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Tag:Evan Longoria
Posted on: October 3, 2011 2:28 pm
Edited on: October 3, 2011 2:37 pm
 

ALDS Game 3: Price looks to avenge 2010

Price

By Evan Brunell

Rangers at Rays, 5:07 p.m. ET, Tropicana Field, TBS


Rangers Rays
No. Name Pos No. Name Pos
1 Ian Kinsler 2B 1 Desmond Jennings LF
2 Elvls Andrus SS 2 B.J. Upton CF
3 Josh Hamilton LF 3 Evan Longoria 3B
4 Michael Young DH 4 Matt Joyce RF
5 Adrian Beltre 3B 5 Johnny Damon DH
6 Mike Napoli C 6 Ben Zobrist 3B
7 Nelson Cruz RF 7 Casey Kotchman 1B
8 Mitch Moreland 1B 8 John Jaso C
9 Craig Gentry CF 9 Reid Brignac SS

Colby Lewis RHP
David Price LHP

PITCHING MATCHUPS

Price vs. Rangers: The Rangers can hit lefties well, but Matt Moore showed that the postseason is an entirely different story by putting Texas in a chokehold. Price will hope for more of the same, and has success to draw on. Across two starts on June 1 and Sept. 7, Price threw 14 innings against Texas, allowing five runs while walking three and punching out 13, good for a 3.21 ERA. He'll have his hands full, without question. Nelson Cruz, who is in the midst of a slump that skipper Ron Washington says he's about to break out of, might have the right victim in price. Cruz has slammed two homers against Price in his career and is batting .538. Other strong performers include Ian Kinsler and Elvis Andrus, who has reached base at a .500 OBP clip.

Lewis vs. Rays: One matchup worth watching is Lewis vs. Evan Longoria. Longoria is hitless in six plate appearances against Lewis, and it may have to do with the slider. Lewis' best pitch the last two seasons has been his slider as Fangraphs.com notes. Longoria happens to have major problems with sliders this season. Johnny Damon and Casey Kotchman are the only batters who have at least career double-digit appearances against Lewis, and only Damon has been able to hit him. The team as a while has seen Lewis 64 times at the plate and are hitting just .182/.297/.255. Unsurprisingly, Lewis blanked the Rays for eight innings in his lone start against them this season.

NOTES

Full Playoff Coverage
  • Price has never beaten the Rangers and was a major reason why the Rays lost to Texas in the ALDS last season. He was winless in both his starts, and of course, you only need three wins to advance.
  • Moreland hit .234 against lefties this year and usually doesn't play against them, with Yorvit Torrealba picking up the slack. But Washington doesn't want Moreland out of the lineup after he smacked a homer in Game 2.
  • Those who are keeping an eye on the weather after Mother Nature has already reared her head need not worry. The Rays play in a dome, so this game is getting in.
For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 29, 2011 4:05 pm
Edited on: September 30, 2011 2:57 pm
 

2011 ALDS matchup: Rays vs. Rangers

By Evan Brunell

The Rays and Rangers will meet for the second year in a row. Last season, Texas came away with a victory, needing the maximum five games to do so. They would go on to advance to the World Series before losing to the San Francisco Giants. Both teams are in dramatically different places this time around, with the Rays team undergoing turnover while the Rangers' offense is one of the most fearsome in recent memory. Let's break down each team's position and determine who has the advantage....

TEAM INFORMATION

Tampa Bay Rays (host games 3, 4)
91-71, AL wild card champions
Manager: Joe Maddon
Team batting statistics: .244 batting average (25th in AL), .322 on-base percentage (13th), .402 slugging percentage (13th)
Team pitching statistics: 3.58 ERA (8th), 1.22 WHIP (2nd), 2.27 K/BB (2nd)
Star player: SP James Shields -- 16-12, 249 1/3 IP, 2.82 ERA, 3.25 xFIP, 65 BB, 225 K

Texas Rangers (host games 1, 2, 5)
96-66, AL West champions
Manager: Ron Washington
Team batting statistics: .283 batting average (1st), .340 on-base percentage (5th), .460 slugging percentage (2nd)
Team pitching statistics: 3.79 ERA (13th), 1.24 WHIP (5th), 2.56 K/BB (5th)
Star player: C Mike Napoli -- .320/.414/.631, 432 plate appearances, 30 HR, 75 RBI

SCHEDULE (Click here to view the entire postseason schedule)

