Tag:NLCS
Posted on: October 11, 2011 2:20 am
 

Overheard: NLCS Game 2

Prince Fielder

By C. Trent Rosecrans

MILWAUKEE -- For the first time since Nyjer Morgan called Albert Pujols "Alberta" in a tweet, the two men were side-by-side on the baseball field on Monday. When Morgan walked in the seventh inning, he didn't have anything to say to Pujols.

"You see my lips flapping?" Morgan said when asked about it after the Brewers' 12-3 loss in Game 2 of the NLCS. "It's the wrong time, you can't say nothing there."

The Brewers trailed 11-2 when the two finally got side-by-side, and Morgan said he was in no position to say anything to the Cardinals slugger, who had already driven in five Cardinals runs by that point.

NLCS

"Wrong time, you can't do it then," Morgan said.

Is that time coming?

"Maybe," Morgan said. "Stay tuned."

As for that tweet, Morgan said it's not something he regrets.

"That's just part of it, I said what I said, let's move on," Morgan said. "If they have to take some justice out of it, so be it?"

• Morgan's tweet was after he and Chris Carpenter got into a verbal altercation on the field. I asked him if he was looking forward to facing Carpenter in Game 3: "I'm looking forward to anybody -- what are you trying to stir up?"

• With the series tied at one game each and three more games coming up in St. Louis, Monday may have been Prince Fielder's last game at Miller Park in a Brewer uniform. I asked him if he'd given any thought to that: "No," he said.

Rickie Weeks on the bad call by first base umpire Sam Holbrook in the fifth inning that cost the Brewers at least a run: "You can't look at one call in baseball. It's one of those things. You might think the game went one play right there, but that's baseball. You can't worry about it," Weeks said. "That's just me. I thought I was safe, he called me out. He made the call. You can't go back and change it."

• Fielder on Weeks, who is playing on a bum ankle: "He's doing it right now on that ankle, it's impressive. We see it. He's tough. What he's doing, you couldn't ask anyone to do that, but he's doing it for the team and it's really awesome."

• Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina on picking up Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy's mask on a play at the plate in the fifth inning: "I was trying to take the mask. I don't want anybody to get hurt."

• Morgan on the Cardinals 12 runs and 17 hits: "That's all right. I think maybe they hit themselves out of the ballpark right there, they should have saved some of those."

• Cardinals manager Tony La Russa on his team's streak of winning the final game of a series, as Monday marked the 14th time in a row the Cardinals have boarded a plane as a winner: "It's kind of a neat reminder, let's finish off whatever it is, whether we're finishing off a game at home or on the road. We've won games on days we weren't traveling, either. But it's just -- you've got these grown men and they're like -- I don't think fraternity, they're too old… they're like summer campers or teenagers or maybe preteens -- they're just like kids. And it's enjoyable to listed to 'happy flight' things. Our fans were yelling when we got in the dugout, 'have a happy flight.' It's silly, but why not?"

• Jerry Hairston Jr. on Pujols: "He's pretty good, isn't he? He's arguably the best player of our generation. He's really good. It's one of those things, give him credit -- and not just Albert, but all the guys swung the bat well."

• Cardinals starter Kyle Lohse on Pujols' performance: ""hat's him, man. It's not surprising, know what I mean? It's amazing, but it's not surprising. He does the things he does. People ask me in the off-season, 'What's it like to play with him?' When he goes 1 for 3, it's like, 'Why didn't he get two more hits?'"

• Brewers manager Ron Roenicke on whether Shaun Marcum would pitch again in this series: "As far as I'm concerned, right now he's pitching again."

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Posted on: October 11, 2011 1:33 am
Edited on: October 11, 2011 1:41 am
 

Cardinals do the celebrating in Game 2

Yadier Molina

By C. Trent Rosecrans

MILWAUKEE -- If you listen to the participants, the Cardinals openly mocking the Brewers and their celebrations --  just like the pre-series hostilities -- didn't happen, and is but a creation of the media. Yeah right.

