half earned him a spot in the Rangers playoff rotation. Holland was 1-0 against the Rays during the regular season, but he had a 5.84 ERA in his two starts against them.


Doug Fister (11-13, 2.83 ERA)
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Doug Fister will pick up where Justin Verlander left off in the bottom of the 2nd tomorrow, weather permitting. A midseason acquisition from Seattle, Fister really flourished after being acquired by the Tigers going 8-1 with a 1.79 ERA in 11 appearances (10 starts) for Detroit after a 3-12 start for the M's. In his only start against the Yankees this season, Fister allowed 3 runs in 7 innings of work and took the loss.

Ivan Nova (16-4, 3.70 ERA)
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Rookie Ivan Nova will get the ball in the top of the 3rd tomorrow in relief of CC Sabathia. Nova is 12-0 in his last 16 starts and hasn't lost since June 3rd against the Angels. Nova did not face the Tigers during the regular season.

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MLB Postseason Day 1 - Running Diary - Part II

All right, I've ordered some pizza so we're ready to go for Round 2 where Justin Verlander and the Detroit Tigers will take on CC Sabathia and the New York Yankees. Let's hope this game's a little better than what we saw in the earlier game. With these two guys on the hill, who combined for 43 wins during the regular season, I don't think that'll be an issue. So here we go!

7:36 PM - Let's take a look at the starting lineups

For the Tigers

Austin Jackson CF - .249, 10 HRs, 45 RBIs, 22 SBs
Magglio Ordonez RF - .255, 5 HRs, 32 RBIs, 2 SBs
Delmon Young LF - .268, 12 HRs, 64 RBIs, 1 SB
Miguel Cabrera 1B - .344, 30 HRs, 105 RBIs, 2 SBs
Victor Martinez DH - .330, 12 HRs, 103 RBIs, 1 SB
Alex Avila C - .295, 19 HRs, 82 RBIs, 3 SBs
Ryan Raburn 2B - .256, 14 HRs, 49 RBIs, 1 SB
Jhonny Peralta SS - .299, 21 HRs, 86 RBIs, 0 SBs
Brandon Inge 3B - .197, 3 HRs, 23 RBIs, 1 SB

For the Yankees

Derek Jeter SS - .297, 6 HRs, 61 RBIs, 16 SBs
Curtis Granderson CF - .262, 41 HRs, 119 RBIs, 25 SBs
Robinson Cano 2B - .302, 28 HRs, 118 RBIs, 8 SBs
Alex Rodriguez 3B - .276, 16 HRs, 62 RBIs, 4 SBs
Mark Teixeira 1B - .248, 39 HRs, 111 RBIs, 4 SBs
Nick Swisher RF - .260, 23 HRs, 85 RBIs, 2 SBs
Jorge Posada DH - .235, 14 HRs, 44 RBIs, 0 SBs
Russell Martin C - .237, 18 HRs, 65 RBIs, 8 SBs
Brett Gardner LF - .259, 7 HRs, 36 RBIs, 49 SBs

7:38 PM - Sabathia takes care of Jackson on just three pitches. The big guy from Vallejo, California off to a good start.

7:39 PM - Ordonez throws a slider in the dirt that Ordonez chases and that's two strikeouts in as many hitters for the Tigers. Probably too early to be talking about this, but Sabathia's season high for strikeouts in a single game is 14 against the Mariners on July 26th.

7:41 PM - Here it comes, THERE IT GOES! Delmon Young, the former Twin - who I actually saw play when my brother and I took an April trip to Minneapolis - hits one just beyond the outstretched glove of Nick Swisher out in right field, and it's 1-0 Tigers. With Justin Verlander on the hill, that might just be enough. Young's Twins were eliminated by the Yankees the past two years. And not just eliminated, swept. So Young's still looking for his first postseason win against New York. This was his first playoff home run in 7 games though.

7:44 PM - Cabrera grounds out weakly to Jeter and we'll get our first look at the 24-game winner Verlander. If you want my opinion, this guy should be the AL's Cy Young Award winner AND their MVP.

7:48 PM - Verlander strikes out Jeter on a pitch in the dirt, but the slider gets away from Avila and Jeter just beats the throw. That'll bring up Granderson, the former Tiger, and the AL's leader in runs scored (136), and runs batted in (119).

7:51 PM - And Granderson works a walk. Not good. So there's 2 on and nobody out for the heart of the Yankees lineup. It'll start with Robinson Cano, this year's Home Run Derby Champion.

7:53 PM - Not good defense there from Miguel Cabrera. Cano chops one to first, and instead of going to second for the force, he looks like he has trouble getting a handle on the ball and instead takes the out at first. Yeah, it's an out which is important, but it puts Verlander in a tough spot.

7:55 PM - A-Rod chops one to Inge and Jeter going on contact is able to score as the Tigers take the out at first. So that ties the game up at one. Kind of surprised to see A-Rod hitting cleanup tonight considering he only hit 16 home runs this year. But then again, he did what he was supposed to do and drove in a run. So what do I know?

7:57 PM - And it's starting to rain in New York.

7:58 PM - And Verlander loses Teixeira after getting ahead of him 0 and 2, but Swisher chases the first pitch and rolls one to second. 25 pitches in the first inning for JV and the Yankees push across a run without the benefit of a base hit.

8:04 PM - Sabathia gets Avila to chase a breaking ball out of the zone for strikeout number 3. It's raining pretty good right now, we'll see how long this goes.

8:06 PM - Ryan Raburn getting the start at second base tonight for the Tigers, was one of 4 second basemen to start at least 20 games for Detroit this year. Raburn hit .383 in September though and as a result gets the nod for Game 1. It doesn't matter here though as he strikes out and ends the second. 4 strikeouts for Sabathia now.

8:10 PM - And now we're in a rain delay. At least the pizza's here though. Mmmmmmmmmm.

8:25 PM - Still raining, good interview with Ripken and Jeter though. Apparently we're waiting on a window of no rain. We'll see what happens.

8:40 PM - The tarp is off the field. That has to be a good sign, right?

8:47 PM - Yeah, this looks promising...

