And That Happened: Division Series

Angels 7, Red Sox 6: Over at NBC on Saturday I wrote a post about how the Sox will go with Lester on short rest in Game 4 if, indeed, there was a Game 4. I went on to talk about Beckett on short rest in a Game 5. Some commenter called me an idiot because (a) if Beckett did pitch in Game 5 it would have been on regular rest, not short rest; and (b) because I as assuming that “the Red Sox going on a two-game winning streak” was such a daunting task. Hey partner, let’s just agree that we were both right about something and both wrong about something an bury the hatchet, OK?

Yankees 4, Twins 1: Best Facebook message I’ve gotten in a long time came in last night. From our own Steve Treder’s brother Mike: “I hear that when Nick Punto was a kid, his favorite player was Lonnie Smith.” In other news, baseball announcers and writers everywhere are going to have a conference call at 2PM this afternoon to determine whether the Twins still do, in fact, do things “the right way.”

Phillies 6, Rockies 5: The AP game story says that Brad Lidge “erased a season of frustration” when he “stranded runners at first and second” to get the save in the ninth inning. I suppose he may not be frustrated anymore, but how much credit do you really get when you’re the guy who put the runners on first and second in the first place? Mitch Williams was rather famous for that kind of thing. He too got saves most of the time. Shut someone down, Brad, and we’ll talk about your frustration truly ending.

Oh, and yet another blown call this post season. Because a lot of you were probably asleep for it, here’s how it went down: Ninth inning, game tied, Rollins singles, moves to second on a Victorino sacrifice, moves to third on Chase Utley’s infield hit, and then scores the winning run on a Ryan Howard sacrifice fly. Except Utley’s hit shouldn’t have been a hit, because it bounced up and hit him on the leg in the batter’s box. Home plate umpire Jerry Meals didn’t call the ball dead. Meals admitted after the game that he blew it, blaming a tough angle — which is true — and the fact that Utley didn’t react: “Chase Utley took off like it was nothing,” Meals added. “He gave no indication to us that it hit him. Whatever percent of the time, you’re going to get a guy that’s going to stop if it hits him.” I guess “whatever percent of the time” criminals turn themselves in for their crimes too, but I don’t think we should base law enforcement strategy on it.

I’m kind of pulling for the Phillies in this series (a) because they’re a more interesting team to watch; and (b) I really don’t want to see more winter ball. That said, if the Phillies take care of business today, we’ll have two nights off of baseball. So let’s go Rockies today, and let’s go Phillies tomorrow, cool?

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Comments

  1. Kelly said...

    Twins learned two main lessons this week.

    1. Those dudes out there in that “box” near first and second SOMETIMES know what they’re talking about and should perhaps be listened to.  I know they look stupid with helmets but trust me, not as stupid as you, Alexi Casilla and Nick Punto.

    2. Let’s just NOT throw Alex Rodriguez fastballs down the middle.  Juice or no juice at the current time, he can hit them, okay?  Okay.

    Angels in 6 over the Yankees.  If the Twins can get hits off the Yanks bullpen, the Angels should be able to decimate it and history does not suggest good things for CC in the ALCS.  Chip Carey also informed us, though, that the Yankees are able to “get runs back in a hurry” after “fisting” homeruns and “Damon loves the short porch.”  So who knows.

    It should be one helluva a series, though.

  2. ecp said...

    About the Phils-Rockies game, thanks, Craig.  I thought I was having a brain fart about the rule.  I knew if the ball hit Utley in fair territory he would be out, but I was sitting there thinking to myself, “wait a minute, shouldn’t the ball be dead if it hits him while he’s in the box?”  I’m glad to know that I hadn’t gone insane.

    As for the Twins…between stupidity and stranded runners, they got exactly what they deserved, unfortunately.

  3. Kevin S. said...

    10.1 innings pitched suggests something?  Really?

    I got (perhaps irrationally) pissed off twice during ninth innings yesterday – first when GMJ hit for Napoli, then with Giambi hit for Fowler.  What is the point of bringing in the lefty to face the righty if the guy you had in the lineup hits righties better than the guy you’re pinch hitting?!

