Monday, October 22, 2007

Soxtober vs. Rocktober in World Series after Red Sox Blast Indians 11-2 for AL Championship

Second baseman Dustin Pedroia led the Red Sox attack with a single and two-run homer in their AL Championship-winning 11-2 victory over the Cleveland Indians in Fenway Park. The Red Sox move on to face the Colorado Rockies in the World Series, which starts Wednesdy night in Boston. (Elsa/Getty Images)


Here's a link to a video that begins with Coco Crisp's game-ending catch



The October 21 Preview comes just minutes before the start of Game Seven of the American League Championship Series between the Cleveland Indians and the Boston Red Sox. The game will be played in Fenway Park in Boston. Jake Westbrook, one of Cleveland's Game Two heroes, will start for the Indians. He'll be opposed by Japan's Daisuke Matsuzaka, who has struggled in the 2007 postseason. All signs point to a high scoring competitive game that could feature relief appearances by typical and in some cases exclusively starting pitchers. Red Sox ace Josh Beckett is ready to on three days rest. CC Sabathia has had trouble getting outs, but could come in if Westbrook gets into trouble. Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon, so far a non-factor in a series dominate by blowouts, hopes to be a big factor in the end game tonight.

Last night's lineups repeat tonite. The Indians go with their regular lineup of Sizemore, Cabrera, Hafner, Martinez, Garko, Peralta, Lofton, Gutierrez and Blake. Jacoby Ellsbury plays center in place of slumping regular Coco Crisp for the Sox.

Game is underway. Matsuzaka destroys Sizemore's bat on a popup to second. One out. Two hopper from Cabrera to Pedroia. Two outs. Hafner up now. Has had a tough series. Lots of strikeouts. Another one here. 1-2-3 for Dice-K.

Pedroia hits a low curve on a line to left for a leadoff hit for the Sox. Youkilis up now. Ground ball hit between third and short. Another hit. Has been hot for a couple of games. Rest of Sox lineup is Ortiz, Ramirez, Lowell, Drew, Varitek, Ellsbury and Lugo. Ortiz up with two on.

Downloading more music onto "Curtis" - tonite it's Rubber Soul by the Beatles. Count is 1-2 after Ortiz misses an inside slider. Same pitch after a foul. Same result. Swing and strike three. Manny now. Two foul balls. Slider way outside. Line drive eats up Peralta and bounces into left. Pedroia scores. Ball hit boundary of grass and dirt in front of Peralta. Hit and RBI for Manny. Lowell now. Runners on first and second. Liner in front of Lofton in left. Runners advance one base. Ball hit too hard for runner to try to score. How long will Indians stay with Westbrook in a do-or-die game? Drew up. Grounds to short. DP nicely turned by Peralta and Cabrera. 1-0 Boston. Seems like moral victory for Indians after four hard hit base hits by Sox.
Cabrera took Peralta's relay bare-handed to complete DP. Very nice. Martinez leads off. Liner to third. One out. Garko up. Matsuzaka struggled near end of season. 2-5 in last seven decisions with 7+ ERA. Garko grounds to Lowell. Two outs. Lowell makes all three outs. Peralta grounds first pitch to him.

Top of 2nd, Varitek hits first pitch off the top of the Monster. Slides into second just ahead of Lofton's throw. Ellsbury shows bunt and takes a strike. Bad time for a bunt. Swing to pull and get a hit. Strike two on outside corner. No bunt now. Lugo on deck. Squibber just outside of Peralta's reach at short. Third and first with no outs. Lugo up. Sox hitting .750 for game so far. Grounder to short. Easy DP. Varitek scores. 2-0, Sox. DPs keeping Westbrook in the game. Pedroia bats. High fly to Lofton in left. Inning over.

Two quick outs for the Indians in the 3rd. Blake walks and goes to second on a short wild pitch. Indians need a hit. Sizemore fans on a high 3-2 fastball.

Youkilis rifles a shot past third into the left field corner for a double. Finally, action in Indians' bullpen. 7th hit off Westbrook in 2+ innings. 2-2 to Ortiz. Grounder moves Youkilis to 3rd. Intentional walk to Manny. Indians looking for another DP ball. Big range of possible outcomes here--3-run HR to DP. Jensen Lewis ready in Indians' bullpen. We'll see him if Lowell reaches. 2-0 count. Indians' fans squirming. In the middle, sac fly to right, 3-0 Sox. Drew up now. 3-1 count. High fly to left. Caught at warning track. End of third. Indians need a rally.

Cabrera skies first pitch of 4th to short. One out. Sox pitching coach says Beckett can pitch two innings. Hafner oh for last 16 with 10 strikeouts. He lofts one off the Monster. Double with one out. Martinez up, 1-0 count. Shot back to the mound. Dice-K knocks down with backhand. Easy play at first. Hafner stays put. Garko up now . 0-2 count. Dice-K showing good command. A few foul balls. Outside, 2-2. Hanging curve ball. Garko hits it high off the wall in left center. Double and RBI. 3-1, Sox. Best hit ball of night for Indians. Another hanging curve to Peralta. He pops up foul. Fastball outside, 2-2. Spinning grounder to short. Lugo throws Peralta out easily.

Varitek reaches to start Sox 4th. Ellsbury lines to first. Garko knocks it down. Forces Varitek at second. Ellsbury reaches on FC. Ellsbury runs; Lugo hits behind the covering Cabrera. First and third, one out. 9 hits in 3.1 innings against Westbrook. Pedroia hits a one-hop liner to Cabrera. He tags Lugo and throws to first. Third DP in four innings for Indians.

Lofton lines ball off the Monster. Manny catches and throws in one motion to second. Lofton looks out. Ump calls out. Replay shows that Lofton might have gotten in. Gutierrez lines a single up the middle. Time growing short for Dice-K. Lots of hard-hit balls in last two innings. Dice-K has come out of last two starts in the 5th. Okajima warming in Sox pen. Could come in to face Sizemore, who is on deck with Blake batting. Looping hit to right by Blake. First and third with one out. Pitching coach Farrell out to talks to Dice-K and Varitek. Dice-K stays. Very dangerous move by Sox. 0-1 count. Swing over top of gyro ball. Sac fly to center. Margin drops to 3-2, Sox. Two nice strikes to Cabrera--fastball, then curve. Hanging curve ball....hit far and foul by Cabrera. Good battle between Dice-K and Cabrera. Count 1-2. Fans on ultra-slow changeup.

Westbrook still pitching for Indians in 5th. Meat of order up for Sox. Youkilis, Ortiz, Ramirez. Youkilis hitting .520 in ALCS. 2-2 count. He fans. Sox have grounded into 14 DPs in ALCS--all-time postseason record for one series. Ortiz down 1-2. Westbrook has done his best work against Ortiz. Grounder to shortstop playing to first-base side of second. 1-2 to Manny. Good curve ball on last pitch. Fastball on outside corner for called strike three. Great pitch and great inning for Jake. Shows what I know. Didn't think he'd be out there.

Okajima in for Sox. Gets Hafner to fly to Manny in left. Amazing delivery by Okajima. Looks at ground while he's releasing the ball. Then whips his head around to the front to get ready for a ball hit back to the mound. 3-1 pitch looked high, but Okajima got the call. Fly ball to right. Two outs. Garko grounds to short. Lugo handles and throws him out.

Westbrook back out for the sixth. Strikes out Lowell looking. Another great pitch. Weak grounder by Drew to Cabrera. Two outs. 2 and 2 to Varitek, another good curve included. Swing and miss on low curve. 3-2 Sox heading to the 7th.

Peralta up against Okajima. Fly ball to Drew in right. Clutch pitching has been the story of this game. Lofton lofts a pop to left. Lugo waves off Ramirez but misses it. Lofton cruises into second. Gutierrez up and Blake on deck. 1-2 on Gutierrez. Gutierrez rips it inside of third. Ball bounces off the cut out straight to Manny. Lofton doesn't try to score. Blake up--DP grounder to third. Around the horn to end the inning. Six outs to the World Series for the Sox. Might be a critical lost run for the Indians.

Ellsbury leads off for Sox. Grounder to third, misplayed by Blake. Ellsbury scoots around to second. Lugo bunts toward first. He's out, but Ellsbury goes to third. Pedroia bombs one on top of the Monster. Home run! 5-2 Sox. Amazing hit off the heretofore hittable Betancourt. Meager grounder by Youkilis to short. Two outs. Two rookies combine for two runs--Ellsbury and Pedroia. Ortiz flies out to left. Top of order coming up for Indians.

Great bunt by Sizemore to lead off 8th. He's on first. Okajima pitching in his third inning. Cabrera batting righthanded. Clean line drive single to center. First and second. End of night for Okajima. Papelbon next for a 2-inning save. First pitch missed by Papelbon. Fouled away. Strike two. 98 mph. Swing and a miss. DP grounder to 2nd, but Pedroia and Lugo both double clutch. Only one out. Loss opportunity to end the 8th. Garko up now. First and third. Slider takes count to 1 and 2. Well hit to center. High, but caught by Ellsbury. Sox will take at least a 3-run lead to the 9th.

Manny leads off the Sox 8th vs. Betancourt. Pops first pitch to 2nd. One out. Slider ripped to gap in left center for a double by Lowell. 2-2 to Drew. He lines a single up the middle for an RBI single. 6-2 Sox. Varitek batting. 2-2 count. High fly down left side. Hard play for shortstop and third baseman. They run together and ball drops. Bounces into stands for a ground rule double. 2nd and 3rd with one out and Ellsbury up. He gets an intentional walk to load bases for Lugo. Situation getting desparate for Indians. Infield in for Lugo. He strikes out on a fastball down and in. Game hero Pedroia up now. First pitch. Three-run double to the gap in left center. 9-2 Sox. Party time in Boston. Finally, Wedge takes ball from Betancourt. Jensen Lewis will pitch next.

Youkilis hits the Coke bottle! The rout is officially on. Sox can let up now so we can finish this and go to bed. Thanks, Ortiz. He strikes out to end the 8th. Three outs to the AL championship for the Sox.

Peralta is first to face Papelbon. He's not used to pitching with nine run lead. Soft hit to left. Lofton next. He lines to Ellsbury in left. Nice sliding play. Gutierrez next. Ortiz in full celebration mode in dugout. He lines to Crisp in deep center. Blake next. Drive to deepest center. Crisp runs it down and slams into wall! Sox are AL Champs! 11-2 win in Game Seven. Great comeback by the Sox from 3-1 deficit. They won last three games by total of 30-5. First postseason save by Papelbon, albeit with a 9-run lead in the 9th.


October 20 - dadlak Simulblog - Soxtober Rolls On as Red Sox Trample Indians, 12-2; LSU Shocks Auburn with Last-Second 28-24 Win; Congressman Bobby Jindal is Louisiana Governor-Elect


$14MM man J.D. Drew hits a first-inning grand slam to spark Boston's 12-2 win over Cleveland in Game Six of the American League Championship Series. Game Seven will be played tonight in Fenway Park. (Photo Elsa/Getty Images)


LSU wide receiver Demetrius Byrd catches the game-winning touchdown pass with 0:01 left. The Bayou Bengals beat Auburn 28-24 in Baton Rouge.