8:49 PM - And it looks like the tarp is back on the field. And so we wait some more...

9:05 PM - Things do not look good right now. What a mess for both teams as their aces were both on the hill when the rain started, and now if the game is delayed much longer or postponed, they've essentially been wasted. And honestly I don't know who this hurts more. Verlander has been everything to the Tigers, but it's not like the Yankees deck is stacked with starting pitching either. What a disappointing way for this whole Sabathia - Verlander matchup to go down...

9:23 PM - Well, that's it for the night. Tonight's game has been postponed to tomorrow where they'll pick things up in the bottom of the second, and tomorrow's game will be played on Sunday. What a bummer. And now it will be really interesting to see how these two teams handle their pitching the rest of the way. I guess we'll see what happens. Anyhow, thus ends the running diary for now.

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MLB Postseason Day 1 - Running Diary - Part 1

So Bill Simmons, aka the Sports Guy, does these running diaries from time to time during big games and it's seemed to work out pretty well for him, so tonight we're going to give it a shot. If it's terrible, rest assured, we probably won't be doing it again.

3:43 PM - We're about 20 minutes from the first pitch of the first game of the 2011 postseason with the Cinderella Rays taking on the defending AL Champion Texas Rangers. The big story heading into play tonight is that 22 year old lefty Matt Moore, who has made just one major league start, will be getting the ball for the Rays tonight. Don't let his lack of experience fool you though. In his one start against the Yankees just over a week ago he tossed 5 shutout innings and fanned 11 hitters. Not a bad first start. In 27 starts between AA and AAA this year, Moore went 12-3 with a 1.92 ERA and 210 strike outs in just 155 innings. Where do the Rays keep finding these guys? He'll be opposed by C.J. Wilson, who was converted from a reliever to a starter before the 2010 season, and set career highs this year in starts (34), innings (223 1/3), strikeouts (206), wins (16) and a 2.94 ERA. Against the Rays this year, Wilson has made 3 starts allowing just 5 runs and 10 hits in 21 2/3 innings. Rays hitters batted just .147 against him this year. So you've got an exciting match-up of lefties tonight. Let's get this started.
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3:58 PM - Great moment for the ceremonial first pitch tonight as 6 year old Cooper Stone, whose father was killed at a Rangers game earlier this year when he fell from the bleachers while trying to catch a ball thrown by Josh Hamilton, was escorted onto the field along with his mother by Nolan Ryan and got to throw out the first pitch to Hamilton. I love baseball.
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4:01 PM - C.J. Wilson has NEVER lost to Tampa Bay apparently. 5-0 in his career.

4:02 PM - Here are your batting orders:

For Tampa

Sean Rodriguez SS - .223, 8 HRs, 36 RBIs, 11 SBs
B.J. Upton CF - .243, 23 HRs, 81 RBIs, 36 SBs
Evan Longoria 3B - .244, 31 HRs, 99 RBIs, 3 SBs
Ben Zobrist 2B - .269, 20 HRs, 91 RBIs, 19 SBs
Johnny Damon DH - .261, 16 HRs, 73 RBIs, 19 SBs
Kelly Shoppach C - .176, 11 HRs, 22 RBIs, 0 SBs
Casey Kotchman 1B - .306, 10 HRs, 48 RBIs, 2 SBs
Desmond Jennings LF - .259, 10 HRs, 25 RBIs, 20 SBs
Matt Joyce RF - .277, 19 HRs, 75 RBIs, 13 SBs

For Texas

Ian Kinsler 2B - .255, 32 HRs, 77 RBIs, 30 SBs
Elvis Andrus SS - .279, 5 HRs, 60 RBIs, 37 SBs
Josh Hamilton CF - .298, 25 HRs, 94 RBIs, 8 SBs
Michael Young 1B - .338, 11 HRs, 106 RBIs, 6 SBs
Adrian Beltre 3B - .296, 32 HRs, 105 RBIs, 1 SB
Mike Napoli C - .320, 30 HRs, 75 RBIs, 4 SBs
Nelson Cruz RF - .263, 29 HRs, 87 RBIs, 9 SBs
Yorvit Torrealba DH - .273, 7 HRs, 37 RBIs, 0 SBs
Craig Gentry LF - ..271, 1 HR, 13 RBIs, 18 SBs

4:09 PM - And we are underway as Wilson throws a strike to Rodriguez to start the game!
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4:10 PM - B.J. Upton is 0 for 14 lifetime against C.J. Wilson as he steps in for the first time today. And make it 0 for 15 as Wilson drops a breaking ball in there for a called strike three. Upton has struck out 7 times in 15 at-bats against the lefty.

4:12 PM - And Longoria lines out to left as we have a 1-2-3 first inning. Not the start the Rays were hoping for, but hey, there's a lot of baseball left to be played today. And now we get ready to watch the rookie Moore deal with that powerful Texas lineup.

4:18 PM - It's been pointed out that this is the first time that Kelly Shoppach and Matt Moore have EVER worked together. Shoppach wasn't behind the plate in any of Moore's regular season appearances and they didn't work together in spring training. Kinda crazy to have that be your starting battery in Game 1 of the postseason.

4:21 PM - And we have our first base hit of the game as Hamilton rips the first pitch he sees past the shortstop Rodriguez and into left field. Moore not showing any signs of jitters though having retired the first two hitters. And now he'll get Young on a lazy flyball to right-center. No score after one inning in Texas.

4:25 PM - Ben Zobrist batting cleanup for the Rays tonight. In the past week we've seen the Rays use 3 different clean-up hitters: Johnny Damon, Zobrist and Matt Joyce. And Zobrist takes one off the elbow and is Tampa's first baserunner.

4:30 PM - Johnny Damon, playing in his 8th postseason, has just given Tampa an early lead with a 2-run homer to rightfield. Wilson surrendered just 2 home runs to lefties in 179 at-bats during the regular season. Interestingly enough, one of those two homers was hit by the Rays Matt Joyce, who is batting 9th today. Anyhow, it's the 10th home run in Damon's postseason career.
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4:34 PM - Desmond Jennings stepping in now with a runner on 2nd and 1 away. Jennings apparently finished the regular season 0 for his last 26. Good thing I picked him up for my fantasy team with like a week to go in the regular season. There's a reason I didn't repeat as league champion this year.

