Archive for October, 2010
Sunday, October 31st, 2010
12:40 AM Eastern
And a child shall lead them. 21 year-old rookie lefty Madison Bumgarner was the star of the show in Game 4, pitching his Giants to within one win of their first World Series championship since leaving the Polo Grounds. Bumgarner went eight brilliant innings of three-hit shutout, walking only two and striking out six, including the last hitter he faced (Mitch Moreland, looking, on a ridiculous curveball). He made Vladimir Guerrero look absolutely stupid more than once with some filthy change-ups and he got great defense when he needed it, with Freddy Sanchez making an outstanding grab of a Jeff Francouer liner in the second and Cody Ross making a nice sliding grab of a sinking liner by Ian Kinsler in the 5th.
Bumgarner is the first rookie to throw at least eight shutout innings in his World Series debut since Gene Bearden of the Cleveland Indians, who did it in Game 3 of the 1948 Fall Classic by going the route on a five-hit shutout of the Boston Braves. Jim Palmer threw a four-hit shutout for the 1966 Orioles, beating the Dodgers in Game 4 of the World Series that year (L.A. made six errors in the game!) – he wasn’t a rookie then, but he was nine days shy of his 21st birthday, making him the only pitcher younger than Bumgarner to ever throw at least eight shutout innings in a World Series game.
Those 1966 Orioles were the last team to throw at least two shutouts in one World Series (they had three) before the Giants accomplished that feat with tonight’s win.
Aubrey Huff’s two-run homer in the top of the third gave San Francisco all the offense it would need. It was the first career post-season home run for a man who had played in 1479 regular season games before getting his first taste of the playoffs, just this year. Buster Posey added his first career post-season home run in the 8th for some icing on the cake. Posey played in a grand total of 115 regular season games before getting his first taste of the playoffs, just this year.
So the Rangers go into Game 5 fighting for their lives, but with their ace on the mound. Cliff Lee will take the ball coming off his first-ever playoff loss, failing to make it out of the 5th inning in Game 1 and allowing seven runs (six earned) on eight hits. It’s certainly of Lee’s magnitude to go out and shut the Giants down completely tomorrow night; the problem for Texas is that they’re facing the National League’s two-time defending Cy Young Award winner in Tim Lincecum. Lincecum wasn’t great in Game 1, allowing four runs on eight hits over 5 2/3 innings, but he was better than Lee and is just as due as Clifton Phifer to go out there and throw a beauty.
Serious November Baseball begins (and may very well end) tomorrow night, and it does so with a pitching match-up that is one over which you’re definitely permitted to drool.
With the Toronto Raptors starting out on a West Coast road swing, we won’t have either Game 5 or, if it happens, Game 6 on the Fan590, but the Fan Radio Network will have the broadcast beginning at 7:00 PM Eastern time, and I will be live blogging it up!
Before we get to all the audio, it’s more than worthy of mention that Jose Bautista and Joey Votto were named winners of the Hank Aaron Award as the Most Outstanding Offensive Players in each league. The Toronto connection is fantastic, with Bautista being a Blue Jay and Votto having grown up in Etobicoke, and serious congratulations are due to both of them, but it’s not necessarily a harbinger of coming MVP notice.
The words “outstanding” and “valuable” tend to have pretty deep meaning to voters. The baseball writers, who vote on the MVP (as opposed to the fans and a panel of Hall of Famers led by Aaron himself, who vote on the Hank Aaron Award), most often feel as though the MVP has to be awarded to a player whose team is involved in a pennant race for at least a large part of the season, which is going to hurt Bautista. This is the 11th year of the Hank Aaron Award – in the previous 10 seasons, only seven of the 20 winners have gone on to be named their league’s MVP.
Tonight, we had a pair of Blue Jays on the Pre-Game, a couple of the young guns who will be a big part of the Jays’ future success. Here’s Kyle Drabek, for your listening pleasure:
And here’s Brett Cecil’s segment:
We also got some Post-Season Post-Game phones in – here that is, for your listening pleasure:
Finally, the transcript from tonight’s edition of “Miked Up LIVE!”:
Sunday, October 31st, 2010
5:00 PM Eastern
I just got confirmation that Kyle Drabek and Brett Cecil will be coming on the Blue Jay A Day Pre-Game Show tonight, prior to Game 4 of the World Series, to take your phone calls.
They’ll be on the network portion of the program, one starting at 7:15 PM Eastern and the other at 7:45 PM Eastern, so make sure you tune in and call in for your opportunity to chat with these great young Blue Jay pitchers who are going to be part of this team for an awfully long time!
