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Columbus Explorers @ Tempe Tempers

ColumbusExplorers09092016For the last five years the Columbus Explorers and Tempe Tempers have alternated every year with the Explorers winning the NL Central in the even years the Tempers winning the division in the odd years. The two team faced off in the Divisional round last year with Columbus winning the series in six games.
GAME #1 – J.A. Happ 20-3 (2.55) – Wade Miley 6-2 (2.21)

Ozzie Albies got things going early in the first with a solo hr. In the third, Yoenis Cespedes hit for the pitcher and crushed a two run home run. Marcell Ozuna added a solo shot in 4th and Tempe had a quick 4-0 lead. Columbus finally got their first base runner in 6th. They also got their first hit and first home run as Kiki Hernandez crushed a 3 run home run. A Miguel Cabrera solo shot in the next inning tied it up 4-4. In bottom of the 9th, defensive replacement Jeff Mathis got a two out walk-off single.
Tempe 5-4

GAME #2Jordan Lyles 6-6 (3.66) – Corey Kluber 19-8 (2.20) 

A Maikel Franco solo shot in the 2nd gave Tempe an early lead. Holt came up with a timely two out triple in the 4th to score two and put Columbus up 2-1. Miggy came off the bench for two rbi double that put Tempe back up 3-2 in the 4th. Kirby Yates served up a solo shot to Miguel Cabrera the next inning to tie it up. A Michael Brantley rbi single in the bottom half of the inning put Tempe up again. Holt rallied the Explorers again with a game tying solo shot in 7th. J.D. Martinez just missed a home run in the 7th, but it was still good for a rbi double and the lead. In the bottom of the 8th, Shin-soo Choo gunned Wilmer Difo as he tried to tag and score from 3rd. The ump completely blew the call and then ejected Difo when Difo tried to inform the umpire of his mistake. MWBL may need to look into instant replay at some point. In the 9th, Charlie Blackmon reached 3rd with no outs after a double and a WP. Jose G. Castillo and Ryan Braiser erased the next three hitters to preserve the save.
Tempe 5-4

Tempe wins two very tight games for a 2-0 lead as the series moves to Columbus for the next three games.

Down 2-0 after the series opened in Tempe, the Explorers come home needing some wins. Games 1 and 2 were both ever so close (both 5-4 losses that, oh well, …..). Columbus needs to turn those nail biters around if they want to have any chance against the Tempers – no room for error(s).

GAME #3Miles Mikolas 18-3 (2.19) – Julio Teheran 12-10 (3.83)

Columbus is feeling it early as Matt Carpenter strokes a 2 run homer in the 1st (1). Bottom 5 they add another when Asdrubal Cabrera walks, Victor Reyes in to PR and he steals 2nd and 3rd. Ryan Zimmerman walks a Spencer Kieboom comes in to PH. He singles to left for an rbi. Tempe gets 1 back in the 7th when Ozzie Albies triples with 2 outs and Wellington Castillo singles him home (1 of 3 hits in the game). Then the Tempers make it 3-2 in the 8th when Joey Votto leads off with a single and Jose LeClerc is brought in. He gets Marcell Ozuna and J.D. Martinez, but Xander Bogaerts lines one to LF for the rbi. In the bottom half however, Columbus adds some insurance when Charlie Blackmon hits a 2 out solo homer. Then Carpernter and Holt walk (all of this off Tony Sipp). Sipp leaves, Jarod Hughes comes in. D.J. LaMahieu then singles and a Martinez error allows another run to score. A bit of excitement in the 9th however keeps things alive for Tempe and drives the home town fans and GM nuts. Franco leads off with a single of Hendriks. Tony Watson is then called on. Albies then grounds him to 2nd. Castillo singles moving Franco to 3rd. Melky Cabrera to PH, David Robertson to pitch. Cabrera pops up. Votto up – Robertson fans him to end the game.
FINAL 5-2 Columbus. WP Julio Teheran (1-0), S Robertson (1), LP Miles Mikolas (0-1)

GAME #4Wade Miley 6-2 (2.21) – J.A. Happ 20-3 (2.55)

Great looking game as Wade Miley and J.A. Happ hook up for 4 scoreless innings. Then in the 5th Tempe gets back-to-back-to-back homers from Ryan Braun (1), Maikel Franco (2) and Wellington Castillo (1). Braun singles in another in the 6th as Happ leaves and Miley goes the distance for the CG shutout victory (1-0). He gives up only 2 hits and fans 9 along the way. No “opener” needed here. Happ gets the loss (0-1).