4:38 PM - Matt Joyce hits a seeing-eye single just past a diving Kinsler and scores the not-so-fleet-of-foot Kelly Shoppach to give the Rays a 3-0 lead. Not the start that Texas was hoping for.

4:42 - Wilson finally gets out of the inning. The Texas offense is prolific though having scored fewer than three runs just twice in the month of September. One of those times was against the Rays though when they were shut down by James Shields in a 5-1 loss.

4:47 - Mike Napoli stepping in with one out in the 2nd and promptly grounds out to short. It's worth noting that Napoli was an absolute monster this year slugging 30 homers in just 369 at bats. It was the first time that Napoli, who spent his first 5 Big League seasons with the Angels before joining Texas this year, had ever hit 30 homers in a season.

4:49 PM - Moore fans Nelson Cruz to give him 2 strikeouts on the day and a quick 1-2-3 inning. Moore hasn't even played a game at Tropicana Field in his career with his three regular season games, and this start, all coming on the road. He doesn't seem to be having any issues though. What a beast.

4:53 PM - C.J. Wilson might not be sharp today, but he still owns B.J. Upton. 2 at bats, 2 strikeouts, and now Upton is 0 for 16 against him.

4:56 PM - One out, a man at first, clean-up hitter at the plate, and Ben Zobrist drops down a bunt. Those crazy Rays... How many teams in baseball bat a guy 4th that can even do that?

4:59 PM - Kelly Shoppach, who hit just .176 during the regular season, is now 2 for 2 tonight and just smoked a 3-run home run to centerfield off of Wilson, and now it's 6-0. I don't want to say this game is out of reach because the Rangers have 5 guys in their lineup that hit 25 home runs this season, but it's not looking good. Too early to start talking about Tampa as being a Team of Destiny this year?
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5:02 PM - Speaking of Shoppach, he was 0 for 9 in the 2010 postseason against the Rangers.

5:04 PM - Speaking of which, let's talk about last year's Division Series between the Rays and Rangers. That series went the full 5 games with the road team winning every game in the series. A quick recap:

Game 1: Cliff Lee tosses 7 innings and fans 10 while the Rangers get home runs from Nelson Cruz and Bengie Molina as Texas beats David Price and the Rays 5-1.

Game 2: C.J. Wilson was a lot more successful against the Rays in last year's postseason as he threw 6 1/3 shutout innings and gave up just 2 hits in a 6-0 win. Ian Kinsler and Michael Young both homered and James Shields was chased early.

Game 3:  The Rays score 2 in the 8th and 3 in the 9th to erase a late 2-1 lead and win Game 3 by a score of 6-3. Carl Crawford and Carlos Pena both homered in the 9th for the Rays while Kinsler and Cruz each hit their second home runs of the series.

Game 4: Tampa jumps out to an early 5-0 lead against Tommy Hunter and the Rays pen tosses 4 scoreless innings in relief of Wade Davis as the Rays even the series with a 5-2 win. Evan Longoria homered for Tampa while Cruz hit his 3rd home run of the series off of Davis in the 6th.

Game 5: Cliff Lee gets the best of David Price for the second time in the series as the Rangers take the game 5-1 and the series 3-2. Ian Kinsler put the game out of reach in the 9th with a 2-run homer off Rafael Soriano, his 3rd home run of the series.
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5:09 PM - Ian Kinsler draws a 2-out walk, but Elvis Andrus lines out to Casey Kotchman to end the 3rd inning. Moore cruising through 3 innings allowing just 1 hit and 1 walk while fanning 3. More importantly, he's only had to throw 41 pitches.

5:11 PM - This has nothing to do with this game, but Terry Francona will apparently not be back as the Red Sox manager next season. WOW. I'm a little surprised by how things are playing out in the aftermath of the Red Sox collapse. I mean, you knew there was going to be a scapegoat, but the way the story is coming out right now, it's not that Boston fired Francona, it's Francona opting out of Boston. Makes you wonder what was going on behind closed doors there. Were there that many issues in the Sox clubhouse? We may never know the answer to that, but regardless, Boston's going to be looking for a new manager. I hear Grady Little is available.
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5:14 PM - C.J. Wilson just hasn't been sharp today. He's been missing up a lot and now he's issued a leadoff walk to Jennings, the guy who hasn't gotten a hit in over a week. Scott Feldman is up and ready in the bullpen, so if Wilson gets in any trouble here in the 4th, he's done.
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5:18 PM - Well, at least Upton didn't strike out this time. Wilson gets out of the 4th unscathed as Upton grounds into a fielder's choice dropping him to 0 for 17 against the Rangers lefty.

5:21 PM - You forget one down and the whole stadium turns against you! I love these All-State Mayhem adds. They crack me up.

5:22 PM - Well, at least Josh Hamilton showed up for Texas today. Hamilton smokes a double over Joyce's head in right and he's 2 for 2 and the Rangers have their first runner in scoring position here in the bottom of the 4th. That'll bring up Michael Young. Young's a great story this year, because if you'll recall back in Spring Training, he wanted out of Texas after they signed Adrian Beltre and told Young he'd need to change positions yet again. All Young did was deliver his 6th 200+ hit season and set a career high with 106 runs batted in while batting a career best .338.

5:26 PM - Well, the Rangers don't have a runner in scoring position any more. Beltre smokes one to short but right at Rodriguez catching Hamilton in no-man's land and he's tagged out at second for the second out.

5:29 PM - After a wild pitch gets Beltre to second base, Moore fans Napoli to end the inning. The 22 year old rookie now has 4 strikeouts through 4 shutout innings. If you put his one regular season start together with his first 4 innings here, his line looks like this: 9 innings, 6 hits, 0 runs, 2 walks, 15 strikeouts. Not bad, right? Oh by the way, that's 5 innings at Yankee Stadium and 4 innings in Arlington. No homefield advantage to speak of. Also worth noting, you're talking about the 2nd and 3rd highest scoring teams in the majors this year. Note to self: Remember this guy for fantasy baseball next year.

