Tuesday, October 9, 2007

End of Division Series - End of Era? Indians 6-4 Win Over Yankees Sends Tribe to LCS in Boston; Yankees to Homes Old and New

Cleveland Indians starter Paul Byrd pitched five fearless innings to lead his team to a series-clinching 6-4 win over the New York Yankees.

October 8 Update - The Indians came up short tonite, scoring only 4 runs during the hour or so I missed while at a parents' meeting at school. Wang is out for the Yankees after giving up 5 hits and 4 runs in 1+ innings. Mike Mussina relieved in the second. The Indians lead 4-0.

The Yankees are getting baserunners--two in the first and two more in the second. Mientkiewicz bats with one out. He's in at 1B tonite for Giambi and batting ninth. Paul Byrd throwing all kinds of stuff--including a rarely seen "double windup" on some pitches. Byrd's ratio of 1.3 walks per 9 innings was the lowest in the American League. Rain falling. Cleveland rooting for clearer skies. This could be a very long evening. Both Mussina and Byrd take a lot of time between pitches. 3-2 to Doug on a close check swing. Replay didn't look good. Ball four. Bases loaded for Damon. Damon pops up to Peralta. Blake almost got in the way. Big AB for Jeter. Hitting over .400 vs. Byrd. Grounder off Blake's glove. Infield hit and RBI. Blake kept it out of the corner and in the infield. 4-1. Six baserunners for Yankees already. Bad sign for Byrd. Lefty up in Indians' bullpen. Abreu next. .342 hitter with bases loaded with 6 HRs. Pop foul hits top of Indians' dugout. Playable fly ball to center. 4-1 Tribe.

Peralta walks to start the third. Note crawls across bottom of screen--Ron Villone takes Roger Clemens spot on Yankees Division Series roster. Clemens now ineligible for ALCS if Yankees advance. Gutierrez strikes out. Two outs with one on. Yankee ABs more interesting as Indians hold lead. Mussina pitches so slow it's hard to stay with him. Mussina strikes out Blake to end the 3rd.

A-Rod takes strike three to start the Yankee third--thinking too much. Posada doubles off the right centerfield wall. Matsui grounds to first. Victor Martinez handles. Posada to third. Cano next. Jeter and A-Rod only righties in Yankee lineup. Deep fly to center for 3rd out.

Bases loaded and one out for Indians in the 4th. Victor Martinez up. Critical AB. Big span between grand slam and double play. He's 2-20 vs. Mussina. 19 DP grounders for Martinez in regular season. Base hit in hole between short and third. Two runs score. Indians stretch lead to 6-1. Pitch out of the strike zone outside. Good job by Martinez to poke into the hole. Key early hit in inning--double by catcher Shoppach. Wasn't sure how to spell his name. Yankee fans looking tense. Now, the DP grounder from Peralta--3rd to first. One batter too late.

Byrd reminds me of Livan Hernandez--not sure how he gets it done, but here he is with a 6-1 lead. Damon pops out to right. Two outs and one on. Jeter lines to Blake at third. Things beginning to look a little desperate for the Yankees. They'll only get one or two more cracks at Byrd before the bullpen comes in.

As predicted by Tony Gwynn, Yankees change their approach in 5th, swinging earlier in the count. They get a single by A-Rod and a line out to second, but Byrd survives and becomes eligible for the win.

Indians go down vs. Villone in 6th. Cano leads off 6th vs. Byrd with a homer. 6-2. Last pitch for Byrd..

New pitcher is lefty Rafael Perez. Gets Cabrera on a grounder to third. Duncan hits for Mientkiewicz. Base hit to center. Damon singles to right. Duncan to third. Jeter next. Two hits and a line out so far. 2-1 to Jeter. Yankee crowd really loud now. One hopper to second--easy DP! 6-2 with 9 outs to go.

Kyle Farnsworth pitching for Yankees. Peralta gets a one out single--lots of hits for him. Slow pace of game discourages effective blogging. I find myself checking out other websites. Strike out ends the 7th.

Yankees have two runs from 10 hits and 2 walks. One of the runs came on a solo HR by Cano, so the other 11 baserunners have produced just one run.

Very lengthy version of God Bless America (including the seldom-sung intro) by Ronan Tynon (opera singer, I presume).

The countdown begins. Perez pitching to Abreu. Righthander Betancourt up in bullpen. Check swing foul. 0-2. Swing and miss on slow curve. Eight outs to go.

A-Rod up now. Interesting thought that this might be his last AB as a Yankee. Unlikely since it will only take a baserunner or two to bring him back up in the 9th. Count is 2-2. Home run to left by Rodriguez! 6-3. Curve ball in middle of strike zone. Posada next. Grounder to third. Two outs. Count 3-1 to Matsui. Missed wide. Ball four. Cano next. Already has a homer. Gotta stay with lefty here. Pitching coach to mound for Indians. 3 hours and 15 minutes--game already in the 7th. 2-0 count to Cano. Good patience. One hopper to Martinez at first. Six outs left. 6-3 Tribe.

Betancourt mows the Yankees down in the 8th. Very scary stats on this guy. Sub 2 ERA. 9 walks and 80 Ks in 80 IP.

First two batters reach for Indians in the 9th. Lofton up, but not bunting--surprise to all. Count is 2-1. Slow hit ball to short. Force at second. Runner goes to third. Lofton may try to steal 2nd. Gutierrez up. Count 0-2. Slow Victor Martinez on at 3rd. Rivera needs a strikeout. Gets the latter. Two outs. Blake next. Pops first pitch foul. Fly ball to deep left. Damon tracks it down at the warning track to save 2 runs.

Only three outs left for the Yankees. Jeter, Abreu and Rodriguez will bat against Joe Borowski. Indians sticking to their relief rotation despite obvious talent of Betancourt. Along with 45 saves, Borowski carries 5.07 ERA. First pitch to Jeter is high. Strike on outside corner, 1-1. Pop up in infield. Two outs to go. Cabrera handles. 0-1 to Abreu. Fastball away, 1-1. Changeup inside 2-1. Home run in upper deck in right. 6-4 Cleveland. Third Yankee solo HR of night. Looked like Abreu of 2005 HR Derby fame. A-Rod next. He swings and misses. 0-1. Just one baserunner brings tying run to plate. Swing again, 0-2. Up and in, 1-2. Curve outside, 2-2. Can of corn fly ball to right. Two outs down. One out to go. Got A-Rod to reach for that pitch. Posada next. Fastball down the middle, strike one. Long drive to right--foul by a few feet. Yikes. 0-2. Swing and a miss on curve. Indians win 6-4! Yankees sit and stare from dugout. Watch for an all-new post on the League Championship Series, which start with the Rockies and Diamondbacks at Phoenix. Joe Torre very reflective in post-game interview.

October 8 Preview - Three of the four League Championship Series teams are set after the Boston Red Sox crushed the Angels 9-1 in Anaheim yesterday. Arizona and Colorado in the National League and Boston in the American League have until Thursday to rest.

In today's Game Four of the remaining Division Series, the Indians send Paul Byrd (15-8, 4.59 ERA) to the mound to face Chien Ming Wang (19-7, 3.70 ERA) for the Yankees. The Tribe pounded Wang in Game One. He returns on three days rest, but after a relatively low pitch count game. Veteran Mike Mussina is available if Wang falters. Andy Pettitte will pitch Game Five against CC Sabathia if it happens. Byrd is the ultimate journeyman among pitchers, posting 97 career wins in 220 career starts (308 appearances) for six major league teams (including two stints with the Braves) over 12 years. He's an LSU alum. In his best season, Byrd won 17 games and struck out 129 for the Kansas City Royals in 2002. Byrd has pitched two complete game shutouts this year, so he's capable of a big game. Still, with this matchup and the Yankee offense awakening last night, a Game Five in Cleveland seems very likely.

Forty-year old Curt Schilling pitched seven shutout innings to lead the Boston Red Sox to a Division Series clinching 9-1 win over the Los Angeles Angels (of Anaheim) Mark Terrill/AP Photo

Johnny Damon's 3-run homer gave the Yankees a 5-3 lead on the way to an 8-4 win over the Cleveland Indians in Game Three of an American League Division Series. (Al Bello/Getty Images)

October 7 Update - Today's "simulblog" features the AL Division Series game between the Red Sox and Angels and the New Orleans Saints game against the Carolina Panthers in the Superdome.

I missed much of the first half of the football game while in church and running an errand. The score was 6-6 at halftime. The TV announcers commented that not much had changed for the Saints as their offense continued its season-long struggles. I had to differ, considering that the Saints didn't go into the locker room down three touchdowns.

The Panthers offense has been even more inept, partly due to good play by the Saints' defense, and part due to David Carr's ineptitude at quarterback.

The Saints just engineered a 93-yard drive from 4-yard line to 3-yard line, only to have a field goal attempt blocked. The Panthers remain within a touchdown at 13-6 and start their own drive. 8:30 remains in the game.

Out on the left coast, the Red Sox and Angels have started slowly, though the Sox do have two on with one out in the top of the 2nd. Varitek bats. He fans. Crisp next.

Big 3rd and one for the Panthers. They are 0-6 on 3rd downs today, but convert this one.

Steve Smith drops a pass over the middle. The next run nets zero. Another 3rd down, this time with 10 to go. Completed pass over the middle for 19 and a first down. Panthers moving well now. Next run gains 10. Less than 5 minutes to go. Pass to goal line overthrown. Penalty on Saints. Carr throws next one out of bounds while on the run. Foster gets 8 on a run. TD pass to Steve Smith! Game will soon be tied. Defender dives to block pass but doesn't get it. Smith walks into end zone. PAT good. 13-13, 3:47 left.

