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Thursday March 7, 2013
By Ryan Dana (MLB Reports Writer): Follow @RyanDana1.
It’s clear that the Washington Nationals have turned the corner as a franchise on the rise. Their most recent high included a 2012 campaign that had them winning 98 games in the regular season, good for the most in the majors, but ended with heartbreak in a game 5 loss in the NLDS at the hands of the St. Louis Cardinals. Moving forward to 2013, the Nationals will certainly hope to make it deeper into the playoffs, but it will be easier said than done. The Nationals have shown patience in the past, but have made some aggressive moves this off-season.
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Friday February 8, 2013
By Kyle Holland (Giants Correspondent): Follow @TheKHolland13
Coming off of the 2012 World Series victory, the Giants haven’t really done much this offseason. Either way every team in the league is going to be trying to take them down. When you’re the Champion of all of baseball, what team wouldn’t be gunning for you? Their biggest contest is going to be their rivals in the NL West, the Los Angeles Dodgers. The team has made more moves since August than you can count. The Giants realize what a great team they have and how little moves they made have shown they are confident in what they can do in 2013.
The possibly most important move they have made is resigning the Second-Half-hero Marco Scutaro. His 3 yr./$20,000,000 deal is a great deal for San Francisco. After what he did the Giants probably would have considered paying more for Scutaro. You just can’t match .500 AVG in the NLCS. This man was the definition of clutch for the club. Other very important deals include Hunter Pence, Angel Pagan, and Jeremy Affeldt. Pence, who was acquired at the Trade Deadline from the Phillies, was a huge reason the Giants even made it past the NLDS. His inspirational speeches got the entire squad ready before every game. Him resigning for a 1 YR./$13,800,000 deal was huge for him and the Giants. The team gets to utilize his skills for another year – while he gets to prove he’s worth more come next winter.
San Francisco Giants: 2012 World Series Highlights. Mature lyrics- parental guidance is advised:
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Wednesday January 23rd, 2013
Bernie Olshansky (Baseball Writer): Follow @BernieOlshansky
Having his breakout season in 2012, Jordan Zimmermann has been a guy the Washington Nationals have been able to rely on. 27 years old in 2013, Zimmermann helps anchor the young Nationals rotation including Gio Gonzalez and Stephen Strasburg. The Nationals had success in 2012, winning the NL East and making the playoffs for the first time as a franchise. The Nationals got unlucky though, and were eliminated by the St. Louis Cardinals in the Division Series. This year the Nationals will hope to build on their 2012 performance, and Jordan Zimmermann will most likely be a big help.
One of the main reasons the Nationals were eliminated so early last season is because of the shutting down of Stephen Strasburg. In the middle of the season, I wrote about the pros and cons of shutting Strasburg down, and in the end the situation ended badly. Last year, the Nationals had a very strong rotation consisting of Strasburg, Zimmermann, Gonzalez, and Edwin Jackson. By shutting Strasburg down, the Nationals lost a quarter of their rotation and had to scramble when the Division Series went more than three games. Ross Detwiler got the start and Zimmermann had to come into the game in a relief role. There was no reason for this to have to happen. Protecting Strasburg was important, but in my opinion the Nationals overprotected him, which cost them dearly in the playoffs.
Jordan Zimmermann Flashback Highlights:
Friday October 26th, 2012
Sam Evans: The Washington Nationals had a somewhat disappointing end to their season, losing to St. Louis in five ALDS games. Nonetheless, the Nationals had a tremendous season and should be pleased with where they stand heading into next year. With the NL East teams around Washington getting older and losing talent, there’s no reason why Washington can’t repeat as division champions in 2013. In fact, the Washington Nationals should be favored to make a World Series push in 2013.
Ever since the franchise moved from Montreal in 2005, Washington had yet to have a season over .500 and finish in the top two in the NL East. 2011 was a surprising season in which Washington won ninety-eight games, the most in major league baseball, and won the N.L. East. Their Pythagorean record (96-66) suggests that the Nationals 2012 season was not a fluke. Washington was led by Ian Desmond, rookie Bryce Harper and a tremendous young group of starting pitchers. 2012 wasn’t a fluke and Washington won’t be putting a team on the field in 2013 that is much different. So why can’t they repeat as division champs? Read the rest of this entry
Friday October 19th, 2012
Kyle Holland: The 2012 postseason has been all but “normal” so far, considering all division series went to 5 games. Conclusion? The NLCS has yet to disappoint. The St. Louis Cardinals and San Francisco Giants. Both teams had to battle to even still be playing to this point. The Giants had to come back down 0-2 and beat the hot Cincinnati Reds in three straight games in Cincinnati.