GAME #5Corey Kluber 19-8 (2.20) Wade LeBlanc 11-10 (3.19)

Columbus on brink of elimination down 3-1, Tempe has champagne in the visitor’s clubhouse. Corey Kluber is primes and Wade LeBlanc is finally ready to start a game in this series. However, Tempe wants to rock his boat and Melky Cabrera does just that with a 2 run blast (1) in the 3rd. But some home town excitement pops up in the 4th when Shin-Soo Choo walks to lead off the inning. Blackmon then doubles him to 3rd, Matt Carpenter walks loading the bases with no outs. Brock Holt flies to LF and Choo crosses the plate on the SF. But Kluber then toughens and nothing else happens. Well nothing else unto the top of the 6th when Ozzie Albies takes Jose LeClerc yard for a solo shot (2) making it 3-1, hometeam getting in a bigger hole. But the bottom half sees some excitement. Blackmon singles, Carpenter singles, Holt flies out. Paul DeJong then cracks an extra base hit scoring Blackman, then Carperter heads for home, throw comes in and DeJong breaks for 3rd. Defense gives up the run and nail DeJong – consider it a trade off for the tying run and we end the sixth noted at 3-3. Then the real fun starts for the home fans. Bottom of the 8th, Blackmon gets 1 of his 3 hits in the game, this one a solo homer (2) off Kirby Yates and the Explorers takes a 4-3 lead with 1 inning to go. Is there still life? David Robertson comes in for the save!! Bogaerts however, leads off with a double. Ozuna then grounds to SS, DeJong fields it, over to first, out, Bogaerts holds. 1 Down! Braun up, the whiff – 2 down!! Maikel Franco up and he jacks on to deep left, Holt back, but the ball clears the fence for a 2 run homer (3) and turns the 4-3 Columbus lead into a 5-4 Tempe lead – UGH!!!!
Manger Perranoski calls on Ryan Brasier to close out the game. DeJong starts off the close with a fly out. Cabrera then singles to RF, a Reyes of hope (sorry – he comes in to PR). All the stops are pulled and he steals 2nd and 3rd – tying run on the 3rd. Infield in, Tyler Flowers up and he hits a dying quail that drops, runs scores, tie game, Flowers on 1st. Enrigue Hernandez up, Flowers staying in to run as fast guys are gone. Hernandez then riiiippps one to right center that gets by Ozuna – Flowers huffs, puffs and chugs, he sees 3rd and doesn’t stop – good thing because Hernandez was going full tilt on his way to a walk-off triple! Columbus comes back in the 8th and then even bigger in the 9th to win 5-4 and send the playoffs back to Tempe. WP Robertson (1-1) BS (1). LP Brasier (1-1) BS (1)

So, Tempe will host the final game(s) of the Division series between these NL Central Rivals – last year it went 6 with Columbus on top, will Tempe do the same this year, or will we get to game 7 then see what 1 game can bring.

Tempers returned to Tempe with the series lead, but the Explorers now carried the momentum after the dramatic come from behind walk off win in game five.

GAME #6 – Julio Teheran 12-10 (3.83) – Clay Buchholz 7-3 (1.85)

Clay Buchholz 18 grade made his first start of the series against game three winner Julio Tehran 13 grade.

1st Inning – Columbus started quick with a lead off triple from Gordon, a Blackman walk and an RBI single from Carpenter. 1-0 COL. Tempe elected to go with extra defense, so Mathis and Difo started the game in the field. Blackman got an aggressive lead of 2B which allowed Mathis to pick him off. Buchholz then popped up Holtz to get out of the first.

Bot 1st Inning – Votto singled and Ozuna walked to start the bottom half of the inning, but Teheran rung up JD Martinez and doubled up Bogaerts.

2nd Inning – Buchholz had 1, 2, 3 inning in the top of the second.

Bot 2nd Inning – Tehran got two quick outs but then ran into a little trouble. Difo walked, Cespedes pinch hit a liner off Tehran and Tempe then pinch hit again with Miggy who crushed a double down the line, but was thrown out at 3B when the Explorers conceded the run. 2-1 TEM

3rd Inning – Sipp came on in relief. He struck out Tehran and then allowed a single to Gordon. Gordon then stole 2nd on Castillo who was now catching after Mathis was replaced for a pinch hitter. Sipp rallied back to strikeout the next two lefties Choo and Blackman.

Bot 3rd Inning – Tehran made quick order of the top of Tempe’s lineup in the bottom half.

4th Inning – Sipp got a quick pop up of Carpenter, struck out Holt, walked DeJong, but then struck out Cabrera.

Bot 4th Inning – Bogaerts led off with a double, Brantley hit an RBI single to right but was thrown out trying to take second. 3-1 TEM. Albies doubled and then scored when Melky pinch hit for Sipp and hit an RBI single. 4-1 TEM. Castillo popped up to end the inning.

