Saturday, October 9, 2010

Game two of NLDS recap

By Kshell

Today was an interesting day that saw two teams on the same day rally from a 4-0 deficit. One team rallied to take a commanding 2-0 series lead while another team avoided a 2-0 hole to tie the series up and steal home field advantage. Both National League teams who were down 1-0 were trying to prove they belong in the playoffs after Halladay and Lincecum shut them down. Both offenses busted out unfortunately for one it wasn't enough.

Rick Ankiel hits game winning home run as Braves rally from 4-0 deficit to tie series

Rick Ankiel helped a tremendous comeback by the Atlanta Braves over the San Francisco Giants 5-4 in 11 innings. Ankiel with the crowd going crazy and facing two strikes silent the crowd with a home run to McCovey Cove where Barry Bonds hit many of homers. That blast silent the crowd. Ankiels blast will get all the credit and it should and I'll talk about him personally later. Ankiel wouldn't have been in position without the Braves getting some clutch hits and clutch outs along the way.

The Giants having won the previous game 1-0 in the first inning Pat Burrell who had been released earlier by the Tampa Bay Rays belted a three run home run into the left field stands to give the Giants a quick 3-0 lead. In the second inning pitcher Matt Cain delivered a clutch RBI base hit scoring Cody Ross to give the Giants a commanding 4-0 lead.

Matt Cain wasn't quite as dominant as Tim Lincecum but was pretty close. Matt Cain would end up going 6.2 innings allowing no earned runs and striking out six hitters. His counterpart Tommy Hansen not Tim Hudson like I had mistakenly said yesterday got the start. He would only last 4 innings allowing four runs.

The Braves finally scored in the 6th inning and found themselves trailing 1-0 in the series and 4-1 in game two on the road heading into the 8th inning. The Braves had 1st and third with nobody out so Bruce Bochy elected to go with his All-Star closer Brian Wilson. Most thought the game was over at that point. This sequence coming up is why every New York Yankees fan should love Mariano Rivera. Wilson gave up a cheap infield RBI single to Melkey Cabera to cut the lead to 4-2. Then the turning point of the game and possibly the season happened. After a bunt to advance the runners on second and third with one out, Álex González hit a two run double off of Wilson to tie the game at 4-4. The Giants crowd who was going crazy was in stunned silence.

Despite the blown save by the Giants they appeared to have caught a break in the bottom half of the 10th inning. Braves closer Billy Wagner fielding a bunt attempt appeared to have injured himself and had to be removed from the game. Kyle Farnsworth had entered the game. After loading the bases due to his wildness the Giants had their best hitter at the plate in Buster Posey. Posey then grounded into a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning. That set up Rick Ankiel's game winning home run in the 11th and the Braves return home tied at 1-1.

If someone had told me ten years ago when I was watching Ankiel set an NLDS record for most wild pitches thrown in an inning vs the Braves ironically that this same guy would hit a game winning home run in the playoffs for the Braves I would have pointed and laughed at you. Ankiel hasn't had the best career and isn't even an all-star but he is somebody to admire for sure. He came up as a pitcher and was good enough to start game one of the NLDS then game one of the NLCS for the St.Louis Cardinals. He had appeared to not only blow his chance on the big stage but ruin his future. Ankiel then switched from a pitcher to outfielder and although he strikes out a bit to much he has power. He displayed that power tonight as the Braves won the game. Its hard not to feel some sort of joy for Ankiel given his postseason demons of 2000.

Phillies take advantage of Reds miscues to rally for 7-4 win

The Cincinnati Reds making their first postseason appearance since 1995 could make this appearance a short one if they don't learn how to field the ball soon. The Reds find themselves down in an 0-2 hole after committing four errors and squandering a 4-0 lead. They key error occured in the bottom of the 7th inning when Jay Bruce lost the ball in the lights then on the relay throw Brandon Phillips bobbled the ball allowing the Phillies to finally take a 5-4 lead. The Reds can't afford to give the two-time defending National League champions extra outs like that or their season will end on Sunday at home.

The game started off beautifully for the Reds. The Reds having been shut out the previous game by Roy Halladay truly proved each baseball game is a new game. The first batter of the game Brandon Phillips took a Roy Oswalt pitch deep to left field to give the Reds a 1-0 lead. After tacking on a run off of Oswalt in the 2nd inning, Jay Bruce took Oswalt deep to right field in the 4th inning for a 3-0 lead. The Reds scored another run off of Oswalt in the 5th to make the game 4-0. Oswalt would go 5 innings, of 4 runs only 3 were earned.

The Reds gave the ball to Bronson Arroyo who had won a World Series with the 2004 Boston Redsox. Arroyo was battling the Phillies but found himself in some trouble when the Reds had the first of their plenty of bad defensive plays. When it was all said and done Arroyo was chased after 5.1 innings and allowed three runs but only one was earned. The Reds clinging to a one run lead in the 7th called on rookie sensation Aroldis Chapman. Chapman against Utley had him down 0-2 in the count but hit him then Chapman struck out Howard. Then the bad defense started to occur.

Jason Werth hit a ground ball to former Phillies third baseman Scott Rolen who instead of getting the guaranteed out in Werth tried to get the lead runner in Utley. It was a close play which resulted in Utley being safe. Now Chapman facing 1st and 2nd and only one man down got former National League MVP Jimmy Rollins to fly out or so he thought. Jay Bruce lost the ball in the lights which allowed Utley to score and Werth was most likely going to be thrown out but Phillips bobbled the ball and the Phillies took a 5-4 lead. Carlos Ruiz would ground into a fielders choice to give the Phillies a 6-4 lead and Chapmans day was over. Chapman would lost just two thirds of an inning allowing three runs and all three runs were not earned.

The Phillies would add another run in the 8th and win the game 7-4 behind Brad Lidge's save. This loss was more devastating to the Reds than a no hitter. Losing to Roy Halladay in game one you almost expect that. In game two the Reds were up 4-0 at one point and had the matchups they wanted with Chapman in the 7th versus the heart of the Phillies order. The Reds also have to be kicking themselves with a NLDS record four errors this game. The Reds had a chance to steal home field advantage after rocking Roy Oswalt now the Reds must beat World Series MVP Cole Hamels, the guy who just no hit them in Roy Halladay at home to stay alive. Just winning those two games would be an accomplishment in itself but the Reds would still have to beat Roy Oswalt who before today was 7-1 with the Phillies with an ERA below 2.

Today's games were compelling at least. First time we have had some dramatic comebacks and there is one series that is 1-1 which the other three are 2-0. Baseball playoffs early showing homefield advantage means nothing as the home teams are a combined 3-5. Today we saw Bobby Cox get ejected which makes three managers in two days get ejected after going five years without a single manager ejected in the baseball playoffs. Today two pretty reliable bullpens blew saves and in both cases it was the guy whose manager and fan base would want to have the ball in that situation.

Tomorrow is game three of the ALDS will the Rays stay alive or will Texas clinch its first every playoff series victory? Will the law of averages finally kick in and allow the Twins to snap their eight game losing streak to the Yankees in the playoffs or will the Yankees show why they are the defending champs and wrap the series up? We'll find out tomorrow.

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