Tag Archive | "Season Finale"

Cardinal Success In Game 5s And Game 7s

As we prepare for the finale of this exciting series, and its marquee Game 5 matchup of two former Cy Young Award winners, let us take a walk down memory lane, and look at the Cardinal history in Game 7s (and Game 5 for the NLDS).

St Louis is the preeminent franchise in the National League, second only to the Yankees in terms of World Series wins. All that success means the team has had multiple occasions to play a one game, winner-take-all contest. For example, the Cardinals played seven consecutive World Series Game 7s from 1946 to 1987. How did they fare in those opportunities?

The Early Years (1926-1967)

Their first World Series appearance went seven games. The Cardinals won that game, which ended with my personal favorite game-ending play for any World Series, namely Babe Ruth getting thrown out trying to steal second. Can you imagine the amount of ink, hot air, and bandwidth that would be consumed dissecting that decision if it happened in 2006 instead of 1926?

Having started well, the Cardinals kept rolling. They defeated the Philadelphia A’s to win the Fall Classic in 1931, and took out Detroit in Tiger Stadium to win the Series three years later. Enos Slaughter’s mad dash home secured the 1946 title in front of the home town fans, and Bob Gibson wrestled those mighty Yankees into submission 18 years later in front of those same fans. The Boston Globe learned the price of publishing a great headline prematurely (‘Lonborg and Champagne’), as Gibson extended Cardinal dominance and Boston angst with a 1967 Game 7 win at Fenway.

So six Game 7s had come and gone, and the Cardinals had won all six. They were invincible when all the chips were down. No one wanted to play them in those situations, no matter where the game was to be contested.

The Desert of Futility (1968-2001)

Was it Curt Flood’s slip? Was it Lou Brock getting thrown out at the plate two games earlier? Was it the law of averages finally catching up to them? Probably some combination of the three. The Detroit Tigers, led by Denny McLain, beat St Louis at home in that 1968 Game 7. After that, Cardinal dominance in Game 7s ceased. They continued to win the Game 7s played at home, clinching the World Series against Milwaukee, defeating both Los Angeles and San Francisco in the LCS.

But on the road they were hapless. The Cardinals blew a 3-1 series lead in 1985, dropping Game 7 in Kansas City. They blew a 3-2 lead two years later, losing to the Twins in the Homer Dome. Then, when they returned to the post-season 10 years later, even their home mojo disappeared. They blew another 3-1 lead, getting embarrassed by the Atlanta Braves and losing the NLCS for the first time. Finally, to conclude their first best-of-five playoff series that went the distance, they lost a heartbreaker in the Arizona desert.

Return to Normalcy (2002-present)

They needed a great play or seminal moment to change their luck. They got one, and it occurred in a Game 7. The Cardinals played their next winner-take-all game to close out the 2004 NLCS against Houston. The Astros looked poised to take complete control of the game when with two on and one out, Brad Ausmus hit a fliner into the left-center field gap. Jim Edmonds ran it down, making a spectacular diving catch to keep the runners at their respective bases. St Louis went on to win the game and the National League.

They played another Game 7 two years later, and thanks to a Yadier Molina HR in the top of the ninth, St Louis beat the Mets 3-1 at Shea. It marked the first time since the 1967 World Series the Cardinals had won a Game 7 on the road.

Summation

Over 85 years of playoff baseball, the Cardinals have played 15 Game 7s and 1 Game 5. They are 7-1 as a franchise at home in those games, and 4-4 on the road. In comparison, the Philadelphia Phillies have never played a Game 7. They have played 2 Game 5s, winning the first, beating the Astros in extra innings to win the NL in 1980. But, they lost the second, to the Dodgers a year later* in the same situation.

What does it all mean? No Phillie on the current roster has ever played in a Game 5/7 for that franchise. The Cardinals have 4 men left from the 2006 playoff run: Albert Pujols, Yadier Molina, Adam Wainwright, and … Chris Carpenter, tonight’s starter. Additionally, tradition here has to favor St Louis. Plus, the veterans who played in those games of yore – men like Lou Brock, Gibson, Red Schoendienst, Willie McGee, even Stan Musial – keep that tradition alive by being a part of the locker room during spring training, and passing that tradition on to the current generation.

Everyone looks for even the slightest edge in games like this. Only in games like this can intangibles play a role. Experience and tradition favor the Cardinals. That has to count for something. It might be the last straw they need to break the Phillies back.

* Editor’s Note: It should be noted that this game five in Phillies history in 1981 was the first ever division series. This series was mandated by the players strike that year.

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Royals Season Review: An Entertaining 71 Wins

Once again our roommates here at I70 Baseball are headed off to the post season after a wild month of September. We Royals fans once again get to watch the playoffs with mild detachment. If they’re anything like Wednesday’s epic finale to the regular season we’re in for a treat. However, we may not see a night of baseball like Wednesday for several years. There will be a lot written about that night, and there are not enough superlatives to describe it’s awesomeness.

