Tag:2011 playoffs
Posted on: October 25, 2011 3:53 am
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Odds in Rangers' favor of winning series

By C. Trent Rosecrans

With Monday's 4-2 victory in Game 5 of the World Series, the Rangers took a 3-2 lead in the series and take their own "happy flight" back to St. Louis, where Game 6 -- and Game 7, if necessary -- will take place Wednesday and Thursday.

So what's the chance of a Thursday game? Based on previous World Series, there's a 63 percent chance the Rangers will take Game 6 at Busch Stadium.

Our friend David Fung looks at the percentages of World Series titles after winning a certain number of games:

 

You can see more of Fung's work at fungraphs.tumblr.com and follow him on Twitter @cobradave.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: October 25, 2011 2:57 am
Edited on: October 25, 2011 3:56 am
 

Transcript: La Russa's communication breakdown



By C. Trent Rosecrans

Tony La Russa's non-move in the eighth inning of the Cardinals' 4-2 loss was certainly baffling -- CBSSports.com senior writer Danny Knobler didn't understand why La Russa left Marc Rzepczynski in to face Mike Napoli, the Rangers didn't understand it and even as La Russa tried to explain it in his postgame news conference, people in the room still had trouble figuring out why the left-handed Rzepczynski was facing the right-handed Napoli.

So, if you aren't quite confused yet -- check out the entire transcript of La Russa's postgame news conference, even though it's not guaranteed to clear anything up (with the non-pertinent parts replaced): 

Q. Could you take us through the thought process leaving Rzepczynski in to pitch to Napoli.

La Russa: Well, what happened was that twice the bullpen didn't hear Motte's name. They heard "Rzepczynski" and they didn't get Motte. I looked up there and Motte wasn't going. So I called back for Motte and they got Lynn up. That's why he wasn't supposed to pitch today, so I wasn't going to let him throw that hitter. He just threw the warmups and walked him and Motte behind was ready. I don't know if it was noisy, probably real noisy. They just didn't hear the second time.

Q. (Inaudible).

La Russa: They heard "Rzepczynski" and they didn't hear "Motte", and when I called back I said "Motte", they heard "Lynn". So I went out there, wrong guy. He's not going to pitch today. I said, "Go back, get Motte ready. We'll walk the guy because I don't want Lynn to he is not supposed to pitch. I didn't want to hurt him. And then Motte came in. That's why -- it must be loud. I give the fans credit.

Q. Has that ever happened to you before where you had a call to the bullpen and guys didn't hear you right?

La Russa: Yeah, well, sometimes real loud, especially when some of the bullpens that are right amidst the fans and excitement. It happens in Philadelphia. It's hard to hear it there. So it's not unusual. Maybe we need to come up with some ear mikes or something.

Q. Just to be clear, if Motte was ready, he would have faced Napoli?

La Russa: Yeah.

Q. So you had no choice at that point

La Russa: He was warming up, so I said, "Get Motte up," and they heard "Lynn". But by the way, we had a chance with Rzepczynski's stuff to get Napoli the first pitch, and then he put a nice swing on a breaking ball.

Q. Not to be dense, but what's the sort of procedure in terms of when you guys have the phone call and call down there, who gets the word, and how do they convey it?

La Russa: The bullpen coach hears it, and like he heard "Lynn".

Q. Oh, he heard "Lynn"?

La Russa: Yeah, that's why Lynn got up, and I went out there. I thought it was Motte, and they were yelling at me as I went out. I didn't hear them. It wasn't Motte. So I saw Lynn, I went, oh, what are you doing here?

Q. On the telephone he didn't hear it?

La Russa: Yeah, when you say "Motte", they heard "Lynn". It wasn't supposed to be Lynn because he wasn't going to pitch today.

Q. I think this was brought up earlier but is there a problem when something like that can happen? Is there a better way to do it, bullpen phones in this day and age?

La Russa: Yeah, smoke signals from the dugout. There are times, like what happened in Philadelphia, the phone went out, and so we used cell phones, and then the Phillies brought down walkie talkies, and they fixed the phone. But that phone in a loud ballpark, it's not an unusual problem. I mean, it doesn't make it right, but...

Q. You said it happened twice?

La Russa: When Rzepczynski first got up, I mentioned Motte's game.

Q. So Motte ends up -- did you want both of them to get up?

La Russa: Motte was just going to go along because I was hoping that we'd get the left hander out and then we were not going to pitch to Napoli, and then we were going to go after Moreland. And then Motte would have been ready if they brought a pinch hitter.

