Thursday, October 7, 2010

I've Heard of an "October Surprise" But This Is... Wonderful

As I write this, it's 2-1 Yankees, bottom of the 5th, in Game 2, after the 3-0 comeback in the 6th became a 6-4 Yankee win over the Minnesota Twins in Game 1 at Target Field.

Contrary to my main concern about tonight's game, with its odd 6:05 Eastern Time start, Andy Pettitte has not (yet) followed up his last postseason start, a good one (last year's World Series clincher) with a bad one, allowing 1 run on 3 hits in the first 4. Carl Pavano has pitched well, too, but is losing, the dirty bum.

Last night, it was a 4-run Yankee 6th that put overcame the initial deficit, but the Twins tied it, as CC Sabathia did not have his good stuff. He still emerged as the winning pitcher, as Mark Teixeira hit a screaming liner down the right-field line that didn't need any Carlton Fisk arm-waving to stay fair.

Despite getting robbed on Greg Golson's obvious catch that should have ended the game, thus bringing the mighty Jim Thome to the plate as the potential tying run, Mariano Rivera treated the Thomenator the same way Goose Gossage treated Carl Yastrzemski in the 1978 AL East Playoff, getting him to pop up to third, where Alex Rodriguez caught it.

Shocker, the Tampa Bay Rays played like absolute crap in their 2 home ALDS games against the Texas Rangers, losing 5-1 last night and 6-0 today. The Rangers, who began in 1961 as the "new Washington Senators" before moving to the Dallas area in 1972, have won more postseason games in the last 30 hours than they did in their first 50 years. How many, Rachel? "Two!"

I noticed the Rangers were having a lot of fun on their bench in this game. Including Jeff Francoeur, who's probably just glad to get out of the Met organization.

The Rangers won 90 games in the regular season. They have topped that twice in their history, have made 3 previous Division Series appearances (losing all to the Yankees, 1996, '98 and '99, going 1-9 in games, and getting finished off on their own field each time), and on 4 occasions in the 1969-1993 period when winning your Division got you directly into the League Championship Series they came within 5 games of doing so. But they are now 1 win away from their first-ever ALCS, and have 3 chances at home to win 1.

The Rays? They couldn't take the pressure. Have fun next year with your reduced payroll, you dopes. Carl Crawford, meet Jeff Wilpon. Or Arte Moreno. Or Theo Epstein.

The Phillies beat the Cincinnati Reds 4-0, and their pitcher Roy Halladay did something truly shocking. An "October Surprise," if you will.

He pitched a complete game.

And a shutout.

At Citizens Bank Park, where the ball flies out.

The last time I was there, Cole Hamels took a no-hitter into the 5th, and the Phils beat the Milwaukee Brewers 1-0.

This time, Halladay finished the job every which way, pitching a no-hitter, coming within a single walk of a perfect game.

Don Larsen's perfect game for the Yankees, against the Brooklyn Dodgers, in Game 5 of the 1956 World Series -- 54 years ago tomorrow -- remains the only no-hitter in World Series history, and the only perfect game in postseason history. But it is no longer the only no-hitter in postseason history.

Of course, Larsen was not someone you would expect would do this. Despite it being his first-ever postseason appearance after all those years never really getting into a Pennant race with the Toronto Blue Jays, Halladay is the kind of pitcher you could think, "This guy could pitch a no-hitter against postseason bats."

An October Surprise. A wonderful piece of baseball history. Of course, seeing the Yankees gain at least a split on the road is every it as wonderful.

So Yanks-Twins is in Game 2, Rangers-Rays has already finished Game 2, and Game 1 of Atlanta Braves vs. San Francisco Giants gets underway in about 2 hours. That's not right: From now on, if either League's Division Series is going to start on the Pacific Coast, make it start on the first night, not the second. Better yet, make it a day game: You're going to have a tripleheader broadcast anyway, so why not have an East Coast game at 1:00 Eastern Time, the West Coast game at 4:30 (which would be 1:30 local time -- or 10 minutes after the end of the first game, whichever comes last), and then the third game at 8:00?

