Rarely do games hyped-up to the extent of Friday’s match-up between Roy Halladay and Tim Lincecum live up to the billing. But this one did with S.F. winning a close 4-3 ballgame.
I got the feeling most fans were siding with Halladay given his no-hit performance against Cincinnati. But the nine days off in-between starts seemed to zap Doc of his dominate stuff from a week earlier.
Lincecum didn’t steal the show either, but found ways to get big outs when he needed them.
Most surprising is that both hurlers allowed home runs to the No. 8 hitters in the lineups. Another beauty of postseason baseball!
Meanwhile, Halladay’s hitless streak of 11 innings is second longest in postseason history to Don Larsen, who tossed 2.3 hitless innings against Milwaukee in the 1957 World Series following his perfect game for New York in the 1956 Series.
I’d put Tuesday’s duel between Andy Pettitte and Cliff Lee on the same stage as Halladay vs. Lincecum.
Pettitte is going after his 20th career postseason win and Lee is quickly shaping up as one of the most dominate starters in postseason history.
I venture to say that whoever wins Game 3 will win the series. For my money, I like Lee.
I was thinking how the NL Central would shape up for 2011. Basically, would the Cubs have a chance to recapture the division title?
Cincinnati is the front runner, of course, but just six months ago Baker’s bunch seemed destined for a winning season–not a division championship.
Reds GM Walt Jocketty is quickly delivering on owner Bob Castellini’s promise to return championship baseball back to Cincinnati. Meaning, the once bumbling Reds are now a force to be reckoned with in the NL Central.
Meanwhile, Tony LaRussa’s uncertainty in St. Louis leaves the Cardinals in flux. Houston is improved, but hardly contenders. Milwaukee has just enough offense to float around .500. And Pittsburgh is, well, Pittsburgh.
So where does that leave the Cubs? Hard to tell right now. But the right manager and a few solid additions to the bullpen could potentially keep Chicago on pace with Cincinnati.
However, if Jim Hendry fails to excel in the coming weeks, he’ll once again find himself playing catch-up to Walt Jocketty, something he’s done for a long, long time.
Hard to believe Lee was passed over on waivers when the Indians shipped him to Triple-A Buffalo in July of 2007. Granted he was (5-8) with an unsightly 6.38 ERA at the time, but just a year later he would rebound to win the AL Cy Young Award going (22-8) with a 2.54 ERA.
Then try and wrap your brain around the Indians trading Lee to Philadelphia, who in turn dealt him to Seattle, who then made a joke of it by dealing Lee to Texas. And this is how the league treats its best starting pitcher in the game!
But that’s what I love most about Lee, his desire to succeed is stronger than his left arm. He’s handled the negatives, the trades and the pressure with absolute poise. He’s delivered at every stop, made every team he’s on better and dominated opponents throughout.
The only way it gets better from here is if Lee leads the Rangers past New York. And I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he does.
*Dusty Baker, Cincinnati – Baker shed his reputation as a verterans-first manager to guide a young and inexperienced club to an unexpected division championship.
Despite playing in a home ballpark conducive to hitting, Baker instead preached defense first and aggressive base running secondly. The Reds bought-in to capture its first winning season in ten years and its first trip to the postseason since 1995.
Charlie Manuel, Philadelphia – Manuel delivered his promise that his team “will be back” after losing the the World Series to New York.
Chuck marched the Phils back into contention in the season’s second half by masterfully handling a faulty bullpen and a roster depleted by costly injuries to key players.
Three straight division championships has won Manuel the respect of the home market that once mocked him and positioned Philly to become the the first NL team since St. Louis in 1942-44 to reach three straight World Series.
Bud Black, San Diego – No one predicted the Padres would win 90 games in 2010. But despite a new GM and zero significant additions over the offseason, Black led the Friars to within 2 games of the West division title.
I didn’t expect Dusty Baker’s Reds to knock off the Phillies in the NLDS. But I was hopeful Baker’s bunch would at least have a good showing. That, of course, didn’t happen with Philly making a clean 3-0 sweep.
Although the Reds managed more errors (7) than runs (4), there’s no shame losing a short series against the likes of Halladay, Oswalt & Hamels.
Cincinnati, however, was primed for a Game 2 victory before costly fielding mistakes allowed a four-run lead to evaporate. Sorry Baker-haters, but you can’t blame Dusty for losing the ball in the lights!
I remember Game 1 of the 2007 NLDS like it was yesterday. Up and coming Chicago facing the surprise Arizona D-Backs. I watch the game standing up, to nervous to sit on my favorite comfy chair!
Arizona scores first, a fourth inning home run by Stephen Drew. I’m deflated, but confident the Cubs rebound. They do when Ryan Theriot singles in a run in the top of the sixth.
Big Z’ and Brandon Webb match each other pitch-for-pitch through six innings. It’s a 1-1 game. Zambrano’s looking strong. He’s an 18-game winner. Going the distance would be no problem.
Lou Piniella feels otherwise. He lifts Zambrano after 85-pitches, believing Z will be fresher for his second postseason start. This decision, perhaps, is the single worst move Piniella makes during his tenure with the Cubs.
I’m happy for Roy Halladay. Happy he made it out of Toronto. Happy he ended up on a contender. Happy he’s found continued success. Happy he’s getting the attention he deserves.
Masterful performance Wednesday. Reds were off-balance from start to finish. Lots of swinging strikes. Travis Wood, the pitcher, made the best contact all day–a fly out to right field. I’d say Roy Halladay won himself a Cy Young Award, too. (Wink! Wink!)
–Reds fans waited 15 years for this day. And many more, I suppose, would choose to wait longer than watch the Redlegs make forgettable history. But the series is far from over.
St. Louis kicked Cincy in the teeth earlier this season, and look where that got them. There’s also the veteran leadership of Edmonds, Rolen & Rhodes, who have all been through tough playoff series. It’s simply a Game 1 loss, not a clinching loss or a home loss. No-hitter aside, it’s not over yet, people!
–Love Cliff Lee. He, like Halladay, was under-appreciated for a long time. During the last year he’s endured many difficulties professionally–trades, new cities, new homes, new teammates, new manager. But the guy just perseveres. He’s the best pitcher in baseball. Always strong in the clutch. Worth every penny. I love watching him pitch.
Name your favorite baseball memories from the past 17 years. Lots to choose from, I know. There’s Cal Ripken’s record streak, the great home run chase of 1998 and Boston’s stunning comeback against New York in the 2004 ALCS, just to name a few.
Whatever the memory,share it with us in the comments section below to qualify for a signed copy of Ken Burns’ and Lynn Novick’s filmThe Tenth Inning–a two part, four hour mini series showcasing the game’s tumultuous history, greatest stars, and unforgettable moments over the past 17 seasons.
I watched the documentary last week and loved every minute of it. The scenes of mid-90s baseball rekindled vivid memories of my childhood. I watched non-stop, worried it would end any minute.
There’s a lot to capture in 17 years of baseball, but for the most part, Burns nailed it. Yes, it’s a little steroids heavy, but looking back decades from now, that will be the story of the era, and that’s the story Burns tells.
Meanwhile, my memory to share. I’ll always remember the excitement I felt the night Ken Griffey Jr. raced home to score the winning run against New York in the 1995 ALDS. My favorite player beating my favorite enemy–priceless.
My dad and I watched the drama unfold on a tiny television in his bedroom. I jumped off the waterbed when Junior slid home–safe! The damn Yanks were no more, and Seattle “refused to lose.” What a great game, what a great memory!
Look forward to reading yours, too.
*Give-a-way is on a first-come first-serve basis. Supplies of DVDs are limited. Good luck!