Q. I guess this is a protocol question: If Lynn isn't available for this game, doesn't your bullpen coach know that?

La Russa: He's available in an emergency, but I wasn't going to use him. But if he hears "Lynn" and I'm the manager, what is he going to say

Q. That's why I was saying is there a protocol thing. Does he say "Tony, are you sure on Lynn?" Or something like that?

La Russa: I'm sure he's thinking that now, but when you hear something, he had a day off, but like I said, he wasn't going to pitch until Game 6. I saw the big fella come in, and I said, "Why are you here?" He came to pitch. "Walk the guy," because the next guy was going to pitch.

Q. The decision to pass Cruz, was that done with the idea thinking you had Motte for Napoli?

La Russa: Well, I was more thinking that we had a real good chance with Rzepczynski with a pinch hitter or not, and if we got an out or not we were going to pitch around Napoli and then go after the left hander. And if the worst happens, then we would have stalled and got Motte ready for Napoli. But he wasn't throwing,so we couldn't get him ready. That's when I called the second time and said "Motte" and they heard "Lynn".

Q. One more clarification: Is that conversation between (pitching coach Dave Duncan and and bullpen coach Derek Lilliquist)?

La Russa: It depends who makes the call. I made the call.

Q. So you made both calls?

La Russa: Today I did.

La Russa's counterpart, Ron Washington said the noise has hampered his ability to talk to the bullpen before at Rangers Ballpark. 

Q. Tony said that he wanted Motte in the game, bullpen coach heard "Lynn" on the phone. He said that's happened to him before, was just a complete mix up, bullpen coach didn't hear him correctly. Has that ever happened to you?

Washington: Yes, it has. It has. And you've got to do what you have to do.

In a bit of interesting timing, on Sunday the New York Times wrote a fascinating story on the dugout phone as the last bastion of the landline, and how it's one of the last places where cell phones aren't used, even though the Cubs and Reds have both experimented with cell phones in the past. Perhaps a text would have worked well -- except anyone who has their cell service through a certain company that rhymes with "AT&T" may scoff at the notion of getting a signal in a crowded ballpark.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: October 25, 2011 2:47 am
 

Overheard: Notes, quotes from World Series Game 5



By Matt Snyder


ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Rangers have moved ahead in the World Series, 3-2, and are just one game shy of their first World Series championship. Here are some of the post-game notes and quotes from Rangers Ballpark. Oh, and the picture of Adrian Beltre's home run from his knee is here just because it was funny. No other reason.

• Of the previous 41 World Series that entered Game 5 tied at two, the Game 5 winner went on to win the series 27 times (66 percent). So while it's definitely not over, odds and history are on the Rangers' side.

• "Pujols is going to put it in play, he's a good contact hitter, and they were just starting the runner, 3-2. As soon as I got it, I just got rid of it and put it on the bag." - Rangers catcher Mike Napoli said of the huge strike-him-out-throw-him-out play in the ninth, which seemed to ice the game.

• Remember the Cardinals' "happy flight" mantra? How they were on a huge streak of always flying either home or away coming off a victory. Well, both flights in this World Series are following losses. So now they're having sad flights.

World Series Game 5
• "It was just a mix up. It was a mix up and on our team, no one gets thrown under the bus, so it was just a mix up." - Cardinals manager Tony La Russa on Allen Craig's attempted stolen base with Albert Pujols at the plate in the seventh. Craig was thrown out by Napoli and then Pujols was intentionally walked. Had Craig made it, Pujols would have been intentionally walked, so it was obviously a mistake. But we know La Russa definitely didn't call for it.

C.J. Wilson walked 19 hitters this postseason, which ties Jaret Wright (1997, Indians) for the most ever. If Wilson comes back in relief in Game 7 -- which he wouldn't rule out when talking to reporters after Game 5 -- he'll have a good shot at dubious history.

• Monday was the birthday for both Arthur Rhodes (42) and Rafeal Furcal (34).

• The Cardinals set a record Monday night. They have made 65 pitching chances in the playoffs this year. The previous high was 62, established by the 2002 Giants. I have to say, I'm shocked Tony La Russa was behind this.

• "Just trying to get something to the outfield, you know, get a sac fly, get that run across the board," Napoli said of his huge two-RBI double. "I was trying to stay short and I got a pitch I could handle over the middle of the plate and put it in the gap."

