Wednesday October 1, 2003
Yesterday’s Twins/Yankees Post-Game Thoughts
GIANTS 2, MARLINS 0 – MY THOUGHTS
BRAVES2, CUBS 4 – MY THOUGHTS
A’s, RED SOX GAME 1 PREDICTIONS
PLAYOFF BASEBALL – GOTTA LOVE IT!
How fun is it watching these playoff games? First, you see team’s best pitchers in these early games. Yesterday, we saw Johan Santana, Mike Mussina, Jason Schmidt, Josh Beckett, Russ Ortiz and Kerry Wood. Because of that, runs are at a premium. That makes each pitch much more important. It makes each out valuable. Especially in these short, five-game Divisional Series. None of these games ever were out of reach. The Twins had a 3 run 9th inning lead, but the Yankees got a couple on, bringing up Nick Johnson as the winning run. The Giants held a 1-0 lead for most of the game. Russ Ortiz had a 1-0 lead before giving it up in the 6th inning. Then Kerry Wood was very dominant. Let’s go through yesterday’s games, and then set up today’s matchups. If you have any thoughts on anything you read, e-mail me, and I’d be happy to reply to you!
GIANTS 2, MARLINS 0
Jason Schmidt was most certainly the story in this game. What an incredible pitching performance! 9 innings, 3 hits, 0 walks, 5 strikeouts. He didn’t allow a base runner after the 5th inning!
Barry Bonds walked three times in four plate appearances, twice intentionally. But, when he got on base, he took the extra bases, even stealing a base.
Edgardo Alfonzo was the player chosen to ‘protect’ Bonds in the batting order, and yesterday, he came through! The Giants first run scored on a perfect bunt single by Alfonzo that was thrown into right field, scoring Rich Aurilia. In the bottom of the 8th inning, after the second Bonds intentional walk, Alfonzo hit a double to deep centerfield to score Bonds. In other words, for yesterday, Alfonzo came through! If he can continue to do that throughout the playoffs, you have to like the Giants chances!
The Marlins have to be thrilled with youngster Josh Beckett. After struggling with blisters most of the last couple of seasons, Beckett has been the Marlins ace the second half of this season. He went 7 innings, giving up just one run on 2 hits, striking out 9 Giant batters. The one negative would be the 5 walks he gave up (but remember, 2 of them were intentional.)
Game 1 MVP – Jason Schmidt
Game 2 – Today, 3:06 Central Time-
Sidney Ponson will be on the hill for the Giants. He is the opposite of Jason Schmidt. Whereas Schmidt can throw 98 all game, which sets up his other pitches, Ponson can throw hard, but uses off-speed pitches to set up his fastball.
Brad Penny will be the starter for the Marlins. Although he is a great, hard throwing pitcher, I think the fact that he is so similar to Josh Beckett, it could hurt him.
Prediction – Giants 7, Marlins 4. The Marlins will get more hits and (obviously) more runs than they did yesterday, but I think Penny will get hit hard. Bonds will get at least two more walks, but will be helped by a couple of his teammate’s home runs.
BRAVES 2, CUBS 4
Again, starting pitching was the key, and for the Cubs, that was Kerry Wood. The flamethrower with the sweeping curveball was able to dominate the Braves hitters. In the third, Wood gave up a solo homer to 2B Marcus Giles, the only hit Wood gave up until the 8th inning. Wood struck out 11 Braves hitters in 7 1/3 innings. He did walk 5, but gave up just the two hits. With all the walks and strikeouts, Wood did throw 124 pitches, which could be an issue later in the series. In the 9th, closer Joe Borowski struck out three Braves batters for the save!
Russ Ortiz’s numbers don’t look great. 5 2/3 innings, 8 hits, 3 walks, and 4 earned runs. But, through the first 5 inning, Ortiz was strong. He worked out of a bases loaded, no out jam in the 3rd inning. When the same situation presented itself in the 6th inning, Ortiz almost got out of it too. He gave up just one run and got two outs, and with runners still on second and third and the pitcher, Kerry Wood, coming to the plate, I thought he would get out of that inning almost unscathed. But, on the first pitch, Wood drilled a double to deep left centerfield (his 2nd hit of the night), to score the two runs. Ray King came in to face Kenny Lofton, who punched a bloop single to center to score Wood and the Cubs 4th run. In other words, Ortiz didn’t pitch bad.