The Cardinals usually play the businesslike, button-down style that's preached by manager Tony La Russa, who loves to quote the unwritten rules of baseball conduct and pass down judgements on anyone who dares do anything he sees as a transgression. The reason there was so much pre-series focus on the Brewers' over-the-top celebrations and exuberance was the dichotomy between that and how St. Louis has liked to portray itself during La Russa's long tenure. It's baseball city, with baseball played with class and all that other jargon. But it wasn't like that in Monday's Game 2 12-3 mauling of the Brewers at Miller Park.

NLCS

From Albert Pujols' long stare and bat flip in the first inning (which, to be fair is far from out of the ordinary), to Yadier Molina's apparent "cry baby" motions after his seventh-inning single, the Cardinals bench ate it up and responded in kind. Was it a message?

"No, we were just having fun," Molina said. "It was nothing special. It's something personal."

Personal? Toward the Brewers, he was asked?

"No, no, no," Molina said. "We're trying to win games."

Prince Fielder, who brought the team "best mode" via his kids, and Nyjer Morgan, the team's chief instigator, both denied take offense or even noticing the Cardinals' Game 2 actions.

"No, man. No man, Nah. No," said Morgan, who like Molina seem to protest a little too much. "I guess they've got some emotion now, so be it. What do you want me to say?"

Said Fielder: "No. I really don't care, I'm trying to celebrate with my team. I would hope they're excited, it's the playoffs. I don't try to look into all that, I just try to play these games and as a team do what we do."

The Brewers may not have invented the call-and-response from the basepaths to the dugout, they've certainly embraced it -- doing their "beast mode" after every double or dribbler, every bunt or bomb. It clearly caught the attention of the Cardinals, especially in Game 1 when Ryan Braun and Fielder both hit impressive homers that fired up teammates and fans alike.

There's no doubt it can rankle other teams, rubbing those who take "acting like you've been there before" or the baseball codes or whatever very seriously (and of course, nobody does that more than the Cardinals). But to deny it, well, that's just telling us the sky is green or that Milwaukee's Best is really that or that when the offseason comes around, these two teams are going to get together in a nice drum circle and talk about the good times past. No, these teams don't like each other, and even a couple of denials can do nothing to camouflage that.

There was joy in the Cardinals actions, no doubt. It was actually refreshing to see it for once, to break that stoic facade. But make no mistake, there was also rancor and spite. No matter what anyone said. But hey, that -- plus some pretty good baseball -- keeps this series interesting, all the way to the end.

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Posted on: October 10, 2011 11:42 pm
Edited on: October 10, 2011 11:48 pm
 

Pujols powers Cardinals in Game 2 to even NLCS

Albert Pujols

By C. Trent Rosecrans
 

MILWAUKEE -- Albert Pujols changed the complexion of the NLCS with a mighty swing of the bat and a performance for the ages, as St. Louis clobbered the Brewers 12-3 in Game 2 to even the series at one game each.

Hero: Coming into Monday's Game 2, Pujols hadn't homered in a postseason game since 2006, spanning 46 at-bats. He had also notched just five RBI in his previous 23 postseason games. Those numbers can be thrown out the window after Pujols' monster 4 for 5 game with a homer, three doubles and five RBI. He also scored three times and was just generally Pujolsian. The Milwaukee fans let out a huge cheer when he grounded out in the eighth, even though their team was already behind 11-2.

Goat: The Brewers had a chance to get back in the game in the fifth inning with bases loaded and one out, trailing 7-2. Rickie Weeks, who had homered in his previous at-bat, faced Cardinals reliever Lance Lynn. On the first pitch Weeks hit a tailor-made double play ball to Rafael Furcal. Weeks, though, was busting his tail down the line and beat the throw from second baseman Nick Punto -- except first base umpire Sam Holbrook called him out, ending the inning and Milwaukee's best chance at making the final four innings interesting.