36-year old Congressman Bobby Jindal accepts congratulations from supporters in Baton Rouge. Jindal is now Governor-elect of Louisiana after taking 53% of the vote in the October 20 open primary. (Photo - Tim Mueller/AP)

October 20 Update - No time for a preview, Game Six is well underway with the Red Sox holding a 6-1 lead in the 3rd (make that 8-1 as Julio Lugo doubles in two runs). J.D. Drew paid his biggest dividend of the season with a grand slam in the first and an RBI single in the second. Game Seven here we come.

The close game is in Baton Rouge in the Battle of the Tigers--Auburn at LSU. The score is 7-7. LSU scored on a 46-yard screen pass to tailback Keiland Williams. I missed Auburn's score while I was transporting teenage girls to their high school homecoming dance. I'll try to find out what happened. It's trying to happen again as Auburn runs a play from LSU's 3-yard line. Next play goes to the goal line.

Louisiana governor's election results show Bobby Jindal with a big early lead. Auburn's fullback leaps into the end zone for a touchdown on their third try. They lead 13-7 with the PAT pending. The Red Sox now lead 10-1. They've scored 6 of their own in the 3rd and are still batting. The PAT goes through and Auburn leads 14-7.

Carmona's line for Cleveland - 2 7 6 6 4 2 - Yikes! Auburn tries an interesting trick on the kickoff. The kicker bounces the ball off one of the LSU up men. LSU recovers the carom at about their own 40. LSU picks up a couple of first downs. Ryan Perilloux in for LSU at quarterback. He fumbled on the previous series to help set up the Auburn TD. Matt Flynn back in after an offside penalty. LSU has to punt.

Auburn moving the ball well. Down near the LSU 10-yard line. Stalled at the six. Field goal attempt next. Sox holding on by 10-1 in the 5th. FG good, 17-7. Perilloux takes the kickoff but goes nowhere. 1:30 to go in the first half. First down across midfield on a run. Now Flynn is sacked and Auburn calls time out because LSU will have to punt. Auburn runs out the half.

With 37% of precincts reporting, Jindal has 52%. If he stays at or above 50%, there won't be a runoff for governor. Schilling strikes out Hafner and Martinez to end the six. Great start for Curt--6 innings, 5 hits and 1 run. He'll probably pitch the seventh to save the bullpen for Game Seven.

Back to Baton Rouge. LSU runs a reverse. Quarterback Matt Flynn throws two blocks that help spring the runner. He threw a beautiful 35-yard pass to Early Doucet. 3rd and 10. Perilloux gains five on a keeper. Field goal attempt to get within 3. 17-10, Auburn. The Indians score on a triple by Garko. 3rd down pass broken up by LSU. Punt coming.

LSU takes over deep in their own territory. Gets out of the hole on a nice pass from Flynn to Doucet. 3rd down pass is too high. Another punt coming. Auburn offside. First down LSU. Just what the Tigers needed. Another first down on a short pass to Doucet.

10-2 Sox in the 8th. Unbelievable play. Wide open LSU receiver LaFell catches and juggles a wide open pass. Deflection becomes an easy interception for Auburn. More pain for Cleveland. 12-2 Sox in the 8th with the bases loaded. 3rd and 10 for Auburn. Another big play for LSU. Auburn QB tackled. Punt coming.

Nice punt return by LSU. Late fumble recovered by LSU. Beautiful pass by Flynn to Byrd for 50 yards. 1st down from 10. Fade pass for Doucet just overthrown. Same play, way overthrown. 3rd and 10. Threw it in a crowd. No one could snare it. 4th and 10. FG attempt coming. It's good, 17-13, Auburn.

Better job by LSU on next kickoff. Auburn stopped at 24. Steltz breaks up a pass. Auburn has to punt. Shaky catch, but LSU holds on.

Red Sox win 12-2 to tie ALCS at three games each. Jake Westbrook and Daisuke Matsuzaka will start in Game Seven.

State Sen. Walter Boasso is the last to concede, but he does. Bobby Jindal will be Louisiana's next governor--at 36 the youngest in the nation.

Third quarter ends with Auburn up 17-13. LSU threatening. Second and goal at the 8. Not sure how Tigers got so close. Perilloux at QB. He runs for two. Third down; play comes in slowly. Pass to Hester--he lays ball across goal line with legs in the air--touchdown! Play under review and flag on field. Stay tuned. No penalty! Touchdown--but we knew that. Tuberville is hot--a little. PAT good--LSU leads, 20-17.

LSU breaks up a third down pass. Auburn punt coming. Tide has really shifted to LSU. Hester breaks off a 20-yard run. Flat pass for Doucet gets a first down. Long pass in middle to Doucet. Another first. Short keeper by Flynn. Nothing for Perilloux. Looks like LSU is setting up for a FG. They make it, 23-17.

Auburn completion to the LSU 8. Yikes. Catch and run by #1. Run to the 3. 2nd and goal. TD pass, Cox to #80--tie game at 23. PAT sneaks in on right side. 24-23, Auburn. Unexpected drive by Auburn. Hadn't done much on offense in 2nd half. But now they have the lead. 3:21 to go.

Short kickoff gives LSU the ball on the 42 yard line. Flynn scrambles for a first down. Flynn runs for 6 more. Goes out of bounds. #94 blocks a Flynn pass. 3rd and 3. Option pitchout is a yard short. Great spot for LSU. First down! Two yards on option pitch right. Ball on Auburn 35. Only one timeout left for LSU. Hester runs to the 26. In FG range. Flynn keeper up the middle to the 23. Time at 1:10 and counting. Pass to tight end for 1 yard. 3rd and 7. Flynn throws to the end zone--touchdown caught by Byrd! Well covered. Clock at 0:01 at end of play. Wow! Can they get another play off if pass is incomplete. Moot point now.

One more kickoff. Auburn will do the lateral play. Two laterals and out of bounds. Game over. LSU wins 30-24!


ALCS Game Six -- It's Beckettober! Josh Beckett Dominates Indians 7-1; Game Six at Fenway on Saturday



Josh Beckett looks in for a sign during his dominating 7-1 win over the Cleveland Indians that takes the American League Championship Series back to Fenway Park in Boston for Game Six on Saturday night. (Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

October 18 Preview - The ALCS resumes tonite in Cleveland with the first pitching rematch of the 2007 postseason. As in Game One, the Red Sox send their ace, Josh Beckett--author of a masterful 4-hit shutout of the Angels and a Game One win over the Indians--against the Indians' C.C. Sabathia, whose hideous 8-run, 6-walk line against the Sox in Game One fooled many into thinking that the Indians were overmatched. Needless to say, the series hinges on this game, particularly for the Sox, who must either win or make vacation plans. If the Indians lose, they face the uncertain fate of two more games in Boston--one against playoff ace Curt Schilling and other with Daisuke Matsuzaka, who might be gassed for the season, or might just turn on his World Baseball Classic game. Celebrating with the fans in Cleveland and having extra time to prepare for the scary Colorado Rockies seems like much the preferable option. Still, I'm thinking Game Six in Boston would be a fun event for a Saturday night.


October 18 Update - 7:25 p.m. and here we go (actually it's 7:31 and I'm retyping this--a random key mishit deleted my first attempt at this paragraph). Pedroia hits a routine grounder to short. Youkilis hammers a high fastball on the inner half out for a homer. 1-0 Sox. Sabathia working hard to avoid repeat of six-walk performance in Game One. Ortiz out somehow. Ramirez up with two outs. Great postseason so far, .429, 4 HRs, 11 RBIs. Hitting .609 vs. Sabathia for career. Doubles to left center field gap just out of Lofton's reach. Playing to pull. Lowell next. Another run would create a nice early cushion for the Sox. Soft single to right. Manny tries to score, but rightfielder (Gutierrez?) throws him out without a slide--out by 10 feet. Manny's not really a bowl-over-the-catcher kind of player--surely not in the first inning.

Indians trying to get the run back. Sizemore hits pop fly that finds land just inside the left field line. Sox kick it around a bit, but a double in any event for Grady. Cabrera reaches while I saved this--line single to right. First and third with no outs. Hafner up. Great chance for Indians. Even a DP scores a run. Hafner is a fly ball hitter. Mean curveball. 1-1 count. There's the DP bouncer to short, but Sizemore scores to tie game at 1. Two outs. Victor Martinez lines a single to left. Two hard hit balls out of four off Beckett. Garko tries to keep it alive. Between innings I'll patch in my tribute of sorts to Joe Torre, who today refused the Yankees 1-year offer to remain their manager. What a fabulous 12-year run by one of baseball's great guys. Garko fans on a curve. Beckett's is breaking sharply tonight.



Joe Torre started with the Braves as catcher, then played 3B for Cards in the early '70s (won batting title with them in '71). Later he had an unsuccessful managing stint with them between the Braves and the Yankees. He took over the Cards from Whitey Herzog. Torre had the Cards from '90-'95. Overall record--3 games under .500--no playoff appearances. They finished 2nd or 3rd in NL East in all his complete seasons. He got fired in midseason of '95. Yankees must have hired him based on his Braves' career.

Torre managed five years with the Mets ('77 thru '81). All these teams were terrible (6th or 5th place). Overall winning pct. .405. He was player manager in '77.

In three years with the Braves ('82-84) he was overall 28 games over .500 and finished 1st, 2nd and 3rd in NL West in succession. The Braves were bad for 12 years before Torre and for 7 years afterward.

Of course, his NYY career has been stunning; 10 divisions, 6 AL Championships and 4 World Championships in 12 seasons. His teams include the '96 team that overcame an 0-2 games, 0-6 runs deficit to the Braves to win the Series in six games and the '98 juggernaut that won 114 regular season games and massacred all challengers in the postseason--one of the best teams of all time. He had five 100+ win seasons and an overall win pct. of .605--great for one season, say nothing of 12. He got fired after doing one of his best regular season managing jobs--the Yankees were almost dead in the water after going 22-29 in their first 51 games (sinking into a tie with the D-Rays for last place) while their starting pitching staff was manned by Andy Pettitte and the four rookies (cast of rookies changes nightly). Rather than build a team, he has to pull together whatever high-priced amalgamation of "superstars" that management buys from one off-season to another.

A thought I had is that Tony LaRussa and Joe Torre could swap jobs next year. But whatever happens, all good wishes to one of the best baseball men around in the next phase of his Hall of Fame career.

Back with the Sox in their 2nd. Varitek reaches on a HBP. Fox Zone showed that Sabathia had him on the previous pitch, but Martinez set up inside and Sabathia hit the outside corner. Crisp up with one out. Really struggling over last month .212 OBP. Strikes out looking. Right down the middle. Lugo up now. Fly ball to short right. Caught. 1-1 going into Indians' 2nd.

The Indians went quietly in the 2nd. Pedroia opened the Sox third with a hit, but was erased on a Youkilis DP grounder back to the mound. Both pitchers showing good command so far--Beckett of his curve ball, CC of his fastball and slider. A lot of mass in matchup of Sabathia and Ortiz--at least 520 lb if you buy that Ortiz is only 230. I'd say more like 250. Full count. Sabathia won't give in. Misses outside corner with fastball. Manny next. He hits the top of the wall in dead center. Ortiz hustles arond to score. Umps considering whether it's a home run. It better be for Manny's sake since he only made it to first base. About the longest single ever hit. Francona should fine Manny--he loped to first base and couldn't make it to second when the ball bounced back on the field. Ortiz ran three bases; Manny ran one. Good thing he can hit. FOX playing "Don't Worry, Be Happy" while showing Manny's "not the end of the world" quote. Lowell's out.

Sizemore fans to start the Indians' third. Nice play by Pedroia to his left to get Cabrera. Hafner strikes out on three pitches--last one curve at his feet.

