Tag:2011 playoffs
Posted on: October 20, 2011 8:35 pm
 

Pitcher's duel through two in Game 2

World Series Game 2
By Matt Snyder

ST. LOUIS -- The high-powered offenses have been largely dormant thus far in the World Series. Game 1 was a 3-2 game and Game 2 is now through two innings and we haven't even seen a hit, much less a run. A Matt Holliday walk accounts for the only baserunner in this 0-0 game.

Cardinals starter Jaime Garcia has been dominant, striking out two while inducing three groundouts and one pop out. Rangers starter Colby Lewis is no slouch thus far, either, as he's only allowed a walk.

With all these powerful bats throughout both lineups, however, it could change in an instant. So make sure to keep up by clicking on the link below.

Follow along live on CBSportscom's GameTracker

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Posted on: October 20, 2011 7:16 pm
Edited on: October 20, 2011 7:29 pm
 

La Russa's tinkering at the forefront, as usual

By Matt Snyder

ST. LOUIS -- Depending upon whom you talk to, Cardinals manager Tony La Russa is a either mastermind or an overmanager. Whether it's using three relievers in one inning, double-switching or going with defensive replacements, he always seems to be doing something. This postseason, nearly every button he has pushed has worked out, including when he left in Marc Rzepczynski to face two righties Wednesday night.

It just seems like some are too eager to heap tons of praise or blame on each individual move. It's the players who produce the results.

"Mostly it comes down to you make a move; if it works, hey, what a good move," La Russa said Thursday afternoon. "If it doesn't work, what was he thinking? He should have done something else. That's just the name of the game."

"If (Esteban German) would have got a hit, then it would have been a good choice (by Rangers manager Ron Washington), and I would have would have been asked, why did I (not) bring (Octavio) Dotel?"

And he's right. All the questioning of Washington after the game and the praising -- gushing, from some -- of La Russa is all based simply on the outcome, not on why the move was made at the time. It's all second-guessing.

Generally speaking, though, La Russa's use of so many different relievers in any situation has the bullpen on alert at all times, and maybe that's a good thing. They're always ready.

World Series Game 2
"When the phone rings, everybody is prepared, everybody is ready to go and everybody is ready to go out there and do their job," said Arthur Rhodes.

"When I came over here, everybody said the bullpen was struggling a little bit, but now you look at this bullpen now, everybody is going out there and doing a great job," Rhodes added.

So now you have the butting of the heads of the La Russa method and the recent convention -- which is to have a seventh-inning guy, an eighth-inning guy and a closer. Jason Motte is being used as the closer, but otherwise anyone could see action in any inning.

And at the end of the end of the day, when the pitchers pitch well, La Russa is a genius. If they don't, he's just overmanaging and his guys don't know their respective roles. Either way, he doesn't seem to mind.

"I've been told this a long time ago," La Russa said. "The compliments and the criticism, basically you just ignore them."

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Posted on: October 20, 2011 4:03 pm
 

Weather for Game 2 similar, but a little better



By Matt Snyder


ST. LOUIS -- Compared to how things looked Wednesday at this time, it's beautiful outside in St. Louis. The sun is out, the wind is mild and there's no sign of rain. The temperature is only 55, compared to 51 at this time yesterday, but the lack of wind and rain teamed with the presence of the sun makes all the difference in the world.



The outlook for Thursday evening's Game 2 is similar to Game 1 in terms of temperature. Weather.com's hourly outlook shows gametime temperatures beginning at 49 degrees and dipping down to the mid-40s. What makes things appear better is the low chances at rain.

According to the Weather.com forecast, there's only a 10 percent chance of rain throughout the game and there doesn't appear to be much on the radar. So this thing should be played without any delays. Of course, we've heard that before ...

Still, things are looking up. Game 2 is coming soon.

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Posted on: October 20, 2011 3:10 am
Edited on: October 20, 2011 4:12 pm
 

World Series Game 2: Garcia, Lewis face off



By Matt Snyder


Rangers at Cardinals, 8:05 p.m. ET, Busch Stadium, St. Louis. Cardinals lead series 1-0.

