Live Blog: Giants-Phillies NLCS Game 2

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11:22: Ryan Madson was shaky, but he gets Edgar Renteria to ground out to end it. Final score: 6-1, Phillies. Roy Oswalt was The Man tonight.  Now these teams fly to San Francisco for Game 3. Tomorrow night it’s Rangers-Yankees from New York. I’ll be writing up a little recap here shortly, but after that it’s nighty night. Thanks for haning out!

11:18: Five run game with two-outs in the ninth and the FOX cameras find a woman in the crow with her hands over her mouth as if she’s worrying or fretting or whatever. That’s FOX’s favorite shot, by the way. Took them three hours to find it tonight, but dadgummit, they found it.

11:15: Raul Ibanez with a nice running/diving/falling catch. The crowd yells “Rauuul!”  McCarver thinks it necessary to tell us that thr crowd was yelling “Rauuul.” Thanks, Tim. Thought They were booing!

11:12: Ryan Madson comes in to close it out. It’s a five run game. I could probably just start writing up the game recap, but every single time I’ve ever done that, something that materially changed the story occurred after I got writing. So, if it’s cool with you, I’ll just chill here, OK?  Oh, as I was typing that, Buster Posey walked, so maybe something is doin’.

11:00: But it works for Manuel. And Oswalt. Aubrey Huff is retired and Oswalt finishes (presumably) a fantastic night. One run on three hits and some fantasticness on the basepaths. A night after Ace 1 falters, Ace 2 comes up big.

10:57: Charlie Manuel comes out to yank Oswalt, but apparently Oswalt talked him out of it. This worked so well for Bobby Cox. And Grady Little.

10:55: Andres Torres is now 0 for 4 with 4Ks. Methinks we might see Aaron Rowand on Tuesday.

10:44: The whole “pitch to the struggling Jimmy Rollins” strategy didn’t work. Three-run double, it’s 6-1 Philly in the seventh.

10:41: Things still dicey for the Giants in the seventh. They intentionally walk Jayson Werth to bring up Jimmy Rollins, and then Bochy pulls a double switch with Santiago Casilla replacing Jeremy Affedlt and Pablo Sandoval replacing Mike Fontenot. I was going to make a joke about “Pablo Sandoval: defensive replacement” but Fontenot has stunk on ice out there tonight, so how bad could this be?

10:32: Roy Oswalt just scored from second on a Placido Polanco single despite third base coach Sam Perlozzo putting up the stop sign for Oswalt. Best part: as it became clear that Oswalt wasn’t stopping, Perlozzo quickly put his hands down, hoping no one saw him. How do you feel if you’re the third base coach in that situation? Everyone in the joint saw you try to stop the runner, and he scored anyway. Your team did good in spite of your best efforts.

10:26: Jonathan Sanchez gives up a single to Roy Oswalt, and Sanchez’s night is over. 100 pitches. After seeing him early, I never would have thunk that he’d make it into the 7th.

10:21: “God Bless America.” I appreciate the sentiment, but I really dislike the song. How about “America the Beautiful” or “This Land is Your Land?” OK, they’ll never do Woody because Commies are bad and all, but still. Even if you’re going to go with a patriotic song instead of “Take me out the Ballgame,” there are better options.

10:18: Fly to the track. Damn. I was hoping to see 40,000+ Philly fans crying. Or claiming Ross was cheating. Or both.

10:17:  Cody Ross is coming to the plate! Lock up the youngins!

10:11: Edgar Renteria makes a back-to-the field, on the run catch. He drops it out of the glove but holds on. Crazy.

10:08: Oswalt allows a single to Freddy Sanchez but that’s it. Now he has a whole half inning to think about how to approach Cody Ross. “Say, Chooch, I was thinking we could go with a fastball, middle-in. Maybe a bit low? Whaddaya think?”

10:01: After the manufactured run, Ryan Howard gets on base again. Then Jayson Werth — who has had no luck at all against Sanchez — swings at the first pitch and is out 5-4.  What the hell? Why would anyone — let alone anyone who has had issues with Sanchez — swing at his first pitch? I really don’t get it.

