Oct 19

TALKIN’ BASEBALL: LA teams hoping to delay winter.

By midnight tonight winter could be on the doorstep of both Los Angeles teams, as the Angels and Dodgers each hope to avoid a third loss in their LCS match-ups against the Yankees and Phillies, respectively.

WEAVER: Holds Angels' hopes.

WEAVER: Holds Angels' hopes.


The Angels will send Jered Weaver to the mound to stave off the Yankees’ offense, but in reality, the ALCS has been about their inability to play clean ball as opposed to New York’s bats. Game 1 featured three errors and their should have been four; Game 2 watched the Angels’ bullpen kick away the lead.

The Angels, a team noted for playing crisp, alert baseball and being able to hold their own against the Yankees, has been an enigma in the first two games. To advance, the Angels know they must return to the Bronx, but they also know they can be done by tomorrow night.

Torii Hunter also knows the Angels need a short memory.

“We’ve got to calm it down and have some fun,” Hunter said. “You’ve got to have amnesia, and you’ve got to let the past go. … (Against the Yankees) you can try to play too much. You can let that history get in your mind, and their payroll, and you really try to do too much. We have to block that out and play our game.”

Angels manager Mike Scioscia remains confident despite his team’s spotty play.

“We know this thing can turn in a heartbeat,” Scioscia said. “If we win Game 3, we’ve got a different vibe in this series, and that’s what you want to create.”

PETTITTE: Money pitcher goes for Yankees.

PETTITTE: Money pitcher goes for Yankees.

However, they’ll have to do it against Andy Pettitte, a money pitcher going after a record 16th postseason victory.

Pettitte won all but one of those games for Joe Torre, currently the manager of the reeling Dodgers, who were blown out, 11-0, in Game 3 of the NLCS Sunday night. The Dodgers also need a short memory.

“You never want to get your rear end kicked,” Torre said. “But, you don’t toss and turn and wonder if you made the right move. It’s still only one game and we’re in position to tie the series tomorrow.”

That move Torre was talking about was starting Hiroki Kuroda over Randy Wolf. Kuroda didn’t make it out of the second.

WOLF: A future Met?

WOLF: A future Met?


Wolf, whom the Mets by-passed last winter, but might get another chance this offseason.

“They have a very solid lineup, from top to bottom,” Wolf said of the Phillies, his former team. “You know, you’ve got to be really on your game against this lineup because not only do they have guys that hit the ball out of the park, but they have very patient hitters, as well.”

Red hot is Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard, who has six RBI in the series and is batting .385 (10 for 26) with 12 RBI overall in the playoffs.

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 17

Not a good forecast ….

Proving they can play baseball in the afternoon, that’s when the Yankees and Angels will play tomorrow should tonight’s game be rained out. Then, they’ll fly to LA to play tomorrow afternoon. Of course, if Philly and the Dodgers weren’t already scheduled for tomorrow night, that’s when the Yankees would play.

Had today’s game been scheduled for this afternoon, there’s a chance they could have gotten it in. But, no, it has to be at night to placate the networks. But, if you’re going to prostitute yourself you have to do what they say.

So, the fans and players in New York have to sit through the slop, and the fans in LA get to see two tired teams play in Game 3. But, FOX is happy.

Oct 16

TALKIN’ BASEBALL: Tale of two pitchers.

Two pitchers, one the Mets didn’t want and one they’d love to have, will be on display today in the second round of the playoffs.

Pedro Martinez, whom the Mets cut ties with in an effort to get younger and move toward the future, will start Game 2 of the NLCS for Philadelphia against the Dodgers. John Lackey, the pitching prize of the free-agent market, starts for the Angels at Yankee Stadium.

MARTINEZ: Get the ball while Mets stay home.

MARTINEZ: Get the ball while Mets stay home.


If Martinez wins, it will send Philly home with a 2-0 games lead. If Lackey wins, he will give the home field advantage to the Angels.