Turning point: When Pujols turned on Marcum's first-inning fastball in the first, he admired his shot a little bit, flipped his bat and let the Brewers know they were in for trouble.

It was over when … Pujols hit the ball over Nyjer Morgan's head for his third-inning double, scoring two and giving the Cardinals a 4-0 lead.

Next: The series shifts to St. Louis for Game 3, Wednesday night at 8:05 p.m ET with the top starters for each team taking the mound -- the Cardinals' Chris Carpenter and the Brewers' Yovani Gallardo.

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Posted on: October 10, 2011 8:48 pm
Edited on: October 10, 2011 8:58 pm
 

Pujols hits first postseason HR since 2006

Albert Pujols

By C. Trent Rosecrans

MILWAUKEE -- Albert Pujols didn't seem to be in the best of moods after Game 1 of the NLCS on Sunday, dismissing question after question about the Brewers' victory. He got even more testy when some asked him if he was close to a "blow out" or a big game in Game 2.

He asked the questioner what he would write if it happened -- "that you made adjustments," Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch responded.

"I'm pretty good at it," Pujols shot back.

He is indeed.

Pujols gave St. Louis an early 2-0 lead in Game 2 of the NLCS with a long homer to left off of Brewers starter Shaun Marcum. Pujols blasted Marcum's 1-2 pitch into the seats, stood and admired his shot for a good second or two and then flipped his bat away -- it wasn't the imitation of something from a kid's movie like the Brewers' "beast mode," it was more serious and done with much more venom. It looked like an act of defiance to anyone who thought Milwaukee would be the only team bashing at Miller Park.

It was Pujols' first postseason home run since Game 1 of the 2006 World Series when he took a 23-year-old Justin Verlander deep. In the 46 at-bats since, he'd been held homerless, spanning the rest of that World Series, the 2009 NLDS and the 2011 NLDS. In his career during the regular season, Pujols had hit a homer for approximately every 14.2 at-bats. His postseason mark is a homer for every 16 at-bats.

It was Pujols' 14th postseason home run, coming in 14 series.

Follow the game live on CBSSports.com's GameTracker. 

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Posted on: October 10, 2011 4:57 pm
Edited on: October 10, 2011 6:11 pm
 

Putting the 'tube' in tubesock at the NLCS

By C. Trent Rosecrans

MILWAUKEE -- After getting to Miller Park a little early today, I decided to pick up a little something to remember my trip to Milwaukee, so I stopped by the team store to check out what I could bring back home.

I quickly learned the one thing they like here more than the old MB ball in glove logo (which is awesome), is their sausage mascots. They like it so much, that there's an entire section of the store dedicated to the the bratwurst, hot dog, polish sausage, italian sausage and chorizo called "The Meat Locker."

So what's it like? Well, I figured you'd love to get a taste of Milwaukee and what sausage-branded materials you could buy. I was.



 
What did I end up getting?


 

Yep, they're comfy and a little spicy, but functional. I feel like it was $12 well spent (you know, ballpark prices), but somehow I'm guessing my wife may not agree.

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Posted on: October 10, 2011 2:20 am
Edited on: October 10, 2011 4:47 pm
 

NLCS Game 2: Miller Time is good to Brewers



By C. Trent Rosecrans

MILWAUKEE -- It's been beat into the ground by this time in the playoffs, but it's only because it's held true -- every game at Miller Park is crucial to the Brewers, who held baseball's best home record and struggled on the road this season. So far, the Miller Park faithful has seen four postseason victories and no losses. The Brewers also lost both of their road games in Arizona in the first round, furthering the storyline.

Sunday, the Brewers came back from an early deficit to beat the Cardinals, giving Milwaukee the early lead in the series and keeping the momentum alive at home.

NLCS

"The atmosphere here is something that we really feed off of, I think it's one o fate big reasons we've been so successful here at home," Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun said. "Obviously the fans are very passionate. And they're excited. I think they're enjoying it as much as we are, playing meaningful baseball games on Oct. 10. And they're embracing the opportunity, just like we are, and trying to make the most of it."

