The phenomenon that was the Philadelphia bullpen seems to have been forgotten as the Phillies’ ‘pen closed out the NLCS against the Dodgers last night with a 10-4 victory. The Phillies, the defending world champions, went into the postseason with probably the most inconsistent bullpen of the eight playoff teams. Brad Lidge, who was about as solid a closer as there was last year, had struggled over the course of the regular season with blown saves, bad decision making and incosistency. This was a big worry as many skeptics came about believing the Phillies would fall due to their bullpen. Those skeptics have been silenced for the time being as the Phillies bullpen has been nearly flawless throughout this postseason.
Last night’s picture of Brad Lidge pumping his fist is reminiscent of last season’s fist pumping as he closed out the World Series. Well, with only one more series to win, we could well be seeing this again very soon. But then again, we can’t forget about the Yankees.
The Yanks are on the verge of clinching a trip to the world series. With their ALCS lead, the Yanks are one win away to making one step closer to their 27th World Championship in franchise history. With phenominal pitching, the most explosive offense in the league and a consistent and solid bullpen, the Yankees are definitely the team to beat. The Phillies are a fantastic group of baseball players with some outstanding athletes up and down their roster, but the Yankees really have a group of guys that can match up with the best teams in the history of the MLB. If the Yankees beat the Angels today in their game five of the ALCS, they will advance onto the World Series and will create a matchup that is definitely not worth missing. Here’s a look at how the Yanks and Phils will matchup assuming the Yankees defeat the Angels. (No offense to the Angels of any Angels fans out there but it certainly looks as if the Yankees are going to advance to the World Series).
The two leadoff batters are certainly two guys that can lead off a game with big hit, spark a rally, or make a key defensive play. Both veterans of the league, Jeter and Rollins will top off the top two lineups in baseball.
Jeter has been a number two hitter most of his career and isn’t your typical leadoff hitter. Now, I’m not saying it’s like a usual number four hitter batting leadoff but more like a number two guy batting first. Jeter is definitely capable of producing in the leadoff spot, I’m mean look at his stats from this year. Joe Girardi’s decision to move Johnny Damon to the second spot in the lineup and move Jeter up one has proven successful as they have put up some staggering numbers.
Jimmy Rollins on the other hand is your typical leadoff guy. A guy that can get on base, run and score runs with ease. That’s what you generally think of in a leadoff guy. Not that Jeter can’t do that but Rollins fits the profile better due to the way the Phillies offense runs. Rollins came up with a big hit late in game 4 against the Dodgers where he drove in the winning run from first to pu the Phils up 3-1 in the series. J-Rol is clearly a great guy to start off your lineup with.
Johnny Damon, as I stated already, was moved down to the second spot in the lineup by Joe Girardi at the beginning of the season. The main reason for this was to let Jeter do his magic with his bat and let Damon, who can hit for power, hit in a more key spot with guys on base. Now, again, this swop can go either way but it has obviously worked out the way it is currently. Damon can hit for power, drive some guys in, and can still run better than most people think he can. Watch out for Damon, you don’t really want to underestimate him.
“The Flyin’ Hawaiin” Shane Victorino has been a solid force at the second spot in the Phillies lineup for years now. The switch hitter can hit well from both sides of the plate, can generate some power (as shown last night when he hit a bomb to left field) and can really run. This guy can really carry a team with his speed because with the guys following him in the lineup, he will most likely get to score some runs. With his speed, he can easily get into scoring position to make it easier on the guys following him.
To me, this is the most intriguing matchup of any of the players on either roster. Mark Teixeira can field, hit and has a great smile. Chase Utley, exactly the same. Both guys can hit, field and are just a great presence on their respective squads. I can’t really compare them any further, they are just so similar.
Two guys with a lot of power and good gloves at their respective positions fill up the middle of the lineup. Ryan Howard is a powerful guy that probably doesn’t think anything other than homer when coming up to the plate. Alex Rodriguez has had a great career and his play this postseason has been a sight for sore eyes. He has been phenominal. Rodriguez may have a better glove than Howard, but Howard is the next power hitting phenomenon that will hit the MLB. Rodriguez went under that category when he came up with the Mariners and now the likes of Howard, Prince Fielder and Pablo Sandoval fit that list. These two will most certainly fill a very very important role in this series.
I honestly have to give the advantage to the Phillies and Jayson Werth in this matchup. Nothing against the long time Yankee but the fact that Jayson Werth can consistently hit for a lot of power and has driven in more runs than Posada, Werth has the advantage. Posada has been such a key to the Yankees for so long. A great pitch caller who has always called great games for Yankee pitchers. He has had his great offensive games and he has had his tough ones, just like every baseball player ever to live. This matchup right now goes to Werth but just wait and see, Posada will still play a key part in this sereis.
