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SacramentoThe National League and American League send Western Division representatives to MWBL’s 16th World Series.  For both the HollywoodSacramento Capitals and Hollywood Werewolves, this is their second trip to the World Series, with Sacramento winning 4 games to 2 against the Severn Express in 2011 and Hollywood losing to the Tempe Tempers 4 games to 1 in 2004.  In 2012, the Capitals attempt a repeat, while Hollywood attempts to win their first World Series Championship in World Series history.

While neither team was able to acquire a big name difference-maker prior to this year’s trade deadline, both teams were active on the trade front in the early season to lock up solid pitching help and position players that would fill key roles as each team moved closer and closer to the playoffs.  For Hollywood, this meant dealing for closer Heath Bell, Emilio Bonifacio, and Drew Stubbs; while for Sacramento, this meant dumping youth and picks to acquire additional bullpen help and bench players, including Jimmy Rollins, Javy Guerra, Eric O’Flaherty, Jason Giambi and Jason Bourgeois.  No stars here, but each played a key part in the World Series. 

Despite each teams’ inability to make a big trade at the deadline to shore up any key weaknesses, both teams were well prepared for this moment by loading up on starting pitching prior to the season—some of the best pitching around. For Sacramento, it was Justin Verlander (20) and Cliff Lee (17); and for Hollywood, it was Clayton Kershaw (19) and Jared Weaver (19).  Sacramento and Hollywood rounded out their playoff rotations with Erik Bedard (11) and David Price (12).  With arms like these, we certainly expected pitchers duels.

But, as noted in the 2012 World Series Preview, Sacramento had the upper hand both offensively and defensively, and that despite this advantage, “This series should be dominated by the pitchers.”  We’ll see.

GAME #1 – Clayton Kershaw vs. Cliff Lee

Game 1 started with dominating pitching; three up, three down in both halves of the 1st.  Sacramento would begin to get something going in the top of the 2nd with a leadoff single by Robinson CANO and a swift stolen base, for a runner on 2nd with no outs to start off the inning.  J.J. HARDY up next … base hit to right field, and Sacramento holds CANO and does not test Jay BRUCE’s arm.  Runners on 1st and 3rd, no outs.  Sacramento’s advantage.   Josh WILLINGHAM up. K. One away.  Yadier MOLINA up, one out … double play.  Missed opportunity for Sacramento.  While Lee walks Bruce in the bottom of the 2nd, he has another easy inning getting through the heart of the Werewolves lineup.

KERSHAW at it again in the top of the 3rd–three up, three down.  Cliff Lee runs into trouble in the bottom of the 3rd; Emilio BONIFACIO comes up with an infield single with two outs.  The Capitals know what’s up, BONIFACIO is running, and here comes the pitchout … but Starlin CASTRO gets his bat on it anyway!  A desperation swing, and he makes contact! BONIFACIO glides in to third … and CASTRO is on with a single.  Still two outs.  Alex GORDON facing C. LEE, two Outs, 1st and 3rd, Tied 0-0. The runners take their lead … here he comes … and it nicks the outside corner GORDON goes down looking … WEREWOLVES gone!  Missed opportunity for the Werewolves.

KERSHAW would have had another one-two-three inning in the top of the 4th, if it weren’t for an error on Kurt SUZUKI that allowed CANO to reach with no one on and two outs.  HARDY up, and he lines it right at KERSHAW … it’s off his leg … HARDY races down the line … no play; CANO holds up at second.  Two on, two outs, WILLINGHAM up … and he grounds out to KERSHAW, and he’s out at first.  Sacramento leaves another runner in scoring position.

Bottom of the 4th … Ian KINSLER grounds out for out number one, but Jay BRUCE smashes the ball past Albert PUJOLS for a one-out double.  Would the Werewolves take advantage of this opportunity?  Ben FRANCISCO up, and flies out to deep right field.  Two outs, runner stuck at 2nd.  Paul GOLDSCHMIDT facing LEE, … here we go … hit like a shot … CANO waves on it … but it’s by him into right … they’re waving BRUCE in … and he’s … safe…ahead of the throw.  GOLDSCHMIDT comes through.  CAPITALS 0, WEREWOLVES 1.  At this rate, GOLDSCHMIDT’s RBI could be enough.  Yet, both teams continue to miss opportunities … GOLDSCHMIDT steals 2nd with Wilson BETEMIT at the plate, but BETEMIT K’s, leaving another runner in scoring position.

