Random observations from Game One

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Matthew’s live chat and Bob’s recap covered almost all you want to read about last night’s NLCS, but given that I watched the thing and my wife doesn’t like talking about baseball, I figured I was as share my observations as well:

We’ve taken your National League division champions and secretly
replaced them with the Red Sox and Yankees! Let’s see if anyone
notices! Four hours+. Lots of homers. Not my kind of game, but I
suppose the Phillies will take it.

As I said in my preview, I had thought that Kershaw would come out sharp and Hamels not so much.  Guess I was only half right. Both starters
struggled, with such struggles aided by what looked to my untrained eye
as a really poor effort by home plate umpire Randy Marsh. Kershaw later
said that he “failed to make adjustments” throughout the night. It
wasn’t the lack of adjustments to Phillies hitters that seemed to be
the problem, though. It was the adjustments he tried to make to Marsh
not giving him anything low in the strike zone.

But this can by no means be blamed on Marsh. You get lots of tough zones from umps throughout the season, and you just have to work with it.  Kershaw didn’t: he turned to
overthrowing and seemed to get frustrated. More experienced pitchers
would have probably stayed with their game and kept trying to drop that
backdoor pitch down low until Marsh finally started calling it. If he
did call it: great. If not? Well, at least you’re not getting shelled
for five runs and throwing three wild pitches like Kershaw did.

But even if the game didn’t turn on the umps. It did turn on the
strike zone. As in George Sherill’s inability to find it
against Howard and Werth in the eighth. After those walks, the fastball he threw to Ibanez
was an obvious get-me-over pitch, and Ibanez just stroked it. If Sherill wasn’t having control problems, there would be more life on that pitch, I suspect, because lefties just tend not to connect against him like that.

In light of last night, Game 2 brings a great chance to make Torre look
like the goat of the NLCS. The youngin’ in which he placed his trust
for Game 1 got beat up. If the lighting-in-a-bottle veteran he has tapped for Game 2 — Padilla —
reverts to Padillistic form, the story of the offday will be how L.A.
managed to all but lose the NLCS without Randy Wolf, Kuroda or
Billinglsey — the
dudes who staked them to a big lead back in the spring — ever throwing a pitch.

I’m not saying
it’s a fair storyline — I liked the Kershaw call — but it’ll be out
there.

Yasiel Puig just blew Game 7 of the NLCS wide open

Yasiel Puig
AP Images
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So much for a Game 7 nail-biter. The Brewers and Dodgers were separated by just one run for the first five innings of Saturday’s NLCS finale, but a monster three-run shot from Yasiel Puig boosted the Dodgers to a four-run advantage in the top of the sixth.

The timing couldn’t have been better for Los Angeles. Brewers’ left-hander Josh Hader entered the game in the third inning and dominated the opposition for three scoreless innings, then was replaced on the mound by fellow lefty Xavier Cedeño. Cedeño promptly issued a leadoff single to Max Muncy to start the sixth and, just as promptly, was lifted for right-hander Jeremy Jeffress. After giving up another base hit to Justin Turner, it looked like Jeffress turned a corner. He induced a fly out from Manny Machado, then got Cody Bellinger to ground into a force out to shift the Dodgers’ runners to the corners with two outs.

That didn’t faze Puig, however. After appearing in 10 playoff games without a single home run, the outfielder blasted a 1-1 knuckle curve to center field to pad the Dodgers’ lead.

With three innings left to play, it’s still too soon to say whether or not the Dodgers just punched their ticket to the World Series. They lead the Brewers 5-1 in the seventh.