Full Playoff Coverage

Game 1: TB @ TEX, Sept. 30, 5:07 p.m. -- Matt Moore (1-0, 2.89 ERA) vs. C.J. Wilson (16-7, 2.94)**
Game 2: TB @ TEX, Oct. 1, 7:07 p.m. -- James Shields (16-12, 2.82) vs. Derek Holland (16-5, 3.95)
Game 3: TEX @ TB, Oct. 3, 5:07 p.m. -- Matt Harrison (14-9, 3.39) vs. Jeremy Hellickson (13-10, 2.95)
Game 4*: TB @ TEX, Oct. 4 -- Colby Lewis (14-10, 4.40) vs. David Price (12-13, 3.49)
Game 5*: TB @ TEX, Oct. 6 -- James Shields (16-12, 2.82) vs. C.J. Wilson (16-7, 2.94)

* If necessary | ** all pitching matchups projected

TEAM BREAKDOWN (Click player name for statistics)

Catcher
Texas: Mike Napoli, Yorvit Torrealba
Tampa Bay: John Jaso, Kelly Shoppach

The Rays' catcher situation is like that of shortstop: Choosing between bad or worse. Jaso and Shoppach have both combined for extremely disappointing seasons while Napoli was one of the best offensive players in the game, robbed of his due because his counting statistics aren't up to snuff due to playing in just 113 games, but Napoli can do serious damage. Torrealba isn't a zero either, but most of his value comes on defense.

Advantage: Rangers

First base
Texas: Mitch Moreland, Napoli
Tampa Bay: Casey Kotchman

Kotchman came out of nowhere to give Tampa fantastic value out of first base, hitting at a .306 clip and providing his usual stellar defense at first place. While no one expects Kotchman to keep this up next season, what matters is right now. And right now, Kotchman is head and shoulders better than Moreland, although if Texas goes with Torrealba behind the plate and Napoli at first base, this conversation changes.

Advantage: Rays

Second base
Texas: Ian Kinsler
Tampa Bay: Ben Zobrist

Both Kinsler and Zobrist had excellent seasons -- both at the plate and in the field. Picking one or the other amounts to nitpicking as both players have 30 stolen bases. Zobrist holds a small edge in batting average and Kinsler holds a small one in slugging percentage. Even fielding numbers aren't any help. This is as even as it gets.

Advantage: Tie

Shortstop
Texas: Elvis Andrus
Tampa Bay: Sean Rodriguez, Reid Brignac

As mentioned before, Tampa's shortstop spot is horrible. Between Rodriguez, Reid Brignac and Eliot Johnson, Rays shortstops combined to hit .193/.256/.282. League average was .266/.321/.386. That's simply awful, awful production. The Rangers clearly win out here, with Andrus' solid bat and strong glove.

Advantage: Rangers

Third base
Texas: Adrian Beltre
Tampa Bay: Evan Longoria

Evan Longoria has been one of the best third basemen in the game for a long time. Up until this year, you could have argued that he was the best AL third-baseman for years running. Alas, Beltre's second straight excellent season has supplanted Longoria, coming off a down year. Beltre's 32 homers rank fifth in the AL, and he missed a month and a half! Add in his all-world defense, and he runs away from Longoria even though Longo is still a threat and hit .289/.454/.589 in September.

Advantage: Rangers

Left field
Texas: David Murphy
Tampa Bay: Desmond Jennings

Murphy looked like he would have a lost season, but turned it on down the stretch and forced the Rangers to move Josh Hamilton to center for the playoffs in order to get Murphy's bat in the lineup. It's easy to remember that Jennings debuted with fantastic numbers in August, but September told a very different story. All in all, both players have things working both for and against them and nothing quite standing out.

Advantage: Tie

Center field
Texas: Josh Hamilton
Tampa Bay: B.J. Upton

This is pretty easily Hamilton's domain here after Upton hit just .243. Hamilton remains one of the best players in the game despite being injury-prone. When he's on the field, he produces. Upton can't say the same, although he turned on the jets at the right time for Tampa and had a productive September.

Advantage: Rangers

Right field
Texas: Nelson Cruz
Tampa Bay: Matt Joyce

Here's an interesting matchup. Cruz missed time with injury but when he was right, enjoyed yet another productive season, missing 30 homers by just one blast. Cruz's calling card is power, while Joyce counters with a better overall game, flashing a strong glove. With both players' offensive games basically evening out, the balance tips to defense, and Joyce wins there.