Saints will start at 25 after kickoff return. Watching AL West teams is always an education. I don't know half their players. Maceir Itzuris got a hit. Back to the familiar world of the Saints. Pass complete from Brees to Devery Henderson (LSU guy) for a first down. Next pass blocked at line of scrimmage. Next pass downfield. Henderson juggles. Deflection is picked off by Panthers #43. Yuk.

DP ends Angels second. Angels offense doesn't look that good live. Manager Mike Scioscia brags on their ability to play pitch-to-pitch to manufacture runs. The factory has produced 3 so far in 20 innings. Substitution of light-hitting Reggie Willits for hitter Garrett Anderson (eye problem) doesn't help their offensive problems. Word is that Anderson couldn't see a fly ball hit toward him. He would DH, except that Vlad can't throw and has to DH.

Panthers have first and 10 on own 42. Carr throws straight to Saints CB Mike McKenzie who intercepts and returns 33 yards! Saints in business on Panthers 38. First Bush runs gains a yard or so. Carr overthrew his intended receiver--into waiting arms of McKenzie. Could come down to another FG attempt for Saints. Only 2:29 left. Catch and drop--incomplete. 3rd and 9. Current FG attempt is outside Mare's range. Throw downfield. Wrestling match for ball between receiver and defender. Ball drops to round. Mare comes out to try FG. Maybe long enough, but wide left. His days with Saints are numbered. Payton yelled at him for a missed FG during an earlier game. Saints might regret turning aging, bald but dependable John Carney loose after last season.

Panthers take over at own 44 with 2:14 left. No gain on run. Two minute warning next.

Commercials on both broadcasts. Just one hit in three innings for the Sox.

Another short run for Panthers. Third and 7. Panthers' coaches don't trust Carr after the last throw. One timeout left for Panthers; none for Saints. Sideline route gets first down for Panthers. At Saints 46...need about 10-15 more yards for FG attempt within Kasay's range.

Short run. Announcers don't trust Carr either. Pitch tackled for loss. Third and 11. Have to throw for the first. Steve Smith takes pass and almost gets to the yellow stripe. Measurement will be critical. Great effort by Smith. Ball is on the yellow line on TV. First and 10. Just :17 left. Will be a 52-yard FG attempt. 0:03 left. Kick slides in on right hand side. Plenty of distance. Panthers win, 16-13! Saints will brood about this one. They go to 0-4 for first time since 1997.

Willits up with bases loaded. Schilling jams him. Short foul pop. Varitek juggles but catches. Game stays scoreless.

David Ortiz drives one out to right. 1-0 Red Sox. 10th postseason homer. Golfed a low changeup out.

Manny Ramirez follows Ortiz with an even longer shot to dead center. It hits on the green backdrop beyond the centerfield fence--about 430 feet from home plate. Manny knew it was out. Maybe on another breaking ball.

Schilling gets through the 5th. Angels are still scoreless and threaten to join the ranks of the Phillies and Cubs as "hitting teams" whose offenses never got untracked. They've score in one of 23 innings so far.

Ortiz leads off 6th for the Sox. Weaver still pitching for LAAA's. The FOX team page shows their geographic location as Los Angeles and their nickname as Angels of Anaheim. That got me thinking about other nicknames in the xxxx of xxxx format. Weaver walks Ortiz and he's gone. "Angels of Mercy", "Angels of Harlem", "Angels of Death", "Harbingers of Death", "Sisters of Mercy", "Dogs of War." I need to think some more about this one.

I took a break there to play with the webcam on my new computer. I can see my image on the screen, but I have no idea what do with it. The program also comes with funny noises.

Scott Shields pitching to Manny. Manny's homer was off a hanging curve ball. He did the double arm salute as soon as he finished his backswing.

Today I'm enjoying the Austin Lounge Lizards' hilarious 2000 release "Never an Adult Moment". The current track is their travelogue through the dry counties of Arkansas and Texas, "100 Miles of Dry." (You won't find a beer round here no matter how you try.) Manny flies out to center. My favorite line from the song is "If you ask me that's taking democracy too far."

Following it the Lizards wonderful tribute to redundancy, "Big Rio Grande River". The chorus - "Big Rio Grande River, it flows down to sea/bringing back my memories of the past/high up on table mesa/I feel her nearness close to me/As the evening sun sets in the West."

Vlad is first up against Schill in the 6th. Ground out to short. Only 74 pitches so far. Might be good for another inning after this one. Willits next. A determined pest, but not that good a player. He strikes out looking. Schilling turns out to be a great matchup for the banjo-hitting Angels--he can throw strikes without worrying too much about home runs. He can also pick his way through the lineup as he did when he walked Guerrero with two on to get to Willits, who popped out foul.

Cuban 1B Morales grounds out meekly to first. I expect to see Curt in the 7th.

The Lizards are singing the strange "The Illusion Travels by Stock Car", the fanciful story of surrealistic filmmaker Luis Bunuel's attempt to make a biopic about "The King" of stock car racing, Richard Petty. "Driving fast and turning left is all there ever was," is Petty's conclusion after Bunuel spends 14 years creating a film with sheep, apples and ants at the race track. Buneul becomes enraged and "drives off in a snit/his tiny Spanish car/and he's mighty proud of it."

TBS's new late night program "Frank TV" is getting a big push. Frank somebody appears to be an impressionist. In the previews he does George W. Bush, John Madden, Dr. Phil, Jack Nicholson and someone who might be Al Pacino. I like his John Madden as he starts going on about "turducken", a Louisiana specialty that dazzled the real Madden with its layers of turkey, duck and chicken. It doesn't do that much for me.

Sox are down quickly in the 7th. We'll see if the Angels can hit more like living creatures than spirits.

First a trip to the dog park. Back in 20 minutes or so.

I'm back. Had a phone call in there too. In the meantime the Sox turned the game into a 9-0 blowout. I don't have many details. But the Sox are confident enough to send Eric Gagne to the mound for the ninth. Izturis leads off with a double down the line. Curt Schilling's line 7 6 0 0 1 4. Another great postseason start for Curt. Wild pitch sends Izturis to third. Sac fly breaks the shutout, 9-1. All losing teams so far will be swept and essentially shut down. Too many injuries hurt the Angels - Guerrero as DH, Anderson out, Gary Matthews, Jr. out. Kotchman out at 1B. Cleveland and Yankees getting started. Pinch hitter Haynes strikes out. Last pinch hitter pops up. Game and series over. Sox win 9-1 and 3-0.Two HRs each for Ortiz and Ramirez.

In Yankee Stadium now, at least electronically. Jeter throws one away with one out. Cabrera reaches first. Steinbrenner states that Torre is "probably out" if Yankees don't win the series. Clemens in the game he came to NY to pitch. Probably didn't think he'd be down 0-2 in games, trying to save the team.

Kenny Lofton scored the winning run in Game Two. Nice moment for him. He had his best years in Cleveland in the '90s. Now two on and one out with Victor Martinez up.

Supper time! Caribbean Chicken with Yellow Rice. Yum!

It was all good. Almost as good as the Indians first inning run and Trot Nixon's second inning HR into the right field short porch. Nixon has great career numbers vs. Clemens...that was his fourth homer.

Correction on Red Sox account--only one HR apiece from Ortiz and Ramirez. I misheard a comment about their production. Two apiece was possible given how many runs the Red Sox scored.

Sizemore singles to right with two outs. Announcers concerned about how Yankee fans will react to A-Rod when he comes up. Really? I mean the guy only hit 54 HRs and drove in 155 runs. What more did he have to do? Sizemore swipes second...under the tag. Announcers comment that Clemens has no interest in throwing to first to hold runners. He did once with Sizemore, but it didn't help.

Cabrera is hitter for Indians. I don't know much about him. He flies to deep center.

Crowd gives A-Rod a nice reception. He lines a hit to left. Crowd stands to cheer. Very nice swing. Posada next. Yankee MVP in most years. .338, 20 HR, 90 RBI for a catcher. Easy DP grounder to short. Game Two Indians starter Carmona throws "turbo sinker". Sorry I missed it.

Giambi with two out. Grounds into teeth of shift. Out second to first.

Torre comes out to talk to Clemens with 0-2 count to first batter. Hughes up in bullpen. Clemens stays in. Now 3-2. Indians laying off the splitter. High, ball four. Hafner walks. 53 pitches already for Clemens. Could be replay of early season Yankees--bullpen in early. Victor Martinez next. Haven't ever been four three-game sweeps in Division Series round. Clemens seems uncomfortable. Taking a lot of time. 0-2 count again. Splitter bounces. 1-2. Fastball outside. 2-2. Can't find the outside corner. Same pitch--a little higher 3-2. Rocket not long for this one. 92 mph fastball past Martinez, swing and miss. Right down the middle. Torre and trainer back to mound to meet with Clemens. That's it. Maybe the last pitch of Clemens' career. Big ovation.

Philip Hughes in to pitch. He is 21-years old. Born after Clemens started his career.

Good announcing team on TBS tonite--Tony Gwynn, Chip Caray, Bob Brenly. Gwynn doesn't have a great TV voice, but he knows the battle between hitter and pitcher. Picked up on Indian hitters laying off Clemens' slider, like they could see it coming.

Are Yankees headed for a rerun of 1965 season, after team got old and Yogi Berra was fired as manager after successful season. Mussina stood up for Torre in front of the Yankee players. Good for him.

Hughes wild pitches Hafner to second. Jeter fields grounder and tosses it across for the second out.

Another 2-out opportunity for Indians. Peralta batting. Lobs a fly ball toward the right field line. It falls in for a double and RBI. 3-0 Tribe.

Lofton now. Was 5-7 with 4 x 2-out RBIs coming into the game. Yankee fans trying to maintain the energy. Some cheering and some sitting. Lofton flies out to Damon.

Official word is the Clemens left with a strained hamstring. Matsui reaches on infield hit. Cano up. Count 3-1. Line foul to left. Grounds to first. Matsui moves up. No consecutive hits for Yankees in series. Wow. Cabrera now. Damon on deck. Some lineup if Cano and Cabrera hit 8-9. Swinging bunt. Martinez tries for third. Safe! Third and first. Bad idea by Martinez. Should have gotten sure out at first. Great slide by Matsui. Indians pitching coach comes out for first time in series. "We Will Rock You" pounds from PA.

Count 2 and 1 to Damon. Now 3-1. Big spot for Yankees. Ground single to right, scores first run for Yanks. 3-1, Indians. No music for me. Listening to commentary and crowd. Jeter up now. Strike one at knees. Next pitch low. Stopped by Martinez. Runners on 2nd and 1st. DP grounder to 3rd. Woo hoo!

Long break coming for personal physical therapy. Back on the other side.

For the second time tonite, I go away for an hour or less and a team scores at least six runs. This time it's the Yankees, who go for seven against Jake Westbrook and Aaron Fultz. The big blows are a 3-run homer by Johnny Damon in the fifth and a 3-run single (with an error by RF Trot Nixon) in the sixth off the bat of Robinson Cano. Another highlight was Torre sending Doug Mientkewicz out to pinch hit for Jason Giambi in order to lay down a sacrifice bunt (and to play better defense at 1B with the lead--but he could have let Giambi hit and still made the switch in the field). Mientkewicz executed perfectly on the first pitch. Two batters later, the Yankees had three runs on Cano's hit and Nixon's error. Joba Chamberlain is on to protect the Yankees 8-3 lead. The Yankee rally began with three straight hits to LF off outside pitches, a smart approach against a pitcher who was continually pitching outside.

Daughter is anxious to get the TV back (she watched "House" while I did PT). Jst can't get enough of Scrubs. Yankee fans are chanting "MVP" at A-Rod now that he has two hits. A-Rod fans. The Cleveland eighth is next. Six outs to go for the Yanks.

Indians get one in the 8th on a 2B by Nixon off Chamberlain. Lofton held at third. I might have sent him, as tough as Chamberlain is to hit. Fly ball by Blake--caught on warning track by Abreu. Rivera will pitch the ninth.

Two hits and intentional walk by Matsui; has scored three times. He walks again. Two on and one outs. Cano up now. Already had one big hit. Surprised to see closer Borowski in for Indians. Guess he needed the work to stay sharp. Pop up to center. Two outs. Another pop up by Cabrera. On to the ninth. Last chance for Tribe.

Rivera jogs in from the Yankee bullpen. Andy Pettitte warming up. Probably just preparing for possible Game 5 start. Pop fly to left. One out. Game Four at 6:37 CDT tomorrow. Paul Byrd vs. TBA. Speculation is Mussina backed up by Wang. Cabrera fans. Two outs. Hafner last hope for Indians. Quick 0-2 count. T-shirt says "Yankees Universe" (reference to Red Sox Nation, I would guess). Called strike three! Yankees win, 8-4. This series has the entire stage tomorrow. Great rescue effort by Phillip Hughes when Clemens went out.

October 7 Preview -- What's left of the Division Series round will be played in American League parks as both the Rockies and Diamondbacks swept their way into the National League Championship Series, the first time that two NL West teams will compete for the National League pennant. A potent offense, solid defense, the emergence of Kaz Matsui and a lockdown bullpen may be enough for the Rockies to overcome a less-than-intimidating starting rotation. The Diamondbacks play to have the lead after six innings, so that their stellar bullpen can secure the win. Congrats to Livan Hernandez, about whose pitching prospects I wasn't too kind, for a heady and gutsy performance as he frustrated the Cubs for six innings--always throwing what they weren't expecting while runners were on base.

Red Sox at Angels - Curt Schilling (9-8, 3.87 ERA) vs. Jared Weaver (13-7, 3.91) A fabulous postseason record (10-2, 2.06 ERA with 2 shutouts) is a big part of Schilling's Hall of Fame resume. This year in his 2oth season, the 40-year old righthander was plagued by injuries and ineffectiveness, but still posted a sub-4.00 ERA and .500+ record, and can't be dismissed. Weaver is the brother of 2006 World Series star Jeff Weaver. Maybe this will help his mojo. I think that the Angels crowd will inspire their heroes to a better offensive game and that Curt will struggle through 5 or 6 innings, and that there'll be a Game Four in Anaheim.

Soon-to-be-a-memory (after the 2008 season) Yankee Stadium will be the scene of Game Three between the Yankees and Indians, where 45-year old, sure fire Hall of Famer (the first unanimous vote ever?) Roger Clemens (6-6, 4.18 ERA) will face Jake Westbrook (6-9. 4.32) for the Tribe. It's debatable whether the Rocket's record in 99 innings was worth the more than $15 million he earned, but the Yankees went from nowhere to the wild card after he joined the team in early June. You have to think he'll have enough to get the Yankees past Westbrook in Yankee Stadium, unless the Yankees offense stays in its two-game funk. I expect a 10-run breakout instead, and a Game Four in New York.

October 7 - "Baby Backs" and "Rockoctober" Sweep into NLCS; LSU Secures #1 With Win Over Florida; 41-Point Underdog Stanford Stuns USC

The good news comes first as LSU Tiger running back Jacob Hester scores the game-winning touchdown in a 28-24 win over the Florida Gators in Baton Rouge. (Doug Benc/Getty Images)

The Colorado Rockies celebrate their sweep of the Philadelphia Phillies in the National League Division Series. (Christian Peterson/Getty Images)

Arizona Diamondbacks' starting pitcher Livan Hernandez celebrates his team's sweep of the Chicago Cubs in a National League Division Series. The D-Backs won Game Three by 5-1.

October 6 Preview - The National League competes with college football for TV sports fans this afternoon (good luck here in the South), while the Cubs and Phillies compete for survival in their respective Division Series.

The Cubs send Rich Hill (11-8, 3.92 ERA) to the Wrigley Field mound against veteran Livan Hernandez (11-11, 4.93 ERA) for the Diamondbacks. Though Hernandez is a playoff veteran of sorts (10 starts with the Marlins and the Giants) and burst on the scene ten years ago with two wins in the 1997 World Series, he was treated very rudely in his last two postseason starts, posting a 14.29 ERA against the Angels in the 2002 World Series. In an un-Diamondbacklike season pitching line, he's given up 247 hits (including 34 homers) and 79 walks in 204 innings, striking out just 90 in the process. The Cubs should be less embarrassed if Livan hits a home run (he has a .232 career batting average with 9 home runs (and 6 walks)), than if he pitches a low-run game in this do-or-die situation. Lefty Hill was much more effective in his 32 starts, giving up just 170 hits and 63 walks in 195 innings while striking out 183 batters. Lefties have a frigid 562 OPS in 152 ABs vs. Hill--impressive, but not a huge issue as the D-Backs feature a mostly right-handed lineup.

The fight between Carlos Zambrano and Michael Barrett (subsequently shipped to San Diego) and Lou Piniella's on-field tirade gets lots of play as key moments in the Cubs turnaround. Maybe Lou should throw a fit in the clubhouse or arrange for Zambrano to sock Jason Kendall (I wouldn't have him hit young catcher Geovany Soto, who seems much more valuable to the club.)

October 6 Update - The Cubs apparent pitching advantage didn't survive the first inning, as Chris Young hit Rich Hill's first pitch for a home run. The D-Backs added another in the first, while the Cubs wrapped a hit, walk, and hit-by-pitch around a double play to get nothing. The second and third were more of the same for the Cubs--baserunners off Livan Hernandez, but no runs. The D-Backs added a third run in the 4th after a hit by Hernandez, and a just-missed-a-DP grounder by Eric Byrnes. Relief pitcher Michael Wuertz took over for Hill, who seemed to have a heavy case of nerves, in mid-inning.

DeRosa leads off the Cubs' 4th with a clean hit to left. The Cubs need to rally soon or the D-Backs bullpen will close this one out. Jones lines a 3-2 pitch thru the middle. DeRosa cruises to third; Jones takes second when the D-Backs outfielders mishandle the ball. Scorer says its a double. Jason Kendall up now--hitting about .350 vs. Hernandez in his career--a guy that doesn't try to do too much--a base hit to right field would be perfect. Grounder to short plates the Cubs' first run. Hernandez through a very slow pitch that Kendall couldn't hit to the right side. Mike Fontenot pinch hits for Wuertz. Fontenot was sensational for about 3 weeks after he came up, but DeRosa seems to have the everyday second base job. He grounds to second. Jones moves up to third. Really need something from Soriano here--at least a hit. High fly off the end of the bat. 3-1 Snakes going into the 5th.

The rest of the game doesn't merit much more space. The D-Backs added two more runs, the second on another homer by Stephen Drew, who would have been the Series MVP if there was such an award. The Cubs got the occasional baserunner, which the D-Backs erased with a double play. Final score, Arizona 5 - Chicago 1. The Diamondbacks advance to the National League Championship Series. Kudos to the restaurant down the street for switching one of the bar TVs from football to baseball at our request.