  4. MooseinOhio said...

    If I had to pick a manner for the Red Sox to lose in the playoffs I think what happened in the ALDS may have been the the near perfect scenario.  Losing in the playoffs may stink but at least the team was there and instead of spending several more weeks following every pitch, losing sleep and having to listen inane commentary I can slip in an out of watching the rest of the playoff.  Obviously those are selfish reason but I’d rather have my life back now than after a walkoff Aaron Boone homerun (less painful and less time consuming). 

    As for the Red Sox long-term – I think the humbling of Papelbon may be to his benefit, the lack of offense in Games 1 & 2 clearly give Theo his top of the offseason shopping priority, and Theo and his boys may need to reevaluate how they go after highly regarding targets as the inability to sign Teixeira clearly left a hole on the team.

    Lastly, it was a great career Jason and your were an invaluable asset to the team success and changing the culture of ‘a wait until next year’ franchise so now, in your best John Wayne imitation, walk away knowing you made a difference.

  5. MooseinOhio said...

    If I had to pick a manner for the Red Sox to lose in the playoffs I think what happened in the ALDS may have been the the near perfect scenario.  Losing in the playoffs may stink but at least the team was there and instead of spending several more weeks following every pitch, losing sleep and having to listen inane commentary I can slip in an out of watching the rest of the playoff.  Obviously those are selfish reason but I’d rather have my life back now than after a walkoff Aaron Boone homerun (less painful and less time consuming). 

    As for the Red Sox long-term – I think the humbling of Papelbon may be to his benefit, the lack of offense in Games 1 & 2 clearly give Theo his top of the offseason shopping priority, and Theo and his boys may need to reevaluate how they go after highly regarding targets as the inability to sign Teixeira clearly left a hole on the team.

    Lastly, it was a great career Jason and your were an invaluable asset to the team success and changing the culture of ‘a wait until next year’ franchise so now, in your best John Wayne imitation, walk away knowing you made a difference.

  6. MJ said...

    As for the Red Sox long-term – I think the humbling of Papelbon may be to his benefit, the lack of offense in Games…

    I’ve been out of MA for a little over a year now, and even though I’m a Yanks fan I used to catch a bunch of Sox games b/c I actually enjoy Remy and Orsillo, so a quick question, what’s with the overuse of fastballs by Papelbon?  He used to have a very effective splitter, but I read on fangraphs today that he threw 26 straight fballs the other night.  wtf?

  7. MooseinOhio said...

    MJ – Not exactly sure why he limited himself to his fastball as logic dictates that having several out pitches is better than only one.  I suspect that part of it was hubris as he became enamored with his power pitch and his past success – so his humbling may be in his best interest if he is willing to reflect on why he did acted more like Nuke Laloosh (‘Bringing the Heat) than Mariano Rivera (Touch of Class).

  8. Kevin S. said...

    I think Mariano also had something to do with it.  I seem to recall him responding along the lines of “Rivera does it with one pitch” when called out on it a while back.  Yes, Mo does it with one pitch.  It’s also arguably the single greatest pitch of all time.  Grow up, Jonathan.

  9. Beanster said...

    I have newfound respect for Delmon Young for lining a double right after taking a foul ball off his, um, protective gear.  Anyone else notice the expression of the Twins trainer as he ran out to check on him?  I swear it looked like he was trying not to smile…

  10. RickyB said...

    The trainer was definitely trying to stifle a smile. But I think Young deserves even more respect due to the fact that he, in all likelihood, was not wearing a cup. Many outfielders don’t, especially on turf.

    But does anyone else think that Girardi was wrong to remove Pettitte when he did? Even though he got the right result, I think it was the wrong move. Pettitte had thrown just 81 pitches, had easily retired the last four hitters in the lineup (who were due up next), and Chamberlain is a bit of a question mark. I just didn’t see the need to make the change.

  11. Matt in Toledo said...

    Yeah, I really doubt Young was wearing a cup. When he trotted in to second and doubled over, I half expected him to throw up.

    I have to admit one of my great joys in watching a ball game is when the announcers see a player writing in pain after a foul ball, say, “Let’s see what happened”, only to find out in the super slow mo replay that he took one in the pills.

