Here's a link to a video that begins with Coco Crisp's game-ending catch
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.
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.
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
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)
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.
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.
Red Sox win 12-2 to tie ALCS at three games each. Jake Westbrook and Daisuke Matsuzaka will start in Game Seven.
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
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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"?
PocktoberTactober - 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.