5th Inning – Yates started the inning for Tempe by popping up Keiboom, but then walked Teheran. Tempe then brought in lefty Castillo to face the Columbus row of lefties. Gordon singled for his 3rd hit of the game. Choo then doubled in Teheran to put runners on 3rd and 2nd with one out. 4-2 TEM. Blackmon hit a grounder to 2nd and Albies made the mistake of trying to get Gordon at home. 4-3 TEM. Carpenter then executed a perfectly played hit and run to tie it up. 4-4. Holt then singled to give the Explorers back the lead. 5-4 COL. Tempe’s manager finally pulled the rookie and sent in Hughes to stop the bleeding. Things just turned worse as Dejong launched a three run homerun to left. 8-4 COL. Hughes retired Cabrera and Keiboom to finally end the inning as Columbus batted around.

Bot 5th Inning – Teheran got Votto, Ozuna and Martinez in order to make quick work of the top of Tempe’s order.

6th Inning – Can things get any worse for Tempe… the pitcher Teheran led off the inning with a solo homerun. 9-4 COL. Hughes then got Gordon, Choo and Blackman.

Bot 6th Inning – Teheran seemed a little winded after running around the bases. But he started by striking out Bogaerts before giving up a single to Brantley. He then got Albies swinging for the second out. Difo worked a walk to put two runners on. Franco pinch hit for Hughes and hit an RBI single. 9-5 COL. Castilllo hitting in the nine hole, crushed Teheran’s next pitch for a three run homerun. 9-8 COL. Teheran then walked Votto and gave up a single to Ozuna. The Explorers finally went to the pen and brought in Petit to face JD. Martinez. JD hit a bloop double down the line to score two runs, but he was thrown out trying for 3B. 10-9 TEM. Tempe rallied for all six runs with two outs.

7th Inning – Tempe was determined not to blow another lead and sent in Braun as a defensive replacement for JD and their closer Brasier for a multi inning outing. Carpenter struck out, but Holt and DeJong worked back to back walks. Braiser got his control back and struck out Cabrera and popped up Hernandez who pinch hit for Kieboom.

Bot 7th Inning – Petit worked a quiet inning getting Bogaerts and Brantley to line out and then a quick K of Albies.

8th Inning – LeMahieu pinch hit for Petit and led of with a double to the gap. Braiser was missing his control, so Tempe called on Crick. Bogaerts snuck behind LeMahieu and Crick picked him off. Crick then retired Gordon and Choo to end the inning.

Bot 8th Inning – Robertson came on for Columbus and recorded two quick strikeouts of Difo and Braun. He then popped up Castillo.

9th Inning – The Explorers found themselves facing elimination again in the 9th. Blackmon forced a walk to put the tying run on. Tempe then brought on Barnett to face Carpenter. Blackmon took off running and stole 2nd. Carpenter then hit a grounder to short, but Bogaerts bobbled it for an E6. Floro was brought in to face Holt. Holt attempted to bunt the runners over, but ended up with a bunt hit that loaded the bases with no outs. The next batter DeJong, doubled past Difo to score two and give the Explorers another come from behind lead. 11-10 COL. Floro popped up Cabrera in shallow left, so Holt wasn’t able to tag. Reyes came on to pinch hit for Robertson. The move payed off as the seldom used Reyes singled in two more runs. 13-10 COL. Reyes then stole 2nd on Castillo, but Floro got Gordon to groundout and finally end the inning.

Bot 9th Inning – Tony Watson came on in relief along with Zimmerman and Desmond for defense. Votto and Ozuna worked two quick walks. The 3rd spot in the order is normally Tempe’s MVP, JD Martinez, but it was now the pitchers spot after he was replaced by Braun for defense. So, Tempe sent their last available bench player to bat. Casali hit a long shot to track, but Blackmon ran it down for the first out. Bogaerts then singled to load the bases with one out. Brantley lined a hard hit ball over third that would have scored two runs but ended up just foul. Which turned out well for Tempe as Brantley put the next pitch over the center-field wall for a WALK OFF, SERIES WINNING GRAND SLAM! 14-13 TEM!!!

What a game and what a finish to a series. This has to be highest one run win in MWBL playoff history. It might also be the first time a team has won a series trailing by three runs with a walk off grand slam. Offensive power ended up being the deciding factor as both teams scored at will averaging over five runs a game. There really wasn’t an overall MVP for Tempe, so the award is going to three part timers. Maikel Franco, Miguel Cabrera, and Wellington Castillo.
Bill put together an outstanding offense juggernaut this year and only four teams in MWBL had more wins than the Columbus Explorers in 2019. 2020 is an evening year, so they’ll most likely be back to win the NL Central.

WEDNESDAY 07/29/2020
AT 11:00 PM - ET!