5:42 PM - Holy Shoppach! The Tampa Bay catcher crushes a two run home run with two outs after Johnny Damon reaches on an error and now it's 8-0! Shoppach is 3 for 3 with a pair of homers and 5 runs batted in. Wilson was starting to look good too striking out Longoria and Zobrist and getting Damon to hit a little squibber to third base. But Beltre's throw was high and Shoppach made it hurt. This is why earlier today I said Joe Maddon should be manager of the year. Just making all the right decisions. I mean, Kelly Shoppach? Matt Moore? Really? Team of Destiny, I'm telling you.
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5:52 PM - Through 5 innings now and it's 8-0 Tampa. Moore fans Cruz again to give him 5 strikeouts on the day. He's needed just 74 pitches so far and he's given up the two hits to Hamilton, a walk to Kinsler and he hit Gentry, but that's been it. And now the Rays have James Shields, David Price and Jeremy Hellickson just waiting in the wings. The Rangers could be in some trouble here.

5:56 PM - Scott Feldman in the game now for the Rangers as Wilson's day ends having gone 5 innings and allowing 7 hits, 8 runs (6 earned), he walked 1 and fanned 6, but surrendered the three big home runs. Feldman won 17 games for the Rangers back in 2009 but struggled last year and made just 11 appearances, including 2 starts, for the Rangers this year.

5:58 PM - And Desmond Jennings' struggles continue as he grounds out to extend his hitless streak to 28 at bats.

6:06 PM - And the Rangers finally get a runner to third base against Moore in the 6th, but it's no use. Adrian Beltre flies out to end the "threat" and now we're through 6 and Josh Hamilton is still the only Ranger with a hit.
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6:10 PM - No more Wilson, no problem for Upton as he hammers the first pitch he sees over Hamilton's head in center for a leadoff double.

6:17 PM - Feldman able to keep the Rays off the board despite Upton's leadoff double getting strikeouts of Longoria and Zobrist before inducing a flyball off the bat of Damon. He hasn't had to face Shoppach yet though who will lead off the Rays 8th. While Tampa has a comfortable lead, they know firsthand how quickly things can change having erased a 7-0 lead themselves just 2 nights ago to clinch a postseason berth.

6:21 PM - Moore is the second youngest pitcher to start Game 1 of a Division Series game. The only younger pitcher to do so was Rick Ankiel for the Cardinals back in 2000. Suffice it to say, Moore's fairing a bit better than Ankiel did, as that was the game when Ankiel threw a forgettable 5 wild pitches in the 3rd inning and he was never the same after that.
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6:27 PM - Moore breezes through the 7th inning getting Mike Napoli on strikes for the second time, giving him 6 K's on the evening. I can't undersell just how good Moore has been. His night is probably done now as he's reached 98 pitches, but wow did he make them count. 7 innings 2 hits 0 runs.

6:32 PM - The Rangers finally get Shoppach out as Feldman gets him on strikes. Still, an unbelievable performance by Shoppach today. Feldman not doing bad either as he now has 4 strikeouts through 2 1/3 innings.

6:35 PM - Jennings gets a hit! The 0 for 28 skid is over! Everything going Tampa's way today. Well, except that C.J. Wilson still owns B.J. Upton.

6:40 PM - The Rays bullpen takes over here in the bottom of the 8th as Brandon Gomes, another rookie, comes in to face a pinch hitter David Murphy. Murphy, who will likely take over for Gentry in left, started his career with Boston and was sent to Texas in the disastrous Eric Gagne deal back in 2007. And Gomes fans him here in the 8th. Gomes appeared in 40 games for the Rays this year and had a 2.92 ERA and 32 strikeouts in 37 innings of work.

6:45 PM - Gomes throws a good breaking ball down and away and Kinsler, unable to check his swing, goes down on strikes. Tampa's rookies just dominating on the mound tonight.

6:46 PM - 8 innings down, 8-0 Rays. Did anyone predict things to be so one-sided?

6:49 PM - Hahah, I just remembered that at one point this season, the Rays had Manny Ramirez on their team. I wonder how their season would have turned out if he hadn't "retired".
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6:51 PM - Matt Harrison now on in relief for Texas. Harrison went 14-9 in 31 games (30 starts) for the Rangers during the regular season with a 3.39 ERA. Harrison came over to the Rangers in the Mark Teixeira deal with Atlanta. Feldman, now done for the night, finishes with 3 shutout innings and 4 strikeouts. With Harrison working out of the pen, I guess that means Alexi Ogando, Derek Holland and Colby Lewis will round out the Rangers postseason rotation.

6:54 PM - Zobrist misses an opportunity to expand the lead as he grounds out softly to third with runners on second and third and one out. And that's it for Harrison. He goes 2/3 of an inning allowing a hit, a walk, and throwing a wild pitch. Interesting. Not sure what to make of this strategy. Especially since they're going with another lefty.

6:57 PM - And the new pitcher is former Pirate Mike Gonzalez. The Rangers acquired the lefty from Baltimore at the trade deadline.

6:58 PM - Tough hop on Andrus and everyone is safe. They're calling it a single as Damon beats the throw to first and now it's 9-0. And up to the plate steps Albert Pujols. I mean Kelly Shoppach.

7:00 PM - Shoppach starting to look like Shoppach again as he fans for the second straight time. Doesn't matter though as Tampa leads 9-0 heading to the bottom of the 9th.

7:04 PM - Wade Davis comes in to pitch the 9th, and he'll make his first relief appearance... EVER. Davis started Game 4 of last year's NLDS and went 11-10 with a 4.45 ERA this season in the Rays rotation.

7:05 PM - James Shields against Derek Holland tomorrow for Game 2 by the way

7:09 PM - Beltre pops out to first and that's all she wrote. Rays 9 Rangers 0. ZERO. Fear the Rays! We'll talk a quick break now and chronicle the Tigers - Yankees game in a little bit.