Game 1 MVP – Kerry Wood
Game 2 – Tonight, 6:00 Central Time-
Mike Hampton will have all the pressure on him tomorrow as he starts for the Braves. The former All-Star performer is now pitching like the Hampton of old. I think he should be able to keep the Cubs hitters off-balance for at least a couple times through the order.
Carlos Zambrano gets the Game 2 nod for the Cubs. He’s another young flamethrower. He needs to maintain his poise if he wants to be successful though. If he can get through the first 2 or 3 innings, he should have a great game and give the Cubs a chance to win.
Prediction – Cubs 3, Braves 1. Hampton will do well, but Zambrano will be great!
Game 1 – Tonight, 9:00 Central Time
Tim Hudson is as good a pitcher as there has been in the league the last 3 years. He has 3 or 4 pitches and uses them all. He can be dominant. But the Red Sox lineup can be devastating.
Pedro Martinez has the ability to be one of the best pitchers ever! Miguel Tejada and Eric Chavez are playing as well as they have all year.
Prediction – Red Sox 6, A’s 1.
(Reposted from late yesterday afternoon)
BULLPEN BEATS BRONX BOMBERS
ALDS Game 1
Twins 3, Yankees 1
Eddie Guardado made us all way too nervous! I have no fingernail left! I almost lost my lunch, but as always, Guardado got the job done!
The story of the game was the Twins bullpen. I wrote yesterday that I thought the Twins had an advantage in the bullpen:
If the starters can go 7 innings, I will take the Twins over any other team in the playoffs. That would put them in a position to throw LaTroy Hawkins in the 8th and Eddie Guardado in the 9th.
Well, starter Johan Santana was only able to go 4 innings. And for those 4 innings, he was great. 3 hits, 2 walks, 5 strikeouts, and most importantly no runs! Unfortunately for the Twins, Santana then had to leave the game with cramps in his leg.
When Rick Reed came into the game for the start of the 5th inning, with the Twins holding on to a slim 1-0 lead, I admit that my confidence wavered! But he got the first two batters he faced before giving up a 2 out double to Alfonso Soriano. With the Yankees lefties coming up, Ron Gardenhire went right to lefty J.C. Romero who got Nick Johnson to ground out to 1B to end the inning.
In the top of the 6th, things got interesting. Matthew Lecroy led off with a single to left. After a Jacque Jones strikeout, Torii Hunter hit a liner into center. But somehow, it skipped right by Yankees center fielder Bernie Williams for a triple that scored Lecroy from first base. Williams threw the ball to the cut-off man, Soriano, who airmailed the throw over 3B Aaron Boone’s head, and Hunter scored the Twins 3rd run.
Now the Twins had a 3-0 lead and I could breathe again, even with JC Romero still pitching. Despite erratic control, Romero was able to keep the Yankees scoreless in the bottom half of the 6th.
The Twins went 1-2-3 in the 7th inning. In the bottom of the 7th, Romero walked the left-handed Hideki Matsui, which brought The Hawk, LaTroy Hawkins into the game. After giving up a seeing-eye single to Aaron Boone, Hawkins dominated! Pinch-hitter Ruben Sierra grounded weakly back to Hawkins and they got a force-out at 2nd. The Hawk then proceeded strike out both Alfonso Soriano and Nick Johnson with some serious gas to end the inning!
The Twins had bases loaded in the 8th inning with one out, but reliever Felix Heredia got AJ Pierzynski to ground into a 1-2-3 double play. In the bottom of the 8th, Hawkins went through the heart of the Yankees lineup and made it look easy. Derek Jeter grounded weakly to 2B for the first out. Jason Giambi was blown away with fastballs for the second out. And on an 0-2 pitch to Jorge Posada, Hawk threw the hammer to him and got him for the 3rd out of the inning.