The Cardinals, after first having to win the play-in wild card game, had to beat the Nationals, who had the best record in baseball. To make it worse, the Nationals were up 6-0 in game 5… and blew it. Both of these teams have a lot of fight, and experience this late in the season.
There is something unique about the Giants and Cardinals facing off in the 2012 NLCS. This is the first time in MLB history that the last 2 world champions are playing in the LCS (the Giants in 2010 and the Cardinals in 2011). Read the rest of this entry
Thursday October 18th, 2012
Bernie Olshansky: When the San Francisco Giants made the playoffs this year for the second time in three years, there was one major question: Should Melky Cabrera be activated at some point? There were two schools of thought: the business side, which leaned toward activating him; and the emotional fan side, which was against activating him. If Cabrera was activated, there was no doubt he would help the Giants offensively. Cabrera’s .346 average would have won him the batting title (he disqualified himself) and helped the Giants greatly in the postseason. Granted, if Cabrera had not gotten suspended, the Giants might not have gone after Hunter Pence. Still, a lineup going Cabrera-Posey- Sandoval in the three-four-five holes would be dangerous. And, if Pence was added, the offense would be even more potent.
If the emotions and distractions of players and fans were not considered, the Giants would have activated Cabrera immediately. But, with all of the drama surrounding Cabrera’s suspension and him likely lying to many of his teammates, bringing him back might not have been the best decision. Cabrera would definitely draw an abundance of unwanted media attention into the clubhouse and would undoubtedly cause a distraction. Giants’ fans were also mixed. Some wanted him back while some wanted him run out of town. Although not as important, Cabrera’s return could anger some fans, giving the usually electric AT&T Park a different atmosphere.
Monday October 15th, 2012
Robert Whitmer: About two months into the season (May 21st to be exact), I wrote an article about Stephen Strasburg explaining that he was at a crossroads in his career. We discussed Justin Verlander and his abilities and compared him to the jock that you can find in any high school in the world. We said that he was the kind of guy that was good at anything that he tried to do. I said that it was just plain unfair how he abuses hitters at the plate because of the wide variety of pitches that he has to deal with. We also discussed Mark Prior and how he was the coulda, woulda, shoulda, of the argument. He did not live up to his potential and injuries were to blame. I remember saying that we would have to see what happens and where he ends up. Well the end of the season for the Nationals has come (for Strasburg it came earlier than the teams and don’t worry we will cover that later) so let’s take a look back at how the season that Strasburg had compares to the third season that Verlander and Prior had. You can read the above mentioned article here.
We shall start with Mark Prior for the sole purpose being that I have his stats up on Firefox first. Prior had a less than stellar third year for the Cubbies. He started 21 games but could only squeak out a 6-4 record in 2004. His ERA wasn’t that great either because it ended up at 4.02. We compare this to the previous year for Prior when he came in at 18-6 with a 2.43 ERA in 30 starts. Let’s look further at the 2004 numbers. He struck out 139 while giving up 14 jacks. The other number that is striking is that he only faced 510 batters the entire year. That’s just over 24 batters per game. This would be a great number if he were pitching into the ninth inning every game and having almost complete games each outing. That wasn’t the case. He started 21 times but only factored into the decision 10 times. That’s 11 outings where something happened that cause him to get the no-decision as evident by the 0 (zero) complete games that year. Like I said, it was a less than stellar year but in his defense, he did start the season on the DL for two months. Read the rest of this entry
Monday October 15th, 2012
Sam Evans: With the Championship Series just beginning, predicting the two teams that will face off in the World Series has never been easier. Still, the teams playing in the ALCS and NLCS right now are pretty evenly matched so it’s still difficult to see which two will advance. Due to their momentum and great ability to come back, St. Louis will prevail over San Francisco in the NL. Due to their outstanding pitching staff and Miguel Cabrera being on his current tear, Detroit has a slight advantage over New York in the American League. Even if these predictions go horribly wrong, the one thing we can be certain of is that these two series are going to include some thrilling games played between some of the best teams in baseball. Read the rest of this entry
Sunday October 14th, 2012
Kyle Holland: No pitcher has come out of college before and jumped right onto the Major League scene as much as Tim Lincecum did by fancying a 56-29 Won-Loss record in his first 4 seasons as a pro. Drafted tenth overall in the first round of the 2006 Amateur Draft, Lincecum came to the Giants pitching staff with great expectations. At the time, his $2.025 signing bonus was the highest amount the Giants had ever given a player. In just his second season in 2008, he won the NL Cy Young, and followed up with another the next year in 2009.
