Evan Longoria went 3-5, driving in the first run of the game. Then with the Rays and Blue Jays tied, 2 outs and nobody on in the bottom of the 10th, Longoria doubled and later scored the winning run.
Scott Kazmir struck out 10 and walked none while beating the A’s. Cleveland swept all four teams against Oakland
Brian McCann hit a go ahead homer in the second and collected an RBI in the winning rally as the Braves beat the defending champion Giants, 6-3.
Patrick Corbin threw yet another solid game as the Diamondbacks won against the Phillies. He threw into the 7th with only 4 hits and 1 run to improve to 5-0 and a 1.75 ERA.
They all owned baseball on May 09, 2013
My explanation for “Who Owns Baseball” can be found here.
At the end of the year, we will tally up who owned baseball the most individual days and see how it compares to the final MVP and Cy Young vote.
To view the Yearly Leaders for Who Owned Baseball Standings – Click the READ THE REST OF THIS ENTRY ICON.
Sunday November 11th, 2012
Sam Evans: Even though it may seem as if all of baseball is already focused on 2013, some of the major awards for the 2012 MLB Regular Season have yet to be announced. The AL and NL Rookie of the Year awards will be announced on Monday. Bryce Harper, Wade Miley and Todd Frazier are the finalists for the National League. Mike Trout, Yoenis Cespedes and Yu Darvish are the last three in the American League. I predict that Bryce Harper and Mike Trout will be the two players rewarded for their outstanding rookie seasons by taking home the hardware. Read the rest of this entry
Saturday November 3rd, 2012
Alex Mednick (Baseball Analyst and Writer): Both B.J. Upton and his younger brother Justin will be available this offseason. Bossman Junior (B.J.) will be a top centerfield free agent option, and Justin signed a lucrative 6-year deal just two years ago, is widely known to be on the trading block from Arizona. The Upton brothers are the two highest drafted brothers in sports history. B.J. was a second overall pick in 2002 and Justin, the first overall pick of the 2005 draft. They have both had ups and downs in their young careers, but both have performed extremely well and shown glimpses of brilliance. Justin has already cashed in on his first big major league contract, and B.J. is looking to so this offseason. Where B.J. will sign, we will find out over the next months. But one thing that is clear…he makes since for just about any team out there.
The Philadelphia Phillies are one of those teams that could envision B.J. Upton gracefully patrolling centerfield for 162 games. As a premier center fielder facing free agency, B.J. as become far too expensive a commodity for the Rays to retain going forward. He plays top-notch defense in centerfield and has a cannon for an arm. All he did in 2012 as 27-year-old (in his 8th year in the MLB) was hit 29 doubles, 28 home runs and steal 31 bags. Yes, with this amazing tool set that combines defense with speed and power comes a lifetime .255 batting average and about 150 strikeouts a year. There are weaknesses in every player’s game, but B.J. Upton’s strengths make him a very attractive target for any team that doesn’t have Joe DiMaggio manning centerfield.
There is no doubt that B.J.’s speed and power will fit very nicely into the Phillies lineup along with Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard. We have to also consider what it is going to take to get B.J. signed to a contract. Right now, we know that the Tampa Bay Rays have offered B.J. a qualifying offer. While the chances of B.J. agreeing to this are virtually ‘zero’, it does mean that whoever signs B.J. is going to have to sacrifice their first round draft pick next year to Tampa. For a team like Philadelphia that can afford to sign top free agents, giving up a top prospect is an acceptable part of doing business. Read the rest of this entry
Friday November 2nd, 2012
Alex Mednick (Baseball Writer and Analyst):
In 2011, the Arizona Diamondbacks made a really nice push in the AL West and finished with 94 wins, 8 games ahead of the second place San Francisco Giants. They performed well above expectations, and they did so with a relatively unglamorous starting rotation, that consisted mainly of Ian Kennedy, Joe Saunders, Josh Collmenter, Daniel Hudson and a revolving 5th starter. What really carried the team in 2011 and made the Arizona Diamondbacks a competitive in 2011, happened to be their weakest link in their miserable 2010 season: the bullpen.
The Diamondbacks won 29 more games in 2011 than they did in 2010. The most drastic changes made by the organization were in the bullpen where the D-Back’s added closer J.J. Putz and setup man David Hernandez. The 2011 bullpen allowed 100 fewer runs than their predecessors in 2010 and dropped their group ERA from 5.74 in 2010 to just 3.71 in 2011. It goes without saying that their newly revamped bullpen allowed Arizona to stay close in a lot more games and gave them a better chance to be winners.
Following their great 2011 season, the D-Back’s found themselves reverting back to their former ways in 2012. Finishing 13 games behind the first place Giants, and just barely hanging on to a .500 record, the Diamondback’s finished 81-81. You want to know something interesting? It was their bullpen, once again, that failed. Read the rest of this entry
Thursday August 23rd, 2012
Bernie Olshansky: Before the trading deadline, it was thought that the Oakland A’s were going to make a move. With the extra wild card in play this year, the team seemed to be a contender. Their weakest position though was at shortstop. There were a few options out there, some reasonable and some not, among those were Hanley Ramirez and Stephen Drew. Ramirez was very unlikely to be acquired by the A’s due to the nature of his contract, but he would’ve provided the most boost for the team. The story goes that the A’s almost had Ramirez all but acquired, with the Dodgers eating at least of his contract. But the A’s hesitated, and the Dodgers swooped in and agreed to take on all of the remaining dollars on his deal. With Ramirez ending up on the Dodgers, Stephen Drew seemed to be the most viable option left. Drew missed a large portion of the 2011 season with a broken ankle sustained on a slide into home, and made his 2012 debut around the time of the All-Star Break. In his short time with the Diamondbacks this season, Drew hit just .193 and was pretty disappointing. With the teams hierarchy going public with their displeasure, the writing was on the wall for Drew. It looked like Arizona would be able to get at least the same amount of production from a replacement, so a trade seemed imminent. For some reason the trade never got done, but the A’s kept at it.
Oakland was the perfect candidate to acquire Stephen Drew. So it was no surprise that Billy Beane finally got his man this week. Without a producing shortstop, the A’s had a very little chance at the playoffs. Sure, Drew only hit .193 this year, but he carries a career .266 average over his seven-year career. Plus he walks a ton. A stereotypical A’s hitter characteristic. In 2008, Drew hit .291 with 21 homers and 67 RBIs. If the A’s could get anything close to this production, they would be in very good shape. Drew will most likely keep hitting in the two-hole of the lineup, behind Coco Crisp. Once Drew gets settled and regains form, the A’s should get some good production from the top of their lineup, setting the table for the monster bats of Josh Reddick, Yoenis Cespedes, and Chris Carter. Even if Drew were to continue hitting .193, he would still be an improvement from the overall batting average of A’s shortstops at .190. As long as he can walk and hit with some power. Drew will most likely be taking time away from Cliff Pennington and Adam Rosales. Given their combined numbers, that is a very good thing. The A’s also just sent the struggling Jemile Weeks down to Triple-A Sacramento to make room for Drew.
Monday August 6th, 2012
Bernie Olshansky: Diamondbacks fans spoke out about our last piece on the Dodgers and Giants, so here’s one devoted just to the Dbacks. After last year’s run when they dethroned the world champion Giants, Arizona was poised for something similar this season. In the offseason, they acquired Trevor Cahill from the A’s. He provided some extra depth in the already-strong pitching staff that included Ian Kennedy, Daniel Hudson, and Joe Saunders. With Cahill, Justin Upton, Chris Young, Aaron Hill, and offseason signing Jason Kubel, the Diamondbacks were ready to defend their NL West title.
Arizona however, started off a bit slow. Daniel Hudson needed Tommy John Surgery and Stephen Drew wasn’t quite ready to come off the DL. Catcher Miguel Montero went into a slump and Chris Young—after a hot start—was headed to the DL. While all of this was happening, the Dodgers were absolutely on fire. Matt Kemp was already on the fast track to winning MVP, and the team was in first place by a nice margin. The Giants were doing well too. With no competition from the Padres, the D-Backs were in third place. As the season went along, Matt Kemp was sidelined by a hamstring injury and the Dodgers faltered. The Giants kept pace and ended up passing the Dodgers to take first place. Meanwhile, the D-Backs rebounded and stayed in contention. At the All Star Break, the Dodgers led the West by half a game over the Giants and by four games over Arizona. The standings haven’t changed drastically over time, as now the Giants lead by half a game over the Dodgers and by three over the Diamondbacks.
