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N.L. DIVISION SERIES – WCS @ TEM G#6

WEST COAST SWING at TEMPE TEMPERS – Division Series Game 6 (West Coast leads 3-2)

(10-6-2012) This surprising series has returned to Tempe, that in itself was somewhat of a surprise, but the fact that West Coast is holding the lead at 3 games to 2, that is the big news event. They are standing on the edge of a precipice they expected to shoved over quickly, but they have the chance of being the shovers, not the shovee.

As the crowd settles in, you don’t get the sense of panic, but there definitely is a sense of urgency among the hometown fans.  This was not supposed to be hard, but here they are facing elimination now in game 6.  The bright spot – Matt Cain will be taking the hill. Last time he faced West Coast in these playoffs, he lead the team to a 14-0 blowout.  The Tempers just seem to really like it when he’s on the mound.  For West Coast, they are going with Gavin Floyd, their ace, He has no record in these playoffs, but in the 2 games he has started against the Tempers, the Swing has won them both!  However, as you look at the Swing bench, you start to see a bunch of guys that are playing on will power – fatigue is setting in, in fact third baseman Ryan Zimmerman had to be scratched from the starting lineup tonight, he’ll be replaced by Eduardo Nunez (who has been very effective off the bench – can he come through as a starter).

The Nemesis Trio (Adrian Gonzalez – .444 2 HRs, Troy Tulowitzski – .375; Adran Beltre – .412  4 HRs) are all set to lead the way for Tempe. Their lumber is primed (even X-Rayed to show no cork.  Word around the clubhouse is that that Tulo is even considering changing his first name to Adrian.

GAME TIME
The tension is in the air as the game finally starts and the pitchers prevailed in the 1st as each teams batters went down in order.  Maybe this will be a duel.

In the 2nd, things started to happen as Trumbo hit a bloop double with 2 outs to give the Swing their first baserunner.  Cain however, quickly dashed their hopes by getting Nunez to fly out easily to LF. Tempe decided the 2nd inning would be their inning to get their first guy on base as well as Tulo singles on a fly to short LF that Desmond couldn’t reach. So with 1 out, the Tempers have  their first threat going with Tulo on 1st. Beltre fails to deliver and pops out. Tulo (taking a page from West Coast) then steals second. And that proves beneficial as Pedroia follows with a 2 out single to LF and Tulo beats the throw to make it 1-0 Tempe. Pedroia then steals – but Molina ends the innings when Utley makes a great catch on his hard line drive.  End of two we have Tempe with the lead 1-0.

The teams trade scoreless innings in the 3rd, 4th and 5th so we will jump ahead to the 6th. In fact during that span each team only got one guy on base.

After setting down the Swing in order in the top of the 6th, Tempe came to bat with the top of the order Granderson, Cabrera and Pence. Floyd threw to the plate but the pitch got to far inside and caught Granderson on the leg.  Manager Douglass looked at Grandy (felt he was wincing too much) and lifted him for PR Gutierrez.  The Gut man then steals second, but Cabrera fans (Floyd really made him look bad). With one out, Pence works Floyd for a walk – Pence made Floyd look bad. This was Floyd’s first walk of the game, but after hitting Granderson, Schindel was getting concerned, so he went to the bullpen.  And lo and behold, he called on Scott Baker.  If you remember, Baker was the starter in the 2 West Coast blowout (he comes in 0-2 with a 63.00 ERA in this series). Schindel is hoping that a change of scenery (not pitching in the 1st) will make a difference.  And it better as his first batter is AGon.

