Angels crumble in the eighth, Yankees headed to World Series


Like it or not, the Yankees have won the pennant. The Angels trailed by a single run in the bottom of the eighth inning, but a pair of inexcusable errors subsequently killed their chances.

The sport’s top spenders finally cashed in with their first pennant in six years Sunday night, beating the Los Angeles Angels 5-2 in Game 6 of the AL championship series behind the savvy pitching of that old October pro, Andy Pettitte.

Pettitte set a postseason record for wins, Johnny Damon hit a two-run single and Mariano Rivera closed it out in familiar fashion with a six-out save as the Yankees won their 40th American League crown by vanquishing the Angels, a longtime nemesis.

Joba Chamberlain got two key outs and Girardi went to a well-rested Rivera in the eighth. He gave up a two-out RBI single to Vladimir Guerrero, making it 3-2, then retired Morales to end the inning.

A diving play by first baseman Mark Teixeira helped Rivera escape further damage.

It was the first earned run allowed at home by the 39-year-old Rivera in a postseason save situation. But the Yankees added two insurance runs in the eighth on a pair of Angels errors and Teixeira’s sacrifice fly.

Rivera finished up in the ninth for his record 37th postseason save, and the Yankees had their pennant.

In the end, experienced prevailed, as Andy Pettitte, Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, and Mariano Rivera were all vital to the Yankees recent success. This was Pettitte’s 16th postseason win, breaking a tie with John Smoltz for the major league record. Pettitte had been 0-4 against the Angels over the last two regular seasons, but Yankees manager Joe Girardi kept his faith in the 37 year-old veteran.

Although CC Sabathia grabbed the ALCS MVP, Alex Rodriguez was undoubtedly the heart of the Yankees’ offense. In this postseason, Rodriguez is hitting .438 with five home runs and 12 RBIs.

Cliff Lee and CC Sabathia will get the start for their respective teams in Game 1 of the World Series on Wednesday. Both are former AL Cy Young winners and pitching better than ever. This World Series will obviously get more attention than it did last year. The Phillies will try to repeat as champions against the thirsty Yankees. It feels more exciting than the Phillies vs. Rays, doesn’t it? I’m just as dejected as any baseball fan from California, but I’m still looking forward these games.

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Cliff Lee shuts out Dodgers, Kuroda gets rocked


Hiroki Kuroda hadn’t pitched since Sept. 28 because of a bulging disk in his neck. Doctors said this problem may have been caused by the line drive he took to the skull in August. Despite the concussion, Kuroda still came back in September, but was mediocre. Now your team is in the National League Championship Series, tied at a game a piece. Are you going to throw Kuroda, simply because he was dominant against the Phillies last year? Hell no.

Joe Torre is going to take the brunt of the blame for this one. Knowing Kuroda was a question mark at best, Torre chose to drop starter Jon Garland and long reliever Jeff Weaver from the NLCS roster. Torre said he went with Scott Elbert because the Phillies have so many lefties in their lineup. Still, why pitch Kuroda, a right-hander? Given how crucial this game was, wouldn’t you throw Randy Wolf, a left-handed pitcher who’s familiar with Citizens Bank Park? Kuroda was absolutely awful, giving up six hits and six runs in one and a third innings. The Phillies immediately jumped over Kuroda as he gave up four consecutive hits to Shane Victorino, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, and Jayson Werth. By the end of the first inning, the Phillies had scored four runs off of Howard’s triple and Werth’s solo shot.

Scott Elbert soon took over, but didn’t have any command. Enter Chad Billingsley, the former Dodger ace who was removed from the starting rotation before the postseason began. Billingsley was better than expected, but still allowed two runs in three and a third. If the Dodgers can somehow force a Game 7, Billingsley could get the call.

While the Phillies’ bats were hot throughout the night, the Dodgers might as well have hit with chopsticks. Cliff Lee was simply phenomenal. Over eight innings of work, Lee struck out 10, holding the Dodgers to three hits and zero runs.

The Dodgers were the best hitting team during the regular season, so what happened tonight? Manny Ramirez did come up with two of the Dodgers’ three hits but, as we learned during his fifty-game suspension, he is not the team. A solid rotation is the most vital part to a club’s postseason success. At this point, the Dodgers don’t have one. Vicente Padilla is shaking his head.

Pedro Martinez, CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, and Cliff Lee have all been dominant in the League Championship Series. Which teams do they play for again?

Yankees capitalize on Angels’ bonehead play, win Game 2

Game 2

“It’s very difficult, when you’re looking up at all those raindrops and trying to find the biggest one. And Jeter did.”

– Tim McCarver commenting on Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter catching a pop fly in the rain.

I needed to laugh. After watching nearly 13 innings of enthralling play, I was absolutely infuriated with the outcome of this game. I’m not even rooting for either team — I was just screaming at the television because the ending was bad baseball. Luckily, Tim McCarver delivered countless lines of nonsense to keep things light. The gem I’ve included above was easily his best.