Sunday July 29th, 2012
Bernie Olshansky: Here are some of the latest key baseball trades that have taken place over the last 24 hours:
Francisco Liriano to the White Sox
After losing out on Greinke, the White Sox needed to make a move. Their pitching needed an extra boost. Chris Sale hasn’t been himself his last two starts, giving up five earned runs in each, and Jake Peavy has been on and off lately, going 1-2 in his past three starts. Although Liriano has for the most part had a terrible year, holding a 3-10 record with an atrocious 5.31 ERA, he hasn’t been all that bad in his last few starts (excluding his last start against Chicago—2.2 innings, seven earned runs),striking out 10 and 15 in the two starts before facing Chicago. The White Sox are hoping that Liriano will continue his turnaround and help them reach the playoffs. This could be tough for the White Sox though; the Tigers seem to have the makings of a playoff team to not make the playoffs, and the AL West looks like it could produce three playoff teams as of now. But, with all this, Chicago does look promising after the acquisition of Kevin Youkilis earlier in the year. Adam Dunn has returned to form, hitting more home runs and striking out just as much. It looks like the White Sox will have a good shot to play in October. Read the rest of this entry
Wednesday July 25th, 2012
Bernie Olshansky: Some more trades came down, including one exciting blockbuster to report. One of the biggest names though that was supposed to be traded will now be staying put. Cole Hamels, the Phillies great young left-handed starter is expected to re-sign for 6-years and $144 million. But even with Hamels off the market, the trade winds are in full swing. Hold on to your hats…this is HUGE:
Hanley Ramirez to the Dodgers
Another blockbuster deal. Announced late Tuesday night/early Wednesday morning, Hanley Ramirez is headed to the Dodgers with reliever Randy Choate for pitchers Nathan Eovaldi and Scott McGough. There were rumblings about a possible trade of Hanley, and it ended up happening. Hanley will start fresh on the west coast as the Dodgers are battling with the Giants for the NL West crown. The Dodgers started off hot with Matt Kemp leading the charge. Kemp went down with a hamstring injury and was re-injured in his first game back. After another DL stint, Kemp came back right after the All Star Break. Andre Either also had some time on the DL with an oblique injury, but he has since come back. Now, both are healthy and poised to help the Dodgers on a run down the stretch. With Clayton Kershaw and Chad Billingsley heading the pitching staff, one of the Dodgers’ weakest positions was third base. Juan Uribe, the main third baseman for the Dodgers this year, is hitting a weak .190 with just two homers and 17 RBI. Dee Gordon, the primary shortstop and currently on the DL, is hitting .229. Needless to say, the Dodgers needed some help on the left side of the infield. Read the rest of this entry
Thursday July 19th, 2012
Bryan Sheehan (MLB Writer): The Diamondbacks could be in a worse situation. Just four games under .500 and sitting third within the NL West, they’re in the middle of the road statistically for both hitting and pitching despite injuries on both sides of the ball. Both Justin Upton and Miguel Montero have gone through slumps but are still batting around .270 with potential to contribute offensively, and second baseman Aaron Hill is having a great season so far, hitting .301 with the projection of 73 RBIs if he continues on this pace. Outfielder Jason Kubel is having a great year at the plate and defensively, as he leads the MLB in outfield assists. Rookie pitcher Wade Miley has been a wonderful surprise this year, leading all rookie starters with a 3.13 ERA, 1.11 WHIP and 10 wins. Keep in mind this is the team that won the NL West last year and didn’t radically change over the offseason.
That being said, they’re far from in the driver’s seat. 7 games out of the wild card, as well as 7 games from the NL West lead, they have some issues to attend to. While top prospect and 2011 draft pick Trevor Bauer has the potential to be an MLB starter, at 21 he’s a bit underdeveloped. In four starts, Bauer had a 6.06 ERA with a 1-2 record, rough enough to buy him a bus ticket back to Triple-A Reno. With ace Daniel Hudson out for the season because of Tommy John surgery, the D-Backs currently only have four starting pitchers. With the deadline fast approaching, Arizona has a tough choice: trade away prospects and make a run for the playoffs, or sell off their big names in return for a chance in 2013 (and beyond). Read the rest of this entry
Note from Chuck Booth: I am attempting to bring the history for each of the 30 MLB Franchises into a 5 part series that will focus on 1. The teams history. 2. The hitters 3. The pitchers. 4. The Team’s Payroll going into in 2013 and 5. (The stadium articles will all be done next summer when I go to all of the parks in under a month again.) To follow all of the updates, be sure to check my author page with a list of all archived articles here.
Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Writer and @chuckbooth3024 on twitter)-I recently saw a bunch of old Montreal Expos had a celebration dinner to honor the late Gary Carter at Olympic Stadium in Montreal. This brought me back to when I was a little kid watching the Expos on the French Channel in Canada. I followed this team before any other in MLB. I was a catcher in little league because of Gary Carter. My friends and I all would ask for Montreal Expos hats and jerseys for Christmas. I would later move on to like the Yankees when Don Mattingly, Dave Winfield and Rickey Henderson joined the club, but I always liked the Expos in the National League as my team. They were a consistent club from 1979-1995. They drafted extremely well and were above .500 for pretty much the entire time. At the end of this article today be sure to watch the documentary from youtube on the Expos Franchise that the Reports has linked for you.
It was unfortunate they had the 2 billion dollar monstrosity of what was Olympic Stadium as their home venue. It was a mistake from the beginning to build a baseball park so far away from the downtown core. The 1994 strike killed the franchises hopes to make their 1st World Series appearance. The team was leading the NL East with a 74-40 record and featured the outfield of Larry Walker, Marquis Grissom and Moises Alou. They had traded away their ALL-Star second basemen Delino DeShields prior to that year for some pitcher named Pedro Martinez. The economics of baseball were starting to catch up on the baseball club. When the lockout was lifted in 1995, gone were Walker, Grissom and great pitchers Ken Hill and John Wetteland. It began a constant cycle of Montreal grooming awesome talent, only to trade the players away before they had to pay them big money. The one constant of the team was an incredible draft record from 1985-2004. Today is part 1 of a 3 part article series in which we will look at the history of the Montreal Expos. I have listed 30 hitters drafted by the Expos Scouting Staff that went onto nice baseball careers. Next week I will look at the pitchers and the third week I will cover the dissection of the proud franchise before the move to Washington. Read the rest of this entry
Tuesday April 3rd, 2012
Jonathan Hacohen: We welcome back to MLB reports one of our most famous almuni, Robby Rowland. Robby interviewed with us on December 1, 2011 and also appeared as a Guest MLB Blogger on February 6, 2012 and December 31, 2011 in his blog that we call “Robby’s World”. RobbyRow is back on MLB reports…and he has some major news to discuss. As you are aware, RobbyRow was traded this past weekend to the Diamondbacks in exchange for pitcher Brett Lorin. Originally taken by the Dbacks in the Rule 5 Draft, the team was able to keep Lorin’s rights by completing this trade. RobbyRow was a 3rd round pick of the Diamondbacks in 2010. Now, after 2 seasons in the Dbacks organization, he is off to a new team and a fresh start in Pittsburgh.
Trades are a way of life in baseball. It’s the reality of a sport that is first and foremost a business. While difficult to be leaving the only team that he has ever known, Robby Rowland has taken the trade in stride. While he is grateful to Arizona for everything that they have done for his career, he is exciting to be joining the Pirates and competing for a rotation spot one day. It takes a very mature player to recognize the nature of a trade and the opportunities that can arise as a result, especially at such a young age. The Pirates are very lucky to have obtained this pitching prospect, as he will quickly become a fan favorite!
I caught up with RobbyRow as soon as the trade was announced. He was digesting news of the trade and preparing to join the Pirates. But being the gentleman that he is…RobbyRow still fit us into his hectic schedule. We discussed the trade, from the moment that he got to news to his future plans. Robby was extremely generous with his time in discussing the move and his thoughts. So let’s jump right into it!
Today exclusively on MLB reports, we are proud to present the newest member of the Pittsburgh Pirates and addition to their pitching prospect arsenal, Robby Rowland:
Thursday December 1, 2011
Jonathan Hacohen: We are proud to welcome to MLB reports: Robby Rowland, pitching prospect of the Arizona Diamondbacks. Robby was a 3rd round pick for the Dbacks in the 2010 draft. He recently completed his second season of Rookie Ball, playing for the Missoula Osprey of the Pioneer League. Standing an imposing 6’6″, the soon to be 20-year old Rowland has a bright future ahead with the Dbacks. I have enjoyed getting to know Robby over the past few days, as we talked our favorite subject…baseball. I got the sense speaking to Robby that he truly loves the game. His passion and commitment will carry him very far in my estimation, as he works towards joining the Dbacks one day in Arizona. There is definitely no attitude in the world of Robby Rowland. He understands where he came from and what he needs to do in order to one day become a successful major league pitcher. With spring training less than three months away, I had a chance to catch up with Robby Rowland and learn about his career. It was a fun interview to conduct and we are looking forward to having Robby return back soon on the Reports!
