Sunday, October 31, 2010

Neftali Feliz, Bob Welch and Nolan Ryan

Getty Images & Topps Inc.

22 year-old Neftali Feliz earned the first-ever World Series save for the Texas Rangers in their 4-2 win over the San Francisco Giants in Game 3 of the World Series.

Feliz is mighty young for having such a pressure-packed responsibility in such a big stage.

In fact, according to the Elias Sports Bureau--

Feliz (age 22 years, 181 days) is two months younger than Nolan Ryan was when Ryan notched a save for the Mets in Game Three of the 1969 World Series. So now Feliz, and not Ryan, is the second-youngest pitcher ever to earn a save in a World Series game. Bob Welch was 21 years old when he struck out the Yankees' Reggie Jackson to save Game Two of the 1978 World Series for the Dodgers.

I'm sure Ryan (Feliz' boss) didn't mind being bumped by his young closer in the record books. Not at all.

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Saturday, October 30, 2010

Alive and Kickin'

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Game 3: Texas Rangers 4 - San Francisco Giants 2
Giants lead series, 2-1

The Texas Rangers have made this a series!

Their Game 3 victory is the first World Series win in franchise history and the first World Series game ever won by a team from Texas. The state had been 0-6 (Rangers 0-2 and the Houston Astros 0-4) in World Series play.

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Mitch Moreland and Josh Hamilton hit the 1st and 2nd World Series home runs in franchise history and provided all the scoring for Colby Lewis, who got the first-ever World Series win for the Rangers.

Neftali Feliz shut the door in the ninth and recorded the first-ever World Series save in Rangers history.

Lot's of firsts when you, um, win your first-ever World Series game.

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What If....The Giants Sweep The Texas Rangers?

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Getty Images & John Carpenter/Debra Hill

Game 3: San Francisco Giants at Texas Rangers
Giants lead series, 2-0

The Texas Rangers (down 0-2) are looking to avoid becoming the 3rd team ever to get swept in their World Series debut.

The only other two were:

1) Colorado Rockies - swept 4-0 by the Boston Red Sox in 2007.
2) Houston Astros - swept 4-0 by the Chicago White Sox in 2005.

The Detroit Tigers lost their World Series debut in 1907 (4-0-1) to the Chicago Cubs. Back then ties were allowed so technically they weren't swept.

Will the Rangers get swept?

We'll soon find out....

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Friday, October 29, 2010

World Series: Citizen Cain!

Getty Images/AP Photos

Game 2: San Francisco Giants 9 - Texas Rangers 0

Matt Cain: 7.2 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, 0.00 ERA

Matt Cain is on fire!

His dominant performance in Game 2 is a major reason why the Giants have taken a commanding 2-0 lead on the Rangers in the World Series.

Overall, Cain's 2010 postseason dominance has been of historical proportions.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau--

Cain pitched 7.2 innings in the Giants' 9-0 Game 2 victory. It was the third postseason start of Cain's career (all in 2010) and the third start in which he didn't allow an earned run. The only blemish on Cain's postseason ledger is an unearned run in the sixth inning of his Game 2 NLDS start against the Braves. Only three other pitchers began their postseason careers with three straight games, all starts, in which they weren't charged with an earned run. Christy Mathewson tossed three straight shutouts for the Giants in the 1905 World Series, Waite Hoyt did it for the Yankees in the 1921 World Series (allowing two unearned runs), and the Mets' Jon Matlack didn't allow an earned run in his first three postseason starts in 1973 (three unearned).

Did someone say, "CAIN IS ABLE"?

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World Series: Walkers, Texas Rangers

Getty Images & New Line Cinema

Game 2: San Francisco Giants 9 - Texas Rangers 0
Giants lead series, 2-0

Another nightmare 8th inning for the Rangers bullpen.

Darren O'Day: 0.2 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB
Derek Holland: 0.0 IP, 0 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 3 BB
Mark Lowe: 0.0 IP, 1 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB
Michael Kirkman: 0.1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB

Game 2 was within reach for the Rangers (only trailing 2-0) going into the bottom of the 8th inning BUT 4 consecutive walks sprinkled with 4 hits derailed the Rangers hopes. The Giants went on to score 7, yes 7, runs to nail the Rangers coffin.

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It was the second BIG INNING for the Giants in the series thus far. In Game 1 they scored 6 runs in the 5th inning thus becoming only the second team in World Series history to score 6 or more runs in an inning in each of the first two games of a World Series. In 1987, the Minnesota Twins did it against the St. Louis Cardinals in the Metrodome.

The Rangers (who are in an 0-2 hole) became the 8th team ever to lose the first 2 games of the World Series by a margin of at least 4 runs. They lost Game 1 (11-7) and Game 2 (9-0). Of the previous 7 lopsided (first two games) losers, the 1965 Los Angeles Dodgers and the 1996 New York Yankees came back to win the series. In other words, it can be done.

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The good news for the Rangers: They go home for the next 3 games.

The bad news for the Rangers: They still have to play the red-hot Frisco Giants.

To be continued....

Stats courtesy of the Elias Sports Bureau

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Giants and the World Series

WORLD SERIES: Texas Rangers vs. San Francisco Giants

Getty Images & AP Photos
In a couple of days, the San Francisco Giants (est. 1883) will be making their 18th overall appearance in the World Series and 4th while in San Francisco. Their first 14 appearances in the Fall Classic were as the New York Giants.

The one thing we can say about the Giants is that they have been around for a LONG LONG time.

Here's a quick look at their evolution:

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The New York Gothams (1883-1884)
The New York Giants (1885- 1957)
The San Francisco Giants (1958-present)

As a franchise the Giants are 5-12 in the Fall Classic and in trip No. 18 (against the Texas Rangers) they will be looking for their 6th title overall and first since moving to San Francisco in 1958. The Giants are 0-3 since moving to Frisco and were 5-9 as the New York Baseball Giants.

Here's a look at their World Series history:

San Fransisco Giants:

2010 - vs. Texas Rangers
2002 - Lost to the Anaheim Angels (4-3)
1989 - Lost to the Oakland A's (4-0)
1962 - Lost to the New York Yankees (4-3)

New York Giants (5 titles):

1905 - Beat the Philadelphia Athletics (4-1)
1921 - Beat the New York Yankees (5-3) {series was best of 9}
1922 - Beat the New York Yankees (4-0-1)
1933 - Beat the Washington Senators (4-1)
1954 - Beat the Cleveland Indians (4-0)

New York Giants (9 runners-up)

1911 - lost to the Philadelphia Athletics (4-2)
1912 - lost to the Boston Red Sox (4-3-1) {series was best of 9}
1913 - lost to the Philadelphia Athletics (4-1)
1917 - lost to the Chicago White Sox (4-2)
1923 - lost to the New York Yankees (4-2)
1924 - lost to the Washington Senators (4-3)
1936 - lost to the New York Yankees (4-2)
1937 - lost to the New York Yankees (4-1)
1951 - lost to the New York Yankees (4-2)

Against the Rangers, the Giants will try and end a 56 year championship drought (52 of them in San Francisco) which is the third longest in baseball. Only the Chicago Cubs (102 years) and the Cleveland Indians (62 years) have waited longer.

But regardless of who wins, a major drought will come to an end because the Texas Rangers (est. 1961) are playing in their first-ever World Series and have a 50 year title-less streak of their own.

As an objective historical fan, it's hard to chose between the two because so much history is at stake for both teams.

So all I can say is-- GOOD LUCK to both and may the best team win.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Brian Wilson, Dennis Eckersley, Mitch Williams and John Wetteland

AP Photos

Brian Wilson: 2010 Postseason: 9.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 0 HR, 4 BB, 12 K, 5 SV, 0.00 ERA

There is no doubt Brian Wilson has been MONEY for the San Francisco Giants in the postseason so far.

The Giants have won 7 postseason games so far and 6 of them have been by 1 run. Wilson has been involved in all six 1-run games (1 win, 5 saves).

And in the NLCS against the Philadelphia Phillies, Wilson had dibs in all 4 Giants victories.

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In fact, according to the Elias Sports Bureau --

Wilson posted a win and three saves in this year's NLCS. He is the fourth pitcher to win or save four games in one postseason series since saves became an official major-league statistic (in 1969), joining Dennis Eckersley (1988 ALCS), Mitch Williams (1993 NLCS) and John Wetteland (1996 World Series).

As Tim McCarver would say, "Now that wasn't too shabby".

The Giants Win The Pennant!

Game 6: San Francisco Giants 3 - Philadelphia Phillies 2
Giants win series, 4-2

Getty Images & AP Photos

CONGRATULATIONS TO THE SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS
2010 NATIONAL LEAGUE CHAMPIONS

The Giants are a 1-run wonder.