It’s a damn shame this game ended because of an error. Both teams played their hearts out and gave fans five hours or grueling, yet exciting competition. The players, coaches, and fans deserved a walk-off hit or a final strikeout. With one out, Jerry Hairston Jr. on second, and Robinson Cano on first in the bottom of the 13th, Melky Cabrera hit a routine ground ball to Angels second baseman Maicer Izturis. All he had to was make the easy out at first. Then, with two outs and runners on second and third, Ervin Santana would have faced Jorge Posada. Instead, Izturis attempted a double play and completely missed the glove of shortstop Erick Aybar. Granted, there was a slim chance that they would have turned two, as Cabrera isn’t the fastest guy in pinstripes. Still, why risk it? Get the easy out and try your luck against the next batter.

While this game was filled with clutch pitching and hitting, the Angels and Yankees were both sloppy on defense. Robinson Cano, Chone Figgins, Derek Jeter, and Macier Izturis all committed errors (Cano had two). I know the rain didn’t help, but some of these mishaps were inexcusable. You know the overall defense was brutal when Johnny Damon made the best grab of the night.

Joe Saunders and A.J. Burnett both provided solid starts for their clubs. Saunders went seven innings, allowing two runs on five hits, while Burnett powered through six with two earned runs on three hits. As the game progressed, the Yankees almost went through every pitcher on their roster, excluding the starters. Surprisingly, the Angels looked to Ervin Santana in the game’s late innings. Santana, a starter who spent most of the year battling injuries, managed to control the Yankees during his time on the mound. Although he’s credited with the loss, he won’t take the blame. Maicer Izturis and Brian Fuentes should have a rough flight back. With the Angels up by one run, Fuentes gave up an 11th inning home run to Alex Rodriguez. Mike Scioscia had decided to reserve Fuentes until the Angels took the lead, and it cost him. Fuentes, who led the American League in saves, looked very nervous out there, and A-Rod read him like a book.

With the Yankees up two games to none, the series now heads to Anaheim. Jered Weaver is set to pitch for the Angels against veteran Andy Pettitte of the Yankees in Game 3.

CC Sabathia freezes Angels, Yankees take Game 1

What a day for pitching. Vicente Padilla goes seven and a third for the Dodgers, surrendering one run; the Phillies’ Pedro Martinez throws seven shutout innings on two hits; CC Sabathia wows his fans at Yankee Stadium in a marvelous eight-inning performance; Angels starter John Lackey is…not good. Sadly, Lackey couldn’t treat baseball fans to a pitching clinic — it’s practically impossible against the Yankees. Over five and two thirds innings, the Angels ace gave up four runs (two earned) on nine hits. This was hardly an outing typical of Lackey’s stature, but his supporting defense was even worse. In their 4-1 loss to the Yanks in Game 1 of the ALCS, the Halos committed three errors and were absolutely clueless up at the plate against CC Sabathia.

The Angels, who set a franchise record for fewest errors this season with 85 and played flawlessly against Boston in the division series, were horrible on defense. . Only twice this season did the Angels commit three errors in a game; they made three Friday night.

t appeared Lackey would minimize damage in the first inning when, with runners on second and third and no out, he got Mark Teixeira to fly to shallow left, the runners holding, and Alex Rodriguez to hit a sacrifice fly to center.

Hideki Matsui hit a towering popup to the left side of the infield. Third baseman Chone Figgins and shortstop Erick Aybar converged, both looked at each other thinking the other would catch it, and the ball dropped for a single, allowing Johnny Damon to score.

This exciting postseason has witnessed some horrific defense by otherwise Gold Glove-caliber fielders. Considering crucial errors by Matt Holliday, Chase Utley, and almost the entire Angels roster, something seems out of whack. After skating by against the Red Sox, one would think the Angels knew how to communicate on the diamond. With A-Rod, Derek Jeter, Mark Teixiera, and the Yankees rotation in the groove, the Angels have their work cut out for them. They need to quickly forget this embarrassment and give starter Joe Saunders some solid support in Game 2.

Dodgers capitalize on Utley’s error, win Game 2 of NLCS


A higher power is trying to propel the Dodgers into the 2009 World Series. The Cardinals had Game 2 of the NLDS in the bag. When Matt Holliday — a outfielder who had committed one error all season — misplayed a routine pop fly, the Dodgers caught their first whiff of lady luck. With that win, the Cardinals would have had some momentum entering their homestand. They were subsequently swept.

The Dodgers should have lost today’s game. Pedro Martinez pitched a fantastic seven innings, keeping the Dodgers scoreless on two hits. Come the eighth inning, Pedro’s gem quickly fell apart. After giving up two consecutive singles, Chan Ho Park faced a struggling Russell Martin, a guy who seems to ground into a double play once a game. With a full count, Martin hit a routine grounder to third baseman Pedro Feliz, who then flung it over to second. Chase Utley committed a brutal throwing error in last night’s game and, as luck would have it, he had one more in his system. He fired the ball way out of Ryan Howard’s reach, allowing Juan Pierre to easily score and Russell Martin to advance to second. See ya later, Chan Ho Park. Jim Thome then contributed a pinch-hit single. Hit the showers, Scott Eyre. After walking Rafael Furcal, Ryan Madson managed to strike out Matt Kemp. Still, Manuel wanted a left-hander to face Andre Ethier. Enter J.A. Happ, a rookie who had an unbelievable year. It looked like Happ had Ethier figured out, but the Dodgers clutch right fielder still drew the walk, forcing in Russell Martin and the winning run.

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