Advantage: Rays

Designated Hitter
Texas: Michael Young, Napoli
Tampa Bay: Johnny Damon

Yet another win for the Rangers on offense. We all know what Napoli can do, but Young figures to get most of the at-bats at DH. Despite Young having to adjust to the DH spot on a full-time basis for the first time in his career, Young coolly racked up 106 RBI and should get some MVP attention. Damon, by comparison, falls far short.

Advantage: Rangers

Starting pitching
Texas: C.J. Wilson, Derek Holland, Matt Harrison, Colby Lewis
Tampa Bay: Jeff Niemann, James Shields, David Price, Jeremy Hellickson

The Rays win here, although Rangers fans will probably beg to differ. Yes, Wilson had a fantastic season -- you can't take that away from him. But Shields, Price and Hellickson all had excellent years as well. No one's shorting Holland and Harrison here, but at best, these two pitchers are no better than fifth best overall with three of the first four spots belonging to Tampa. The Rays are in the postseason for their pitching, not their offense.

Advantage: Rays

Relief pitching
Texas closer: Neftali Feliz
Tampa Bay closer: Kyle Farnsworth

Feliz's future as a closer was in doubt even as late as early August, but he clamped down the rest of the way and will pair with Mike Adams for a formidable 1-2 punch. There isn't a soft underbelly of middle relief either, and this bullpen has the potential to pick up the slack left over from the starting rotation to beat Tampa. But the Rays have taken a completely remade bullpen and turned it into an elite corps, too. Tampa's relief ERA of 3.73 is 10 spots higher than Texas' 4.11, but Texas' bullpen is different after importing Mike Adams, Koji Uehara and Mike Gonzalez. Let's call it even.

Advantage: Tie

Total advantage: Rangers (5), Rays (2), Tie (3)

PREDICTION (click here to see full postseason predictions)

CBS Experts
Evan Brunell: Rays in 4
Gregg Doyel: Rays in 4
Danny Knobler: Rangers in 5
Scott Miller: Rangers in 4
Trent Rosecrans: Rangers in 4
Matt Snyder: Rays in 5

Evan's take: The Rangers are a fearsome club, there's no doubt about that. The offense is awe-inspiring and the pitching has the ability to hang tough with Tampa Bay. The Rangers basically cruised to the division title in September, so it's easy to overlook the club because of lack of press, but those who overlook the club are making a mistake. I selected the Rays in four because in the postseason, I believe far more in pitching than offense. I also give credence to how teams played down the stretch. Tampa went 17-10 in September (of course, Texas went 19-8, so there's that) and was in playoff mode for two weeks, constantly playing must-win games then seeing it all pay off when Evan Longoria's second homer of the night went over the fence to give T.B. the wild card. The combination of pitching and the hot hand tilt me toward predicting the Rays to advance.

More Rangers-Rays ALDS coverage

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Posted on: September 29, 2011 1:31 pm
 

Players of the Month: Beltre, Fister

Fister, Beltre

By Evan Brunell

September brought a dazzling postseason race that culminated in perhaps baseball's greatest final day of the season. Interestingly enough, however, there were only two of a possible 12 nominees for September player of the month that had any involvement in the race to the wire. As far as individual performances went, September belonged to two teams who had the division title in hand much of the month.

September's Best
Expert Batter Pitcher
Knobler Cabrera Fister
Miller Beltre Fister
Brunell Napoli Fister
Rosecrans Longoria Carpenter
Snyder Beltre Fister
Fantasy Kinsler Fister

Texas had an incredible offensive explosion, with three separate players garnering votes. Adrian Beltre, who finished fifth in the AL with 32 home runs, eked out a victory over his teammates along with Miguel Cabrera and Evan Longoria. Beltre hit .374/.385/.778, driving 12 homers out of the park after missing all of August and part of July with injury. Imagine how many homers Beltre might have had if he stayed healthy.

Teammates Napoli and Kinsler also had months to remember, the second baseman swinging to the tune of .330/.421/.711, blasting 11 homers, just one behind Beltre. He also swiped eight bags, two more than any other month to finish with 30 stolen bases and give Kinsler a 30/30 season. Napoli blew Beltre and Kinsler out of the water statistically, although he played in in a handful of less games thanks to being a catcher and having people blocking him at DH and first base. But Napoli went bonkers for a .429/.518/.843 line.