If it feels like I'm stalling before analyzing the Phillies-Rockies game at Coors Field, it's probably a sincere vibe. The Phils send 44-year old Jamie Moyer (14-12, 5.01 ERA) to the mound against the hot-hitting Rockies in their home ballpark. Moyer did pitch beautifully in the division-clinching game against the Nats, but I imagine that the Rockie sluggers are salivating at the prospect of hammering his BP-level fastball into the thin Rocky Mountain air. Hopefully the crafty Moyer can use that anxiousness to his advantage. It's our only hope. The Phillies will try to hit Rockies' rookie pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez (4-4, 4.28 ERA). In his last start, also last Sunday on the season's last day, Jimenez pitched 6.1 ominous innings in Coors Field, giving up only one run and striking out 10 Diamondbacks to put the Rockies in the wild card playoff game against the Padres. On paper, this game is a very large mismatch in the Rockies' favor. But if Moyer can fool 'em for a few innings (at least six would be nice) and the Phillies offense plays a whole game, who knows.

The next sad story for the Phils is that their ace, Cole Hamels, says he won't pitch in Game Four. He wants to pitch on full rest in a Game Five in Philadelphia. In the long-term, this is probably in the Phillies' best interest to protect their most valuable arm, but it almost certainly decreases the chance of there even being a Game Five. Also, I thought this was the manager's decision and I'm surprised to see Hamels make such a statement.

On a personal level, I may be the only person in Baton Rouge watching this game on TBS at 8:37 CDT tonite, and it will be in a different room than where my wife will watch the much-anticipated LSU-Florida football game from Tiger Stadium. LSU reached the lofty #1 position in the weekly AP poll, their first such standing in almost 50 years. The Gators come off a stunning upset loss to Auburn last week and will be out for blood. (Program Note - We watched the first half of the football game and the end of the Cubs-Diamondbacks game in the bar of a local restaurant).

The Gators extracted a few pints of blood in the first half and came away with a 17-7 lead. Florida had no turnovers or penalties as they built the 10-point lead.

In Denver, the Phils and Rockies completed one inning before a power failure knocked out the lights. They're playing again. The Rockies have two on and two out in the second. The Phillies first wasn't too encouraging as both Jimmy Rollins and Aaron Rowand struck out on bad balls, Rowand with runners on first and third. Jamie Moyer appears to have survived the first two innings without damage.

Big pass interference call puts LSU 1st and goal at the 5 yard line. They need a touchdown. A fake field goal extended their drive. Keiland Williams scores on a 5-yard run--misdirection handoff to the fullback and pitch back to the left. First possession of second half puts Tigers back in the game. Score now 17-14 Gators.

Back to baseball. Kaz Matsui reaches to lead off the Rockies third. Lots of pickoff throws draw boos from the usually jovial Rockies' fans.

Wow--Stanford beats Southern Cal, 24-23 on a last second touchdown pass! NCAA is running out of undefeated football teams. Gators are moving the ball again. They move across midfield quickly on the next series. Next play is a 37-yard pass to uncovered tight end Ingram. Gators lead 24-14.

Moyer pitching to Holliday in the Rockies' third. Tulowitzki on first with one out. Count is 3-2. Strike 'em out, throw 'em out--double play! Scoreless game going into the 4th.

Tigers moving the ball out near their own 40. Need to keep up the offensive pace. First down on a pass across midfield. Third down pass is knocked down at the line. Tiger punt coming up. Punt goes into end zone.

Jimenez pitching to Ryan Howard with one out in the Phillies fourth. He takes strike three.

Gators out to the 43 after the punt. Gators fumble and LSU recovers! Tiger ball near midfield.

Nothing for Phillies in the fourth. Howard makes nice play at first for the first out of the Rockies fourth.

Third quarter over. Florida 24, LSU 14.

Back to Denver. Jamie Moyer doing a great job. No runs and only three hits by the Rockies through four innings.

Ryan Perilloux in at QB for LSU. He and Keiland Williams combine for 20+ on an option play. Matt Flynn back in to throw a screen pass. Gain of 1. Flynn keeps for another yard. Option pitch from Perilloux to Williams gains about 5. Field goal attempt likely.

Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz walks with one out in the fifth in Denver. Nunez up next. A glove man. Phils have 14 hits and 23 strikeouts in the series. Double play grounder. Ugh!

Tigers line up for a field goal attempt. Hooked left, no good. LSU penalty for holding is declined. Kicked looked okay off the foot, but steadily moved left.

Commercials in Denver and Baton Rouge. The Miller High Life guy is on both channels. Miller is walking a fine line in this campaign, as their beer called "High Life" is removed from establishments that charge too much for their other products (and presumably Miller High Life too).

Tebow's pass is blocked and picked off by a defensive lineman. Great opportunity for the Tigers, who didn't capitalize on the last turnover. The pass hit the intended receiver in the helmet.

Speedster Trindon Holliday goes to the 10 on a reverse. He's run 10.02 in the 100 meter dash. Incomplete pass next. K. Williams to the three. LSU can make another first down near the one. Williams gets stood up and driven back. Tough call now. Fourth and four. Flynn lines up at QB. Flynn rolls out and throws to #2, Demetrius Byrd for a touchdown. 24-20. Point after is good. 24-21.

Runner on 2nd with 2 outs in Denver. Moyer pitching to Matsui. He triples under Pat Burrell's glove in left. 1-0, Colorado. Tulowitzki next. Phillies need an out here. Offense already pressing and now we're behind. He grounds to short.

Kickoff return being challenged by LSU. Return man did or didn't go out of bounds. Field officials allowed his run. Replay officials send the ball back to the 14-yard line. Whew! LSU preserves their last timeout.

Third and four for the Gators. Pass broken up by #27. Gators will punt. Tigers take over on their own 40 with 9:21 left.

Rollins reaches and steals second to get in scoring position with one out. Utley up. Philly baserunners sparse tonight. 3-1 to Utley. Tigers pick up three on a run. Tigers called for pass interference on next play. Utley walks. Two on for Phils. Second and 18 for Tigers. Burrell up for Phils. Holliday gains two for Tigers. Flynn scrambles--gets within a yard or two. Burrell flies to left. Howard next. Tigers going for it on fourth down. Hester worms forward for the first down. First and 10 for the Tigers at midfield. Perilloux in at QB. Gains nothing. Howard grounds to second. Phils out in 6th. Tiger pass to Dickson for first down at Gator 35. No gain on next run. Phils have ONE hit through six innings. Hester runs up the middle to the 15 yard line. Three yard gain for Hester. 99 yard rushing for Hester. Perilloux in at QB. Nice run by Perilloux. Third and one. Option pitch to Hester--still short. Fourth down. One to go. Wow. No FG attempt. Hester gets close. Game on the line with the measurement. First and goal from the 5. Miles eschews tying FG to go for the win. Flynn throws out of the back of the end zone. Hester gets two. Third and goal from three. Florida calls time at 1:14. Hawpe up with man on 2nd and 2 outs in sixth. 2-0 might be too much. Hester runs up the middle for the score! 27-24, Tigers! TD call being reviewed. Hawpe strikes out. Call stands! Great job--unbelievable job by Moyer, and by Jacob Hester for LSU. David drives PAT through. Still 1:09 to go.

Rowand grounds to third to lead off the 7th. Shane next. Home run for Victorino!! An 0-2 pitch. Shane was the hero of the rain delay in Denver earlier this season when he helped pull the tarp off the grounds crew.

Gators take ball at 20 with 1:09 left. Seven yard pass completion. Tebow throws one away to stop the clock. Glenn Dorsey chases Tebow. Third and 3 with :37 left. Broken up, but penalty will be called. 0:31 left. First down. Looked like both players were going for the ball. Thrown out of bounds. Second and 10; 0:26 left. Dorsey chases Tebow--he has to throw it away. Ruiz follows Shane with a single. New pitcher for Rockies. Gator guard hurt. Comes off. Third down. Tebow runs for 20 and out of bounds with 0:12 left. Time out Gators. Dobbs pinch hits for Nunez. Herges pitching for Rockies. Intentional grounding on Gators. Tebow throws away as being tackled. Ball on LSU 47. Tigers defending the end zone. Tebow launches pass to end zone. Tigers #21 knocks it down! LSU wins, 28-24!

Dobbs grounded out to second. Iguchi hit for Moyer and popped up. On to the Rockies 7th.

Not quite the expected game at Coors Field, even with the humidor. Both Moyer and Jimenez pitched beautifully. Tom Gordon is first out of bullpen for Phils. Dobbs takes over for Nunez at first. Spilborghs is first Rockie batter. Count is 1-2. Ugly 7.52 ERA for Gordon, but he's had a good career. Spent much of 2007 on DL. Spilborghs waves and misses at a fastball for strike three. Chased a high pitch. Torrealba next. He scored on Matsui's triple. Line shot up the middle. Sent the fastball back where it came from. Next hitter is PH Seth Smith. Lefty hitter. Count is 2-0. Fastball catches outside corner, 2-1. Just missed, 3-1. Curve over, 3-2. Grounder to second. Two outs, Torrealba advances to second. The dreaded Matsui bats next. First base open, but Tulowitzki is no bargain. Phils take the deal--walk Kaz to pitch to Troy. Rockies fans in a frenzy. First pitch fouled off. Same pitch, same result. 0-2. Ruiz and Gordon check signals. Fastball high and outside, 1-2. Fastball inside--swing and miss!

Phils bat in 8th. Top of order. Normally good news, but 0-6 tonite. I said that15 Rollins and Utley would figure out a way. Maybe they'll do it now. Fuentes takes over pitching for Rockies. Rollins bats righty. 0-2 as Rollins is out in front of off-speed pitch. Swinging strike three. Last one was a foot outside. Swing and miss by Utley. He has two walks. Easy fly to left. Two outs. Pat the Bat. Maybe our best chance. 1-1. Changeup low, 2-1. 400 foot foul ball to left. 15 ft. foul. Strike out on fastball. The tension mounts.