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End of the Year Awards for MLB

The 2011 Major League Baseball regular season came to a close Wednesday night, and what a finish it was. And now that the dust has finally settled, let's take a look at my thoughts on the end of the year awards. We're talking Cy Youngs, MVPs, Rookies of the Year, and Managers of the Year. I'm not saying this is who's going to win, but it's who I'd pick. So here we go:


We'll start with an easy one. If Justin Verlander isn't the unanimous winner, then the system is broken. Justin Verlander won 24 games, 5 more than any other American League pitcher, led the league in innings pitched (251), strikeouts (250), WHIP (0.92), ERA (2.40) and was one of just 5 pitchers in the American League to make 34 starts. There's honestly no argument for any other American League pitcher.
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Winner: Justin Verlander (Tigers)

Honorable Mentions: Jered Weaver (Angels), James Shields (Rays), C.J. Wilson (Rangers), CC Sabathia (Yankees), Jose Valverde (Tigers), Mariano Rivera (Yankees).


This one isn't quite as clear cut, but I still feel good about saying that Clayton Kershaw deserves to win the NL Cy Young Award. Like Verlander, Kershaw won the Pitching Triple Crown (lead the league in Wins, ERA and Strikeouts) going 21-5 with a Major League best 2.28 ERA and 248 strikeouts in just 233 1/3 innings. Dodger pitchers other than Kershaw were 13 games under .500 and I think that's what separates Kershaw from fellow 21 game winner Ian Kennedy of the Diamondbacks. Kershaw's overall numbers are better and he won a ton of games for a bad team. Now there's certainly an argument for saying that the guys who win a ton of games in a pennant race are doing so with more pressure on them and that means more, but consider Kershaw was 3-1 with a 1.42 ERA against Arizona and 5-0 with a 1.07 ERA against San Francisco, the two best teams in his division, and I think he still gets the edge.
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Winner: Clayton Kershaw (Dodgers)

Honorable Mentions: Kennedy (Diamondbacks), Roy Halladay (Phillies), Cliff Lee (Phillies), Cole Hamels (Phillies), John Axford (Brewers).


There's some really good candidates for this award this year: Mark Trumbo hit 29 home runs and drove in 87 for the Angels, Ivan Nova won 16 games for the Yankees and didn't lose after June 3rd going 12-0 the rest of the way, Tampa's Jeremy Hellickson finished 8th in the AL in ERA, Angels closer Jordan Walden had 32 saves, and Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer had a solid all around season batting .293 with 19 home runs, 78 runs batted in and 11 stolen bases. So how do we narrow this down? Walden blew a league worst 10 saves and Trumbo had an on base percentage of just .291 with 120 strikeouts, so they're out. Hosmer's really good and you'll be hearing his name a lot more in the future, but while his numbers were good, they weren't GREAT. So you're left with two starting pitchers, Nova and Hellickson. And honestly, Hellickson's numbers are better than Nova's in every category except wins. I don't want to undersell the importance of what Nova was to the Yankees rotation, but the Rays don't make the playoffs without Hellickson.
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Winner: Jeremy Hellickson (Rays)

Honorable Mentions: Trumbo (Angels), Nova (Yankees), Walden (Angels), Hosmer (Royals)


A number of worthy candidates for Rookie of the Year in the NL as well: Freddie Freeman led all NL rookies in runs (72), hits (161), doubles (32), runs batted in (76) and was tied with Desi Espinosa with 21 home runs while batting .282. Craig Kimbrel set a rookie record with 46 saves. And you can make cases for pitchers Josh Collmenter (10-10, 3.38 ERA), Dillon Gee (13-6, 4.43 ERA) and Vance Worley (11-3, 3.01 ERA). I go back and forth on this one between Worley and Kimbrel. Kimbrel had 46 saves, a rookie record, and ended the season with a 2.10 ERA and 127 strikeouts in 77 innings. Worley was 11-3 for the Phillies, and stepped up big time in their rotation when Joe Blanton and Roy Oswalt suffered injuries during the year. I think I give the slight edge to Kimbrel just because he was SO dominant for most of the year. On September 8th his ERA was a mere 1.55, at one point he saved 25 games in a row, and he didn't allow a single run between June 14th and September 8th, a span of 38 appearances. On second thought, it's not that close. Despite his disappointing end to the season, Kimbrel's your guy.
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Winner: Craig Kimbrel (Braves)

Honorable Mentions: Freeman (Braves), Collmenter (Diamondbacks), Gee (Mets), Worley (Phillies).


If the Red Sox had won, this award should have gone to Jacoby Ellsbury who bounced back from an injury plagued 2010 season to set career highs in virtually every offensive category this year - .321 average, 119 runs, 212 hits, 46 doubles, 32 homers, 105 runs batted in, to go along with 39 steals. It was more than that though as he was getting big hits right and left for the slumping Sox, the biggest of which being a 3-run homer to beat New York last Sunday night in the 14th inning, and on top of that he's been a terrific centerfielder. But they didn't win, so I'm ruling him out. Jose Bautista's name gets thrown out there a lot, but the Jays finished 81-81 and I'm a believer that this award should go to a player on a contending team. Curtis Granderson scored 136 runs and slugged 41 homers while driving in 119, but he only hit .262 for the top-seeded Yankees. Plus, if he didn't play well he had Mark Teixeria, Robinson Cano, Alex Rodriguez, etc. in the lineup to pick him up. You can throw some other names out there too: Adrian Gonzalez, Miguel Cabrera, Michael Young... But I have to go with Verlander again. The Tigers pulled away in the Central late thanks to a big winning streak, but before that, the Tigers were under .500 when Verlander didn't pitch. I know a lot of people don't like pitchers winning the MVP award, but in a year where there isn't a clearcut favorite among the position players, I think he deserves it.
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Winner: Justin Verlander (Tigers)

Honorable Mentions: Ellsbury (Red Sox), Granderson (Yankees), Bautista (Blue Jays), Cano (Yankees), Young (Rangers), Gonzalez (Red Sox)


For the same reason I don't like Bautista for the award in the American League, I don't like Matt Kemp in the National League. Kemp just narrowly missed winning the Triple Crown (batting average, home runs, runs batted in), losing out only on the batting title to Jose Reyes, but didn't play for a contender. So now I'm looking at two guys that play for the same team which is a bit of a conundrum. Prince Fielder (.299 38 homers 120 rbis) and Ryan Braun (.332 33 homers 111 rbis) both have impressive resumes. So how do you say one is more valuable than the other? Troy Tulowitzki had a great season playing a solid shortstop for the Rockies, but they finished 4th in the NL West. Ryan Howard led the Phillies with 33 homers and 116 runs batted in, but batted just .253. Justin Upton only drove in 88 runs for Arizona. Albert Pujols was terrific again, though not by his standards - .299 37 homers 99 rbis... So you really don't have a great candidate. I guess I'd go with Braun, but I wouldn't be upset if Fielder or Pujols came away with the award.
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Winner: Ryan Braun (Brewers)

Honorable Mentions: Fielder (Brewers), Pujols (Cardinals), Tulowitzki (Rockies), Kemp (Dodgers).