9:57: A Victorino double, and sac flies from Utley and Polanco put the Phillies up 2-1.

9:54: I get it now: Sanchez wasn’t throwing strikes on purpose. When he does, they get crushed.

9:46:  “Insanity: the belief that one can get different results by doing the same thing.” -Albert Einstein, speaking on the Phillies’ approach to Cody Ross.

9:44:  Cody Ross breaks up the no-hitter and ties the game with his third home run of the postseason. Phillies fans have a new mortal enemy. Eventually they’ll stop throwing him pitches right where he likes ’em.

9:39: And Sanchez induces a popout and escapes the inning. I can’t recall the last time I’ve seen a pitcher who looks this shaky only give up one run. If I didn’t know the score and could only see Sanchez’s pitches, I’d guess he was down 5-0.

9:37: Sanchez and Oswalt both start walking off the field on the 1-2 pitch, thinking it a strike. Sanchez doesn’t have good control, but this strike zone has been pretty pathetic tonight.

9:28: What’s more unexpected? Mike Fontenot dropping completely misplaying that popup, or Jimmy Rollins swinging on the first pitch against Sanchez?

9:25: Middle of the fourth and no one is doing anything against Oswalt. Sanchez has settled down too, of course. How cool would it be to have a playoff game’s entire run production be a bases loaded walk in the first inning?  It would certainly make writing up the post-game story easy.

9:16: Ryan Howard ground rule double. I’ve liked what I’ve seen from Howard tonight. For a guy who’s supposed to be nothin’ against lefties, he’s had a couple of nice at bats.

9:14: I love the chat with Giant’s hitting coach Hensley Muelens. I used to watch “Bam Bam” when he played for the Columbus Clippers back when I was in college. I thought he’d be a big star.

9:09: I don’t know about Sanchez, but Oswalt has definitely figured out this ump’s strike zone. Four Ks for little Roy.

9:08: My wife, sitting on the couch next to me: “Get up and get me some gummy bears.”  Me: “I can’t, I’m live blogging the game.” Her: “Just pause it.” Me: “Dude, it’s a LIVE blog.”

9:01: Love the vintage Wild Thing video. Then Mitch says “I can tell you, as a guy who struggled with his control . . .” You don’t say?

8:57: The video of the guys making cheesesteaks as we went to commercial is definitely the highlight of the night so far. Sorry Old Gator, but that stuff is goooooood.

8:53: The Philly faithful boo Cody Ross. Yeah, screw him. How dare he jack those two awful wheelhouse fastballs Halladay threw him last night!

8:52: Sweet run to snag that fly ball by Shane Victorino. Query: was the fall necessary, or just for show? There will be other litmus test questions later tonight. In other news, Victorino’s nickname is “the Flyin’ Hawaiian.” Thanks Tim McCarver.

8:48: I’m on Twitter tonight too. Dylan Hernandez of the L.A. Times put the glass-is-half-full spin on Sanchez’s first inning: “Jonathan Sanchez struck out the side. And he has a no-hitter going.”

8:45: Sanchez walks Jimmy Rollins with the bases loaded. 1-0 Philly. It might have been in the zone. But man, Sanchez is all over the place. The ump gave him a high pitch. Didn’t give him the low one. It may suck for the Giants, but it’s the kind of thing that happens to you when you look like you have no idea where it’s going.

8:41: Werth HATED the 1-2 pitch that struck him out. Looked OK on the FOX pitch tracker thing. Honestly, though, guys who are struggling like Sanchez is don’t get that call very often.

8:37: And Sanchez walks Howard. He has thrown a ton of pitches already tonight. Just a horrible approach for him facing Howard. Though let’s give credit to Howard too for laying off some junk he often chases.

8:34: I think Fontenot’s sideburns caused his balance to be off, which in turn screwed up the throw. Utley at third, Polanco at first, one out and Ryan Howard has to hit a lefty.

8:28: My daughter just went up to bed. She asked me if I could tuck her in tonight. I said “no honey, I’m working.” She said “you’re not working, you’re watching baseball.” Man, I love my life.