The Mets are watching at home for the third straight season.

After a series of injuries the past few years, the Mets decided they could live without Martinez, 37, will make his first playoff appearance in five years against the Dodgers, the team in broke in with in 1992. Martinez made nine starts with the Phillies, going 5-1 with a 3.63 ERA.

He told me last year he thought he could still pitch again, and proved it this year in a limited capacity. Weary of the injuries, and confident Mike Pelfrey would progress and they’d finally get something out of Oliver Perez, the Mets said good-bye to Martinez, who did not want to come back in a limited role or with a limited contract.

If he will be content with a No. 5 slot, he’ll get some attention this winter. No, the Mets won’t be one of the teams, but he could stay in Philadelphia.

Martinez likes the team and it will be good again next summer.

Martinez hasn’t pitched since Sept. 30, but manager Charlie Manuel isn’t concerned, saying, “I think he knows how to pitch.’’

Martinez’s last playoff appearance was in 2004 with Boston, and one of the story lines today will be facing former Red Sox teammate Manny Ramirez.

“Well, nobody can say I know how to pitch Manny.” Martinez said. “Manny is such a great hitter, and he’s someone that makes adjustments as he sees the game develop.”

The Angels are a team in a zone, having swept Boston in the Division Series. They’ll face CC Sabathia tonight at the Stadium.

LACKEY: On top of FA pitching list.

LACKEY: On top of FA pitching list.


The Angels know how to beat the Yankees, dispatching them from the playoffs twice since 2002. The teams split 10 games this year.

“I don’t know if you’re ever going to be able to measure yourself against an organization like the Yankees. It might take a century before you would get there,’’ Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “But I think our guys feel good at the way they go about their business, the way that they play the game hard, the way that they push the game.’’

But, it all begins with pitching, and tonight that is Lackey, who beat the Yankees in July when he gave up two runs in seven innings.

“I’m not going to get intimidated by anybody,” Lackey said.

Lackey is a bulldog type, he gives innings when he’s healthy, but he’s missed considerable time in each of the past two seasons. That will give the Mets pause as they were bitten all year by injuries. It would just be the franchise’s luck to sign him and have him go down.

Lackey leads a relatively thin free-agent market that includes Erik Bedard, Jon Garland, Andy Pettitte, Jose Contreras, Rich Harden, Jason Marquis, Joel Pineiro and Randy Wolf.

There are some good names, but nobody outside of Lackey who could be called a No. 1.

Oct 15

TALKIN’ BASEBALL: NLCS Game #1: Phillies at Dodgers

Game #1: Philadelphia at Los Angeles.

Game #1: Philadelphia at Los Angeles.

The Phillies didn’t exactly sprint into October, but they are here and they know what’s at stake. And, even before the first pitch, they know it will be tougher this season.

It is always tougher to repeat, and the Phillies aren’t boasting of slicing through the Dodgers in five games as they did last autumn.

“Believe me, we came back here to win,” said Philllies manager Charlie Manuel. “I have more determination probably than I had last year, and I mean that from the fact that that’s how much I want it, and I think I know how much our players want it.”

The Phillies are trying to become the first repeat champions since Joe Torre’s Yankees won three straight, 1998-2000.

“When you repeat, you basically have to go through a tougher season to get there,” said Torre, now manager of the Dodgers. “You’ve got a bull’s-eye on your back. Everyone seems to put on their Sunday best to play you. You always get the best pitchers matching up.”

In at match-up of lefthanders, Clayton Kershaw starts for the Dodgers against Cole Hamels.

Kershaw lost twice to the Phillies this season, but he said he’ll still attempt to be aggressive.

Kershaw was 0-2 against the Phillies in the regular season, but he plans an aggressive approach.

“I’m not trying to sit up there and walk people or try and pitch around someone else,” Kershaw said. “You can’t go out there with that mindset. They’ve got a great lineup. But the pitcher’s job is just to go right after them with your best stuff.”