I like this commercial about singing adding 15 years to your life, though it has a mixed message about not outliving your money. I guess that the message is to save more rather than to die sooner.

Kielty opens the Sox 4th with a single to right. Varitek grounds a single through the left side. Bunt situation for Crisp, even though the Sox don't like to bunt. First bunt is foul. Second bunt hits Crisp. Swing and miss on a low pitch. Tough sledding for Crisp. Lugo now. Easy 2-hop DP grounder by Lugo. 2-1 Sox heading to Indians' 4th.

Garko up with one out in 4th. Beckett very strong. Only run scored on a DP grounder. Garko nubs one toward Beckett. 95+ mph throw to first--Youkilis takes with two hands. Next batter grounds to Youkilis. Quick inning.

Pedroia's third AB, 1-2 so far. One hop liner to Peralta. Nice pickup--though Peralta would get accused of an "ole" play if he missed--stayed to the side of the ball. Youkilis grounds first pitch to 3rd. Two outs. Ironic outcome for most patient hitter in the game. Ortiz shows bunt with no one playing third base. Power on power. 96 mph fastball; big swing and miss by Ortiz. Next pitch--inside out swing--ground single to left--to the right of Blake. Manny up now. 2-2 count. Slider gets away. Ortiz goes to 2nd. Sacrifice AB for Ortiz. Ortiz just trying to get on in front of Manny. Crowd roaring for K. Waving towels. Indians' pitching coach out to talk to Sabathia. McCarver says he's giving Sabathia the option to walk Manny. Fastball outside. Ball four. Second and first. Two outs. Curve strike to Lowell. Fastball blows by Lowell. Crowd screaming and waving again. High pitch fouled back. Some deal between Marlins and Sox--Lowell and Beckett for Hanley Ramirez and Anibel Sanchez. Sanchez has thrown a no-hitter. Ramirez was Rookie of Year in '06. Lowell hits a liner foul in left by three inches. Inside pitch grazes Lowell's shirt. Bases loaded for Kielty. He has a couple of HRs vs. Sabathia. 1-1 count. Way high, 2-1. Overthrow. 97 mph blows past Kielty's big swing. Will fans get their K? Not on that pitch. Full count. Start merry go round. Fly ball of end of bat to right. Whew!

Lofton flies out to left. He and Beckett jaw as Lofton runs to first. Lofton comes toward the mound, but is restrained. Not sure what's going on here. Lofton back in dugout--no harm. Blake singles to center with two outs. Sizemore up--another great curve ball. Grounder sneaks between Lugo and Pedroia. First and third. Beckett just missed the high bounce. Cabrera next. Strikes out with weak wave at 1-2 fastball. Beckett dominant with 7 K's in 5 innings.

100 pitches for CC. 2 and 2 to Crisp with one out. Grounder to third. Two outs. Good pitching by both starters. Beckett slightly better. Unhittable curve ball. Lugo fans. 1-2-3 inning. Still 2-1 Sox.

Indians' 6th. Hafner watches Beckett curve for strike three. Only 72 pitches for Beckett to this point. CC at 106. Slow grounder to middle. Lugo fields and throws across. Looks like Beckett of 2003 with Marlins, not Beckett of 5+ ERA in 2006. 1.31 postseason ERA for Beckett to this point. One walk in 21 innings. Garko next. Seems overmatched. He is. Strike three swinging.

Pedroia opens the Sox 7th with double to right center--his second hit. Youkilis up next. Count 2-0. Will he hit to right side? Obviously not bunting. Inside out swing. Fouled off. 2-1. Warm night in Cleveland. 69 F. Slicing liner to right center. Sizemore can't get it. Tips off his glove. Sizemore looked at Gutierrez, then dove for the ball, but just missed. Pedroia scores easily. Youkilis gets a triple. Ortiz up. Sabathia leaves.

At the risk of getting completely off subject, I'm reading a great book between innings--"Peace Like a River", a novel by Leif Enger. The story is set in 1962 rural Minnesota--a father, his young son and daughter and an outlaw older son are the main characters. Doesn't sound like that much, but the characters are great as is the writing.

Betancourt comes in to get things under control for Indians. Infield in. Three on right side. Third baseman near third with runner there. Sac fly to deep left. Youkilis scores. 4-1 Sox. Lofton caught ball over his shoulder. Bases empty for Sox. Manny up. 2 for 2 with a walk. Odds getting longer against Indians. Beckett should easily make it through the 7th and maybe the 8th, leaving just the 9th for Papelbon. 0-2 to Manny. Fouls a pitch off. Second great matchup with Betancourt. Manny fanned in the last game after a long AB. Curve on outside corner for strike three. Great pitch. FOX Zone says a little outside. Takes a great pitch and a call to get Manny. Easy fly to Sizemore by Manny. Two runs on two hits for Sox in 7th. They lead 4-1.

Nice play by Lowell to get Garko. Lofton up now. JD Drew in for Kielty in right. Lofton was mid-season pickup for Indians. Worked out well. Infield hit for Lofton. Beckett couldn't handle grounder up the middle. No hit--E 1. Gutierrez up with Lofton on. Crowd getting into it. 2-0 after curve up and in. No action in Sox bullpen. Great 95 mph fastball to Gutierrez. Just missed with next one. 3-1. Looked good in FOX Zone. High fastball. Skied to Crisp in center. Big out after bad call on 2-1 pitch. Am missing FrankTV a little--not a lot. Guess we're done with him now that NLCS is over. 1-2 to Blake. Beckett still throwing wicked stuff. Fastball like a whip. Curve that breaks big and late. Strike three called on fastball. 10 K's for Beckett.

Rafael Perez pitching for Cleveland. No account AB unless Sox score a bunch. Big question is whether Sox can hold 3-run lead. Back to Minnesota for a few minutes. Will check back if something exciting happens. Wow! Just saw footage of Papelbon doing YMCA while he's loosening in the bullpen. Not while pitching, while jogging. Perez error puts runners on first and second with one out. Lugo up. Crisp reaches on error. Lugo bunts for hit. Throw late. Bases loaded. Perez leaves.

Mastny is new pitcher. Tough spot with bases loaded. Passed ball. Drew scores. 5-1. Walk to Pedroia reloads bases. Youkilis up. Game threatening to get away from Tribe. 2-0 count. Low, 3-0. For whatever reason, Youkilis is easy to type. Youkilis, Youkilis, Youkilis...no errors. Youkilis walks. Run scores, 6-1. I messed up that Youkilis. Back to Minnesota. Ortiz gets another run with a sac fly. Manny takes another strike three to end it. Six outs needed to get to Game Six. 7-1, Sox.

Beckett back on mound in 8th. FOX play "Mr. Big Stuff" over montage of Beckett's great pitching. Sizemore skies first pitch to left. Lots of talk about Ellsbury replacing Crisp in Game Six, after he comes in for Ramirez in left in this inning. Seems like a stretch to me. I doubt that Francona will change his lineup. Here's he's just getting his best defense on the field to hold a lead. Fastball on inside corner is strike three to Cabrera.

Miller High Life's rogue delivery man would be a nightmare for any marketing manager, who would not appreciate the downstream decision making about where to sell his brand. Does the delivery guy check to see if a valid contract is on file? But if they're the same kind of marketing guys who want to sue Coke Zero on behalf of Coke, who knows?

Hafner up now. Seven strikeouts in three last three games. Hafner bounces one off the mound. Lugo flags it and throws to first. Great night for Beckett. 8 5 1 1 1 11. Awesome given the circumstances--on the road, down 1-3 in Series.

Drew smacks one over Sizemore's head for a double with one out. Nothing comes of it as Crisp makes yet another out to end the Sox 9th.

Papelbon ready for the last three outs. This should be quick. Victor Martinez first. 96 mph fouled back. Not much change from Beckett to Papelbon, except no curves from the latter. Just missed low and outside. 1-1. Outside, 2-1. Fouled away, 2-2. Another foul. 96 mph blows past Martinez' bat. Yikes. Tape of drunken Irish dancing by Papelbon after ALDS win. Garko next. 2-0. Fast strike, 2-1. Long double over Crisp's head in center. Peralta next. No word yet on his first name Jhonny. Seems like there must be a story. 0-1. Fastball high, 1-1. Grounder to Lugo. Two outs. Garko to third. Fenway and Schilling loom. Lofton hits. Beckett might hang around to see him make the last out. Fastball away, 1-0. Beckett still in dugout. Seems to be the norm these days. Starter stays in dugout 'til end of game, particularly if he leaves the game ahead. Low, 2-1. Fastball on outside corner, 2-2. Fans still pounding the drum and making some noise. Doubt that many have left. Ball four. Lofton pointedly leaves bat on plate. First and third. Gutierrez next. Fastball right through, 0-1. High fly to center. Crisp takes on warning track. Sox win, 7-1. Series goes to 3-2 Indians. Next game Saturday night at Fenway. Carmona vs. Schilling.


ALCS Game Four - It's Blake/Jake-Tober As Indians Take 3-1 Series Lead With 7-3 Win Over Red Sox in Cleveland



Jake-tober or Blake-tober? Whichever you choose, the Cleveland Indians beat the Boston Red Sox, 7-3 in Game Four to take a three games to one lead in the American League Championship Series. Third baseman Casey Blake drove in two runs with a homer and single in the Indians' 12-batter, 7-run fifth inning.

October 16 Preview - We're down to one LCS now after the Colorado Rockies completed their four-game sweep of the Arizona Diamondbacks with a 6-4 win in Denver. I'll have to think back and research to come up with the last mistake the Rockies made in the postseason. A fat pitch by Brian Fuentes to Chris Snyder with his team up 6-1 in the 8th inning might be the worst sin. Willy Taveras, who has a great arm, didn't make a great throw from center when D-Backs' pitcher Micah scored last night.

For some reason I'm sleepy as I write this, so I'll take a quick nap before blogging tonight's Red Sox - Indians game. I am awake enough to notice the double meaning of "Jake-tober" in reference to last night's game (has anyone else seen it). "Jake" is short for Jacobs Field. It's also the first name of Indians' starter Jake Westbrook, who pitched 6.2 innings and only gave up two earned runs. However, from a nickname basis, tonite's game favors the Red Sox who send Tim "Wake" Wakefield (17-12) to the mound. I can just see that "Wake-tober!" headline. Indians' starter Paul Byrd (15-8) doesn't fit with the marketing model I've established. Still, I'm rooting for the Tribe, at least for this round. It will be hard not to return to my NL loyalties and root for the Rockies in the World Series. Otherwise the matchup is even, as both starters are soft-throwing veterans with ERAs just north of 4.50. Wakefield throws knuckleballs mixed with 78 mph "fastballs". He's in his 16th season, all of two of which have been with the Red Sox. Wakefield started in the Pirates's system and played infield before becoming a knuckleball pitcher. Doug Mirabelli should catch for the Sox tonite. When I've seen him, Jason Varitek has been hopeless catching the knuckler. Byrd throws his fastball in the low 80s and relies on the batters to get themselves out on his variety of off-speed pitches. He's also the only pitcher I've seen to use the old-fashioned "double windup" like you saw in old film of Grover Cleveland Alexander or Dizzy Dean. The Indians are his sixth team in a 13-year career that started with the Mets in 1995.

