Howard, Werth come up big as Phillies finish Rockies

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Ryan Howard had the go-ahead hit in the ninth Sunday. This time he settled for the game-tying two-run double and left it up to Jayson Werth to knock him in. Werth, who hit a solo homer in the sixth, did just that with a single to center and the Phillies won 5-4.
The one non-sweep in Divisional Series play featured another thrilling game Monday, with the Rockies scoring three times in the bottom of the eighth, only to have the Phillies come back with three runs in the top of the ninth and clinch the series in four games.
It was the worst possible matchup for the Rockies and then the worst-case scenario Saturday: because of the snowout that pushed back the two games in Denver one day apiece, the Phillies were going to be able to start five straight southpaws against a Colorado lineup that, at its best, features five left-handed hitters.
In the end, the Rockies did their best and got to both Cole Hamels in Game 2 and J.A. Happ in Game 3. However, they fell a little short in Game 3 anyway and they struggled mightily to solve Cliff Lee, who allowed two earned runs over 16 1/3 innings between Games 1 and 4.
So, now Divisional Series play is over, all too soon again. Is there better evidence for the need of a seven-game first round than what happened to Colorado? Baseball is a 25-man game, but the Phillies were able to win a series with one pitcher throwing 45 percent of their innings. It’s an absurd way to go about deciding the true champion. Having the best pitcher in a series should provide a nice advantage, but it’s too extreme of one in a short series filled with off days.
The Phillies have to be pretty excited with the way they’re playing as they head to Los Angeles. Their power hitters are clicking on all cylinders, and even Brad Lidge might have a little confidence back after picking up saves in back-to-back games.

Aaron Judge set a new postseason strikeout record

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For a few days, it looked like Aaron Judge was finally hitting his stride in the postseason. He was still striking out at a regular clip, piling more and more strikeouts atop the 16 he racked up in the Division Series, but he was mashing, too. He engineered a three-run homer during Game 3 of the Championship Series, followed by another blast and game-tying double in Game 4. His one-out double helped pad a five-run lead in Game 5, while his 425-footer off of Brad Peacock barely made a dent during a 7-1 loss in Game 6. And then Lance McCullers‘ curveball found and fooled him, as it did five of the 14 batters it met in Game 7:

The strikeout was Judge’s first of the evening and 27th since the start of the playoffs. No other major league batter has racked up that many strikeouts in a single postseason, though Alfonso Soriano’s 26-strikeout record in 2003 comes the closest. Within that record, Judge also collected three golden sombreros (four strikeouts in a single game), narrowly avoiding the dreaded platinum sombrero (five strikeouts in a single game).

It’s an unfortunate footnote to a spectacular year for the rookie outfielder, who decimated the competition with 52 home runs and 8.2 fWAR during the regular season and was a pivotal part of the Yankees’ playoff run. Thankfully, the image of McCullers’ curveball darting just under Judge’s bat won’t be the image that sticks with us for years to come. Instead, it’ll look something like this: