Oct 13

LCS, Day One

Only one game today, Tigers v. Yankees at Yankee Stadium at 8:00PM Eastern. It’s Doug Fister for the Tigers and Andy Pettitte for the Yankees. Pettitte’s next win in the postseason will be his 20th, which is astonishing, but is also symbolic of the inflation in the number of postseason games since 1995 when the Division Series was added as a result of splitting the leagues into three divisions each. The leader before the new playoff series were adopted was Whitey Ford with 10 wins (the League Championship Series started in 1969).

The Tigers have Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera; the Yankees have the Rodriguez soap opera plus Jeter and Granderson and Swisher and Texeira and Cano.

Oct 13

Dodger’s grades, cont.

In an ongoing series, Mark Saxon grades the Dodgers’ outfield this past season and looks ahead to what it might be next season, with a healthy Kemp, a recovered Crawford and a steady Ethier.

After that he does the same thing for the pitching rotation. Beyond Kershaw, forecasting who makes it up is the interesting question there, since we don’t yet know whether Billingsley will have Tommy John surgery. The latest news about that is from October 3, when Trainer Sue Falsone said “Billingsley can avoid Tommy John surgery if he stays pain-free, but ‘if he hits any road bumps he’s probably going to have to have surgery.'” A week ago he was playing catch two of every three days and reporting no pain, but that could change.

Then there’s Lilly. We won’t know till spring training whether his shoulder has fully recovered. Harang and Capuano are under contract, as is Beckett. Blanton is a free agent and will likely test the waters, but he didn’t perform all that well as a Dodger anyway.

A press release from ESPN LA says that Dave Hansen is out as hitting coach; he’s been offered another position within the organization. “Pitching coach Rick Honeycutt, third-base coach Tim Wallach, first-base coach Davey Lopes, bench coach Trey Hillman and bullpen coach Ken Howell will return in 2013.”

Oct 12

Division Series Day Seven

Jayson Werth :: Rob Carr/Getty Images

After yesterday’s heroics, we’ll see who has what left in the tank.

The first game today is Game Five between the Orioles and Yankees at 5:00PM Eastern on TBS. It’s a rematch between Game One starters Jason Hammel of the Os and C.C. Sabathia of the Yankees. However, Alex Rodriguez has been benched and Eric Chavez will start at third, so expect minutes of airtime to be wasted discussing that. It’s pretty clear that A-Rod hasn’t been hitting; he’s got nine strikeouts in sixteen at-bats. If it weren’t for the fact that he’s A-Rod with his $29M-per-season salary this would be of no news value at all.

The second game is Game Five between the Nationals and the Cardinals. The Game One starters are back for this game as well: Gio Gonzalez for the Nats and Adam Wainright for the Cards. The game starts at 8:30PM Eastern on TBS.

Oct 11

Division Series Day Six

First up today at 1:00PM Eastern, Giants – Reds in Game 5. Matt Cain for the Giants and Mat Latos for the Reds. Winner-take-all, do-or-die, lose-and-go-home: pick your cliché. The Giants’ bats have seemingly finally awakened (12 hits in the series’ first three games, 11 in Game 4). If that holds up the Reds may be in trouble. At least they’re in Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati.

Update: Being at home did the Reds no good as Mat Latos surrendered six runs in the fifth inning, four on a grand slam by Buster Posey, and they couldn’t come back. The Giants win 6 – 4.

Game two today is in Washington at 4:00PM Eastern, Cardinals – Nationals, Game Four of their series with the Nationals down two games to one. It’s a must-win for the DC team, and they have to get production from more players than Ryan Zimmerman and Ian Desmond. Today’s pitchers: Kyle Lohse for the Cards and Ross Detwiler for the Nats.

Update: Ex-Dodger Jayson Werth hits a walkoff solo home run in the bottom of the ninth inning and the Nats force a Game Five tomorrow, winning 2 – 1.

Today’s third game is at Yankee Stadium, Orioles – Yankees at 7:30PM Eastern. The Orioles call on Joe Saunders to help them get past that stunning loss in twelve innings yesterday, while the Yankees pitch Phil Hughes. The Yankees lead the series two games to one, so the Os have to win to push the series to five games.