Any time you make the playoffs out of the American League East and you're not from New York or Boston, you're doing something really right as a manager. The fact that the Rays did it this year after losing Matt Garza, Carlos Pena, Carl Crawford and practically their entire bullpen is downright astounding.
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Winner: Joe Maddon


In 2010 Arizona was 65-97, the second worst team in the National League. This year, the D-Backs won the NL West with a record of 94-68. I defy you to name a better candidate.
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Winner: Kirk Gibson

So those are my picks, what do you guys think?

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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Heroes & Goats

Just an unbelievable night of baseball  last night. Extra inning games, walkoff home runs, dramatic 9th innings... The night had it all. And when the dust had finally settled we had both of our ties broken and the Tampa Bay Rays and St. Louis Cardinals are going to the playoffs. Here's a look at who the heroes were, and who were your goats:


Hero: Chris Carpenter
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The 36 year old Carpenter pitched perhaps his best game of the season last night when the Cardinals needed it most. While he didn't have any shortage of run support, he led 5-0 before he even took the mound, Carpenter made sure the Astros would never threaten. The big right-hander finished with a complete game 2-hit shutout and fanned a season high 11. Oh yeah, and he drove in a run too.

Goat: The Astros
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Yeah, that's right. I'm going to call out the whole team for this one. Way to go down fighting, guys. 2 for 29 with 11 strikeouts on offense, 7 earned runs in 9 innings on defense. Even throw in an error there for good measure. I suppose that sums up the entire season really. 56-106. If that doesn't say goat right there, nothing does.


Hero: Hunter Pence
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One of the many Astro transplants now playing in Philadelphia, Pence reached base 5 times, threw out Dan Uggla at home in the 6th when the Braves still lead 3-1, and delivered a broken bat single to drive in the winning run in the top of the 13th.

Goat: Craig Kimbrel

The flame throwing rookie finished the year with 46 saves and 127 strikeouts in just 77 innings, but he'll be remembered for issuing 3 walks in the bottom of the 9th with a 3-2 lead and surrendering Chase Utley's sacrifice fly to send the game into extra innings. It was Kimbrel's 8th blown save of the year and second in the month of September.

Bonus Goat: The Braves
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They weren't as bad as Boston, but the Braves went just 9-18 in the month of September and a combined 0-9 against the Cardinals and Phillies as they blew an 8 1/2 game lead that they held as late as September 5th.


Hero: Robert Andino
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This guy absolutely KILLED the Red Sox this month. On the 19th he hit a 2-run home run off of Kyle Weiland in what ended up being a 6-5 Orioles win. On the 20th, he stepped in against Jonathan Papelbon down a run with 2 outs and the bases loaded in the 8th and he deposited a 3-2 pitch into the rightfield corner for a 3-run double in a 7-5 win. On the 26th he hit a 2-out inside-the-park 3-run home run off of Josh Beckett to turn a 3-2 game into a 6-2 game, and now tonight he was once again in the middle of things. After Nolan Reimold doubled home pinch runner Kyle Hudson to tie the game, Andino - facing Papelbon again - looped a single in front of a sliding Carl Crawford allowing Reimold to score the game winner. It was Andino's 9th run batted in against Boston this month and 10th against them this season. Oh by the way, he only has 36 rbis TOTAL this year.

Goat A: Jonathan Papelbon
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I'm not going to solely put this one on the Sox closer though he did come within a strike of winning this game before letting it slip way along with Boston's postseason aspirations. He quickly struck out Adam Jones and Mark Reynolds to start the inning, but Chris Davis ripped a double to rightfield and then Nolan Reimold, down to his last strike hit one into the alley in right-centerfield for another double tying the game. Then it was Andino once again getting to Paps for the game winning it. Papelbon blew just 3 saves all year, 2 of them against this Orioles thanks to Robert Andino. It was also Papelbon's first loss of the season.

Goat B: Marco Scutaro
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The veteran shortstop turned a nifty double play in support of Jon Lester, but his baserunning may have cost the Sox a chance at the postseason. Carl Crawford doubled into the alley in left centerfield in the 8th inning, but Scutaro hesitated between second and third to make sure the ball got down before proceeding. And as a result J.J. Hardy's relay throw from centerfielder Adam Jones cut him down at the plate. It's a tough call, but Scutaro was already almost halfway to third when Reimold laid out for the ball. If somehow he catches it, there's no way Scutaro isn't doubled off of first base. At that point, you've just gotta go for it, consequences be damned. And in this instance it cost him. And ultimately it cost the team as they REALLY could have used one more run.

Bonus Goat: The  Red Sox
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Boston entered play on September 1st with a record of 83-52. In September they lost 20 of 27 games and now there's not going to be an October. For the most part anything that could have gone wrong for them, did go wrong. The starting pitching fell apart, the bullpen started having issues, mental errors, physical errors... You name it. I'm not saying the guys didn't play hard or give it their all or anything like that, but I defy you to find a guy completely guilt free in what was just an epic collapse.