No, the TV networks won't do that. You know why? Because that would make sense.

George W. Bush signed a bill outlawing the making of sense in America. Barack Obama asked Congress to pass a bill repealing the preceding law, and it passed the House, but the Senate Republicans have filibustered it.

That's just a joke, but in too many cases of things that this country needs to get moving forward again, it's all too accurate.

Pettitte allowed no hits in the bottom of the 5th. Yanks threatened but did not score in the top of the 6th. Bottom of the 6th, still 2-1 Yanks. It's beginning to look a lot like a Yanks-Rangers ALCS.

Hold on, Orlando Hudson just homered off Andy to tie it, 2-2. Rats. Stay tuned.

A triple? And Thome coming up?

Nope, Andy got Thome to ground back to him. We go to the 7th, tied, 2-2.

Jorge Posada walks, Lance Berkman -- a.k.a. "Fat Elvis" -- doubles, 3-2 Yankees! Thankyouverymuch!

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire just got ejected. I'm "watching" it on MLB.com's Gameday feature, so I'm not sure why he was ejected, but he was making a visit to the mound. Probably to find out if Pavano broke a nail or something.

(Yeah, I know, for a pitcher, that's no joke.)

Could Gardenhire have just left the field at a Minnesota Twins home game for the last time? He did play (not well) and coach for the Mets, maybe they should hire him as their new manager. He's smart (the last 5 minutes possibly to the contrary), he's fiery (the last 5 minutes apparently proving that), and he knows how to win (although the AL Central may not be as tough as the NL East, but 7 first-place finishes in 9 years -- 2 more than the Mets have in their first 49 -- says a lot).

Brett Gardner bunts Berkman over to third and makes it to first safely. First and third, nobody out. I think American Idle is in trouble.

Derek Jeter singles. Gardner scores, Berkman to 2nd. 4-2 to the Pinstripe Boys.

I have no ill will toward the Twins or the people of the State of Minnesota. But I am glad to see the Yankees finally get big-time revenge on Carl Fucking Pavano, the most useless bastard in Yankee history.

He just got pulled for reliever... Jose Mijares? Who?

A 6-foot-even, 230-pound, 25-year-old kid from Caracas, Venezuela, known as "Big Taco." (Do they have tacos in Venezuela? Outside of Mexican restaurants, that is?) Sounds like a recycling of former Twins reliever Eddie Guardado (a Stockton, California native of Mexican descent, who appears to have retired after being released by the Rangers last season), or maybe former Red Sox reliever Rich Garces (also a Venezuelan, hasn't pitched in North America since 2002). Second full big-league season, looks like a pretty good middle reliever. Hmmmm, maybe one of the New York teams can offer the Twins a deal.

Granderson bunts Gardner to 3rd, Jeter to 2nd. One out. Teix up.

Intentional walk. The batter? A-Rod. Who's already got a single and a sacrifice fly in this game, and who's now batting with the bases loaded (with good speed) and one out. Who's managing the Twins in Gardenhire's absence, Bobby Valentine?

Jon Rauch now pitching for the Twins.

Strategy worked: A-Rod struck out. Damn, why can't this guy EVER come through in the postseason?

Oh yeah, he did, last season.

Robinson Cano up. Two out. Bases still loaded. And, like Metropolitan Stadium and the Metrodome before it, Target Field appears to be a hitter's park. Come on, Robbie.

Cano pops up. As Phil Rizzuto would say, "But, the damage is done, I tell ya, Bill White, it's unbelievable. The Yankees score 2 runs on 3 hits, no errors, and they leave 'em loaded. At the end of 6-and-a-half, it's the Yankees 4 and the Twins 2. Holy cow."

Andy breezed through the bottom of the 7th. Beautiful.

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