Update: Holy cow, as Harry Caray would say. The Orioles won 2 – 1 in 13 innings on a double by Machado and a subsequent double by J.J. Hardy. That forces a Game Five Friday evening at 5:00PM Eastern in the Bronx.

The final game of the day is Game Five in Oakland, Tigers – Athletics. If you use experience as a guide you’d have to go with the Tigers in this one, since they’re putting Game One starter Verlander out there again. Can the As Jarrod Parker possibly repeat his performance in Game One, when he gave up three runs in 6 1/3 innings? But, as Jim Leyland said last night after that improbable comeback by the As, “Yeah, well, it’s baseball,” Leyland said. “I mean, that’s why this is the greatest game of all. It looked like we were going to get it. We didn’t do it. We didn’t quite get the 27 outs. That’s part of the game.”

Amen to that.

Update: Verlander was just too good for the As. He shut them out 6 – 0 and the Tigers go on to the ALCS to face either the Orioles or the Yankees.

Oct 10

Dodgers news, mid-playoff edition

At ESPN LA, Daniel Braunstein has written a combined look back/look forward post about the just-completed season.

Also at ESPN LA there’s an unsigned (but probably Mark Saxon-written) post putting a letter-grade on the infield’s performance for the season. Hint: you’d probably not be promoted to the next grade if you got the one he assigned.

Roberto Baly has a lot of links at Vin Scully is my Homeboy, including a podcast of Vin Scully on AM570 radio.

Via Roberto comes this link to a Ken Gurnick story which informs us that Yasiel Puig had a staph infection in his elbow requiring surgery. It’ll take three to five weeks to rehab and it means he’ll miss the Arizona Fall League.

Oct 10

Division Series Day Five

Four games today, and the Washington – St. Louis one will be special if you care about the broadcasters. It’s on the MLB Network at 1:00PM Eastern, and Bob Costas and Jim Kaat will be in the booth. It’s been a long time since Costas last did a playoff game (for NBC in 1999), and the multiple Emmy-winning sportscaster has since moved to the MLB Network. This will be the first post-season game he’s done since that ’99 one. Kaat’s an Emmy-winning broadcaster in his own right. Oh, and if that’s not enough history, it’s the first postseason game in Washington since 1933.

The pitchers will be ex-Dodger, ex-Ray, ex-Tiger, ex-Diamondback, ex-White Sox, ex-Cardinal Edwin Jackson for the Nationals (10-11, 4.03 ERA) against Chris Carpenter (0-2, 3.71 ERA). Carpenter’s comeback from thoracic outlet syndrome is quite a story all of itself. He had surgery to repair it on July 19, yet here he is three months later pitching in the big leagues. The series is tied 1-1.

The second game of the day also starts at 4:00PM Eastern at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati. It’s Game Four of the Giants – Reds series, and the Reds lead two games to one. The Giants will start Barry Zito with the entire bullpen in reserve for this must-win game. The Reds haven’t yet announced a starter. Game One starter Johnny Cueto is still injured, and it appears their options consist of Mat Latos on short rest or Mike Leake. Neither one is ideal. Latos pitched four innings in relief in Game One, and Leake was 8-9 with a 4.58 ERA for the season and would have to replace Cueto on the roster, meaning Cueto would be ineligible for the NLCS if the Reds get that far.

The third game of the day is Game Three between the Yankees and Orioles at Yankee Stadium, starting at 7:30PM Eastern. The starting pitchers are old friend Hiroki Kuroda (16-11, 3.32 ERA) for the Yankees and Miguel Gonzalez (9-4, 3.25 ERA). The two teams have played 20 times this season and each has won ten games.

The last game of the day is in Oakland at 9:30PM Eastern, where the Athletics play the Tigers in a do-or-die game. The Tigers lead the series two games to one. The As will trot out yet another rookie pitcher, A.J. Griffin (7-1, 3.06 ERA), while the Tigers counter with Max Scherzer (16-7, 3.74 ERA).

Oct 09

Division Series Day 4

The first game today is at 5:30PM Eastern. It pits the Giants v. Reds at Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati. The Reds lead the series two games to none. It’ll be Homer Bailey (13-10, 3.68 ERA and a no-hitter this season) for the home team against Ryan Vogelsong (14-9, 3.37 ERA) for the visitors.