Holliday, Helton and Atkins in the 8th against Gordon. 1-1 on Holliday. Fouled back, 1-2. Gordon throwing well. 94 on that one--outside corner. Curve ball skied to right--one out. That's it for Gordon. Good job. JC Romero on to pitch to Helton. Werth replaces Burrell in left. He was great for Phils since coming over from the Red Sox. Broken bat liner foul. 0-1. Another easy fly to Victorino. Romero stays for Atkins. Curve misses away. Next one down and in. 2-0. Atkins singles in front of Werth in left. Safe play by Werth. Hawpe next. Strike one. Curve outside 1-1. Fastball misses away, 2-1. Grounded foul, 2-2. Hawpe singles off Utley's glove. Atkins motors to third. Jeff Baker to pinch hit for Fuentes. Rockies' fans waving their brooms. Changeup away, 1-0. Ground ball hit to right. Rockies take 2-1 lead. Yuk. Corpas looms. Myers to replace Romero to stop it here. Torrealba next. Runners on first and second. Fastball outside. Curve wide, 0-2. Myers was Phillies Opening Day starter. Got bombed and went to bullpen. Spent some time on DL. Two curves bring count even at 2-2. One run and three hits is not a winning line score. Torrealba nubs one back to Myers. On to the 9th.

Corpas enters to face Howard, Rowand and Victorino, all of whom can reach the seats. Howard scales fastball foul to left. Fastball away, 1-1. Another, 2-1. Cubs and Phillies have same series story--no offense. Fouled off, 2-2. Called strike three. Must be hard to pick up that slider. Now Rowand. Slider for strike one. Cued down first base line--stays far and Helton tags Rowand out. Shane is last hope. Swing, strike one. Fouled down third base line. Down to last strike. Grounder to second. Rockies advance to face D-Backs in NLCS. What happened to our team?? Inexperience and anxiousness clearly hurt as the team lost its patience at the plate and began swinging at bad pitches, starting with Jimmy Rollins leading off the game. Still it was a great stretch run and one more playoff series than we've had in the preceding 13 years.

If you made it this far, thanks! And let me know what you think of my simulblogging of the Phils-Rockies and LSU-Florida games. It's nice that one of them came to a good end.

October 5 - Yanks Happy to Leave Midge-Infested Cleveland; Not So Happy About Being Down 0-2; Manny Blasts Sox to 2-0 Series Lead Over Angels

Manny Ramirez celebrates his 9th inning Monster-clearing game-winning 3-run blast off Angels' relief ace Francisco Rodriguez. (AP Photo)

Here's the ball and Manny's bat just before or after the moment of impact on his game-winning three-run homer vs. the Angels in Game Two of an American League Division Series. The blast was Ramirez's 21st postseason homer.

Thanks to The Olympian in Olympia, Washington for having the first website to post these AP photos of Manny's big home run.

Yankee reliever Joba Chamberlain battles both the Indians and a swarm of midges from Lake Erie in the late innings of the Game Two of an American League Division Series in Cleveland. The Indians (and their midge friends) prevailed, 2-1 in 11 innings.

October 5 Update - I missed the 11-inning nailbiter between the Yankees and Indians today, but am happy to report that the Tribe prevailed 2-1, despite a great start by Andy Pettitte. A-Rod went 0-4 with three strikeouts. The loss puts the Yankees in a big hole, even though they're going back to New York. Like the Phillies, their Game Three starter is more than 44-years old. Worse than the Phils, Roger Clemens hasn't pitched since mid-September due to various arm ailments. Clemens will give it a go in what may once again be the last start of his career, though the lure of another $15MM or so next year and the pressure of Greg Maddux on his career victory total might be enough incentive to play a season at age 46. I like the cell phone commercial that shows why Roger played in 2007--the phone call where his wife says "no way!" is dropped by the carrier. Roger's interpretation--"She's so happy, she's speechless."

The rest of the Indians-Yankees game you couldn't make up. A swarm of tiny mosquito-like insects called midges rose from Lake Erie and descended upon the game in Jacobs Field. There's no truth to the rumor (as far as I know) that the Indians practiced in midge-infested surroundings to prepare for the unlikely occurrence, having clinched early enough to work on all the possible postseason angles.

FOX's Ken Rosenthal offered this analysis:

"The difference in his performance was striking. Chamberlain, after needing only five pitches to escape a one-out, two-on jam in the seventh, hit a batter, walked two and threw two wild pitches in the eighth. Grady Sizemore, after drawing a four-pitch leadoff walk, scored the tying run on the second wild pitch.

In 24 innings during the regular season, Chamberlain threw just one wild pitch and hit only one batter — and the latter, as the Red Sox's Kevin Youkilis would attest, probably was on purpose.

It was the bugs. It had to be the bugs.

Nothing else rattles the kid."

Here's a link to a Cleveland Plain Dealer article on the entomology of baseball.

My evening was a movable feast. We planned to stay downtown after work for "Live After Five", an outdoor concert, and eat downtown afterward. Rain cancelled that plan, so we maintained the advantage of having our daughter at a volleyball game 1-1/2 hours away in Lafayette to go out to dinner at Roberto's in tiny St. Gabriel, LA. From there we went to nearby Denham Springs (actually about 45 minutes from St. Gabriel) to the Whistle Stop Espresso House to hear two of our friends play music, which from a musical standpoint was much better than listening to the Harvey Wallbangers, a "party band" booked for the outdoor concert. The Whistle Stop had wireless Internet, but I resisted the temptation to bring my computer in from the car, in deference to my friends' musical efforts, which were great. Highlights were Van Morrison's "Tupelo Honey", "Breakdown" from Tom Petty, "Whipping Post" by the Allman Brothers (not a coffee shop standard) and an original from several years back, "Fireworks, Cold Beer and String Bikinis."

I'm home now watching the tied Angels-Red Sox game. Dice-K couldn't get thru the fifth, but as usual, the Red Sox relief work has been excellent. Halos' starter Escobar made it a little further, but as they play the eighth, the Angels are using their third pitcher.

The Sox bat in the bottom of the ninth against Justin Speier of the Angels. I think there's a Speier that pitches for either the D-Backs or Rockies. Will have to do some research if I get a chance. Pedroia up now with Lugo on first after a single to left. Hit-and-run grounder to short moves Lugo to second, and brings the mighty K-Rod, Francisco Rodriguez, out of the Angels bullpen. K-Rod burst on the scene during the 2002 postseason as a 20-year old closer.

Youkilis faces Rodriguez. A snap throw to second almost nabs Lugo. With his bald dome and full beard, Youkilis looks like one of the Smith Brothers of cough drop fame. "The Greek God of Walks" fans on a splitter in the dirt. He's mad. I don't know who coined that nickname (Stephen King and Stewart O'Nan used it liberally in their 2004 book, "Faithful."), but it's one of my favorites--certainly better than the plethora of initial or name abbreviation-based nicknames (A-Rod, LT, Dice-K, among other)). Ortiz walks (maybe intentionally, I wasn't watching--it was intentional), bring Manny to the plate. Bostonians breathing in unison now with each pitch. He blasts a fastball into the Coke bottles above the Monster (actually the ball sailed into the street behind the stadium). 3-run walkoff homer! Sox win, 6-3 and the party begins at home plate. There's only one Manny, though it's surprising to learn that this was his first walkoff HR as a Red Sox. I'll have to wait until a picture of the swing is posted on the web to sign off tonite.

October 5 Preview - The Diamondbacks cruised to their second win over the Cubs Thursday night, holding the 8-4 lead they had when I went to bed after midnight. All three games lasted 3+ hours yesterday.

The Phillies and Cubs get a day to lick their wounds before battling for survival in Denver and Chicago respectively. The American League series each play a second game on Friday.

Angels at Red Sox - Kelvim Escobar vs. Daisuke Matsuzaka - (glad I looked up that spelling, and Kelvim for that matter) - This matchup of Venezuela vs. Japan is a delightful example of how major league baseball has become an international game over the last 20 years. A 10-year veteran, Escobar had a career year at 18-7 with a 3.40 ERA. "Dice-K", winner of the final game of the World Baseball Classic in 2006, was the biggest international story of the last off-season as the Red Sox paid his Japanese team over $50MM just for the right to negotiate a contract. Matsuzaka got another $50MM or so. His pitching was durable (32 starts and 200+ innings--probably a break for him vs. his Japanese workload), but at 15-12 and a 4.40 ERA, not quite as dominating as the Sox hoped. In the tradition of Japanese pitching pioneer Hideki Nomo, "Dice-K" throws a variety of pitches, including a changeup screwball known as the "atomic ball", using an almost equal variety of deliveries. This is a critical game for both teams as the Angels don't want to dig an 0-2 hole, and the Sox don't want to go to Anaheim with a chance of being swept out of the series.

Yankees at Indians - Andy Pettitte vs. Fausto Carmona - 200+ career game winner (and born in Baton Rouge), Pettitte is one of the best and most experienced postseason pitchers in the game (34 postseason starts and a 14-9 record). His last start of the season, however, was a bomb--nine runs allowed in five innings--ominous as he takes on the rampaging Indians' offense. 23-year old Carmona was a washout as a Indians' reliever in 2006 (1-10). His experimental move to the rotation was a big reason the Indians dominated the AL Central as he posted a 19-8 record and 3.06 ERA. "Fausto" is also one of the best names in the game. Perhaps he made a deal with a nefarious someone in the offseason to improve his pitching?

Batter Up - Rockies, Indians and D-Backs Batter Phils, Yanks and Cubs in Division Series Action on October 4

Rockies' second baseman Kaz Matsui rocked the Phillies with a grand slam homer, a triple, a double and five RBIs in Colorado's 10-5 win in Game Two of the NL Division Series in Philadelphia.