On the Fan590 only, we’ll have Mike Cieslinski, creator of Dynasty League Baseball, joining us at 7:00 PM Eastern to talk about his great baseball simulation game and pre-playing the World Series.
Then we’ll live blog the game, starting with the first pitch at 8:20 PM Eastern, so stop by for that as well!
Saturday, October 30th, 2010
11:33 PM Eastern
Now what was that I wrote in this space the other day, after the Rangers got shellacked 9-0 to fall behind two games to none to the Giants? Oh, right – it was “you can’t make any determination about a playoff series until a home team loses”. So far, that still hasn’t happened, and we have a Series again thanks to Colby Lewis and the longball.
Lewis was sensational for a second straight start (he thoroughly shut down the Yankees in Game 6 of the ALCS, the win that clinched the pennant for Texas). This time, the man who only last year was a member of the Hiroshima Carp threw 7 2/3 innings of five-hitter, the only damage being a 7th inning solo shot by Cody Ross and an 8th inning solo job by Andres Torres. He handed things to groundball specialist Darren O’Day with two out in the 8th and a runner on first, and O’Day got his grounder – to short, off Buster Posey – to end the inning. The mysterious Neftali Feliz – rarely seen at the right time in this post-season – came on to work a 1-2-3 9th and the Rangers won a World Series game for the first time in franchise history.
The two homers Lewis gave up came after the barn door had long since swung open and all the horses were running around all over the place, thanks to a couple of big flies by Texas.
Of course, given the Rangers’ propensity to hand San Fran a huge inning at some point, they couldn’t really feel safe, but Mitch Moreland’s three-run blast gave Texas its first lead since the third inning of Game 1, and that was really all the Rangers would need. Josh Hamilton added a solo job – his 5th homer of the playoffs – in the 5th.
Moreland is an interesting guy. A 25 year-old rookie, he started last season down in A-ball, but tore up the California (not Penal) League and earned a call-up to AA Frisco, then started this season at AAA Oklahoma City but still wasn’t really on the radar because Texas had super-prospect Justin Smoak at first, as well as Chris Davis. But Davis flamed out, hitting just .192/.297/.292, and Smoak was traded to Seattle in the Cliff Lee deal, so up came Moreland.
The thoroughly-untouted youngster did a solid job in 47 games, hitting .255/.364/.469 with nine homers (a pace for about 30 over a full season), but all those homers came against righties. Tonight, after fouling off four straight two-strike pitches, Moreland took a lefty deep for the first time in his major-league career, and it couldn’t have come at a bigger time for his team.
Now the Rangers are only a Hallowe’en win away from tying up the World Series at two games apiece – they’ll have to win a battle of 4th starters to do it, Tommy Hunter faces the Giants’ Madison Bumgarner.
Funny that after blowing their own horn so loudly about having the earliest start to a World Series game in more than 20 years tonight (6:57 PM Eastern -woo-hoo!), MLB is going to an 8:20 PM Eastern start tomorrow night, but we’ll have the pre-game for you starting at 7:00.
We’ll start off with Mike Cieslinski, creator of Dynasty League Baseball (I’ve got the Giants leading the Rangers 3-2 so far in my World Series sim, which I’ll finish tomorrow). He’ll talk about his game, and about how you can simulate the Series as well at dynastyleaguebaseball.com.
After I talk to Mike, we’ll endeavour to have a couple of Blue Jays on to take your calls, starting at 7:15 PM Eastern, which is when we join in with the entire Fan Radio Network. There’s a call out to John Farrell – still waiting to hear – and I’m going to try to get Brian Butterfield, too. But you never know who might wind up on the program. We’ll let you know via twitter, through an e-mail blast and on our Fan590 sports updates as soon as we confirm someone.
Thursday, October 28th, 2010
12:02 AM Eastern
Oh, no – wait, they actually did play the whole game. Right. Sorry, I was confused because 9-0 is the score that’s recorded when one team leaves early, or doesn’t show up at all.
Most of the weaker elements of the Texas Rangers’ bullpen turned a terrific pitchers’ duel into a bucket full of clusterness with their pathetic performance in the bottom of the 8th. With the score 2-0 Giants, having pinch-hit for Darren Oliver in the top of the frame, Ron Washington went to Darren O’Day, who struck out Andres Torres and Freddy Sanchez, then allowed a soft line single to Buster Posey. With two left-handed hitters due up in the next three, Washington then went to Derek Holland – his number two lefty with Oliver having already been used.