ST. LOUIS -- Jaime Garcia, who will start Game 2 for the Cardinals, had a 7.27 ERA in two NLCS starts. Colby Lewis, who will start Game 2 for the Rangers, allowed eight hits and four runs in 5 2/3 innings against the Tigers in his lone ALCS start. So both are looking to right the ship when they square off on Thursday night.

And both have reasons for hope.

Despite the bad start last time out, Lewis has been lights-out in the postseason, posting a 4-1 record to go with a 2.37 ERA and 1.11 WHIP in six career postseason starts -- yes, including the bad last outing. He also says he loves pitching in the postseason.

"I mean, I just -- yeah, it's comfortable, it's exciting, stands are packed, towels are waving," Lewis said Wednesday. "I mean, it's kind of hard not to get pumped up for it, you know?"

Meanwhile, Garcia has some pretty drastic splits concerning home vs. road. During the regular season, he had a 2.55 ERA in Busch Stadium while having a 4.61 ERA on the road.

"Of course, being at home with the home fans and like sleeping in your own bed and things like that," Garcia said Wednesday. "But I've said this a bunch of times before, where it doesn't really get in my head where I go on the road and I don't like it or I get frustrated or something. It's happened this year where I go on the road and it's a tough game. You have the battles on the road and the good ones at home. Me personally, I don't really see anything different that I do."
 
"But yeah, obviously I like pitching here."

World Series, Game 1
PITCHING MATCHUP

Garcia vs. Rangers:
It's a complete unknown here. Garcia has never faced the Rangers, and he has only faced Matt Treanor and Yorvit Torrealba -- neither of whom are going to start.

"They were the best team in the American League," Garcia said. "It's a tough team to pitch against. You know, just like a Milwaukee team that they've got a really good lineup, good team."

Lewis vs. Cardinals: He faced the Cardinals all the way back in 2007 and it wasn't pretty. Lewis allowed four hits and four earned runs in just one inning. His only decent sample against major Cardinals players is against Lance Berkman, and it's good news for the Rangers. Lewis has only allowed two hits in 13 at-bats against Berkman, with zero homers and one RBI. That's the only remotely relevant thing we can find in Lewis' history against these Cardinals, and 13 at-bats isn't exactly a big sample.

"I've never pitched here," Lewis acknowledged. "All the dimensions are the same, 60 feet, 90 feet, all the good stuff. I think it's just another stadium."

LINEUPS

Rangers Cardinals
No. Name Pos No. Name Pos
1 Ian Kinsler 2B 1 Rafael Furcal SS
2 Elvis Andrus SS 2 Jon Jay 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

• I don't really get excited about hitting streaks, but some people do. If that's your cup of tea, it's worth nothing that Cardinals third baseman, and NLCS MVP, David Freese has an 11-game postseason hitting streak. A 12th game would tie the franchise record, which is currently held by both Yadier Molina and Mike Matheny.

• Cardinals left fielder Matt Holliday is certainly over his hand injury. In the past four games, he's 8-for-17 (.471) with three doubles, one home run and five runs scored.

• Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler is quietly pretty hot right now. He's eight for his last 20 (.400). 

• Rangers catcher Mike Napoli is having a huge postseason. Since going 0-for-3 with two strikeouts in Game 1 of the ALDS, Napoli is 13-for-36 (.361) with two homers, seven RBI and 10 runs scored.

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Posted on: October 20, 2011 2:05 am
Edited on: October 20, 2011 12:53 pm
 

Overheard: Notes and Quotes from Game 1

By Matt Snyder

ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals took down the Rangers in Game 1 of the World Series with a 3-2 victory. Here are some of the post-game notes and quotes from Busch Stadium.

• The Game 1 winner of the World Series has gone on to win the entire series 65 times out of 106, but it's held true far more often recently. The Game 1 winner has won the series seven of the last eight World Series and 12 of the last 14. Even further, the home teams that won Game 1 of the World Series have won the whole series every single year since 1993.

World Series, Game 1
• "I enjoy talking about it because he's not just a great hitter, he's a great baseball player," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said of Albert Pujols' defensive gem to end the Rangers' sixth inning. "You'll see him do something on the bases. Defensively he's a Gold Glover several times now and he's clutch. He knows exactly who the runner is, who the hitter is, the situation. He's so aware of how the game is being played. That's the play of the game, really, for us."