Meanwhile, Evan Longoria put the Rays in the playoffs and Miguel Cabrera solidified the offense behind the pitcher of the month in Doug Fister. Acquired from the Mariners at the trade deadline, Fister blew away the competition in September and showed that he was for real. After coming up as nothing more than a back-of-the-rotation starter thanks to solid command but no true out pitch, he emerged with Detroit as a potential ace. Fister's 0.5 ERA in September paced the field, and he was a perfect 5-0, throwing 34 innings and allowing just 15 hits and three walks.

Past players of the month: April | May | June | July | August

Batter of the Month
Danny Knobler Scott Miller
CabreraMiguel Cabrera, Tigers
I read somewhere that Cabrera said Justin Verlander was the MVP. I'll go with that, but if there's an MVP for September, it's got to be Cabrera, who hit .429 and drove in 21 runs, with a 1.290 OPS. He hit, and the Tigers took off.
BeltreAdrian Beltre, Rangers
Not only did Beltre step off of the DL in the month of September and ease Texas' October concerns, he did it with incredible aplomb. Aside from playing his usual great third base, Beltre slugged 12 homers, collected 29 RBI and had an astounding 1.162 OPS. Thanks to his glove and his bat, the Rangers clinched home field advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
Evan Brunell C. Trent Rosecrans
NapoliMike Napoli, Rangers
Napoli struggled to break through with the Angels, then finally forced the Rangers' hand. And yet, he still goes unnoticed despite leading all batters in September in slugging percentage (.843), tied for first in average (.429) and second in OBP (.518). Only one word for this performance: Beast.
LongoriaEvan Longoria, Rays
Am I putting too much on Wednesday night's performance? Perhaps, but he still had an incredible month as the Rays rallied over the last month of the season from nine games behind the Red Sox when the month started. Longoria hit .289/.454/.589 over the last month with seven homers and 22 RBI, including two big homers in the biggest game of the year.
Matt Snyder Fantasy -- Scott White
 BeltreAdrian Beltre, Rangers
The Rangers have been under the radar this month because they were expected to win the West, didn't have a huge comeback and won last year. But two of the best players in baseball this past month came from Texas and they weren't named Michael Young. Ian Kinsler loses out by a nod here, as Beltre hit 12 homers, drove home 28 and had a .374/.385/.778 line.
KinslerIan Kinsler, Rangers
Kinsler's .330 batting average wasn't the highest for a batter in September, but that's the way his entire season has gone. The .255 hitter is so valuable in so many other ways that he's clearly among the cream of the crop, and never was it more evident than in September. He had 16 walks, 11 homers and eight steals, and the latter two propelled him to a 30-30 season.
Pitcher of the Month
Knobler Miller
FisterDoug Fister, Tigers
The Red Sox got Erik Bedard. The Tigers got Fister. The Red Sox are going home. The Tigers aren't. Fister was 5-0 in September, with a 0.53 ERA. Red Sox starters were 4-11 with a 7.08 ERA. Fister allowed just 18 base runners in 34 innings, with 34 strikeouts.
FisterDoug Fister, Tigers
I watched Fister pitch down the stretch after Detroit acquired him from Seattle at the July 31 trade deadline and I felt like I was watching Doyle Alexander in 1987. Fister is taller (6-8), but man, was he nails after the trade. He went 5-0 in September with 34 strikeouts and three walks. He compiled an 0.53 WHIP. As long as the Tigers didn't give Seattle a future John Smoltz (they didn't), this is the best trade any contender made.
Brunell Rosecrans
FisterDoug Fister, Tigers
What else can be said that my fine colleagues already hasn't? Fister's September was so awe-inspiring, no one blinks twice when his name gets slotted behind Verlander at No. 2. in the postseason rotation. This guy was a No. 4/5 starter last year. How quickly things change.
CarpenterChris Carpenter, Cardinals
Carpenter went 3-0 with a 2.15 ERA and 0.98 WHIP in six starts in September. He also had two shutouts, as well as a scoreless eight-inning appearance against the Phillies. Like Longoria, he had a pretty good night on Wednesday, allowing just two hits to the Astros in his shutout at Minute Maid Park. September's all about raising to the occasion, and that's what Carpenter did.
Snyder Fantasy -- White
FisterDoug Fister, Tigers
The Tigers' rotation isn't a one-man show. Justin Verlander is going to take home the Cy Young in a rightful landslide, but Fister gives them a solid No. 2. He was 5-0 with a 0.53 ERA and a 34/3 K/BB rate in 34 innings. Many pitchers had great months, but Fister's symbolized how great the Tigers' chances to reach the World Series have become.
 FisterDoug Fister, Tigers
It sounds like a joke, but it's not. Fister was the most valuable pitcher for Fantasy owners in September. Was Javier Vazquez slightly better? Yes. But the disparity between expectations and results for Fister was so high that he's now forever part of Fantasy lore. He managed to win more games (five) than he started (four) and allowed only 18 baserunners in 34 innings. He was an out-of-nowhere ace.