• "I don't know, I mean, not really," Napoli said when asked if he was surprised to see left-hander Marc Rzepczynski in the game to face him in the bottom of the eighth. "I had Mitch hitting behind me who was a lefty and I didn't really see anyone warming up in the bullpen.

• "I wanna be a complete player," Napoli said when asked about his defense. "I'm trying hard on the defensive side."

• Cowboys great Roger Staubach threw out the first pitch. Did he practice? "I did, yeah. I was throwing really good in practice, you know. But it's a little different on that rubber. It's a downhill slant. I played baseball, so I should have -- I threw it really hard. That was my problem. I probably should have just -- it was a little low. I mean, it wasn't a strike."

• Rangers president Nolan Ryan on Ron Washington's dugout antics: "It's pure. It's not a show. He gets so wrapped up into the game and is so in tune to what's happening that that's just him and his personality reacting to the situation, and the joy that those things bring to him shows."

Derek Holland loves Mario -- of the video game series -- so much so that he has a "Super Mario" balloon likeness in his locker. "He's really fragile, so I just leave him here all the time."

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: October 25, 2011 2:24 am
 

Overheard: Notes, quotes from World Series Game 5



By Matt Snyder


ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Rangers have moved ahead in the World Series, 3-2, and are just one game shy of their first World Series championship. Here are some of the post-game notes and quotes from Rangers Ballpark. Oh, and the picture of Adrian Beltre's home run from his knee is here just because it was funny. No other reason.

• Of the previous 41 World Series that entered Game 5 tied at two, the Game 5 winner went on to win the series 27 times (66 percent). So while it's definitely not over, odds and history are on the Rangers' side.

• "Pujols is going to put it in play, he's a good contact hitter, and they were just starting the runner, 3-2. As soon as I got it, I just got rid of it and put it on the bag." - Rangers catcher Mike Napoli said of the huge strike-him-out-throw-him-out play in the ninth, which seemed to ice the game.

• Remember the Cardinals' "happy flight" mantra? How they were on a huge streak of always flying either home or away coming off a victory. Well, both flights in this World Series are following losses. So now they're having sad flights.

• "It was just a mix up. It was a mix up and on our team, no one gets thrown under the bus, so it was just a mix up." - Cardinals manager Tony La Russa on Allen Craig's attempted stolen base with Albert Pujols at the plate in the seventh. Craig was thrown out by Napoli and then Pujols was intentionally walked. Had Craig made it, Pujols would have been intentionally walked, so it was obviously a mistake. But we know La Russa definitely didn't call for it.

C.J. Wilson walked 19 hitters this postseason, which ties Jaret Wright (1997, Indians) for the most ever. If Wilson comes back in relief in Game 7 -- which he wouldn't rule out when talking to reporters after Game 5 -- he'll have a good shot at dubious history.

• Monday was the birthday for both Arthur Rhodes (42) and Rafeal Furcal (34).

• The Cardinals set a record Monday night. They have made 65 pitching chances in the playoffs this year. The previous high was 62, established by the 2002 Giants. I have to say, I'm shocked Tony La Russa was behind this.

• "Just trying to get something to the outfield, you know, get a sac fly, get that run across the board," Napoli said of his huge two-RBI double. "I was trying to stay short and I got a pitch I could handle over the middle of the plate and put it in the gap."

• "I don't know, I mean, not really," Napoli said when asked if he was surprised to see left-hander Marc Rzepczynski in the game to face him in the bottom of the eighth. "I had Mitch hitting behind me who was a lefty and I didn't really see anyone warming up in the bullpen.

• "I wanna be a complete player," Napoli said when asked about his defense. "I'm trying hard on the defensive side."

• Cowboys great Roger Staubach threw out the first pitch. Did he practice? "I did, yeah. I was throwing really good in practice, you know. But it's a little different on that rubber. It's a downhill slant. I played baseball, so I should have -- I threw it really hard. That was my problem. I probably should have just -- it was a little low. I mean, it wasn't a strike."

• Rangers president Nolan Ryan on Ron Washington's dugout antics: "It's pure. It's not a show. He gets so wrapped up into the game and is so in tune to what's happening that that's just him and his personality reacting to the situation, and the joy that those things bring to him shows."

Derek Holland loves Mario -- of the video game series -- so much so that he has a "Super Mario" balloon likeness in his locker. "He's really fragile, so I just leave him here all the time."

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: October 25, 2011 1:50 am
Edited on: October 25, 2011 2:26 am
 

Grading Game 5 of the World Series



By Matt Snyder


ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Rangers took a pivotal Game 5 of the series with a 4-2 victory Monday night. Let's hand out some grades yet again.

