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?

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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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Phillies take Game 1 of NLCS

Carlos Ruiz and Raul Ibanez hit three-run homers as the Phillies beat the Dodgers 8-6 in Game 1 of the NLCS on Thursday. Ryan Howard also hit a two-run double and closer Brad Lidge pitched a scoreless ninth to protect a two-run lead.

Since the NLCS moved to a seven-game format in 1985, the team that takes a 1-0 lead has won 16 of 23 series, including 14 of the previous 16. In fact, eight of the 10 National League teams that took a 1-0 lead on the road have reached the World Series, including the past seven times.

Usually teams in the playoffs look to, at the very least, earn a split when they’re on the road. For Philadelphia to jump out to a 1-0 lead in the NLCS is huge, especially considering how good their bats looked.

Game 2 is set for 4:07 p.m. ET on Friday and will feature Pedro Martinez vs. Vicente Padilla. It’s kind of amazing that Martinez is back pitching in a championship series again and hopefully for the Phils’ sake, he produces some of the magic that made him a lights out pitcher in Boston.

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