Tagged: Red Sox
NLCS drama, Take 1
One game down in the Championship Series round and one incredibly dramatic finish already in the books. I wonder if they’ll all be like that. Probably, right?
PHILLIES 3, DODGERS 2
Just when you thought the Dodgers had Game 1 of the National League Championship Series all sewn up in a nice blue bow, the home team made some noise. You absolutely knew there would be some homers rocketing out of tiny Citizens Bank Park, and the locals didn’t disappoint, with Chase Utley and Pat Burrell doing enough damage to hold serve.
The tone was set with great pitching — Derek Lowe and Cole Hamels locked up in a classic October duel — and great defense. And then Brad Lidge continued his perfect season, nailing down another save.
What will happen tonight in St. Pete? Will it be the Rays or Red Sox getting it started on the right foot in the American League Championship Series?
I want to hear your thoughts about anything and everything related to the Championship Series.
The Rays and Red Sox took care of business Monday night, leaving us with two complete Championship Series and the next step of October — the final act before the World Series.
B.J. Upton set the tone at U.S. Cellular Field with two homers, the second one blasted right into the teeth of that famous Chicago wind, and Andy Sonnanstine and the bullpen did enough for the Rays to clinch.
In Boston, two plays helped the Red Sox close out their fourth American League Championship Series appearance in the last six years. The first was catcher Jason Varitek’s clutch putout of Reggie Willits in the top of the ninth on a botched squeeze bunt attempt by Erick Aybar.
The second was the game-winner off the bat of rookie shortstop Jed Lowrie that sent Fenway into another frenzy.
Now we get to analyze the next round in detail and prepare for what might be 14 games to decide who’s going to meet in the Fall Classic. Here are my first impressions and predictions:
ALCS: BOSTON VS. TAMPA BAY
As October-tested as the Red Sox are, I think the Rays had to be rooting for them last night. Not only does Tampa Bay now get home-field advantage in this series — the Rays, who had the best home record in baseball this season, wouldn’t have had it against the Angels — but they catch a banged-up Sox team, and those injuries are going to show up a lot more in a seven-game set than they would in five. The Rays handled the Sox well this year and have the pitching and defense to more than hang in there against the resilient defending champs. My prediction: Rays in six.
NLCS: LOS ANGELES VS. PHILADELPHIA
Take whatever you thought about the Dodgers before the Manny trade and chuck it out the window along with that leftover pepperoni calzone from Adrian and Phil’s Pizzeria. (Make sure the calzone lands in the dumpster, of course). This is an entirely different Dodgers team that has been galvanized and re-energized with the presence of that huge bat in the middle of the lineup, and their torrid September and sweep of the Cubs in the first round showed that. Nothing against the Phillies, who are loaded offensively and play well at home, but I’ve got to give a big pitching advantage to the boys in blue, and a big pitching advantage usually gets it done this time of year. My prediction: Dodgers in five.
Now it’s your turn. Let me see your predictions for both Series. We’ve got two days to talk it all over.
Heart of a champion
The Red Sox continue to show why they’ve won two of the last four World Series titles. They flat-out know how to get it done in October, and if you didn’t believe they could win it all this year, all you had to do was watch them last night. On to Friday’s games…
RED SOX 7, ANGELS 5
The guy they got for Manny, Jason Bay, puts them on top right away with an early homer, and then J.D. Drew breaks a tie with a two-run blast off K-Rod in the ninth! In other words, the Red Sox can taste another title, and going up 2-0 on the road against the team with the best record in baseball is pretty impressive in my book. The Angels have to be wondering what’s going on, losing their Major League-record 11th straight October game against the Sox. Fenway and a possible early clincher awaits …
RAYS 6, WHITE SOX 2
The tone-setting homer by Akinori Iwamura, the lockdown bullpen, the late insurance runs. It was a textbook October victory for the hometown Rays at the Trop, leading them to another 2-0 series lead heading back to Chicago. Can you believe how poised this young team seems? It’s like they’ve been playing in the postseason for years.
The weekend will be wild, with all four series possibly ending early in sweeps. Let me know who you think will get it done right away and who you think has the goods to pull off a stunner and take three straight.
You know I’ll be watching.
First things first
Three Division Series Game 1s yesterday and already more than a few surprises. And isn’t that typical of October?
Let’s go game by game.
PHILLIES 3, BREWERS 1
It isn’t surprising that Cole Hamels dealt the way he did, but the Brewers, particularly Yovani Gallardo, showed a lot of poise for a young team that has practically no postseason experience to speak of. If the Brew Crew can clean up a few mistakes, this might become a very competitive series very quickly — especially when CC gets his say. Here’s Chase Utley’s big hit in the third inning.