Again, Ibanez and Matsui are a great matchup of players in the lineup. Ibanez can still play the outfield whereas Matsui has had a bad knee keeping him from playing the field. This isn’t all that big of a deal since we have had plenty of guys fill in with quality games and very successful seasons. His bat is still going and he may be getting old, but he still has plenty in his tank to put in his two cents for this series.
Ibanez has surprised everyone in the league this year with his outstanding outbreak in offensive production. He opened the season with some great power but over the season it has decreased in power. He still has a lot of power and can go off any tme which makes him so dangerous. Both these guys can go off on you and can really hurt an opposing pitcher. Watch out Phillies and Yankees pitching.
Alright, sorry I couldn’t finish today but I’ll get the rest of my matchup analysis tomorrow. Stay tuned.
The Yankees took a tough loss at the hands of the Angels yesterday afternoon after they forced extra innings on a Jorge Posada homer. The Yankees were unable to hold the Angels scoreless and on a bomb to left field, Jeff Mathis walked off with the double. The Angels avoided a sweep which would’ve kept the Yankees undefeated in the playoffs. It also would have avoided extreme embarrasement on their part to have been swept. This win will be a boost for the Angels who will play again today against a CC Sabathia who was about as dominant as there is when he pitched in the opener of the ALCS. His opponent on the mound for the Angels will be Scott Kazmir, another tough competitor and a worthy opponent.
The Yankees hit four homers yesterday accounting for all of their runs, but the lack of runs in extras cost them. Jeter, A-Rod, Posada and Johnny Damon all went deep but other than that, the offense was pretty quiet. The offense will need to wake up today to help Sabathia through a tough start on three days rest.
The decision by Joe Girardi yesterday to put in Alfredo Aceves can be supported by the fact that he is a right handed pitcher and the batter he came in to face, Jeff Mathis, was also a righty. It was a tough break and Girardi is getting a lot of negative comments from everywhere. Hopefully it won’t affect the game plan for today.
If the Yankees can win today, they will be in very good position to win the series in the next game at Yankee Stadium. If they don’t, they still have the home field advantage to use in order to win this series. It is unlikely the Angels will be able to pull off a win in New York so it is most likely that the Yankees will at the least, need to use the home field advantage to good use. They should be able to close it out wherever they are. They are such a solid team that as long as they don’t make any errors, mentally and on the field, they should beat the Angels and move on to the World Series in pursuit of their 27th world championship.
One last thing: how about that throw from Melky Cabrera on the walk off hit by Mathis? He was at the foot of the wall and he bombed a pretty accurate throw to just the right of home plate. Did I mention it was pretty much right on target. It was a crazy good throw. I knew he had a great arm, but he just launched it from the wall and it came closer than I though it would be to getting Howie Kendrick out at home. Wow.
After a come from behind win at home against the Angels, the Yankees are headed to California to play two in the California sun. The way the Yankees have played the first two games in NY, it will be tough to stop them, even when the Angels are at home.
In this first game in Aneheim, the Yanks are living up to their nickname, “the Bronk Bombers.” The Bomers continue to dominate this postseason as solo shots from Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and Johnny Damon have put the Yankees up 3-1 over the Los Angelses Angels of Aneheim going into the sixth inning. A lead off home run by the captain Derek Jeter ultimately wrote the script for this one as Alex Rodriguez and Johnny Damon have both put souvenirs of their own into the stands. With Andy Pettitte rolling on the mound, the Yankees look to be on pace for another win.
The first shot from Derek Jeter was certainly a shot that was a no doubter off the bat. The same for Rodriguez’s shot which was an even bigger bomb. Rodriguez almost hit another one that just missed as it stopped at the warning track. Johnny Damon’s was more of a line drive that went a couple of rows into the right field stands just past the pole. The Yankees just started teeing off on Jered Weaver who had a really tough fifth inning. Jorge Posada got a hold of one and roped it into the outfield for a single. Weaver has been pulled and the Angels are looking to the bullpen to stop the Yankee offense. Good luck. The Yankees look really confident and will be tough to stop at this point in the game.
CC Sabathia is set to go tomorrow on three days rest and it will be really interesting to see if the Yankees can close out the series with a sweep, assuming they win today to go up 3-0 in the series. The Yankees have done everything right this postseason: they have pitched, they have hit, and they have been opportunistic taking advantage of some key mistakes by the Angels team. Today, Torri Hunter made a big baserunning mistake as he was picked off by Andy Pettitte and his great move trying to steal second. This Yankees team sure looks like a World Series caliber team. Maybe even better.
CC Sabathia was absolutely brilliant last night against the Angels and led the Yanks to a game one victory. It’s always important to get the first game victory to get the momentum in your direction so hopefully this is a good sign for success in this series. The next we’ll see of Sabathia will be in game four when he makes his second appearance on three days rest. It’ll be interesting to see how that all goes down but for now on, back to Sabathia’s brilliance.
He went 8 innings giving up four hits, one walk and one run while striking out seven. He was probably the best I’ve seen him in a while now. And that is saying something because he is definitely in the Cy Young considerations. He was great.