October 4 Preview - Rockies at Phillies - Franklin Morales vs. Kyle Kendrick - Two rookie pitchers square off in a must-win game for Philadelphia. Kendrick started the season in AA ball. He came up for a spot start and stayed for the season, amassing a 10-4 record and 3.87 ERA in 121 innings. He has excellent control--only 25 walks. Morales is a hard-throwing righthander who made eight late-season starts for the Rockies. He's just 21-years old. He only pitched 39 innings in the eight starts, so the Rockies had been bringing him along slowly, until now. Obviously, the vaunted Phillies offense will need to improve greatly to prevent going to Colorado down 0-2.

October 4 Update - The game we expected yesterday is developing today in Philadelphia. The Rockies took the lead in the top of the first on back-to-back home runs by Troy Tulowitzki and Matt Holliday. Jimmy Rollins supplied his first response with a leadoff home run in the first off Franklin Morales, and a followup in the second with a two-run triple, driving in Wes Helms, who had walked, and Carlos Ruiz, who hit a booming double to center field. Chase Utley even made contact on his second AB, with a fly ball to center. No such luck with Ryan Howard, who struck out for the fifth straight time in the series in the first.

The preceding paragraph was brought to you by the Netstalker. Again I found an unprotected wireless network in a doctor's office, this time, my wife's.

I wish I had as good news about the game. Kyle Kendrick labored through two outs in the fourth, turning the game over to namesake Kyle Lohse with the bases loaded. Lohse promptly served up a game-changing grand slam home run to the uber-powerful Kaz Matsui. The Phils went down quietly in their half of the fourth against the Rockies' second pitcher Josh Fogg, who has slipped some in their rotation. Lohse settled down to pitch a 1-2-3 fifth. It's up to the Phillies offense to put their team back in the series.

Watching TBS coverage at home now. Play-by-play guy is Don Orsillo, not Ron. Pinch hitter Michael Bourn tries to bunt for a hit, but eventually grounds to second. Rollins hits a slow roller up the middle that Tulowitzki takes care of. Maybe Chase can get something started. We're dead meat if he and Howard don't contribute. Howard reached on his last AB, but got picked off first. Don't ask me how that happened. I don't think he had a SB attempt all year. Full count to Utley. He's not getting good swings, but at least he's more patient. Good swing at a low pitch, line drive to center--base hit. Burrell next.

Am listening to Elton John's "Honky Chateau" on the PC headphones (great sound) while reading the commentary on the TV, and writing this. Eat your heart out Bill Clinton. 3-0 to Burrell. Mesa up for Phillies in bullpen. Yikes. Lefty Affledt (AFFLEDT!) warming up for possible Howard AB with two on. Close pitch on inside called a strike. 3-1. Fouled off. 3-2. Another foul. Burrell is concentrating on protecting the plate, rather than taking the close pitches. He struck out looking more than anyone else last year. Behind a fastball--nubbed foul. Two outs, so Utley will score on extra-base hit. Another foul back. Swing and a miss--dropped by catcher, but he picks it up and tags Pat. Get 'em next inning.

I took a blogging break to start supper. You didn't miss much unless you're a Rockies' fan, as the Rockies scored four in the top of the 6th to expand their lead to 10-3. Jose Mesa fed the fire with two walks, following which, the new Ichiro, Matsui tripled to right center. Two more hits produced two more runs. Ryan Howard got one back with a towering homer to left center, but we're still down 10-4 with 9 outs to go in the game and what might as well be the series. Listening to the beautiful "Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters" is much more pleasant.

The Rockies put two more on in the 7th, but the Phils coax a DP grounder to the mound to avoid further punishment. The numbers teach that you've got to get to the Rockies' starters and middle relievers. The last three guys in their bullpen--Herges, Fuentes, and Corpas--have the lowest ERAs on the staff. Corpas was the subject of controversy as video caught him dousing his uniform with a soapy solution before his appearance last night. The Rockies are characterizing the incident as an internal matter.

There probably aren't many postseason comebacks in the books the likes that this one will have to be. Ruiz faces Speier. He grounds to short. The Rockies might be able to rest their best relievers, despite going to the pen in the fourth inning. Victorino up as PH now. I like him better as a lefty batter. He singles to right. Rollins next. Matsui has 2B, 3B, and HR--just a single short of the cycle. Victorino running on first pitch, but Rollins fouls it back. No one covering second for Rockies. Guess they're not too worried about losing the game to stolen bases. Now Shane steals second on a pitchout--again no one is there to take the throw, which sails into center allowing Victorino to take third. Rollins dribbles a ball to first. Out number two, but Shane scores easily. Now 10-5. Four of five Phillie RBIs for Rollins. Utley next. Maybe last batter for Speier in any event. Utley hooks a drive just foul off the wall in right. Holliday collects Utley pop fly to left for the third out.

Alfonseca (Antonio, not Alfonso as I wrote earlier) is on to mop up. Matsui goes for the cycle. A great chance for him. Fly ball to center. Tulowitzki swats a high pitch down the left field line for a double. Holliday hits a screamer that Rollins leaps for and spears. On to the 8th.

Speier still pitching. Wow that was fast. Phils down to three outs now. Still down 10-5. My mistake--pitching change with one out. Fuentes on to pitch to Howard. Howard singles to right. A beautiful swing. Rowand vs. Fuentes now. Rowand fans on WP, Howard moves up. Although he was already out, Rowand ran and Torrealba threw to first. Good thing Helton was there to take a meaningless throw. Now Werth. 0-3. Should be able to get a decent swing against Fuentes. 3-1 to Werth. Either walk or HR OK. Caught inside corner. Full count. No Pitchtrax replay. Not close on the next one. Walk to Werth. Second and first. Iguchi in for Dobbs--good move by Manuel. Rockies let Fuentes continue. Iguchi did a nice job when Utley was hurt. 1-1. He's been a regular for years, but he won't beat Utley out for 2B job. 3-2 again. Way outside. Bases loaded. Ruiz next. New pitcher for Rockies. Double switch with Jamey Carroll at second.

Manny Corpas back for the Rocks. Hard stuff with sinking action. 19 saves in 20 chances for Corpas as closer this year. Grounder to third. Now, three outs left.

Bad stat for Phils' prospects. 20 of 21 teams who lost first two at home have lost the series. Coste pinch hits and lines to center. Rollins next with best offensive day for Phils--he grounds to second. Utley is last chance. Some fans on feet, but very glum. Utley singles to left center. At least our big hitters are finding their strokes. Now Burrell. Line drive base hit over short. Howard up--takes slider for strike. Count now 2-1. Some towel waving. Good changeup--low and 77 mph. 2-2. Takes strike three. Game over. Ouch!

Yankees/Indians Game One and Cubs/Diamondbacks (Game Two) Preview coming later this afternoon. I'm fully operational on my laptop--even posted a little of this in my daughter's doctor's office this morning.

Yankees at Indians - Wang vs. Sabathia - These are two of the AL's top winning pitchers. The 290 lb. Sabathia is probably the favorite for the AL Cy Young Award. Wang is a durable sinkerballer who at times has benefitted from the Yankees high-scoring offense. There are a lot of jobs on the line depending on how the Yankees do in this series. Still, even if they lose tonite, they've got postseason ace Andy Pettitte tomorrow and then two games at home.

I hinted that the Indians might win Game One. They sure did, drubbing the Yankees 12-3 with a relentless attack that included almost too many homers to count (actually four along with four doubles). The Yankees got off to a good start with a leadoff homer by Johnny Damon, and touched Sabathia for 4 hits and 6 walks in 5 innings. Sabathia got his last out with the bases loaded in the top of the fifth to preserve a 4-3 lead. The Indians exploded for five runs in the bottom of the frame to put the game away. Chien Mien Wang sinkerballs didn't sink as he was battered for 9 hits and 8 earned runs in 4.2 innings. The pressure's on veteran Yankee lefty Andy Pettitte to win Game Two.

Cubs at Diamondbacks - Ted Lilly vs. Doug Davis - once again a game started before I could write my preview. Actually I was depressed about the Phillies game and spent most of the evenings working with photos and music on the Netstalker. I would have told you that Lilly and Davis are very similar pitchers, with Lilly having the better year. He was a great pickup for the Cubs in light of ongoing injuries to their erstwhile aces, Kerry Wood and Mark Pryor.

So far they've pitched similarly, with Davis doing slightly better through 2 innings--he gave up a 2-run homer to Cubs' rookie catcher Geovany Soto. Lilly just slammed his glove to the ground in disgust after giving up a 3-run home run to Chris Young on a hideous 0-2 pitch, erasing the Cubs short-lived lead and then some. Eric Byrnes followed two batters later with an RBI triple that just missed going out. There may be more fireworks to come tonite in the dry desert air.

The Cubs pick up their defense in the third with a spectacular double play by Theriot and DeRosa. Theriot backhanded a ball in the hole, spun and threw to DeRosa in one motion. DeRosa speared the low throw and completed a sidearm relay just in time to double batter Chris Snyder. Derrek Lee contributed a long stretch of his 6'6" body.

The Snakes keep striking. After a couple more hits by the dreaded Augie Ojeda and a squeeze bunt, the Diamondbacks lead 8-2 in the 5th. I don't think I'll wait this one out.

Program Note: The Yankees-Indians game started while Phillies and Rockies play past the 3-1/2 hour mark. They move it to TNT for the duration of the conflict. Same thing happens as Yankees-Indians slugfest overlaps start of Cubs-Diamondbacks.