• With the win Wednesday night, Chris Carpenter now has eight postseason wins for the Cardinals, which sets the franchise record. He was previously tied with Hall of Famer Bob Gibson at seven.

• "That ball in the first, uh, I think we need to work on that one next spring," Carpenter said with a laugh of his diving save. "It was just an instinct, (Pujols) threw it a little out of my reach and I dove."

• The Rangers' relievers now have a 2.22 ERA in the postseason while the Cardinals' relievers have a 2.38 ERA.

• "Well, I thought C.J. (Wilson) did a good job tonight," Rangers manager Ron Washington said of his starting pitcher. "Yep, he may have walked some guys and he hit Albert (Pujols), but he was in a 2-2 ballgame and he was battling Carpenter. As far as I was concerned, it was a pretty good ballgame, and C.J. did his job."

• Wilson walked six batters. The last time a starting pitcher walked six batters in the World Series? Scott Kazmir of the Rays in 2008. Before that, you have to go back to Livan Hernandez in 1997.

• "Can you guarantee me that, if I used (Yorvit Torrealba), he would have done anything different? I used the guy that I thought could get me the base hit," Washington said of his decision to pinch hit with Esteban German in the pivotal seventh. German hadn't had an at-bat since Sept. 25.

• Cardinals closer -- even though La Russa won't overtly say he's the closer -- Jason Motte now has worked nine innings this postseason. He's only allowed one hit and has picked up five saves.

• Carpenter invoked "The Blind Side" -- a book that was made into a movie about the life of Ravens' left tackle Michael Oher -- to describe what catcher Yadier Molina means to him. Carpenter likened Molina's role to that of a left tackle protecting the quarterback -- with the pitcher being the QB in the metaphor.

• "It's just one," said Cardinals third baseman David Freese. "We need to get three more."

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Posted on: October 20, 2011 1:24 am
Edited on: October 20, 2011 1:38 am
 

Did umpires botch Adrian Beltre's last at-bat?



By Matt Snyder


ST. LOUIS -- Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre came to the plate in the ninth inning with one out and his Rangers trailing by one. He had already gathered two hits and scored one of the two Rangers' runs to that point. Even against rock-solid-of-late Cardinals closer Jason Motte, the Rangers were certainly not buried with Nelson Cruz and Mike Napoli set to follow Beltre in the order.

And then Beltre grounded out to third. And he and manager Ron Washington argued. The reason? Beltre believed he fouled the ball off his foot. Replays showed it was entirely possible. Beltre could clearly be seen saying "it hit my shoe."

Via MLB.com, here is the play -- including the thermal imaging video:



Now here is a good slow-motion of the shot, including again the imaging:



First of all, Beltre fell to the ground immediately. It's not like he saw it was a rather weak grounder and decided to play possum. He was down before that entire thought process could have taken place. Secondly, Fox evidently has some thermal imaging in their broadcast and used it to show that that ball did graze his foot. 

"(Beltre) said he did (foul it off his foot), and he has those Velcro-type shoes," Washington said after the game. "So (Beltre) asked (home plate umpire Jerry Layne) to check the ball; couldn't find anything on it. (Layne) said none of the umpires recognized it, so that's what it was about."

So did the umpires botch this? If you believe so, understand how utterly difficult it would be to see this in normal speed, with no help from slow-motion. And slow-mo doesn't even give anything definitive here. It looks like it may have hit Beltre's shoe. Thermal imaging? Maybe MLB needs to institute instant replay with thermal imaging. Then, instead of being behind the technological curve, MLB would be ahead of it.

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Posted on: October 20, 2011 12:56 am
Edited on: October 20, 2011 4:13 am
 

Grading Game 1 of the World Series

By Matt Snyder

ST. LOUIS -- We've done grades for the first two rounds of the playoffs, but it's the World Series. A big deal, in other words. So let's just grade out every single game. It's fun. And we like fun.

Marc Rzepczynski only faced two hitters, but he got two huge outs. Granted, it wasn't against a murderer's row or anything -- Craig Gentry and Esteban German don't exactly instill fear in opposing pitchers -- but he's been a lefty specialist and faced two righties. He struck them both out, ending what was the last Rangers threat.