OK – the pitch, the crack of the bat and AGon files out to CF, runners stay put.  Genius!!  Nemeses Trio mate #2 steps up – Tulo – and the genius status has worn off as Tulo delivers a solid single to LF – Gutierrez shows his speed rounding 3rd and scoring and Hunter Pence motors it over to 3b.  Tempers up 2-0 with 2 outs and runners on the corners.  Nemesis Trio mate #3 – Beltre – is up. The pitch – BANG! – that ball was practically over the fence before it hit the bat, what power Adrian showed in this at bat (and what a decision to use Baker).  With the 3 run blast from Beltre Tempe has now taken a 5-0 lead here in the 6th. Baker does get Pedroia to groundout to end the inning, but Baker is contemplating how to get home without traveling on the team plane. At this point, looking out at the Tempe bullpen, things are looking brighter for the home team.

In the 7th, Cain still on the hill giving up only 2 hits (and 5 Ks) through 6, West Coast is looking for anything. Utley leads off and delivers – lining one toward left that Gutierrez comes in for, but can’t get, it goes to the wall for a lead-off triple.  Well, looks like West Coast will at least not lay down. Victorino up to face Cain and he drives one down the LF line – off the wall, Utley scores and Victorinio hustles his way around the bases for a triple – back to back triples to start the 7th and Tempe’s lead is now 5-1.

Manager Douglass says – OK that is enough, let’s end it now and pulls Cain for Greg Holland. Except for 1 inning in a previous game with back-to-back homers, Holland has been effective.  He comes in to face West Coast post-season hero Michael Cuddyer.  Well, if this were Hollywood, you’d expect Cuddyer to plow a HR off Holland – well maybe this is Hollywood because that is just what he did hitting one that kept curving toward the LF foul pole, but it stayed fair, made it to the seats and now the score is 5-3 Tempe as West Coast has 3 runs here in the 7th. Trumbo now steps up and he takes Holland’s first pitch to him and belts it down the RF line, but it just passes the foul pole on the foul side.  The silenced home town fans could be heard loudly with a collective sigh – and suddenly they went from OH-NO, to maybe this is just an aberration. Holland got the message and then fanned Trumbo. However, Nunez follows and works Holland for a walk – and then steals 2nd. So runner in scoring position 1 out. Desmond then steps up and pops out.  But Torrealba wants to be heard from and he scorches on on a line over Pedroia, but Pedroia makes a monumental leap and snares it in midflight to end the Swing rally but the scored is now 5-3 Tempe at the 7th inning stretch.

Oddly Schindel keeps Baker in for the 8th (maybe to work on lowering his ERA) – and Baker responds getting Molina to strike out, Punto and Gutierrez to fly out to CF to end the 7th. Holland does a similar task in the 8th setting down the Swing in order.

Schindel brings in Lindblom in the 8th to face Pence, AGon and Tulo.  After getting Pence to groundout, AGon singles to RF but Lindblom is not phased and he gets Tulo to ground into an inning ending DP.

Top 9th – West Coast down 2, Tempe 3 outs away from forcing game 7. Defensive maneuvers are made, and Holland is staying in for the 9th.

Looks like a good move, he fans Victorino to start the inning. Cuddyer then steps in lines one to RF for a double (his 10th hit of the series). That was it for Douglass – and Holland is going to the showers, Madson coming in.  Manager Schindel is kinda grinning, the Swing have like Madson (6.75 era to this point in the series and 0-2 record).

Trumbo will be the first batter to face Ryan and he promptly smashes one deep to left center – another extra base hit, Cuddyer walks in form second on Trumbo’s 1 out double.  Score now Tempe 5 – West Coast 4. Douglass runs to the mound to get Madson out of there and he calls on Joel Peralta – well his era in the series being 27.00 and 0-1 record – the Swing batters are hoping they continue that dominance.

Schindel looks down his bench and sees Tyler Greene sitting there with a grin on his face.  He’s grinning because this is the first game he’s been able to play in since early September – and Schindel says go in and run for Trumbo (defensively this also really leaves West Coast thin, but we will see if they even have to deal with that).  Greene on 2nd, Nunez at the plate and Peralta pitches, ball one and Greene is breaking for 3rd – daring – it was a good break, Molina throws quickly and he’s safe just getting the hand in ahead of the tag.  OK – tying run on 3rd, top 9th, 1 out. That changes the landscape and with the IF in , Nunez hits one sharpy past AGon into RF and Greene scores – and Nunez makes it to second!