Holland simply couldn’t throw a strike. His first ELEVEN pitches all missed, and he walked all three batters he faced on just 13 pitches – including both lefties. At that point, it’s just time to get out of the inning, and Washington still had his two best relievers in the bullpen, Alexi Ogando and Neftali Feliz. Ogando threw two innings yesterday, so he’s out, but Feliz hadn’t pitched since Game 6 of the ALCS back on Friday night. Sure, if Feliz gets out of it and the Rangers come back with three in the 9th to tie it, he would have to come back out and work the 9th, but bringing in Mark Lowe is akin to sending up a white flag. Lowe walked in a second straight run (at least it took six pitches) before giving up a two-run single, then gave way to Michael Kirkman, who coughed up a two-run triple to Aaron Rowand and an RBI double to Torres before striking out Sanchez to end the inning.
So that’s seven runs on four hits and four walks – and it all started with two out and nobody on. Washington may very well get raked over the coals for this one, but he didn’t screw up until the barn door was wide open and a bunch of horses had already left. Derek Holland has to wear some goat horns.
All that said, the Rangers likely wouldn’t have won even if O’Day had thrown a 1-2-3 8th, because it’s exceedingly difficult to win a baseball game if you don’t score any runs.
Matt Cain was sensational, throwing 7 2/3 innings of four-hit shutout, and Javier Lopez came in to end the 8th by getting Josh Hamilton -the tying run – to fly harmlessly to centre. Nelson Cruz would lead off the 9th representing the go-ahead run, but of course he’d have had to have gotten up a second time in the inning.
So it appears as though the Giants are firmly in the driver’s seat with a two games to none lead, but it’s often been said that you can’t make any determination about a playoff series until a home team loses, so don’t count the Rangers out just yet.
The Giants have scored 20 runs in the first two games of the World Series – they scored 19 runs in the six-game NLCS. The offense is highly unlikely to continue to produce at a rate anywhere close to this, even though they’re moving into a much better hitting environment and gaining a DH.
In his last start, Colby Lewis threw eight innings of three-hitter at the Yankees. The Rangers may very well need him to be that good again Saturday night. Of course, they may also lay waste to Jonathan Sanchez.
We were supposed to have a Blue Jay A Day Pre-Game Show tonight, but instead we doubled your pleasure! Not only did Ricky Romero come on to take a few phone calls, Jose Bautista did as well.
Here’s Ricky’s segment, for your listening pleasure:
And here’s Bautista:
Our next Blue Jay A Day Pre-Game will be on Hallowe’en night – I’m working on having John Farrell on, and Brian Butterfield, as well.
And, of course, the “Miked Up LIVE!” was up and running – here’s tonight’s transcript:
Wednesday, October 27th, 2010
12:37 AM Eastern
I shudder to think how two lesser teams might have played the World Series opener. Game 1 was a brutal exhibition of the beautiful game, as the Giants and Rangers combined to make six errors that showed on the scoreboard, plus a few others that didn’t. I know there are nerves and jitters, but sheesh.
Tim Lincecum – the two-time defending National League Cy Young Award winner – looked completely mystified in the first inning when Nelson Cruz hit a one-hopper back to him with runners at second and third and one out. Lincecum had Michael Young caught dead to rights halfway between third and the plate, and ran at him just like you’re supposed to. Lincecum cut Young off and ran him back to third, also just like you’re supposed to, but then he forgot about the part where you’re supposed to throw the ball to the third baseman who is in perfect position to tag the runner out. The brain cramp loaded the bases, but Lincecum was bailed out by a hard grounder to third by Ian Kinsler that turned into an inning-ending double play.
As for the previously-immortal Clifton Phifer Lee, not only did he walk a guy (heaven forfend!), but in the third inning, more stunningly, he hit Andres Torres with an 0-2 pitch! Freddy Sanchez’ second (of three straight) doubles followed, then Buster Posey singled in another run to tie the game. Everything blew up, of course, in the six-run 5th inning. Lee was yanked after giving up back-to-back two-out RBI singles to Cody Ross (a line shot that Charlie Browned Lee) and Aubrey Huff, which made the score 5-2 San Fran, and Darren O’Day – the ground ball specialist – came on to give up a three-run homer to Juan Uribe and that was that.
Young and Huff each booted a relatively routine grounder and Huff threw another ball away, Vladimir Guerrero kicked around a couple of balls in right field (he’d played 18 games in the outfield during the season) and Elvis Andrus dropped a slow roller off Lincecum’s bat. Six errors in the game, and that doesn’t include the Lincecum brain cramp and another by Ian Kinsler in the 8th when he turned for second after legging out an infield hit, thinking Sanchez’ hurried throw had gotten away from Huff. Oops.
