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.

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.