October 16 Update - The Sox go quietly vs. Byrd in the first. Byrd struck out Ortiz with a double-windup pitch to end a 1-2-3 frame. The Indians approach to hitting Wakefield is interesting. Two switch hitters, Cabrera and Martinez, chose to bat right-handed. Sizemore walked and stole second easily, but died there as Cabrera and Hafner struck out and Martinez flied to right. Wakefield has given up 41 steals in 31 starts--a very high ratio, but batters' struggles to get base hits save him. His walk ratio was pretty good in 2007--just 64 in 189 innings.

Manny leads off for Sox. A phony hit (hitting Ortiz with a batted ball) last night extended his LCS hitting streak to 13 games, just two short of Pete Rose's record. Goes with double windup to Ramirez, who rifles a single between third and short. 14 straight. Lowell bats behind Manny. Nubber to right side; Lowell tagged out. Manny goes to second. Drew next--FOX announcers talking about lack of offense from Drew, Crisp, et. al. 1-2 on Drew. Very drab season for Drew--.270, 11 HRs, 64 RBIs, 4 SBs in 140 games--particularly for $14 million. Drew fans. 0-2 on Crisp. Crisp had a similar season to Drew--.268, 6 HRs, 60 RBIs, albeit with 28 SBs in 145 games and for the bargain price of $3.8 million. He fans too. Discussion in Boston today was apparently about Ellsbury playing in place of Crisp. Buck and McCarver talk about it.


Wakefield fans Peralta on three pitches--all knucklers. Lofton now. Hard grounder to Youkilis. Two outs. Wakefield's pitches are dancing. Fastballs steaming in at 74-75 mph. Knuckler at 66-67. Blake caught looking for strike three. Four K's in two innings for Wakefield. Well ahead of his usual pace.

Doug Mirabelli up against Byrd. Personal catcher for Wake because he can catch knuckler. Not much of a hitter, and only 10 ABs in last two months. 88 mph fouled off--Byrd's "blazer". Full count. Foul fly to right--handled by Gutierrez. Now Lugo. Quickly down 0-2. Who knew this would be a pitcher's battle. One hopper to mound. Two outs. Byrd has best walk ratio in AL. 28 walks in 192 innings. Plenty of hits though--239. Pedroia grounds a single to right field. Youkilis up with 2 outs and 1 on. Hitting .333 in LCS but no RBIs. He lines first pitch to left for a hit. Two on and two out for Ortiz. Vicious cut--fouls it off to left. Fouled back--not as good contact. 0 and 2 count. Just missed outside.

My friend is in Cleveland again tonight. I told her to take pictures and I'd post them. I hope she does.

Still Ortiz vs. Byrd. Grounder to Peralta playing on 1B side of second. He grabs and steps on second for the third out.

Leadoff batter Gutierrez walks. Kelly Shoppach up next. He's caught all of Byrd's starts. Gutierrez has a few steals. Swing and miss by a bunch. One out. Spun around on that swing. Wakefield's pitches are going in all directions--up and down; left and right. 2 and 1 to Sizemore. No windup at all for Wakefield in stretch. Good observation by McCarver and Buck. Wakefield ranks third in wins in Red Sox history, behind only Cy Young and Roger Clemens. Grounder to first. Speared by Youkilis. Runner to second. Moving on pitch. First pitch flied to Crisp in center.

First two batters of Red Sox fourth fly out--Manny and Lowell. Drew up now. Two strikes. Drew takes a ball then fouls one off his foot. Base hit to center after double windup by Byrd. Pitch was too good--right in the middle. Drew almost picked off first. Humpback liner to right for Crisp. Out number three.

Casey Blake breaks the schneid for both teams with a long home run off Wakefield to lead off the fifth. Gutierrez follows with another hit. Wakefield threw a 67 mph non-breaking knuckler to Blake. Wake grazes Shoppach with a knuckler. Second and first with no outs. Action starting in Sox bullpen. Blood pressure up collectively in Beantown. Sizemore up now. Wakefield needs better pitches or things will get ugly for Sox. 1-1. No indication of bunt by Sizemore. Grounder to second. Force out at second. No play at first or third. Lugo looked at third. Runner at third could come in on wild pitch. Foul pop. Youkilis struggles. Juggles and drops. Gutierrez tags and "score" but has to go back when Youkilis can't control the ball. No error on Youkilis. One out for Indians. Asdrubal really has to concentrate on making contact. He lines an outside knuckler back to mound--off Wake's glove. Ball dribbles into middle of infield. Runner scores from third. All hands safe. Wakefield kept Pedroia from fielding ball for a double play. Tough break for Sox. 2-0 Indians. Now Hafner. Runners on first and second. Indians are waiting better on the knuckler. Great job by Cabrera. Determined to make contact with runner on third. Got rewarded. Too low, 2-2. Hafner fans on high knuckler. Dangerous pitch. Martinez now. Another high knuckler, 2-0. Fouled back, 2-1. Another knuckler, 2-2. Fouled back, 2-2. Base hit between short and third (not much room). Sizemore scores, 3-0 Tribe. Knuckler rolled about one rotation. Wakefield comes out--like Schill and Dice-K, he doesn't survive the fifth, despite four very strong innings.

Wake's line is 4.2 7 5 3 3 2 7--could get worse if Delcarmen doesn't get Peralta--he doesn't--Peralta homers to right, 6-0 Indians! "Cleveland, City of Light, City of Magic," as Randy Newman sang. Peralta hit a high outside fastball right where it was pitched. Liner to left center for Lofton. The beat goes on. Indians have batted around. Blake up again. He made first and last out (both K's) in Indians' 7-run inning in Game Two. Can he hit 2 HR's in one inning to balance that. Lofton steals second. How old is this guy? I think that moving him to left was a great idea. Now the all-time postseason leader in SBs. Lofton was inadequate CF, is OK in left. Offense thriving, at least in postseason. 2-2 to Blake. Dumper to short center. Crisp dives but can't get there. Lofton coasts in from second, 7-0 Indians. Well Blake got two hits anyway. Gutierrez next. 11th batter of inning. Second 7-run innings of series for Indians. Makes Cabrera's liner off Wake's glove the biggest play of game. Lefty Lester up for Sox. He comes in for Sizemore if Gutierrez reaches. Unless Francona gives up and decides to save it for Game Five. Hard to do down 2-1 already. Gutierrez walks. Sorry, forgot about Shoppach. Last batter for Delcarmen. 2-0 to Shoppach. SS and C meet pitcher on mound. 96 mph fastball thrown past Shoppach. 2-1. Drum man never quits. Fastball, swing, 3-2. Fouled back. Shoppach fans on outside fastball. 7-0, Tribe going into the sixth.

Youkilis and Ortiz start the Sox sixth with HRs. Youkilis long to left. Ortiz just over the RF wall with a topspin drive. End of night for Byrd. Big hand from Indians fans. Just trying to throw strikes with a big lead. Sox had same thought.

Was going to take a couple innings off to write a restaurant review, but I'll stay with this until the Sox bats cool off. I watched the game early this year vs. the Yankees when the Sox hit four straight HRs off a Yankee rookie pitcher.

There's number three -- Manny into the bullpen in right center off reliever Jensen Lewis. Cleveland fans boo. 7-3. First time for three straight homers in LCS by any team. It was April 22 when Ramirez, Drew, Lowell and Varitek hit consecutive homers. Pitcher was Chase Wright. Lowell grounds to Blake. Not tonight. Crisp pops to left to end the sixth. Indians still lead by four. Buck says "Manram"....yuk.

Lester and Varitek are new battery for Sox. Sizemore leads off. He reaches while I get a Pepsi. Had a nap earlier. Should be able to stay up for the end of this one. Cabrera fans. Hafner gets rid of Wakefield and gets tough lefty Lester. I suspect he's happy about the change. 0-2. Golden sombrero for Hafner. Swinging strike three. 0-4, all K's.

Youkilis misses Lester's pickoff throw. Sizemore goes to second. Betancourt warming in Indians' pen. Scary guy. Lester pitching to Victor Martinez with two outs and Sizemore on 2nd. 0-2 count after a foul. Crisp takes Martinez's fly ball.

Lewis in his second inning. Varitek leads off. Grounds a hit to the right of short. Lugo next. Double play grounder. Two outs on one ball. Just what the Indians need. That's 8 DP's in 3+ games for Indians. Tribe starting to look like Rockies. Doing whatever is needed to win. Getting help from everyone. Like Asdrubal Cabrera, who leaps to spear Pedroia's bid for a hit. Catches ball in webbing of glove. 7-3, Indians. Just 6 outs left for 3-1 lead in the series.

Now just three outs to go. I worked on 1987 in my post "World Series and Remembrance". I've still got 19 years to cover before the 2007 World Series starts. I'm happy there will be a break of sorts between the LCS and the World Series, particularly if the Indians win the ALCS in five games.

The score holds at 7-3 Indians. Betancourt blazed through the eighth--three fly balls from the guys who homered on their last ABs--Youkilis, Ortiz, Manny. Swinging bunt for Shoppach with one out. Sizemore up next. Not the best day for the Red Sox. In 2003, they lost to the Yankees on an extra-inning HR by Aaron "$#@?!!" Boone. In 2004 they lost Game Three of the LCS by 19-8 to the Yankees. It's still amazing that they dug out of that hole to win not only the ALCS but the World Series too. Francona will talk lots about that comeback if they get down 3-1 in this LCS. Whoops, I missed Sizemore's out. Cabrera up now. Count is 1-2. Borowski not up for Indians. Betancourt may pitch the ninth. Guess it's because it's not a save situation with a four-run lead. Borowski will get ready as soon as Betancourt allows a baserunner.

Crazy program erased this paragraph in progress. Would love a "back" function. Lowell fouled out. Drew flied to left. Both off Betancourt. Crisp is Sox last hope. Line drive. Caught by Martinez at first. Indians win 7-3 and lead series three games to one. Jake-tober rolls on. The Indians can end the ALCS in their home park and carry the Jacobs Field magic to the World Series. The teams get a strange non-travel day off on Wednesday, then come back on Thursday to play Game Five in Cleveland.



The Rockies' Todd Helton celebrates the final out of the NLCS, while Eric Byrnes of the D-Backs lays out across first base after a futile head first dive. The Rockies swept the series with a 6-4 win in Game Four.

Here are some more pictures from the NLCS courtesy of foxsports.com


Kenny Lofton and Victor Martinez celebrate the Indians 4-2 win over the Red Sox in Cleveland to take a two-games-to-one lead in the best-of-seven American League Championship Series. Lofton hit a 2-run homer that started the Indians's scoring and Martinez caught nine innings of 2-run pitching. (Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

October 15 Update (ALCS) - I'm late to join the action tonite--errands to run and dinner to eat. As you probably know if you are reading this, the Indians are leading the Red Sox 4-0 as the Indians bat in the sixth. They knocked out the celebrated Dice-K with series of fifth inning hits. Earlier, ageless LF Kenny Lofton touched Matsuzaka for a 2-run homer. The Sox have done almost nothing vs. Indians' starter Jake Westbrook--David Ortiz doubled off the monster, and then took a Manny Ramirez grounder in the thigh for an out. Ouch! Later Ramirez grounded into a DP to kill a rally. Westbrook's sinker is dominating the game.

