Mikey’s MLB Power Rankings

As far as the Yankees and Cardinals are concerned, they are on a collision course for the World Series, as they are putting large amounts of distance between themselves and their closest competitors.


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Media Reactions: Phillies heading to World Series

Philadelphia Phillies– Phil Sheridan of The Philadelphia Inquirer writes about the thirstiest sports town in the universe finally draws closer to title drink.

– Bill Plaschke of The L.A. Times writes about Dodgers’ fans booing their club into the offseason after their terrible performance in Game 5.

– T.J. Simers writes that even though the Dodgers fell short, Manny Ramirez made them important again.

– Rich Hofmann writes that the Fightin’ Phils get to write a new chapter in their history.

– Bill Shaikin writes that Dodger veterans Jeff Kent, Greg Maddux and Nomar Garciaparra deserved a better ending.

– Bob Ford reminds Phillie fans to savor this victory.

Cole Hamels saves Phillies in Game 1 of NLDS

As Philadelphia Daily News columnist Rich Hofmann noted in his piece about the Phillies’ 3-1 victory over the Brewers in Game 1 of the NLDS, ace Cole Hamels saved Philly’s poor bats with an exceptional pitching performance.

Cole HamelsBecause the truth is, the Phillies did not hit a bunch in their 3-1 win over the Brewers. They had only four hits on a rainy, dreary afternoon. All three runs were unearned, thanks to some sloppy third-inning defense by the Brewers. The Phillies’ great fear after hitting .172 in last year’s playoff series against Colorado was upon them again. They worked some counts against Milwaukee starter Yovani Gallardo and got him out of the game quickly, but they really did not hit. It was a concern last year and it is a concern this year, especially with CC Sabathia pitching Game 2 for the Brewers.

But Hamels saved them. Cool, calm, collected and with a killer change-up, Hamels had the Brewers off-stride all day. Masterful is not too strong a word. Through eight dominant innings, he allowed only two singles, one in the fifth inning and one in the sixth, and struck out nine. Only one Milwaukee runner reached second base with Hamels on the mound. Again, masterful.

What that does for a team is hard to explain. What it does for a team that didn’t hit last year in the playoffs, and sometimes struggled to score runs this year, and didn’t really hit all that much during the game, is impossible to understate.

He calmed them. He bolstered them. He was as soothing as Brad Lidge was nerve-wracking in the ninth.

With how much firepower Milwaukee has in their lineup, there has to be some concern among the Philly faithful about the lack of offense the Phillies showed today, because obviously the team won’t get a Hamels-type pitching effort every game. But the fans and team can certainly enjoy this win, which was the club’s first postseason victory since Game 5 of the 1993 World Series when the Phils beat the Toronto Blue Jays.

White Sox beat Twins, will play Rays in ALDS

On the strength of a masterful pitching performance by John Danks and a towering home run by Jim Thome, the Chicago White Sox are AL Central Division Champions. The Chi Sox beat the Minnesota Twins 1-0 on Tuesday night and will now face the Tampa Bay Rays in the ALDS.

Jim ThomeThome broke a scoreless tie leading off the seventh with a booming 461-foot home run to center off of Nick Blackburn, who was just about as masterful as Danks on the mound. Thome pumped his fist as he rounded first base, following one of the biggest home runs among the 541 he has launched during his illustrious career.

That slim run total was enough for Danks, who allowed two hits over eight innings. Danks matched his longest outing of the year by going eight, striking out four and walking three. Danks threw 103 pitches working on three days’ rest, giving the White Sox a 3-1 record with their starters going on the short break, before giving way to Bobby Jenks.

The Sox haven’t looked good the past two weeks, but none of that matters now. Danks was absolutely incredible and playing at home on a chilly night in Chicago was the perfect remedy to quiet the Twins’ bats.

Looking ahead, it’ll be interesting to see if the Rays will show any rust after clinching a postseason berth over a week ago. While the Sox have a disadvantage having to start on the road, they almost have to feel like they’re playing with house money right now. Momentum is a dangerous thing. Game 1 will start at 2:30 PM ET Thursday at Tropicana Field.

White Sox will play Twins in one-game playoff

The Chicago White Sox just made things incredibly interesting in the American League. With their 8-2 victory over the Detroit Tigers on Monday, the White Sox have forced a one-game playoff with the Minnesota Twins for the AL Central crown. Alexei Ramirez hit a gram slam during the sixth inning to propel the Sox over the Tigers.

Alexei RamirezBeginning with Sunday’s series finale against Cleveland, the White Sox knew they had to win three games in order to reach the AL Division Series against the Rays. That magic number has been reduced to one for both the White Sox and the Twins, who enter Tuesday with identical 88-74 records.

“I don’t think you ever expect a one-game playoff,” said White Sox first baseman and team captain Paul Konerko, who has been talking about this race going down to the final days since mid-August. “It’s an oddity. We are just scrapping, fighting and trying to get to where we want to go.”

“You get passed feeling tired and forget about all those aches and pains,” added White Sox reliever Scott Linebrink, who struck out the side during an impressive eighth inning. “Adrenaline gets you going. Our situation is great — we fought for this and earned it. One hundred and sixty-two [games weren’t] enough so we need one extra, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Isn’t it amazing how teams can go through a 162-game season and still wind up tied at the end? It’s doubtful that either of these clubs can hang with the Angels, Rays or Red Sox for an entire series, but then again, you never know. Momentum is a scary thing – look at the 2007 Colorado Rockies who rode a 10-game winning streak all the way to the World Series last year.

Nick Blackburn (11-10, 4.14 ERA) of the Twins will take the rubber against Chicago’s John Danks (11-9, 3.47) on Tuesday. First pitch is 7:30 PM ET.

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