Tag:2011 playoffs
Posted on: October 27, 2011 3:37 pm
 

World Series Game 6 weather: Clear skies



By Matt Snyder


ST. LOUIS -- The picture above is the view from Busch Stadium at about 2:30 p.m. CT, with Game 6 scheduled for 7:05. That's quite a contrast to how things looked Wednesday at this time and there was plenty of rain Wednesday night, so it would appear MLB made the correct call in postponing the game.

The Weather.com hourly forecast backs up that sentiment as well. There's only a 10 percent chance of rain during the first two hours of the game and a zero percent chance for the following two hours. It's not going to be warm, with temperatures in the high-40s and low-50s, but the game should be played without delay, assuming the forecast is accurate. So just check out the Game 6 preview and prepare for another game in what has been a great series to this point.

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Posted on: October 26, 2011 7:10 pm
 

La Russa, Washington talk 'Moneyball' on day off

By Matt Snyder

ST. LOUIS -- With the unexpected night off, Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said he is finally going to see "Moneyball," the movie depicting A's general manager Billy Beane's approach leading up to and during the 2002 season. La Russa also gave a cautionary tale about being overly reliant on the walks part of on-base percentage.

"On-base percentage is one of the most dangerous concepts of the last seven, eight years because it forces some executives and coaches and players to think that it's all about getting on base by drawing walks, and the fact is that the guys that have the best on-base percentage are really dangerous hitters whenever they get a pitch in the strike zone," La Russa said.

La Russa was discussing how important it is for hitters to jump on the first pitch if it's a good hitter's pitch, because they might not see another good one to hit the rest of the at-bat. He wasn't saying he's against working the count or batters taking walks; instead saying that focusing too much on the walks might hurt the offense in taking too many good pitches to hit.

As far as the movie itself? "Brad Pitt is a great actor," La Russa said.

Rangers manager Ron Washington is actually a character in the movie, most notably the one with the line "it's tremendously hard," after Beane (Pitt) said to Scott Hatteberg, "first base isn't that hard, tell him, Wash." Washington was also asked about the movie Wednesday, and he's already seen it. Did that exchange with Beane, Washington and Scott Hatteberg actually happen, or was it just a Hollywood throw-in?

"Yes, it did, but it happened in Phoenix," Washington said. The scene in the movie took place in Hatteberg's house before the A's even signed him, not spring training.

"I've always been a matter-of-fact guy, and I just point-blank told Hatteberg that it's going to be difficult."

Washington also acknowledged what the movie neglected to: "I realize they didn't mention Eric Chavez, Miguel Tejada, (Barry) Zito, (Tim) Hudson, (Mark) Mulder, but that wasn't what it was about."

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Posted on: October 26, 2011 6:28 pm
Edited on: October 26, 2011 6:41 pm
 

MLB correctly errs on side of caution



By Matt Snyder


ST. LOUIS -- Major League Baseball had a tough decision Wednesday. On one hand, the weather reports for the scheduled game -- Game 6 of the World Series to those who have been living under a rock for the past week -- looked bleak. Does the league take the chance that the game is marred by weather, like Game 1 of the ALDS between the Tigers and Yankees this season or, even worse, Game 5 of the 2008 World Series between the Phillies and Rays? On the other hand, what if the forecast is wrong and the league is embarrassed again, just like in Game 2 of the ALCS, when it was a sunny day when the first pitch was scheduled, but the game was postponed earlier that afternoon?

That was the issue facing Major League Baseball. Ultimately, it factored everything in and believed the prudent decision was postponement.

"You get to Game 6 of the World Series, and you want to guard -- as long as you have a forecast that we're expecting clear weather tomorrow, and if necessary the next day, I think that was more of a decision-maker than anything else, just the fact that we're anticipating rain during the game," MLB vice president Joe Torre said Wednesday afternoon.

World Series Coverage
"(The game was postponed) just basically for convenience," Torre said. "Because of the forecast there was no reason to wait any longer, and the earlier we can do it, the more people can change plans and do what they need to do, and including the players and managers, too."

Torre mentioned also that this next game being a possible clinching game of the World Series weighed heavily on the decision, again, teamed with the fact that the forecast for the next two days seems clear (Weather.com's hourly forecast for Thursday night, at this point, has a zero percent chance of rain throughout the game).

Torre also noted that the decision was entirely made by Major League Baseball officials, and that there was no input from either the Rangers or Cardinals.

"(Tuesday) I talked to both Wash (Rangers manager Ron Washington) and (Cardinals manager) Tony (La Russa) that if the forecast didn't get measurably better that we were probably going to call it early, and they were both understanding of it," Torre said. "They didn't offer any kind of strategy fight on it."

