Thursday, October 22, 2009

MLB Playoffs Heating Up

Neither Bay Area baseball team is representing in postseason play right now, but to me, the baseball playoffs are about as exciting as it gets as far as pro sports postseasons are concerned. Needless to say, I've been paying pretty close attention to whats been going on in both league's Championship Series'.

The highlight of the postseason thus far in my eyes had to be watching the Phillies pound the Dodgers in an elimination game Wednesday. It kind of took me by surprise seeing the Phills dominate the Dodgers like that. In 2 of the last 3 games of the series, the Phills showed why they're going to their second world series in as many years, beating the Dodgers 11-0 in game 3, then 10-4 in game 5. Not exactly back-to-the-wall, fighting for your playoff life urgency from the Dodgers, and again, as a life-long Giants' faithful, extremely pleasing to watch. The Phillies used that dynamic, powerful lineup to just out-slug the Dodgers as LA's lineup as a whole didn't put together the best series. Rafael Furcal, Manny Ramirez, Matt Kemp, Casey Blake and Russel Martin all sported batting averages of .263 or lower, not exactly what your looking for out of the core of your lineup. I knew the Dodgers didn't quite have the offensive firepower to outscore the Phillies, and were going to need their pitching to be better than Phily's in order to even things out and give themselves an edge. However, Philly pitching was a little better than LA's in the series. Cliff Lee and Pedro Martinez both really paid off for Philadelphia in the series as Cole Hamels got hit pretty hard. If the Phills can keep Pedro and Lee pitching the way they did vs. LA and can get Hamels to throw like he did in the fall classic last year, they're going to be in pretty good shape heading into the World Series.

It's looking like the Phills opponent for the final round will be the New York Yankees. It's been a few years since the Yanks were in a world series, so you know they're going to come out focused tonight in LA so they can get this series over with. The Yanks are leading the set 3 games to 1, but the ALCS games have been much better games than the NLCS games were. In two of the four games so far, the Yanks and Angels have gone extra innings and in game one of the series, the Angels made some defensive mistakes that put them down in the game vs. CC Sabathia early. Sabathia has been the best starter in either league this postseason, so giving him 2-3 runs per is most likely enough to win the Yankees each game he starts. He's 3-0 with a 1.19 era and a .200 BAA along with a 20:3 K/BB ratio in 22 innings. It's also not helping the Angels' cause that they have just one batter (Howie Kendrick) hitting over .263 in the series. Bob Abreu, Chone Figgins, Juan Rivera and Kendry Morales are all hitting at a .125 clip or lower this round, and those guys are all pretty important pieces in the Angels lineup. They're going to have to rebound from Tuesdays' blow-out loss. This series isn't quite over, even though the Yanks have all the momentum, so the Angels can still make this thing a series if they can squeeze out a W tonight and head get this series back to New York. I'll be watching closely to see what goes down, and I'm sure the Phillies will be as well. I can't wait to see handicapper reviews on a potential Phillies/Yankees World Series too, as that should be one helluva match-up!

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