They won their 3rd 1-run game against the Phillies and are on their way to the World Series to try ONCE AGAIN to win the coveted championship which has eluded them ever since moving to San Francisco in 1958.

In the NLDS, the Giants three wins against the Atlanta Braves were by 1 run and in the NLCS three out of their four wins were by 1 run.

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So now the Giants move on to face the Texas Rangers in the World Series. This will be their first appearance since 2002 and 4th since moving to San Francisco (1962, 1989, 2002, 2010). Their last title was in 1954 as the New York Giants.

Regardless of what happens between the Rangers and the Giants a 50+ year drought will finally end because both teams have been TITLE-LESS for a LONG time.

Two FIRSTS will be at stake--

Will the Rangers win their first-ever championship or will the Giants win their first-ever championship in San Francisco?

Let the games begin....

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Destiny's Child

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Once upon a time, the Texas Rangers (1996, 1998, 1999) were 1-9 against the New York Yankees in the postseason.

Those were the only 3 postseason appearances ever for the team formerly known as the Washington Senators. In all 3 postseason appearances the Yankees ousted them out of the playoffs in the first round.

The Rangers won their first-ever playoff game and then went on to lose 9 in a row to the Yankees. It was a disastrous introduction to the postseason for Texas.

In 2001, the Rangers signed Alex "A-Rod" Rodriguez to a 10-year, $252 million contract-- the richest ever in sports history.

The goal: The Rangers hoped to build a dynasty around the best slugger in baseball.

The result: The Rangers were in disarray and A-Rod's contract was a major factor in their insurmountable financial problems which eventually lead them to file for bankruptcy. Out of desperation they traded A-Rod and a large-chunk of his contract to the financially-rich Yankees.

Thus began the post-A-Rod era in Texas.

They hired small-ball manager Ron Washington and the days of depending on the high-priced big sluggers were over. Good-bye Juan Gonzalez, good-bye Ivan Rodriguez and good-bye A-Rod.

Hello Josh Hamilton, hello Elvis Andrus, hello Ian Kinsler and hello good starting pitching.

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Texas slowly built a contender on pitching, defense and manufacturing runs. As TBS broadcaster Ron Darling put it, "these aren't your parents' Rangers, these are the new-look Rangers".

The result: Texas makes their 4th-ever playoff appearance in 2010. They win their first-ever postseason series against the Tampa Bay Rays (3-2) in the ALDS and then defeat their arch-nemesis--the A-Rod led Yankees--4-2 in the ALCS.

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After 50 years and two different names in two different cities-- it has FINALLY happened.

The Washington Senators/Texas Rangers are in their first-ever World Series.

....And it was only fitting that A-Rod STRUCK OUT to make the last out which put the Rangers in the Fall Classic.

Is that destiny or what?!

Vlad The Impaler

Getty Images & Columbia Pictures

Game 6: Texas Rangers 6 - New York Yankees 1
Texas wins series, 4-2

Guerrero: 1-4, 1 R, 3 RBIs

Vladimir Guerrero IMPALES the New York Yankees.

As the old saying goes, if you play enough times with fire, sooner or later, you will get burned.

On three different occasions, in Game 6, the Yankees were forced to pick the better of two evils-- Josh Hamilton or Vlad. They chose to intentionally walk the dangerous Hamilton and take their chances with the dangerous but free-swinging Vlad.

Statistically speaking it was the right move because Hamilton is the one guy in the Rangers lineup you don't want to beat you. But having to do it once is ok. The first time it occurred in the third inning the statistics worked in favor of the Yankees.

But unfortunately, the same scenario presented itself in the 5th inning and again walking Hamilton was the better of two evils. This time, however, the stats caught up to the Yankees and Vlad burned them BIG TIME. Guerrero ripped a double to deep center scoring Mitch Moreland and Hamilton. A 1-1 tie became a 3-1 Texas lead.

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Nelson Cruz provided the final nail in the coffin by ripping a two-run home run making the score 5-1 and the Rangers never looked backed.

But the Hamilton-Vlad scenario is what killed the Yankees. I'm sure in Vlad's mind once is ok-- but twice? That's a no no. Give Vlad enough chances and he will HURT you.

And that's exactly what happened.

The end result: the Yankees go home and the Rangers move on to their first-ever World Series....

The Promised Land!