Also, Torres made an absolutely brutal throw home in the second trying to nail Bengie Molina on Andrus’ medium-depth fly ball to centre.
With the flame-outs of Lee and Lincecum, both Bruce Bochy and Ron Washington could easily get plenty of relievers some World Series experience, to clear any potential jitters. Bochy used five relievers over the final two innings, and his closer Brian (The Bearded Akkountant) Wilson made things interesting. Wilson came in with the bases loaded and one out with an 11-4 lead and proceeded to clear the bases before finally popping up Kinsler to end the game.
Washington got Alexi Ogando in, then went to his long guys Michael Kirkman and Mark Lowe – not using Neftali Feliz who, if the first two rounds told us anything, could use a game in a low-leverage situation to clear out the nerves.
I’m looking forward to much better baseball tomorrow night, and I still think this is going to wind up being a long series.
Prior to Game 2, we will have another edition of The Blue Jay A Day Pre-Game Show, and Ricky Romero is going to join us at 7:00 PM Eastern to take your calls, so be sure to tune in and call early if you want the chance to talk to the young lefty.
We had a chance for a quick little Post-Season Post-Game phone session tonight, here it is for your listening pleasure – sorry about the Colby Lewis stuff:
And of course, the “Miked Up LIVE!” was up and running, as it will be again tomorrow night starting at 8:00 PM Eastern. Here’s tonight’s transcript:
Monday, October 25th, 2010
7:20 PM Eastern
John Farrell held court with the Toronto media for his introduction as the Blue Jays’ 11th full-time field manager (Mel Queen managed five games after Cito Gaston was fired at the end of the 1997 season and is the most successful manager in Jays’ history with an .800 winning percentage) and made a very good first impression.
Farrell didn’t do any stand-up comedy, like Scott Rolen did upon his introduction (and that’s probably a good thing, the way the Rolen situation turned out), but he was articulate and thoughtful, looked his questioners in the eye and didn’t fall back on any cliches or old saws.
He had turned down opportunities to interview for other manager positions in the past because either he felt he wasn’t ready or his contract with the Red Sox stood in his way, but in his words, he “pursued” the Jays’ job for a multitude of reasons – the biggest ones being that he loves the young pitching rotation, he’s absolutely crazy about Alex Anthopoulos (and the feeling is mutual) and he believes ownership when the Rogers folks talk about having major financial resources available to the team when the time is right.
Farrell says his goal is to have the Blue Jays in the top 5 in the A.L. in both runs scored and ERA; that that’s the ticket to competing. He knows the team needs to get on base more, so that there can be more opportunities to score runs, and he wants the team to be more aggressive on the basepaths, but not to run with reckless abandon.
Tactically, Farrell said he likes to have a set line-up (though that may include platoon situations), and he will ride a guy who is struggling because he feels that players need to be respected and to be comfortable. He doesn’t want anyone to ever walk into the clubhouse and be surprised by what he sees on the line-up card. Though he doesn’t want to give away outs, he says he will call for a sacrifice bunt at the appropriate time and brought up specific examples of trying to push across an add-on run when the team is already leading or trying to score the tying run late when the team is trailing.
At least two of the Blue Jays’ coaches are being retained – pitching coach Bruce Walton will be back, and in a bit of a stunner, Brian Butterfield is coming back to coach third as well. Both Farrell and Anthopoulos were effusive in their praise of Butter, and said that making sure he remained a part of the team was something they felt they had to deal with immediately and they did – locking Butter up just hours after Farrell accepted the job. I guess the call to Baltimore wasn’t as strong as we’d thought, and that when Butter said he truly wanted to remain a Blue Jay, he didn’t mean only as manager.
Farrell talked about having conversations with hitting coach Dwayne Murphy, and I got the sense that he was leaning towards bringing him back, but there was no mention of Nick Leyva, Omar Malave (whose number Farrell will be wearing) or Rick Langford. Farrell is very close to Torey Lovullo, the AAA Pawtucket skipper who is thought of highly in manager-of-the-future circles, and it wouldn’t surprise me at all to see him join the staff in Leyva’s place.
As I mentioned yesterday, Alex Anthopoulos has yet to make a real misstep, so I trust his judgement and that of his lieutenants Tony Lacava and Perry Minasian, and Alex is absolutely over the moon about Farrell. He said that he would gladly sacrifice experience for the opportunity to get someone who has a chance to be great, that he knew almost as soon as the first interview (a three-hour conversation that “just flowed”) that Farrell may very well be his guy and that he (Alex) was going to learn a lot from Farrell, with his diverse background as both a former player, former coach and former player development executive.