Hero A: Dan Johnson
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I'm not sure that you've ever had a more unlikely hero. Dan Johnson entered last night's game with 9 hits in 83 at bats on the season. I'll save you the trouble of doing the math, that's a .108 batting average. That's HORRIBLE. Facing Corey Wade with 2 outs in the 9th inning, down by 1, Johnson quickly falls behind 1 and 2. At this point, I gave the Rays absolutely zero chance to win this game. And I wasn't even aware of what a horrible season Johnson was having. But Johnson proceeded to hit a rocket that just cleared the rightfield wall tying the game at 7 in one of the most improbable comebacks in baseball history (If you missed it, the Rays were down 7-0 in the bottom of the 8th). And now nobody's going to remember that Dan Johnson finished the regular season with a batting average lower than what I had in college.

Hero B: Evan Longoria
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Johnson wasn't the only hero. One inning earlier it was Evan Longoria's 3-run home run off of Luis Ayala that turned last night's blowout into a nailbiter for the ages. And then, with one out in the bottom of the 12th, Longoria hit a line drive that narrowly cleared Tropicana Field's left field fence, mere minutes after Baltimore had walked off against the Red Sox. Suffice it to say, that wouldn't have been a home run at Fenway Park, but it doesn't matter now. The Rays are in and the Red Sox are out.

Goat: The Yankees?
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I don't know that you really have a true goat in this one. I'm sure Red Sox fans want to put this one on the Yankees, and I suppose that's fair, I mean they did blow a 7-run lead in the 8th inning. Relievers Boone Logan and Luis Ayala combined to allow all 6 runs in the 8th, so they deserve some blame. Greg Golson got himself tagged out at third base when the Yankees had runners at the corners and nobody out in the 12th. That was kind of bone-headed. Joe Girardi didn't exactly do anything to try and win the game marching 11 pitchers out there and finishing with a lineup that included such household names as Ramiro Pena, Golson, Austin Romine and Brandon Laird. But at the end of the day, I don't think anyone in pinstripes cares, because they're still going to the playoffs.

Speaking of which, we've had all this craziness the past few nights and the playoffs haven't even STARTED yet!! Get ready for an exciting postseason.

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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Shame on you, Jose Reyes!

Ted Williams is rolling over in his grave right now. Why? First, a little history. On September 28, 1941, the last day of the 1941 season, Ted Williams started the day with a .3995 batting average, which would have been rounded up to .400. As the story goes, Williams was offered the the opportunity to sit out the final day of the regular season, thus guaranteeing him his .400 average and his place in history. Instead, he opted to play in a doubleheader against the Philadelphia Athletics and collected 6 hits in 8 at bats to raise his average to .406. No player has eclipsed .400 since. Before playing that day, The Splended Splinter is said to have said something to the effect of 'I wouldn't deserve the .400 average if I didn't play'. Apparently they just don't make men like that any more.
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Today, Jose Reyes entered play as the National League's leading hitter. He lead off the bottom of the first inning against the Reds with a bunt single and was lifted for a pinch runner in an effort to increase his chances of winning the NL Batting Title. Are you kidding me? I mean, it's true that no Met has ever won a batting title, but is this the way you want to do it? I'll be honest with you. I don't remember who won the batting title last season. Or the season before that. But I will remember that Jose Reyes wasn't confident enough to face Edinson Volquez or the rest of the Reds on the last day of the season.
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And you know what? Now I'm pulling for Ryan Braun, who can pass Reyes if he goes 3 for 4 (or better) against the Pirates tonight.

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Yankees Announce Today's Starter

Sorry, Red Sox fans. Today the New York Yankees will be starting 23 year old rookie Dellin Betances, who has amassed of all two thirds of an inning in his brief Major League career, against the Rays in the regular season finale. His one career major league appearance to this point also came against Tampa, but he walked 4 batters and hit a 5th out of the 7 guys he faced before getting the hook in a 15-8 loss. The former 8th round draft pick made 25 starts this year between AA Trenton and AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and while he struck out 142 hitters in just 126 1/3 innings and held hitters to just a .217 average, he also averaged nearly 5 walks per 9 innings in the minors this season. Still, scouts love his makeup as he stands 6'8" and can touch up to 98 miles per hour with his fastball, though he more typically works in the 94-95 mile per hour range. Probably not what Sox fans wanted to hear considering they could REALLY use a Tampa Bay loss tonight, but even the greatest of pitchers were once inexperienced rookies so you never know. That's why they play the game, right?
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Game 162 a BIG ONE for Four Teams

Here we are on the last day of baseball's regular season and the AL and NL wildcard races are all tied up. So tonight we get 4 games that will determine whether or not we have an outright winner, or whether we get some bonus baseball tomorrow. Here's a look at your starting pitchers for your contenders in tonight's games:

Philadelphia Phillies vs Atlanta Braves - 7:00 PM ET

Joe Blanton (1-2, 5.03 ERA) vs Tim Hudson (16-10, 3.23 ERA)

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The 36 year old Hudson leads the Braves in Wins and in ERA this year and this, his 33rd start of 2011, will be his biggest one yet. Hudson's made 3 starts against the Phillies this season and is 1-1 with a 3.48 ERA against them. However, the Phillies did beat him earlier this month in Philadelphia when he allowed 4 runs on 6 innings in a 6-3 Braves loss. Hudson will be opposed by Joe Blanton who has missed most of the season with an elbow injury. He faced Atlanta once back in May and allowed 2 runs in 5 innings of work before going on the disabled list. The Braves have lost all five of their games against Philadelphia this month.

Boston Red Sox vs Baltimore Orioles - 7:00 PM ET

Jon Lester (15-9, 3.49 ERA) vs Alfredo Simon (4-9, 4.85)
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On paper this looks like a matchup the Red Sox should win. Simon hasn't won since August 23rd against the Twins and is 0-2 with a 6.52 ERA in the month of September. However, Lester has lost 3 straight starts and the last time he pitched he allowed 8 runs in just 2 2/3 innings against the Yankees. Lester has only faced the Orioles once this year and that was way back in April. In that start he allowed just 2 runs over 8 innings in a 6-2 Boston win. This will be just the second time in Lester's career that he's started on short rest (less than 4 days between starts). The only other time was against the Angels and he allowed 4 runs on 9 hits in 5 innings in that start.