8:25: “Raul Ibanez: and growing up, my favorite player was Tris Speaker.”

8:22: Wow, with a textbook slide like that, I have no idea how Uribe ever could have hurt his hand. /Sarcasm

8:12: Can’t tell you how happy I am that all the Jonathan Sanchez highlights are of him making Braves hitters look foolish. They’re like the random players you used to see Dominique Wilkins jamming on in those 1980s SI poster.

8:08: When it comes to the National Anthem, brass quintets > pop soul divas.  And yes, I’m standing as I type this. I promise.

7:25: One ace down, two to go for the Giants. Tonight it’s little Roy. Can he contain Cody Ross? It’s a good question! And one I never thought I’d be asking about Cody Ross in a thousand years.

On the other side is Jonathan Sanchez. He of the 2-0 record and 1.38 ERA against the Phillies this year.  Can he continue to tame them, or will the sophomoric taunts of the Philly crowd — more wolf whistles maybe? — lead to his undoing?

Your guess is as good as mine, Old Sport, so why don’t we all watch it together. The live blogging will commence in this thread starting at 8PM Eastern.  I can’t say I’ll be as thorough as D.J. is when he live blogs these things, but I promise you my jokes will be cornier.

Feel free to get the chatter going. I’ll see you at 8.

Astros advance to the World Series with 4-0 finale against Yankees

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The Astros punched their ticket to the World Series on Saturday, shutting out the Yankees 4-0 to take their first Game 7 victory at home. Charlie Morton was nearly untouchable on the mound, holding the Yankees to two hits, a walk and five strikeouts en route to his first career postseason win.

Morton and Sabathia carried their duel through three solid innings. Morton struck out three batters and allowed just one baserunner. Sabathia worked in and out of jams in the second and third innings, supplying and stranding two runners in scoring position.

Evan Gattis was the first to strike. In the fourth inning, he punched a 2-2 slider from Sabathia into the left field wall, where it registered a projected 405 feet and broke a homer-less streak of 115 at-bats by designated hitters in the 2017 postseason. The home run signaled the beginning of the end for the Yankees’ starter. He induced a groundout from Marwin Gonzalez, then walked Brian McCann on six pitches and allowed Josh Reddick his first base hit of the playoffs. That was enough for Joe Girardi, who pulled Sabathia for righty Tommy Kahnle and an inning-ending double play to close out the fourth.

Even with Sabathia gone, there was still some hope that the middle of the order could bail the Yankees out. Greg Bird led off the fifth with a first pitch double and Aaron Hicks took a four-pitch walk. A wild pitch from Morton allowed Bird to reach third base, but Alex Bregman and Brian McCann weren’t about to let the Yankees spoil their starter’s shutout. Todd Frazier bounced a ball toward third base, where Bregman grabbed and fired it to home plate, catching Bird just as McCann put his glove down.

The bottom of the inning wasn’t any easier for Sabathia’s successors. Jose Altuve went oppo-taco on a 1-1 changeup from Kahnle, postmarking it 364 feet into the right field stands. Kahnle labored through the next four at-bats, handing out a pair of singles to Carlos Correa and Yuli Gurriel before sending Gattis down swinging. The next at-bat was even more troublesome. McCann roped a two-out, two-RBI double to the warning track in right field, clearing the bases and boosting the Astros’ to a cushy 4-0 lead.

The excitement fizzled a little over the next few innings. Brett Gardner muscled a leadoff single off of Lance McCullers, but was later caught at second on a force play to end the sixth. McCullers didn’t let go of the ball again. He was lights-out through the end of the game, scattering a walk and six strikeouts over four innings and clinching the pennant with a 1-2-3 performance in the ninth.

Whatever confidence the Astros had coming off of their three-game sweep in the Division Series was tested and tested again in their pennant run. They battled through three tough losses in Games 3 through 5, staved off elimination with a gem from Justin Verlander in Game 6, and finally emerged victorious tonight. Three days from now, when they enter Dodger Stadium for Game 1 of the World Series, they’ll have the chance to do it all again.