For St. Louis, getting a win in Milwaukee would mean a chance at clinching a trip to the World Series at home. For a team that came back from 8 1/2 games in the wild card in the last three-and-half weeks of the season and lost the first game of the NL division series, St. Louis is used to performing under pressure.

"Just look at how we've played over the last six weeks -- we've lost some tough games and bounced back, we did it against Philly, we did it in the last two weeks of the season when we needed wins, we're too good of a ball club," St. Louis first baseman Albert Pujols said. "This is too long of a series  and whoever wins four games is going to the World Series. Just because they won one game -- you can go to the (Brewers) side and ask them -- it's not over."

PITCHING MATCHUPS

Cardinals' Edwin Jackson: The right-hander's last outing came in Game 4 of the NLDS with the Cardinals facing elimination and he rebounded from giving up two first-inning runs, he allowed just three more base runners in his six innings as St. Louis forced a Game 5 with a victory over Roy Oswalt and the Cardinals. 

The start was Jackson's first postseason start of his career, but not his first appearance, having pitched in three games of the 2008 postseason with the Rays. The oft-traded Jackson has gone 5-2 with a 3.58 ERA in 12 starts and 13 games since coming to the Cardinals, and take out one start and his ERA's down to 2.92. But there's the rub -- that one start you'd need to take out was against the Brewers, at Mlller Park. In just his second start for the Cardinals, Jackson surrendered 10 runs (but just eight earned) in seven innings on 14 hits. The Brewers tagged him for four homers -- three by Casey McGehee and one from Corey Hart to lead off the first inning. 

On Sunday, Jackson was asked about that start -- "What start? It's that simple. I mean, I'm a competitor. I mean, I can take my beatings and I can handle that. It's not my first one and it probably won't be my last."

Jackson followed that start with another against the Brewers -- losing but in better fashion, allowing three runs (two earned) on six hits in six innings on Aug. 9. In his next start in Milwaukee he allowed just one run in seven innings, earning the win.

Brewers' Shaun Marcum: The Brewer right-hander wasn't able to get through the fifth inning in his one start in the NLDS, going up seven runs in just 4 2/3 innings in Game 3. During the season, he flashed moments of brilliance, but also struggled -- evening out to a 13-7 record with a 3.54 ERA.

Marcum's Game 3 start will best be remembered for his flip of his glove after giving up a grand slam to Arizona's Paul Goldschmidt.

"I didn't really see the replay, and I didn't realize I did it until afterwards," Marcum said. "I was like, what the heck did I just do? It reminded me of Ted Lilly a couple of years ago in Arizona, but he slammed his glove down on the ground. It's just a reaction thing. Definitely I didn't realize I did it until afterwards."

Like just about every other pitcher in this series, he's seen plenty of his NLCS opponents -- facing the Cardinals three times in August, going 0-1 with a 4.26 ERA in those three starts and 1-1 with a 4.15 ERA in four total starts against St. Louis.

"They know what I'm going to do; I know what approach they're going to take for me," Marcum said. "For me it's a matter of going out and locating, keeping the ball down. I do know what they're going to try to do. They know what they're going to try to do against me. We're going to go back and forth."

Starting pitching advantage for Game 2:

Both starters are so unpredictable that it's hard to give anyone an edge -- it depends on the night.

LINEUPS

Cardinals Brewers
No. Name Pos No. Name Pos
1 Rafael Furcal SS 1 Corey Hart RF
2 Jon Jay CF 2 Nyjer Morgan CF
3 Albert Pujols 1B 3 Ryan Braun LF
4 Matt Holliday LF 4 Prince Fielder 1B
5 Lance Berkman RF 5 Rickie Weeks 2B
6 Yadier Molina C 6 Jerry Hairston Jr. 3B
7 David Freese 3B 7 Yuniesky Betancourt SS
8 Nick Punto 2B 8 Jonathan Lucroy C
9 Edwin Jackson RHP 9 Shaun Marcum RHP