The season finale was kind of disappointing for the Royals, losing 1-0 to the Wounded Critters err Twins. Putting that game aside I think this Royals team was the most entertaining bad baseball team I’ve watched. Before I switch gears into off-season mode I’d like to highlight what are my most memorable parts of the 2011 Royals season. Notice I said memorable, that doesn’t exactly mean good.

Spring Training: Coming into spring training the Royals were deemed to have the best minor league system in baseball. They didn’t disappoint. The young guys played well in spring training. The Royals won the Cactus League. It was a nice break from losing even if the games didn’t count. Unfortunately, they started the regular season with the only the young guys in the bullpen.

Saturday, April 2nd: This was the only Royals game I attended this year. I live 3 hours from Kauffman Stadium and clearing my schedule enough to get up there becomes difficult. But the games I do attend are big deals. We bought tickets to this game in early March because it also included the Futures Game. Those were the guys we wanted to see anyway, not Hiram Davies. Just so happens the Royals beat the Angels 5-4, and the Futures Game displayed a Mike Montgomery mowing down batters. On that day I was sure he’d have been in the rotation by July. Even though that didn’t happen it was still an awesome day.

The Next Day, April 3rd: Matt Treanor wins the game with a walk off HR in extra innings. The Royals take 3 of 4 from the Angels. The #smallsamplesizebutstill appears on Twitter.

Perfect Game, Perfect Meltdown, April 20th: Luke Hochaver is dealing. You know? He takes a perfect game into the 6th inning. You know? And the 6th inning goes like this for Hochaver: Single, Balk, Double, 5-3 ground out, 4-3 ground out, Balk, single, double, walk, double, and finally a strike out to ends the inning. You know? It becomes a microcosm of Hochaver’s season. You know? Awesome for most of the game, but is susceptible to what becomes known as a “Hochaver Inning”. You know?

The “That’s What Speed Do” Game, April 29th: With the game tied 3-3 in the 8th, Alcides Escobar hits a shallow fly ball to deep short/shallow left. Caught by shortstop Alexi Casilla, Jerrod Dyson tags up at third and is safe at the plate. Royals take the lead 4-3, and eventually win by that score. When asked about the play in the post game interview, Dyson said “that’s what speed do.” Unfortunately, Dyson couldn’t hit well enough to stay with the Royals for the rest of the season. I question weather he remains in the organization for the 2012 campaign.

April 30th: The Royals beat the Twins 11-2, and finish the month of April one game above .500 at 14-13. Good start. Too bad it didn’t mean much

Hosmas, May 6th: Finally, the long awaited MLB Debut of one Eric John Hosmer. Royals fans are excited. Hosmer goes 0 for 2, with 2 walks. Royals lose to the A’s 3-2. But this wasn’t about one game it was about the future.

Royals Visit Yankee Stadium, May 10th-12th: Royals Drop the first game 3-1. In game two Eric Hosmer hits his first home run, and the Royals win in 11 innings. In the third game the Royals take Ivan Nova behind the woodshed in the 2nd inning by putting up a 6 spot. And oh yeah, Eric Hosmer hits his 2nd home run. Royals win 11-5 and take 2 of 3 from the Yankees at the Stadium. I consider this to be the highlight of the season.

More Historical Futility, May 16th: Vin Mazzaro solidifies the David DeJesus trade as terrible by giving up 14 runs in 2.1 IP. Royals lose to surging Cleveland by 18 runs.

Danny Duffy MLB Debut, May 18th: With injuries to Bruce Chen and Sean O’Sullivan; Vin Mazzaro sent to Omaha; Danny Duffy gets his shot at the rotation. Duffy has an OK start: 4IP, 4H, 2ER, 6BB, 4K. He does not factor into the decision. Royals lose to the Rangers 5-4. Danny Duffy will stay with the Royals rest of the season.

Gold Glove Escobar, June 1st: It’s the top of the 8th in a scoreless ball game. The Angels have two outs and the base loaded. Alcides Escobar robs Alberto Callaspo of a base hit in shallow left and throws across the diamond for the put out at first. Escobar had tons of defensive highlights this season, but for some reason this play sticks out to me. Good pick up, that guy. This was also the same game Billy Butler hit a double…until it was reviewed and determined it was a walk-off home run. Royals win 2-0.

Mike Moustakas MLB Debut, June 10th: Mike Moustakas makes his much anticipated MLB debut in Anaheim. Moustakas goes 1 for 3 with a walk. He homers in his next game. He won’t homer again until September. There was a six week stretch that Moustakas looked over matched and lost at the plate. But he worked his way through it, and will be a major league contributor going forward.

#countrybreakfast, July 25th-28th The Royals roll into Fenway Park for a four game set with eventual AL Wild Card, Boston Red Sox. The first game goes 14 innings, but also includes a long rain delay. The Royals win 3-1. This game ended in the wee hours of the morning. This is when the Twittersphere gave Billy Butler the nickname; Country Breakfast. It is thought to be the first time fans on twitter gave a player a nickname and it stuck. It was even mention on Sports Center.

