The playoffs begin today. The American League gets it kicked off with the Texas Rangers and the Tampa Bay Rays at 5:07pm. The New York Yankees and Detroit Tigers get the nightcap tonight at 8:37pm. Justin Verlander takes on CC Sabathia tonight in the Yanks-Tigers series. The NLDS gets under way tomorrow with the Milwaukee Brewers and the Arizona Diamondbacks at 2:07pm and then the Philadelphia Phillies and St. Louis Cardinals follow them at 5:07pm. Should shape up for a great first round. Tristan Tschoepe got us started with his predictions earlier, here are mine.
Tampa Bay Rays (91-71) @ Texas Rangers (96-66) 5:07 pm Friday
It is no secret what happened to the Rays on Wednesday and how they got into the playoffs. After Evan Longoria’s walk off home run on Wednesday, the celebration ensued in Tampa. My question is… did the Rays already win? We saw that happen to the Phillies in 2007 when they made the playoffs and that was the main goal- not the World Series. I don’t know if this is the case for the Rays or not but it does raise some question. I think the Rays enter the playoffs with more momentum than any other team in baseball, except the Rangers. Unfortunately for them, they face the Rangers who won 14-16 down the stretch. The Rangers are one of the most balanced teams in baseball. They can hit for power (Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz), they can hit for average (Michael Young), they can steal bases (Ian Kinsler and Elvis Andrus), they can pitch (C.J. Wilson), and they can close out games (Neftali Feliz). The Rays have a tall task at hand and it certainly doesn’t help that they have rookie starter Matt Moore starting Game 1 opposite of Rangers ace C.J. Wilson (16-7, 2.94 ERA). I look for this to be a chest match but it is hard to pick against the Rangers overall balance.
Prediction: Rangers in 5
Detroit Tigers (95-67) @ New York Yankees (97-65) 8:37 pm Friday
The Yankees once again put up big numbers. Mark Teixiera and Curtis Granderson were ranked #2 and #3 in the Majors in home runs. Robinson Cano put on a display at the Home Run Derby and showed that he is as dangerous a hitter as anyone else in that lineup. Derek Jeter had another solid year hitting just a shade under .300 at .297. The Tigers also have some guys who can hit the ball too. Miguel Cabrera lead the Majors in hitting at .344 and switch hitting catch/designated hitter Victor Martinez hit a solid .330. Pitching is the big question mark for both teams this series. Game 1 features likely AL Cy Young winner and potential AL MVP candidate Justin Verlander going for the Tigers and Yankees ace CC Sabathia. If the Yankees take Game 1, I see them winning this series. If the Yankees take game one they practically force the Tigers to pitch Verlander on short rest. If the Tigers win Game 1, they take pressure off game two starter Doug Fister. The pitching matchups Verlander v. Sabathia, Fister v. Nova, and Scherzer v. Garcia. Fister has been outstanding since joining the Tigers in a midseason trade from the Mariners. They both have great closers in the bullpen. Jose Valverde was perfect in save opportunities this year and the Yankees have the ageless Mariano Rivera. Again, if the Yankees win Game 1, I think they win the series. But I don’t think the Yankees get the best of Verlander but this is going to be a great series to watch.
Prediction: Tigers in 5
Arizona Diamondbacks (94-68) @ Milwaukee Brewers (96-66) 2:07 pm Saturday
The Diamondbacks have surprised everyone this year by defeating the reigning World Series champion Giants and winning 94 games. The Diamondbacks are anchored by Cy Young candidate Ian Kennedy but also have solid starters behind him in Daniel Hudson and Joe Saunders. Diamondbacks outfielder Justin Upton is as close to a five tool player as you get (along with Hunter Pence). The Diamondbacks can put up some runs and can pitch out of jams as well. Whatever the Diamondbacks can do, the Brewers can do better. The Brewers trot out stud pitchers in Yovani Gallardo, Zack Greinke, and Shaun Marcum. They also put up some big numbers offensively. Prince Fielder had the season of his life (ironic that it is his contract year?) and MVP candidate Ryan Braun had a 30-30 year and contended for the NL Batting Title until the last day of the season. The Brewers boasted the best home record in the Majors but were 3 games under .500 on the road. I think the Diamondbacks will put up a fight against the Brewers (especially at home) but I think, in the end, the Brewers will be too much for the Diamondbacks.
Prediction: Brewers in 4
St. Louis Cardinals (90-72) @ Philadelphia Phillies (102-60) 5:07 pm Saturday
The best team in baseball faces off against a team that needed all 162 games and some help to get into the playoffs. The Cardinals owe the Phillies their season for sweeping the Braves and allowing the Cardinals the opportunity to make it. Now they face off. The Phillies are where they were expected to be. Fifth straight division champions and they have the best record in baseball for the second straight year. The Cardinals had an up and down year but made it to the postseason regardless. The status of Cards LF Matt Holliday is uncertain with his left hand injury. St. Louis feared he would be out for the season but he was able to play through some pain against the Astros but aggravated it the other day and remains day-to-day. Albert Pujols has shown that he is pretty much the same Albert Pujols who was one of the most feared hitters in baseball. The Cardinals are sending former Phillie Kyle Lohse to start Game 1 against Roy Halladay and then Chris Carpenter will go for the Cards in Game 2 on three days’ rest against Cliff Lee. The Cardinals pitching isn’t where the Phillies staff is. The Phillies hold the edge there and the Phillies can put up some offensive numbers with the new juggled lineup that has Chase Utley batting second and Hunter Pence batting third. The Phillies are clearly the better team in this series. Prediction: Phillies in 4-Steve Dolan
In this week's Home Stretch, the focus will be on the first games of the MLB postseason. I'll tell you who will win each series and why. On Friday night, the ALDS gets its start at 5pm with the Rays at the Rangers, followed by the primetime matchup of the Tigers at the Yankees. On Saturday, the Diamondbacks head to Milwaukee to face the Brewers at 2. After that game is over, the Phillies host the Cardinals for the second game of the NLDS. This is the start of a month of baseball where each team fights to get 11 wins. And for Phillies fans, the idea of a Cody Ross-Free playoffs is a great feeling.
RAYS @ RANGERS: 5:07pm Friday
That's right David Price, you should be happy. Your team bailed you out of what surely was an awful performance by you on Wednesday night. Down 7-0 to the Yankees, defeat was imminent. But thanks to clutch hitting by Evan Longoria and Dan Johnson, the Rays get to see at least another week. But going into Texas and getting wins will not come easy. Taking the hill tonight for the Rangers is their ace, C.J. Wilson. Wilson went 16-7 this year with a 2.94 ERA. He is generally a tough opponent at home, especially last year in the postseason. The Rays are riding a huge momentum swing stemming from the collapse of the Boston Redsox. But don't expect this team to dominate anyone. They were in the exact same situation last year and the Rangers came out on top. Look for Wilson and the powerful bats of the Rangers lineup to come out on top tonight.
Prediction: Rangers in 5
Tigers @ Yankees 8:07pm Friday
This may be one of the only games the Tigers can comfortably win. Now i'm not saying that the Yankees have no chance tonight, but seeing the season that Verlander has had, not a lot of teams in MLB stand a chance against him right now. This may become a crucial decision maker for manager Jim Leyland come game 4(if necessary). If the Tigers are down in the series 2-1, will he pitch Verlander on short rest? Sabathia will most certainly go on a shortened schedule, but as of right now, Rick Porcello is slated to pitch game 4 if there is a game four. I think the series will come down to this game. If the Tigers can force a game 5 and put Verlander back on the mound, the Tigers have a very good chance to win this series.