Mike Lowell pops up to start the Sox 7th. Drew grounds a single up the middle. One on and one out. Varitek up now. He's still seething over popping up with the bases loaded earlier in the game. He takes it out on a Westbrook fastball, driving the ball over the right center field wall for a 2-run homer. 4-2 Indians. Crisp up now. Count is 3 and 2. Announcers talking about Game Four starter for Sox. All indications are that Tim Wakefield will start. Speculation is that Sox might switch to Josh Beckett if they lose tonight, but it's just speculation. Crisp strikes out. Lugo waves at slider outside. Strike two. Crowd whooping and hollering. Lugo lays off the slider, 1 and 2. Top of order next for Sox--Pedroia. Fastball low, 2-2. Slow roller to short. Peralta can't throw out Lugo at first. New pitcher for Indians. Good game for Westbrook. Wedge and Indians fans will be delighted.

Rookie Jensen Lewis pitching to rookie Dustin Pedroia. Lewis had 2.15 ERA during half a major league season and had a big role in Saturday's Indian win. Count holds at 2-2 as Pedroia slices a fly into the stands in right. Two outs and one on. Another foul fly to right. Another one in same spot. Pitch looked low. Jensen blows fastball by Pedroia. Great pitch on low outside part of plate.

Indians go down quietly in their 7th. Youkilis, Ortiz and Ramirez due up for Sox in 8th. The impressive Rafael Betancourt comes on to pitch for the Indians. He gets Youkilis and then Ortiz. Papi does manage a decent-looking line drive to right, but Gutierrez was there to catch it. Ramirez is up now. He might do better with no one on. So far, he's hit baserunner Ortiz with a grounder and grounded into a double play. 0-2 pitch is outside, 1-2. Manny jammed. High popup to second. Cabrera handles. Just three outs left for Sox.

The Indians go quietly in the 8th as well and Joe Borowski comes on to fill his role in the 9th. Fans seem confident, despite his high ERA. He gets Lowell on a popup to second. JD Drew bats second. Count is 1 and 2 after Drew fouls a changeup into the Sox dugout. Easy fly to center. Sizemore drifts to his right and catches it. Varitek is last man for Sox. Semi-fastball high. Next pitch a strike. 80 mph high--ugly pitch. 2 and 1. Just one baserunner will make this game very tense. 79 mph down the middle. Varitek takes. Maybe thought it was high. 2-2. Towelmania now. Curve fouled off the catcher. The Drum Man keeps the beat. "It's Tribe Time Now" says several signs. Changeup high and away. Full count. High curve fouled back. Borowski's stuff is decidely less intimidating than Betancourt's. Maybe that's the plan. Next pitched fouled behind 3rd base dugout. Just got the top of that curve. 10th pitch. Curve popped to Blake at third. Jake-tober begins!


NLCS Game Four - A relatively short ALCS game (less than four hours) allows us to pick up Game Four of the Diamondbacks and Rockies in the second inning. There's still no score with one out and Reynolds batting for the Snakes. Lefty Franklin Morales strikes him out. The weather is better than last night--50 degrees and no rain. Weather was beautiful in Cleveland--temperature in 60s. Line double just inside left field line by D-Backs' catcher Chris Snyder. Too fat for an 0-2 pitch. The D-Backs caught a break as the ball hit the foul line. D-Backs are hitting like a low-scoring team. Lots of outs with people on base. I don't buy into Eric Byrnes' analysis that the D-Backs are bettter, but unluckier. Too much "Hack-tober" going on when D-Backs are up. Upton is in line up for D-Backs along with veteran Jeff Cirillo for Ojeda. Melvin going with his right-handed lineup. Wild pitch ball four actually hits Upton in the back. Some bad pitch. Cirillo now--veteran right-handed hitter without much power. Owings on deck. Cirillo will get a pitch to hit. Would love to see Owings hit with two or three on. Won't happen. Cirillo grounds weakly to second.

Micah Owings leads off the Diamondbacks' third with a grounder in the hole that now even Tulowitzki's arm can turn into an out, as Owings beats the throw by about 2". He then beats Tulowitzki's throw back to first by about the same amount after Tulo speared Chris Young's line drive. Great Leaping Catch by Tulowitzki. Strong throw to first. Owings did well to get back. Next hitter pops up to right. Looks like Owings' hit may be wasted. Byrnes bats with Owings on first and two outs. I'm not rooting for the D-Backs, but it would be nice for Byrnes to park one and let Owings trot the rest of the way. Byrnes walks, after Morales gets called for an extra ball for going to his mouth on the mound. Conor Jackson now. 2 and 1 count. Morales got squeezed on the first pitch. Jackson singles to center. Taveras has a great arm, but doesn't make a great throw. Owings running well from second scores easily. 1-0 D-Backs. Now Reynolds. First pitch popped up. Taveras catches.

The D-Backs still lead by 1-0 as the Rockies bat in the fourth. Unbelievable turn of events. Two runners get on on walks; a bunt moves them to third (great diving play by Owings just to get the out at first); pinch-hitter Seth Smith (a September call-up) hits for Morales and dumps a Texas League double down the left field line--with two outs, nonetheless. Melvin says that Owings would do a good job at short--just a ballplayer. Jackson boots Taveras's routine grounder. First and third with two outs. Matsui hits. Clean single to center. 3-1 Rockies. You could see that one coming after the error. Announcers mention that Matsui was practicing his timing against Owings even in the dugout. Brooms now sighted along with a luxury hotel full of towels. Fans chant MVP for Holliday. He smashes a high fastball out of the park in deep center--into the wooded area behind the 415' sign. 6-1 Rockies! Owings leaves while Rockies' fans boogie in the stands. Curtain call for Holliday. Rocktober rolls on. Error by Jackson proves disastrous. I think I'll leave it with you for a few innings and do a restaurant review.

Wow, it's the 8th and I'm back. The D-Backs have two outs, but just closed the margin to 6-4 on a 3-run homer by C Chris Synder off Brian Fuentes. Snyder's drive had plenty of distance, but just snuck inside the foul pole. Jason Upton is batting now with a count of 3-2. Rockies' manager Clint Hurdle is trying to save closer Manny Corpas for the 9th. I don't think he'll make it. Jason Upton just drove a triple into the left center field gap. Hurdle pulls Fuentes. Corpas in to pitch a 4-out save. Tony Clark pinch hits for the Snakes. Count is 2-1. Upton on 3rd. Line foul to left. 2-2. Way outside--3 and 2. Off speed pitch strikes out Clark! Rockies still lead, 6-4. Three outs to go.

Juan Cruz deserves mention for the Snakes. He pitched 2.1 innings of relief and struck out six to keep the Diamondbacks in the game. 9-1-2 up for D-Backs in 9th. Brandon Lyon pitching for Arizona. One out already. 2-2 count on Tulo. Rockie bullpen has 31 K's in 23 IP in postseason--ERA about 0.30 (up until Snyder's blast, I guess). Tulo strikes out. Game Three hero Yorvit flies to right. Here comes the ninth.Jeff Salazar bats first for the pitcher...grounds to Helton on first pitch. Broken bat. One out. Chris Young is next. Corpas still pitching. Fastball in the middle. 0-1. Rockies are 80-1 when leading after eight innings. Still it doesn't take much, as the Padres can attest. Young doubles down left field line on another broken bat hit. Just past Jamey Carroll's glove at third. Drew next. Has shown a very good swing. Hit well vs. Cubs. Count is 2-0. Just missed outside. 3-0. Corpas may have to come in. Drew swinging. Pops up to short right. Matsui handles. Byrnes is last hope for D-Backs. Fitting given his rhetoric. Check swing roller to third. Gets past Carroll. Tulowitzki grabs and fires. Byrnes dives head first into the base. Out! Rockies are NL Champs! A moment of doubt there but the expected outcome. Watch out, AL champs, whoever you are. Only downside is that Rockies have eight days off. Could lose their competitive edge.


NLCS Game Three - It's Fogg-Tober! Rain and Fogg Chill Diamondbacks -- 4-1 Win Puts Rockies One Game from World Series

Purple Rain fell on the Diamondbacks as Rockies' catcher Yorvit Torrealba hit a 3-run homer that gave the Rockies a 4-1 lead that would eventually be the final score in their win over the Diamondbacks in Game Three of the NLCS. The Rockies lead the series 3 games to none.

October 15 Preview - The Red Sox send Daisuke Matsuzaka against Jake Westbrook of the Indians at Cleveland in the first pivot game of the ALCS. Both teams showed promise in Games 1 and 2 as the Indians' offense and bullpen shone to take the 13-6, 11 inning victory that evened the series. Josh Beckett and the front end of the Sox bullpen supported by the Sox patient and powerful offense, overwhelmed the Indians in Game 1. Much has been written already about Dice-K, and I don't know much about Westbrook (namesake Brian is a great back for the Philadelphia Eagles), so I'll just start watching (and blogging) the game at 7 p.m. EDT (6 p.m. CDT). The Diamondbacks and Rockies play Game Four of their series in Denver in a late start (10 p.m. EDT). Arizona sends hard-hitting Micah Owings to the mound to save their season. The Rockies pitch rookie Franklin Morales. This could be a slugfest if the weather improves from last night.

October 14 - I finally finished my September book reviews and am ready to blog Game 3 of the NLCS. It's being played in the rain at Coors Field in Denver. More frustration for the "snakebit" Diamondbacks in the first two innings. They have four hits already, but have hit into two double plays--one on a line drive to the pitcher that almost turned into a triple play. The other came on a grounder to second. Tulowitzki relayed Matsui's slightly off-target throw to first. The Rockies have one hit which traveled about 360 feet into the left field stands--a home run for Matt Holliday, and lead 1-0. D-Backs OF Eric Byrnes complained before the game that the Rockies weren't "outplaying" the D-Backs--just getting better breaks. The Rockies' fans have been booing Byrnes all night--they celebrated when he lined into the double play--just the kind of break he had complained about.

Fogg walks Chris Young with one out in the third. Drew hits into 4-6-3 DP to end the Snakes' third.

But first a quick Scrabble break. I know some of you are wondering how I did in Day Two of the Baton Rouge tournament. Don't ask. But I'll answer anyway. I lost the first four games by almost 100 points per game--maxing my score at a pitiful 305 points. I would have lost the fifth and final game too, except that my opponent made an egregious mistake that allowed me to "bingo out" (play all seven tiles) with RAISING and GNU for the win.

Back to the bedroom for physical therapy. I'll be back in a few innings--a good sign for one team or the other.

PT took a little longer than I expected. Then there was the hour-long search for my cell phone, which I apparently stupidly left at the Scrabble tournament. Don't know if I'll ever see it again. In the meantime, Yorvit Torrealba hit a huge 3-run homer to spark the Rockies to a 4-1 win. 3B Mark Reynolds hit a homer for the Snakes' only run. Rockies' starter Josh Fogg pitched six more than adequate innings in a cold rain, which dampened the D-backs' bats (along with those three DP's in the first three innings.) The win puts the Rockies within one game of sweeping the National League Championship Series and playing in their first World Series.


AL Game Two - It's Trot-tober! Nixon Drives in Game-Winner as Indians Beat Red Sox 13-6 in 11 Innings


Former Red Sox favorite Trot Nixon drives in the go-ahead run for the Cleveland Indians in the top of the 11th inning Saturday night. The Indians went on to win 13-6. (Mary Schwalm - mlb.com)


23-year old Rockies' starter Ubaldo Jimenez had his third consecutive strong start, dominating the Diamondbacks for 5 innings before turning pitching duties over to his bullpen, who added six more strong innings. The Rockies beat the D-Backs, 3-2 in 11 innings. (Jason Wise - mlb.com)


This picture of David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez cruising toward home tells as well as any the story of the Red Sox 10-3 win over the Indians in Game One of the American League Championship Series. The Sox rapped 12 hits and drew 8 walks in a game-long parade of baserunners. (Brita Meng Outzel - mlb.com)

October 13 Preview - Young Fausto Carmona carries the hopes of the Cleveland Indians to the mound in Fenway Park today. His opponent, 41-year old Red Sox starter Curt Schilling, was probably throwing 90 mph before Fausto was born. Schilling is one of the most successful playoff pitchers ever. Still he's had some rough games this year and might be due for another. I'll go with Fausto and a 1-1 series going back to Cleveland.