Red Sox, Rockies and Diamondbacks Pitch Wins in Division Series Openers on October 3

Diamondbacks' ace Brandon Webb winds up for a first inning pitch to the Chicago Cubs. Webb and the D-Backs won the game 3-1 to take the lead in their National League Division Series. (AP Ross D. Franklin)

Red Sox ace delivers a pitch on his way to a 4-hit shutout win over the Angels in Game One of an American League Division Series. (AFG - Jim Rogash)

Rockies' manager Clint Hurdle congratulates Jeff Francis after a 4-2 win over the Philadelphia Phillies in Game One of a National League Division Series. (Jim McIsaac - Getty Images)

October 3 Update - The Rockies and Red Sox won the first two Division Series games behind strong pitching from their respective aces. Jeff Francis gave up just two runs and four hits in six innings while striking out eight to beat the Phillies 4-2 in Philly. The Red Sox got an even more dominating performance from Josh Beckett, who surrendered just four hits and struck out in a 4-0 complete game shutout. The Diamondbacks got their own well-pitched game from Brandon Webb and two relievers to beat the Cubs, 3-1 in Phoenix.

It's "The Cit", Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, PA and site of the first game of the 2007 Division Series between the Philadelphia Phillies and the Colorado Rockies.

October 2 Preview

Philadelphia Phillies and Colorado Rockies - Let the scoring onslaught begin in this battle between the unexpected NL East champs and the equally unexpected wild card team. Both teams were at least 6 games out of first place midway through September. The Phillies won 13 of their last 17 games to overhaul the slumping New York Mets, who won only 5 of their last 17 games to fall not only out of first in NL East, a position they'd held for much of the season, but straight through the wild card position as well. The Rockies won an even more improbable 14 of their last fifteen games to first tie with the San Diego Padres for the wild card position, and then beat them, 9-8 in 13 innings, in a scintillating 163rd game of the regular season. As the division champs, the Phillies get to start at home and play the fifth game if needed back in Philadelphia. The postseason apprearances are the Phillies' first since their 1993 loss to Toronto in the World Series, and the Rockies' first since a wild card appearance in 1995, in only their third season as a major league team.

All signals point to a high scoring series. The Phillies had the highest-scoring offense and one of the worst pitching staffs in the National League. The Rockies weren't quite as extreme in either ranking, but still featured offense over pitching, with powerful outfielder Matt Holliday leading the way. Holliday led the National League with a .340 batting average and drove in a league-leading 137 runs. Citizens Bank Park (the Cit? I've seen it abbreviated as CBP) in Philly and Coors Field in Denver are among the most hitting-friendly baseball stadiums in the country. In fact, Coors Field, which at about a mile above sea level was for many years notorious as a burial ground for pitchers, recently began storing the game baseballs in a humidor to dampen the offensive parade.

The Rockies - As mentioned, left fielder Holliday leads the league in a few categories. He leads the Rockies in nearly every offensive category--AB, R, H, 2B, 3B (tie), HR, RBI, total bases, batting average, slugging percentage and an OPS of 1012. He's ably supported by four other strong hitters--veteran 1B Todd Helton (928 OPS; 117 BB), RF Brad Hawpe (116 RBI), 3B Garrett Atkins (25 HRs), and rookie SS sensation Troy Tulowitzki (29 HR, 293 total bases). 2B Kaz Matsui and OF Willy Taveras provide some speed. Catcher Yorvit Torrealba rounds out the regular starting lineup. Ryan Spillborghs gets significant playing time in CF.

On the mound, the best ERAs on the Rockies were posted by their relieves--righthanded closer Manny Corpas at 2.08 with 19 saves; lefty Brian Fuentes at 3.06 with 20 saves, though Fuentes blew four straight save opportunities in midseason. Matt Herges, a hero of the Rockies' game 163 win over the Padres, has a beautiful 1.01 WHIP (walks plus hits per inning) ratio.

Rockies' manager Clint Hurdle has had an exciting time choosing starting pitchers. By far his most dependable has been righthander (actually lefthander--this proved important in Game One--so much for my advance scouting career) Jeff Francis, who posted a 17-9 record with a 4.22 ERA. Second starter Josh Fogg, who was touched by Padres 1B Adrian Gonzalez for a grand slam, won 10 and lost 9 with a 4.94 ERA. Aaron Cook was the third starter, but I read that he won't be available against the Phillies. Jeff Hirsh was 5-7 with a 4.81 ERA in 112 innings. The remaining Rockie innings are spread over an impressively large cast of pitchers, including even Byung Yung Kim, who threw in three games for the Rockies before moving on to the Marlins.

Program and Technical Notes - This post is the first to be made from my new Dell Inspiron 1721 notebook computer. It's also being written after a night when I didn't get much sleep. I will call it a night and try to at least finish the Phillies part of this preview in the morning.

October 3, 7 a.m. - It's Game Day! But in midweek and midafternoon, when I'll be at either work or physical therapy. There's a TV in the waiting area at the physical therapy clinic. I'll arrive early for my 2:30 appointment so I can catch the start of the game at 2.

Even without work and medical obstructions, it's hard to follow major league baseball in Louisiana. I can't imagine that what passes for a sports radio station will interrupt it's 24/7 discussion of college football (LSU is #1 in the AP poll this week) to cover a baseball game, but I'll check anyway.

The Phillies - If you've been reading so far, there's little need for me to preview the Phillies, so I'll try to conserve electrons and be brief. The hard-hitting Phils led the NL in runs scored, RBIs and on-base percentage, and were near the top in several other candidates. Their everyday lineup features last year's NL MVP, 1B Ryan Howard, who "slumped" to 47 HRs and 136 RBIs this year, do-it-all 2B Chase Utley, a likely 2007 MVP until a pitch broke his hand and put him about of action for a month. Despite missing 30 games, Utley still scored and drove in more than 100 runs. The team's season-long MVP, an perhaps the MVP of the league is SS Jimmy Rollins. Rollins has been with the Phillies his whole career, and has posted some fine seasons, but none like 2007, when he stroked 30 HRs, drove in 96 runs while hitting leadoff, scored a league-leading 139 runs, stole 41 bases and hit a club-record 20 triples, all while playing essentially every inning at the demanding shortstop position. He also put the team on the spot in the spring when he declared the Phils "the team to beat" in NL East, even though the Mets had dominated the division in 2006.

Supporting their three superstars is an able cast led by CF Aaron Rowand. Rowand came to the club from the 2005 World Champion Chicago White Sox. Like Utley, he's a guy who somehow gets his uniform dirty every day. His most famous play with the Phillies came in 2006 when he caught a long drive to CF while hitting the wall with his face. LF Pat Burrell has been with the Phils since he came out of the University of Miami as an all-American. He has a beautiful swing, but bad feet and modest defensive skills, along with a propensity for strikeouts. The less-than-forgiving Phillies fans have ridden him, particularly during the first half of 2007 when he hit just above .200. A strong 2nd half allowed "Pat the Bat" to finish the season with 30 HRs, 117 walks, and 90+ RBIs. Other OFs are speedy switch hitter Shane Victorino, the "Flyin' Hawaiian", and journeyman Jayson Werth, who rescued a fading career with a strong second half that featured a club-record streak of nine consecutive hits.

Third base has been shared among journeyman Greg Dobbs (who also backs up Howard at 1B), free agent Wes Helms, and 2006 holdovers Abraham O. Nunez and Chris Coste, whose 2006 campaign as a 33-year old rookie was a great story. Nunez can field, but not hit; Helms has an occasional decent AB against a lefty pitcher, and Coste pinch hits and catches along with the odd inning or game at third. Dobbs has gotten the most time at the position that the Phils have struggled to fill since Scott Rolen left for St. Louis.

Rod Barajas was acquired from Arizona to be the #1 catcher, but he young Carlos Ruiz claimed the job early in the year. Barajas plays very little, but might play more in the first series as Ruiz recovers from a bruised hand.

On the mound, the Phils are led by Game One starter Cole Hamels. Young Hamels is a changeup specialist. When his pitches are working he can strike out gobs of batters. When it's not, those same batters hit long home runs. With a 15-5 record, Hamels had more of the former kind of starts this year. Also in the rotation are 44-year old Jamie Moyer (a Delaware Valley native), rookie Kyle Kendrick and midseason acquisition Kyle Lohse, who will also serve in the bullpen if the Phils decide to pitch Hamels on short rest.

At the end of a sometimes disastrous and injury-plagued season, the Phils put together a reasonably effective bullpen. Closer Brett Myers was the Phillies ace starter, but came to the pen out of need. The set up man is veteran Tom Gordon, who either strikes 'em out or gives up long balls. Lefty JC Romero came over from the Red Sox in midseason and has been a revelation with a sub 2.00 ERA. Middle reliever Geoff Geary has been dependable for a couple of years. He comes into the 2007 postseason with a sore elbow and won't be available until the ALCS. Elder statesmen Jose Mesa (a former Phillies closer) and Alfonso Alfonseca sop up innings in blowouts and extra inning games.

Here's a great recap of the Phillies amazing 2007 season.



Reasons Phillies should win: 1) extra home game; 2) amazingly, more starting pitching depth (with Cook on shelf for Rockies); 3) bullpen coming together; 4) Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins will find a way; 5) Rowand advantage over Rockies' CFs

Reasons Phillies could lose: 1) fickle fans turn on team if things don't start well; 2) ineffective middle relief; 3) too much depending on Cole Hamels; 4) heavy pressure to win first two in Philly

Reasons Rockies should win: 1) hot as fire; 2) can't lose attitude after win over Padres; 3) two closers, lefty and righty; 4) Matt Holliday will find a way; 5) overall deeper bullpen; 6) only have to win one in Philly to go home with big advantage

Reasons Rockies could lose: 1) starting pitching depth lacking without Cook; 2) sub-.500 record on road; 3) bubble could burst if they lose two in Philly

Head Pick - Phillies - better matchups, position by position

Heart Pick - Phillies, of course

Gut Pick - Rockies - "can't lose" attitude could carry Rocks to another three wins

If I Had to Bet - Phillies, I'd hate to bet against my team.