Featured on MLB reports, I proudly present my interview with Robby Rowland - Diamondbacks Pitching Prospect:
MLB reports: Thank you for taking the time to join us today Robby. How has your offseason gone so far?
Robby Rowland: Thank you for having me! The offseason has been good. Just working out a lot and got a little part-time job. But I already want it to be over. I am just missing baseball too much right now!
MLB reports: You just completed your 2nd season in Rookie Ball. Plus you are still 19-years of age! How have you found the process of getting adjusted to playing professional baseball?
Robby Rowland: It’s definitely a tough process. I used to think that pitching was very simple; that you just throw the ball and get outs. But I have found out that a lot goes into it. Coming from high school, the adjustment was a lot harder. It’s not just throwing the ball as hard as you can anymore. It’s about pitching to your strengths and trying to locate the ball down in the zone. The hitters in pro-ball will make you pay if you make a pitch up in the zone. I am no longer able to take any pitches off; I have to be zoned in the whole game. Aside from the pitching aspect of the game, I just love professional baseball! I get to live and breathe baseball without any interferences.
MLB reports: You were drafted by the Diamondbacks in the 3rd round of the 2010 draft. Did you expect to be drafted by Arizona and what round was supposed to be “your round”?
Robby Rowland: They were one of the teams that showed a lot of interest in me. It was tough to determine, just because I always had a lot of scouts at my high school games. But when it came down to it, I believe Arizona was in the top-4. Everyone told me the highest I would go was 2nd round and the lowest would be in the 4th round.
MLB reports: How did you first find out you were drafted: what was that like?
Robby Rowland: Well I had a couple family members over and we hooked up the computer to the TV in our living room so we were able to watch it on a big screen. My agent would call me and let me know that I might be selected here or there so it was kind of a roller coaster day. The names on the screen seemed to be going so slow. After the second round was completed I grew very anxious. I started thinking about the worst possible scenarios. My agent called me and told me the Diamondbacks were 50/50 in taking me. Right after I hung up with him- my area scout, Dee Brown, called me and told me they selected me. I saw my name on the screen and some highlights. Definitely a surreal moment.
MLB reports: Ever have to pinch yourself: does it feel like a dream playing professional baseball?
Robby Rowland: Haha I had to pinch myself a couple of times during those first few playing days. It’s something that I was born to do. I grew up around this game. My dad played for 10 years, so I was always around the game of baseball. My mom has a couple pictures of me when I was real young holding a couple of my dad’s bats and playing with baseballs around the house. I am just blessed that I am able to be playing the game I love for a living.
MLB reports: What other sports did you playing growing up? Given your height, did you ever consider pursuing basketball instead?
Robby Rowland: I played football when I was real young but it cut into my Fall Ball for baseball, so I only played one year. Yes actually I was always a basketball player. There were a couple of colleges that wanted me for a dual sport scholarship. It came down to my senior year until I decided to just focus on baseball. It was one of the toughest decisions I have ever made in my life. Still to this day, I miss basketball.
MLB reports: What are your most dominant pitches? Any new ones you are working on?
Robby Rowland: I like to say that all of my pitches are dominant. But if I had to throw my best pitch in a certain situation, I would go with my sinking fastball down at the knees. I am a firm believer in a fastball down in the zone with movement is the toughest pitch to hit. I am not necessarily working on new pitches, but when I was instructional league down in Arizona, the pitching coordinator got with me and really helped me to define my mechanics. Before I wasn’t using my lower half and my arm slot was too high, therefore my head was tilting to the left when I would throw. What he did was straighten my body out and helped me figure out how to use my lower half. I also dropped my arm slot a little bit getting some more sink on my ball. The key now is to try and figure out how to control all my pitches with this new delivery and arm slot.
MLB reports: How would you describe “your game”? What “type” of pitcher are you?
Robby Rowland: I like to say I am a strike thrower. I guess you could say that I am a little old school in the fact that I am going to go right after hitters with my best stuff. Almost a “here you go hit it” type of guy. In high school, I was always a strikeout type of overpowering pitcher. But when I got to pro ball, I realized that I needed to start pitching to contact. Keeping the ball down and getting lots of ground balls. It’s like the Bull Durham quote, “Strikeouts are boring, besides that they’re fascist. Throw a ground ball- it’s more democratic.”
MLB reports: Looking into a crystal ball, when do you expect to make it to the Show?
Robby Rowland: I couldn’t tell you that. Of course that’s the goal. But right now it’s about figuring out how to pitch, keep getting better, and when all that comes into play- then hopefully I will make it.
MLB reports: Long term: do you expect to stay a starter or will you consider a move to the pen?
Robby Rowland: I would like to stay a starter my whole life. My dad has always told me that starters have the life! Pitch every fifth day… who wouldn’t want that? But whatever my team needs me to do I am willing.
MLB reports: What are your goals for 2012?
Robby Rowland: I have a lot of goals for 2012. I feel like I have a lot to prove after a shaky 2011 season. My main goal is to get my mechanics dialed in and keep learning how to pitch. Of course I want to be on a full season roster and log a lot of innings. But I realize I am still young and it’s all about figuring out the concept of pitching. I am always just finding ways to get better.
MLB reports: If you weren’t playing baseball, you would be __________________
Robby Rowland: Oh man… I would have to say I would be playing basketball in college somewhere…
MLB reports: Favorite pre-game meal?
Robby Rowland: Gotta go with a Quiznos sandwich here. The Black Angus steak with extra sauce. Really gets me going.
MLB reports: What music are you currently listening to?
Robby Rowland: I have a wide variety.. I’ve always loved the classic rock.. Tom Petty, Boston, Lynyrd, Grand Funk Railroad- all those bands. I will also listen to a little bit of rap and hip hop. I currently just got into a little bit of country but I don’t really know any of the singers.
MLB reports: Funniest prank you ever saw in a clubhouse?
Robby Rowland: Ohhhh… there’s been a lot of good ones. I would have to say the time when some guys took a player’s stuff out of his locker and saran wrapped it to one of the benches in the locker room.
MLB reports: Final question: What would you most want to be remembered for in baseball when you hang up your spikes?
Robby Rowland: I want to be remembered as someone who played the game the right way. Someone who every time he put a jersey on, he played the game with respect. I also want to be a game changer. The guy that you can throw out there in a must-win game and know that there is a great chance that the ball club is going to get a win. Oh and not to mention maybe one of the best hitting pitchers to ever play the game… just saying…
MLB reports: Thank you for your time today Robby. It has been a blast speaking to you. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us. We look forward to having you back on soon!
Robby Rowland: Thanks for everything man. Let me know if there is anything else I could do for you. Sure was a fun interview!
Thank you again to Robby Rowland for taking the time to join us today on MLB reports. We highly encourage our readers to post at the bottom of the article any questions and/or comments that you may have for Robby. As well, please follow Robby on Twitter (@RobbyRow_12)
Jonathan Hacohen is the Lead Baseball Columnist & Editor for MLB reports: You can follow Jonathan on Twitter (@JHacohen)
Please e-mail us at: MLBreports@gmail.com with any questions and feedback. You can follow us on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook . To subscribe to our website and have the daily Reports sent directly to your inbox , click here and follow the link at the top of our homepage.
Saturday October 8, 2011
Jonathan Hacohen (Lead Baseball Columnist - MLB reports): In what had been shaping up to be very tight league division series, MLB fans were treated to not one or two, but rather three game fives this year. With the Tigers advancing last night to face the Rangers, it was time for the National League to decide its championship series competitors. The Diamondbacks were in Milwaukee to face the Brewers, while the Phillies were at home to host the Cardinals. Both games ended in on run leads, with the Cardinals and Brewers pulling out the wins. Let’s recap the MLB action from Friday night:
St.Louis Cardinals at Philadelphia Phillies: NLDS Game Five
The best way that I can sum up this game is as follows. Chris Carpenter was taking the mound, facing off against ex-Blue Jays teammate Roy Halladay. This was a game that had a great deal of hype and buzz and excitement surrounding it. Games of this nature usually end up disappointing. I have seen all too often two great pitchers matchup, with one of the starters leaving early or getting hit hard. This one was one of those games though that ended up exceeding expectations. Carpenter won it, pitching a complete game shutout, three hitter, no walks and three strikeouts. About as good of a performance as you will see in baseball, let a lone the playoffs. Halladay on the other hand was just as strong, finishing with 8 IP, 6 hits allowed, 1 ER, 1 BB and 7 strikeouts. Ryan Madson came in for a clean 9th inning, striking out a pair. The only blemish for Halladay came in the first, when he gave up a leadoff triple to Rafael Furcal, who proceeded to score on a Skip Schumaker double. An Albert Pujols intentional walk- otherwise, an almost perfect day as well for Halladay. The Cardinals stranded more runners on base (7), while the Phillies only left 4 on base. Carpenter did hit Chase Utley, but managed to complete the game unscathed. Carpenter was very efficient in this outing, requiring only 110 pitches for the complete game. Halladay on the other hand needed 126 pitches to get through six. It is rare to get only one run in the 1st inning and to make the lead stick. But Chris Carpenter did just that. Now the Cardinals advance and continue their Cinderella run (blame the rally squirrel). Given the importance of the game and intensity, you would be hard-pressed to find a better pitched baseball game. Hats off to both starters, as each had an incredible outing last night. But Carpenter was the better arm on this day and as a result, the Cardinals break through while the Phillies stun the baseball world by exiting the playoffs in the first round.