October 13 Update - No pitcher's battle tonite. Carmona struggles with the strike zone while Curt Schilling struggles with the Indians lineup. Through almost four innings the Indians lead 4-3. Curt just gave up a 3-run homer to Jhonny Peralta. The Indians have been getting good swings on him all night. Carmona walked Manny Ramirez to force in a run, the third time Ramirez has driven in a run with a walk just in this series. To the record books! Mike Lowell followed with a clean single for 2 more runs. Otherwise, the Sox aren't getting good swings at Carmona's scary 96 mph sinker and cutter. Ball four to Lugo--Carmona's fifth walk.

I'm struggling rooting for the Indians. I don't have much recent experience, and my reason is not on the active roster. Still, I managed to whoop a little for Peralta's home run. Schilling wasn't doing much whooping.

It's been a competitive day in Baton Rouge. I spent the afternoon playing in a Scrabble tournament. Playing over my head so far with a 4-3 record despite being ranked 11th out of 12 players. When my wife and daughter picked me up, we scooted to a local restaurant to watch the 4th quarter and three overtimes of the LSU-Kentucky football game. Kentucky upset the #1 Tigers 43-37. There's no truth to the rumor that the Red Cross is setting up relief centers around Baton Rouge to assist distraught fans.

Carmona strikes out Pedroia to end the Sox 4th. He and Corpas of the Rockies remind me of each other, though Carmona is bigger. Both keep the ball down, throw extremely hard and have great movement on their pitches--an unhittable combination when it's working.

Grady Sizemore homers into the bullpen in right center! 5-3, Tribe. Before Sizemore, we saw Indians 3B Casey Blake line out to third--just inches from Blaketober!

How long can Francona stay with Schilling? No more than one more run, I'd say. Maybe only one more baserunner, though I don't see anyone up in the Sox bullpen. Maybe he'll stick with Curt through the sixth. Now a lefty is up in the pen. Curt fans Cabrera. Hafner next. What a monster! Line single to left. Curt's line score 4.2 8 5 5 0 3. At least no walks. Martinez next. Single and double off the monster. No visit from bench to mound (yet). Martinez sneaks grounder between second and first into right field. Francona comes to get Schilling. Sox fans give Curt a nice hand despite the lackluster performance. With an out from the bullpen, the Sox will only be down one. Sox fans will probably never sour on Curt after his 2004 performance in the bloody sock game. I've read about him going back to Philly, which seems like a good fit. He would become their #2 starter from day one. Righthander Delcarmen comes on to face Garko. One hopper to third. Lowell steps on the bag for the third out.

"Curtis" (the laptop) takes a short break from blogging now. See you later. I'm back on my pre-Curtis system. I skip half a dozen batters and the Sox score 3 runs--two on a long homer to center by Manny Ramirez and another on a homer on top of the wall by Mike Lowell. David Ortiz kept the inning alive hustling to beat out a potential double play grounder. Rafael Perez couldn't keep his slider far enough from the Red Sox hitter. A back door slider to Ramirez found too much of the outside of the plate. Another slider to Lowell didn't get far enough inside. Ramirez is a special hitter--great strike zone judgment with power to all fields--the AL version of Albert Pujols.

The Indians are battling back off Manny Delcarmen. Kenny Lofton's single to right puts runners on first and third with no outs. Gutierrez bats. Needs to get that tying run in. 3-1 count now. Foul fly just into seats on right field side. 3-2. Will wedge send Lofton from second? Gutierrez might fan, but Lofton is still fast. Chopper to short. Runner scores from third to tie game at 6. Lugo almost waited too long to throw across, but gets the out.

Okijima on for Sox to face Casey Blake. Lofton is at second. Early for Okijima to appear in the game. Good observation by McCarver. Francona is managing to win this game. Doesn't want to go to Cleveland tied 1-1. More good info about Okijima--he signed for $1.25 MM per season--a real bargain (especially compared to $100+MM for Matsuzaka). FOX shows how Okijima looks at the ground while he throws--weirder than Fernando Valenzuela's look skyward. Best analysis of the series by the FOX announcers. Blake fans on a changeup--Okijima's best pitch. No Blaketober this time either. Sizemore now. Lefty on lefty. Count is 3-0. Intentional ball four to pitch to rookie Cabrera. He's the only Asdrubal I've ever seen in a major league uniform--or anywhere for that matter. Count is 1-1. One hopper to right of Lugo--he looks at third and throws to second--late. Bases loaded. Hafner up now--big spot. Liner into teeth of shift--caught by Pedroia. 6-6. Exactober!

Lewis pitching for Indians. Pitching to Crisp. Betancourt up in bullpen. Still just the home sixth at 10:12. Game started at 7:07 Central time--3 hours and 5 minutes to play less than six innings. Crisp flies out to warning track in right. Gave the fans a little thrill. They know how close the stands are in that area. Lugo fans for second out. Julio not providing great offense or defense, but Sox are winning anyway. Probably has something to do with OPS's for Ortiz, Manny and Lowell between 1.667 and 2.375 through 15 innings of the series. Pedroia makes third out on pop fly to right. 6-6 after 6.

Sox have strafed Indians vaunted pitching--16 runs in 15 innings. 19 hits, 13 walks, 2 homers and 4 doubles so far. Lots of this (12 of 16 runs in less than 9 innings pitched) against Cy Young candidates Sabathia and Carmona.

Correct spelling of Sox pitcher's name - Okajima. I think I was melding Okinawa and Iwo Jima. Martinez batting righty. 3-2 count. Indians can't let up on offense. They probably need 9 or 10 to win this game. Four Indians' players are from Venezuela--Martinez, Cabrera, Betancourt and Gutierrez. Martinez fans on changeup down and away. Now Garko. Papelbon stretching in Sox bullpen. Second inning for Okajima. Probably the last one for him. 1-2 to Garko. Okajima's fastball tops out at 90. Mostly throws in mid 80s, except for changeup in 70s or low 80s. Fans chanting "Ok-ee". Foul pop to Youkilis. Peralta next. Hitting .476 in the postseason. Great game for him. 2 for 2 with a homer and 3 RBIs. 0-2 now. Dangerous for Tribe. They could come back in the 8th down in the score with only six outs left. 1-2--pitch was low. Fans on fastball to outside corner.

Youkilis, Ortiz, Manny (and Lowell) for the Sox in the 7th. The new Murderer's Row. It's Whacktober! Youkilis pops up. I keep waiting for someone to catch on to the "Greek God of Walks" nickname. Maybe it's not that prevalent. I wish it was. Ortiz now. Line drive to second baseman playing in short right. Definite hit against standard defense. Manny having great postseason--.500, 3 HRs, 10 RBIs in just four and a part games. Betancourt will throw to Manny. Great matchup. His stuff was electric vs. the Yankees. Betancourt had 1.47 ERA for the season in 68 appearances. Opposing batters hit .183. Manny swings through a high fastball. Betancourt was signed as shortstop 13 years ago. Now 32-years old. More amazing Manny stats--3-4 with 2 HRs and 5 walks after an 0-2 count. Sox strategy of letting Manny's oblique injury heal completely can't be criticized now. He missed 24 days in September while the Yankees breathed down the Red Sox necks. 1-2 now. Way high--2 and 2. Looks like Papelbon might pitch the 8th. He's had 8 days rest. Schilling still in uniform on the bench. Just low, full count. Fouled off. Betancourt spends a loooong time in the stretch. Sox fans nervous. Some cheering. A lot sitting with hands clenched together. Fastball blows past Manny's swing at 95 mph. Good stuff.

Indians need runs before they send Borowski to the mound. Betancourt should pitch the 8th. We might see Timlin for the Sox. We do. Timlin for as long as he survives. Red Sox vet. Was on the '04 team--only about 8 left from the championship team. His first pitch hits the umpire in the right foot. Ouch! Papelbon and sidearming lefty Lopez are warming up. 1-2 count on Lofton. Close pitch...just outside. FOX box says outside. Crisp takes care of Lofton liner to center. Sliding catch. Gutierrez hits next. .118 in postseason. Surprised we don't see Nixon. AL managers don't use so many pinch hitters. Good reach by Timlin on high bouncer.

Dusty Baker will be new manager of the Reds. Hadn't heard his name mentioned for Yankees' job. Of course, Joe Torre is still their manager. I hope he remains so if he wants to be. 2 and 1 to Blake. C'mon Casey. Grounder to third. Handled by Lowell. Lowell, Drew and Varitek in the Sox 8th. Game now at 3:45 mark. Sure to reach 4 hours for nine innings.

Betancourt still on mound for Indians. Six screws in his elbow. Foul pop--just into stands behind first. Garko misses by one row. No help from Sox fans. Just missed with as slider--2 and 2. This game didn't quite start at 8:07 Eastern. FOX shows current time of game at 3 hours, 37 minutes. Midnight in Boston.

There's James Taylor--he read the Sox lineup. Very stiff for an experienced performer. He should have composed a song. Lowell strikes out looking--slider. Now Drew. Skies to center. Sizemore settles under and catches. Varitek next. Relief pitches (except Perez) have calmed the offenses. Will take at least 7 to win, but that might be all. Varitek waves at off-speed pitch. 0 and 2. Weak grounder to second. On to the 9th.

Jonathan Papelbon on for Sox. 1.85 ERA and 37 saves. Opponents hitting .157 the last two years. Sizemore leads off. Count is 1-1. Borowski warms for Indians. Splitter away, 2-1. Jammed--pop up in infield. Lowell catches. One out. Now Cabrera. 97 mph past swinging Cabrera on inside corner. Two splitters miss--2 and 1. Fastball on outside corner. Fouled down left side. Crowd on feet making lots of noise. Ground foul off shin. Fastball fouled back. Still 2-2. Cold at Fenway--lots of knit hats and heavy jackets in sight. Ball three, 3-2. Another pop in infield. Pedroia takes this one. Two outs. Big bopper now--Hafner. Fastball 96 caught outside corner. Among the few hits off Papelbon were five homers. Bottom of Sox order due in 9th. Ground ball base hit up the middle. Runner on first with 2 outs. Victor Martinez next. 3 for 4 on the night. Josh Barfield runs for Hafner. Should try to steal a base. No attention by Papelbon. No throw by Varitek. Stolen base for Barfield. Intentional walk to Martinez now. First one for Papelbon this year. Garko next. Splitter low, 1-0. Papelbon hasn't gotten the splitter over yet. Foul fly to seats in right. About five rows back. 1-1. Strike on inside corner, 1-2. Looked inside on FOX Trak. Hit the target. Papelbon is a baby-faced assassin. Grounder to third. Lowell handles. Tosses to second for third out.