Danny Knobler and Scott Miller are Senior MLB Writers; Evan Brunell, C. Trent Rosecrans and Matt Snyder are Eye on Baseball Bloggers; Scott White is a Fantasy Writer.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 29, 2011 10:20 am
Edited on: September 29, 2011 11:28 am
 

What was best play of Games 162?

Longoria

By Evan Brunell

The morning after baseball's latest contender for the most exciting final day of the regular season, we're left trying to figure out just which of the improbable, impossible events that led to a night to remember was best.

Rays coming back from 7-0? Evan Longoria whacking a three-run home run to pull the Rays within one? How about Dan Johnson, he of a .167 batting average in 260 plate appearances over the last four years jacking a game-tying home run in the ninth? What about Evan Longoria's game winner, shades of Mark McGwire's 62nd home run?

But there were plenty of other memorable plays. How about Robert Andino shocking the Sox with a game-winning single in the ninth? Or earlier in the game, when Dustin Pedroia whacked a homer to give the Sox a lead? The Phillies sending a dagger in the hearts of Braves with a Hunter Pence RBI single in the top 14th? But Craig Kimbrel, he of 40 saves on the year, had to blow the game for Pence to walk off. Similarly, Jonathan Papelbon imploded for the Red Sox, handing Baltimore the victory. The Cardinals razed their way to a 8-0 win, but how huge was St. Louis' five-run first on the strength of five run-scoring hits?

There are no shortage of amazing plays or occurrences from Wednesday night. We ask you: Which one was the best?



For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Posted on: September 29, 2011 3:35 am
Edited on: September 29, 2011 3:37 am
 

3 Up, 3 Down: Baseball's amazing night

Evan Longoria

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Plain and simple, if you're a baseball fan, Wednesday night was flat awesome. It reminded you just why we have the greatest game out there, and that each and every of the 162 games of the season could end up meaning something. Three of the four games that were part of the wild-card races were tight, two of them going into extra innings with ninth-inning heroics. Although this space will be filled from the four big games of the night, there were several other worthy performances that shouldn't be overlooked -- like Mike Napoli's two-run homer against his old team giving the Rangers home-field advantage in the ALDS, Stephen Strasburg striking out 10 in six innings to earn his first win of the season, Trevor Plouffe's RBI single with two outs in the ninth to help the Twins avoid 100 losses and Miguel Bautista's two-hit shutout for the Mets. But what made Wednesday exciting was the four games that decided the wild cards -- Red Sox-Orioles, Yankees-Rays, Cardinals-Astros and Braves-Phillies.

Evan Longoria, Rays: Only two players in the history of the game have hit walk-off homers in their team's last game of the regular season to send their team to the postseason -- Bobby Thompson and now Evan Longoria. And Longoria didn't just hit the game-winner, he also gave the team the idea that it could come back with a three-run homer to cap a six-run eighth and pull the Rays to within a run of the Yankees. He also had a big defensive play, but more on that later. 

Chris Carpenter, Cardinals: While the other three games for the wild cards were taut nip-tuck affairs, Carpenter made sure the Cardinals had no worries, throwing a two-hit shutout in a 8-0 victory over the Astros. Carpenter finishes the season with a rather pedestrian 11-9 record and 3.45 ERA, but over the last month of the season he was 3-0 with a 2.15 ERA in six starts, including two shutouts.

Bud Selig: Yeah, everyone loves to complain about everything Bud does, but you've got to give credit where credit's due -- this ending the season on a Wednesday worked. Not only will it give us early games of the playoffs on a weekend, it gave us Wednesday night's excitement, without any other distractions. There were no football games to compete against, instead all of the sports world's eyes were on baseball. And anyone watching was rewarded in an amazing night.


