Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Game five ALCS and game four NLCS recap
Today featured a game where elimination was on the line and the other game featured a thrilling a back and forth game. The Rangers had a chance to clinch their first ever American League championship today at new Yankees Stadium. Standing in there way was Yankees ace C.C. Sabathia who should have pitched yesterday in game four. Meanwhile across the country featured game four in San Francisco where Phillies manager Charlie Manuel made some head scratching decisions when it was all said and done. At the end of the day one team extended their season while another team became just one win away from making the World Series.
Sabathia and Yankee bats keep season alive in 7-2 win
The Yankees were in a must win or go home situation at home in game five with their best pitcher on the mound. Sabathia delivered and was helped by a slumping offense that was held to just 11 runs in the previous four games finally busting out and scoring seven runs with five of those coming by the third inning.
With Sabathia on the hill it is possible the offense relaxed knowing they don't have to score as many runs. Whatever it was the Yankees erupted off Rangers starter C.J.Wilson who has been brilliant this postseason. The Yankees scored three runs in the bottom of the 2nd inning.
The Yankees would get on the board first when the slumping Jorge Posada would get a base hit to left field scoring Alex Rodriguez. The Yankees would score two more when Curtis Granderson would have a base hit to right center scoring Lance Berkman. Jeff Francoeur would try and throw Posada out at third but the throw was wild and Posada scored making the game 3-0 in the Yankees favor.
The Yankees weren't done scoring by any means. The Yankees would get back to back home runs from the slumping Nick Swisher and the red hot Robinson Cano in the bottom of the third to give Sabathia a 5-0 lead. That was the first Yankees back to back home runs in the playoffs since game three of the 2000 ALCS when Bernie Williams and Tino Martinez took Seattle Mariners pitcher Aaron Sele deep at Safeco Field.
For the first time all series the Yankees were taking control of the game. The Bronx Bombers biggest lead over the Rangers in the first four games was just by one run. With a 5-0 lead and Sabathia who is 55-0 when having a 5+ run lead the game was basically over.
The Rangers would scratch out two runs off of Sabathia but found themselves trailing 6-2 at the end of his six innings. Sabathia wasn't great by any means allowing 11 hits in only six innings but he did strike out seven and with the Yankees scoring all those runs he didn't allow Texas to gain any momentum which is huge. Rangers starter C.J.Wilson who was previously so great in the postseason would get blasted. Wilson lasted just five innings, allowing six runs, five earned, four walks and only struck out two.
The Yankees would add one more run in the eighth when Curtis Granderson took Ogando out of the ball park. The Yankees will now head back to Texas trailing 3-2 after losing two out of three in their home ball park. The Rangers will now hope Colby Lewis can pitch them into the World Series. The Yankees obviously are hoping for a much better performance from Phil Hughes who was dreadful in game two. If the Yankees win that game they will be stuck facing Cliff Lee who will be fully rested.
The Rangers now fall to 1-3 in series clinching games this postseason. The Rangers will want to avoid obviously pitching Cliff Lee in a do or die game so they can save him for the World Series. The Yankees have no other choice but to win two on the road which means yes they'll have to beat Cliff Lee. The energy at the ballpark of Arlington should be interesting. The Yankees stay alive but the Rangers come back home needing to win one and have their ace up their sleeve for a must win game. I still like the Rangers in this series.
Giants win 6-5 over Phillies in the 9th, one win from World Series
The Giants in a back and forth game found themselves in a tied game in the 9th against the pitcher who shut them down in game two of the NLCS in Roy Oswalt. The middle relief had blown yet another game and it was looking like the series would be tied at two games apiece. Instead the Giants scored off Oswalt to win the game 6-5 and now need just one win to advance to the World Series for the first time since 2002.
The game started off as the Buster Posey show. The talented rookie catcher had two nice hits and a great defensive play in the fifth inning. In the first inning Posey singled scoring Freddy Sanchez giving the Giants a quick 1-0 lead off Phillies starter Joe Blanton who Manuel decided to go with instead of ace Roy Halladay. Posey struck again in the third when he doubled to deep left field just missing a home run scoring Aubrey Huff. The Giants were cruising with a 2-0 lead heading into the fifth inning behind Madison Bumgarner. Then everything fell apart for the Giants.