Crisp, Lugo, Pedroia for Sox in 9th. Crisp has been best of this crew in postseason; Pedroia best in season. Betancourt in his third inning. Now pitching to his fifth batter. Crisp shows bunt. 1-1. Fouled off 1-2. Blake looking for bunt but backs up with two strikes. Too high. 2 and 2. Crisp is way behind fastball. Third K for Betancourt in five batters. Pitchers work so slowly that I can almost post on every pitch. Lugo is wiry guy. Has some power, particularly to left where Monster looms. Betancourt misses with slider then fastball. Two and 0. Popup to Peralta. Two outs and no one on. Pedroia up. Ready for fastball. Lines it to left for a hit. Brings up Youkilis. Ellsbury runs for Pedroia. Ellsbury fakes but stays. 1-0. Steals second uncontested. Strange. Looked like little league. No chance of intentional walk here with Ortiz on deck. 2-0 to Youkilis. Fastball right thru--2 and 1. Base hit to OF ends the game. Walk brings on Ortiz. Check swing called a full swing, 2-2. Lots of bounce in Youlikis' stance. Game time at 4:10. Time out. Game at a full crawl now. Fouled off again. Could it be Youk-tober? High pitch. Fouled straight back. 8th pitch coming from Betancourt. Betancourt bluffs Ellsbury back to second. Foul pop behind plate. Just out of reach of Martinez. Ticked his glove. Leaning over photographer's box. Another foul. Nine pitches from Betancourt to Youkilis. Tenth fouled back. Six straight foul balls. Betancourt steps off. Hard hit to center but tailing back to Sizemore, who catches it. Extra innings!

Papelbon and Peralta start the 10th. What a great job by Betancourt. And a good swing by Youkilis. 96 mph breezes past Peralta. Peralta chases head high pitch. Strike three. One out. Lofton next. Good man to reach. Might steal second uncontested. Fly ball to medium deep center. Two outs. Gutierrez next. Almost midnight by Central Time. Offspeed. Gutierrez out in front. 0-2. Ball outside, 1-2. Foul out of play. Fastball inside, 2-2. FOX Trac liked it. Youkilis takes foul fly down right field line. Sub 2B Alex Cora trips him up but he holds on. Big boppers up next for Sox.

I have 8:30 Scrabble tournament call in the morning. Hopefully game will end by then. Or a few hours earlier so I can get some sleep. I think I'll crash at 12:30 in any event. Amazing stat abouit David Ortiz--16 game-ending hits since 2003; ten were home runs. New pitcher for Indians is Tom Mastny. Count goes to 3 and 1. This could end in a hurry. Hard grounder off Peralta's chin. He recovers and throws Ortiz out. Ortiz doesn't run at first. Beaten at first by a step. Manny next. 1 and 0. It feels like Carmona and Schilling pitched last night, or last year. Fly ball of end of bat to right. Two outs. Eric Gagne will be next for Sox if they don't end it in the 10th. Encouraging thought for Indians. 1-1 to Lowell. Can of corn in right. Gagne comes in for 11th.

Curve strike to Blake from Gagne. Check swing for strike two, 0-2. Gagne saved 84 straight with Dodgers in his prime. He fans Blake. No Blake-tober tonight. Sizemore rips single through right side. One on and one out. Cabrera up. Nixon on deck for Barfield. Slow curve in--1 and 1. McCarver reads catcher's sign for a throw to first. Cool. Curve low. 2 and 1. Cabrera walks. Two on and one out. Natives are restless. Two lefties up in Sox bullpen. One of them will pitch as Francona comes out. Gagne leaves. Javier Lopez in to pitch to Nixon. No counter pinch hitter for Indians. Lopez is sidearming lefty. No resemblance to retired catcher namesake. Nixon singles to center. Sizemore gets to plate just ahead of Crisp's throw. First and third with one out. Martinez up batting right-handed. Borowski will come in for the save. Indians need that runner on third to score. Martinez was top RBI man for Indians this year. Did Francona just spit in his stat book? Wild pitch behind Martinez. Cabrera scores easily. 8-6, Tribe! Jason Michaels runs for Nixon. Trot-ober! Intentional walk to Martinez. He's been on five times. Garko next. New pitcher? Gagne charged with both Indians' runs. Finds outside corner. Strike one. Runners on second and first. Way outside, 1-1. Betancourt and Mastny looking like heroes for Indians if they hold no. Swing and miss. 1 and 2. Grounder thru the middle. Base hit. Michaels scores. 9-6 Cleveland. The beat goes on. Lopez needed to spear that one. Jon Lester coming in for Lopez.

Game reaches 5 hour mark. Peralta doubles into left field corner. 10-6! That should do it. Martinez scores. Garko to third. Lofton next. 2 and 0. Prescient comment by Caray--Indians outlasted Papelbon. Fly to short center. Garko stays at third. Gutierrez up. Indians bat around. Shades of Yankee series. He hits the Volvo sign above the Monster! 3-run homer, 13-6. Clearly the pitch he was looking for. Will Blake make first and last out of inning? Strike three looking. Wow! Borowski can use his whole ERA in one inning and still win by one.

Along with Nixon, middle relievers Lewis, Betancourt and Mastny are unlikely "stars of game" for their work to get the Indians to the 11th, where they exploded for 7 runs off the tail end of the Sox bullpen. Sox offense posted five stright zeros since it was 6-6 after five innings. JD Drew leads off. Bounces single through the middle. Most of fans still hanging in; a few empty seats--thought there'd be more at 1:33 EDT. Strike one to Varitek. Crisp on deck. Swings over a changeup. 0-2. Outside, 1-2. He fans. One out. Single between 2nd and 1st. Drew to second. Lugo up. Broken bat DP grounder to short. That's it! Go Indians! Will look for picture tomorrow.

Livan Hernandez of the Arizona Diamondbacks has even a tougher job than Carmona. He has to dig his team out of the 0-2 hole they dug in Phoenix against a white-hot and resourceful Colorado Rockies squad. Rookie Franklin Morales starts for the Rockies. I don't think Livan will survive the fourth inning as the Rockies roll on to the World Series. The D-Backs best hope is to knock Morales out early. Almost the entire Rockies bullpen pitched late last night (albeit only one inning each, except for Corpas). PROGRAM NOTE - This game is on Sunday, October 14. Game Three pitching change for the Rocks--Josh Fogg instead of Morales.

October 12 NL Update - The Rockies draw first blood on a 2nd inning bloop single ON the right field line by Yorvit Torrealba after an error by D-Backs 3B Mark Reynolds. The Diamondbacks try to jinx the Rockies by wearing their own black uniforms, forcing the Rockies to wear their road greys rather than the black vest uniforms in which they've won nine straight games. Seems worth a try to me, but the Rockies still lead 1-0.

Tony Clark leads off the Snakes' 2nd with a booming drive to the CF fence. CF Willy Taveras gets a great jump, but the ball just tips off the end of his glove. (Program Note - Daughter has taken over living room TV for "House". Short break while I relocate to the bedroom. In return for my sacrifice, she's baking cookies.) Jimenez rallies to strike out the side and strand Clark at second.

Taveras lobs a double into left center to open the 3rd. Matsui bunts him to third on the first pitch. Holliday up now. D-Backs in on the corners, back in the middle. Holliday led NL in four offensive categories - Average, Hits, RBIs and 2Bs. He fans on three pitches. Wow! Pitch was a little high, but Holliday chased it. Helton hits easy fly to left. Rockies strand Taveras at third.

Big surprise to open Snakes' third--Arizona pitcher Davis booms a double to dead center. He came in hitting about .070 on the season. He got 1 hit in his first 64 major league ABs. Taveras was playing him in right center at Little League depth and got burned. A position player would have gotten a triple. Chris Young followed with a single deep enough to score Davis and tie the game. Troy Tulowitzki made a great play at second when Young tried to steal. He used his foot to block Young's head first dive. Young's left hand touched all parts of Troy's foot, but not second base until after the tag was applied. 3B Garrett Atkins followed with a great stop on a shot headed for the left field corner. Todd Helton speared the one-hop throw for the third out.

Still 1-1 as the D-Backs bat in the 4th. Helton misses a foul pop with a runner on first and no outs. Wow--one year ago Mark Reynolds was playing in Arizona Fall League. Quite the ascent through the organization. He flies out to right. Salazar flies out to center. Snyder follows with a single. The dreaded Ojeda is next. Jimenez went after him with two outs and struck him out earlier. Rockies don't want Davis up with bases loaded, lol. Ojeda fans again.

Two on and none out for the Rockies in the 5th. Matt Holliday up. Fly ball to left. Taveras moves to third; beats the throw. Matsui moves up on the throw. Helton hits short SF to left. Taveras scores easily. He is really fast. Reached on a walk--rare for him. Infield single for Atkins. Bases loaded. Big spot for Rockies. Another hit puts D-Backs in a big hole. Tulowitzki next. Pops up to second. Chase fans breathe.

I'm having to use "Curtis" (the laptop) as a bribe to drive my daughter out of my bed and into the living room. I'll make a full report on the rest of NL Game Two tomorrow.

I missed the rest of a great pitchers' duel, but it ended at after 1:30 Central Time so I don't feel too bad. The Rockies won 3-2 in 11 innings. The score stayed 2-1 Rockies until the 9th, when the D-Backs pushed the tying run across on a HBP, a base hit and a ground ball. Rockies closer Manny Corpas "blew" the save, but got the last out to send the game to extra innings, and retired the Snakes in order in the 10th. He got the win when D-Backs closer Valverde walked three batters after PH Ryan Spilborghs reached on an infield single. Rockie reliever Ryan Speier seized the moment in the 11th, getting the D-Backs 1-2-3 to post his first career save.

The resourceful Rockies parlayed 7 hits (including one double, woo-hoo!) and nearly pristine pitching (5 innings of 1 run ball by Jiminez; 6 innings of 1 run ball (4 hits, no walks, 6 K's) by the bullpen) to their second straight win before a sometimes hostile (bottle throwing is hostile, right?) crowd in Phoenix. Their run from an also-ran at 76-72 has now reached 19 wins in 20 games and they're going home. Who knows, they may even start hitting again. Woe to the Diamondbacks. It's hard to believe that the series will go back to Arizona, and getting easier to believe that the Rockies' next stop after Denver will be Fenway Park in Boston.

More program notes - The game lasted 4:26. TBS's overnight TV rating showed that 5.3 million homes were tuned in, the smallest audience ever for an LCS game. Attendance in Chase Field was 48,219. I'm not sure if that was a sellout. I read that the D-Backs were having trouble selling the last 10,000 seats to the game. (It's very close - I see the capacity listed at 48,569 on one ticketseller's website). TBS's broadcast team of Chip Caray, Bob Brenly and Tony Gwynn is superior to FOX's "A" team of Joe Buck and Tim McCarver in terms of in-game analysis. McCarver did remind us of how improbable the Rockies appearance in the postseason was, and that they ought to find a way to reward Tony Gwynn, Jr. for his 2-out, 2-strike hit off Trevor Hoffman that kept the Padres from taking the spot that the Rockies are using so well--much better than the Padres the last couple of years--I think they were 0-6 in their NLDS appearances in 2005 and 2006.

NL Game One - Rock On! AL - Soxtober or Lords of the Midges?



Interference or not? You decide. The umpire called an interference double play on Diamonback baserunner Jason Upon for this slide. The Rockies won Game One of the NLCS by a 5-1 score.