Howard to have MRI: After the game, the baseball world was buzzing about Ryan Howard. Requiring help to get off the field, Howard was on crutches. Reports indicate that he may have tore his Achilles tendon. Howard will have an MRI today to confirm the severity of his injury. This type of injury can typically take 6-9 months approximately of recovery time. With the Phillies possibly losing their top star for a good portion of next season, things just back to worse for the one time heavy favorite to win the 2011 World Series. Roy Oswalt, Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Madson may all not be back, and Cole Hamels also has an impending free agent status that will need to be dealt with. For a team that was expected to do so much, greater uncertainly lies ahead as the team attempts to recover and figure out what went wrong.
Arizona Diamondbacks at Milwaukee Brewers: NLDS Game Five
The second battle of the aces of the day featured Yovani Gallardo opposing Ian Kennedy. Both pitchers did their jobs in this one, going six inning apiece. Kennedy giving up 2 runs on 5 hits, Gallardo 1 run on 6 hits. Both walked 2 and struck out 5. Gallardo’s only blemish on the day was a solo home run to Justin Upon in the 3rd. The Brewers led this one from the 6th on, until the 9th. Saito and Rodriguez each earned holds with a clean inning of work each. With closer John Axford on to pitch the 9th, he gave up the tying run to send this one to the 10th. Axford ended up pitching 2 innings for the win. After setup man David Hernandez pitched 2 clean innings, it was up to closer J.J. Putz to hold the Brewers in check in the 10th. The unlikely hero was Nyjer Morgan, who got the game-winning hit to score Carlos Gomez to send the Brewers to a 3-2 win and a meeting with the Cardinals in the NLCS. While the Diamondbacks were the feel-good team of this year’s playoffs, the clock struck midnight on them. The Brewers, stocked to make a run this year, fulfill a part of their destiny by advancing. The Diamondbacks go home feeling good about themselves. A team that was expected to continued rebuilding grouped together, and made a run that few if any in the baseball world could have expected. Kirk Gibson and his boys should proud when reflecting their on season.
The Cardinals are Flying in: The Brewers get to stay home for game one of their NLCS matchup with the Cardinals. Zack Greinke is set to go for the Brewers, with the Cardinals starter still TBD. The Brewers are the favored squad, with their balance of sluggers, top starting pitching and lockdown bullpen. The Cardinals now take on the role of the Diamondbacks, the underdogs that everyone is rooting for. With the Rally Squirrel being the talk of the town (don’t ask…), do the Cardinals have the firepower to match up with the powerful Brewers? This series will come down to managing. Tony LaRussa vs. Ron Roenicke. While Roenicke has an extensive coaching resume, he is still a fairly raw manager. LaRussa is as crafty as they come and my money is on St. Louis making a return trip to the World Series. The Cardinals have a strong offense, led by Albert Pujols, Matt Holliday and Lance Berkman. The team has received good to great starting pitching and their bullpen gets the job done. The Brewers are the favorites on paper. I see this one going the full seven games, with the Cardinals moving on to face the Rangers in the World Series. The road to the World Series begins tonight in Arlington, as Detroit and Justin Verlander take on C.J. Wilson and the Rangers. A great postseason so far, that only promises to get better.
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Friday October 7, 2011
Jonathan Hacohen (Lead Baseball Columnist - MLB reports): Thursday was an exciting day in the world of Major League Baseball. The Detroit Tigers were set to face-off against the Yankees in New York. Game five of their ALDS series, all tied up 2-2. Winner moves on to face the Texas Rangers, loser goes home. The Yankees has their AL ROY candidate Ivan Nova on the mound, with the Tigers relying on Doug Fister. In the wake of the only game on Thursday’s schedule, Kenny Williams and the Chicago White Sox shocked the baseball world by naming Robin Ventura their new manager. A wild and crazy day indeed.
Detroit Tigers at New York Yankees: ALDS Game Five
The highly anticipating pitching matchup never took place in this one. Fister did his part for the Tigers, tossing 5 innings, giving up 5 hits, 1 ER, 2 walks while striking out 5. Max Scherzer and Joaquin Benoit earned holds while Jose Valverde earned the save with a lockdown 1-2-3 9th inning. Ivan Nova lasted only 2 innings, giving up 2 runs (back to back solo home runs in the first to Don Kelly and Delmon Young), while allowing 3 hits and striking out 3. Not taking any chances, Joe Girardi was active with his bullpen all night, sending out Phil Hughes, Boone Logan, C.C. Sabathia, Rafael Soriano, Dave Robertson and Mariano Rivera. This game boiled down to execution and squeaking out runs.
The Tigers, underdogs going into the series, were able to pull out a 3-2 win. Fister got the win while Nova took the loss. Sabathia, ironically enough, ended up giving up allowing the game winning run in the 7th. Despite getting more hits than the Tigers (10-8), the Yankees left a whopping 20 men on base last night, while the Tigers left 13. The Tigers did lose Delmon Young during the game to injury (apparent oblique strain), making his status for the immediate future uncertain. Young, along with Fister, were the difference makers in this game. Both mid-season acquisitions by GM Dave Dombrowski, helped the Tigers win the Central and advance to the ALCS. Brian Cashman and the Yankees stood pat at the trade deadline, and were left standing in the wings once again in the playoffs.
The game marked the likely end of Jorge Posada‘s Yankee (and possibly major league) career. The future hall-of-famer endured his toughest year ever in the majors. But for all his troubles in the regular season, Posada ended up shining in this year’s playoffs- finishing with a .429 average. The game also possibly marked the last game of C.C. Sabathia’s tenure in New York. With his opt-out clause looming this off-season, there is a chance that Sabathia may jump ship to another team. Highly unlikely, given his apparent love for New York and the Yankees dire need for his arm. But as Alex Rodriguez proved yet again this year (.111 AVG in the playoffs, with 3 strikeout on the night, including the game ending at-bat), big contracts do not necessarily guarantee victories. With 6 years and approximately $143 million left on the books (excluding incentives), the Yankees will likely be eating A-Rod pie for some time to come.
With this game in the books, questions now centre on the immediate future of each team. The Tigers move on to the ALCS, to face the Texas Rangers. This will be an exciting series and a big challenge for the Tigers. With the Texas-sized offense in place, the Tigers’ pitching staff (led by AL pitching triple crown winner and likely Cy Young and MVP winner Justin Verlander and Fister) will need to be stellar. Both teams have strong bullpens that will be relied upon heavily in the series. This series will boil down to whether the Tigers offense can muster enough runs to compete with Texas, and on the same token, how well the Texas rotation can contain Detroit. The Tigers have enjoyed a great run to-date, but my crystal ball is showing a Texas return trip to the World Series. One year wiser and more experienced, Ron Washington’s team should be able to win this out in six games. But keep one thing in mind: whenever Jim Leyland is involved, anything can happen. The Tigers made it this far for a reason and in a short series…. you never know.
Robin Ventura Named Chicago White Sox Manager
The talk of the day yesterday was the White Sox big announcement. GM Kenny Williams announced that the team had hired former third baseman, Robin Ventura as the White Sox new manager. Ventura, 44, spent 10 years with the White Sox as a player. Most recently he was retained by the team as a “Special Advisor”. Now, Ventura with no managerial experience to his resume, takes over control of the team on the field. Many names were thrown around as possible candidates, including former Red Sox skipper Terry Francona, former players and currently employed coaches Sandy Alomar Jr. and Dave Martinez, as well as hall of famer and current minor league manager Ryne Sandberg. Personally, I expected the White Sox to hire Martinez or Sandberg. Given the success of the Rays, Martinez as bench coach to manager Joe Maddon is highly considered in the game. Sandberg, on the other hand, has a proven track record managing in the minors and has strong ties to Chicago (obviously). Why then the choice of the inexperienced Ventura?