Mike Napoli was obviously an A, but we're already covered him ... twice. There's no need to go overboard with the love-fest, so I'm going off the board. True baseball fans have been winning all series, because it's been an amazing series; one of the best since the epic 2001 clash between the Yankees and Diamondbacks. So we'll give both teams an A for the entertainment so far. Speaking for myself only -- and I still consider myself a fan -- I'd like to thank both teams and tell them to keep it up. This is outstanding. We've had close games, huge hits, great defensive plays, a historic performance by Albert Pujols and a near-historic performance by Derek Holland. I just can't say enough about how great this series has been. And we may get two more games. We'll see, but it's hard to fathom this thing getting boring.

World Series Game 5
A huge reason the Rangers came into the series so hot was the bridge Alexi Ogando and Scott Feldman were providing to the eighth inning. But then both had been bad so far in the World Series -- pretty awful, in fact -- leaving a big question mark on what was supposed to be one of the Rangers' strengths. Maybe the rest provided by Holland in Game 4 helped, because while neither were sparkling Monday night, the decent outings had to be encouraging. Ogando allowed two hits and three walks in his inning, but two of those walks were intentional and his stuff looked more crisp. Feldman gave up a hit upon entering the game, but then got two big outs to end a threat, including a big strikeout.

The Rangers' defense has seemed a bit fickle this entire series, even if you can tell how much ability they have. The bad and good pretty much cancelled each other out Monday. David Murphy couldn't pick up a ball in the second, allowing Lance Berkman to advance to third. Then Berkman scored because Mitch Moreland botched what probably should have been a double-play ball. Of course, Murphy then made a spectacular diving catch to get out of the inning. Next inning, Moreland and C.J. Wilson teamed up to look like the Bad News Bears on a Furcal single, but a beautiful double play ended the inning. Later in the game, Elvis Andrus should have robbed Yadier Molina of a hit with an incredible across-the-body jump and throw, but Moreland couldn't dig the throw at first. But then in the seventh and the ninth, Napoli hosed Allen Craig at second on stolen base attempts.

Cardinals manager Tony La Russa claims he called for "Motte" and not "Lynn" in the eighth inning, but, in the noise of the ballpark, the bullpen coach inadvertently heard "Lynn" and got the wrong guy up to throw. So La Russa didn't have the guy he wanted ready to face Napoli in that huge spot in the bottom of the eighth. He wanted Jason Motte, but Lance Lynn was in the bullpen. So La Russa kept left-hander Marc Rzepcyznski out there, who gave up the game-losing double. Considering Washington said "yes, I've had that happen before," about the phone gaffe, we'll grant La Russa a pass and only give him a D for the mishap. Still, isn't there something the Cardinals could have done there instead of letting a left-handed specialist face one of the most dangerous hitters in the lineup?

The Cardinals ability to take advantage of baserunners was abysmal. They left 12 men on base, including eight in scoring position. They also had Craig thrown out twice on stolen base attempts. Seven hits, nine walks and a hit-by-pitch ... and two runs is all you come up with? That's awful. Easiest F I've ever given. Matt Holliday, if I can single someone out, needs to bring a lot more to the table, or Pujols isn't going to see a pitch worth swinging at the rest of the series.

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



Posted on: October 25, 2011 1:14 am
Edited on: October 25, 2011 2:33 am
 

Napoli's defense proving doubters wrong



By Matt Snyder


ARLINGTON, Texas -- That Mike Napoli is sure a good hitter, maybe even a really good hitter, but he can't handle the catcher position from a defensive standpoint.

At least that was the sentiment that filtered out of Los Angeles for years as Napoli was either splitting time with weak-hitting Jeff Mathis behind the plate for the Angels or even relegated to either first base or designated hitter. In the offseason, the Angels further slapped Napoli in the face by trading him for the gawdawful Vernon Wells contract. The Blue Jays then spun Napoli to the Rangers, who most surmised was either first base or designated hitter insurance. After all, Mike Scioscia, Angels manager and former All-Star backstop, just didn't like using Napoli behind the plate. One of the reasons that was made known through the media was Scioscia's affinity for "catcher's ERA" -- that is, what the pitching staff's ERA is with certain catchers behind home plate.

Well, in the World Series, Napoli's catcher's ERA is now 1.29 (five earned runs in 35 innings with Napoli catching). I'm guessing Scioscia would be OK with that, right? Did Ron Washington see something Scioscia didn't?