Alex has compared the GM/manager relationship to a marriage many times, and I’m thinking that – on both counts – this was love at first sight.
Also, Manny Ramirez says he wants to come play for him. How much fun would that be?
We’re going to try to have Farrell come on one of our World Series pre-pre-game shows to take your calls, but we won’t have one of those until Game 4. I’ll keep you posted, and we will live blog it up on Wednesday night, starting at 8:00 pm Eastern – see you there!
Sunday, October 24th, 2010
10:02 PM Eastern
The Blue Jays will announce on Monday that they have named former Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell as the 11th full-time manager in club history, following Roy Hartsfield, Bobbys Mattick and Cox, Jimy Williams, Cito Gaston, Tim Johnson, Jim Fregosi, Buck Martinez, Carlos Tosca, John Gibbons and Gaston again.
The former Indians and Tigers starter (36-46, 4.56, 1.406 WHIP in nearly 700 IP over eight seasons) went the college route after retirement, returning to his alma mater Oklahoma State University to run the program there for a few years before the big leagues beckoned from the administrative side, and he went back to the Indians to oversee their farm system. Eventually, the Red Sox convinced him to don the uniform once again, and he has been their pitching coach the last four seasons, earning a World Series ring in 2007.
Farrell has a glittering resume, with the minor exception that he has never managed a single baseball game at any professional level.
Now, neither had Cito Gaston when he took over the Blue Jays in May of 1989, and the team won four division titles, two pennants and two World Series in the first five years of his tenure.
Farrell seems to have a terrific reputation around the game, with Red Sox owner John Henry (the man who spilled the beans on the hiring in an e-mail to the Boston Globe) saying that the Jays are getting “a great baseball man and a great person.” He may well be cut from the same cloth as Alex Anthopoulos, a player development guy and scout at heart, and will be more than just a manager, but also an executive in the dugout.
There are so many questions about Farrell that can’t be answered until Spring Training opens, and even more that can’t be answered until we see how he runs a ballgame tactically, but there’s no big-league manager alive who didn’t have to go through the same thing (though not necessarily at the major-league level) and even those with bucketloads of managerial experience in the minors had to make their mistakes in the bigs and learn from them. The key is to not make the same mistake twice.
Is Farrell ready to manage in the majors right now? Maybe not, but neither is his new team ready to cut a huge swath through the A.L. East and seriously contend for a playoff spot. Farrell is coming to Toronto to grow into his job as his club grows into a contender. He’s the star candidate for whom Alex Anthopoulos, Tony LaCava and their crew went looking when they started putting together their list of 100-plus names, a guy who they feel has the potential to make a difference in the long-term success of the Blue Jays.
Will he? We’ll have to wait and see, but Alex, Tony et al haven’t made too many wrong steps yet. I’m certainly willing to trust them, and I’m very much looking forward to hearing what Farrell has to say when he meets with the media on Monday. I’m also looking forward to picking Alex’s brain about the process and how things all came together to point to a guy who had never managed a game of professional baseball.
The Blue Jays will present Farrell, who wore number 52 with the Tribe and Red Sox (so hand it over, Omar Malave) and after all the pomp and ceremony, it’ll be time to get down to work. A new coaching staff will presumably be in place, with holdovers in Bruce Walton and Rick Langford at the very least (I’m assuming). Torey Lovullo, the former Indian and Tiger and current manager of the AAA Pawtucket Red Sox, is expected to join Farrell here as the third-base coach or bench coach. One assumes that Brian Butterfield will be off to join Buck Showalter on the Orioles’ staff, which will be a huge loss to the Blue Jays. Nick Leyva was a Cito Gaston guy through and through, I’m thinking he likely won’t be retained, which leaves Malave and hitting coach Dwayne Murphy.
Malave has been a phenomenal organizational soldier for 30 years now, and with just one year in the majors it’s hard to believe they’d pull the rug out from under him. I can see him being back to coach first base. Of course, I can also see him being asked to manage in Las Vegas, where there’s an opening. As for Murphy, I’m not sure. He’s a hard worker, well-respected by his hitters, and the Blue Jays are coming off an historical home run year. Then again, they finished 24th in the major leagues in batting average and 26th in on-base percentage. Farrell may want his own guy.
All will be revealed on Monday, and of course, we will be all over it for you!
Sunday, October 24th, 2010
1:40 AM Eastern
The Philadelphia Phillies seemed to be in a terrific position to win their third straight National League pennant – it would have been the first time since the 1942-44 St. Louis Cardinals, and most of us just assumed it was all but inevitable. Best record in major-league baseball during the regular season. Outstanding offense led by Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Jayson Werth. The H2O rotation with the untouchable-since-August Brad Lidge around to wrap things up. The unadulterated first-round dominance of the best-hitting team in the National League. I thought they were pretty easily the best team in the big leagues over 162 games, but they weren’t the best team this week.