New York Yankees vs Tampa Bay Rays - 7:00 PM ET

TBD vs David Price (12-13, 3.35 ERA)
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You read that right. The Yankees haven't announced their starter for today's game yet, though speculation is it will be one of their relievers. David Price is winless in 5 September starts, but he hasn't allowed more than 3 earned runs in any of them. Against the Yankees this year he's 1-1 with a 4.26 ERA in 4 starts, but when he last faced them in August he was dominant allowing just 1 run in 8 innings.

St. Louis Cardinals vs Houston Astros - 8:00 PM ET

Chris Carpenter (10-9, 3.59 ERA) vs Brett Myers (7-13, 4.31 ERA)

The Cardinals ended a 3-game slide against the Astros last night when they erupted for 13 runs over the final 6 innings to erase an early 5-0 deficit. They now turn the ball over to Chris Carpenter who hasn't lost in the month of September. He's only faced the Astros once this year getting a no decision despite allowing just 2 runs in 7 innings, and while he threw well against them last year posting a 3.22 ERA over 3 starts, the Astros still dealt him 2 of his 9 losses. The big righthander is no stranger to big games starting in 9 playoff games in which he's 5-2 with a 2.93 ERA including a win over the Tigers in the 2006 World Series. He'll be opposed by Brett Myers who's had a disappointing season, but who is 4-0 with a 1.23 ERA in the month of September. He has lost both of his starts against the Cardinals this year allowing 8 runs in 14 innings of work.

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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Talk about a WILD Card Race

I don't care who your team is, what's transpiring in both the American and National League Wild Card races right now is EXCITING. Barring a ridiculous comeback by the Astros right now (it's 9-6 St. Louis in the bottom of the 8th as I type this), we're going to head into the final day of the regular season with both races tied up. Today was just another wild ride too. Let's recap.
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You've got Tampa Bay taking on the Yankees and jumping out to an early 2-0 lead on Ben Zobrist's 20th home run of the season. Tampa's gotta be feeling great, but the Yankees aren't exactly rolling over in this series and before you know it, the Yankees are ahead 3-2, and they have the bases loaded and nobody out with Russell Martin, who already homered in the game, at the plate. (not to change the subject, but Allen Craig just hit a 3-run home run for St. Louis, 12-6 Cardinals)

So yeah, bases loaded, nobody out. Best case scenario, you're thinking one run scores, right? If you ever thought that the deck was stacked against the Red Sox, this play epitomizes that thought. Russell Martin's groundball goes right to Evan Longoria who is standing on third base and starts your run-of-the-mill 5-4-3 triple play. A TRIPLE PLAY! Seriously??? So Tampa Bay gets out of the jam still down just 3-2. Fast forward to the bottom of the 7th. Enter Tampa's closer from the 2010 season, Rafael Soriano. Soriano saved 45 games for the Rays last season with a 1.73 ERA allowing just 36 hits in 62 1/3 innings. He left for more money in the offseason though taking a deal worth $35M over 3 years with New York. 2011 hasn't been great for him though, but that's a story for another blog. So here you the have ex-Ray Soriano facing the heart of the Tampa lineup. B.J. Upton leads off the inning with a walk. Evan Longoria falls behind 0 and 2 before working himself a walk, and that set the stage for unlikely hero, Matt Joyce. The 27 year old deposited Soriano's 1-0 delivery into the right field bleachers to put the Rays ahead 5-3, and the bullpen took over from there. And for a brief moment the Rays actually had the LEAD in the wildcard race.
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Meanwhile, in Baltimore, the Red Sox had to endure yet another subpar performance from one of their starting pitchers. Erik Bedard, the former Oriole, lasted just 3 1/3 innings forcing the Sox to lean heavily on their bullpen once more. But the Sox were picked up by a pair of unlikely heroes tonight. Alfredo Aceves, the 28 year old middle reliever, shut down the O's offense between the 4th and 7th innings and rookie 3rd string catcher Ryan Lavernway hit not one, but two home runs, the first two home runs of his career, and the Sox held on for an 8-7 win. Daniel Bard got touched up for 2 more runs as he's seen his ERA jump from 2.03 on August 31st to 3.38 after tonight, and Jonathan Papelbon put the tying run in scoring position in the 9th, but a win is a win is a win. Let's face it though, things just don't feel right for Boston. The Rays are getting all of these breaks, and Boston is dealing with guys on last place teams making plays like this one when the Sox load the bases!
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So now it all comes down to the last day of the regular season. Boston will start Jon Lester on short rest and the Rays will turn to David Price. No pressure.

Now in the National League, the Braves are doing their best Boston impression dropping yet another game to the Phillies, and this time it wasn't even close. Derek Lowe was knocked out of the game in the 5th and lost for the 17th time this year. Has there ever been a pitcher to lose more games on a team with this many wins in the modern era? Even ex-Red Sox are cursed right now it seems. Unless you count Johnny Damon. He seems to be doing all right. Anyway... the Braves got hammered by Roy Oswalt and Philadelphia. Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins and Hunter Pence all homered and the Braves were done from the start. At least the Braves can turn the ball over to Tim Hudson tomorrow. The team leader in wins (16) and ERA (3.23) will take the hill against the Phillies in what has now become a must-win game for the Braves thanks to the DisASTROS.
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There's a reason Houston set a franchise record in losses this season. Tonight they took an early 5-0 lead against the Cardinals and still managed to lose. And not just lose, lose by a LOT. St. Louis outscored the Astros 13-1 over the final six innings as St. Louis hammered out 17 hits and evened things up in the National League. The Astros kill me sometimes. Figures they'd go and do this after I talked them up all day today. Come on, guys! And now St. Louis will send their ace to the mound tomorrow in their must-win game. Well, Chris Carpenter might not be the ACE anymore, but he's still the guy you think of when you think Cardinals pitching (apologies to the injured Adam Wainwright, but Carpenter's been doing it longer). Carpenter will be opposed by Brett Myers as the Astros will try and get their 57th win...
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So here we go. One day left, and the 4 contending teams are going with Jon Lester (2-time all star), David Price (2 time all star), Chris Carpenter (3-time all star, 1 Cy Young) and Tim Hudson (3-time all star). As Terrell Owens would say, get your popcorn ready.