Cincinnati Reds v Philadelphia Phillies, Game 2

Live Blog: Giants-Phillies NLCS Game 2


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.

The Mets break out the whuppin’ sticks, rout the Dodgers 13-7

Cespedes d'Arnaud

So often in life the anticipation of something outpaces its reality. For Mets fans tonight, it was the exact opposite. They had a grand old time. The Mets broke out the lumber and overwhelmed the Dodgers 13-4 to take a 2-1 lead in NLDS.

So much of that anticipation was about revenge, really. Hitting Chase Utley if he was in the lineup, perhaps, or at the very least sending some sort of retaliatory message the Dodgers’ way in response to Utley breaking Ruben Tejada‘s leg on Saturday. But with Utley out of the lineup — and the notion that base runners matter a whole heck of a lot in a playoff game — Matt Harvey just set out to pitch, not plunk. And Mets hitters set out to beat the living heck out of Brett Anderson and a couple Dodgers relievers. Living well is the best revenge, and for a major league team, winning baseball games is living well.

It didn’t start out so well for Harvey, as Yasmani Grandal singled in two runs in the top of the second with a third run scoring on a Curtis Granderson error on the same play. It was 3-0 Dodgers early and Mets’ fans sphincters’ clenched. But only momentarily.

The Mets came right back in the bottom of the second with four runs with a Travis d'Arnaud single and a bases-loaded, bases-clearing double from Curtis Granderson. In the next inning d’Arnaud hit a two-run shot. In the fourth Daniel Murphy singled in a run and Yoenis Cespedes hit a three-run bomb to left to make it 10-3. The Dodgers got one back in the top of the seventh but New York scored three more of their own in the bottom half. It was never a ballgame after the third inning.

Brett Anderson was the author of the damage through three, Alex Wood gave up the four runs in the fourth and hung on in the fifth in what became mop-up duty. Harvey was done after five and took the win. He wasn’t necessarily sharp, but he did strike out seven and was good enough. Some late damage from the Dodgers, including a three-run homer in the ninth from Howie Kendrick, was too little, too late. Granderson and d’Arnaud did the damage for New York, driving in five and three runs, respectively.

Once the competitive portion of this game was over, the Mets’ crowd turned to more important matters. Chanting things like “We want Utley!” Don Mattingly didn’t give him to ’em, probably because there was no downside to smacking him after the game got out of hand. But no upside either. Because of that stuff about living well, remember?

Now it’s on Clayton Kershaw to save the Dodgers from elimination [looks at watch] tonight, technically. If he doesn’t, his detractors will write another page in their Big Book of Clayton Kershaw Playoff Failures. If he does, we get a Game 5 back in Los Angeles.

Maybe Chase Utley gets into one of those.

Jake Arrieta beatable, but still unbeaten

Jake Arrieta
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Jake Arrieta gave up as many earned runs Monday against the Cardinals as he had in his previous 13 starts combined, yet the Cubs still won 8-6.

It’s the 15th straight time the Cubs have won a game started by Arrieta, who is set to finish first or second in the Cy Young balloting announced next month. Their last loss in an Arrieta-pitched game was when the Phillies’ Cole Hamels no-hit them on July 25. They won the previous four before that, too, so make it 19 of 20.

The outing could go down as Arrieta’s last of the season, though that would require the Cardinals beating the Cubs in back-to-back games to finish the NLDS. The more likely scenario at this point is that Arrieta starts Game 1 of the NLCS against the Dodgers or Mets.

Arrieta, though, was vulnerable in this one, turning in his shortest start since June. Even in the shutout of Pittsburgh in the wild card game, the Pirates had chances in the middle innings (most notably before Starling Marte‘s well-hit grounder with the bases loaded turned into a double play in the sixth).

Tonight, he walked two in a row at one point, after not walking a single batter in his previous three starts. He gave up his first homer in six starts. The wind was a factor in tonight’s eight-homer barrage, but Jason Heyward‘s two-run shot off Arrieta went against the grain in left-center.

So, if nothing else, the illusion of impenetrability is now gone. Arrieta can be gotten to, if primarily in short bursts. That’s not going to do anything for the Cardinals — at least not unless Arrieta is called on to pitch an inning or two in Game 5 — but it’ll probably come into play later in the postseason.

Ding-Dong! The Cubbies ride homers to a 2-1 series lead

Jorge Soler

The wind was blowing out of Wrigley Field on Monday night, but mostly for the home team. Makes you think that maybe, just maybe, it wasn’t all about the wind.

The Cubs hit six homers off of Cardinals pitching, one each from each of the first six batters in their lineup. Three of them came against Michael Wacha, who Mike Matheny inexplicably let bat for himself in the top of the fifth and take the hill in the bottom of the fifth and on to a third time through the Cubs’ order. He was shaky as it was, and quickly put a runner on and then allowed a two-run homer to Kris Bryant to make it 4-2. One batter later Kevin Siegrist came in and let Anthony Rizzo take him VERY deep to right field to make it 5-2.

Jason Heyward made it interesting in the top of the sixth with a two run shot to make it a one-run game but then Jorge Soler hit a two run shot in the bottom half and Dexter Fowler hit one in the eighth to make it 8-4. You can’t trade solo shots for multiple two-run jobs. You wanna get the Cardinals? Here’s how you get ’em. They pull a knife, you pull a gun. They send one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue! They hit a solo homer, you hit a bunch of two-run shots. That’s the Chicago way, and that’s how you get the Cardinals!

Not that the Cardinals didn’t do a lot. They scored four runs in five and a third against Jake Arrieta, who hadn’t been damaged like that since June 16. But five Cubs relievers held mostly firm. You tell me before the game that they got to Arrieta like that and I tell you they won. But nope.

Now it’s 2-1 Cubs in a best of five. They go tomorrow with Jason Hammel and try to eliminate the Cards. Who had best figure out how to counter the Cubs’ power.