Posts Tagged ‘Hong-Chih Kuo’

Jimmy Rollins Gives Phillies 3-1 Series Lead

October 20, 2009

Closer Jonathan Broxton was called upon to get four outs last night for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Unfortunately for the Dodgers, Broxton was only able to record three outs.

Rollins' walk-off double off Broxton

Rollins' walk-off double off Broxton

Jimmy Rollins’ double off of Broxton with two-on and two-out in the bottom of the ninth inning gave the Philadelphia Phillies a dramatic 5-4 victory over the Dodgers last night and sent the 46, 157 fans who packed Citizens Bank Park into a frenzy.

The Phillies now lead their best-of-seven series with the Dodgers 3-1.

The Phillies are a unique bunch because their superstars are their gamers. Their superstars are their girtty, dirtdogs, who not only do the little things to win, but get the big hits when the moment is presented.

That is very rare in baseball. The New York Yankees had that in the mid-90’s, the Boston Red Sox have it now with Kevin Youkilis and Dustin Pedrioia, and the Phillies certainly have it now with Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard, and Chase Utley.

As soon as Rollins stepped into the batter’s box in the ninth inning, you just had that feeling that he was going to come through. But the reality is–Rollins should have never had that chance to begin with.

With one out and nobody on, Charlie Manuel called on Matt Stairs to pinch-hit for Pedro Feliz. It’s amazing how one moment can scar a franchise for life.

Stairs is clearly in the Dodgers’ heads. He is the reason the Dodgers went out and got Jim Thome and his HR off of Broxton in Game 5 of last year’s NLCS has turned him into Ted Williams in the Dodgers’ eyes.

Why Broxton, one of the best closers in the game is pitching around Stairs with nobody on base is beyond me. I understand Stairs can tie the game with one swing of the bat and he beat you last year with a HR. But last year is last year and if you are supposed to be a top-five closer, you shouldn’t fear anyone–period.

Stairs was a .194 hitter during the season for a reason.

Worst case scenario for the Dodgers is that Stairs hits a HR and the game is tied. Now you have a runner on base and with one swing of the bat, you can lose the game.

Then things start to unravel for Broxton and the Dodgers.

Broxton then plunks Carlos Ruiz and then the crowd really got into it. The fans at Citizens Bank Park really make it hard for an opposing pitcher. They are right on top of him.

Broxton got Greg Dobbs to pop out to third and that is when Rollins came to the plate. Like I said earlier, as soon as Rollins came to the plate you just had a feeling he was going to do something.

On a 1-1 pitch, Rollins took a 99 mph fastball and ripped it into the right-center field gap. The ball rolled to the wall, Eric Bruntlet, who was running for Stairs and Ruiz scored, and just like that the Dodgers had their hearts ripped out from their chests.

This was just a crushing loss for the Dodgers. They had done everything to win this game.

Randy Wolf pitched very well for 5 1/3 innings, they got some good clutch hitting from James Loney and Casey Blake, and Hong-Chih Kuo pitched really well in relief.

But at the end of the day, Broxton couldn’t get the job done. Now the Dodgers’ season is on life support.

I think today’s day off actually helps the Dodgers. I think if they would have come back and played today, they would have been crushed in Game 5.

The day off will allow the Dodgers to catch their breath a little bit and give them a chance to regroup.

I expect the Dodgers to play well in Game 5, but I don’t see them coming out of Philadelphia with a win.

Hero for Game 4 – Jimmy Rollins

Goat for Game 4 – Jonathan Broxton

Series MVP – Ryan Howard

Game 5 is Wednesday at 8:07

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Bullpen Saves The Day For The Dodgers In Game One

October 8, 2009

In one of the most brutal postseason games to watch in quite some time, the Los Angeles Dodgers defeated the St Louis Cardinals 5-3 in Game One of their National League Division Series.

This was three-hours and fifty three minutes of unwatchable baseball. Both starting pitchers–Chris Carpenter and Randy Wolf couldn’t have been worse and both teams left a combined 30 runners on base. The 30 runners left on base was a record for a nine-inning postseason game.

I thought the National League was known for fast-paced, crisp baseball?

Let’s start with the Cardinals. What on earth happened to Carpenter in this game? He looked like Carpenter on the Toronto Blue Jays, circa 2001.

I couldn’t get over how badly Carpenter was missing his spots. If Yadier Molina was setting up inside, Carpenter threw the ball six inches outside. If Molina wanted the ball low, Carpenter threw the ball at a batter’s letters.

I don’t know if it was playoff nerves or what? But I have never seen Carpenter off like that in a Cardinals uniform.

The other Cardinal I am going to get on is Matt Holliday. I know it was only one AB, but his first inning AB with the bases loaded was terrible.

We got a clear indication early on that Joe Torre is not going to let Albert Pujols beat him in this series. That means that Holliday is going to have to step up.

Bases loaded, nobody out, Wolf already on the ropes, and Holliday stands there with the bat on his shoulders looking at the same pitch–not once, but twice.

That just can’t happen in that spot.

Now let’s talk about the lesser of two evils last night–the Dodgers. Just as I suspected Wolf was, well, Wolf. Six hits, two runs, and five walks in three-and-two-thirds of less than stellar pitching.

The Dodgers’ offense helped him out with a solid 12-hit attack led by Rafael Furcal (3-for-5 with an RBI and a run scored) and Matt Kemp (two-run HR in the first that set the tempo for the game). But the real stars of this game for the Dodgers was their bullpen.

Jeff Weaver (yes, Jeff Weaver), Ronald Belisario, Hong-Chih Kuo, George Sherrill (very underrated pickup at the trade deadline), and closer Jonathan Broxton combined to shut down the Cardinals for five-and-one-third innings.

Weaver did to the Cardinals last night, what he did to other teams in a Cardinals’ uniform in 2006. Somehow, in his last 31 postseason innings Jeff Weaver has a 2.32 ERA. How is that possible?

The Cardinals did have a rally going in the ninth against Broxton. Mark DeRosa doubled home Ryan Ludwick to make the score 5-3. But Broxton got pinch-hitter Rick Ankiel looking at a pitch literally right down the middle to end the game.

Honestly, what on earth was Ankiel looking for in that situation? He really has no excuse on that one.

Dodgers lead the series 1-0. Game Two is Thursday at 6:07 ET.

Let’s hope Game Two is better to watch than Game One. It can’t get much worse.

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