La Russa and Washington echoed that sentiment.

"No, I was given output," La Russa said. "I just picked up the phone, they said, 'The game's postponed.' No input."

"I want to play," Washington said. "I wasn't asked, but I want to play. But I understand the situation."

Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler had a similar mindset to his manager.

"It's frustrating as a team," he said. "Same as the regular season, we wanna play every game when it's scheduled. But that's the way it goes."

"It's frustrating that you wanna get these games in because you have so much anxiety," Cardinals second baseman Nick Punto added. "There's an excitement to get ready for Game 6, and then they tell you to go home to be with your family and get ready to go tomorrow."

Despite the frustration at the weather, every player I heard from at least seemed understanding with the situation.

I think everyone would agree it's better to have the game played from start to finish with no delays to protect the integrity of the game. Most involved parties said as much, including Torre, La Russa, Washington and Kinsler.

So complain if you must, but realize there would be complaining if the game was interrupted for several rain delays, too. Major League Baseball was put in a no-win situation by bad weather, and decided to err on the side of caution. In a game as big as Game 6 of the World Series, we can't really ask for much more.

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Posted on: October 26, 2011 4:22 pm
 

Postponements are nothing new in World Series



By C. Trent Rosecrans

I'm sure there will be plenty of people who complain that Bud Selig decided to bring rain to St. Louis on Wednesday, delaying Game 6 of the World Series for 24 hours. It does seem a questionable move by Selig, but perhaps he's just looking at history and hoping for a repeat of the greatest Game 6 in history.

Game 6 of the 1975 World Series was delayed not one, but three days, before one of the greatest games in the history of the spot was played.

Don Larsen threw his perfect game in Game 5 of the 1956 World Series, which is an amazing feat. However, he was actually pitching on short rest because his Game 2 start came after a one-day postponement of Game 2. Larsen lasted just 1 2/3 innings, allowing four unearned runs on one hit and four walks in his Game 2 start.

In 2008, Game 5 of the World Series between the Phillies and Rays was postponed with the teams tied 2-2 in the sixth inning at Citizens Bank Park, the first -- and only time -- in history a World Series game had been suspended. It was resumed two days later, with the Phillies taking the game, and the World Series title.

This is the 31st time in history a World Series game has been delayed due to rain. The last time a game was delayed before it began, the last was Game 4 of the 2006 World Series in St. Louis. This is the seventh time in history a potential clinching game has been postponed due to rain.

Twice games have been postponed three days -- 1976 and in 1962 when the Giants came back to win Game 6, but then lost Game 7 to the Yankees.

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Posted on: October 26, 2011 3:13 pm
Edited on: October 26, 2011 7:13 pm
 

Game 6 postponed until Thursday

By Matt Snyder

ST. LOUIS -- Game 6 of the World Series has been postponed due to expected inclement weather. It will now be scheduled for Thusrday night at 7:05 p.m. CT. Click here to read the Eye on Baseball Game 6 preview.

Having lived my whole life in the Midwest, I can tell you that drastic shifts in weather within a 24-hour period are pretty common, especially in the spring and fall. Unfortunately, the city of St. Louis has seen a drastic turn for the worse just in time to interfere with Game 6. Here's a picture from the field Tuesday afternoon:



And roughly 24 hours later ...



It was just bad timing.

Also read: MLB correctly errs on the side of caution | La Russa, Washington talk Moneyball

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: October 25, 2011 7:32 pm
Edited on: October 25, 2011 8:45 pm
 

Pujols called hit-and-run, not La Russa

By Matt Snyder

ST. LOUIS -- Cardinals manager Tony La Russa confirmed that Albert Pujols made the hit-and-run call in Game 5 Tuesday. Remember, this was the one where Mike Napoli threw Craig out by a country mile at second base, clearing the way for another intentional walk to Albert Pujols. At the time, the game was tied, 2-2.

Monday night, La Russa would only say the following about the mishap:

"It was a mix-up, and on our team nobody gets thrown under the bus. So it was a mix-up."

Some players in the locker room had told reporters that Pujols was the one who made the call, but La Russa wouldn't do so.

That fact had obviously been weighing heavily on La Russa, because upon entrance to the interview room in Busch Stadium Tuesday afternoon, he said he wanted to talk first (usually the manager sits down and waits for questions). And he had plenty to say, speaking for several minutes about Albert Pujols and the seventh-inning caught stealing play.