A couple of reasons come to mind. Firstly, the White Sox endured a very difficult 2011 season in missing the playoffs, despite heavy preseason expectations. Nothing distracts a fan base better than brining in a well known and loved name. Ventura was one of the most popular White Sox players in his day, and his hire at some level will help appease the fans. As well, a shocking signing of this nature has an effective way of masking the results of the season gone by, as well as steering the press to focus on 2012 and how Ventura will perform as a manager, rather than analyze the season that had just been completed. A stroke of genius in my book. Another reason to consider, which is a guess on my part, is that Williams is not interested in hiring a big and powerful name that will overshadow him. After enduring years of arguments and power struggles with former manager Ozzie Guillen, Williams was looking for a manager that would first and foremost listen to him and know his role in the organization. While Ryne Sandberg is my book is a far more qualified individual for the job, his stature in the game (as well as Chicago) would have relegated Williams to the back seat, had Ryno been named the new White Sox manager.
The ironic part is that while hiring Ventura clearly solidifies Kenny William’s place in the White Sox food chain, it may have the strongest effect of sweeping him out of town soon. The lustre of the White Sox 2005 World Series championship has long faded. With a large payroll and unsuccessful ballclub, it is “put up or shut up” time for Williams and the White Sox. If the team gets off to a slow start, and/or has another failed campaign, I fully expect Kenny Williams to be reassigned or dismissed from his post. If results on the field are the most important factor for Williams to keep his job, then he should have looked for the best candidate to guide his team. The Ventura signing may make White Sox fans feel all soft and cuddly at the onset. But losing games will change that in a hurry. With Frank Thomas being discussed as a possible candidate for a role on the squad, the 2012 White Sox coaching staff may look like a reunion from years gone by. I enjoyed watching Ventura as a player and had he been groomed as a coach for this position, perhaps he would have been prepared to succeed. But coming in raw, the new manager will have to learn quickly on the job. A move made by Williams’ ego, but not his sensibility in my estimation.
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Thursday October 6, 2011
Sam Evans (Intern – MLB reports): Wednesday was a fun night of playoff baseball. We saw two close games for teams on the verge of elimination, and unusual players stepping up to take the spotlight and assist their team to victory.
Philadelphia Phillies at St.Louis Cardinals: NLDS Game Four
Going into the game, I thought that the superior team, the Phillies, would win and advance to the ALCS. However, in baseball the best team doesn’t always win. What the Cardinals showed tonight is that they weren’t ready to have their season come to an end. They’ve come so far this year and they weren’t going to go home without a good fight. What was impressive to me is how clean of a ballgame they played. Nobody wanted to make a mistake, as evidenced by the Cardinals zero errors. They just seemed upbeat and confident that they’d win.
The Phillies got off to a fast start in the top of the first with a double, followed by a triple, followed by a single. However, Lance Berkman came through in the bottom of the inning with a two out RBI double. Edwin Jackson turned in an impressive performance going six innings while only giving up two runs. Jackson only gave up two hits, singles, after the big first inning. In the fourth inning, Oswalt walked Berkman then hit Matt Holliday. To make things worse, David Freese crushed a one out double down into the left field corner to put the Cardinals up 3-2. You could tell Oswalt didn’t have his best stuff tonight. Sometimes pitchers have those days where it looks like they are only seventy percent of what they should be. Well, Oswalt had one of those days.
Then, in the fifth inning something magical happened. If you missed it, on Tuesday a squirrel ran across the field at Busch Stadium in St.Louis. Well today, either the same squirrel or one of his relatives made another unwelcome appearance. This time, the squirrel actually ran across home plate during Skip Schumaker‘s at bat. When asked about the incident after the game, Charlie Manuel had this to say,” “There’s not too much I can do about a squirrel running across the field, I don’t know what I can do about that. Of course, being from the south and being a squirrel hunter, if I had a gun there, might have done something. I’m a pretty good shot.” Hopefully, the Busch Stadium squirrel family will make a surprise appearance Friday in Philadelphia, where most likely, they’ll be booed.
Even after his RBI double, David Freese’s day wasn’t done yet. In the bottom of the sixth, Freese got a 0-1 fastball, which he belted to center field to add two more runs to the Cardinals lead. Guess you could say he really iced the Phillies chances, eh? Anyone? Moving on, the Phillies scored one more run in the eighth off of a Fernando Salas wild pitch but the Cards held on for a 5-3 win. The series moves back to Philly for Game 5 Friday at 8:30 PM ET. Roy Halladay takes the mound against Chris Carpenter tomorrow in a one of the better pitching faceoffs in baseball. It’s sure to be an exciting, pressure packed game which will determine which team will continue their season in the NLCS.
Milwaukee Brewers at Arizona Diamondbacks: NLDS Game Four
Out of all of the first round matchups this year, there’s no doubt that this one has been my favorite. Both teams play with such crazy energy and enthusiasm unmatched by any other two teams. If you like watching offense, this was the game for you. These teams have some pretty interesting stories of how they got to this point in the playoffs, but I can’t put enough emphasize on much fun these teams are to watch. Both teams have a player the fans love, in Nyjer Morgan and Ryan Roberts, and great position players to build their team around.
The Brewers led things off with a Ryan Braun RBI double in the top half of the first. When the Diamondbacks came up to bat, everything went wrong for Randy Wolf. He loaded up the bases and with two outs, Ryan Roberts A.K.A Tatman poked a grand slam just over the left field fence. Then the next at-bat, on a 3-1 pitch, Chris Young homered. The rest of the game was a slugfest, with D-Backs players crushing the Brewers pitchers. Aaron Hill homered and Colin Cowgill brought in two runs with a single. Chris Young finished 2 for 3, with 2 HR, 3 RBI, and 1 BB. In my opinion, the hero of the game was Ryan Roberts. His grand slam gave the D-Backs an early lead and their pitchers a nice cushion to work with. Even though the Brewers scored six runs, it wasn’t enough to get the win. Final score: D-Backs: 10 Brewers: 6. The series is tied up 2-2 and will head back to Milwaukee where Yovani Gallardo and Ian Kennedy will face off in a battle of two of the game’s top righties. Game time on Friday at 5:00 PM ET.
***Today’s feature was prepared by our Intern, Sam Evans. We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers. You can also follow Sam on Twitter.***
Wednesday October 5, 2011
MLB reports: While three teams on Tuesday could have moved on to the next series, only one team did. Here is a recap of the scores and highlights from Tuesday’s games:
Detroit Tigers at New York Yankees: ALDS Game Four
With A.J. Burnett on the mound, Yankee fans were on the edge of their seat in anticipation for the game against the Tigers. They knew they needed a win, and a big one.
Well, they got exactly that.
They would hold the 2-0 lead until the bottom of the fourth, when Victor Martinez launched a solo homerun to make it a 2-1 game.
That would, however, be the only run that the Tigers would score as the Yankees scored another run in the 5th, when Curtis Granderson doubled Brett Gardner. Later in the inning, Alex Rodriguez would score Derek Jeter to give the Yankees a 4-1 lead.
And they never looked back.
In the top of the eighth, Al Alburquerque, facing Jesus Montero, balked which allowed Alex Rodriguez from second. Montero would later single to score Mark Teixeira. Daniel Schlereth would then come in for the Tigers, but it didn’t get any better, as he threw a wild pitch that scored Montero and then gave up a 2-RBI single to Robinson Cano. After a 6-run inning the score was 10-1.
Evidently, that would be the way the game ended as Boone Logan struck out the side in the ninth, as the Yankees forced a game 5. Burnett went 5.2IP allowing one earned run on four hits, three walks and one strikeout. From then on in, the collective bullpen pitching, including Rafael Soriano, Phil Hughes and Boone Logan pitched 3 1/3 of no-hit baseball, allowing no walks yet striking out six. Game five goes tomorrow night in New York, Fister vs. Nova for all the marbles.
Texas Rangers at Tampay Bay Rays: ALDS Game Four
That said, after already winning two games in a row, the Rangers were not going to go down easy as Ian Kinsler hit a home run in the first at-bat of the game.
In the 2nd, the Rangers added to their lead with another home run, one from Adrian Beltre, and already Texas was up 2-0.
In the bottom of the inning, the Rays cut the Rangers lead in half thanks in part to Matt Joyce’s RBI double.
Adrian Beltre, did not give up easy and in the forth, launched another solo home run. His 2nd of the game.
Adrian Beltre though would not allow the Rays to catch up as, in the top of the seventh, he launched his THIRD home run of the game.
