Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Game three NLCS and game four ALCS recap

By Kshell

Today featured two baseball games again in the league championship series. In one game featured a great pitching matchup in San Francisco where the winner would take a 2-1 series lead and put some pressure on one of the managers to pitch their ace on three days rest or not. The other game featured the defending World Champions trailing 2-1 in the series and electing to not pitch their ace on short rest but instead a pitcher who was 10-15 during the regular season. If the Rangers win this game they would be one game away from the World Series, a Yankees win and the series is tied and becomes a best of three game series. Today saw both underdogs in the series take a giant step towards reaching the World Series.

Matt Cain continues Giants dominant pitching run, blanks Phillies 3-0

As we witnessed yesterday in New York great pitching can shut down great hitting. Matt Cain has now given up zero earned runs in 13.2 innings this postseason. Tim Lincecum receives all the praise and rightfully so but the Giants are a realistic World Series team because they have a deep staff. In this postseason now the Giants have in seven starts pitched seven quality starts. In September the Giants set a record for fifth lowest ERA in a month by a pitching staff with a sub 2.00 ERA. The Giants also got just enough hitting to squeeze out a win. In front of a roaring crowd which featured the all-time home run king Barry Bonds the Giants won the game 3-0 over the Phillies to take a 2-1 series lead.

The Phillies had a good pitcher themselves in 2008 World Series MVP Cole Hamels who was coming off a series clinching complete game shutout of the Reds. Hamels had a no-hitter through the first three innings but started to come a bit unglued in the fourth inning.

Edgar Renteria led the inning off with a base hit to break up the no-hitter. Hamels would retire the next two hitters then walk former Phillies hitter Pat Burrell. The red hot Cody Ross who was picked up from Waivers in late August just so the Padres wouldn't acquire him singled to left field to score Renteria and the games first run. Then Aubrey Huff singled to right scoring Burrell giving the Giants a 2-0 lead.

In the bottom of the fifth the Giants would score another run on Chase Utley's fielding error scoring another ex Phillies player Aaron Rowand making the game 3-0. That would be all the runs Matt Cain would need. Cain was on fire shutting down the Phillies powerful offense holding them to just two hits through seven shutout innings while striking out five batters.

The Giants would slam the game shut in the ninth when closer Brian Wilson who has rebounded from his game two NLDS meltdown to record the save. The Phillies Hamels would end up going 6 innings, 3 runs and striking out 8 guys. The Giants go up 2-1 in this series and put the Phillies backs against the wall. This series is far from over but I feel Charlie Manuel is making the same mistake Joe Giradi made today.

Manuel said he will go with Joe Blanton who was 9-6 this year with a 4.82 era but on the road he was 4-4 with a 5.47 era. If I'm Manuel I have two pitchers who can pitch on three days rest in Roy Halladay for game four and Roy Oswalt for game five. The Giants will throw Madison Bumgarner who was the 10th pick overall in the 2007 draft. Bumgarner picked up the series clinching win on the road in game four at Atlanta and sports a 3.00 era. The Phillies can come back from a 3-1 hole with Hallday, Oswalt then Hamels but I just can't see Lincecum, Sanchez and Cain all losing. The Phillies are putting their season on the line with their fourth best pitcher because realistictly the Giants pitching is so good no way they drop three games in a row. Giradi's gamble on A.J.Burnett blew up in his face and now he is facing elimination.

The Giants pitching has been red hot since September. I know the offense isn't very good but Cody Ross is carrying them and with the Giants pitching you don't need very many runs. The starting pitching for the Giants has been amazing. Now the Phillies are banking on their fourth starter or else they'll be down 3-1 facing Lincecum and a crowd who is smelling blood. At least the Giants are making this a series which nobody thought could happen.

Rangers crush Yankees late 10-3, one win from first ever World Series

When Bengie Molina belted a three run home run off A.J.Burnett with two outs in the sixth inning to give the Rangers a 5-3 lead you could hear a pen drop in new Yankees stadium. The Rangers erupted for some more runs and won 10-3 leaving them one game away from their first ever World Series appearance. The defending champion Yankees also lost Mark Teixeira in the process.

Yesterday I suggested that Giradi go with Sabathia on short rest but instead he decided to let his season hinge on A.J. Burnett. Like I pointed out yesterday I wouldn't want to face Cliff Lee when my season is on the line. Giradi disagreed with that sentiment and through the first five innings it looked like Giradi knew what he was doing.

The Yankees had some fireworks in the second inning but it was with plenty of controversy. The first controversy was when Robinson Cano hit a homerun off Tommy Hunter to deep right field. The fan it had appeared interfered with Rangers right fielder Nelson Cruz. Then that fan taunted Cruz and the umpires didn't review the call so the Yankees scored their first run at home against the Rangers.

The Yankees thought they had scored another run by a home run to deep right by Lance Berkman. It was originally called a homerun but after looking at it again the ball was clearly foul. In fact when the umpires reversed the call Giradi or Berkman didn't even argue the call. The Rangers would respond with two runs in the third inning off Burnett despite not having a single ball out of the infield.