CONGRATULATIONS TO THE TEXAS RANGERS
2010 AMERICAN LEAGUE CHAMPIONS

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 After 50 LONG years the moment has FINALLY arrived!

CONGRATS TEXAS!

Friday, October 22, 2010

BCS Standings: No Love For The Oregon Ducks

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The Oregon Ducks are ranked No. 1 in the TWO MAJOR college football polls-- The AP Poll and the USA Today Coaches Poll. They are also ranked No. 1 in just about every other side poll there is.

The Ducks, however, are NOT ranked No. 1 in the only poll that matters-- the BCS Rankings.

How in the world is this possible?

According to the BCS computers, the Oklahoma Sooners are No. 1, the Ducks are No. 2 and the Boise State Broncos are No. 3.

In almost every poll the Broncos are No. 2 and Oklahoma is No. 3. The Harris Interactive Poll (which is a component of the BCS rankings has Oregon at No. 1 and Oklahoma at No. 4. Their No. 3 team is the TCU Horned Frogs.

So again, how in the world does this happen? Why is Oregon getting hosed?

Yes, I've been knowing for the past 20 years that the polling system is a mess but I've never seen it this bad.

Another example of the "poll madness" going on is previous No. 1 (the Ohio State Buckeyes) who got the short end of the stick in the AP Poll. The Buckeyes suffered their first loss of the season to the Wisconsin Badgers and they dropped from No. 1 all the way to No. 11. When former No. 1 Alabama lost their first game they remained in the Top 10 at No. 8. But no Top 10 for Ohio State, according to the AP. To add insult to injury, Wisconsin (who already had 1 loss) jumps ahead of the Buckeyes, from No. 18 to No. 10.

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Why should the Badgers (6-1) be ranked ahead of the Buckeyes (6-1)?

Someone should tell the AP that even though Wisconsin beat Ohio State, it is still mathematically impossible for them to be ranked ahead of the Buckeyes because the Buckeyes lost their first game to a No. 18 team, while the Badgers lost their first game to a No. 24 team. So the strength of schedule component was stronger for the Buckeyes when they suffered their first loss as opposed to the Badgers.

The USA Today Poll got it somewhat right because they, at least, have the Buckeyes at No. 10 and the Badgers at No. 11. But only a few points separate them and it shouldn't be that close.

I'll give credit to the BCS on this issue because they were the only one's who got it right. They have Ohio State at No. 10 and Wisconsin at No. 13 and that makes more mathematical sense.

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Meanwhile, the Florida Gators have FINALLY been ousted from the polls. The Gators 88 consecutive weeks in the Top 25 has officially come to an end and it took 3 consecutive losses to get the pollsters to vote them out. I guess in the biased college football system some teams get the boot out of the Top 25 after suffering their first loss (i.e. Nevada), most teams get the boot if they suffer 2 consecutive losses, but NOT the privileged Gators. It took 3 consecutive losses to get them out.

Anyway--

In the end, I guess all the controversy is part of the equation. If college football had a playoff system then there wouldn't be anything to debate about. And debating is the one thing we as a society love to do.

So something tells me the current system isn't going anywhere any time soon.

The Phillies Escape From Alcatraz!

Getty Images & Paramount Pictures

Game 3: San Francisco Giants 3 - Philadelphia Phillies 0
Game 4: San Francisco Giants 6 - Philadelphia Phillies 5
Game 5: Philadelphia Phillies 4 - San Francisco Giants 2
Giants lead series, 3-2

The Phillies are leaving Frisco-- STILL ALIVE!

After the Giants took a commanding 3-1 lead, the Phillies salvaged Game 5 on the road and live to see another day-- Game 6 in Philadelphia.

Roy Halladay, this time around, out-dueled Tim Lincecum to keep Philadelphia's hopes alive and (like the Yankees) are looking to become the first team since the 2007 Red Sox (in the ALCS) to come back from a 3-1 deficit.

Getty Images & Paramount Pictures

Roy Oswalt goes against Jonathan Sanchez in Game 6.

For the record, 12 teams have come back from a 3-1 deficit to win a seven-game series in postseason history.

Will the Phillies or the Yankees be No. 13? Or will they be No. 13 and No. 14?

The Phillies have the edge because they go home while the Yankees will have to do it on the road in Texas.

The odds are stacked against them but if anyone can do it, it's the defending World Series champions and the defending National League champions. That's for sure....

