I am going to stop attempting to write awesome introductions to posts, so here’s some stray thoughts from this weekend.
Rays @ Rangers
Rangers were my pick to take this series, and I stand by it. At first I was a little worried with the pounding of CJ Wilson on Friday night, but the ripe offense of the Rangers showed up again on Saturday, as the Rangers rebounding against James Shields in a big way.
But let’s not take away from (what is quickly becoming) the Legend of Matt Moore. I mean, damn, that was impressive. Moore had the Rangers hitters by the curly hairs all night, racking up 6Ks against 2 hits and 2 free passes. Seriously? One of the most potent offenses in baseball – shut down, in the playoffs, by a 22-year-old with LESS THAN 20 innings pitched. In his career. And 7 of them were last night. (Prepare for obligatory Matt Moore boner-waving from my posts from here on out.)
So far, Matt has pitched in two big games for Tampa Bay, and both of these games were against teams that can absolutely smash. His first two appearances were not as great as his last two, but keep in mind he was 22, making his debut in a huge pennant chase, and had to face the Red Sox and Orioles. Yeah, those teams can hit a little bit, as well.
Tigers @ Yankees
“It’s over,” Valverde said of the AL division series now tied at 1-1. “It’s over. (Monday night) is the second game. When is the last game, Tuesday? Ok, then Tuesday celebration and we’re there.”
Then Valverde broke into a big laugh.
“No, no, I am just kidding,” he backtracked.
Umm, ok, Jose.
El Tigres bounced back after a poor, nay, shitty game 1. One of the more glaringly awful pitching change decisions in history led to a – you guessed it – Robinson Cano grand slam, effectively ending game one. But thanks to a HR in the first inning of game 2, the Tigers efficiently evened the series Sunday evening. I was expecting the American League Division Series to be a bit more competitve and exciting than the National League, and after blowouts in respective game ones, game two for both series provided some seriously awesome play. Hat tip to the AL teams here.
Oh, yeah, and Verlander versus Sabathia tonight. The rain delay played perfectly into the hands of the Tigers, here. Instead of the dreaded Verlander/CC at the bandbox New Yankee Stadium, the much more comfortable confines of (Tiger Stadium) Comerica Park await Verlander and Carston Charles.
Key to the Yankees success: First-pitch fastballs from JV. Stamina isn’t an issue with him, so working the count likely won’t break him
Key to the Tigers success: DON’T PITCH TO ROBINSON CANO. EVER.
Diamondbacks @ Brewers
The Diamondbacks seem overmatched.
In what many “experts” initially believed to be the most competitive series has simply become the least. Of the four current divisional series, ARI@MIL is the only one which can end in its next game. Heading back to Arizona for Tuesday night, Arizona will toss Josh Collmenter (my fantasy baseball pickup the year) versus Shaun Marcum. Some may see this as the easiest game of the series for Milwaukee to win, but Collmenter has been quite good, while Shaun Marcum has been a bit rough lately. In his last four starts, Marcum has given up 5,6,1,7 earned runs, versus the Phillies, Rockies, Cubs and Pirates, respectively. He’s 1-0 versus Arizona in his career, but has allowed 7 earned runs in just 11 innings. He does have this going for him though, his home/away splits:
As for Collmenter – he has been great versus Milwaukee. In 14 innings versus the Crew he’s only allowed, wait, zero runs, while accumulating 10 k’s and scattering a whopping 6 hits. It’s very possible that this may be better than most of the incredibly over-hyped pitching matchups so far this postseason.
Cardinals @ Phillies
Oh, wait. The Cardinals got to Cliff Lee last night, and I couldn’t be more excited. Nothing bothers me more than a one seed walloping a lowly Wild Card winner and coasting easily through the playoffs. The Cardinals had a great game plan versus Lee last night – smasht he hell out of fastballs, especially early in the count. Doing so earned them a clean slate – and if they win Tuesday, a possible home-game decision date – which is exactly what they need.
The Cardinals played a good game, and as much as I hate to admit it, LaRussa’s spamming of two-pitch pitchers worked…this time. With TLR the problem is never under-managing, it’s over-managing. And eventually, as Joe Girardi is competent in showing us, he will fail at this. Unfortunately for St. Louis’ sake, it’s that fail-and-go-home time of year.
Stay tuned. Maybe a liveblog tonight? Who knows. Follow me on twitter (@rolewiii , @squeezesit) for second-by-second commentary.