Evidently Pujols has the privilege to call hit-and-run on his own. Obviously La Russa wouldn't reveal the sign Pujols uses, but he used it Monday night in the seventh inning with Craig on first base and Alexi Ogando on the hill.

"I think it's important to be accurate and then everybody has to be fair as they want to be," La Russa said. "If you look at the history of baseball or sports, I don't care what your sport is, when a player shows that they really have a feel for the game, coaches give them a lot of well-earned ability to influence what goes on. So Albert has that ability. (He) picked a 1-0 pitch, Ogando threw it out of the strike zone, and it didn't work. But it has nothing to do with Albert having special privileges or not being as great as all of us have seen him be for years, and a lot of us that know him on a daily basis say he is."

World Series Coverage
As La Russa mentioned, Ogando threw the pitch well out of the strike zone and Pujols neglected to swing. Remember one of the fundamental parts of a hit-and-run is that the batter is required to swing.

"Well, they teach you to swing if you can get -- and he can reach a lot of pitches, but that one (would have) just wasted a strike," La Russa said in defense of his star. "There's no way he could have reached it, although you try to protect the runner the best you can."

Craig was then thrown out and Pujols was then given a free pass for the third time of the game. It's surprising someone with the bat control of Pujols wouldn't just attempt to foul the pitch off -- especially since he was sure to be intentionally walked once first base was open. Basically, it was pretty obvious Pujols just didn't think the entire situation through. If he had, he would have realized it was a bad idea.

As Craig entered the dugout, La Russa could be seen questioning Craig. The manager was simply figuring out who called the hit-and-run.

"I thought, holy smokes, sometimes you have a regular sign, sometimes you have a flash sign, and I thought, crap, did I put it on?" La Russa said. "Is that the normal hit-and-run? What was that? And he told me. So then I said, 'okay.' I was just glad I didn't put it on."

Now, it might appear La Russa contradicted what he said Monday night -- regarding not throwing people under the bus -- in telling the media that Pujols made the ill-advised call. We didn't get an answer on this front, but the best guess is La Russa discussed with Pujols that he was going to come clean while also defending Pujols. It wouldn't make any sense to alienate your star player before Game 6 of the World Series -- especially when said star is about to be a free agent.

La Russa also defended himself for allowing a star player to have the kind of leeway Pujols does during the World Series, specifically pointing to Ian Kinsler having a green light to steal bases -- which directly led to the Rangers winning Game 2.

So there you have it. Pujols made an ill-advised hit-and-run call while the bullpen phone messed up La Russa's plan for how to attack Mike Napoli. If nothing else, the combination of the bullpen phone snafu and this botched hit-and-run attempt have shown the Cardinals certainly haven't lost a step in the drama department.

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Posted on: October 25, 2011 7:09 pm
Edited on: October 27, 2011 3:13 pm
 

World Series Game 6: Something's gotta give



By Matt Snyder


Rangers at Cardinals, 7:05 p.m. CT, Busch Stadium, St. Louis. Rangers lead series, 3-2.

ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals are in a familiar position: Their backs are against the wall. For pretty much all of September the Cardinals were in "win every game" mode and then also trailed the Phillies two games to one in the NLDS. Thus far, they've come through every single time when they've had to. Will the magic happen again? If so, they'll win Games 6 and 7 in front of their hometown fans and bring home an 11th World Series title. And Game 6 starter Jaime Garcia has been here before.

"It feels the same way that it did the first playoff game that I pitched this year, same exact feeling," Garcia said, when asked about pitching in a do-or-die game. "Obviously this is the World Series, a little different, but to me personally, I try not to put extra pressure on myself or extra expectations. I'm just going to basically go out there and do my thing."

"Going through that process in the month of September, the last five or six starts that I made in the season, I kind of had the same mentality that I've had since the playoffs started."

World Series Coverage
But, in order to avoid elimination one more time, the Cardinals will have to beat the Rangers in two consecutive games -- something that hasn't happened to Texas since August. And they'll also have to beat Colby Lewis, who is 4-1 with a 2.22 ERA and 1.08 WHIP in seven career postseason starts. Of course, he was outdueled by Garcia in Game 2, which was eventually decided with a Cardinals' blown save.

Rangers Game 6 starter Colby Lewis has been here before, kind of. He was the pitcher for the clinching game against the Yankees in last season's ALCS.

"Well, you definitely think when you're in a kid you want to be in this position, be on this stage to go to the World Series," Lewis said. "I think just being in the situation that we were last year throughout the playoffs, you know, gives you more of an edge, more relaxation, that's for sure, because knowing what's expected or you know how to react to certain things."