Game One Update - Phillies' fans had to endure this game just four days ago when the Nationals beat the Phillies 4-2 in CBP to drop the team back into a first-place tie with the Mets. The team dug out of that hole on Sunday. We'll see if they can dig out of this one, a task that will require beating the Rockies, a team that has lost once in its last 16 games, three times in four games.

Rockies lefty (my bad) ace Jeff Francis befuddled the Phillies most of the afternoon, especially Chase Utley and Ryan Howard, who each struck out on his first three plate appearances against Francis. Phillies lefty ace Cole Hamels matched Francis in the first inning by striking out the first two hitters and inducing a nubbing grounder to first from Rockies' star Matt Holliday. However, the Rockies' second didn't go as well as Hamels surrendered a double, a triple and then walked in a run with the bases loaded.

Back-to-back home runs by Aaron Rowand and Pat Burrell in the fifth gave the Phillies hope, but Holliday stretched the Rockies' lead to two in the eighth with a homer of his own. Rockies' closer Manny Corpas ended the game 1-2-3 in the ninth with a another strikeout of Ryan Howard (albeit on a questionable call), a jam shot grounder to second by Rowand and an easy fly ball to center by Burrell.

Hamels pitched beautifully after the rocky second, retiring 13 straight batters in one stretch. But it wasn't enough to overcome a dismal day (4 hits, 2 runs) for the Phillies' vaunted offense.

More Program Notes - I saw almost none of this game while in physical therapy--just the first inning and the last three outs, really. I got enough updates along the way to have hope, but not too much.

The TBS play-by-play man is Ron Orsillo--I'm not sure where we works regularly, but he does a decent job. Still I was dismayed to learn that TBS would be broadcasting four Division Series and one League Championship Series without using a mainstay of its baseball broadcasts I for the last 30+ years, Skip Caray. Caray wasn't happy about the snub either. Tennis broadcaster Ted Robinson had the Red Sox-Angels game tonight.

I also want to register my objection to the title Division Series - finding two survivors from three divisions hardly qualifies as identifying division champions, a process that was completed in 162 regular season games. League Semifinal Series is more accurate and seemingly no less acronym-friendly. ALDS reminds me of the abbreviation for Lou Gehrig's Disease, ALS. Perhaps there's a concern that Americal League Semifinal Series (ALSS) would be further shortened to American Semifinal Series (ASS).

Quickly onto the other Division Series games.

Chicago Cubs at Arizona Diamondbacks - Carlos Zambrano vs. Brandon Webb - both clubs send their ace to the mound. Zambrano is among the game's most talented and emotional pitchers. He also loves to swing the bat. Webb put together a 40-inning scoreless streak in mid-year. The Cubs have players you probably know--LF Alfonso Soriano, a big free agent signing, 1B Derreck Lee and 3B Aramis Ramirez. They also have the LSU connection of SS Ryan Theriot and 2B Mike Fontenot. I had to do research on the Diamondbacks earlier in the year. I'd still have trouble naming their starting lineup. The team had the strange distinction of having the NL's best record while being outscored on the season. Reliever Jose Valverde is a lockdown closer. Of course, the Cubs have their own story--having been out of the World Series for the last 62 years, and without a world championship since 1908, ten years longer than the Red Sox famous drought that ended in 2004.


D-Back Plusses - 1) Relief pitching; 2) Youthful exuberance; 3) Limited expectations, low pressure; 4) Micah Owings hitting

D-Back Minuses - 1) Youthful inexperience; 2) Pressure to sweep first two at home; 3) Risk of losing first game to Zambrano; 5) That "run differential" thing - are D-Backs really a .500 team in disguise?

Cubs Plusses - 1) Soriano is red hot; 2) Zambrano can dominate; 3) Piniella is veteran manager; 4) Lilly very good #2 starter; 5) Win one in Phoenix and go back to Wrigley

Cubs Minuses - 1) Pressure of history; 2) weak at catcher and CF; 3) shaky relief pitching; 4) pressure of history

Head Pick - Diamondbacks

Heart Pick - Cubs

Gut Pick - Diamondbacks

If I Had to Bet - Diamondbacks

Game One Update - Pitching is again dominating in Day One's third game. Both Carlos Zambrano of the Cubs and Brandon Webb of the D-Backs have shutouts working through three. The Snakes got a man to third in the first, but Zambrano stranded him there.

Just as I was going to say that expecting the D-Backs to score more than a run or two is a real act of faith, .238 hitting shortstop Scott Drew hits a 400+ foot home run to center field off Zambrano. 1-0 Snakes. Going down the D-Backs order, we find .237 hitter Chris Young leading off (he does have 32 home runs, including nine leading off a game); Drew second (12 homers to augment the .238 average); All-Star Eric Byrnes third; long-time retread Tony Clark (.249, 17 homers) batting cleanup; 3B Mark Reynolds hitting fifth (17 homers and .279 average in 366 AB); RF Jeff Salazar (1 HR and 10 RBI's in 38 games); catcher Chris Snyder (.253, 13 homers) and second baseman Augie Ojeda (a not bad .274 in limited action this year, but about .200 in four earlier seasons with the Cubs, including 2003's .125 avg and 305 OPS in 25 AB--Ojeda was out of the majors in 2005 and 2006.)

As the Cubs try to catch up, they get a break as Reynolds air mails Theriot grounder into the stands. With Theriot on second, Zambrano hits a liner than SS Drew jumps and spears, Soriano hits a liner right at the CF, and Tony Clark dives to smother Jacques Jones' grounder and get the out at first.

The Cubs do patch together the tying run in the sixth on a hit, two walks and an infield hit. The slugging D-Backs retake the lead in the seventh off reliever Marmol on a long home run by Mark Reynolds. The threaten further as the mighty Ojeda doubles into right field. Only a nifty retrieve and return prevents a third run, which scores anyway on a sac fly by pinch hitter Conor Jackson. Ojeda's double reminded me of a much happier double hit in the 2001 World Series by weak-hitting Tony Womack off Yankee supercloser Mariano Rivera, who to that point had been essentially invincible in postseason play for five years. Womack's hit set up Luis Gonzalez's game and Series-winning up the middle just over a drawn-in infield. Right now, the Snakes lead 3-1 and the Cubs only have six outs left.

Another Brandon (Lyons) takes over pitching for the D-Backs in the 8th. Salazar takes in a fly ball to right and a liner off the bat of Jacque Jones. Derrek Lee grounds slowly to third, where 3B Reynolds makes a nice one-hand pickup and throw. Next challenge for the Cubs is to hit the relatively unhittable closer Valverde in the 9th.

It's Valverde now. One out already. Theriot batting. Not exactly the meat of the order. He fans on a 97 mph fastball. Pinch hitter is Daryle Ward. We saw him as an Astros farmhand with the New Orleans Zephyrs--a fierce hitter in AAA. His position at 1B was jammed with Jeff Bagwell and Lance Berkman coming up. Ward has played some OF, but never has quitet found his niche. Count now 3-1. Slight ray of hope for Cubs. Ball four. Soriano is next! Pinch runner for Ward--I didn't catch who. Great matchup here--fastball pitcher and fastball hitter. 0-2 now. Slider, grounded to short for third out. Third outstanding pitching performance of the day by Diamondbacks. Webb went seven giving up 4 hits and 1 run, while striking out nine Cubs, including Derrek Lee three times.

Program Note - TBS has a strike zone monitor in use tonight (I'll watch to get their name for this toy--Pitchtrax). Dick Stockton, better known for football and basketball play-by-play and Ron Darling, former Mets' pitcher and current color analyst for the Mets' broadcasts, are calling the action. Darling found himself unexpectedly in need of work.

Of course, all of this analysis and feel can go by the boards when the games start--as in 2006, when a Cardinal team that staggered into the playoffs shocked the baseball world by drubbing the Padres; surviving the apparently far-superior Mets, and then whipping the clearly "superior" Detroit Tigers in the World Series.

American League

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (LAA) at Boston Red Sox - John Lackey vs. Josh Beckett - Both pitchers can make a strong case for the AL Cy Young Award. Boston features patient hitters who work for walks and three-run homers. LAA (Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim--I don't get it either) swings away and runs the bases. It should be a fun series.

Prediction coming soon--certainly before game time.

Game One Update - Well, I didn't quite make it--it took awhile to get the new notebook operating on the wireless network, but despite the Red Sox and Josh Beckett's dominating 4-0 win over the Angels tonight, I'll stick with my prediction (published elsewhere) that the Angels will prevail by beating Dice-K and Schilling in the next two games. Admittedly, I might be handicapped by my ignorance. I didn't know that Vladimir Guerrero was limited to DH duty and that supersub Reggie Willetts would be in the LAA starting lineup. Shame on me--should have read the 12 pages of pre-game coverage in the Boston Globe.

Preview and prediction of Yankees at Indians also coming soon.

Head Prediction - Yankees - They beat the Indians 6 out of 6 in the regular season. Their lineup is ferocious. Andy Pettitte is a great playoff pitcher.

Heart Prediction - Indians, obviously, I mean they're playing the Yankees. And my friend's son plays for the Indians.

Gut Prediction - Indians - based only on a continuation of Alex Rodriguez's dismal postseason performances bringing down the whole Yankee team.

If I Had to Bet - Yankees


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