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But for now, the Phillies took a "GIANT" step-- escaping the chilly waters of San Francisco.

I wonder if they went to Angel Island afterwards?

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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Escape From New York

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New York Yankees 7 - Texas Rangers 2
Rangers lead series, 3-2

The Yankees dodge a (major) bullet!

They salvage Game 5 and ESCAPE the "friendly" confines of Yankee Stadium with a 1-2 record.

Who would've thought they would be looking forward to heading back to Texas where they are 1-1 in the series thus far?

The Good News: The Yankees horse CC Sabathia (once again) came up big.

The Bad News: The Yankees horse CC Sabathia (once again) came up big-- but they still trail 3-2 and CC is done for the series.

Will Phil Hughes follow in CC's footsteps?

I think Texas has other plans. We'll see....

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre!

Getty Images & New Line Cinema
Game 4: Texas Rangers 10 - New York Yankees 3
Rangers lead series, 3-1

The Rangers are puttin' a hurtin' on the Yankees.

They have outscored New York 25-5 in the last 3 games and have taken a commanding 3-1 lead in the ALCS.

It has been a TOTAL BEATDOWN-- no question about it!

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Ever since the now-infamous collapse in the 8th inning of Game 1, the Rangers have dominated and outplayed the Yankees in every way possible. They've OUTHIT, OUT-PITCHED, OUT-BULLPENED, OUT-RAN THE BASES, OUT-EVERYTHING the Yanks.

The Game 1 collapse could have been a blessing in disguise for the Rangers because it has made them a relentless offensive machine. I guess we can say, they learned the hard way that no lead is safe. My, oh my, have they responded.

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THE BEAST: JOSH HAMILTON
2 HR in Game 4, 4 HR in 2010 Playoffs

And now they are 1 game away from reaching their first-ever World Series. A dream 50 years in the making may FINALLY come to fruition.

Are the Yankees done? NO. They could never be counted out.

But who would've thought that they would be so desperately looking forward to facing Cliff Lee? And that's exactly what they need because if they face Lee, one more time, then they'll know they'll be playing in Game 7.

And they have to play a Game 7 or else GOODBYE!

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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Mr. Fantastic

2010 ALCS

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Texas Rangers 8 - New York Yankees 0
Rangers lead series, 2-1

CLIFF LEE: 8.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 13 K, 0 HR, 0.00 ERA

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First player in major league history with three starts of 10+ strikeouts in one postseason.

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In 3 starts this postseason: 3-0, 34 strikeouts, 1 walk

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7-0, 1.26 ERA in 8 career postseason starts.

SIMPLY AMAZING!

Monday, October 18, 2010

H2O: The Wizard Of Oswalt

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Philadelphia Phillies vs. San Francisco Giants
Game 2: Phillies 6 - Giants 1
Series tied, 1-1

Part 2 of the H2O experiment didn't go well for the Giants.

The Good News: They were able to escape Part 1 (Roy Halladay) with a win.

The Bad News: They were forced to face Part 2 (Roy Oswalt) in Game 2.

....And Oswalt was masterful.

Oswalt: 8.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 9 K, 1 HR, 1.12 ERA

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The Giants had no answers for Oswalt. Only Cody "Home Run" Ross was able to put a dent in his armor with a solo home run.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Ross (who hit 2 solo home runs in Game 1) became the 4th player in major league history to hit each of his team's first three home runs in a postseason series. The others were Babe Ruth (Yankees) in the 1926 World Series, Rusty Staub (Mets) in the 1973 NLCS and Willie Stargell (Pirates) in the 1979 World Series.

And now the Giants head out west to the friendly confines of AT&T Park. That's the good news.

The Bad News: They have to face Part 3 of H2O-- Cole Hamels.

To be continued....

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Giants Draw First Blood!

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NLCS: Philadelphia Phillies vs. San Francisco Giants

Game 1: Giants 4 - Phillies 3
Giants lead series, 1-0

TIM LINCECUM OUTDUELS ROY HALLADAY

Lincecum: 7.0 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3ER, 3 BB, 8 K, 2 HR
Halladay: 7.0 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 0 BB, 7 K, 2 HR

The Giants continue their 1-run mastery.

They played in their 5th consecutive 1-run game in the postseason and once again came out on top.

They got past Roy Halladay which was their biggest hurdle in their quest to defeat the trifecta known as H2O.