Carl Crawford, Red Sox: It may not be fair to place the entire blame of Boston's disastrous 2011 on Crawford's shoulders, but when you have a $142-million contract, your shoulders have to be broad. Crawford was 1 for 4 on the night, but he'll best be remembered for not being able to run down Robert Andino's sinking liner that scored Nolan Reimold from second with the winning run. Crawford charged the ball and slid, but came up just short as the Red Sox lost for the 20th time in September. Crawford finished his first season in Boston hitting .255/.289/.405 with 11 homers and 56 RBI. Marco Scutaro's baserunning gaffe in the eighth inning will also be remembered as part of the team's epic collapse, but right now, Crawford's Q rating in Boston is lower than Bill Buckner's.

Craig Kimbrel, Braves: Atlanta's rookie closer led all big-league relievers with 126 strikeouts, finished tied for the most saves in the National League with 46 and may win Rookie of the Year in the NL. But his 2011 will forever be remembered for Wednesday night when he blew his eight save of the season, giving up a leadoff single to Placido Polanco. After striking out Carlos Ruiz, he walked Ben Francisco and Jimmy Rollins to load the bases. Chase Utley followed with a sacrifice fly to tie the game at 3, before Kimbrel was lifted from his 79th game of the season. Four innings later, the Phillies finally scored and then ended the Braves' season. Of Kimbrel's eight blown saves, three came in September, including a pivotal game on Sept. 9 in St. Louis against the eventual wild-card winners.

Greg Golson, Yankees:  Before Lognoria's heroics in the bottom of the 12th, Golson led off the top of the inning with a single, and then went to third when the next batter, Eric Chavez, singled. It appeared the Yankees would be able to push the go-ahead run across the plate, but Jorge Posada hit a grounder to third, and Golson was caught too far off the bag and Longoria tagged him out for the first out of the inning. Not only did Golson make the out, he also didn't even get into a rundown to let Chavez advance to third. Chris Dickerson then struck out and Brett Gardner grounded out to end the Yankees threat and set up Longoria's heroics.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 29, 2011 12:18 am
Edited on: September 29, 2011 2:17 am
 

Playoff race: Epic finish sends Rays to playoffs

Evan Longoria

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Evan Longoria's solo homer off of the Yankees' Scott Proctor capped what was perhaps the most exciting final day of the regular season in baseball history, and solidified two epic collapses by the Red Sox and the Braves.

Longoria's homer gave Tampa Bay an 8-7 victory just minutes after the Orioles' Robert Andino's liner scored the winning run in Baltimore to seal a 4-3 come-from-behind victory over the Red Sox. Longoria was in the on-deck circle in St. Petersburg, Fla., when the Red Sox score was announced. Just three minutes later, Longoria hit his second homer of the game.

It was just another comeback for the Rays, who were behind in the wild card race by as many as nine games and then were down 7-0 in the eighth inning of Wednesday's game against the Yankees. Tampa Bay scored six in the eighth inning, including three on Longoria's first homer of the night. Dan Johnson hit a two-out, pinch-hit homer in the ninth to tie the game.

While the Rays were within a strike of losing, the Red Sox were within a strike of winning.

Jonathan Papelbon, who had never surrendered an earned run at Camden Yards until Tuesday, struck out the first two batters he faced in the ninth inning trying to protect a 3-2 lead. But Chris Davis doubled and then Nolan Reimold hit a ground-rule double to tie the game and then Andino hit a sinking liner to left that Carl Crawford -- the former Ray -- couldn't catch, scoring Reimold.

Three minutes later, Longoria ended Boston's season, and completed the Red Sox collapse.

The Rays will now head to Texas to face the Rangers in the first round of ALDS on Friday, while the Yankees will host the Tigers.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 15, 2011 10:52 pm
 

Playoff race: Breaks going Rays' way

Evan Longoria

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Things are certainly breaking the Rays way right now -- especially B.J. Upton's bat.

Thanks in small part to the flying end of Upton's bat, the Rays took the opening game of their crucial four-game set at Fenway Park, beating the Red Sox 9-2.

WIth two outs in the third inning and runners on first and second, Upton's bat splintered on a slow roller to shortstop. Just as Boston shortstop Marco Scutaro was about to field the grounder, the barrel of Upton's bat reached him and he had to dodge the piece of the bat, allowing the ball to go between his legs and John Jaso to score the game's first run and extend the inning. The next batter, Evan Longoria, homered to give Tampa an early 4-0 lead -- all thanks to the bounce of a bat.

The win pulls the Rays to within three games of the American League Wild Card, with three more games agains the Red Sox. A sweep here and it's a whole new ballgame.

Boston Red Sox
Remaining schedule: 3 vs. TB, 4 vs. BAL, 3 @ NYY, 3 @ BAL
Coolstandings.com expectancy of wild card: 80.6 percent

Tampa Bay Rays
83-66, 3 GB
Remaining schedule: 3 @ BOS, 4 @ NYY, 3 vs. TOR, 3 vs. NYY
Coolstandings.com expectancy of wild card: 7.8 percent 

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
82-67, 4 GB
Remaining schedule: 3 @ BAL, 4 @ TOR, 3 vs. OAK, 3 vs. TEX
Coolstandings.com expectancy of wild card: 2.5 percent

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Posted on: September 1, 2011 2:53 pm
Edited on: September 1, 2011 11:36 pm
 

Players of the Month: Avila, Lee



By C. Trent Rosecrans

Every year August is the month when some teams pull away in the playoff race and others fade -- it's one of the biggest months of the season, even if it doesn't have the drama of September or the stakes of October. By the time August is done, there are few surprises -- what you see is what you get.

August's Best
Expert Batter Pitcher
Knobler Ortiz Lee
Miller Granderson Lee
Brunell Avila Kershaw
Rosecrans Votto Lee
Snyder Avila Lee
Fantasy Avila Lee

While one surprise team (Pittsburgh) fizzled, another (Arizona) sizzled. The Diamondbacks started August two games back in the NL West and now lead the defending champion Giants by six games. The D-Backs finished August on a nine-game winning streak -- they also had a seven-game winning streak earlier in the month. Kirk Gibson's club did have a six-game losing streak in the past 31 days, but the Giants have struggled all month, allowing some breathing distance for the D-Backs. 

This August has seen Atlanta's Dan Uggla go from a disappointment to, well, Dan Uggla. His hitting streak ended at 33 games, but his average increased from .206 at the end of July to .232 at the end of August. In all, he hit in 22 of 26 August games and went .340/.405/.670 with 10 homers as the Braves solidified their hold on the NL wild-card spot. 

Uggla was one of three players with 10 homers in the month, along with the Yankees' Curtis Granderson and the Rays' Evan Lognoria.

But it's Detroit's Alex Avila who gains the nod as our Batter of the Month.

His value to the Tigers lineup sealed the deal. Avila hit .360 with seven homers, 19 runs, 18 RBI and a 1.169 OPS in the August. Getting that kind of production from anywhere is incredible, but from a catcher it's just gravy. Even better, Avila bounced back from an awful July in which he hit .197 with a .584 OPS. Some may have thought his breakthrough season was coming to an end, but August was his biggest month of the season.

Meanwhile nine different pitchers picked up five wins. Some of the names (Cliff Lee, Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Justin Verlander) aren't surprising, while some (Ivan Nova, Ian Kennedy, Ricky Romero) were young guns making their mark. Another was a pitcher (Hiroki Kuroda) finally getting run support and the last (Bruce Chen) was a total surprise.

But Lee was The Man. He started five games. He won five games. He only allowed two earned runs, which both came in the same game. He averaged nearly eight innings per start, saving the Phillies bullpen some extra work. He struck out nearly a batter per inning while allowing less than one baserunner per inning, meaning he kept the pressure off his defense. Basically, Lee did it all for the Phillies in August, and that's why he snags this Pitcher award for a second consecutive month.

