Knowing that New York may be throwing a lefty starter in as many as 5 games, look for Philadelphia's hitters to struggle a little more out of the gate than New York's. Werth is the only right handed hitter in the heart of the Phillies' lineup, making it tough to face Sabathia and Pettitte. On the flipside, look for Werth to have yet another strong series.
If I'm Girardi OR Manuel, my strategy would be to attack the hitters. With two deep lineups, pitching around A-Rod or Howard will only backfire. In games that will probably be higher scoring, having A-Rod blast the occasional solo home run is much less damaging than intentionally putting him on base and watching the rest of the team knock around a starter forced to pitch from the stretch and with men on constantly. This is not Barry Bonds and a bunch of marginal hitters. Whether it's Philly or New York, putting guys on for nothing rather than facing them and taking a chance will backfire.
Even the best hitters will make an out 55 - 60% of the time, so why not take those odds, get the out when it's given to you, and move on? The other aspect of intentional walks that isn't factored in enough is that every time you give up first base to that great hitter, you've also moved them ahead one more spot in the lineup without recording an out, meaning you are more likely to see them hit the next inning.
Stand firm, managers, trust your pitchers to make their pitches, and live with the consequences. It's the way the game should be played.
Assuming the weather holds up, the Phillies will try to defend their title starting tomorrow night in New York. Can Lee best his former Cleveland teammate Sabathia? Can the Phillies score early and often and take Mariano Rivera out of the equation? Will Alex Rodriguez continue his torrid hitting into the World Series?
In what was another game of mistakes (LA's inability to complete a pitcher to first base throw in the 8th inning), the New York Yankees emerged victorious with a 5-2 win and will be meeting the Philadelphia Phillies in the World Series beginning Wednesday night.
As sloppy as some of the games have been, the Fall Classic pits the two best teams in baseball as they have earned their way in and made no doubt about who should represent each league. TCO's official World Series Preview will be available before the start of Wednesday's game, but here's a hint - the Angels inability to push New York to a 7th game may have cost Philadelphia the chance at back-to-back titles.
Two things stand out from the 4 games to 1 NLCS victory for the Phillies:
1. The lack of a dominant starting pitching gave LA a serious disadvantage from the onset.
2. Philadelphia's lineup is relentless, making it impossible to pitch around the likes of Ryan Howard, forcing teams to throw strikes and deal with the consequences.
Philadelphia is breezing into the World Series while they await either the Yankees or Angels. New York can clear that up quickly with a victory tonight.
Ugly. That's the only word to describe last night's Game 4. Like much of the postseason, the Angels and Yankees were involved in a game yesterday that was sloppy from all angles. The players were sloppy, from Posada making it just 90 feet on Cano's could, to Posada forgetting how many outs there were, to Swisher getting picked off at second (even though it wasn't called). Even worse, the umps were sloppy, making a HANDFUL of obvious blown calls. I'm usually not one for unnecessary tirades by managers, but how Mike Scioscia doesn't get himself kicked out after the debacle at third base is beyond me.
The game was already slipping away and Tim McClellan's gaffe at third base in failing to call out Cano happened right in front of Scioscia. At that point, you have to get fired up, show a little emotion, and let your team know that you won't put up with inferior calls. Instead, the Angels skipper made his point, listened to McClellan, and returned to the dugout.
It was all irrelevant as the Yankees cruised 10-1, but a better performance is a must by everyone on the field in Game 5. Many of the games this postseason have been close but can hardly be considered playoff-worthy.
In what has been a pretty sloppy postseason, it was nice to see two walk off wins were the result of execution rather than mistakes yesterday. There's nothing worse than sitting through something like Game 2 of the ALCS only to see it end with a botched defensive play. True, the Angels still made plenty of baserunning mistakes and Jonathon Broxton walked and plunked his way into his own jam, but at least the final outcomes were executes, not "oopsed". Here's hoping the Angels put the pressure on again tonight.
Kershaw outperformed Hamels early on, but unfortunately for Clayton and the Dodgers, MLB games don't end after 4 innings. Kershaw imploded, the vaunted Philly lineup took advantage, and now LA is hoping to salvage a split before heading to Philadelphia for Game 3.
Meanwhile, the ALCS starts tonight (weather permitting), and The Commish promises not to take the Angels for granted like he did in the ALDS. Does that mean he picked LA to knock off the Yankees? Check out the ALCS Preview to find out!