The Phillies had second and third with just one out with Shane Victorino up to bat. The Phillies who hadn't come up with many big hits finally got one when Victorino hit a ball hard up the middle scoring Ben Francisco but Aaron Rowand gunned out Carlos Ruiz out at the plate. Posey the catcher did a great job catching the one hop throw and blocking the plate to apply the tag on Ruiz. Victorino inexplicably didn't advance to second base putting himself in scoring position. The very next hitter Chase Utley ripped a base hit that could have scored Victorino instead it was just first and second with two men out for Placido Polanco. Giants manager Bruce Bochy did a double switch pulling Bumgarner in favor of Santiago Casilla who gave up the bases loaded clearing double to Jimmy Rollins in game two.
The gamble by Bochy would blow up in his face. Castilla gave up a double in the left field gap to Polanco scoring Victoriano and Utley from first base to give the Phillies a 3-2 lead. Polanco would then score on a wild pitch making the game 4-2. The Phillies had erupted for four runs in the fifth. Bumgarner final line was 4.2 innings, 6 hits, 3 runs(2 were given up by Casilla) and 6 strikeouts. The Giants would get a run back in the bottom of the fifth and chase Joe Blanton in the process. Blanton would also last just 4.2 innings allowing 5 hits, 3 runs and striking out 3.
Trailing 4-3 in the bottom of the sixth the Giants Pablo "Kung Fu Panda" Sandoval who has had a bad season compared to his 2009 season belted a double to deep center scoring Pat Burrell and Cody Ross giving the Giants a 5-4 lead. In the bottom of the seventh the Giants had a chance to put the game away but Sandoval hit a double play with the bases loaded and just one man out. The Giants were six outs away from being a game away from the World Series. It wouldn't be a Giants playoff game without some eighth inning meltdown.
With a runner on base Bochy decided to go with Sergio Romo who was terrific in the regular season but has had his struggles in the postseason. He was roughed up in game two of the NLDS lost, then gave up a two run home run in game three of the NLDS to give the Braves the lead. Romo immediately gives up a double to Jason Werth scoring Howard and tieing the game at 5-5.
Now this is where the second guessing really comes into play. In Manuel's defense he had ran out of bullpen arms other than Lidge and didn't want to use him unless it was a save opportunity. Manuel decided to go with game two starter and possibly game six starter Roy Oswalt. Oswalt who had shut down the Giants in game two was pitching on just two days rest. The second guessing comes in is why pitch Oswalt out of the pen on two days rest but go with Blanton over Halladay because you didn't want Halladay then Oswalt pitching on three days rest.
After Oswalt recorded the first out, Huff had a base hit to shallow right field. Then Posey had a base hit the other way to right field allowing Huff to go to third with only one man down. Oswalt hoping to get a ground ball while Uribe just wanted to lift the ball into the air. Uribe would hit the ball to deep left field, Francisco would catch the ball and throw home and Huff scored by a long shot giving the Giants a 3-1 lead in the series. The Phillies will now throw their staff ace Roy Halladay to keep their season alive. Unlike the Yankees situation the Phillies will be facing the Giants ace in Tim Lincecum who has won the last two Cy Young's.
The Giants are obviously in a great position needing just one win from Lincecum, Sanchez or Cain. The Phillies will also have Halladay, Oswalt still then Hamels if it gets to that. Plus if the Phillies manage to win they will have homefield advantage still. The place will be rocking and both teams have the guy they want in a game just like this. Should be interesting if San Francisco can clinch on their home soil or will they have to make the long plane ride back to Philadelphia. Should be a fun game tomorrow and a great atmosphere.
We have both underdogs who nobody gave a chance to needing just one win to punch their ticket to the World Series. Two franchises who have never won a World Series in their respective cities. I think both Giradi and Manuel messed up. They both should have pitched their aces in game four to even the series and take back some momentum if there is such a thing in baseball. Now Giradi found himself down 3-1 and eventually will have to beat Cliff Lee in a must win game for his season. Manuel now finds himself down 3-1 and faces Tim Lincecum, Jonathan Sanchez and Matt Cain in a must win games for his season. This all could have been avoided had they been agressive and pitched their aces on three days rest and worry about game five when you are tied 2-2.
At the end of the day the underdogs were better than everyone had thought. Now comes the hard part which Texas found out today and the Giants painfully found out in 2002 getting that fourth and final victory is always the hardest victory in any series.