DODGERS 7, CUBS 2
Now I didn’t expect this one. Who would have thought the best team in the National League would go down at home in Game 1 in the 100th anniversary year of their last World Series title? But James Loney had the big hit, the grand slam in the fifth inning, Manny and Russell Martin homered later, and that was all she wrote. The Cubs will have to regroup in a hurry tonight, but their big horse, the Big Z, is on the hill, so Cubs Nation has to be feeling good about that.
RED SOX 4, ANGELS 1
The Angels had the best record in all of baseball this year and were at home with their ace, John Lackey, in Game 1, but the same old same old happened again — the Red Sox beat them in October. This time it was lefty Jon Lester giving the Angels hitters fits and the newest member of the defending world champs’ outfield doing most of the damage.
Almost too much to blog about, but I want to hear your thoughts. What was the best moment of the first day of October baseball in 2008?
And what’s going to happen tonight as the Rays-White Sox series starts and two other series continue?
Let me know.
We’re here, and the Postseason is ready to roll. I hope you all watched the White Sox come up big with that 1-0 win over the Twins like I did.
It was cool to see them celebrating. Fortunately for them, they’ve got an extra day to prepare for Thursday’s Game 1 in St. Pete!
Three Division Series games today to kick it off, and I can’t wait to see what happens and what memories are made. Here are some quick blog thoughts on each one.
Brewers at Phillies
Tough call here, but the Phightin’ Phils came up huge down the stretch to take the division from the Mets, and I don’t know if you have noticed what Ryan Howard’s been doing for the last month, but you’ll probably find out in this series. Philadelphia is a great baseball town and they haven’t tasted World Series champagne since 1980. They’re hungry and I expect them to come out aggressive.
Dodgers at Cubs
Does anyone have higher expectations this season than Cubs Nation? It’s been exactly 100 years since the Cubbies won it all, and their fans have heard enough about curses and billy goats. They’ve also had to watch as the Red Sox won in 2004 for the first time since 1918 and the crosstown rival White Sox took it the next year for the first time since 1917. With the pitching, the defense and the hitting that led them to dominate the NL this year, the Wrigley faithful have to think this is the year.
Red Sox at Angels
The Angels got swept out of the first round by the Red Sox in 2004 and 2007, and the Red Sox won the World Series both years. This season might be different, with the Angels winning 100 games for the first time in franchise history and owning the best record in the Majors. Great pitching matchup tonight with the Angels’ John Lackey going up against the Red Sox’s no-hitter man, Jon Lester.
Three games and all kinds of memories to be made. Now I want to hear your thoughts. What will happen tonight in each game? What are your predictions for these three series?
Let me know.
Today there’s a lot of baseball to watch and a lot of important moments to witness as we head into October, full speed ahead.
Grab some snacks, put on that seat belt and have fun. This is what we’ve been waiting for.
The tight pennant races are getting tighter, and I’m feeling the intensity every night as the Twins and White Sox battle it out for the last Postseason spots in the American League. I’m sure you are, too.
Meanwhile, as the Mets and Brewers try to keep the pace in the National League, the Mets are set on prolonging the life of that charming 44-year-old ballpark in Queens called Shea Stadium that’s going to make way for the new Citi Field next year.
What does it all mean? It means we’ve got less than a week to go until October, and the first five teams that have clinched as I write this are waiting along with the rest of us to see how it’s all going to shake out.
And those teams still have so many unanswered questions, too.
Can the Dodgers keep up the excitement and ride the hot bat of their newest star all the way through October?
Can a healthy Evan Longoria help the Rays continue to prove the doubters wrong?
Do the Red Sox have another magical run in them?
Is it THE year on the North Side?
Or will the team with the best record in baseball live up to its billing?
Vote in the poll and let me know how you think it will all play out. The good news is we won’t have to wait very long to see what happens.
A Wild Finish
There’s almost too much excitement around the big leagues to blog about these days with only two weeks until October, but things are getting Wild in the Wild Card races, and everyone knows all you have to do is get in it to win it.
The Red Sox look good at the top of the American League Wild Card standings for the AL’s fourth berth in the Postseason, but the Twins are still kicking after their dramatic win Thursday over Tampa Bay.
In the National League, it’s a different story. The Mets have fallen out of the lead in the NL East, but they’re still holding a tight lead on the Milwaukee Brewers for the Wild Card, and a big effort by their big horse, Johan Santana, kept them in charge Thursday.