Both bullpens were superb {4 innings combined of scoreless baseball}, so it all came down to Lincecum being just a touch better than Halladay. Great stuff!

Next up-- Roy Oswalt.

The Rangers Dodge a Bullet

2010 ALCS:

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Game 2: Texas Rangers 7 - New York Yankees 2
Series tied, 1-1

AT LAST!

The Texas Rangers FINALLY win a postseason game AT HOME.

Prior to yesterday's must-needed win, the Rangers were 0-7 at home in their postseason history-- a major league record.

The win was huge because it evened the series at 1-1 heading into HOSTILE Yankee Stadium. An 0-2 start would definitely have been disastrous for the Rangers. No doubt.

The Rangers bullpen rebounded from a nightmare Game 1, pitching 3.1 scoreless innings, meanwhile, the Yankees bullpen AGAIN was magnificent, pitching 4 scoreless innings of their own. The Rangers scored all 7 runs off of starter Phil Hughes and for the series all 12 Rangers runs have come off of the starting pitchers (Hughes and CC Sabathia).

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Some quick thoughts--

The Rangers FINALLY brought in their closer Neftali Feliz, who pitched a scoreless 9th inning in Game 2.

WHY didn't the Rangers bring Feliz in to pitch in the 8th inning of Game 1?

WHAT'S the use of having a dominant stopper for the 9th inning if your team is bleeding to death in the 8th as the Rangers were in Game 1?

NOT all games need to be saved in the 9th inning-- sometimes saves need to be registered in the 8th inning. When the Yankees pulled to within 5-4, why wasn't Feliz summoned to stop the hemorrhage?

As a result, the Rangers kept him on the shelf and the Yankees went on to take a 6-5 lead as the rest of the bullpen fell apart.

In a nutshell, Feliz became useless in the 9th because there was no lead needed to be saved.

Anyway--

The Rangers (who should be up 2-0) head into Yankees Stadium with some momentum and with the best possible security blanket-- Cliff Lee.

If Lee wins Game 3 to put the Rangers up 2-1, it'll be interesting to see if manager Joe Girardi sticks with Game 4 starter, the eccentric and inconsistent A. J. Burnett?

If he does, like I said in an earlier post-- where A.J. goes, the Yankees go.

Should be interesting....

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Are The S.F. Giants Auditioning For The Remake of Halloween H2O?

Getty Images & John Carpenter/Debra Hill

NLCS: Philadelphia Phillies vs. San Francisco Giants

Attention: San Francisco Giants

Which of the above 4 would you rather confront?

My advice:

Take the guy in the mask because the other 3 are deadly individuals. You may just have an easier time with the masked character.

JUST A WARNING!

A Nightmare In Texas

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It wasn't a good night to be named Darren O.

Darren Oliver - 0.0 IP, 0 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 0 K
Darren O'Day - 0.0 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 0 K

The Rangers dominated the Yankees for the first 7 innings and it looked like they were on their way to their first-ever postseason home win and a most CRUCIAL 1-0 lead in the series.

But then came the 8th inning. The DREADFUL 8th inning. The WORST INNING in Texas Rangers history.

Let's take a look at the 8th inning NIGHTMARE:

The inning began with the Rangers leading 5-1.

Brett Gardner leads off with a hustling-sliding infield hit. Derek Jeter then doubles to left, scoring the super-fast Gardner from first. The score is now 5-2, 0 outs.

Ron Washington comes in and takes out starter C.J. Wilson and brings in Oliver. Oliver proceeds to walk Nick Swisher and Mark Teixeira to load the bases, turning a bad situation into a dire situation [bases loaded, no outs].

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Out goes the ineffective Oliver. GET OUTTA HERE!

In comes O'Day. O'Day throws one pitch to Alex Rodriguez who hammers it to left for a single. In to score come Jeter and Swisher. The score is now 5-4.

Out goes O'Day. ONE PITCH and you're outta here.

In comes Clay Rapada (4th pitcher of the inning). Robinson Cano immediately rips a single to center. In comes Teixeira, Rodriguez to third on an error by Josh Hamilton. The score is now 5-5.

Out goes Rapada. ONE BATTER and you're outta here.

In comes Derek Holland (5th pitcher of the inning). Marcus Thames immediately singles to left, scoring Rodriguez. The score is now 6-5.

THE YANKEES LEAD. THE RANGERS PEN COLLAPSES.