The offense was able to get a few breaks since the usually really good Angels defense made three errors which cost them dearly. THe one that probably hurt them the most was the one where Matsui hit a pop up right in between Chone Figgins and Eric Aybar and it just dropped without either one trying to catch it. The Angels really had a tough game last night but the Yankees did their part in making sure the Angels offense didn’t get very far. That was why CC was so important last night. It is all going to go down to pitching. Like I said in my last post.
On the offensive side of things, there wasn’t any one person that had a terrific game. They did their job without doing anything huge. No homers, which was due to the fact that the wind was blowing strongly into the f ield, and they just got on base and scored runs as simply as it gets. Simple baseball. Not too exciting but it was still a great game. A big win for the Yanks and the momentum is definitely going their direction to start this series.
Tonight, AJ Burnett goes against Joe Saunders. For Yankee fans, the biggest question is this: which AJ Burnett will show up?
Youve got CC who has pitched on three day’s rest before in the playoffs, AJ Burnett who is a dominant pitcher when everything is working for him and then you’ve got Andy Pettitte who is a postseason veteran being with many of the past Yankees’ playoff teams. This is about as good as a three man rotation there is. And this is how the Yanks will be running for the ALCS. CC will start game one, Burnett Game two and Pettitte Game three. It’s awesome baby! Yeah, I just quoted Dick Vitale, sue me.
CC’s past postseason experience will be key for his pitching on three days rest. It is going to be tough but he has done it before and he should be able to get through it and still give us a great outing. Now, the Angels are no easy team to beat but CC’s short rest will be a very important part to this series.
All I can say is I hope he is doning plenty of these fist pumps because he hasn’t had the most consistent of seasons. If he has all his pitches working he will be great but he needs to really work.
Andy Pettitte just needs to be the Andy Pettitte that Yankee fans all around have come to expect him to be. Or maybe a little better. He puts in a good effort and usually comes out with a good outcome. This quality pitcher is the third guy in the rotation and will probably have the least pressure on him. But that doesn’t mean he needs to lighten up. I’m sure Pettitte will give out a quality peformance as he alwasy does.
I hope I don’t have to into the offense being phenominal and them having no problem getting on and scoring. It is all going to come down to pitching and that’s that.
I’ve got to do a research paper on Napoleon that is due tomorrow and I have been the biggest procrastinator over the past couple years and I don’t even have an opeing paragraph done yet. I’ve got to move fast and I don’t really have time to write much more than this. So here’s my predictions for the NL and AL championship series’.
Dodgers in six
Yankees is five
Talk about a dominant performance. The Yankees, Angels, and Dodgers all swept their LDS opponents and have moved on the their respective league’s championship game. Wow!
Now, the Yankees simply flexed their muscles in their first round matchup against the Twins. They won both games at home to open the series, despite having to come from behind in a crazy game. When Mark Teixeira hit the walk off homer to left to end the game, the Yankees stormed onto the field and celebrated, leaving a stunned Twins team in the opposite dugout. In the third game of the series, the first in Minnesota, the Twins kept it close again, but when they had the chance to score some runs and put some pressure on the Yankees, they made some key baserunning mistakes that really cost them. It was surely a disappointing series for Twins fans but you can’t say that you didn’t see this coming.
My pick for the ALDS matchup of the Angels and Red Sox had the Red Sox coming out victorious after a five game series. Obviously I was wrong as the Angels really poured it onto the Red Sox and swept them. History wasn’t in line to repeat itself in this series and the Angels soared their way to the ALCS. It was kind of against my prediction but while I was watching the game three between these two teams, which was at Fenway, I told my dad in the eighth inning that the Angels would come back to score three runs against Papelbon and win the game. He didn’t want to believe it but when the game was over I left the room with him staring at the t.v. I felt pretty good about myself about that one.
The ALCS is going to be a very intriguing matchup between two quality powerhouses with good pitching. The Yankees obviously have a pitching advantage but the offense’s of these two teams are pretty evenly matched. The Halos have a very good and underrated offense that will really matchup well against the Yankees. But the key to this seris will be pitching. If the Yankees pitching can overcome the good Angels offense than the Yankees will roll onto the World Series. My Prediction: Yankees win it in six.
Now onto the Dodgers, the team that everyone thought would be leaving the playoffs early due to their end of the season slump. Well, the Dodgers didn’t feel like taking any of that and they went out and swept a very powerful Cardinals team, that a lot of people thought would not be a factor in the Central this season. With the one-two punch of Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright, how can you go wrong. Well, the Dodgers’ offense poured it on to the top two pitchers in the Cy Young race this year while in LA and when they went to St. Louis, Vincente Padilla put in a great perfornance and kept the Cards at bay while the Dodgers continued to have success against Cardinals pitching as they pushed Pineiro out of the game early. It was a great series for the Dodgers and they will want to use this head of steam going into the NLCS against whoever it is they end up playing.