NOTES

  • With his 62nd postseason game in a Cardinals' uniform, Albert Pujols passed Jim Edmonds for most in franchise history. With his single in the first inning, Pujols has now hit safely in 21 of the 26 LCS games in his career, hitting .354 (34 for 96) in the LCS with eight homers and 18 RBI.
  • Based on history, the Brewers' victory in Game 1 puts them in the driver's seat -- in the last 19 NLCS, winner of Game 1 has gone on to win the series 16 times (84.2 percent).
  • Rafael Furcal hsas a hit in each of the nine games he's played at Miller Park this season, with eight of those coming as a Cardinal. He's hitting .323 (10 for 31) here this season and .295 (26 for 88) in his career.
  • Despite the Brewers' prodigious power, Sunday was just the second time in team history Milwaukee hit multiple homers in one playoff game. The only other time came exactly 30 years before, when Pal Molitor and Ted Simmons hit home runs against the Yankees in Game 3 of the ALDS on Oct. 9, 1981. It was the 37th time Braun and Fielder homered in the same game.
  • Marcum may not have the most success with the Cardinals this season, but he has had success against Pujols and Lance Berkman. Berkman is just 1 for 15 in his career against Marcum and Pujols is 1 for 9.
  • Likewise, Jackson's been good against Braun and Fielder. Braun is 2 for 12 against Jackson and Fielder is 2 for 13. McGehee's three homers are his only three hits against Jackson in his career.
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Posted on: October 9, 2011 10:30 pm
Edited on: October 9, 2011 10:37 pm
 

Overheard: NLCS Game 1

Yuniesky Betancourt

By C. Trent Rosecrans

MILWAUKEE -- Prince Fielder's fifth-inning homer had people at Miller Park buzzing -- both during the game and after. Fielder's homer was measured at 119.2 mph off his bat, according to ESPN's Home Run Tracker, making it the fastest ball off a bat this season.

But that's not all they were talking about at the stadium following Milwaukee's 9-6 victory in Game 1, here's more:

Ryan Braun on Fielder's homer: "That was one of the hardest hit balls I've ever seen. I'm always worried when I'm on first base and Princeis up that he's going to top spin one at me. I had a good view of it. It got out in a hurry."

Yuniesky Betancourt (above) on the criticism he get: "I don't really understand English very well, so that being said, I don't really pay attention to what the critics say. Since I don't understand, I don't get mad. I just try and do my job."

• Albert Pujols on fouling off a pitch in the seventh before grounding into a double play: "I had a good pitch, but I just missed it -- seven out of 10 times, I put it in the seats. That's baseball, next time I get that opportunity, hopefully I'll come through."

• Zack Greinke on the Brewers' 17-0 record when he starts at Miller Park: "I don't know. We've got a good record. I answer this question after every start -- and before every start. We feel like we're going to win."

• Jonathan Lucroy on Greinke: "I think the key with Zack, as it was with his last start, he kept us close. Not letting the game get out of hand. ... He's very strong. He's very stoic. He's not Cy Young out there [right now]. He's going to execute, and he's going to make mistakes like all pitchers do."

Tony La Russa on leaving Garcia in to face Braun and Fielder: "The guy is cruising -- there's a ground ball, he makes one mistake. How many hits does he have at that point? I mean, maybe (he should have pulled Garcia), because that's strategy. But no, he was not ready (to be taken out). Only when I saw him throw a ball down the middle to Braun, I said that's enough.  And he tried to make a pitch to Fielder and it's a two-run homer. No, I wouldn't have made move to (face) Braun. I He was throwing the ball better than that. He made one mistake. It's a tough league, but it's not that tough."

• Braun on the Cardinals keeping Garcia in: "I thought Garcia was really cruising and throwing the ball well. I think the first inning he obviously didn't have great command. After that, I thought he was really throwing well. We had a couple of great at-bats by Corey (Hart) and Jerry (Hairston), and Prince and I each swung at the first pitch. I don't think he had an opportunity to really come in the game."