Over the next few days, you’ll see, hear and read a lot of stories about the gutsy, scrappy, resilient San Francisco Giants and how a bunch of rag-tag cast-offs came together to battle their way to the World Series.
It’s true that there are plenty of cast-offs on the Giants. Pat Burrell was released mid-season by the Rays, Aubrey Huff was still looking for a job as Spring Training approached, Andres Torres is 32 years old, spent 2006-2008 in the minors and this was the first season in which he even had 170 at-bats in the bigs (he had 507), LOOGY Javier Lopez has been on five teams in the last six years. Heck, NLCS MVP Cody Ross was picked up on waivers in August, and the Giants didn’t even want him! They just claimed him to block the Padres from grabbing him.
The cast-offs were augmented by one of the best starting staffs in the game, led by Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain and young phenom Madison Bumgarner, as well as by super-rookie Buster Posey, and they have had a pretty magical run.
Remember, the Giants were 6 1/2 games out in the last week of August and they finished up 21-13 while the Padres spit the bit, mostly because of an ill-timed 10-game losing streak. Still, San Fran needed a win on the last day of the season to avoid a three-way playoff with the Padres and Braves, and they got that done to sneak into the playoffs as NL West champs. They’ll meet the 90-win Rangers, the worst regular-season team to qualify for the playoffs, in the World Series.
The Giants haven’t won the whole shebang since 1954 – before they moved from the Polo Grounds – and the Rangers are there for the first time ever. This is going to be cool.
Back to the Giants, though. Bruce Bochy managed Game 6 like a riverboat gambler with ice in his veins, if I may mix my metaphors. He managed as though his team was the one that was down three games to two, and it worked.
Starter Jonathan Sanchez was all over the place, throwing only 26 of 50 pitches for strikes, so Bochy yanked him in the third inning. Need some extra long relief? Call on Game 4 starter Bumgarner, on two days’ rest, to work the 5th and 6th. Eighth-inning guy Sergio Romo isn’t right after slipping on the mound the other day? Go to Lincecum to get you through the 8th – on ONE day’s rest. Lincecum puts two on after only getting one out? Go to the Gregg-esque closer Brian Wilson to nail down the last FIVE outs, even though if he doesn’t get it done you’re going to want to have him for Game 7 tomorrow.
Everything worked tonight, as most things have throughout the post-season for Bochy, whose team has gone 6-2 this post-season in one-run games. He was helped along the way, though: Placido Polanco’s throwing error with two out in the 3rd allowed what was then the tying run to score, Shane Victorino somehow got doubled off second (he wasn’t even in the neighbourhood) on a Carlos Ruiz line drive to end the 8th, and Ryan Howard ended the game with the bat on his shoulders, taking a 3-2 slider on the outside black with the tying run on the move from second base.
Howard struck out 12 times in the series, but he hit .318/.400/.500, so even with the Ks, he was strong offensively. How will it be remembered, though, as far as he’s concerned? Six games without driving in a run, only scoring once although he reached base 10 times and finishing the series by striking out looking.
So it’s the Giants and Rangers for all the marbles, and the Fall Classic starts up on Wednesday night. The Fan Radio Network gets Game 1 starting at 7:00 PM Eastern with the ESPN pre-game, the Fan590 will join the game in progress after the Raptors’ season opener. It looks to be a tremendous pitching match-up, with Lincecum taking on Cliff Lee – the best post-season pitcher in the history of anything. The Giants have home field advantage since the National League won the All-Star Game, and they did just take down the best team in the majors – but Rangers knocked off the two best teams in the American League on their way to the big dance.
We had an opportunity for a little Post-Season Post-Game tonight, here it is for your listening pleasure:
Next up, the Blue Jays name their new manager on Monday, and all indications are that it’s going to be Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell. We’ll also find out what coaches are being retained – my money’s on Bruce Walton and Rick Langford at the very least, and maybe Omar Malave, but that may be it. I can’t see Brian Butterfield sticking around with a job offer waiting from his good buddy Buck Showalter in Baltimore. I expect that Torey Lovullo will be one of the coaches who comes over to join Farrell, either as bench coach or third-base coach.
We will, of course, provide blanket coverage of the announcement!
Friday, October 22nd, 2010
12:25 AM Eastern
For the first time in franchise history, the Texas Rangers are going to play in the World Series, leaving only the Seattle Mariners in the American League as a team never to have reached the precipice.