In the top of the 5th, KERSHAW does what he does best: three up, three down.  Lee has is almost as easy; with two outs, CASTRO singles over HARDY, then steals 2nd, for yet another runner in scoring position.  GORDON up, and grounds out to Lee for out number 3.  Another left in scoring position.  Top of the 6th, KERSHAW is unbelievable, again.  Three up, three down.  Bottom of the 6th, Lee induces a KINSLER pop up for one out, but gives up a double to BRUCE down the right field line.  One out, runner on 2nd, FRANCISCO up, and grounds it to Kevin Youkilis, who throws out FRANCISCO at first.  GOLDSCHMIDT up again with a runner in scoring position–this time on 3rd–and two outs.  Could he do it again?  No.  GOLDSCHMIDT facing LEE.  Lee’s pitch … slow roller toward third … YOUKILIS fields it throws … for the final out.  Still CAPITALS 0, WEREWOLVES 1.

Finally, Kershaw fails to score another one-two-three inning.  CANO up, and he starts off the top of the 7th with a walk.  HARDY up, no outs with a runner on 1st, K.  One out.  WILLINGHAM up, and it’s another base on balls … are the wheels coming off?  Two on, one out, and the Capitals have a third runner in scoring position.  Sacramento Capitals manager George Skiles pull WILLINGHAM and bring in a pinch runner–Nyjer Morgan … the wheels are turning.  We’ll see if the Capitals get anywhere.  Yadier MOLINA up … routine fly ball to right for out number two, and it isn’t deep enough to advance the runners against … BRUCE’s arm.  Torii HUNTER up … and he’s out on strikes … three down. Unbelievable.  Another opportunity lost.  You have to hand it to KERSHAW.  This guy is a stud.  The CAPITALS go to the bullpen in the bottom of the 7th … Edgmer ESCALONA; LEE goes six innings … the game for LEE, one earned run … on 6 hits … one walk … he fans 6 … he can only lose it.  Let’s see if ESCALONA can keep it close–yes, a three up, three down performance for the 7th.

Here we go, we’re down to two innings.  The Capitals bring in Brett PILL to hit for ESCALONA; KERSHAW promptly strikes him out.  But, that would be it for KERSHAW; he’s hit his pitch limit.  The Werewolves bring in Steve CISHEK to get through the rest of the 8th and to put the ball in the hands of Heath Bell.  In response, Capitals manager George Skiles pulls ROBERTS and brings in Jason Giambi … they’re going for the long-ball here.  Will the Capitals get it?  Nope, gotta listen to the announcers on this one: “… swung on and missed … that’s a Linda Ronstadt, you know, a ‘Blue Bayou’ … and GIAMBI is gone … two away”.  Nice.  YOUKILIS up, and flies out to left center … three down.  Bottom of the 8th, Capitals bring in Koji UEHARA … ESCALONA did his job, but will UEHARA?  CASTRO up first, called strike three–one out.  GORDON next; and popped up behind the plate, and MOLINA throws off his mask … he’s there … takes a step back and brings it down … for out number two.  KINSLER’s up, two out, and strike three … UEHARA doesn’t have much trouble at all.

This is it folks.  9th inning, Sacramento’s last chance, after they’ve blown three opportunities thus far.  The Werewolves bring in Drew STUBBS and Carlos PENA to play left and first base, respectively, for a nice defensive upgrade, and the ball goes to Heath BELL to face the heart of the order.  Pujols up, and he flies out to center.  CANO up next; BELL delivers … CANO swings … it’s a fly ball to the gap in right … GORDON’s racing over, so’s BRUCE … it drops in for a hit … and he will make second easily a double for Robinson CANO … so fasten your seat belts once again; the tying run is now at second base.  HARDY’s up with one on and one out.  BELL lets it go … swung on … base hit left field … STUBBS’s after it toward the gap … and they’re waving CANO in … HARDY’s going for second … here’s the play at the plate … and he’s … SAFE!…on a close play … the run scores! Tie game! … and CANO just outran the ball … and HARDY takes second on the throw.  CAPITALS 1, WEREWOLVES 1.  CAPITALS skipper George Skiles will send in Jimmy ROLLINS to run for HARDY … Nyjer MORGAN facing BELL … and he flies out.  Two on; Yadier MOLINA up … Let’s listen to the announcers: “BELL now … this one is creamed … STUBBS turns and runs he can’t get it … ROLLINS’s around third … he’ll score … CAPITALS have the lead! STUBBS picks it up and fires it in … a two-base hit for MOLINA. CAPITALS 2, WEREWOLVES 1.  And that would be all the Capitals would need.  The Capitals bring in closer Mariano RIVERA to close out the bottom of the 9th, and Rivera does it without any trouble: three up, three down.

Hollywood loses a close one, and their player of the game has to go to KERSHAW for his dominant performance.  For the Capitals, Yadier MOLINA gets the player of the game and Mariano RIVERA get the pitcher of the game–both for closing out a game that could have gone either way.

FRIDAY 10/18/2019
AT 10:00 AM - ET!