Ron Roenicke on the Miller Park crowd: "I don't even know if I heard the ball come off Prince's bat. I knew it was a good swing and came off nice, but when you can't hear the ball the sound of it, because of all the people yelling -- I wasn't sure what was going to happen there until I saw the ball's flight."

Fielder on his homer: "It felt good. I thought it might be off the wall or a double in the gap, and it kind of kept going, so that was good."

More NLCS coverage 

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Posted on: October 9, 2011 9:50 pm
Edited on: October 9, 2011 10:21 pm
 

La Russa: Fans, media are hoping for altercation

Tony La Russa

By C. Trent Rosecrans

MILWAUKEE -- The first pitch after Ryan Braun's first-inning homer in Game 1 of the NLCS came in high and hit Brewers slugger Prince Fielder. The crowd booed, home plate umpire Gary Darling warned both benches and then … nothing happened.

For all the pre-series hype about the dislike between the Cardinals and Brewers, there were no fireworks, no scuffles, no words and no fisticuffs. The fact that many expected -- or even hoped -- there may be more, rankled Cardinals manager Tony La Russa.

"I think there are some fans, or media, that are going to be disappointed if there isn't some crap flying this series, and that's a shame," La Russa said. "I don't want our payers and their players to be egged on, and I don't think they will (react). We're going to play as hard and good against each other as we can."

NLCS

Players from both sides were asked about the tension -- and Darling's warning -- after the game, and it was dismissed.

"Every team you play at the end of the season is going to be a rival -- Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Philadelphia -- they're going to be  rival because we have to win games," Pujols said. "You guys are the ones who are building everything up, I said that yesterday. You try to pick and fire up this series. I don't think we need the media to fire up this series.  Everyone's going to be ready to play, this is the postseason. Whatever happened in the regular season, you turn the page and you can't let that come into the postseason."

Nobody seemed to think Garcia's pitch was intentional -- and they certainly didn't after he followed the plunking of Fielder with four straight balls to Rickie Weeks and 10 total pitches out of the strike zone.

When asked if he thought Garcia hit him on purpose, Fielder said, "no, not at all."

Still, Darling may have been trying to set a tone, to let both sides know that if anything happened, there would be quick action from the umpires.

"I'm sure the umpire and crew knows it (wasn't intentional), we've had our disagreements. But the guy hits a home run, the next guy gets hit -- I certainly can't fault the umpire," La Russa said. "But you know, you can't go out and argue those things, or you get thrown out. I didn't say anything. What I would have said is, if you watched the way Jaime pitched that whole inning, every fastball he threw was in that same area, out away from the right-hander or in on Fielder. They just looked bad, but he was just trying to get the ball somewhere near the glove. But I don't fault the umpire."

While La Russa had no problem with the umpire, he's not real happy about the constant talk of a rivalry from those covering it.

"I think it's a real disservice to the competition," La Russa said. "I think both teams have talked about with what's at stake here, we're going to compete as far as we can correctly."

Still, Brewers starter Zack Greinke, who said Saturday that the Brewers players didn't like Cardinals starter Chris Carpenter, said he did hear Cardinals' players yell at him from the bench, but that's hardly unusual in baseball.

"They're yelling from the dugout some, but most teams do that," Greinke said. "Everyone always makes fun of me grunting when I throw a fastball. It's kind of funny sometimes, but no big deal." 

La Russa, Pujols and others can try to deflect it as much as possible, but there is a palpable dislike between the clubs and a clear difference of approach and philosophy in how the game should be played. While La Russa said things will happen when you play a team 18 times in a season, they seem to happen more to the Cardinals and any team that challenges them in the division, be it Cincinnati in 2010 or Milwaukee this season. It may be the right thing to deny there are any hard feelings, but it's obvious that it's not just the media that feels something could erupt at any moment -- Darling did as well, and that's why there were warnings.

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