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In the bottom of the 8th, Ian Kinsler leads off with a walk, restoring hopes of a comeback and rectifying the mess. He immediately proceeds to fall asleep on first base and Kerry Woods picks him off. END OF RALLY. END OFF HOPES. The Ballpark in Arlington became DEMORALIZATION-VILLE.

The bottom of the ninth:

In comes Mariano Rivera and the rest is history.

YANKEES WIN GAME 1, 6-5. YANKEES LEAD SERIES, 1-0.

In a nutshell: The Yankees bullpen got the job done and the Rangers bullpen suffered the worst massacre in Texas Rangers history.

End of story.

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Friday, October 15, 2010

Judgement Day For A.J. Burnett

Getty Images & TriStar Pictures

Which of the above will show up to Game 4? The dominant pitcher with the wicked curve ball? Or the pitcher who sometimes looks frozen with a broken arm?

As we all know, the "throwdown" (known as the ALCS) between the New York Yankees and the Texas Rangers begins today.

CC Sabathia and C.J. Wilson will rumble in Game 1 and the Yankees won't have to deal with Cliff Lee until Game 3. But the game that has gotten the most buzz is Game 4 because the eccentric, sometimes-dominant, sometimes-inconsistent A.J. Burnett will start for the Yankees.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi left Burnett out of the starting rotation (and for good reasons) in the ALDS against the Minnesota Twins-- which means Burnett hasn't pitched since Oct. 2.

During the regular season Burnett (10-15, 5.26 ERA) became the first starting pitcher in Yankees history to lose at least 15 games and have an ERA of over 5.00. His final numbers were the result of inconsistency and at times wildness.

So which A.J. Burnett will show up to Game 4?

That is the million dollar question.

Will it be the pitcher who had 19 starts of 3 ER or less OR will it be the pitcher who had 10 starts of 6 ER runs or more [5 of those starts of 7 ER or more]?

Will it be the guy who pitched 6 consecutive starts of 4 ER or less OR the guy who pitched 5 consecutive starts of 4 ER or more?

I get the feeling that Cliff Lee will take care of the Yankees in Game 3 and Burnett will be starting a crucial, make or break game.

Which for the Yankees means the much-undesired scenario may unfold-- where A.J. Burnett goes, the Yankees go.

Uh oh!

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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

College Football: Down Go The Crimson Tide, The Polls Love Florida

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No doubt the shocker of Week 7 was the No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide falling to the No. 19 South Carolina Gamecocks, 35-21. For Steve Spurrier and South Carolina it was their first-ever win against a No. 1 ranked team and probably the biggest win in South Carolina's history. The monumental win pushed South Carolina (4-1) all the way to No. 10 in the AP Poll, while Alabama (5-1) fell to No. 8.

With Alabama's loss, the Ohio State Buckeyes (6-0) became the new No. 1 team in the nation.

Meanwhile, the Florida Gators were stunned at home by the LSU Tigers, 33-29. LSU (6-0) jumped to No. 9 in the polls, while 2-loss Florida (4-2) fell, yet again, to No. 22. The Gators have now been ranked in the Top 25 for an outstanding 88 consecutive weeks.

But there is no question the pollsters love the Gators. If any other team would've suffered 2 consecutive losses the way the Gators have, there is no question they would've easily been ousted from the polls. But with Florida's illustrious history and reputation it'll probably take 3 consecutive losses to get them out of the Top 25.

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On another front, the Michigan State Spartans ousted the Michigan Wolverines (5-1) out of the polls with an impressive 34-17 win at Michigan. The Spartans (6-0) have moved down to No. 13, while the Wolverines' return to the Top 25 lasted just 4 weeks.

Two teams on an impressive run are the Oregon Ducks and the Auburn Tigers. The Ducks (preseason No. 11) are now the No. 2 team in the nation and the Tigers (preseason No. 22) are now at No. 7.

And on the "little guys" front--

The Nevada Wolf Pack (6-0) continue their dream season. They have now broken into the Top 20 at No. 19. Also, the Air Force Falcons (5-1) have gotten some love and are now at No. 23 in both the AP Poll and the USA Today Poll.

The poll-busting games this week are:

1) No. 1 Ohio State at No. 18 Wisconsin
2) No. 12 Arkansas at No. 7 Auburn
3) Texas at No. 5 Nebraska

Something tells me that at least one of the BCS title game participants is playing in one of those three games.

And quite possibly, both.