The Royals get throttled in the middle two games of the series. But Luke Hochaver pitches 7 strong in the series finale. Royals win 4-3 and get out of Boston with a split.

Johnny Giavotella MLB Debut, Aug 5th: Johnny Giavotella was on no ones radar in spring training. In August he replaces the much criticized Chris Getz. He immediately begins hitting. His first game batting line is 2 for 3, 1B, 2B, BB, RBI. We have ourselves a 2nd Baseman.

The Gangs All Here, Aug 10th: I’m not sure what is in store for the 2012 Royals. We know this group of position players is together for several years barring a trade or injury. If they go on to win a World Series I will remember this day as the turning point. Salvador Perez makes his MLB debut. To make room on the roster the Royals make the anticipated release of Kyle Davies. Just so happens the Royals played the Rays on this day. An organization the Royals should try and emulate. Aaron Crow and Joakim Soria combine to give up 5 runs in the bottom of the 9th. Rays win 8-7. This line up stays together for the rest of the season and suddenly the Royals have a potent offense.

Francoeur’s 9-3 Put Out, Sept 7th: There have been over 200,000 major league baseball games played. Most of them are pretty normal. But there are so many of games that a something extraordinary happens often. This was one of those plays. I originally heard this play on the radio. As soon as I got near a computer I looked for the video. Jeff Francoeur has made some spectacular plays in the outfield this year. Whatever his shortcomings at the plate, he entertaining to watch in the field. I’m glad he’s been signed to a two-year deal. Royals mailed in this game, lost 7-0 to the A’s.

Thus brings us to the long cold off-season. It’s been a fun year and I can hardly wait till March when spring training get into full swing. With any luck and some excellent moves by the Royals front office the 2012 season review will take me twice as long, and I’ll have to break it up into two articles.

nobody on the road, nobody on the beach.

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Columbus Clips Chasers In Triple-A Title Game

Columbus Clips Chasers in Triple-A Title Game
PCL Champion Omaha can’t capitalize on early 3-0 lead, drops season finale

Mike Feigen / Omaha Storm Chasers

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — With the ice cream sundae of a Pacific Coast League Championship already served, the Omaha Storm Chasers fell just short of putting the cherry on top in a 8-3 loss to the Columbus Clippers Tuesday night in Albuquerque. The Cleveland Indians’ affiliate won its second-straight Triple-A National Championship Game, rallying from an early 3-0 hole to cruise to victory.

The one-game, nationally-televised playoff showcase started out well for Omaha, but the offense and pitching stalled out after a first-inning display reminiscent of performances throughout this year’s championship run.

Irving Falu got things started with a one-out walk in the first, followed by a single by David Lough to put two runners on. Lorenzo Cain then drilled a two-run triple to the right-center gap, his third three-base hit of the postseason to the exact same spot on the field. One out later, John Whittleman came through with an RBI single in his first playoff at-bat, giving the Chasers a 3-0 advantage.

Omaha starter Sean O’Sullivan (0-1, postseason) retired the side in order in the bottom half of the first, but ran into trouble in his next two frames, allowing six runs on six hits. The big blow was a tape-measure three-run homer by Luke Carlin on a two-strike, two-out pitch in the second, knotting the score at 3-3. O’Sullivan and the Chasers would go on to lose for the first time in the right-hander’s final 10 starts of the season.

Clippers’ right-hander Joe Martinez (3-0, postseason) and reliever Chen Lee held Omaha scoreless on five hits after the early outburst, giving the International League champ’s offense time to tack on insurance runs in the fourth off Willy Lebron and the eighth off Kelvin Herrera. Former first-round draft pick Beau Mills took Herrera deep to start the bottom of the eighth, getting around just enough on a hard fastball to lift it the opposite way over the left field wall.

Lance Zawadzki had another fine offensive showing in the contest, going 2-for-4 to improve his batting average to .444 (8-for-18) in four playoff starts. The Chasers got hits from seven of the nine men in the lineup, with Zawadzki’s performance going down as the only multi-hit contest.

Some 800 miles to the northeast, Storm Chasers’ ace right-hander Luis Mendoza and a handful of 2011 Omaha alumni were busy defeating the A.L. Central champion Detroit Tigers by a score of 10-2 at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City. Mendoza, the PCL Pitcher of the Year and PCL Playoff MVP, earned his first Major League victory since August 3, 2008, when he was a member of the Texas Rangers. He was aided by Chasers’ Opening Day first baseman Eric Hosmer, who went 5-for-5 at the plate with his 18th home run of the season.

Following the game, the Royals announced that six additional members of the 2011 Storm Chasers – Cain, Herrera, O’Sullivan, Jarrod Dyson, Vin Mazzaro and Manny Pina – would be joining the team in Kansas City. The occasion will mark Cain’s first appearance in the majors with the Royals and will be Herrera’s first taste of big-league action after starting the season in Class-A ball.

The PCL Champion Storm Chasers will open their title defense Thursday, April 5, 2012, when they host the Albuquerque Isotopes in the first game of a four-game series in the second full season at Werner Park.

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