    How they deal with it from there is almost always good for a laugh.

  12. brianguy said...

    I’m an Angels fan, so I have no dog in this fight, but you also seem to ignore the fact that even after the foul ball wasn’t called, Utley was also out at 1st (Helton caught the ball and dragged the toe at 1st, but 1B ump wrongly said he was pulled off the bag).  Yep – two bad calls by 2 different umpires on the very same play, between the batters’ box and first.  And the safe at first was arguably worse / more damaging to the Rockies.

    Pretty rare territory, but hey that’s MLB in 2009.

  13. MJ said...

    The trainer was definitely holding back a laugh, my wife and I both remarked that he was smiling when he was running out of the dugout.

    I have to admit one of my great joys in watching a ball game is when the announcers see a player writing in pain after a foul ball, say, “Let’s see what happened”, only to find out in the super slow mo replay that he took one in the pills.

    How they deal with it from there is almost always good for a laugh.

    One of my favorite reads from FJM is this:

    Unrelated postscript: Homeplate ump Jeff Kellogg just took a fastball to the face because A.J. Pierzynski seemed to get crossed up and just missed it. So he takes a fastball to the face and goes down like a sack of potatoes, and Jon Miller says, as they prepare a replay, “He’s wearing a microphone, let’s go back and have a look…) And I think, “Don’t play the dude’s audio!!!” And then they roll the replay, and it—incredibly predictably—goes like this:

    (smack)

    Pierzynski: Oh—my God.
    Kellogg: (on the ground) ####.

    Come on ESPN. What word did you think was going to come out of a dude’s mouth in that situation?

  14. Rob in CT said...

    Ricky – yeah, I questioned pulling Pettitte at the time.  He was cruising, and he thrown 81 pitches. 

    I was angry when Young managed to double after he hit himself in the balls (the trainer’s face was PRICELESS).  But it worked out, which is both good and bad.  Good b/c my team won.  Bad b/c it probably comfirms Girardi’s thought process (he will do that again, given the opportunity).

    Good (not!) to hear that the umps are blowing calls in all the series.

  15. puck said...

    Did Betancourt really balk?  I don’t really watch his feet anymore, but I’d be surprised if he did.  There’s a method to his madness.  He moves his feet, but with runners on base, once he gets set with his hands, the feet don’t again move until he delivers the ball.  If no one’s on, he pedals straight until he throws.

  16. joe said...

    The AP game story says that Brad Lidge “erased a season of frustration” when he “stranded runners at first and second” to get the save in the ninth inning.

    This is funny.  I was watching the game last night, fell asleep on the couch, and woke up in the ninth.  As a phillies fan, I thought I was having a bad dream when I saw lidge on the mound.

    Yesterday morning, a philly newscaster (thankfully not a sportscaster) said “the Saturday game between the Phillies and Rockies was postponed, so now the Phillies can start THEIR ACE J. Happ.”

    Ryan Howard drove in the game winning run once again, I’m still waiting for the national media to give him some credit for being a clutch player, A-rod notwithstanding.

    Finally, Chase Utley.  He just may be the smartest player in the game.  Teammates have commented that he moves players into fielding position because he studies hitters so much.  Last night, he ran out a ball and put himself in a position where it was nearly impossible to throw him out at first.  And if he was somehow thrown out?  “Ump, that ball clearly hit me in the box.”  Love the guy.

  17. APBA Guy said...

    I definitely think the thing to watch in the Angels v. Yankees series will be the way the Angels handle Chamberlain and Hughes. They were vulnerable against the Twins, and the Angels are a much better hitting team.

    On the other hand, I think the Angels starters caught Boston’s offense in a cold spell. If they shut out the Yankees for two games, we’ll know that it was the Angels starters who were hot after all.

    As a fan I was kind of glad to see Papelbon put five straight guys on base using only his fastball, while Mariano exploded Mauer’s bat for the last out of his game. You can’t just throw it up there and hope for the best in the playoffs. The teams are too good. If Papelbon goes back to mixing his pitches he’ll be outstanding again.

    Anybody else think that Boston will make a play for Figgins in the offseason?