After these 2 amazing Cy Young seasons in ’08 and ’09, Lincecum led the Giants to their first World Series in San Francisco in 2010. At only 5’11’’, 163 Ibs, he can routinely get his fastball up to 93 MPH.
With this being his 6th year pitching in 2012, all is not well. For a guy that has usually thrown well enough to be the staff’s ace, Lincecum didn’t even make the NLDS roster as a starter because the Giants decided to use him out of the pen instead. His 10-15 record for the regular season left a lot to be desired, and the club opted to use Barry Zito after Cain, Baumgarner and Vogelsong. So how did this happen to such a prolific pitcher? Read the rest of this entry
Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Writer): Follow @chuckbooth3024
I am 36 years old. In no way would I consider myself 100% a traditionalist when it comes to Major League Baseball. I like the 2 Wild Card Slots, I like the Designated Hitter, as for Interleague play, I wish they had more of it so I could see every team waddle through Seattle every so often. This doesn’t mean that I don’t agree with some ‘old school’ philosophies and certain underwritten rules about the game. One thing that has really set me off in watching the end of the season and the playoffs is the excessive Champagne Celebrations of the clubs once they win any series or clinch any playoff spot? I mean come on fellas, you are celebrating like you have won everything in the game and we are not even into the League Championships Series.
I am out of line in thinking that this isn’t a new trend? I don’t remember this many corks being popped off in previous years. I have no problem with a team celebrating divisional and the World Series crowns with a party. This has been a time-long tradition in the Major Leagues back to the start of the games existence. Where I first starting seeing this epidemic fly was when the Braves clinched a playoff spot and then went hog-wild in their dressing room after the game. I was surprised at their actions but almost dismissed it. I understood that after last years collapse, plus the added pressure of trying to make the playoffs for Chipper’s last chance, that maybe they were just blowing off some steam. If I were a player, I would be happy to be in the playoffs, however If I made it in via Wild Card, I would not carry on with an alcohol bender! I would be made I still lost the division. Read the rest of this entry
Friday October 12th, 2012
Bernie Olshansky: Game One: Reds 5, Giants 2: The first game of the National League Division Series looked to be a pitchers’ duel with Johnny Cueto of the Reds matching up with Matt Cain of the Giants. This possibility quickly went out the window when Cueto was seen in major discomfort after throwing a pitch to the second batter of the game. Out went Cueto with back spasms and in came Sam LeCure. Lecure pitched very well bridging the gap to probable game three starter Mat Latos. Right as Cueto came out, this became a must-win game for the Giants. These first two games would be the only two home games of the series for the Giants, and the ace of the Reds’ staff was out of the game after a third of an inning. While the Reds bullpen and Mat Latos continued to keep the Giants’ offense at bay, Brandon Phillips and Jay Bruce delivered all the offense that the Reds needed with a two-run bomb to left and a solo shot to right-center. Latos and the bullpen did the rest, only giving up a solo shot to Buster Posey and a run in the ninth inning. It looked as if the Reds had all the momentum taking at least a tie back to Cincinnati.