The NLCS gets underway tonight, and The Commish believes the rematch from last year will be a much more even battle. It's hard to pick against a defending World Series team that added Cy Young winner Cliff Lee to the rotation and big hitter Raul Ibanez to the lineup. Does The Commish follow suit and go with the Phillies? Does he have a hunch the Dodgers will find some magic like they did in 1988? Check out the latest Hot Corner to find out - TCO's NLCS Preview tells you who will win, in how many games, and even who will be the Game 7 hero. Hint: it starts with "J" and ends with "amesLoney."
Even though it was likely the series no one saw, the matchup between Colorado and Philadelphia was certainly the best of the four Division Series. In the end, despite all the worry about Lidge and the Phillies' bullpen, it was Huston Street and company that failed the Rockies. With a 2-run lead and one strike left to send the series to a Game 5, Ryan Howard changed all that with a 2-run double and later scored on a Werth single. Lidge got the final out to send Philly to another NLCS.
While I found myself rooting for the Rockies, the fact remains that the four most deserving teams are still alive. Bad umpire calls aside, New York, Philadelphia, and both LA teams are the deepest teams with the most talent. Having not seen as many Angels games as the other teams this year, I obviously underrated some of Scioscia's players in my Division Series preview because guys like Morales, Figgins, and Aybar were certainly up to the task.
While the Yankees still figure to be the frontrunner, there is no team left that would be a surprise champion. Somewhat surprisingly, of the four teams, it is the Dodgers who have gone the longest without a title (1988) followed by the Yankees (2000). Plenty of good matchups and stories are abound. Look for the NLCS and ALCS Previews coming soon.
The NLCS starts Thursday while the ALCS gets underway Friday.
Three sweeps and a series that included two days games, a snow out, then a game which ended around 2:15am Eastern - for 9 innings!! More and more, I'm starting to question the Wild Card and the Division Series concept because even though there are more playoffs, the average fan doesn't start "caring" until at least the LCS. Then, the LCS starts so late - both in terms of daytime and calendar - and many casual fans lose interest.
I'm worried about you baseball, and the solution is not MORE playoff teams. The less emphasis put on the regular season, the less likely people will continue showing up in places like Washington, Pittsburgh, Oakland, etc. I'll have a larger offseason rant for these problems, but for now let me express my displeasure with the current fixed start dates. If Philly wins later today, the entire first round will be wrapped up, but the LCS won't get started until Friday. In a day-to-day game like baseball, that's just stupid. Games are getting snowed out, but MLB continues to delay the ending. Momentum is lost, weather becomes a much bigger factor than it should, depth of rosters become less relevant because of the long breaks, and the game in general becomes nothing like the one that was played for six straight months.
Wow. It's been a pretty exciting start to the playoffs so far capped off with the amazing 9th inning in last night's Dodgers victory over the Cardinals. If you somehow missed it, Matt Holliday's dropped a flyball with 2 outs in the 9th and St. Louis leading 2-1 with no one on base. After that, the wheels came off and a few baserunners later, Mark Loretta hit a bases loaded pinch hit squib about 200 feet to break a 2-2 tie and win the game for LA.
The Dodgers hold a 2-0 lead on the series, while the Rockies tied up their series 1-1 over the Phillies in a tense 5-4 victory. Out west, the Angels and John Lackey bested Boston 5-0 to take the opener in easy fashion. Both AL series continue tonight.
Last night's game was a great tuneup to the playoffs. Can Minnesota's momentum carry them straight past New York? Can the Angels finally dust off the Red Sox in a playoff series? Will Philly have a chance to defend its title? Will Torre or LaRussa push to right buttons to get to the NLCS?
I'm looking for Minnesota to put Detroit out of its misery in a couple hours. The Twins have just been too hot lately and the Tigers have too many negatives against them right now. Either way, today's game is nothing more than the chance to lose to the Yankees in the first round.
Well, the suspense didn't last long as Atlanta went into a mini-slump while Colorado just kept chugging along en route to a well-earned playoff appearance. Things are still up for grabs between Detroit and Minnesota, but for the sake of the playoffs, here's hoping the Tigers get in. I don't see the Twins giving the Yankees much of a run in the first round.