  18. MooseinOhio said...

    APBA Guy – Doubt the Red Sox make a play for Figgins as his strengths as a player do not necessarily align with the needs.  I am suspecting that the Sox make a push to sign Martinez long-term and slot him in as the primary first basemen with Youklis moving over to third.  The team need to bolster its offense but I think they prefer to do it with a bigger bat than Figgins and will make a push for Holliday with Bay as plan B. Of course, Holliday is a Boras FA and he loves to push negotiations to the very last minute and Boston will need to be careful not to lose both Bay and Holliday.  I

    My thinking is that with Ellsbury, Lowrie/Gonzalez at SS and potentially a good defensive catcher with an okay average in the lineup combined with a diminishing Ortiz and JD Drew being JD Drew that they will seek a .300 BA, .375 OBP, 30 HR, 100 RBI potential bat (i.e. Holliday more than Bay – lower career BA).  Figgins just does not seem to meet their needs, however I am sure they will love to see another team sign him away from the Angels. 

    I can see Theo et al liking this lineup next year.

    Ellsbury CF
    Pedroia 2nd
    Martinez 1st
    Youklis 3rd
    Ortiz DH
    Holliday LF
    Drew RF
    Catcher TBD
    Lowrie SS

  19. George said...

    I think I’m supposed to feel dirty about my team winning on the blown Utley call (although I do think he was safe at first), but I don’t.  The umpiring has been so atrocious, I just think that some awful calls go your way and some don’t. 

    Imagining Matt Stairs hitting in colorado against a fastball pitcher gives me inappropriate blood flow.  To get hosed out of an honest at-bat by the umpire was devestating.

  20. Bill B. said...

    I’d hate for people to think that the Phillies were the only beneficiaries of Jerry Meals. Meals’ strike zone all night was tight (watch J.A. Happ’s performance in the bottom of the first if you don’t believe me), and then all of a sudden he expanded it when Matt Stairs was at the plate late in the game.

    This was the Stairs at-bat. The pitches encased in black squares were CALLED strikes.

    http://bit.ly/49non5

    Stairs had to, wrongfully, fish out of the strike zone because of Meals. And he struck out because of it.

    Additionally, Mitch Williams pointed out something rather interesting on MLB Network. Rafael Betancourt balked several times after coming set (he moves his feet). I think it’s just part of his “routine” but according to the rules, a balk should have been called, well, any time really. Meals, nor anyone else, noticed it.

  21. Greg Simons said...

    With Target Field opening next year, maybe we can have a Twins-Rockies World Series.  Between the small markets killing the TV ratings and the possibility of snow delays into Spring Training, the neutral-site supporters would have plenty to write about.

  22. YankeesfanLen said...

    I’ll go along with the Phillies thing, just beacause I want to see what the Yankees do to him in the 9th of game 4.
    Now I’m REALLY sounding like a Universe partisan.  Must be all that practice from the late 90s.

  23. Funzo said...

    Something meaningless but sort of cool that I realized last night: Andy Pettitte has now won the final game played in three different MLB stadiums (Fulton County, Old Yankee, and now the Metrodome).

  24. Jason B said...

    Did any of the commenters over at Big Blue get worked up about Utley not stopping the play after being hit with the batted ball?  I can just hear ‘em denouncing him as “classless” and how he should’ve ‘fessed up, with spittle gathering in the corners of their mouths…

    (Even though they’re typing and not speaking, they can still work up a good lather.  A lather of indignation.  Indignation and stupidity.)

  25. APBA Guy said...

    Moose-

    You are certainly closer to the Red Sox than I am, so I’ll defer to you on the Figgins questions thanks for the insight.

    With respect to Holliday, however, I think it was telling that the Dodgers pitched him very much like the AL had pitched him during his stay at Oakland. While he was doing better with each month that passed, he looked like a liability in left (though certainly better than Manny was towards the end of his career), and offensively he was nothing like his Colorado incarnation.

    Should Theo go after him he may get less than Bay production for a contract that would rather quickly become unmoveable.

    I understand the impulse to chase him. But I’d urge caution. He wasn’t that good here.

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