In the bottom of the 9th, with the score 4-2, Sean Rodriguez once again told his team he wanted to cross the plate once again. So sure enough, Casey Kotchman singled him in with one out in the ninth, making the score 4-3.
Harrison got the win, going five complete innings, allowing two earned runs on five hits while walking two and striking out nine.
With the win, the Texas Rangers move on to the next series, facing off against the winner of the New York Yankees and the Detroit Tigers.
Philadelphia Phillies at St. Louis Cardinals: NLDS Game Three
There was no score until the seventh inning as both pitchers were cruising along. Much like what occurred in all other aforementioned games, a home run proved to be the difference as after Shane Victorino singled and Carlos Ruiz was intentionally walked, Ben Francisco was placed in to pinch hit and he did not disappoint – launching a three run home run to give the Phillies a 3-0 lead.
They would carry this momentum into the ninth inning as Albert Pujols led off the inning with a double off Ryan Madson. Pujols would later score off of a Yadier Molina single but that would be all they would get as Ryan Theriot grounded out to end the game, enabling the Phillies to win by a score of 3-2.
Cole Hamels got the win, going six complete innings without a run, allowing five hits and three walks, but striking out eight. Game four goes tonight in St. Louis, Oswalt vs. Jackson.
Arizona Diamondbacks at Milwaukee Brewers: NLDS Game Three
In a must-win game for the Arizona Diamondbacks, they sent Josh Collemeter to the mound against Brewers’ Shaun Marcum and Collemeter did not disappoint.
Both of these scoring plays were fielder by centerfielder Corey Hart, so Hart felt he needed redemption. When he got up to bat in the third, he did exactly that, hitting a homerun to left field, and cutting Arizona’s lead to 2-1.
The damage, however, had already been done. In the bottom of the inning, Arizona added to their lead when Aaron Hill scored on Montero’s second RBI of the game. On the play, Nyjer Morgan got Justin Upton out on a close play at the plate.
With the score 3-1, Arizona knew they needed a few more runs to ensure a game four. Evidently, Paul Goldschmidt was thinking the same thing as in the fifth inning, he hit a GRAND SLAM (GOLDSCHMIDTTTTT!). Kameron Loe would then come in to pitch and replace Marcum, but Arizona was much too dominant, scoring another run in the inning from a Ryan Roberts RBI single, giving the Diamondbacks an 8-1 lead.
This evidently would be how the game would end as Milwaukee managed only three hits in the game. This can be attributed to Collemeter’s fantastic game as he went seven complete innings, allowing only two hits, one earned run on two walks and six strikeouts.
Marcum’s outing was not as great, as the ex-Blue Jay went 4.2 innings, allowing seven earned runs on seven hits and three walks while striking out three. Game four is the late game tonight in Arizona, Wolf vs. Saunders.
Monday October 3, 2011
Sam Evans (Intern – MLB reports): The first Sunday of postseason baseball didn’t have any letdowns for viewers. Starting at about noon, I watched and listened to roughly ten hours of baseball. Usually after I spend one of my Sunday’s watching baseball, I wish I could have those hours back because I really didn’t have the free time to watch all those games. The postseason is way different. No matter what I have to do, I always try to make sure watching the games is my top priority. After Jason Motte recorded the final out of the day, I felt like that was the best way I could’ve spent my day. Albeit from my couch, there’s nothing like cheering on your favorite teams and players during October. Enough rambling, let’s get to the games.
Detroit Tigers at New York Yankees: ALDS Game Two
In the top of the first inning, Miguel Cabrera hit a 2-0 changeup from Freddy Garcia 337 feet into the right field bleachers. Only at Yankee Stadium is that a home run, the short porch in right field gives hitters an almost unfair advantage. Max Scherzer was terrific, not allowing a hit until Robinson Cano singled in the bottom of the sixth. Scherzer finished the game after throwing six shutout innings striking out five. Freddy Garcia didn’t pitch that bad he was just made a couple of mistakes and had some bad luck. After six innings, the Tigers appeared to be in control. Then, the rain started coming down. I can’t believe that the Yankees spent 1.3 billion on a new stadium but they couldn’t even construct a retractable roof. Anyways, Joaquin Benoit twirled two innings, just giving up a Curtis Granderson homer. Jose Valverde didn’t make it look easy in the ninth, allowing a Nick Swisher dinger, then a Jorge Posada triple! Nonetheless, “Papa Grande” got Robinson Cano to ground out with runners on first and second to end the game. On the offensive side of this game the Tigers star was Miguel Cabrera. Cabrera went 3 for 4 with 3 RBI. Cabrera showed how versatile of a hitter he is hitting an opposite field homer, poking an RBI single up the middle, and pulling a single to left field. Now the series will head to Detroit tied up 1-1. Game time is Monday at 8:30 PM ET.
Arizona Diamondbacks at Milwaukee Brewers: NLDS Game Two
Ryan Braun got things started with a two run homer off Dan Hudson in the first. However, in the top of the 2nd Paul Goldschmidt took Zack Greinke deep. I have no idea why Kirk Gibson didn’t start Goldschmidt in the first game, as he obviously deserves to be in there. In spite of both teams starting talented pitchers, this was not a pitcher’s duel. Milwaukee took a 4-1 lead in the third thanks to Rickie Weeks and Prince Fielder driving in the runs. By the sixth, Arizona had tied it up at 4-4 largely in part to Chris Young and Justin Upton going deep. However, in the bottom of the sixth everything fell apart for the D-Backs. The Brew Crew had runners on first and third when catcher Jonathan Lucroy shocked the Diamondbacks by laying down a suicide squeeze to score Jerry Hairston. After that, things just fell apart from Arizona’s pitcher Brad Ziegler; he gave up three straight singles to Corey Hart, Nyjer Morgan, and Ryan Braun. By the time Ziegler was pulled, the Brewers had a 9-4 lead. The Brewers relievers combined to throw four shutout innings, and the Brewers won by the final score of 9-4. When asked after the game, Willie Bloomquist A.K.A Willie Ballgame had this to say, “We’re going to come out fighting on Tuesday. It’s a tough position to be in, but you know what? We’re comfortable with the uncomfortable.” The series is now 2-0 Brewers and the two teams will meet in Phoenix on Tuesday at 9:30 PM ET.
St. Louis Cardinals at Philadelphia Phillies: NLDS Game Two
To lead off the game Rafael Furcal tripled but then the Cards ran into Cliff Lee, who retired the 2-3-4 hitters without allowing a run. The Phillies delivered a big blow in the bottom of the first, with Ryan Howard coming through with a bases loaded single. Chris Carpenter, pitching on three days’ rest, had a rough day, only lasted three innings while giving up four runs. In the fourth inning, the Cardinals scored three times, and would’ve scored four if it weren’t for it weren’t for Raul Ibanez gunning down Jon Jay at the plate. Jay tied things up in the sixth with a single to score Ryan Theriot from second. The Cardinals bullpen threw four consecutive 1-2-3 innings baffling Phillies hitters. I was impressed by Tony LaRussa’s methodical use of his bullpen. Some games LaRussa looks like an idiot, some games he looks like a genius. I guess that’s just the way he works. In the top of the 7th Charlie Manuel decided to leave Lee in despite him being over 100 pitches. The decision backfired when Shane Victorino misplayed an Allen Craig line drive. Craig was in at third with a standup triple and he didn’t have to wait long before Albert Pujols drove him in. Jason Motte needed only six pitches (all of which were over 90 MPH) to earn the save. The Cardinals finished with thirteen hits to the Phillies six. The series will switch to St.Louis all tied up. The next game is on Tuesday at 5:00 PM ET.
***Today’s feature was prepared by our Intern, Sam Evans. We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers. You can also follow Sam on Twitter.***
September 29, 2011
Rob Bland (Baseball Writer – MLB reports): In order to write all of this, I needed to step away from my TV and computer, take a deep breath, and sleep for a while. The excitement of last night was almost too much for my fragile heart to bear, so the time away to clear my head was necessary.
I find myself repeating, “What just happened??” in my head. What happened last night was unfathomable. Not only were there two teams in each league tied for the Wild Card, but both teams that had been leading, suffered epic failures along the way. Go back to September 1, and the Boston Red Sox held a 9 game lead over the Tampa Bay Rays. The Atlanta Braves held an 8.5 game lead over the St. Louis Cardinals. Both teams chances of reaching the postseason were over 99%. Nobody could have actually predicted seriously at that time, that both the Cards and Rays would win the Wild Card on the final day of the regular season. Especially not the way that the AL Wild Card was eventually decided.
