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.”

Oct 14

Something with your morning coffee ….

This Day in Baseball History

This Day in Baseball History

The 1975 World Series between Boston and Cincinnati was one of the most compelling in history. The tone of the series was set in Game 3 on this date when Cincinnati’s Ed Armbrister and Boston’s Carlton Fisk became entangled on the former’s 10th-inning sacrifice bunt.

Interference was not called on Armbrister and the Reds went on to win to take a 2-1 Series lead.

There would have been plenty of dramatics to follow, including Game 6, which is arguably one of best games in World Series history. Had the Red Sox gotten that call then Fisk’s dramatic homer might have ended the World Series in Game 6 and not prolonged it.

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They Said It

They Said It

With poor weather forecast, New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi, anticipating rainouts is considering going to a three-man rotation. That might be to the Yankees’ advantage as their staff is not that deep.

Said Girardi: “In the 10-day forecast that I looked at, it looks like we have some rain in the forecast, so that can change things. But we are definitely considering possibly going to a three-man rotation in this round, but we’ll have to take a look at it and see how it goes.”

The change isn’t etched in stone, but it’s easy enough to change if Girardi wanted to go with four starters.

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BY THE NUMBERS

6: The Phillies have won six of their last eight road playoff games.

Oct 12

Something with your morning coffee ….

This Day in Baseball History

This Day in Baseball History

For those thinking the Mets had plummeted back to Earth after their Game 1 loss to Baltimore in the 1969 World Series, those thoughts were dashed on this day in Game 2.

Jerry Koosman and Ron Taylor combined on a two-hitter‚ and Al Weis drove in the game-winner with a ninth-inning single off Dave McNally to give the Mets a 2-1 victory over the Orioles and even the World Series at a game apiece.

The Mets would run the table on the Orioles, winning three straight at Shea Stadium to win the Series. Koosman was also the winning pitcher in Game 5.

Does anybody remember that game or have anything they’d like to share about the 1969 Mets?

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They Said It

They Said It

After entering the postseason on an 0-for-27 playoff slide with runners in scoring position dating back to Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS, the Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez is on the October tear he always was supposed to be on with game-tying homers in both Game 2 and 3 in the ALDS with Minnesota.

Said Rodriguez: “I knew that I couldn’t change all the 0-for-4s, 0-for-5s and all the guys I left on base. I’m content right now, both on and off the field.”

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BY THE NUMBERS

Rodriguez’s numbers in three-game sweep of the Twins in the ALDS: Five-for-11, two homers and six RBI.

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ON TAP FOR TODAY

Game 4 of the Rockies-Phillies NLDS is for tonight at 6 p.m.

Oct 11

Something with your morning coffee ….

This Day in Baseball History

This Day in Baseball History

It was Game 3 of the 2003 ALCS in Fenway Park, one of the most intense games in one of the most intense rivalries in all of sport.

Headhunter Pedro Martinez and punk Manny Ramirez were the biggest instigators in a brawl filled game between the Yankees and Red Sox. Ramirez waved his bat at Yankees pitcher Roger Clemens after a pitch that was no where near the Red Sox outfielder which caused the benches to empty.

In the scuffle, Martinez threw 72-year-old Yankees coach Don Zimmer to the ground. The game later featured a scuffle in the Yankees bullpen involving a Red Sox grounds crew member. The Yankees would win the game and Clemens got the decision.

The Yankees would go on to the World Series where they would lose to Florida.

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They Said It

They Said It

The Cardinals are the first playoff team to see winter as they offered no resistance in Game 3 of their NLDS with Los Angeles to be swept out of October.

Said Los Angeles’ Casey Blake: “Anytime you win a series it’s good. But to sweep the Cardinals, it just doesn’t happen. I would have never guessed we would have swept them.”

The Dodgers will play the winner of the Colorado-Philadelphia NLDS, which is tied at a game apiece with Game 3 tonight in Denver.

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BY THE NUMBERS

0: Extra base hits by Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols in the NLDS vs. Dodgers.

Oct 10

TALKIN’ BASEBALL: Dodgers stymie Pujols; go for sweep.

The Cardinals were a pick of mine to advance. I thought the Dodgers’ pitching was suspect and Albert Pujols could take over a series. So far, I have been wrong. The Dodgers have limited the Cardinals to five runs in the two games and go for the sweep today in St. Louis.

Of course, if Matt Holliday could catch a line drive the NLDS would be tied at a game apiece. He couldn’t and it is not.

PUJOLS: Cardinals need his bat.

PUJOLS: Cardinals need his bat.

That play was a major storyline. So is the Dodgers’ unwillingness to pitch to Pujols. Like Barry Bonds a few years ago, Pujols is to be avoided.

Pujols, the NL MVP favorite, hit .327 with a major league-leading 47 homers and 135 RBI. He as also intentionally walked 44 times, most in the majors. In the first two games of this series the Dodgers have limited him to a single in six at-bats. They’ve walked him intentionally the three times he came to the plate with runners in scoring position.

“To me, Albert is just out there in a class by himself,” Dodgers manager Joe Torre said Friday. “It may cost me, you know, a three-run homer instead of a two-run homer. But I’m still going to make somebody else beat me.”

The Cardinals have the power to complement Pujols, but Los Angeles’ pitching has been too good.

“One of the reasons we were a lot better in the last half of the year is we have protection behind him,” Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. “If Albert keeps getting on base, we’ll pick him up.”

For the Cardinals, who stranded 14 runners in Game 1, it has to happen soon.