Oct 18

TALKIN’ BASEBALL: NLCS Game #3; Phillies send Lee to mound.

After an afternoon of football, it’s time to return to baseball and tonight’s NLCS Game #3 between the Phillies and Dodgers. The Phillies were on the cusp of taking a commanding 2-0 series lead, but their bullpen collapsed.

LEE: Hot pitcher faces Dodgers.

LEE: Hot pitcher faces Dodgers.

Tonight, the Phillies will send Cliff Lee to the mound. He’s been nearly untouchable in his first two playoff starts against Colorado. He went the distance in Game 1 of the Division Series, beating the Rockies, 5-1. He gave up one earned run in the Game 4 clincher.

“He’s a guy that’s a gamer and that’s what I love about him,” said outfielder Shane Victorino. “It’s definitely a nice position to be in to have him getting the ball in Game 3.”

That the Phillies bullpen gave it up in Game 2 wasn’t a surprise. Neither that the Dodgers rallied. They’ve had 43 come-from-behind wins, including 23 in their last at-bat.

“We’ve been doing it all year, it seems like. We’re relentless. We never give up,” Dodgers catcher Russell Martin said. “We go out there and compete, play through 27 outs, and whatever happens, happens. But we never keep our heads down.”

Oct 08

Talkin’ Baseball: The Playoffs continue.

No real surprises last night in the first day of the Division Series. The Yankees, Phillies and Dodgers all won as the home teams rolled. Of the three losing teams, I see only the Cardinals of rebounding to take their series.

Obviously, the defending world champs aren’t a media darling. They have another afternoon game today. Cole Hamels is starting and could give the Phillies a chokehold in their series with the Rockies.

Sep 08

Three weeks from today ….

Three weeks from today the Mets will either be cleaning out their lockers at Shea or working out in preparation for the Division Series. I’m still thinking it will be the latter.

But, I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t think there wasn’t anything to worry about with this team. It was imperative they win last night and they did, with Johan Santana pitching one of his most important games as a Met. Maybe themost important.

Here’s what I see as the most important issues down the stretch.

1. Coping with last season. Last night was a start, but don’t forget the collapse including stretches of bad ball against teams with losing records. They can’t afford to let up against teams with losing records, such as Washington and Atlanta. I’m not convinced they have the killer instinct. This week should tell a lot.

2. The starting pitching is three deep with Santana, Mike Pelfrey and Oliver Perez. Pedro Martinez can’t be relied on for more than five innings, and lately they haven’t been a good five innings.

3. The bullpen has been suspect all season. Having something definitive on Billy Wagner might help Jerry Manuel define roles, but how can they be better off without their best reliever?

4. Hitting with runners in scoring position has also been an issue. Last night was tougher than it needed to be. With pitching issues, more runs are always needed. David Wright, in particular, has been in a funk.