The Rays started David Price against the Yankees. Sounded promising enough, until Price gave up 6 runs in 4 innings. The game was pretty much over with the score at 7-0 in the Rays’ half of the 8th inning. 3 runs plated in the bottom of the 8th, then Evan Longoria took over the game. A 3-run home run put them within one run, and Tropicana Field exploded. Then with 2 outs in the bottom of the 9th, Rays manager Joe Maddon made one of the gutsiest calls I have ever seen: pinch hit with Dan Johnson. Johnson was 9 for 90 this season. He hadn’t gotten a hit since April. He had 36 hits since 2008. With one swing of the bat, the pandemonium levels in Florida had never been so high. Then, as if he hadn’t done enough already, Longoria blasted another home run, this one of the walk-off variety that would vault the Rays to the postseason.
What hasn’t been said about Boston and their collapse? It has been covered by so many people from so many angles. You could blame the whole organization from top to bottom, and you wouldn’t be wrong. What happened was an epic collapse, capped off by a 2 out rally by the Baltimore Orioles of all teams in the bottom of the 9th inning of game 162. The Orioles had nothing to play for but pride, and the love of the game. Robert Andino’s walk-off single to win the ball game will be remembered by Boston fans for years to come.
Hunter Pence hit a bloop-ish 120 ft infield single to win it for the Phillies over the Braves. In the 13th inning. After Craig Kimbrel, the super rookie, blew a lead in the 9th inning. The game saw the Phillies march out nine pitchers and the Braves used 8, including Scott Linebrink, who eventually gave up the winning run in the 13th.
Chris Carpenter twirled a gem for the Cardinals, a 2 hit shutout with 11 strikeouts and 1 walk against the Astros. This performance sealed at the very least a one-game playoff game against the Braves had they won.
Wow what a night.
Now onto LDS matchups:
Rays vs. Rangers
The Rays come in with unlimited momentum, and a pitching staff that is so deep, that manager Joe Maddon is having a difficult time naming the starter for game 1. While Matt Moore seems to be the obvious choice to me, Jeff Niemann or Wade Davis could be viable options as well.** James Shields would have to go on short rest, and Price pitched last night, so one of the other three will be chosen to go against C.J. Wilson and a Rangers offense that is ready to take on all comers. Shields will go game 2 and Price go the 3rd. Beyond that is a toss-up. For the Rangers, Wilson will go Game 1, Derek Holland game 2, and still undetermined the rest of the way.
Adrian Beltre had a phenomenal September, earning AL Player of the month, and Mike Napoli has been dominant all year, bashing home runs all over the field. Michael Young worked his way into the MVP race after a tumultuous offseason that saw him switch positions yet again. Josh Hamilton is as dangerous as ever, and Nelson Cruz and Ian Kinsler are still hitting home runs at a high rate. Kinsler actually became only the third 2nd baseman to join the 30-30 club, with 32 HR and 30 SB. The Rays may not have the prodigious bombers that the Rangers have, but they have athletic, smart ballplayers that never say die. They ultimately seem like a team of destiny, and I will not discount the fact that they may have the best manager in all of baseball at the helm.
** Note: Matt Moore has been named the starter for game 1.
Rays in 4
Yankees vs. Tigers
So the Yankees have the highest payroll in baseball, and the Tigers have the 10th, about $100,000 between them. Should be easy, right? Yankees should take this series in 3 games. Wrong. Detroit has one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball in 2011 in Justin Verlander, who should win the Cy Young vote unanimously. He should also garner serious MVP interest. Against him will be CC Sabathia, who has been one of the best starting pitchers in baseball the last 7 or 8 years. Doug Fister was brought in to shore up a shaky Tigers rotation, and with Max Scherzer, the Tigers look like they have a pretty decent chance. Behind Sabathia will be rookie Ivan Nova, who I am not sold on, and after him is Freddy Garcia, who is having a fine year, but is nowhere near the pitcher he used to be.
Robinson Cano has been his usual stellar self playing 2nd base for the Yankees, but there were a lot of subpar seasons by other Yankees. Derek Jeter was better than last year, A-Rod was almost nonexistent for a lot of the season, and aside from Curtis Granderson, the lineup struggled to find consistency. The Posada soap opera continues, but giving Jesus Montero more at bats needs to happen. The kid can swing it. The Tigers have another MVP candidate in Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez has been stellar, and they have a young kid behind the plate named Alex Avila who could be in line for a Silver Slugger award. The Tigers are younger, and hungrier to win, but the Yankees have more overall talent. Even if their roster is aging, and this one should go down to the final out.
Tigers in 5
Diamondbacks vs. Brewers
The two best managers in the NL this year; Kirk Gibson of the DBacks and Ron Roenicke of the Brewers square off in this ultimately tight series. Arizona did it this year with a cast of relative nobodies and no real superstar other than Justin Upton. The Brewers have Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder, Rickie Weeks, Zack Greinke, John Axford and Francisco Rodriguez. They have star power up and down the lineup and rotation, and they have a great fan base.
Ian Kennedy may be a Cy Young candidate, but the Brewers have more depth in their rotation. Yovani Gallardo will oppose him in game 1, followed by Shaun Marcum and Greinke, who will be opposed by Josh Collmenter and Daniel Hudson. The Brewers also have the dominant back-end of the bullpen in K-Rod and John Axford, who was 46 for 48 in save opportunities.
Brewers in 5
Prince Fielder just missed his 11th straight season of .300/ 30 HR/ 100RBI. He hit .299 with 37 home runs and 99 RBI. The cards are not just a one trick pony, however, as Lance Berkman, Matt Holliday, and Yadier Molina have been stellar all season long. If they can get solid contributions from their secondary players they could make the series interesting. The Phillies, like the Brewers, have tremendous star power in Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard and Chase Utley. Not to mention one of the best deals of the year in Hunter Pence. They have a veteran presence filled with guys who have been to the postseason five years in a row, and have the ability to hit any team’s pitching.
If you ask anyone who knows anything about baseball what team has the best pitching, the unanimous decision would go to the Phillies. The 4 Aces look to lock up Philly’s second World Series in the last 4 seasons. Led by Roy Halladay, or Cliff Lee, or Cole Hamels, every team in the postseason should be scared. It is not very often that a team could have 3 pitchers in the top 5 for the Cy Young Award, but it could happen this year. Roy Oswalt will pitch game 4 if necessary. Tony La Russa has decided to open the series with veteran Kyle Lohse, which seems asinine. Edwin Jackson will go Game 2 and Chris Carpenter game 3. Jaime Garcia, who could be their most talented pitcher, will throw game 4 if necessary.
Phillies in 4
All 4 series should play pretty close, and the series I am most excited to watch is Arizona vs. Milwaukee. If Game 162 was any indication of what is to come of the postseason this year, then everyone needs to grab their popcorn and beverages, get bunkered down, and get ready for a long, gruelling, exciting month of baseball.
***Today’s feature was prepared by our Baseball Writer, Rob Bland. We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers. You can also follow Rob on Twitter.***
Sunday September 4, 2011
MLB reports: Here is our weekly look at Major League Baseball and the latest news, together with analysis and of course, our opinions:
I am about to finish the latest baseball book that I am reading and will be posting a review this week. “The Fastest Thirty Ballgames”, by Ballpark Chaser extraordinaire, Doug Booth. I don’t want to give away much of my report, that will be saved for the review. Needless to say, the book has inspired me to fulfil my goal of seeing all thirty MLB ballparks. While it takes me ordinarily a couple of days to a week to complete a baseball book, this particular book has taken me much longer. I have read and re-read this book over and over, going back to read favorite sections. For any baseball fan who loves baseball road trips or is thinking of taking one, this book is the perfect travel companion.
One of the biggest topics on the lips of Yankees fans is the contract status of C.C. Sabathia. After Ivan Nova, the Yankees have several question marks as to their rotation going into the playoffs. Bartolo Colon, Freddy Garcia, Phil Hughes and A.J. Burnett are all in the mix. But if Sabathia were to hypothetically opt out of his deal and test free agency, the Yankees pitching staff could collapse like a house of cards. It appears that Sabathia has enjoyed his time thus far in New York and plans to continue pitching as a Yankee. Although Sabathia will likely opt out, both player and team will do everything possible to keep the big guy in pinstripes. Sabathia will become even richer on a new deal, as Alex Rodriguez was on his decision to opt out and sign a new Yankees deal. For the team with the highest payroll in baseball, to contend it will re-sign its ace in the offseason.
Rumors are circulating that many MLB General Managers will be wooed to change teams in 2012. Brian Cashman of the Yankees, Andrew Friedman of the Rays and Theo Epstein of the Red Sox are all apparently in demand, as is Billy Beane in Oakland and Mike Rizzo in Washington. From all the best GMs that will be considered for the Cubs position, the only one I could see is Cashman. With his contract up in New York and the Steinbrenner regime exercising control in decision-making (see the Rafael Soriano deal), Cashman may have had enough and makes the move to the Windy City. All of the other GMs are in great positions, with little or no incentive to make the leap. Some have called for the Astros to make a strong play for Friedman, but I see him staying put in a great situation with a strong talent base. Friedman will see his team through to an eventual World Championship.