"He beat us," said Rangers manager Ron Washington after the game. "That's all there is to it."

Allen Craig, Chris Carpenter, Lance Berkman, Albert Pujols, David Freese and Matt Holliday with garner lots of attention from the winner's clubhouse in Game 1, but do not discount the job by Rzepczynski. He got two of the biggest outs of the game.

Carpenter will get lots of credit for this performance, and rightfully so, as he worked six innings, allowing five hits, two earned runs and picked up the victory. But he missed his spot -- didn't get the ball as far outside as Yadier Molina wanted -- in the fifth inning against Mike Napoli to lose a two-run lead the Cardinals had just built. That pitch knocks Carpenter down to a B, which is by no means a bad grade. I'd even be willing to bump this thing up to a B+ considering Carpenter was facing such a stacked offense

Carpenter's counterpart, Rangers' starter C.J. Wilson, showed some signs of breaking out of his postseason slump, but he ultimately wasn't good enough to help the Rangers gather a win. He did put three zeroes on the board, but then faltered. In the fourth inning, Holliday and Berkman got to him after putting Pujols on with a hit-by-pitch. Then, in the sixth, Wilson allowed a double to Freese and then uncorked an awful wild pitch to move him -- and the eventual game-winning run -- to third base. Allowing three runs in 5 2/3 isn't horrible, but it certainly isn't good. And the six walks weren't acceptable.

The strings Ron Washington pulled Wednesday night didn't seem to work very well. Before the game, he insisted that the Rangers wouldn't shy away from trying to run on Yadier Molina and the Cardinals -- stressing that stealing is really on the pitcher, not the catcher -- and stayed true to his word. Ian Kinsler led off the game with a single and then tried to steal second base. He was thrown out by Molina. Then, when the Rangers were threatening in the seventh, Washington went with Gentry and German and both struck out. Meanwhile, Cardinals' manager Tony La Russa's moves all worked out well.

The Rangers 2-3-4 hitters -- Elvis Andrus, Josh Hamilton and Michael Young -- went a combined 0-for-11 with three strikeouts. That's a pretty big hole toward the top of the lineup, and it's very difficult to develop any sort of offense without those three spots contributing anything. It's only one game, though, and the good news for the Rangers is that there's a big drop off in the Cardinals' rotation after Carpenter.

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Posted on: October 19, 2011 11:13 pm
Edited on: October 19, 2011 11:27 pm
 

Cardinals take Game 1 behind Craig's big hit



By Matt Snyder


ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals have a 1-0 lead in the World Series after a 3-2 win in Game 1.

Hero: Allen Craig came on to pinch hit in the bottom of the sixth with runners on first and third, a tie game and two outs. He delivered a line drive down the right field line that ended up a game-winning single. Having him as a weapon off the bench is huge for the Cardinals, and will be even bigger when the series shifts to Texas and a DH spot becomes available.

World Series coverage
Goat: It's a tough call here, because this was a pretty well-played game by both teams that could have gone either way. But Alexi Ogando was brought in from the bullpen to get a big out. That's what his job has been and will continue to be. He didn't come through Wednesday night. C.J. Wilson putting the runners on base also bears mention here, but Ogando's job is to be the bailout guy. He didn't bail Wilson out.

Turning point: There were three big ones. The first was the Cardinals' initial 2-0 lead on a Lance Berkman single. The next was Mike Napoli's game-tying, two-run homer. And then Craig's big hit ultimately proved the biggest play of the game and was the defining turning point after Napoli's shot.

It was over when ... In the top of the seventh, the Rangers put two runners on base with one out. Marc Rzepczynski was summoned to face the left-handed hitting David Murphy. Rangers manager Ron Washington countered with right-handed Craig Gentry. Cardinals manager Tony La Russa elected to stick with Rzepczynski against both Gentry and fellow righty Esteban German -- even with right-hander Octavio Dotel warming in the bullpen. Rzepczynski struck both out to end the threat. It would be the Rangers' last threat of the game.

Next: Game 2 is Thursday night at 8:05 p.m. ET, here in St. Louis. The Cardinals will run Jaime Garcia out to the mound while the Rangers are going with Colby Lewis. Look for the Game 2 preview here at Eye On Baseball very soon.

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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