The Yankees would tie the score in the third when Derek Jeter would hit a two out triple then score on a Curtis Granderson base hit. Then in the fourth inning much like the Rangers did in game one vs Sabathia the Yankees blew a golden opportunity to blow the game wide open.

The Yankees would chase Rangers pitcher Hunter in the fourth inning with the bases loaded and just one out. The Rangers would call on lefty Derek Holland in a tied game at 2-2. Holland would get Gardner to ground into a fielder's choice. In fact it was a great play by Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus who made the play and got Cano out at third. The run was scored to give the Yankees the lead 3-2 but Holland would get the next batter out. In what could have been a big inning ended up just netting one run. Hunter final numbers would be 3.1 innings, 3 runs, 0 walks and 5 strikeouts.

The Yankees were clinging to a 3-2 lead entering the sixth inning. They got all they could have ask for from Burnett giving them five innings and allowing just two runs that were cheap runs. Instead of counting his blessing Giradi again gambled and let Burnett pitch the sixth inning. Vladmir Guerrero would lead the inning off with a base hit. After getting Cruz on a fielders choice is when the game started to change.

Burnett would get Kinsler to fly out to deep center field to the warning track for the second out. Cruz would tag up to get to second base. With first base open Giradi had Burnett walk David Murphy. Which set up first and second and two outs for Molina who had taken the Yankees deep three times in the 2005 ALDS. Molina on the very first pitch he saw belted it out of the ball park to deep left field. Just like that the Yankees were trailing 5-3 and just like that Burnett had blown up like a stick of TNT dynamite. Burnett day would be finished at 6 innings, 6 hits, 5 runs, 3 walks and 4 strikeouts. Giradi shouldn't have started Burnett in the first place, got greedy to stretch Burnett past five innings then was just plain stupid for leaving Burnett out there with runners on base. Those are the decisions in New York that the fans or management will not forget this offseason.

The Rangers bullpen since game one has been lights out. The unsung hero of the game was Rangers pitcher Derek Holland who pitched 3.2 innings of just one hit and struck out three Yankee batters. The Rangers would score two more in the seventh on a Josh Hamilton homerun to deep right and an Ian Kinsler rbi base hit. The Rangers were now up 7-3. It had looked like game one history was going to repeat itself. The Yankees had the bases loaded and just one man out and the Rangers called upon veteran left hander Darren Oliver. Oliver would retire Swisher who has been awful all series and then Berkman to ground out to escape the eighth and final jam of the Yankees.

The fans would start to leave in the ninth much like yesterday once the Rangers erupted for three more runs in the ninth. Hamilton homered again in the ninth so after doing nothing against his old team the Rays in the ALDS he has now hit four home runs against the Yankees. Then Nelson Cruz hit a two run home run to make the game 10-3. Cruz probably wanted to find the fan who taunted him and taunt him back after that blast. Oliver would finish the ninth for the save sending the Yankees down in a 3-1 hole.

Now the Yankees find themselves in a huge hole. The Yankees are at home today and will be pitching their ace C.C. Sabathia. Thats the only good news for the Yankees. The Yankees have lost Teixeira for the series. The Yankees bats have been silent as Teixeira was 0 for 15 before going down, Alex Rodriguez is 2 for 15 this series, Swisher is 1 for 15 and with the exception of Cano nobody is hitting. Another problem for the Yankees is after today they will at best find themselves having to win both games in Texas and most importantly beat Cliff Lee in an elimination game. This game is also no for sure win for the Yankees as Sabathia has pitched horrible so far this postseason and before last year he was horrible in previous postseasons as well. The pitcher going up against him is C.J.Wilson who has pitched excellent in both playoff starts this year. It's looking like we'll be seeing the antlers for a few more weeks to come.

Overall today featured two teams that nobody thought much of during the season. The Rangers appeared to not have deep enough pitching and were 0-6 at Tampa Bay and New York during the regular season. The Giants appeared to and still don't have the hitting yet they keep winning because their pitching doesn't allow any runs. I also feel Joe Giradi botched this series and particularly game four. He has to throw Sabathia in that game to tie the series up at 2-2. Now the Yankees are down 3-1 and to win this series must beat Cliff Lee assuming they even get that far. While the Phillies manager Charlie Manuel appears to be making the same exact mistake. Halladay and Oswalt have pitched on three days rest in the past and leaving basically your season up to a guy who hasn't pitched well is just wreckless and insane.

At the end of the day great pitching beats great hitting. The Giants are a team you'll hear from for years to come with those four youngsters its just a shame they wasted all that money on Barry Zito. As for the Rangers they'll be losing Cliff Lee but the rest of that young nucleaus will still be there. Then again the Rangers are only a legimate World Series threat because of Lee. Look for the Yankees to make Lee the highest paid pitcher in baseball if they lose to the Rangers.

Tomorrow features a literal must win game for the Yankees now. The Rangers have the rare chance to clinch on Yankee Stadium soil which is always a great site to see. The Giants have a chance to take control of the series and go up 3-1 with their three studs looming or will the Phillies even the series which will set up great drama with Lincecum-Halladay part two in a series that is tied at two. I can't wait for tomorrow. These playoffs have been pretty exciting.

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