Game Two: Reds 9, Giants 0: The Reds picked up just where they left off starting the scoring with a Ryan Ludwick solo homer to dead center. In a fall evening in San Franciso, a hitter needs to get all of it for it to be a home run and Ludwick did just that, putting the Reds up 1-0 in the second inning. A few innings later, the Reds continued to pummel Madison Bumgarner scoring three in a rally started by Joey Votto. In what was a weird turn of events, Tim Lincecum came in to pitch in the sixth inning in relief of George Kontos. Lincecum went to the bullpen and only threw a few pitches before heading back to the dugout. Then, to what looked like his surprise, Bruce Bochy inserted him into the game as part of a double switch that put Xavier Nady into left field. Lincecum pitched very well for the limited warm-up tosses he had, shutting down the Reds and keeping the deficit at four. Unfortunately for the Giants the Reds kept going, shelling Jose Mijares and Santiago Casilla for five more runs, bringing up the total to nine. As of Sunday night, it looked like the Giants were completely dead.
Sunday October 7th, 2012
Posted every Weekend: Your top baseball questions from the past week are answered. E-mail all questions to email@example.com, message us on Twitter, post on our Facebook Wall and leave comments on our website! There are many ways to reach us and we will get to your questions from all social media outlets!
Jonathan Hacohen: The regular season is done. Toast. That’s it. We even finished the one game sudden death Wild Card playoffs. We are now officially in full swing, MLB playoff mode.
It is a bittersweet feeling. I love the playoffs. But it is hard to go without having 12-15 MLB games going every day. And then I shudder to think what life is like when the playoffs are finished. We are less than 3 weeks away from the World Series. Can you believe it? This was an incredible season, with many highs and lows. From all those no-hitters to the countless players undergoing Tommy John surgery. The surprising A’s and Orioles. The disappointing Angels and Phillies. We had quite the year. Valentine Gate. Melky’s suspension. Miggy’s triple crown. Trout’s dominance. Dickey’s greatness. 2012 will go down as one of my favorite baseball seasons of all time.
Before we turn over to your questions, let’s address those Wild Card games. For all the talk of Atlanta’s great season, they are done. One game and over. The St. Louis Cardinals, the defending World Series champs squeaked into the playoffs…and are now heading to the NLDS for a date with the Nationals. Over in the American League, the powerhouse Rangers are done. For a team that led the AL in wins for most of the year and held the AL West crown for almost the entire season, their late season collapse ended in disaster. With a two game lead going into the final season, the A’s sweep in Oakland of the Rangers meant a date at home for Texas with Baltimore. This shows the importance of a division title vs. a wild card spot. While the A’s face the Tigers in a 5-game series, the Rangers had only one chance and blew it. Given the fact that they had enjoyed back-to-back World Series appearances the last two seasons, 2012 will go down as a black mark in Rangers history. It goes to show you: a team can have all the hitting on the planet, but to win- they need pitching. Sure the Rangers hitting cooled off in the 2nd half, but they also did not have enough reliable pitchers to be ready for the playoffs. Now imagine the Rays had a better offense. That’s the type of team that was built to compete in the playoffs. Great, young and healthy pitching is usually the secret to success in today’s game. But without enough hitting, the road was too hard for the Rays.
As a result, teams like the Orioles and the A’s are in, while the Rays and Rangers are out. The teams may not have the best pitching or hitting- but with a steady amount of both, playoff dreams became a reality. What the A’s and Orioles both enjoy is lights-out bullpens. So called experts may call bullpens/relievers/closers as overrated. Looking at the Orioles success in 1-run games and the A’s in extra innings, I would have to disagree. If a team can lock down a game from the 6th inning an on with a lead consistency, that is what we call a dangerous team. I have no idea if the A’s and O’s face-off in the ALCS. If they do, that should be one explosive series. My crystal ball sees the winner of the A’s/Tigers going to the World Series. In the NL, I see it as the Reds all the way. They are just too stacked and consistent. Anything can happen in a short series, but those are my picks for baseball’s biggest showdown of the season. Stay tuned!
Now let’s get to your top questions of the week: Read the rest of this entry
Thursday, October 4th, 2012
Alex Mednick (Baseball Analyst and Writer):
With the last games of the 2012 regular season being officially completed yesterday I get the same feeling I do every season…it’s a sickening pain in my stomach, that makes me want to hibernate and not wake up until April comes around. For baseball lovers, we are all very familiar with this feeling. We find solace in the fact that with the exception of the month of November, we can still follow baseball transactions all year-long. Furthermore, we cannot get too upset; baseball isn’t really over. In fact, some might argue that it is just beginning!