October 11 Preview - Game One of the American League Championship Series matches the two biggest winners in the AL (Boston and Cleveland both won 96 games) and two of the league's top pitchers, Josh Beckett for the Sox (20-7, 3.27 ERA) and C.C. Sabathia (19-7, 3.21 ERA). Beckett was sensational against the Angels with a complete game, 4-hit, no-walk shutout. Sabathia pitched well in the Indians 12-3 Game One blowout of the Yankees. Having last won the World Series in 1948, the Indians carry the jinx-breaking potential demonstrated by the Red Sox in 2004 and the White Sox in 2005. The Sox might have an advantage at the end of the game with their lockdown closer Jonathan Papelbon while the Indians' ninth belongs to Joe Borowski and his 5.07 ERA.

October 12 Update - The Red Sox are pounding lumps on the Indians--8-1 in the 5th inning. C.C. Sabathia's worst game in more than a year. Rather than provide a running account of a blowout, I'll give you a glimpse of a marketing project I've been inspired to do. As we've learned from faux-intense comedian/actor Dane Cook, "There's only one October." Of course, there's also Actober, the contest in which fans can reenact famous moments in World Series history on video. At another time in my life, I would have recruited friends to reenace Pete Rose catching the foul pop that Bob Boone muffed near the end of the 1980 World Series. As you've seen in my headlines, Rocktober (the Colorado Rockies playoff run) and Soxtober (my invention, I think for the Red Sox parallel performance). But why stop there. So here they are--the top 10 (make that 12) "X-Tober" marketing buzzwords, and how they might come into use.

1) When the Indians beat the Red Sox (or win the World Series in Cleveland) -- Jaketober!

2) A similar Diamondback triumph -- Snaketober!

3) A repeat of Curt Schilling's 2004 heroics -- Hunt for Red Socktober

4) Birds rather than midges invade Jacobs Field -- Flocktober!

5) Most of what Tim McCarver says -- Crocktober


6) Celebrity-ridden game coverage -- Schlocktober


7) Jim Rome does guest commentary -- Smacktober!


8) Rockies rally from 2 down against Jose Valverde in extra innings - Shocktober!


9) FOX camera scans stands for Hugh Laurie - Doctober


10) Clarence Clemons plays National Anthem - Saxtober


11) Baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and you know who - Trucktober!


12) Diamondbacks' stadium name sponsor JP Morgan Chase says invest with your Stocktober!


And a few more - gotta wrap these up before the D-Backs and Rockies start.


A 12-inning night game in Phoenix, would have us watching the Clocktober

All players are warned not to scratch themselves in certain places on camera to avoid Jocktober

Or to spit on camera - Hocktober

Leonard Nimoy does play-by-play in Spocktober

With the Braves missing the playoffs for two straight years we've not seen Coxtober

If there's a controversy about where a batter stands relative to home plate it could be Boxtober

Well-dressed player wives could inspire Frocktober

A finger-painting contest for the little ones - Smocktober!

Nestles or Hershey would sponsor the MLB playoff tie-in Choctober!

A moving, albeit somewhat geographically misplaced tribute to Steve Irwin - Croctober.

Fall football recruit-signing fan event - Faxtober (sorry for lack of baseball content)

Too bad the Padres missed the postseason--their run could have been Blacktober

Team with most future Hall of Famers can celebrate (or the ADA can sponsor) - Plaquetober!

Baseball PR reps get together at the special event - Flacktober!


Hitters spray line drives at infielders - Flaktober


Green Bay is 4-1 as we play in Packtober.


Between-inning cup rearrangement contest - Stacktober!


O'Neal attends a game between basketball contests - Shaqtober!


Don Rickles joins Buck and McCarver - Yoktober!


Joan Rivers or Rosie O'Donnell do the same - Yaktober!


If the free-swinging D-Backs strike out too much to win - Hacktober


The star of "School of Rock" gets a FOX series and shows up at the ballpark - JackBlacktober


Needing no last name, Jack Nicholson's appearance is just Jacktober.


The combined offense of the Phillies and Cubs in the Division Series - Lacktober


Mark McGwire makes a surprise appearance to discuss his past steroid use - Mactober


Morganna's daughter races toward the third baseman - Racktober


Frito Lay's big MLB playoff campaign - Snacktober!


Enraged manager pulls up all the bases - Sacktober


A simulated game for injured Red Sox pitcher Tim Wakefield - Mocktober


A game full of singles - Knocktober


Oddsmaking experts promote their Locktober! pick.


I'm not sure how one of the networks restrained themselves from declaring There's Only One FOXtober!

Or how TBS has avoided Franktober!

And these oddballs--help appreciated

Axtober - Jack Nicholson recreates a baseball moment, but gets it confused with "The Shining"?

Phloxtober -

Pocktober

Tactober - What the Oklahoma State football coach lacks?

I commit to use as many of these (and more as I think of them) in my coverage. Thankstober!
P.S. It's 10-2 Red Sox after 6 and a half innings. Josh Beckett takes the rest of the night off after six innings. The only homer was hit by Indian Travis Hafner in the first inning. It's been all Sox ever since. After an 8th inning double by David Ortiz, "Big Papi" and Manny have reached based nine of nines (four hits, four walks and a HBP)

Head Pick - Red Sox - more playoff experience, extra home game, Papelbon, Indians can't keep up clutch-hitting pace for much longer.

Heart Pick - Indians -there's the 59-year drought and my friend's son (Dave Dellucci), though he's still not on the active roster)

Gut Pick - Indians - though I'm not sure why, maybe I still have concerns about Schiling and Matsuzaka.

If I Had to Bet - Red Sox - playoff experience and Papelbon are too strong to (whew--my computer battery just died, but I plugged in the power cord and everything was there--Hail Dell!) deny.

October 10 Preview - The National League Championship Series begins tomorrow night from Chase Field in Phoenix, Arizona, home of the upstart Arizona Diamondbacks, champions of the National League West Division and vanquishers of the NL Central champ Chicago Cubs in the Division Series round. Let me first say that the acquisition of Bank One by JPMorgan Chase was a sad day in stadium naming. With Bank One as title sponsors, the Phoenix baseball stadium was known as Bank One Ballpark, or colloquially, "BOB" (in synch with Cleveland's "The Jake" and Atlanta's "The Ted"). "CF' for Chase Field is unpronouncable on its own, and said out loud, Chase Field sounds like the name of a law firm, not a major league ballpark.

The Diamondbacks host the red hot Colorado Rockies, National League wild card team, despoiler of the Philadelphia Phillies postseason dream, and winners of 17 of their last 18 games. Starting pitchers are Brandon Webb (18-10, 3.01 ERA) for the Diamondbacks vs. Jeff Francis (17-9, 4.22 ERA) for the Rockies. Both pitchers excelled in their one Division Series start. Francis's assortment of off-speed deliveries might throw the anxious D-Back hitters off, while the hard-hitting Rockies seem suited to Webb's hard stuff, though Webb handed the Rockies their only loss in the last 18 games, a 4-2 game in Colorado on September 28. Some of the best young talent in the National League will be on display for one of the few times this year, as games with either the D-Backs or Rockies were seldom featured on either ESPN or FOX. This is good for baseball fans; probably not so good for FOX, who would have preferred the nationwide following of the Cubs for their broadcasts, and perhaps even the Phillies, with 2006 MVP and Subway spokesman Ryan Howard. Can you spell "Tulowitzki"? Quick, who's the Rockies centerfielder? The Diamondbacks' third baseman? Didn't you think that Tony Clark had retired? Did you know who Yorvit Torrealba was before last week?

On a larger scale, the Diamondbacks seem to hold the upper-hand pitchingwise. They follow Webb with veterans Doug Davis and Livan Hernandez, who befuddled the Cubs in the clinching Division Series game. Heath Bell is a strong set-up guy and Jose Valverde is an essentially unhittable closer. The Rockies are going with rookies Ubaldo Jimenez and Franklin Morales in Games Two and Three. Their bullpen is also strong--especially Matt Herges and Manny Corpas, who were super in the season-ending series and the Division Series.

Head Pick - Diamondbacks, due to more experienced starting pitching and extra home game

Heart Pick - Rockies, no hard feelings for beating the Phils.

Gut Pick - Rockies, there's that hot streak to consider

If I Had to Bet - My gut was smarter than my head last round--I'd bet on the Rockies.

October 11 Update - A call to Scrabble caused me to miss most of NLCS Game 1. I showed up just in time to watch the Rockies' bullpen squelch a potential rally by the D-Backs in the home 7th. The Rockies are batting now in the 8th with a 5-1 lead. Jeff Francis outpitched Brandon Webb. Brad Hawpe got a key 2-out 2-RBI hit to maintain the Rockies' momentum. Fuentes and Corpas are lined up to pitch the 8th and 9th for the Rockies.

Fuentes faces Byrnes to lead off the 8th. He drove in the Snakes only run in the first. He strikes out swinging. Conor Jackson up now--0 for 3 with a DP. TBS announcer says "it's no surprise" that Rockies are in this spot. It's a big surprise, as after 148 games they were 76-72 and battling the Dodgers for third. With Trevor Hoffman pitching in the wild card playoff game, they were down 8-6. One strike from a wild card-clinching victory over the Brewers, the same Hoffman, the all-time saves leader, gave up a game-tying triple to light-hitting Tony Gwynn, Jr. They've played great, but it's still a big surprise that they're not just in the NLCS, but the favorite to make the World Series. Jackson singles. Ruuner goes but batter strikes out on high fastball to end the innings. Three outs from a 1-0 NLCS lead for the Rockies.

Corpas on for Rockies'. Salazar flies to deep right. Ojeda next. Weak bouncer to second. His previous grounder resulted in an interference DP. Last hope is Miguel Montero. Who are these guys? Montero has 10 home runs on the season. Montero drives a ball over Holliday's head, but overslides second. Holliday throws to Matsui, who applies the tag. Rockies win 5-1, despite having no extra base hits. 18 out of 19 for Rocktober (and Rocktember too). Jeff Francis pitched 6.2 innings of 1-run baseball and the the bullpen finished up.

A big story is a 7th inning grounder by the D-Backs. Their baserunner Jason Upton at first was called for interference for an aggressive slide at second. He slid through the bag, but executed a roll block to take out shortstop Tulowitzki. The Arizona fans were incensed, enough so for a few of them to throw plastic beer bottles on the field, and for Rockies' manager Clint Hurdle to pull his team off the field.

Doug Davis (12-12, 4.25 ERA) and Ubaldo Jimenez (4-4, 3.28 ERA) will pitch Game Two tomorrow. The Rockies have cleared the biggest hurdle to a series win--taking an Arizona home game with Brandon Webb on the mound. Less reliable D-Back starters Davis and Hernandez will have to keep their team in the series. Jimenez pitched a great game in the final series with the D-Backs and against the Phillies. Davis doesn't seem like a team-saving kind of pitcher. I like the Rockies to continue their streak and put a hammerlock on the NLCS.

7 comments:

drebbles said...

Wow, I can't believe you watched the whole game. I conked out around the seventh inning. Good luck in the scrabble tournament.

dadlak said...

Drebbles,

Thanks for the comment and the good wishes. I'm in Central Time so it was "only" 12:30. This could be a heckuva series.

dadlak said...

Oh yeah--check back later for a Scrabble update. I didn't do so well...actually came within one play of losing all five games today.

drebbles said...

Too bad about the Scrabble tournament. But even being there is quite an accomplishment.

dadlak said...

Actually, anyone can play in a Scrabble tournament, but I've built my game over the last seven years such that I can compete in Division 1, at least in Louisiana.

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