Thursday, October 06, 2005

Day 2 Wrap-up

Due to various commitments, I couldn't see a whole lot of the games today. Paid half attention to the Astros/Braves game at work, saw only the last 2.5 innings of Sox/Sox, and caught a good deal of OC/NY. Not a whole lot to write about, but I probably need to tone it down a bit anyway.

Braves/Stros
Morgan Ensberg reads my blog! Or at least he got the message--he's the fulcrum of Houston's offense. He proved it today, knocking in half of Houston's runs. Tim Hudson choked in the worst way possible, walking 5 batters and making sure Atlanta played from behind the entire game. Atlanta's bullpen also got exposed in this game. Farnsworth is their only real shutdown guy, and I doubt Cox is going to deploy him creatively. Smoltz really needs to pitch well tomorrow.

Sox/Sox
Speaking of creative deployment, how about Ozzie Guillen? I applaud him for bringing in Bobby Jenks during the 8th inning. This is what more managers need to do. You want your best pitcher facing the other team's best hitters, and that's exactly what Ozzie did. Even better, he let Jenks pitch the 9th, knowing full well that tomorrow is an off day. While luck has certainly been a factor in Chicago's remarkable 1-run game record (I think the graphic said 33-19), just as important is Guillen's impeccable use of his bullpen.

Graffanino's error was splashed all over SportsCenter, but let's not forget that the reason the Red Sox had the lead in the first place was a hideous misplay in left by Podzilla. Any ball that falls short of the warning track should be caught, especially by someone with Podsednik's speed. He got a horrible jump on the ball. Anyway, Graffanino got a bit overanxious trying to turn two. Let's give some credit to Iguchi, though. Wells had his curveball snapping tonight, and the home run pitch was not a bad one. Tad made like Vlad and croquet malleted it into the bullpen. Great piece of hitting, and Wells shouldn't hang his head over it. Red Sox fans can take heart with the performance of Jon Papelbon. He may have to save them in either Game 3 or Game 4...maybe even both! Boston was a .500 team on the road this year and had the majors' best record at home. So I'm not ready to move away from my prediction yet.

Halos/Yanks
More defense. The Yankees played horrible defense tonight, and gifted Anaheim the game, wasting a gritty performance by Chien-Ming Wang (though John Lackey matched him). The Angels showed up again with their horrible lineup, although Scioscia did at least move the hot Bengie Molina behind Guerrero. I wasn't a huge fan of the sac bunt festival in the 7th inning, but you can't argue with the results, I suppose. Scioscia did use his bullpen very well. Instead of saving Scot Shields for the later innings, he brought him in for an out when the Angels needed it most, so they wouldn't fall behind by more than 1. He then used Kelvim Escobar wisely, as the former starter was able to cruise through two innings and bridge to Frankie Rodriguez. God, what a slider.

Joe Torre, on the other hand, did a horrible job with his bullpen. His worst decision was leaving in Al Leiter to face Molina. Having Leiter face Anderson was fine, but I nearly spluttered when I saw him trot back out to face Vlad. Why not Gordon? Hell, why not Rivera? There's an off day tomorrow, and Friday's game is at night! Vlad kills whomever he faces, but Molina absolutely slaughters lefties, to the tune of .648 SLG! I guess Genius Joe left his big book of stats back home in Bayonne, or wherever the hell he lives, and Molina righly punished him for his stupidity. This is the playoffs! Every run counts! How stupid would he have felt if there had been a man on for Posada's 9th inning homer and they had lost by 1? Not very smart indeed.

Some rules for winning in the playoffs:

-Play good defense
-Pitch only your top 2 (top 3 if you're lucky enough) relievers UNLESS ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY

The Yankees violated these two rules and got burned. Boston violated #1 and got burned. Atlanta only has one good reliever, so they're automatically unable to comply with Rule #2. Flambe. The 5 runs the Atlanta bullpen surrendered were the winning margin. The rules seem pretty damn obvious, but they're of vital importance, especially to the Yanks and Red Sox, as both teams have quickly found out that they won't be able to outslug their opponents.

Tomorrow I'll finally be able to watch a National League game and write extensively on the senior circuit, which has been getting short shrift. I'm hoping there will be a lot to write about, as Clemens faces off against Smoltz. Clemens is an inner pantheon Hall of Famer, and Smoltz could get there too, especially now that Eckersley is in. Quite enticing.

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