Obviously the Giants are fighting for their playoff lives, while the Reds have the luxury of knowing they only need to win one of potentially three games in their home ball park. If the Giants don’t solve Bailey or his successors on the mound, they’re done. They’re hitting an awful 9 for 63 (.143). If that doesn’t improve and quickly, they’ll be on the way back to Baghdad-by-the-Bay tomorrow.

The second game today is at 9:00PM Eastern and features the Tigers v. As. The As are in a similar position to the Giants, down two games to none, but at least they’re playing at home. They’ll go with the left-handed Brett Anderson, who pitched well (4-2, 2.57 ERA) after returning from Tommy John surgery. He’ll face Anibal Sanchez, who posted a combined 9-13 record with a 3.94 ERA for the Marlins and the Tigers.

Aside for the Dodgers fans: Adam Duritz of Counting Crows is an As fan and remembers the Gibson home run in 1988.

“The worst moment ever,” Duritz said of the famed 1988 World Series homer Gibson hit against Oakland. “I was at my friend Mike’s house, one of my best friends, and we were going to all the A’s games together and we were at his place for that game. God, Eckersley hadn’t walked anybody the entire year, he walked that guy — that was the worst moment ever. I’ve never watched another moment at Mike’s house ever.”

Ah, superstition. I know it well.

Update: Both Bay Area teams won, fending off the end of the season for another day.

Oct 08

Division Series Day 3

Only two games today. First, at 4:30PM Eastern, the Nationals take on the Cardinals with a one-game lead in the series. Today’s pitchers are Jordan Zimmermann for the Nats and Jaime Garcia for the Cardinals.

Then, at 8:30PM Eastern, the Yankees play the Orioles. The Yankees exploded for five runs in the top of the ninth inning in Game One off the best closer in the major leagues yesterday to take a one-game lead in the series. Today’s pitchers are Andy Pettitte for the Yankees and Wei-Yin Chen for the Os. This will be Pettitte’s 43rd playoff start and Chen’s first. Baseball being unpredictable, Chen will probably throw a shutout for six innings while Pettitte gets blown out after facing seven hitters.

Oct 07

Whither the Dodgers?

via ESPN, here’s a link to a radio interview Stan Kasten did on Friday with ESPNLA’s Max Kellerman and Ramona Shelburne. It’s enlightening.

Update: Go look at the Twitter photo Jon’s posted over at Dodger Thoughts. It’s the Dodgers’ regular catcher recovering from surgery for a torn meniscus in his left knee, but there are some humorous Twitter thoughts added to the photo.

Update #2: Kemp’s damaged shoulder was hurt more than anticipated. The labrum had to be reattached, and the docs say he may not be at full strength when spring training starts.

Oct 07

Division Series Day 2

Today is the first big day of the Division Series games, with four on the schedule.

First, at 12:00PM Eastern, the Tigers host the Athletics. The Tigers lead the series one game to none on the strength of Justin Verlander’s strong pitching and a home run from Alex Avila. Doug Fister starts for the Tigers and Tommy Milone goes for the As.

Update: Detroit wins 5 – 4 on a sac fly by Don Kelly in the bottom of the ninth.

The second game of the day is Game One between the Nationals and Cardinals in St. Louis at 3:00pm Eastern. The Nats will pitch 21-game winner Gio Gonzales while the Cardinals put Adam Wainwright on the hill.

Update: The Nationals win 3 – 2 on a 2-run pinch-hit single in the 8th inning by Tyler Moore.

The third game of the day begins at 6:00PM Eastern and features Game One between the Yankees at the Orioles in Baltimore. The Yankees’ starter will be CC Sabathia; the Orioles will pitch Jason Hammel. There’s rain forecast for the city, however, so this game may or may not be begun or completed.

Update: The game is in a rain delay at 7:00PM Eastern with no word yet on when or whether it will be played.

Update 2: The game is underway. It began at 8:40PM Eastern.

Finally, Game Two between the Giants and Reds is at 9:30PM Eastern from San Francisco. The Reds will put Bronson Arroyo on the hill while the Giants pitch Madison Bumgarner. One hopes they each pitch better than their teams’ relievers did in the ninth inning in Game One, when there were 3 wild pitches and a passed ball between the two teams. That didn’t keep the Reds from winning the game, however.

Update: The Giants – Reds game has begun. It’s being televised on TNT.