Also, which series star will carry the offensive load? Mike Napoli and Albert Pujols are the obvious MVP candidates for the series right now; it only depends on which team wins.

Something has to give. Either the Rangers are going to lose two in a row or the Cardinals are going to finally be defeated. Whichever team survives will be the champion.

PITCHING MATCHUP

Garcia vs. Rangers:
Garcia thoroughly dominated the Rangers in Game 2, working seven shutout innings while giving up just three hits and one walk. He struck out seven. He looked every bit as masterful as the stat line suggests. That's the only time he's ever seen the Rangers, so no regular has more than three at-bats against him. Not surprisingly, no one has more than one hit against Garcia, either.

Lewis vs. Cardinals: Lewis went 6 2/3 innings in Game 2, allowing just four hits and one earned run. And remember, that one run scored after he was out of the game -- as Alexi Ogando had entered to face Allen Craig and gave up an RBI single for the second straight night. No expected Cardinals starters have seen Lewis more than four times except Lance Berkman, who is just 2-for-15 against Lewis.

LINEUPS

Rangers Cardinals
No. Name Pos No. Name Pos
1 Ian Kinsler 2B 1 Rafael Furcal SS
2 Elvis Andrus SS 2 Skip Schumaker CF
3 Josh Hamilton LF 3 Albert Pujols 1B
4 Michael Young 1B 4 Lance Berkman RF
5 Adrian Beltre 3B 5 Matt Holliday LF
6 Nelson Cruz RF 6 David Freese 3B
7 Mike Napoli C 7 Yadier Molina C
8 Craig Gentry CF 8 Nick Punto 2B
9 Colby Lewis RHP 9 Jaime Garcia LHP


NOTES

• The following starting pitchers will be available in relief for Game 6, per their managers' statements Wednesday: Derek Holland, C.J. Wilson (maybe, but if it goes to Game 7, "he certainly will be available for the seventh one," said Washington.), Edwin Jackson, Kyle Lohse and Jake Westbrook (who had already been pitching out of the bullpen). Also, in an answer that was met with laughter, La Russa said the following when asked if Chris Carpenter was available in relief in Game 6: "No chance ... little chance."

• Nick Punto is 2-for-4 with a walk against Lewis.

Jon Jay has struggled mightily at the plate this postseason, as he's hitting just .157/.246/.196. In the World Series, he's 0-for-14. Thus, Skip Schumaker is getting the start in center.

• The World Series has been a 3-2 margin 61 previous times, and in 41 of those, the team with the 3-2 lead has gone on to win it all.

• Napoli has nine RBI so far in the series. The record for an entire World Series is 12, set by Bobby Richardson in the 1960 Fall Classic. With one more RBI, Napoli will tie Sandy Alomar Jr. and Yogi Berra for the most RBI by a catcher in the World Series. Also, no one has driven home at least nine since Alomar Jr. and Moises Alou both did so in 1997.

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Posted on: October 25, 2011 6:15 pm
Edited on: October 25, 2011 6:18 pm
 

Game 5 ratings rout Monday Night Football

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Game 5 of the World Series and the Monday Night Football game between Baltimore and Jacksonville were close on the field, but the two head-to-head games weren't close on the Nielsen scoreboard.

Fox earned an 8.8/14 household rating/share for Game 5 -- the same as last year's clinching game, while ESPN has asked Nielsen to go back and count the hanging chads of its overnight rating because the 5.8 would be an all-time Monday Night Football low. The Jaguars defeated the Ravens 12-7 on Monday.

The Associated Press reports that Fox knocked off CBS in the ratings for the last week because of baseball, with three of the first four World Series games finishing in the top 10 for the last week. Only the Game 3 blowout wasn't in the top 10. Game 4 also beat the Sunday night NFL game on NBC and baseball is 12-1 in the ratings over the last 21 years when the World Series goes up against an NFL game in primetime.

Listen, I'm not naive and saying baseball is more popular than the almighty NFL in this country, there's no question the NFL is king. But it's just silly to hear things like even in the comments section of a baseball blog about how "nobody" is watching this World Series or that Dallas/Ft. Worth is a "small market" or some other such nonsense. Baseball is more of a regional sport, with regional allegiances playing into the ratings more than other sports, while the national obsession with betting and the NFL keeps its numbers high. Game 5 drew a 46.9/64 share in St. Louis and Dallas had a 40.0/58 share -- the highest ever local rating for a Rangers game and better than the ratings for every game of the NBA Finals featuring the Mavericks. Baseball has its problems, that's for sure, but the constant whining about ratings and who is or isn't watching the games is just getting old, tired and inaccurate.

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