Things aren’t looking so good for the Yankees, and the last time Major League Baseball had a postseason without them was 1993. I can’t believe it, and I’m sure a lot of you can’t either, but that’s baseball, right?
Added to that stunning fact is the reality that baseball’s Cathedral is closing down at the end of the season to make way for the shiny, new ballpark across the street.
So I would like to give an official O.G. shout-out to all the majestic moments we’ve witnessed at that big ballyard in the Bronx, with a big nod to my personal favorite, Aaron Boone’s 11th-inning walk-off piece off Tim Wakefield in that epic Game 7 of the 2003 AL Championship Series to beat the Red Sox.
Then again, there are about 100 others that come to mind, too. I’d be blogging all night if I was going to list them all. I don’t have that much time, but you all can help me out by voting in the poll and commenting.
So bring it: What are your favorite Yankee Stadium moments?
I want to hear all about them.
A big week
Are you sweating yet? September is getting tight and the pennant races are heating up even more, but three prime-time players made big-time statements that can carry all the way into the Postseason, and I’ve got to give them some October Gonzo blog love.
First up is Big Z, better known as Carlos Zambrano. He hadn’t pitched in 12 days but he served a whole lot of National League notice that he’s ready now and ready for October by no-hitting the Astros in Milwaukee.
Then there’s Big Papi, better known as David Ortiz. He’s been injured for the Red Sox, but he lives for this time of year and he showed the Tampa Bay Rays a thing or two about that Monday in St. Petersburg.
And let’s not forget the Phillies, who are right in the thick of it again. Sunday saw Brett Myers continue his resurgence to the top of his game, throwing a two-hitter against the Brewers and showing he might just be the October ace they always thought he’d be.
A quick shout-out to the thousands of you who voted in the last poll and kept our conversations going. I want to keep hearing all your thoughts about October and who you think will win it all and make the next Postseason memories. It was also good to see that we’re up to sixth in the rankings of the Latest Leaders at MLBlogs. Who knows? Maybe we’ll make it all the way to the top.
But on the field, you can be sure that more history will be made soon, which is why I don’t plan to miss many games between now and the end of the World Series. Only two weeks until October, and I can’t wait.
Who’s the one?
There were almost too many big-time Trade Deadline deals to blog about, but the fact that every single one of these guys has breathed new life into his new team has made it a lot easier to keep track of.
Seriously, did anyone really expect such immediate returns on their investments?
Check out the new guy in the No. 99 uniform at Dodger Stadium. I’m telling you … Manny isn’t just being Manny … he’s being the Man.
The Angels have got to be kidding me. The best record in the game and now a trade for at least a few months of Mark Teixeira? Sick.
And I should have known the Yankees would load up again. This time they got a nice haul, including a Hall of Fame catcher in Pudge Rodriguez. What does that mean? It means watch out, Red Sox and Rays.
Then again, Boston isn’t exactly hurting from the Manny deal, not when they brought in a great fit like slugger Jason Bay.
Every one of these teams is in the hunt for October and every one of these teams might have gotten just a little bit better, which means baseball got A LOT better … and A LOT more confusing. I think maybe I have to take a few more hours at the computer to figure this all out again, but it’s tough when you’ve got the Postseason on your mind.
The march toward October is in full swing, and we caught a good taste of what might happen in the postseason over the weekend at Fenway Park.
I don’t want to make any bold playoff predictions based on three games in July, but if the Yankees taking two out of three in Boston is any indication, I think Tampa Bay better start doing as well on the road as they’ve done at the Trop. Yep, the Bronx Bombers are back and making the American League East THE division to watch as the summer heats up, and their deal for Xavier Nady and Damaso Marte and rumored upcoming deal with Seattle — Jarrod Washburn, anyone? — should make them even stronger.
Here are some other O.G. observations that may or may not mean anything when that fall chill hits the air and the pennant races whittle down to eight teams…
The Angels continue to pile onto their AL West lead and best record in baseball, and now they add Mark Teixeira to the mix? Ridiculous. All that AND the fact that Vladimir Guerrero still hasn’t gotten hot. That’s a scary proposition for the rest of the league come October.
The Mets are finally playing to their potential. I’m not sure if it has to do with replacing Willie Randolph with Jerry Manuel, but something’s clicking at Shea – particularly the ball off of Carlos Delgado’s bat.
Watch out for Milwaukee. The C.C. Sabathia trade was genius and the Brew Crew has responded, big-time. And oh yeah, if you need any late-game heroics, Ryan Braun is clearly your man.
So many games to watch, so little time. But the clock’s ticking down to the Trade Deadline and to October.
More commentary after the deals are done before Thursday at 4 p.m. ET …