The Twins went scoreless in the top of the 9th, and Eddie Guardado was summoned in to the game. Bernie Williams led off with a sharp single to right. Hideki Matsui flew out to the fence in left. Actually Shannon Stewart made a very nice leaping catch. That was very fortunate because Aaron Boone doubled to left, moving Williams to 3B. Guardado got Ruben Sierra to hit a very high pop up to RF. Alfonso Soriano then topped a ball over Guardado’s head that Luis Rivas made a great play on but despite a strong throw was just late at first. Soriano was safe, and Williams had scored the Yankees first run. Finally, after a number of pitches, Eddie G got Nick Johnson to ground out to 3B to end the game.
Game Notes -
· It is believed that Johan Santana will be able to make his next scheduled start, in Game 4 on Sunday afternoon.
· I hate to bash a potential future Hall of Famer, but is it possible that Bernie Williams is done? He has had number shoulder injuries that have really diminished his throwing arm, to a level below even Johnny Damon. It worked for the Twins as Cristian Guzman was able to score the Twins run on a shallow fly ball off the bat of Luis Rivas. He also used to be a Gold Glove caliber outfielder, but his speed and instincts are clearly not as good. (Updated – Maybe I should have just talked about his defense, he can still hit!)
· If you check out Aaron’s Baseball Blog’s preview of the Twins/Yankees series, he mentioned that putting the ball in play and making the Yankees make plays was vital to the Twins. Yesterday, the Twins did strike out 7 times, but when they did put the ball in play, the Yankees made some mistakes. The Twins (and specifically Cristian Guzman’s) aggressiveness on the basepaths also created opportunities for misplays by the Yankees. Bernie Williams, Hideki Matsui and Alfonso Soriano all made mistakes that the Twins were able to capitalize on.
· Gerry Davis, the umpire who made a lot of bad calls in each of the Twins crucial four game series at Chicago, was at 3B in today’s game. He made 2 calls that affected the game at the time. In the 3rd inning, Shannon Stewart singled to left and Cristian Guzman (who was off with the pitch) went all the way to third. The play was close. The ball actually beat Guzman, but Aaron Boone clearly missed the tag ,and by the time he actually tagged Guzman, it was too late. A good call. The second was with the bases loaded in the 8th inning and 1 out, AJ Pierzynski was hit by the first pitch from Felix Heredia, which would have, of course, scored another run for the Twins. Gerry Davis said that Pierzynski actually swung at the pitch, making it a strike and taking a run off the board. I know some Twins fans may think that Davis has it out for the Twins, but he did make the correct call.
· WP - LaTroy Hawkins, LP - Mike Mussina, S - Eddie Guardado
· Twins hitters - Shannon Stewart 2-5, 2B, Corey Koskie 2-4, Torii Hunter 1-2, RBI triple, 2 BB’s, AJ Pierzynski 0-2, 2 BB’s.
· Yankees hitters - Soriano, Jeter, Williams and Boone each had 2 hits.
· What’s up Next? Game 2 is on Thursday night at 7:06 from New York. The Twins will have Brad Radke on the mound, opposing the Yankees Andy Pettitte.
· Going into Yankees Stadium, I think we all had the idea that we should win one of the two games. After winning Game 1, the goal might as well change to winning both games!
· Wouldn’t it be nice to know the times of Games 3 and 4? Imagine those people who are traveling to Minneapolis for the game. It’d be nice to have an idea of when the games might be!
· I’m guessing that today’s New York Newspapers should be plenty entertaining! Here are a couple of links:
· New York Daily News
· New York Post
· NY Times
Game 1 goes to the Twins! Gotta love that in Minnesota, and well, any other small markets! Game 2 coming Thursday night! Might as well win that one too, right?
I have added a number of new links to the left side of this screen. Be sure to check some of them out. We’ve got some great blogs which discuss other teams, some playoff teams, and baseball thoughts in general!
Have a great Wednesday! I’ll be back tomorrow with thoughts on today’s games, and some predictions for tomorrow’s games. If you have any thoughts on anything I’ve written today, send me an e-mail. If you want to comment on any of my award winners (Manager, Rookie, Cy Young) or (MVPs), be sure to e-mail me and let me know.
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