Oct 22

TALKIN’ BASEBALL: Yankees going for the kill in ALCS.

The last time the Yankees were this close to their mission statement they folded in one of baseball history’s greatest collapses. Up 3-0 over the Boston Red Sox in 2004, the Yankees couldn’t close the deal.

OK … few expected the Red Sox to be swept, so staying alive in Games 4 and 5 weren’t a shock because the Yankees would take care of business at the Stadium.

“If you have the opportunity to get something over with, you’d like to do it,” said Derek Jeter. “It’s not always going to happen.”

Curt Schilling won Game 6 in the Bloody Sock game, and the Yankees were cooked by the second inning in Game 7.

BURNETT: Pitches for the Series tonight.

BURNETT: Pitches for the Series tonight.


The Yankees, who could’ve lost the first two games of this series had it not been for Los Angeles’ faulty defense, can close it out tonight with AJ Burnett going against John Lackey. Should the Angels stay alive, Games 6 and 7 will be this weekend in New York.

Burnett has pitched well in the postseason, but is winless.

“This is why I signed – the opportunity to pitch in the postseason,” said Burnett. “The first year over here, I have an opportunity, so I’m taking full advantage of it.”

Oct 21

TALKIN’ BASEBALL: Dodgers try to stay alive in NLCS.

Two nights ago the Dodgers were one out away from tying their NLCS at two games each with Philadelphia until Jimmy Rollins did what money players do.

Down by a run in the ninth with two outs, Rollins lined a two-run double off All-Star closer Jonathan Broxton into the right-center gap to push the Dodgers onto the brink of winter.

Hamels vs. Padilla

Hamels vs. Padilla


“This is big,” Rollins said. “The pressure’s all on them. … We understand we still have a job to do. We look forward to trying to close it out.”

With a win tonight, Dodgers manager Joe Torre said the pressure reverts back to Philadelphia because the series would return to Los Angeles. Torre knows it is possible. While managing the Yankees in 2001, New York lost its first two games against Oakland in the ALDS, but ran the table to advance. Then, in 2004, his Yankees blew a 3-0 series lead and lost to Boston in the ALCS.

Game 6 Friday in LA is contingent on the Dodgers beating Cole Hamels, who has given up eight runs in 10 1/3 innings this postseason.

“Any time you hand him the ball, I think he’s capable of going out there and shutting the other team out,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said of Hamels, who is 5-0 with a 2.19 ERA in seven career starts against Los Angeles.

Vicente Padilla starts for Los Angeles, and his biggest obstacle is Ryan Howard, who has driven in at least one run in eight straight postseason games, and is 5-for-13 (.385) with two home runs, eight RBI in this series.

Oct 20

TALKIN’ BASEBALL: We have a series in the AL.

There is nothing quite like the drama that is playoff baseball, where seasons fade and stay alive with a swing of the bat. There is an ebb and flow of emotions in baseball unlike any other sport and we saw them all last night when the complexion of both series changed on the game’s final play.

The Dodgers, one pitch away from tying their series at Philadelphia, are now in life support and face elimination tomorrow night. The Angels, who stared at the end of their season at the beginning of last night’s game, have fresh life.

SABATHIA: Going on three days rest.

SABATHIA: Going on three days rest.

Last night Jimmy Rollins sent the Dodgers closer to winter, and hours earlier the Angels turned the ALCS from a blowout to a series that could be for the ages. After gift-wrapping two victories to the Yankees, the Angels are alive and in position where they could knot that ALCS at two games apiece tonight after Jeff Mathis’ two-out double in extra innings Monday.

The Yankees could regain control and send Los Angeles to the brink of elimination with CC Sabathia on the mound or the Angels can get us back to square one behind Scott Kazmir.

“This is the type of series we expected it to be,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.

KAZMIR: Pitching to keep Angels alive.

KAZMIR: Pitching to keep Angels alive.


Sabathia, who will be going on three days rest, is 6-7 with a 4.42 ERA in 15 career starts against the Angels. The Yankees are going with a three-man rotation in the ALCS meaning if there is a Game 7 in New York, Sabathia will get the ball.

Kazmir, who represents one of the worst trades made by the Mets, is in position to be a postseason hero for the Angels. Kazmir, who gave up five runs in six innings against Boston in the ALDS, was acquired from Tampa, Aug. 28, and went 2-2 with a 1.73 ERA in six starts for Los Angeles. He is 6-5 with a 2.66 ERA in 14 career starts against the Yankees.

Regardless of what happens tonight, Game 5 is Thursday at Anaheim.

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 17

TALKIN’ BASEBALL: Trying to get it in.

It’s not raining now, but the forecast is not good. It’s a crucial game for the Angels, who gift-wrapped Game 1 last night. Three errors and there should have been four. I could have driven to the Stadium, ran onto the field and caught that pop-up. It was in the air that long.

AJ Burnett, 13-9 with a 4.04 ERA in his first season with the Yankees, gets the ball tonight.

“By all means I know how important my start is,” Burnett said. “I have the least amount of postseason experience, but I’m looking forward to it.”

Play ball … or cancel it and let’s go to the movies.