The Rangers did it by outpitching the Yankees, plainly and simply. C.J. Wilson, Cliff Lee and Colby Lewis had one outstanding performance each, and Lewis also won Game 2 by being more than good enough while his teammates beat the heck out of Phil Hughes.
Hughes was better tonight than he was in Game 2, but his fielding mishap cost the Yankees huge in what became a four-run 5th inning for Texas. Mitch Moreland led off that inning with a ground ball into the hole between first and second. Both Lance Berkman and Robinson Cano went for the ball, and Cano got it, spun and threw to first – but Hughes hadn’t made it there yet. I never saw a replay, so I don’t know whether Hughes slipped on the wet grass or just broke late to the bag because he thought it was too far into the hole for Berkman, but the bottom line is that he didn’t get there, and Moreland reached.
Elvis Andrus and Michael Young then both grounded out – would have been a three-up, three-down inning, but instead Moreland was at third with two out. Josh Hamilton was intentionally walked (for the fourth of five times in the series) so that Hughes could go after Vladimir Guerrero, who doubled over the head of Curtis Granderson in deep centre to score a pair, give Texas the lead, and knock Hughes out of the game. David Robertson came on and promptly coughed up a two-run bomb to Nelson Cruz.
The Yankees only got one more hit. All year.
The baseball gods were in on this one, most certainly, upset by the way the Yankees had tied the game in the top half of that very same inning. Alex Rodriguez led off with a double and moved to third on a deep fly by Berkman. There he stood as Colby Lewis threw a pitch down and in to Nick Swisher, hitting Swisher on the leg. None of the umpires noticed the glancing blow, though, nor did they notice how completely the ball changed direction as Bengie Molina went to block it, and Rodriguez came in to score on what was ruled a wild pitch.
This was the second time in three games that the umpires failed to notice Swisher getting hit by a pitch, allowing Yankee runners to advance unfettered, which is categorically ridiculous. The baseball gods had had enough, declared that this charade would not continue and, very obviously, prevented Hughes from getting to first on time on the Moreland grounder, leading to the Rangers’ game-winning rally.
Also – Joe Girardi played scared. It’s tough to win a pennant when you’re doing your best to avoid guys, and Girardi ordered EIGHT intentional walks in the series, five of them to Hamilton, who still wound up hitting .350/.552/1.000 with four homers to deservedly win the ALCS MVP (though you could certainly make a case for Colby Lewis, who threw eight innings of three-hitter in tonight’s clincher to go with a solid performance in Game 2, when he gave up two runs on six hits over 5 2/3, walking three and striking out six).
By the way, immediately following those eight intentional walks, Rangers hitters went 3-for-7 with a single, double, home run, sacrifice fly and EIGHT RBIs. There you go.
Congrats to the Rangers, who will have Cliff Lee on the hill as they open up the World Series in either Philadelphia or San Francisco on Wednesday night.
Before I go, a word about all the reports tonight that pointed to John Farrell being in position to be named the next manager of the Blue Jays. There happens to be a lot of smoke around this one, from reporters who are very well-sourced, and it’s hard not to believe that it will wind up being Farrell in the end. Tonight we learned that both Sandy Alomar, Jr. and DeMarlo Hale were informed that they will not be getting the job, which leaves Farrell and Brian Butterfield.
I have been staunchly in the Butter camp since Cito Gaston declared that this would be his last season, and I continue to be. I think Butterfield deserves the opportunity. He’s a brilliant baseball mind, having learned at the feet of one of the masters, his late father Jack. He’s a phenomenal instructor and an intensely hard worker. He can have a good time, but when it’s time to get down to work, he’s locked in. Ever since he was hired by the Blue Jays, he has been the first one in and the last one out every day.
If he gets the job, I know he’ll do it awfully well.
If Farrell gets the job, I assume he will, too. He’s very, very highly thought of with a solid body of work behind him. He has never managed before – at any level – so no one knows what to expect once things get going, not even Farrell himself, but I trust in Alex Anthopoulos’ judgement and he did exhaustive work in coming to this decision.
This process really seems to be coming to a head in a hurry, and I believe that we’ll see an announcement made at the beginning of next week, before the start of the World Series. All signs appear to be pointing towards John Farrell at the moment.