Prediction: Tigers in 5
Braun and Fielder
Diamondbacks @ Brewers 2:07pm Saturday
The Diamondbacks and Brewers have not faced each other since late July, and since that time, both teams have come a long way. At that time, the Giants and the Pirates were in first place of their respective divisions. The Brewers own the best home record in baseball this season and have great power numbers at Miller Park. For tomorrow's game, Arizona sends Ian Kennedy to the mound who had a simply phenomenal season going 21-4 with a 2.88 ERA. If the Diamondbacks want to take a game from the Brewers in Miller park, their best chance is on Saturday. The Brewers had a mediocre road record this year so this series will be a close one. Ultimately, i think the big bats of potential NL MVP Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder will prove to be too much for the Diamondbacks.
Prediction: Brewers in 5
Lots of zeros
Cardinals @ Phillies 5:07pm Saturday
I remember some national media personalities telling me that the Michael Bourn trade to Atlanta was better than the Hunter Pence deal to Philadelphia, well we all see how that worked out didn't we. The Phillies eased off the gas after clinching the NL East as well as home field advantage in the playoffs in mid-September, but don't expect them to be flat. Yes, the Cardinals were one of the hottest teams down the stretch, but the Phillies are poised to make a huge run. The first three games the Phillies send out last year's Cy Young winner Roy Halladay, who threw a no-hitter against the league's best offense that year, the Reds, followed by Cliff Lee, who has been absolutely magical in the post season the last two years with the Phillies and the Rangers, and finally Cole Hamels, who had a great year. The Cardinals high point in their pitching staff is Chris Carpenter, who has pitched extremely well in his second season after returning from Tommy John surgery. Adam Wainwright, who would have posed a potential threat for the Phillies this season, was shut down in spring training to have Tommy John surgery as well. Lance Berkman as had a great comeback year and has put up some of his best numbers. In the end, great starting pitching and a good closer will win you ball games (2010 San Francisco Giants). The Phillies have all the pieces now, and it's do or die. They set out in April with huge expectations, and now it is time to live up to them.
Prediction: Phillies in 4
Steak and Eggs for breakfast! Playoff baseball starts tonight!
The American League Divisional Series begins tonight in Texas. The Rays face off against the Rangers at 5:07pm in Arlington. The Yankees face off against the Tigers in New York at 8:37pm tonight. Both games can be seen on TBS. More here
The Pitt Panthers took on #16 South Florida last night. When I say “Pitt Panthers,” I really mean, “Ray Graham.” And when I say “took on,” I really mean, “ran over them.” Graham rushed for 226 yards on 26 touches and two touchdowns last night against USF. Graham also had four catches for 42 yards in Pitt’s 44-17 win in the Big East opener. More here
. (Editors note: QB Tino Sunseri played an excellent game under center last night as well. His 216 passing yards and 0 turnovers played a huge role in last night's win - TT)
Curtis Painter is expected to start for the Colts this Sunday. Maybe he can stir up some A.J. Feeley like magic for the Colts? More here
Red Sox GM Theo Epstein is not blaming manager Terry Francona for the Sox epic collapse down the stretch. Epstein says he respects “almost” all of the guys in the Red Sox clubhouse. An interesting statement considering reports are beginning to surface that there were clubhouse issues this season. Despite Epstein's comments, it seems more and more like Francona and the Sox will part ways. More here
Video of the Day:
If you have ever ripped on New York for any reason, you must certainly have heard the phrase “inferiority complex” thrown back at you. One of the many things that New York fans have accused Philadelphia fans of having is an inferiority complex. But what does this actually mean? Does Philadelphia even have an inferiority complex anymore?
It goes without saying that last night was one of the greatest regular season nights in baseball history. Two of the Wild Card games went 12 innings or more and another game was won with a two out rally in the bottom of the ninth. I was fortunate enough to be watching in Philadelphia so I could watch the Phillies on CSN, Red Sox-Orioles on ESPN, and Cardinals-Astros on ESPN2. The longer the night went on the more crazy it got.