World Series Game 5
“Our personal observations, everything we thought we saw in him, we were correct," said Washington. "He hasn’t proven me wrong.”

Maybe it wasn't Scioscia's fault directly, so maybe Napoli just really needed to work hard and get a chance to catch regularly.

“I can’t really say anything about over at Anaheim, I don’t know how it was when he was there," Game 4 hero Derek Holland said. “I think Napoli’s worked really hard on (his defense).”

“I think he just needed the opportunity to get comfortable, to catch a lot of games, and the pitchers love throwing to him," reliever Scott Feldman added.

Lots of praise will rightfully be heaped upon Napoli after his big-time performance in Game 5, a 4-2 Rangers' win. He had the big blow offensively but also cut down Allen Craig on stolen base attempts twice. The Rangers' pitching staff, who kind of know Napoli-the-catcher, joined in on the love-fest.

“He can do it all, he’s a good receiver, he can call a great game, he can throw -- we saw tonight he threw out a couple guys," said Feldman. "He’s an all-around good catcher.”

“I feel like me and him on are the same page all the time, I feel like we have good chemistry on and off the field," Holland said. "We’re like brothers the way we hang out.”

“I think we all know that Mike Napoli has been one of the best players in all of baseball since the All-Star Game," said Game 5 starter C.J. Wilson.

And if Napoli has aspirations beyond the baseball field, Wilson supports those, too:

“He’s been amazing throwing, behind the plate, calling games, too, so I don’t know if he’s running for President in 2012, but I’ll vote for him.”

First things first, though, as Napoli and the Rangers are just one win away from taking their first World Series championship. If they do so, Napoli will likely be the MVP of the series. And, even if that doesn't make him the commander in chief, he'll surely take it.

Not too shabby for a player who can't catch and is only offensive insurance.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: October 24, 2011 11:40 pm
Edited on: October 25, 2011 2:34 am
 

Napoli's double puts Texas one win from title



By Matt Snyder


ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Rangers beat the Cardinals, 4-2, to take Game 5 of the World Series and a 3-2 lead overall.

Hero: Mike Napoli gave the Cardinals a huge scare in the bottom of the sixth inning, hitting what had a chance to be a three-run homer, but it nestled into Skip Schumaker's glove on the warning track. Disaster was averted, but only temporarily. In the bottom of the eight, Napoli came to the plate with the bases loaded and delivered a two-RBI double, putting the Rangers on top for the first time all game. Let us not forget that Napoli also gunned down Allen Craig on a stolen base attempt in the top of the seventh with Albert Pujols at the plate

World Series Game 5
Goat: Several choices here, but let's go with Tony La Russa. He said it himself earlier in the series when he was getting heaps of credit for his tinkering, that praise and blame is based upon the players. So it's only fair to note that he left in a left-handed pitcher -- Marc Rzepcyznski -- to face Napoli in that pivotal eighth-inning at-bat. La Russa is so in love with matchups he brought in a right-handed Ryan Theriot to bunt against left-handed Darren Oliver the previous inning.

Turning point: Napoli's double in the gap.

It was over when ... The final out was recorded. It was a two-run lead heading into the ninth, sure, but Rangers' closer Neftali Feliz had to deal with the Cardinals' 2-3-4 hitters. So by no means was the ballgame over until it was officially over.

Next: We shift back to St. Louis for Game 6 -- where the weather is supposed to suck (sigh). We'll be treated to a rematch of what was a brilliant pitcher's duel, and defensive display for that matter, between Jaime Garcia of St. Louis and Colby Lewis of Texas. The next Rangers win will be a championship, while the Cardinals need to win both to take the crown.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: October 24, 2011 8:44 pm
Edited on: October 24, 2011 8:51 pm
 

Cardinals jump out to early lead

Matt Holliday

By Matt Snyder


ARLINGTON, Texas -- That Rangers' bullpen that received almost a full game's break in Game 4 is going to be needed in Game 5, maybe even soon. Through two innings, C.J. Wilson has already piled up 38 pitches, due to walking two hitters and running up deep counts to many hitters he's retired. The defense could have limited the damage to one run, but a David Murphy error gave Lance Berkman and extra base and Mitch Moreland botched a possible double-play ball at first.

The result is the Rangers trailing 2-0 through 1 1/2 innings, against Chris Carpenter -- who they only managed two runs against in Game 1. Of course, Rangers Ballpark is much more conducive to runs. It's a long game, so ...

Follow along live on CBSportscom's GameTracker

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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