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2019 NATIONAL LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES

Sacramento Capitals @ Tempe Tempers

The 2018 World Series champion Sacramento Capitals looked to continue towards a repeat while the Tempe Temper attempted to extend their winning streak during odd numbered years.  Tempe came into the series well rested while the Capital’s bullpen was a little tired having barely survived a seven-game match with Pittsburgh.
GAME #1 – Chris Sale 20-5 (1.35)  – Corey Kluber 19-8 (2.20)

Kluber started for the hometown Tempers and went three scoreless innings before yielding to a pinch hitter. Sale got the start for the Capital’s and racked up nine strike outs over seven scoreless innings. In the 6th, Upton took Crick deep to break the 0-0 tie.  In the 8th,  Upton went deep again to make it 2-0.  Tempe traded Upton mid-season to Sacramento, so he definitely made them regret that trade.  Perez and Strop pitched two scoreless innings to close it out.  Tempe managed only one hit and the Sacramento’s pitchers only faced 28 batters.

Sacramento 2-0,  W – Sale,  L – Crick,  S – Strop

GAME #2 – Zach Greinke 23-5 (2.73) – Clay Buchholz 7-3 (1.85)

Upton was back at it again hitting his 3rd solo homerun of the series in the 1st.  In the bottom of the 1st, Tempe scored their first runs of the series.  Votto walked and Ozuna hit a two-run homerun.  Martinez then hit a solo shot to put Tempe up 3-1.  In the 2nd, Stanton walked, Beltre doubled, and then Molina singled.  Stanton scored on the single, but Brantley gunned Beltre at the plate. 3-2 TEM.  Buchholz didn’t have his control, so Tempe did a double switch and brought in Sipp to pitch and Difo to play 3B.  Sacramento countered by bringing in the right handed hitting Reynolds to replace Moreland.  Reynolds grounded out, but Sac went to the bench again and had Grossman pinch hit for Greinke.  Grossman doubled to tie it up after two innings.  3-3.   In the bottom of the 5th, Tempe went back on top on a Brantley rbi double.  4-3.  In the 6th, Lindor reached on a walk, stole second base, moved to 3rd on a fielder’s choice and then stole home with two outs to tie it up. 4-4.  In the top of the 7th, Flores hit a solo homerun as a pinch hitter to give Sac their first lead since the 1st.  TEM 5-4.  In the bottom of the 7th a perfectly executed hit and run by Bogaerts put runners on the corners.  A Brantley sac fly scored JD and put Bogaerts at 2nd when Stanton tried for the play at the plate. 5-5.  Braun struck out but ended up reaching on a passed ball.  Albies then walked to load the bases with one out.  Cespedes pinch hit for Castillo and hit a deep sac fly to put Tempe back in the lead.  6-5.   Braun tried to sneak a steal of home, but was called out for the final out.  In the top of the 9th, Yates walked the lead off hitter Beltre.  DeShields then pinch ran for Beltre and stole 2B.  Molina then followed with a rbi sinlge.  Floro relaced Yates and then Castillo replaced Floro as Tempe played the platoons to get out of the inning.  6-6.  In the 11th, Tempe’s last available pitcher Mikolas came on.  Sac’s last available pitcher Coleman came on in the 12th.  The game remained tied until the 14th, when Castro singled, was moved to second by Yadie, and then scored when Reynolds hit an RBI single.  7-6 SAC.  In the bottom of the 14th, Bogaerts led off with a solo homerun to tie it again. 7-7.  Finally, in the bottom of the 17th, Albies doubled to lead off the inning. The weak hitting Mathis fouled off two bunt attempts, so Tempe let him swing away.  The result was a slow grounder up the middle that scored the winning run.  8-7 TEM.  Mikolas got the win going 6 innings and only giving up one run in relief.

Tempe 8-7 17INN,  W – Mikolas,  L – Coleman

GAME #3 – Corey Kluber 19-8 (2.20)  – Max Scherzer 27-5 (1.56)

In the top of the 3rd, Cespedes pinch hit for Mathis and doubled.  Tempe’s longest tenured player at eight years, Melky Cabrea then pinch hit for Kluber and singled to put runners on the corners.  Votto took one to the track that allowed Cespedes to outrun Stanton’s throw.  TEM 1-0.  Scherzer then settled down and didn’t allow a single hit for the next three innings.  Unfortunately for Sacramento, Tempe’s pen pitched seven scoreless innings, including 2.1 innings from Crick for the save.

Tempe 1-0,  W – SIPP, L – Scherzer, S – Crick

GAME #4 – Wade Miley 6-2 (2.21) – Chris Sale 20-5 (1.35) 

Due to the fog of war…the script was lost for game four so we’ll start in the bottom of the 9th with two outs.  Tempe was leading 1-0 after scoring an unearned run in the 1st inning.  Sacrament had runners on 3rd and 1st.  They sent Dickerson (who only had 8 SB during the year) on a straight steal of 2B. Mathis the defensive replacement catcher (1 error in 575 TC) tried to gun him to end the game and he air mailed it over 2nd allowing the tying run to score on the error.   1-1.  Buchholz took the blown save, but he managed to get out of the inning and pitch a scoreless 10th.  Grienke (the other game two starter) pitched a scoreless top of the 10th for Sacramento.  Fields pitched a scoreless 11th for Sacramento and Mikolas was perfect for Tempe in the bottom of the 11th.  In the 12th, Brantley continued his playoff heroics with a solo shot.  TEM 2-1.  Mikolas pitched another perfect inning in the 12th.

Tempe 2-1 12INN  W – Mikolas  2-0,  L – Fields

GAME #5 – Corey Kluber 19-8 (2.20) – Ryne Stanek 6-4 (2.68)

Unlike some of the prior games, both starters went deep into the game.  In the 2nd, Tempe got on the board with a Brantley double and then a pinch hit double by Miggy. TEM 1-0.  In the 3rd, Ozuna crushed a solo shot. TEM 2-0.  Sacramento finally got to Kluber in the 6th, when Lindor hit a solo shot to right. TEM 2-1.  In the 7th, Albies gave Tempe some insurance with a solo shot.  TEM 3-1.  In the bottom of the 7th, Sac threatened with runners on the 3rd and 2nd, but Hughes bailed out Kluber.   Tempe ended up using six relievers over the final 8 outs to preserve the win and wrap up the series.

TEM 3-1, W – Kluber, L – Stanek, S – Yates.

Every game was extremely tight and things could have easily gone the other way.  Pitching dominated the series with Tempe’s relief pitching being the key to their success.  During the series, Sacramento only hit .141 and their lead-off hitter Cano didn’t even have a single hit.  Tempe wasn’t much better hitting .155 and only had one starter hit above .200.  Tempe’s pen put up a collective ERA of 1.34 over 40.1 innings.

It wasn’t easy to pick an MVP, but I’ll give the nod to the pitcher that only pitched when the games went into extra innings.  Mikolas was 2-0 with a 1.13 ERA in 8 IP.  The series would have been completely different if he hadn’t won those two extra-inning games.  Sale was also deserving in a losing cause.  He was 1-0 with 0.00 ERA, 15 SO, 4 H, and 13 IP.

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FRIDAY 10/18/2019
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