Steak and Eggs and boy, was last night a treat for baseball fans. Wild Card Wednesday was more wild than you could ever imagine.
Let’s get started with the only non-suspense filled game. The Cardinals blanked the Astros last night 8-0 behind ace Chris Carpenter and a five run explosion in the first inning off former Phillie Brett Myers. This game started an hour later than the other three but ended a solid 45 minutes before any of the other three ended. More here.
The Phillies and Braves went at it last night too and they needed a little bit more than nine innings. The Phillies got a quick run in the first but the Braves responded in the bottom half to tie it at 1. Dan Uggla hit a two run homerun in the third inning to give them a 3-1 lead. Tim Hudson looked good until he ran into trouble in the seventh. The Phillies got a run in the seventh then Chase Utley came through with a sacrifice fly to tie the game in the ninth. In the thirteenth, Hunter Pence came through with a huge infield single that brought home Brian Schneider. David Herndon closed the door in the home half and the Braves, thanks to the Cardinals win earlier, were eliminated from playoff contention. More here.
Moving on to the Red Sox-Orioles. The Red Sox and Orioles were playing a back and forth game through the first couple of innings. Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia seemed to be the spark that the Sox needed driving in the first run in the third, then hitting the go ahead home run in the fifth. Then came the hour and 26 minute rain delay. The Red Sox came back from the rain delay and weren’t the same. They were getting outs when needed but the pitchers were putting runners on base. Heading into the bottom of the ninth with a 3-2, Jonathan Papelbon came on. He got two quick outs then Chris Davis doubled down the right field line. Nolan Reimold, with two strikes and two outs, doubled into left center to drive in Davis to tie the game. Robert Andino then singled to left that hit Carl Crawford’s glove and that drove home Reimold as the Orioles pull out the 4-3 win. More here.
The Yankees and Rays game was a little different. The Yankees jumped out to a seven nothing lead and had all but shut down the Rays until the eighth inning. Johnny Damon lead off with a single. After another single and two hit batsmen, the Rays were finally on the board. The Rays cut the lead to 7-3 when Evan Longoria stepped up and hit a two out three run home run to cut the Yankee lead to 7-6. In the bottom of the ninth, the Yankees got the first two outs then, with two strikes and two outs (notice a theme here) pinch hitter Dan Johnson hit a solo home run down the right field line to tie the game. It would remain that way until, three minutes after the Red Sox lost, with one out in the bottom of the 12th Evan Longoria hit a solo homerun to left field to win it for the Rays and they clinched the AL Wild Card. More here.
Video of the Day:
As Shane Victorino said so eloquently today on Twitter, "This wild card stuff is shaping up to be rather WILD..."
It definitely shaping up to be one of the most memorable Wild Card race and Wild Card collapses in recent memory. The Red Sox were a half game out of 1st place in the AL East, and on pace to win 98 games as of September 3rd. Now, they are tied with the Tampa Bay Rays for the AL Wild Card tonight and need Tampa Bay to lose tonight to the Yankees to keep their season alive. Boston is playing the Baltimore Orioles. The Atlanta Braves had an 8.5 game lead in the NL Wild Card three weeks ago. They are tied with the St. Louis Cardinals with the same scenario as the Red Sox.
Now for me, this has been a great season to watch baseball. Aside from the fact that the Phillies have pretty much dominated and secured the best record in baseball, this Wild Card race has been nothing short of captivating. Who would have thought that the Red Sox, a team that many people (even Whiz Wit writers) picked to go to the World Series would be in as bad of a slide as they are in now. Boston can't seem to buy a win. (See what I did there?) Atlanta seemed to have their playoff spot locked up less than a month ago, but their struggles, coupled with a surge by the Cardinals has made the NL Wild Card race almost as exciting as the AL's.