The boys of summer play all those games in the summer heat for one reason. The grueling 162 game schedule sees many ups and many downs, and all of these challenges are met with a firm resolve: to do whatever it takes to get to the postseason. October is the time when the weather turns cold, and ball players become unshaven warriors duking it out to be the victorious few who have the honor to take a championship ring home this offseason. Read the rest of this entry
Saturday October 15, 2011
MLB reports – Jonathan Hacohen: I recently received a great e-mail from one of our readers. The e-mail was a well written commentary piece on improving the MLB Playoffs structure. So enthusiastic was I with the contents of the message, that I immediately suggested sharing the reader’s thoughts on our site. I got an enthusiastic thumbs back in response! Thus today on MLB reports, we are proud to present Guest Writer- Brian Corrigan, with his proposal to improve and revamp the MLB Playoffs:
Brian Corrigan (Guest Writer – MLB reports): The classic pennant chase prior to 1969 made sense. It rewarded the team that performed consistently over a schedule of between 154 and 162 games. In a given year, it is possible that one or two teams with the best records in Major League Baseball will win 60% of their games. However, a team that wins 60% of their games, will routinely lose 3 out of 5 games several times in a season. And the difference between a team that wins 55% of its games and 60% is almost unnoticeable in any given stretch of games, until you play out the full season.
As the two top seeds in each league have now just been eliminated from the championship games, does baseball really want to go the path of hockey, basketball and football- allowing wild card teams an ever-increasing role in the postseason? Remember that those are sports where the best teams commonly win 67%+ of their games. In football, the top teams win 75%+ of their games. Baseball is a totally different creature. It requires longer sifting for the really great baseball teams to emerge, although those teams are almost inevitably bewitched by periods of seasonal funks.
Does baseball really want to go in this direction? Will games in April, May and June really count? Will fans wait until postseason to tune in? Will General Managers develop strategies to play on the cheap in the first half of the season, and then make the key acquisitions that will give them the best short-term shot at the postseason? Do we really want baseball to degenerate in this direction?
I’m a pragmatic person. I understand that baseball is business. Given the fact that postseason play is more lucrative, I can understand wanting to expand the number of postseason games. Ultimately, I’m not going to succeed in rolling back the clock, but I would like to propose a system that is much better than a 10 or 12 team playoff system.
If I could deliver a postseason schedule that:
1) Produced more games, and therefore higher revenues than the current system;
2) Would produce a higher number of expected games, while taking less elapsed time, solving the World Series in November problem;
3) Would do this even with the existing 8 team playoff structure;
4) Would encourage the use of the top 3 starting pitching rotations, that fans prefer; and
5) Decreases the probability that the series will come down to luck or streakiness…
Would I at least have your attention?
What I am proposing does all of this, as well as produce higher revenues for MLB teams and more excitement for the fans.
What I am proposing is essentially a best of 9 games “round robin” pennant series, where each of the 4 playoff teams in each league would potentially play each other 3 times – possibly more or less, with up to two tie-breaker games. The pennant would not be won until one team had secured the best record in the pennant series, getting at least 6 wins. Until a team took its fifth loss, it would still be playing meaningful games, until one team secured its sixth win.
Each 3-game set would consist of a first game, with the team that does not have home field advantage taking a day off, and then playing on the 3rd and 4th day against the team with the home field advantage. The fifth day would be off; thus, the use of a 3 pitcher starting rotation would be encouraged. One league would start one day later than the other, so that baseball games would played on each day.
Home field advantage would go to the team with the best seed (best regular season record).
But isn’t there a possibility that some of the games wouldn’t count? Yes, however by giving the postseason teams a share of postseason revenues, there is always a motivation to win. At the point where two teams have been mathematically eliminated from the pennant series (this should not happen until every team has had a chance to play at least five games, and most likely more), then the two surviving teams would play the balance of the remaining 9- game tournament against each other, even if that means they play more than three times against one another. For example, if two teams have won their first 5 games, and the remaining teams have lost 5 games each, then the teams that have won five in a row should play their last games against each other. Effectively, this would create a best of five series for the surviving two teams, until one team gets its eighth win (allowing for a tenth game tie breaker if needbe).