Guess who is on the way to the mound again?  Douglass now turns to Clippard to end this madness. He’s making his 4th appearance and in 3 previous outings (6 ip) he’s given up NOTHING!. First batter he faces, Desmond pops out in foul ground.  Torrealba then fans to end the top of the 9th, but West Coast is still alive scoring 2 to tie the game at 5.

Well West Coast now has some defensive maneuvering to do as well – moving Cuddyer from RF to 1b, Bogusevic moves to RF and Greene stays in the game in LF.  Lindblom still on the mound.

Lindbom has to face Beltre, Clippard and Molina in the 9th. Beltre leads off and grounds out 1st to pitcher. Clippard will be gone if it goes past 9 as Duda comes in to PH. He grounds out for out number 2. Molina then drills one to RF that is high and far but Bogusevic catches it at the wall to end the 9th and the game is going into EXTRA INNINGS.

Saito will come in to pitch for Tempe – he’s sporting an era of 0.00 in his 2 previous playoff appearances. Leading off will be Eric Young, JR PH for Lindblom. He grounds one through the middle that Punto gets to and his toss to 1st just nips Young, JR. Bogusevic then flies out and Utley fans to end to top of the 10th.

Schindel looks to his bullpen and brings in Kenley Jansen for the 10th. Jansen has an era of 0.00 and 2 saves in his previous outings in this series.  Now he’s called on for duration.

Things don’t look good as Punto leads off and draws a walk – this causes West Coast to bring in Teagarden to catch (he has pretty decent arm).  Gutierrez then sacrifices Punto to second, 1 out winning run in scoring position Cabrera up. Jansen fans him, 2 outs. Vladimir Guerrero steps to the plate pinchitting for Repko (Vlad is hitting .500 in primarily a PH role in the series). Jansen throws, Guerrero swings and lifts one to shallow LF that Desmond is able to back up on and get for the final out – we’re going to inning 11.

Saito still on the mound and he faces Victorino, Cuddyer and Greene in the 11th, more magic brewing?

Victorino swings and makes connection but only manages to sky one to RF for the 1st out. Cuddyer then grounds 2nd to first. Greene making his first plate appearance then smashes one to the gap in RF and ends up at 2nd with a 2 out double.  Nunez up – he hits a low liner to left that has the earmarks of extra bases on it.  Greene is off and around 3rd and Gutierrez is making a long hard run after the ball – and he wins catching it on a dead run to end the inning and the threat.

Bottom of the 11th sees the Nemesis Trio coming to the plate – Adrain Gonzalez, “Adrian” Tulowitzski, and Adrian Beltre.  Jansen better be sharp.  AGon promptly lines one to RF for a single. With the speedy Gonzalez on 1st, Tulo up, Douglass calls for the hit and run – and Tulo responds with a soft liner to RF – and AGon gets to 3b.  Runners at the corners, NO OUTS. Douglass now send McDonald in to run for AGon at third. Beltre to the plate – and he lifts one high to left CF – Victorino snatches it and unloads toward home. McDonald’s tagging and he’s OUT at the plate – no wait, Teagarden drops the throw in the collision – McDonald just plowed through him and knocked the ball loose.  Can you believe it!  Game end on a great baserunning effort to nullify a great throw.

TEMPE has won in 11 innings to force a game 7.

FINAL LINE
WCS  5 9 1  (Teagarden’s dropped ball in the 11th)
TEM   6 8 0
WP Saito (1-0)
LP Jansen (0-1)

This series just goes from amazing to sublime – what more can anyone say.  Both team reached a brink in this game and Tempe managed to make the final winning maneuver on a power runner at the plate in the 11th).  West Coast continues to never say die.  Game 7 tomorrow – can it be any more dramatic?

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