Among all of this is MLB trying to increase the amount of teams entering the playoff bracket. Um why? Why take away from the excitement of a collapse, or of a streaky team in September. Now I know Moneyball teaches us that there is no such thing as hot streaks, or being "clutch" but I still believe in it. Teams that get hot in September can really make a push to and through the playoffs.By adding another team to the playoffs, MLB would be rewarding teams like Boston and Atlanta for having solid regular seasons, with absolutely awful Septembers. Also, if MLB was to add a whole extra series for the extra teams, the 1st place team has to sit, and then the World Series extends either further into November. And no one wants to play baseball in New York or Philadelphia in October let alone November. I believe that MLB was discussion the ideas of either adding another series or having a so-called "play-in" game. But we could have a proverbial play-in game if the teams in the race have the same records after tonight. Thus adding to the excitement.
My advice to MLB would be to keep the structure the way it is. All 162 games count. Let the teams battle it out to the end. If a resurgent team like the Cardinals takes advantage of the Braves misfortunes (I won't cal it a collapse as of now). Adding that extra team would take away from this kind of excitement during September when fans interest is peaking after somewhat of a drop in interest during the middle months of the season.
What are your opinions? Leave the Playoffs how they are? Add two Wild Card teams?
Also, you can trade managers? Tell me you didn't laugh at that.
Steak and Eggs! Exciting night last night and only going to get more exciting tonight as it comes down to game 162 for the Rays, Red Sox, Braves, and Cardinals.
The Phillies took it to the Braves last night at Turner Field 7-1. They roughed up Braves starter Derek Lowe, dropping him to 9-17 on the year. Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, and Hunter Pence all went deep for the Phillies. The Phillies tied the franchise record for wins in a season with 101 and Charlie Manuel tied Gene Mauch for most wins all time as Phillies manager. More here
The Cardinals took advantage of the Braves loss last night by exploding in the 6th, 7th, and 8th innings to a 13-6 win over the Astros to tie up the NL Wild Card race. Cards ace Chris Carpenter faces off against former Phillie Brett Myers tonight in Houston. More here
The Red Sox squeaked out an 8-7 victory over the Orioles last night. Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon got Adam Jones to ground out to third with the tying run on second to end the game. They remain tied with the Rays for the AL Wild Card lead. More here
The Rays and Red Sox remain tied because the Rays beat the Yankees 5-3 last night at Tropicana Field. The Rays even turned a triple play to get out of a bases loaded jam in the 6th. More here
Video of the Game:
This week's Top Ten includes New York taking multiple swipes at Philadelphia, Flyers hitting hard, actual NBA news, and the Rays new out of town scoreboard.
Steak and Eggs! Happy Tuesday everybody!
The Phillies have continued their winning ways taking the first game of a 3 game series with the Braves last night 4-2. The Braves still maintain a 1 game lead in the NL Wild Card race due to the Cardinals extra inning loss in Houston. The Phillies got clutch hitting from their leaders including a home run from Jimmy Rollins and RBI singles from Raul Ibanez. More here
Eagles Qb Michael Vick does not have a broken hand but, rather, a bone contusion. He is officially listed as day-to-day with his status for Sunday's game vs. San Francisco uncertain due to swelling. More here
The Flyers beat up on the Rangers last night in a preseason matchup at the Wells Fargo Center 5-3. There was animosity and a great deal of it stemmed from today's video of the day. Tom Sestito might be facing a suspension for his hit. Let us know what you think in the comment section! Earlier in the day, the NHL officially announced that Citizens Bank Park will be home of the 2012 Winter Classic. More here
Last night the White Sox traded manager Ozzie Guillen to the Florida Marlins for two prospects. Well, they granted him his release and are entitled to compensation which will be two prospects from the Marlins because he is going to agree to manage the Marlins. Looks like the Phillies will be seeing a lot more of Ozzie Guillen! More here
The Red Sox lost to the Orioles last night 6-2 and the Rays beat the Yankees 5-2. That means that the Red Sox and the Rays are tied for the AL Wild Card lead with two games remaining. More here
Video of the Day:
Yes, Jim Jackson DID just say Jabroni.