I had several conversations with baseball people about the World Baseball Classic, with the third edition coming up rapidly in 2013. As discussed in a previous article, there are some changes to the WBC that have been instituted, including a qualifying tournament in the fall of 2012. New countries in the mix include Great Britain, France, Israel and Brazil. In all there will be 12 new countries, together with 4 holdover countries vying for 4 open spots into the tournament. From the 16 existing WBC countries, 12 were granted automatic berths into the tournament. The challenge facing MLB and WBC officials is to have eligible players play for their respective countries. One particular country I discussed was Israel. Imagine a team lead by Ian Kinsler, Ryan Braun and Kevin Youkilis. Quite the powerhouse offense. To have this tournament ultimately succeed, star players that are eligible for new and less known baseball countries need to play for these countries and increase the exposure of the sport in those regions. That is really what the WBC is all about.
For fans in Kansas City, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Seattle, Washington, and San Diego, please be patient. Your teams will be better. It might be hard to believe and some of you must be sick of hearing it, but your teams have great young talent and each will be a contender one day. The only variable against you is time.
With their victory over the Giants last night, the Diamondbacks now hold a six game lead in the NL West. How Kevin Towers remained on the market so long before being hired in Arizona is beyond me. Derrick Hall and company have put together a nice young team, with strong management on the field and in the front office. Towers has put together the team and manager Kirk Gibson has molded them into a contender. It goes to show that a bleak situation can be transformed almost overnight, if you have the right people in place. Baseball, as much as any other sport, starts with the people in charge. A solid management foundation flows through the whole organization and can make or break a major league team. Arizona is the team of destiny in the NL West in my mind and while they will have a very difficult time passing the Phillies if they make the playoffs, just playing in October this year will be considered a huge victory for the team.
Outside of New York and Boston, many baseball fans are apparently sick of talking about the Red Sox and Yankees. For as much as fans may despise the teams, as baseball fans they should still respect them. Baseball, without the history and tradition of the Red Sox and Yankees, would have a large void. During my recent trip to Cooperstown (with a full report on my experiences coming soon), I was fascinated by the Babe Ruth exhibit and all the features on the two powerhouse squads. There are no guarantees that either the Red Sox or Yankees will be in the World Series this year. But having the teams in baseball is a good thing. Attendance figures on the road when either team in town shows the demand. You may hate the Red Sox and Yankees. But you love to hate them. For those of you that are either Red Sox or Yankees fans (can’t be both), you are some of the most passionate and knowledgable fans in baseball and I salute you.
I have been speculating since spring training that Jonathan Papelbon will leave Boston and join the Phillies this offseason. I read some speculation this week that the Yankees may look to add him as the heir apparent to Mariano Rivera. I could only imagine the feeling in Fenway the first time Papelbon would step foot on the mound in Pinstripes. Unlikely to happen in my opinion, but speculating can be fun sometimes. Until I hear otherwise, I am predicting Papelbon to the Phillies.
With the playoff races in baseball almost completed, it is time to turn our attention to October and thinking about the teams that will play in the World Series. My picks at this point are the Rangers and Phillies. Call it a hunch. Call me crazy. I am seeing a Texas Philadelphia matchup and one of the best fall classics in recent history.
Finally, I made a point on Twitter yesterday that the regular season is almost done. If you have not made it a live game yet this year or even if you have gone to twenty or more games, try to attend as many September games as you can. When November hits, the winter can be quite a sad time for baseball fans. Unless you can make it out to Arizona or Mexico, chances are that you will not be able to watch winter ball. With the internet, those games can be found to be viewed on your computer. But as fans can attest, nothing beats a live ball game. Enjoy as many of those games as you can now.
Wednesday August 31, 2011
MLB reports: Not every player can fit onto a particular MLB team. That is a baseball reality. In fact, there are very few, if any players that could produce the same statistics playing for any team. A player’s production is based on many factors, including home park, lineup, adaptability to particular cities and so on. When a team trades for a player or signs a free agent, the hope is that the new player will be able to meet or exceed previous production levels on a new team. Sometimes, the hope is that new environment will revitalize a stagnant player and breath new life into them. In the case of Adam Dunn, the Chicago White Sox signed him to a free agent contract last year. A large deal, 4 years for $56 million dollars. A fair deal in my estimation at the time. The White Sox by signing Dunn were hoping to land an established slugger to fit in the middle of their lineup. What they ended up with was quite different.
Take a look at Adam Dunn’s current production in comparison to his career numbers:
|Regular Season||.163||11||40 .290|
To say that Adam Dunn has been anything but a disaster since his arrival in Chicago would be an understatement. Prior to 2011, Dunn’s worst season produced an .819 OPS. That was in 2003, his 2nd full season in the majors that was cut short by injuries. Turn the clock and Adam Dunn sits with a .578 OPS this season with no likelihood of redemption. While some pointed to Dunn playing in a new league for the first time and starting off slow, a turnaround was expected at some point this season. Dunn has actually regressed to the point that he is benched by manager Ozzie Guillen at a frequent rate. A sad state of affairs for one of the game’s previously most consistent sluggers.
For a two-year stretch, from 2003-2008, Adam Dunn was a 40 home runs and 100 walks guy. In his last two seasons, Dunn played in a less than friendly hitters park in Washington and still hit 38 home runs per season. Moving to the White Sox, expectations were that playing in a hitter’s park with a deep lineup would produce possible MVP type numbers for the burly slugger. So what happened? Why the sharp regression?
Part of the issue has been the move to the American League. The adjustment has not worked for some hitters and we have seen NL hitters in the past that cannot play in the AL for whatever reason. Glenn Davis is one famous example that comes to mind, who moved from Houston to Baltimore and literally fell apart overnight. Dunn also is a full-time DH for the first time in his career. Some hitters never take as well to moving off the field and into a DH role, citing inactivity and removal from the full game experience as distractions from their hitting. Given though Dunn’s perceived weak fielding, at both first base and the outfield, a move to DH should have been a welcome change for him. Yet the move was another factor in his year-long slump.
The main culprit in my estimation is the fit, or lack of in Chicago. Perhaps it is the city, or the ballpark, teammates, media or his relationship with the manager. Whatever the reason, I ultimately believe that Adam Dunn and the White Sox simply do not mesh more than anything else. While a return to the field and/or the National League may help, first and foremost Dunn needs to get out of Chicago and start fresh.
I think of Chone Figgins and his move from the Angels to the Mariners. Despite staying in the same division even, Figgins was never able to meet expectations in Seattle and regressed throughout his time with the Mariners. Had he stayed in Anaheim, the chances are higher that Figgins would have continued playing his game and not transformed into a shell of his former self. Carl Crawford in Boston and Jayson Werthin Washington are players that also signed big-ticket deals and also stayed in their respective divisions, yet faltered in the wake of big contract expectations. But the difference with Crawford and Werth is that they have shown some glimpses of life this season, while Dunn has shown none. I fully expect Crawford at least to be able to make the necessary adjustments and rebound by next season. In Dunn’s case, I do not see that happening without a trade.
Nick Swisher is a situation that I will point to as an example. From the moment Swisher was traded from the A’s to the White Sox, nothing went right. After suffering through the worst season of his career in Chicago, Swisher was traded to the Yankees for pennies on the dollar and blossomed in New York. The same will likely occur to Dunn. A move to the Yankees is a possibility, for a high-profile team that can afford to take on or part of most of Dunn’s salary. A trade for a bad contract is another one, with the Cubs for Zambrano or Giants for Zito as possibilities. Better yet, a move to the Angels could also be the answer. With Mike Trout ready to join an outfield of Peter Bourjos and Torii Hunter, the Angels may not have room for failed trade acquisition Vernon Wells. The White Sox could plug Wells into their outfield and Angels use Dunn to replace Bobby Abreu as DH. A long shot, but certainly a possibility.
No one can be sure if this season is an outlier or an indication of the beginning of the end for Adam Dunn. Based on his strong body of work until this year, I am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt that a rebound will occur. The White Sox might wait it out and give Dunn another shot next year. But then GM Kenny Williams has never been the patient type. After moving Swisher very quickly, I expect the White Sox to do the same with Dunn. This would be a classic buy-low situation for another MLB club. Expect many calls on Dunn in the offseason and a new team by 2012. Despite Dunn indications of having retirement thoughts due to his poor season, I cannot see him going down in this manner. Adam Dunn will be back. The only question is where.