Past players of the month: April | May | June | July


Batter of the Month
Danny Knobler Scott Miller
David Ortiz David Ortiz, Red Sox
Picking a player of the month wasn't easy, but David Ortiz's big two-run home run on Aug. 31 against the Yankees clinched it. Not exactly, but it helped. Even before that, Ortiz had a 1.308 August OPS that was the best by any major-league regular. In a month where no one player really stood out, he was definitely in the mix. And then he homered against the Yankees. So it's him.
Curtis Granderson Curtis Granderson, Yankees
Granderson's August catapulted him squarely into the AL MVP running. I love the symmetry, too: 29 RBI in August, and 29 runs scored. The runs led the majors and ribbies ranked second. Texas' Mike Napoli had a higher OPS (1.094-1.016) and deserves consideration, but if I picked one player to start a team with right now, it's Curtis G.
Evan Brunell C. Trent Rosecrans
Alex Avila Alex Avila, Tigers
Avila has really come into his own in 2011. In August, he hit .372/.481/.721 with seven homers in 25 games. Did I mention he's a catcher? Avila's grip on the starting spot is so strong, he caught 18 consecutive games at one point during August. "He's been absolutely unbelievable," manager Jim Leyland told  MLive.com. "He's been tremendous. There's no question about it. Pretty impressive. Pretty darn impressive." Indeed.
Joey VottoJoey Votto, Reds 
Votto's August was much like Votto himself -- quiet and excellent. The Reds first baseman hit .347/.483/.716 with nine homers and 19 RBI in August. The Reds aren't in the postseason race, so it's unlikely Votto will get much consideration for MVP, but he may have had a better season than he did a year ago when he won the award.
Matt Snyder Fantasy -- Al Melchior
Alex Avila Alex Avila, Tigers
Have you seen his average and slugging percentage in the month? That's just sick, especially for a catcher tasked with scouting opposing hitters and working with his pitching staff day in and day out. The young backstop just keeps getting better for the Tigers, who meanwhile keep winning games and appear headed for the postseason.
Alex Avila Alex Avila, Tigers
Avila wasn't the most productive hitter in Fantasy formats, but he was probably the most productive relative to his position. He lapped the field of catchers, hitting .360 with seven homers and 18 RBI. He also helped owners in formats that reward walks by drawing 19 free passes in his 109 plate appearances. While he didn't have the overall production of Granderson or Carlos Gonzalez, Avila helped his Fantasy owners immensely by providing elite-level production at a thin position.
Pitcher of the Month
Knobler Miller
Cliff Lee Cliff Lee, Phillies
In June, Cliff Lee went 5-0 and allowed just one run. In August, he went 5-0 and allowed two. That means he was slightly better in June than in August. It also means he's had two incredible months, and that he's my pitcher of the month -- again.
Cliff Lee Cliff Lee, Phillies
This is why Philadelphia re-signed this guy. No, not to pitch in August. But to pitch in October LIKE he's pitched in August. Yeah, the 5-0 record in five starts grabs your attention, but that's just the beginning of the dominance. The 0.45 ERA over 39 2/3 innings, the 39 strikeouts against just eight walks, the 0.78 WHIP ... until Wednesday night, the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw was my guy, but Lee's WHIP and strikeouts/walks ratio even tops Kershaw's (0.95, 39/10).
Brunell Rosecrans
Clayton Kershaw Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers
Kershaw has been bandied about as one of the next great pitchers, but he's great right now, with a 5-1 August catapulting him into the Cy Young Award chase. Don't look now, but Kershaw has a better record (17-5 to 16-5) than Halladay, thrown more innings (198 2/3; 196 2/3) and has a lower ERA, with a 2.45 mark compared to 2.47 on the year. That's thanks to a month in which the lefty hurled 46 1/3 innings, checking in with a 1.55 ERA.
Cliff LeeCliff Lee, Phillies
Only three times in baseball history has a pitcher had two months in one season with five wins, no losses and an ERA under 1.00 -- Walter Johnson in 1913, Bob Gibson in 1968 and Lee in 2011. Lee threw 551 pitches in the month and just one resulted in runs -- a two-run homer by Arizona's Paul Goldschmidt on Aug. 17 in 9-2 Philadelphia victory.

Snyder Fantasy -- Scott White
Cliff Lee Cliff Lee, Phillies
August was the second month this season where Lee's just been lights-out. This time around, he went 5-0 with a 0.45 ERA, 0.78 WHIP and 39 strikeouts in his five starts. His worst outing in the month came when Lee gave up three hits and two earned runs in a win against the first-place D-Backs.
Cliff Lee Cliff Lee, Phillies 
Lee made five starts in August and allowed zero runs in four of them, accomplishing the feat for the second time in three months. He won each of those five starts, averaging eight innings. He'll have his bouts with inconsistency, as was the case during an uneven July, but when he's on, he's arguably the best pitcher in Fantasy Baseball. He showed it again in August.

Danny Knobler and Scott Miller are Senior MLB Writers; Evan Brunell, C. Trent Rosecrans and Matt Snyder are Eye on Baseball Bloggers; Al Melchior is a Fantasy Data Analyst; and Scott White is a Fantasy Writer.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com