To increase the probability that the two best teams would play in the final 3 games, I would propose the following schedule:
First 3 games: #1 seed plays #4 seed; #2 seed plays #3 seed
Second 3 games: winner of #1 vs. #4 plays loser of #2 vs #3 series; winner of #2 vs. #3 plays loser of #1 vs. #4.
Of the two teams that won the first series, they will go into the last series with no more than 4 losses (no more than 1 from the first series and 3 from the last series), meaning that at least the first game between those two teams will count for both clubs, since elimination could not yet have occurred for either one.
Taking this year’s National League Division series as an example: the Phillies won the first two of three against the Cards, and so would have played their next three games against the D-Backs who lost 2 of 3 to the Brewers. The Brewers would have played their next three vs. the Cards. The final 3 games would have been Phils vs. Brewers, Cards vs. D-Backs, at least until two of the teams had been eliminated.
In the event that only one team is eliminated, until a second team is eliminated, it is possible that 1 or 2 games will be played for the honor of baseball, or for a share of the postseason revenue. But once two teams are eliminated, they would step aside and allow the two surviving teams to play up to the balance of the remaining 9 games head-to-head.
The following represents a hypothetical pennant season:
First 3 games:
Phils win 2 out of 3 against the Cards
Brewers win 2 out of 3 against the D-Backs
Second 3 games:
D-Backs win 2 out of 3 against Phils
Cards win 2 out of 3 against Brewers
Game 7 with Resulting records in parenthesis
Brewers (4-3) beat Phils (3-4)
Cards (4-3) best D-backs (3-4)
Brewers (5-3) beat Phils (3-5)
Cards (5-3) beat D-backs (3-5)
Phils and D-backs are eliminated; Brewers and Cards play the final 9th game against each other to resolve the pennant. Since the home field goes to the best regular season record in the 2nd and 3rd games of a 3 game set, the Cards would visit the Brewers for the 9th game.
Let’s say that Game 8 had gone differently, let’s say D-backs (4-4) beat Cards (4-4)
The Phils would play game 9 against the Brewers for honor and bragging rights.
If the Brewers win their 6th game, they clinch; otherwise, there will be a two-way tie for the pennant to be resolved by a tie breaker game. This system produces lots of wonderful and exciting and meaningful games for fans.
But isn’t there a chance of a tie in this system? Yes, and you could still get a 10th and 11th game tie-breaker in; and in less time than the current system. A three-way tie would pit the two worst regular season record teams against each other, and the winner would play the team with the best regular season record. This could happen if three teams went 5-4, and one team went 3-6 or if three teams went 6-3 and one team went 0-9. It should not happen that often, and if it does, it generates more games and more excitement for baseball.
Are you sure this will take less elapsed time? Yes, the current system must allow for a 5-game division series and a 7-game championship. That is 12 games in total. But you get fewer games because only two teams are playing in the last best of 7, and some teams may be eliminated after just 3 games. In this revised system, no one can get eliminated until after playing a minimum of 5 games. Even with a 3-way tie-breaker, you play less than 11 games in total vs. a schedule that must accommodate 12 games, as is the case in the current system (and 15 or more in the proposed new system). It works out that the 9th game would be scheduled for the day that the 5th league championship game is currently scheduled. Since it takes 3 more days to play out the 7 game LCS, there’s enough time to squeeze in up to two tie-breaker games, and still finish up at least 1 day before the current system. Given the rarity of the two game tie-breaker, the last tie-breaker game could be scheduled for a day before the World Series.
Can you really say that this series cuts down on the luck? It could come down to the tie breaker game? If you want to reduce the luck, use the regular season to determine the pennant winner. The more games played, the less luck involved. It will take some consistency to fight your way to that 10th game tie-breaker. The bottom line is really that baseball gets the increased revenue, without opening the door to more and more teams in the playoffs, the way the other sports have gone, thus diminishing the value of the regular season. In fact, with the suggested homefield advantage rules, the top seed gets 6 out of 9 games at home, and that makes the regular season count for more than the current system.
***Thank you to our Guest Writer, Brian Corrigan, for sharing his thoughts on the MLB playoffs today with us. Please feel free to leave any comments and/or questions that you have at the bottom of this article.***
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.
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.
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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.***