The Blue Jay A Day Pre-Pre-Game Show made its 2010 debut tonight, and Travis Snider did an amazing job. Listening to him answer questions thoughtfully and without cliche, it was almost impossible to believe that he’s only 22 years old. Here it is, for your listening pleasure:
We had a chance for a brief Post-Season Post-Game chat, and here that is for you:
And here’s the transcript from tonight’s edition of “Miked Up LIVE!”:
Thursday, October 21st, 2010
12:10 AM Eastern
The Phillies followed the Yankees’ lead of last night and staved off elimination, and now they’re headed home to try to win a pair and, in so doing, earn a third straight invite to the Fall Classic.
Once again, the Roy Halladay/Tim Lincecum match-up fell short of what was expected, and once again, Lincecum was better. This time, though, the Phillies took advantage of a few huge breaks in the third inning, and that was enough.
It started with a Raul Ibanez single, and Lincecum then hit Carlos Ruiz with a pitch to put two on with nobody out. It was the third time in the series that “Chooch” has been plunked, and in none of those three times did Ruiz – who is notorious for hanging out over the plate – even flinch. Seriously, it’s well past time for something to be done about this. There is a rule in place that says a hitter has to at least make an attempt to get out of the way of a pitched ball, it’s just almost never enforced.
Halladay was the next hitter, and he dropped down a bunt to try to advance the runners. Halladay bunted the ball straight down, and it kicked off to the side of home plate from whence Buster Posey picked it up and fired down to third to try to get the lead runner. Third baseman Pablo Sandoval, who had been charging the bunt attempt, was running back to third and couldn’t find the bag, so Ibanez slid in safely as Sandoval tumbled over it, but the Giants still got an out at first since Halladay didn’t run to first.
Why did Halladay not run? Two reasons. One, the bunt was foul. Home plate is in fair territory and the foul lines extend out from there, but the areas to the sides of home plate are foul. Halladay knew that, and didn’t run, but he should have, since nobody had called the ball foul. Also, he’d pulled a groin muscle pitching to Buster Posey in the first inning, but he bulldogged through it, not allowing Charlie Manuel to take him out of the game.
Had Doc been running, even with the pulled groin, the Phillies would have had the bases loaded and nobody out. Instead, it was second and third and one out and the next hitter, Shane Victorino, ripped a ground ball to first that went right off the heel of Aubrey Huff’s glove and into short centrefield, scoring two runs.
Placido Polanco followed with an RBI single up the middle, and that was all the Phillies would need. Interestingly enough, had Halladay been on the basepaths, he likely wouldn’t have scored from second on the Polanco single, but Chase Utley followed with a single of his own to render that moot.
The Giants got back within a run on back-to-back doubles by Pat Burrell and Cody Ross in the fourth, but Ross ran San Fran out of the inning but getting thrown out trying to advance to third on a Sandoval fly to right. Never make the third out at third base. The Giants managed just three singles from that point on, and they’re headed back to Philly.
Big “news” “broke” early this evening, when Peter Gammons tweeted that he’d been told by three GMs that John Farrell was going to get the Jays’ manager’s job and several people ran with it as though it was a done deal. It’s not. John Farrell may well wind up being the Blue Jays’ next manager, but he isn’t yet. Alex Anthopoulos told me at 11:45 PM tonight that he hasn’t made a final decision, and if there’s one thing Anthopoulos won’t do, it’s lie when he’s asked a direct question.
Remember, everyone ran with the final three of Farrell, DeMarlo Hale and Sandy Alomar, Jr. for a day until one of the two reporters who’d said that also said that oh, by the way, Brian Butterfield is still in the running, too.
Again, Farrell may well wind up being the manager, but they’re not 100% sure that he’s the guy yet. Heck, they may not even be leaning his way. They very well might be, though.
All we do know is that the Yankees will be in Arlington to take on the Rangers tomorrow night and the Phillies will host the Giants sometime on Saturday (game time depends on whether the ALCS goes to Game 7). We’ll have the games for you on the Fan Radio Network, and Friday night we will have the first edition of the Blue Jay A Day Pre-Pre-Game Show, starting at 6:00 pm Eastern.
I spoke to Jose Bautista this afternoon – he actually answered his phone in the recovery room and was extraordinarily groggy as he said he might do the show. I had no idea that he’d actually had surgery to repair a sports hernia just hours earlier, I never would have called had I known, and I’m sure he has absolutely no memory of our conversation.
I wouldn’t bet on Bautista being the guest, but I also have messages out to Ricky Romero, Shaun Marcum and Travis Snider – I’m sure I’ll be able to haul one of them in to take your phone calls, so don’t miss it!
We had the opportunity for a little Post-Season Post-Game tonight, here it is for your listening pleasure:
And remember, the playoff edition of “Miked Up LIVE!” continues, and it’ll be back again Friday night from 8:00 – 11:00 pm Eastern – here’s tonight’s transcript: