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NATIONAL LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES

Columbus Explorers @ Pittsburgh Lumber Company

ColumbusExplorers09092016PittsburghSERIES PREVIEW – National League LCS – Pittsburgh Lumber Company (1st NL East 112-50) vs. Columbus Explorers (1st NL Central 110-52)These teams led the National League in wins by a big margin, but it was the Lumber Jacks who made several big deals down the stretch that gave them the horsepower to catch up and overtake the Explorers in wins – and they did it in the final week of the season.  And that gives them the home-field advantage. It also brought them hereafter facing the NL Wild Card Triple Creek Patriots who they dispatched in 5 games. Columbus also made some late-season acquisitions in efforts to bolster their squad in hope of staving off the Lumber Company charge and be able to keep up should they meet in the post-season. Well, they didn’t stave them off, but they still won the division with the 2nd best record and ended up playing the Sacramento Capitals and that was an epic 7 game series that was finally decided in the 12th inning of game 7!

So that brings up to the NL LCS – Pittsburgh and Columbus (about 3 hours by car)! The season series was close, 7-5 Pittsburgh, but most of their wins came in the latter part of the season after the retooling. So the Lumber Company – they made their own bats and lead the league in scoring with 902 runs (almost 100 more than the next team). Columbus was 142 runs behind that total. 2nd in homers (250) and well ahead of Columbus (217). And their average was .262 about 30 points higher than the league average and 23 points higher than Columbus. Columbus did beat them out in triples (by 6). Pitching they were 1 and 3 in the NL, but Pittsburgh’s era was 2.89 (a run better than the league average) to Columbus’s 3.25. Columbus outsaved them 63-50, but the Lumber Company had 97 quality starts to 77 for the Explorers.

Both teams want to be in this series – but both managers hoped it wouldn’t be this matchup. But that’s what we got, so let’s play ball!

GAME #1 – Mike Fiers (11-9 2.93) vs. Justin Verlander (23-3 1.93)

After Verlander gets Columbus in order in the 1st, the Lumber Company bats get going. Jorge Polanco opens up with a single. Anthony Rendon singles him to 2nd with 1 out and then Josh Bell doubles into the corner scoring both runners for a 2-0 lead. Good start for Pittsburgh and Verlander. It gets better in the 2nd. With 2 outs, Polanco again singles. Howie Kendriksricks follows and leans in to close and gets drilled with a pitch and wanders down to 1st. Rendon then looks at Fiers with a glare and takes his 1st pitch way out of the park for a 3 run homer (1) and a 5-0 lead! Fiers stays out, but it looks like his day will end very soon.

In fact, he leaves in the top of the 3rd. Ian Desmond leads off with the Explorers first hit, a double. Robinson Chirinos walks and sure enough, Fiers’s day is over. Tyler Flowers comes into PH and he smacks a 3 run PH homer (1) and his too was way out of the park.  Suddenly the 5-0 lead Verlander and Pittsburgh had is cut to 5-3.  In the 4th the lead gets cut to 5-4 when Charlie Blackmon homers (1).  And again in the 6th, Blackmon homers again (2) and Verlander has seen his big lead totally evaporate.

When Fiers left, Homer Bailey was called on to pitch and he goes 4 innings giving up 1 hit, no walks. Verlander pitches the 7th and then gives it over to several relievers. Likewise, the Explores turn to their bullpen and both teams are kept scoreless through the 9th, 10th, and 11th innings. Matt Shoemaker goes 3 innings, Kirby Yates goes 2 innings of scoreless relief.

Pittsburg’s Tyler Clippard comes in for the 12th and things get exciting. Enrique Hernandez leads off with a ph double! Dee Gordon bunts, but it’s up in the air and Clippard grabs it for the out. D.J. LeMahieu singles to RF toward the gap but Hernandez holds at 3rd not testing Judges’ arm. That could be a mistake as Trevor Story follows grounding into a 3-6-3 DP to end the threat. The bottom has thrills of its own. Rendon leads off against Steve Cishek with a double. Bell gets a free pass to face Judge, really? Good move, Judge fails to make contact on 3 swings. To Joey Gallo comes to bat and he gives a Cishek pitch a good ride, back, back, back, back, gone – 3 run walk-off home run (1) in the 12th to end game 1.

Pittsburgh 8, Columbus 5 (12 Innings)

GAME #2 – Julio Teheran (13-7 3.86) vs. Mike Clevinger (13-4 1.97) 

Clevinger controls the Explores through 3. In the bottom half things begin to heat up. Alex Avila leads off with a walk. Clevinger squares to bunt, Teheran fields it and Dee Gordon drops the throw covering 1st. Jorge Polanco grounds to Trevor Story, could be two, but Polanco beats the throw to 1st, 1 out runners on the corners. Greg Garcia then flies out to center and Avila tags and scores making it 1-0 Pittsburgh. Anthony Rendon then singles scoring Polanco and the Lumber Company ends up with 2 unearned runs in the 3rd for a 2-0 lead. Clevinger and Teheran then throw scoreless frames through 6 (although Kyle Ryan did come in to get the final out in the 6th helping Teheran). Teheran ends up going 5.2 innings, giving up 1 hit, 2 unearned runs, 8ks, but 5 walks.

Clevinger than gives up a leadoff homer in the 7th to Charlie Blackmon (3) and it’s 2-1. The next batter, Giovanny Urshela also homers (1) and the game is tied. Clevinger finishes the inning, giving up 4 hits, 2 of them homer, and 2 runs.

Well, as in game 1, the bullpens hold both teams scoreless the rest of regulation time and we again go to extra innings. Ken Giles comes in for the 10th and gets Columbus in order. Steve Cishek again is called on (the process of who’s available). He’s looking for redemption. He starts by grounding out Polanco. But Greg Garcia follows with a triple! Ian Desmond tried to make the sliding catch, but couldn’t. The infield is in for Rendon and he smacks a dying quail to end the game as Pittsburgh gets its 2nd straight extra-inning win.

Pittsburgh 3, Columbus 2 (10 Innings)

GAME #3 – Hyun-Jin Ryu (16-6 1.31) vs. Jordan Lyles (15-5 3.84)

A scoreless 1st is followed by a leadoff walk to Aaron Judge in the 2nd. Lyles gets 2 Ks but then Alex Avila lines one hard to right that moves Judge to 3rd. Ryu then comes up with 2 outs and bloops one toward short that gets over Trevor Story for a rbi single, helping his own cause as the Lumber Jacks scores first and lead 1-0 after 2. In the 6th they stretch it to 2-0 when Judge again starts the inning with a walk. Joey Gallo singles him to LF. David Peralta then grounds into a FC driving in Judge for his 2nd run and Pittsburgh lead 2-0.  

Pittsburgh is continuing with Ryu into the 8th. Robinson Chirinos opens the inning with a broken-bat single. Richie Martin comes into PR. Ian Desmond grounds out moving Martin to 2nd. Matt Carpenter comes into PH for Matt Shoemaker (2 IP, 2 walks and 0 runs). He grounds to short not moving up Martin. Asdrubal Cabrera comes up and oh my, he hammers one to CF that goes way over the wall for a game-tying two-run homer (1). Columbus has come back late to tie the game for the 3rd straight time.

And for the 3rd straight game, the game goes to extra innings. Ryu pitched the 9th and ends up giving up 5 hits, 1 walk, 10 ks, and those 2 runs. Lyles and Shoemaker pitched 8, and Liam Hendriks pitched the 9th – and the 10th giving up 1 hit and fanning 3. Sean Manea comes in for the Lumber Jacks to pitch the 10th. In a de ja vu moment, Enrique Hernandez hits an extra-inning leadoff double. Eric Haase fails to bunt him to 3rd and then flies out. Ian Desmond gets the IW and Brock Holt comes into PH for Hendriks. Manea’s first pitch is high and wide and goes to the backstop and Hernandez streaks to 3rd, Desmond to 2nd. Next pitch and Holt breaks his bat and the ball pops over 2nd into shallow right for a walk-off rbi single and it’s over, Columbus wins the game and cuts the series to 2-1!

Columbus 3, Pittsburgh 2 (10 Innings)

GAME #4 – Sonny Gray (10-9 2.94) vs. Mike Fiers (11-9 2.93)

Well, this game is different, Columbus scores first! After Gray gets the 1st 2 batters in the bottom of the 1st, Trevor Story works a walk. Charlie Blackmon then muscled a tight pitch and hits it into shallow RF then it rolls into foul ground and Blackmon ends up on 2nd with a rbi double. Giovanny Urshela then singles into LF scoring Blackmon and it’s quickly 2-0 Columbus in the 1st. Gray then gives up only 1 more hit in the next 5 innings and leaves after 6.

Fiers goes 4.1 innings but in the 5th trouble brewed big time. Alex Avila leads off with a double. Gray steps in to bunt, but Fiers walks him. Jorge Polanco then pops out for 1 out. But Howie Kendriksricks singles into RF, but lead foot Avila won’t test Juan Lagares and his canon arm. Too much going on for Fiers to stay in the game so Yusmeiro Petit comes in with the bases loaded with the task to keep Columbus in the lead. He starts by fanning Anthony Rendon – Rendon tempted getting ejected when he complained to the ump, but he got back to the dugout quickly enough to keep his spot in the lineup. Petit meanwhile looks pumped!! Josh Bell wants to test that pump and he swings for the fences, but as they say, it was all in his mind and he strikes out to leave the bases juiced. Petit then pitches the 6th and 7th keeping Pittsburgh in check, hometown fans turning up the volume with each pitch.

Aaron Bummer meanwhile comes in for Pittsburgh and pitches the 7th giving up nothing. Moving to the 8th and Columbus is setting up for the win. Adam Ottavino comes in. Josh Bell comes up with one out and again there is that big swing – but it’s more than just in his mind – it’s into the seats for a solo homer (1) and Pittsburgh suddenly only trails by 2-1! Aaron Judge then follows with a big double. Then in a bone head play by Ottavino he throws a pitch to Joey Gallo who hits it right back up the middle, Ottavino makes a terrific backhanded stab – but then throws it right past the first baseman and Judge gets to 3rd. Myles Straw is called on to PR for Gallo with David Peralta up. Peralta lofts a fly ball to LF for an out and Judges tags and scores to TIE the game.  Now it’s Pittsburgh’s turn to come from behind to tie it up late.  Bummer pitches a scoreless 8th and it’s 2-2 going into the 9th.

Columbus looking to change pitchers – get Ottavino out – and they call on Steve Cishek, REALLY?  He dropped the 2 extra-inning games in Pittsburgh. But at home, he gets a 1-2-3 inning! So Hector Neris will face LeMahieu, Story, and Blackmon in the 9th. Story rips a 1 out double to right-center. Pittsburgh won’t give Charlie Blackmon and chance to hurt them and walk him. Tyler Flowers doesn’t have it in him this time and pops out for the 2nd out. Asdrubal Cabrera steps up and pops one to RF that hum, might have a chance – it’s deep, high, and hard and Judge just watches it sail way over the wall for a walk-off 3 run homer (2). That’s the 2nd walk-off 3 run homer in the 1st 4 games – each team with one – and the series is TIED!    And it’s the first game that doesn’t go into extra innings.

Columbus 5, Pittsburgh 2

GAME #5 – Justin Verlander (23-3 1.93) vs. Julio Teheran (13-7 3.86)

Game fives are obviously pivotal. And this series has been crazy, but managers shaking their heads. Ebbs and flows, drama galore. To it’s the rented BIG ARM against the inning pounder who has shaky control.

Well, it’s the rented arm who flinches 1st. Charlie Blackmon leads off the 2nd with his 4th homer of the series! And for the 2nd time, Giovanny Urshela follows him with a back-to-back homer (2) and Columbus is up 2-0.

Then in the 3rd when Teheran walks Howie Kendriksriks to start the inning, Columbus turns to Homer Bailey for relief. Anthony Rendon walks on 4 pitches and Columbus yanks Bailey – this game is important!  Matt Shoemaker comes in, he’s been near flawless in this series and he gets Josh Bell to bounce into a DP. He walks Aaron Judge but then gets Joey Gallo swinging to end the threat. He goes on to pitch 2 more scoreless innings.  He leaves in the bottom of the 5th for a pinch hitter – Matt Carpenter and Carpenter is hit by Verlander.  And Carpenter leaves the game and will miss 7 days!  Not good for a roster thin Columbus.

But Columbus did have some good things happen in the bottom of the 4th. Blackmon leads off with a double. Urshela pops out then Brock Holt singles to RF and Blackmon comes around to score for a 3-0 lead.

In the 5th more bad things happen to Columbus. With 1 out, Howie Kendriksriks pops one foul on the 3rd base side. Robinson Chirinos waves off Asdrubal Cabrera – they collide and the ball drops. Cabrera is hurt and he has to leave the game – word is he’ll miss 7 days!  Wow, the Explorers are losing players left and right. Urshela moves to 3rd and Juan Lagares moves to RF – defensively they up their game.

So, it’s 3-0 Columbus after 5 and J.B. Wendelken (2.1 innings) and Liam Hendriks (1.2 innings) keep it that way as Columbus gets a 5 pitcher shutout over the Lumber Company and take a 3-2 series lead back to Pittsburgh. Two straight NL series where the home teams have won the 1st 5 games (and in the COL-SAC series, the home team won them all).

Columbus 3, Pittsburgh 0

GAME #6 – Jordan Lyles (15-5 3.84) vs. Mike Clevinger (13-4 1.97) 

Clevinger opens up strong but gives up a 2 out single to Trevor Story in the 1st. The bottom half, things heat up quickly as Jorge Polanco walks to lead off, and then Howie Kendrick works a free pass. Lyles then gets Anthony Rendon to whiff and Josh Bell saunters into the box and promptly grounds into the 4-6-3 DP to end the threat. After Gio Urshela takes a Clevinger pitch to the wall for a loud, long out, the Explorers bow out of the 2nd. But the scoring finally gets underway in the 2nd when David Peralta hits a booming homer (1) over the right-centerfield wall and the home crowd erupts as the Lumber Company grabs an early 1-0 lead.

And then the bats from both sides go dormant again. 3rd inning blanks, 4th inning blanks but in the 5th Urshela leads off with his 9th hit of the series, a single to RF. Brock Holt then lays down a perfect bunt moving Urshela to 2nd. But Clevinger stares in at Ian Desmond and fans him looking. But Robinson Chirinos smashes a big double to left-center driving in the tying run!  Looked like some 2x4s were smashed on that one. Lyles continues his mastery in the 5th but does give up a double to Peralta off the wall, he nearly had his 2nd homer of the game. But Alex Avila and Clevinger strikeout to end the inning. As an aside, former Explorer Avila has been hampering the Columbus running game with his quick arm from behind the plate. and Clevinger does the same in his 6th frame. He’s 1 for 2 in OCS – but they aren’t running on him like they want to.

Bottom of the 6th, Polanco leads off and walks. Kendrick follows and grounds into a DP. Rendon gets into the box and BLASTS one to center, Blackmon turns but all he does is watch. The 2x4s make a big racket in the stadium as the home team regains the lead, 2-1. That was it for Lyles as he turns it over to the bullpen.  And the combination of Yusmeiro Petit and Liam Hendriks blanks the Lumber Company the rest of the day.

Same time, Clevinger works 8 innings, leaving for PH in the 8th. Kirby Yates comes in for the 9th and promptly gives up a leadoff single to D.J. LeMahieu. Enrique Hernandez comes into PR. Will this be a typical 9th inning run around the bases for Columbus?  Trevor Story up and he bunts!  And the sacrifice works and Charlie Blackmon is up 1 out, the runner at 2nd. Yates is told to walk him to face Urshela (hitting over .400). Yates stays in and gets Urshela to fly out to shallow center for the 2nd out and not deep enough to move up the runners. The crowd lets out a collective sigh and then begins to pound the 2x4s again. Brock Holt up and Pittsburgh turns it over to Sean Manaea. This is the same batter-pitcher combination that ended game 3 when Holt singled in the winning run. The pitch, he hits it, but it’s a high pop that Garcia gobbles up and Manaea saves the game and Pittsburgh staves off elimination and regains the home-field advantage as we move to game 7 all tied up 3-3!  Each team managed just 4 hits and the Lumber Company bounced into 3 DPs!

Pittsburgh 2, Columbus 1

GAME #7 – Mike Fiers (11-9 2.93) vs. Hyun-Jin Ryu (16-6 1.31)

The only thing we know for sure about game 7 is there won’t be a game 8. The crowd has their Lumber Company 2x4s and after game 6 they added another notch to them – 7 so far for this playoff season – and they’re ready to notch 8! The 3 Columbus fans that we’re able to sneak in past the Pittsburgh security are still alive (as is the team) and they are making a lot of noise near the famed saw dust section (and avoiding a lot of swinging 2x4s). Both managers are up for this one as they square off head-to-head.

Ryu gets 2 ks in a 1-2-3 first and Fiers does him one better with 3 ks in his half. In the 2nd, Charlie Blackmon leads offlining one to RF for a single. Giovanny Urshela follows and flies out to the track in CF. Robinson Chirinos gets nailed in the shoulder moving Blackmon to 2nd. Columbus faithful (those 3 fans and the manager) note that a tired Alex Avila did not make the start and they face Carson Kelly behind the plate – will that make a difference? Ian Desmond then faces Ryu and he smacks a single to RF that goes off Aaron Judge’s glove, Blackmon scores easily but when the ball goes wide, Chirinos breaks for home, and he scores and Desmond ends up on 3rd with a single and 2b error on Judge.  And Columbus grabs a 2-0 lead in the 2nd.

Fiers has a strong 2nd and another 1-2-3. Top of the 3rd Enrique Hernandez (starting at 1b with the injury-depleted Explorers still making adjustments), leads off and reaches on a Josh Bell error when the throw to first pops out of his glove. 2nd error for Pittsburgh this game! Hernandez then tests Kelly’s arm and wins with a SB. D.J. LaMahieu then walks. But Trevor Story whiffs for the 2nd time. Then with Blackmon up, the Explorers send Hernandez to 3rd – LeMahieu however doesn’t follow to 2nd.  And this time Kelly does his Avila impression and nails Enrique at 3rd for the 2nd out. Blackmon then follows with one jacked to deep left, Joey Gallo back, back, back, and he catches it with his back up against the wall. The crowd (and Pittsburgh manager John Niespodzianski) breathe a collective sigh and then begin to roar.

Bottom of the 3rd and Columbus up 2-0 David Peralta leads off with a single to RF. Pitcher Mike Fiers with 4 ks, 1 hit and no runs so far but Bill Schindel decides Fiers did his job and calls for Matt Shoemaker. His season-long strategy had been to use Shoemaker in relief and during the season he did a so-so job, but in the postseason he has been remarkable in long relief roles. So far in this series, he has pitched 8 innings giving up 1 hit (and 6 walks – that’s not so good), but no runs and none of the 3 inherited runners have scored).  So Matt will get the ball. He gets Kelly to pop up but then walks his counterpart Ryu to get a runner in scoring position. But he then induces Jorge Polanco to hit into a DP to end the threat.

In the 4th Urshela leads off with a double. Chirinos grounds him to 3rd. Ian Desmond is given the IW so Ryu can try his magic against Juan Lagares and it works as he bounces into an inning-ending DP! 3 up and 3 down in the bottom half as Shoemaker gets it done again.  Explorers exit the top half of the 5th in the order. In the bottom half, Howie Kendrick leads off with a double. Kevin Newman comes into PR for him. Josh Bell works Shoemaker for a walk but then Shoemaker fans David Peralta, 1 out. Carson Kelly pops out for the 2nd out and David Freese comes into PH for Ryu and he draws a walk to load up the bags! Bottom of the 5th, 2 out, bases loaded, down 2-0 in game 7 and Jorge Polanco steps in against Shoemaker. He piles into the pitch, it’s going places in right, Lagares races to the wall and he PICKS IT CLEAN for the 3rd out. The groan resonates throughout Pittsburgh. Schindel begins to breathe again!

Story leads off the Columbus 6th and strikes out against Tyler Clippard the new Lumber Company pitcher. That’s 3 whiffs for Story. Aaron Bummer then comes in to face Blackmon and Charlie takes it deep to RF – it rattles the wall and it’s a stand up double. Urshela then grounds out moving Blackmon to 3rd and with 2 outs, Hector Neris is called on to face Chirinos and pops him out. Shoemaker is asked to go a 4th inning and he responds getting Judge and Anthony Rendon. Then Joey Gallo loops one to RF, Lagares races in, coming hard and he nabs it just above the grass for the 3rd out.

So we go to the 7th and Ian Desmond leads off with a double to right-center. Schindel playing small ball has Lagares up there bunting. He lays down a great bunt, Neris fields it and throws it to Newman covering first – but he throws it into RF and Desmond scores, Lagares ends up on 2nd and the Lumber Company has committed their 3rd error of the game-tying the total for the first 6 games. And Columbus has a 3-0 lead! Neris leaves, Sean Manaea comes in to face – yup, Brock Holt who pinch hits for Shoemaker. Holt bunts moving Lagares to 3rd with 1 out. Hernadez up and he pops it up in front of home plate, Kelly circles under it and he drops it! Hernandez gets to 2nd, Lagares had to hold, and that’s Pittsburgh error #4!  Columbus is ready to pounce big time especially with LaMahiue and Story coming to the plate. But LaMahiue continues his spotty postseason hitting and pops out. Story on the other hand ropes one hard to RF. Aaron Judge gets the late start, its got extra bases written all over it, but Judge is tall and he goes hard after it and at the last moment reaches over his should and makes the falling catch for the final out and saves at least 2 more runs. But Columbus now has a 3-0 lead.

So, it’s game 7, up 3-0, 7th inning, Schindel decides to give the ball to Liam Hendriks! Who wouldn’t in this situation? Kevin Newman didn’t mind and he leads off with single to RF. Josh Bell follows with a double to right and Newman didn’t test Lagares and stops at 3rd. David Peralta then works Hendriks for a walk. Schindel is seeing a nightmare, but he sticks with Hendriks. Carson Kelly then pops out – 1 down. Greg Garcia into PH for Manaea and he lines it hard to RF, Newman scores, but they hold Bell at 3rd. So there is 1 out, bases still loaded and the score is now 3-1 Columbus and Hendriks is told he has to keep pitching. Polanco up, Columbus looking for the DP, but Polanco has other ideas and he clobbers one to RF that is going places – except Lagares catches up to it and leaps and picks it clean for the 2nd out. Bell tags and scores easily and it’s 3-2 Columbus instead of 5-3 Pittsburgh as Lagares again makes a big play at the wall! The inning finally ends when Aaron Judge whiffs for the 3rd out.  But it’s now a game again as Pittsburgh trails 3-2, home fans are way back into it and the top of the 8th is raucous.

Taylor Rogers takes the mound in the 8th and he fans Blackmon, pops up Urshela but Chirinos singles to LF. But he’s stranded when Desmond grounds out. Schindel keeps Hendriks out for the 8th and he gets Rendon to ground out. But then in what was a groan in Columbus that everyone in Pittsburgh could momentarily hear, Joey Gallo connects that was a big no-doubter as the ball sails way over the wall for his 2nd homer of the series and he TIES it up, 3-3 in the 8th. After the momentary load groan from Columbus, the crowd erupts, and the 2x4s are in full chorus.  And why not, game 7 is shaping up just like 5 of the previous 6 games.  It’s going down to the wire. Newman then fans for out 2 and Bell flies out to CF to end the 8th, but Pittsburgh got the run and got 3 runs off Liam Hendriks to tie it up going into the 9th.

Rogers comes to the mound for the 9th and Lagares leads off with a line drive to short that makes it to LF for his 1st hit of the series. Hendriks due to bat but is called back for pinch hitter Tyler Flowers. Heck, why not Flowers he’s already got 1 PH homer this series. But he’s called on to advance Lagares and the hit and run play is called for. Lagares goes, the pitch comes in and Flowers takes it to RF to advance him. However, the ball had different ideas and it goes deep to right, deep to right, Judge to the wall and it’s bye-bye baseball. Flowers hits a 2 run PH homer (2) in the top of the 9th and suddenly Columbus leads 5-3!  You could hear a pin drop (except in the sawdust section where the 3 Columbus fans are going nuts).

Rogers reshapes the mound, and get Hernandez for out 1. Kenley Jansen then comes in and gets outs 2 and 3. So we go to the bottom of the 9th with the anticipation of another late rally, what will Pittsburgh do? Whatever it is, they will have to do it off Yusmeiro Petit who comes in for the 9th. This is his 4th appearance and he’s given up nothing to the Lumber Company so far. Peralta leads of grounds out. Myles Straw comes into PH for Kelly and he flies out to Lagares in short RF. That brings up Ryan Braun to PH for Jansen. Petit and Flowers get their signals straight and Petit freezes Braun at the plate for a series end whiff and Columbus pulls off the big win and takes the NL Pennant!! The 3 fans escape security and join the Explorers on the field for the celebration.  Outside the stadium, there is a big bonfire as the 2x4s are burnt up in flames.  Next year! Next Year! Is the chant.

Columbus 5, Pittsburgh 3

SERIES SUMMARY –4 Pittsburgh errors in game 7 and that lead to 3 unearned runs for Columbus.

Series stars and stats. We already touched on the defensive gaffs in game 7 – but those 3 unearned runs were the only ones given up in the 7 games. Both teams hit under .200 (.190 for COL, .178 for PIT) and the Explorers outscored the Lumber Company 24-20 in the series and actually outhomered them 10-6 and that was a key weapon. Columbus showed a big weakness with control walking 38 batters during the series while drawing only 15 of them off the Pittsburgh staff (and several of those were IWs).   Both teams scored 45% of their runs from the 7th inning on.  Amazing when you think about the bullpens these teams have.

Individual stars – Anthony Rendon led the Lumber Company attack. 2 homers, 6 RBIs and a .357 average – 10 hits! For Columbus Matt Shoemaker was clutch. 12 innings, 2 hits (a glaring 9 walks), and in spite of all those walks, he gives up NO runs and he gets 1 of the wins. It was tough not to award him the MVP homers. And Tyler Flowers – 6 abs and two of them were PH homers for 5 RBIs. Then we look at Giovanny Urshela – 10 for 26 and a .385 average with 2 homers and 3 RBIs.  But that was topped by Charlie Blackmon who also was 10 for 26, .385 and 4 homers and 5 RBIs. The voting was close but turns out the MVP honors are shared by Shoemaker who kept them in games and Blackmon who provided clutch hitting throughout.

CONGRATULATIONS go out to John Niespodzianski who terrorized the NL with his dominant pitching and crushing hitting.  And he made all the moves to get his team in this position. Columbus is amazed at the outcome, very pleased, but the Lumber Company was a terrifying opponent to have to take on. Columbus leaves happy, will get Asdrubal Cabrera and Matt Carpenter back soon, and look forward to a fun World Series.

2020 NATIONAL LEAGUE DIVISION SERIES #2

Sacramento Capitals @ Columbus Explorers

SacramentoColumbusSERIES PREVIEW –The Explorers (1st NL Central, 110-52) vs. the Capitals (1st NL West, 98-64) features a couple of teams split the season series 6-6. And in every category, the Capitals were just a bit better. Batting, the Caps hit .250 to Columbus’s .239, 226 homers to 217, 93 SBs to 84. But the Explorers did score more runs, 760 to 724.

Pitching, again the Capitals have slight leads with a 3.15 era to 3.25 for Columbus, 1582 Ks to 1332, and 183 homers given up to 200 by the Columbus pitchers. The one pitching area where Columbus excels is the bullpen – 2.48 era to 3.43 for Sacramento, 63 saves (16 BS) to 46 saves (20 BS) and 99 holds to 69 for the Caps. In a short series, can that be a difference?

And the defense, well that goes to Sacramento as well with a .983 to .980 fielding percentage advantage and a big lead in fewer unearned runs allowed (60 vs. 73 for Columbus).

7 games (maybe) to separate the 2 with Columbus starting with the home-field advantage. But Sacramento has the starting pitching advantage including a couple starts by Tyler Glasnow, Max Scherzer, and 3 from Zack Greinke (23-6. 2.52 era AND .389/.417/1.350 batting split with 11 homers!).  That is if the series goes 7 games.

GAME #1 – Zack Greinke (23-6 2.52) vs. Mike Fiers (11-9 2.93)

The game starts out very tight with the pitchers performing well. But Columbus scores 1st in the 3rd when Robinson Chirinos (late-season pickup) opens with a single and moves to 2nd on a Fiers sacrifice. With 2 outs, D.J. LaMahieu catches one in the league and Trevor Story (another late-season pickup) bloops a rbi single down the RF line for a 1-0 Columbus lead. Still 1-0 after 5, Columbus begins to make some defensive moves and brings in Matt Shoemaker to take over for Fiers (5 ip, 3 hits, no runs). But Shoemaker is good for 1 inning and then in his 2nd he gives up a lead-off homer to Corey Dickerson (1) and we have a tie ball game (and a Columbus blown save). Greinke continues the grind going 8 and Adam Ottavino (another late Columbus add) blanks Sacramento in the 8th.  To the 9th, Liam Hendriks comes in and shuts down the Capitals. Pedro Baez is called on by Manager Skiles for the 9th.  Baez led the team with 28 saves and a sported a 2.71 era in the regular season. He gets Charlie Blackmon for 1, and Giovanny Urshela for out #2 and then walks Brock Holt. Late inning defensive sub (and late-season pick up) Juan Lagares steps up and Baez hits him! That brings up Chirinos and he rams one down the RF line past a diving Mitch Moreland and it rolls and rolls for a walk-off rbi double, 2-1 Columbus wins.

SAC 1-4-0 LP Baez (0-1)
COL 2-6-1 WP Hendriks (1-0)

Columbus 2, Sacramento 1

GAME #2 – Tyler Glasnow (4-3 1.51) vs. Julio Teheran (13-7 3.86)

The pitching edge goes to the Capitals and they build on the edge right from the start! Trey Mancini opens the game reaching on an E3 when the throw to the pitcher covering was a bit short! Then with 2 outs, Avasail Garcia hits a laser for a single. Corey Dickerson follows with the 1st of his 3 hits with a 2 run double and goes to 3rd on the play at home. Francisco Lindor then walks and Yadier Molina lines one through short for a rbi and it’s 3-0 Sacramento before Glasnow has to throw a pitch. But it gets better for the Capitals in the 4th. Two outs, Teheran still pitching and Mike Moustakas draws a walk. Garcia singles moving Moustakas to 2nd. Then Dickerson hits his 2nd double of the game and drives in 2 more – that’s 4 RBIs for him so far. And it’s 5-0 by now.

But that is about to change, somewhat. The bottom of the 4th Charlie Blackmon leads off with a double. With 1 out, Brock Holt grounds out moving Blackmon to 3rd. Dee Gordon then hits a dying quail to RF for a rbi. Then Robinson Chirinos lines one deep to RF, it’s got extra bases written all over it. Garcia chases it, but it clears the fence for a 2 run homer (1) and it’s now 5-3 Sacramento as Columbus gets back into the game. In the 5th, Steve Cishek (another late-season pickup) comes in for Columbus and holds the Capitals scoreless. Then in the bottom half, Asdrubal Cabrera leads off with a double. Glasnow gets D.J. LaMahieu and Trevor Story for 2 outs but then Blackmon singles driving in Cabrera and gets 2nd on a Trey Mancini miscue in the outfield. It proves costly as Giovanny Urshela doubles driving in Blackmon and the game is tied 5-5 after 5.

Cishek pitches one more inning and Yusmeiro Petit comes in for the 7th and nails down a perfect inning. Jandel Gustave comes in for the 7th runs into some issues. Cabrera leads off and reaches on a Mitch Moreland error at 1st. He then is safe at 2nd on a steal when LeMahieu misses the ball. LeMahieu than walks and that walk is followed by a Trevor Story 3 run homer (1) and an 8-5 lead. Liam Hendriks then tossed a perfect 9th for the save and 2-0 Columbus lead in the series.

SAC 5-7-2 LP Gustave (0-1)
COL 8-8-1 WP Petit (1-0) S Hendriks (1)

Columbus 8, Sacramento 2

Series shifts to Sacramento where the Capitals hope to turn things around!!

GAME #3 – Jordan Lyles (15-5 3.84) vs. Max Scherzer (14-10 3.05)

The game goes scoreless through 3 ½ but then Sacramento chips away at Lyles. It starts when Trey Mancini leads off and bangs a single to LF. With one out, Mike Moustakas steps in & takes a Lyles pitch the other way to deep LF, and Brock Holt turns and watches it not only go over his head but over the wall (1) as well, 2-0 Capitals! The 5th is scoreless and in the top of the 6th Robinson Chirinos leads off and takes Scherzer deep over the LF wall to cut it to 2-1. That was his 2nd homer of the series. Columbus then brings in Matt Shoemaker in the bottom half to keep it close. He starts out fanning Avisail Garcia but Mancini lines one down the RF line, fair, and it clears the fence for a solo homer (1) and the Caps regain the 2 run lead. Will it hold. Sacramento a bit leery of the bullpen keeps Scherzer on the hill for the 7th and Max responds by fanning Trevor Story to start the inning. Charlie Blackmon then draws a walk. After a flyout for the 2nd out, Holt steps up and bounces one to the right side that Mancini can’t reach. Starlin Castro knocks it down but it’s an infield single for Holt. Dee Gordon then comes up with 2 on, 2 outs, and grounds to Moustakas but he fires it right past Mancini at 1st and Blackmon scores to cut it 3-2 Caps. But Chirinos pops out to end the threat.

After Shoemaker couldn’t blank Sacramento in the 7th, the Explorers turn to Adam Ottavino. Francisco Lindor grounds out, Yadier Molina flies out but Castro gets a 2 out single for his 1st hit of the series. Scherzer is lifter for PHitter Wilmer Flores and he responds with a short fly to LF that falls in front of Holt and it bounds away from him and Castro scores making it 4-2. The 8th is a big double goose egg as Jacob Webb comes in for the Capitals and gives up a walk, but nothing else – in fact, Enrique Hernandez gets the walk and then gets nailed stealing. Sacramento failed to score in the bottom half so we move to the 9th.  Pedro Baez, the regular-season saves leader (28) gets the call and faces Story, Blackmon, and Urshela. He gets the 1st two but Urshela tags him for a single to right but Holt bounces into a 6-4 FC and the game is over and the Capitals have moved into the win column with a 4-2 victory. A 2-hitter from Scherzer!

COL 2-3-0 LP Lyles (0-1)
SAC 4-8-2 WP Scherzer (1-0) S Baez (1)

Sacramento 4, Columbus 2

GAME #4 – Homer Bailey (14-10 3.79) vs. Zack Greinke (23-6 2.52)

Opening 2 innings draw blanks as the teams do the 2 step, but in the bottom of the 3rd, Josh Reddick rips a single to RF that Urshela misplays, and Reddick ends up on 2nd. Mitch Moreland grounds one slowly up the middle for a single and Reddick scores to make it 1-0. Bailey leaves and Kyle Ryan comes in and he settled the Caps. But he starts the  4th and started it poorly. Mike Moustakas leads off with a solo homer (2) and it’s quickly 2-0 Sacramento. In comes Steve Cishek. He gets one but then Starlin Castro bunts one down 3rd which Asdrubal Cabrera misplays for an E5 and Castro is on first. Yadier Molina grounds out bringing up Greinke.  3rd out, right – NOPE. Zack homers (1) – no doubt about it – for 2 unearned runs and a 4-0 Capitals lead after 4. In the bottom of the 5th Francisco Lindor bloops a single and Moustakas launches his 2nd homer of the game (3) for2 more runs off Cishek and a 6-0 Sacramento lead.

Greinke goes 1 more inning, giving up 3 hits and 3 relievers blank Columbus for the final 2 innings and the Capitals win the game 6-0 and even up the series at 2 games apiece.

COL 0-3-2 LP Bailey (0-1)
SAC 6-9-0 WP Greinke (1-0)

Sacramento 6, Columbus 0

GAME #5 – Mike Fiers (11-9 2.93) vs. Tyler Glasnow (4-3 1.51)

In a 2-2 series is often the BIG game. Sacramento goes back with Troy Glasnow who had a 5-0 lead in game 2 only to lose that lead and later see his team go down 8-5 after a late-inning 3 run Columbus homer. So what does Glasnow do in this one? He misses a PERFECT GAME by 1 pitch. That pitch was resulted in a lead-off single in the 6th by Asdrubal Cabrera. That was the only blemish on his card and he fans 7 and pitches a complete game. Fiers was almost as good but in the 5th with 2 outs and no one on, Josh Reddick singles (his 2nd hit of the game). Corey Dickerson follows and blasts one way out the park for a 2 run homer (2) and a 2-0 lead. Turns out, that was all the scoring in the game as Matt Shoemaker and Liam Hendricks keeps it scoreless the last 3.  So Sacramento gets their 2nd straight shutout, 2-0, and takes a 3-2 series lead as they win all three in Sacramento. The Columbus bats have cowered real low under the weight of the Sacramento pitching and only get 8 hits and 2 runs in the 3 games on the West Coast.

COL 0-1-0 LP Fiers (0-1)
SAC 2-6-0 WP Glasnow (1-0)

Sacramento 2, Columbus 0

5 games into the series and the Explorers D.J. LaMahieu is hitless! But Josh Reddick (.417) and Corey Dickerson (.429) are leading the Capitals attack. So the series heads back to Columbus with the Capitals up 3 games to 2 and so far the home teams have won all the games.  Can that continue?

GAME #6 – Max Scherzer (14-10 3.05) vs. Julio Teheran (13-7 3.86)

Explorer fans drop to their seats quickly. Josh Reddick pops up into foul grounds to open the game and Trevor Story lets the ball pop out of his glove. Reddick then lines a single to RF. Mitch Moreland follows up with a big opposite-field homer (1) and two batters in it’s 2-0 Sacramento!  In the 2nd, Charlie Blackmon gets the home fans back on their feet when he leads off with a homer (1) over Avasail Garcia and over the wall and cut the score to 2-1. Columbus takes Teheran out after 3 for a pinch hitter and sends Matt Shoemaker out there to hold the Caps. Scherzer buckles down and after 5 the score still stands 2-1 Sacramento.

Liam Hendriks comes in for the 6th, and then in the bottom half of the inning, Trevor Story leads off hitting his 2nd homer of the series to tie the game.  However, Hendriks couldn’t hold the tie as Mike Moustakas leads off the 7th with his 2nd double of the game. One out later Starlin Castro singles and Moustakas slides around the tag at the plate and Sacramento regains the lead, 3-2.

We move to the bottom of the 8th and D.J. LaMahieu leads off, still hitless. Jacob Webb pitching and LaMahieu connects – it could be, but it falls a few feet short and rattles off the wall for a double and his first hit. However, Webb settles down and gets Story, Blackmon, and Giovanny Urshela to keep Sacramento up after 8, 3-2.

In the 9th with Adam Ottavino in for his 2nd inning, Francisco Lindor leads off with double deep to CF. With Moustakas up, Ottavino balks moving Lindor to 3rd, no outs. The infield is pulled in and Moustakas grounds to Story at short, Lindor breaks for home, the throw, the slide, the tag – OUT! One less run for Columbus to try and recover in the 9th. However, Garcia then works Ottavino for a walk and it’s runners at 1st and 2nd -1 out. But Ottavino gets Castro to fly out and Yadier Molina to pop out to end the top half. Sacramento just needs 3 outs to win the series and they give the ball to their closer Pedro Baez. Well, he doesn’t get it done as Ian Desmond leads off the bottom half with a solo homer (1) to TIE the game, 3-3. But then Baez shuts down the Explorers and it’s into FREE postseason baseball.

Yusmeiro Petit comes in for the 10th and pinch-hitter Melky Cabrera greets him with a line-drive single to RF. Delino DeShields, Jr. comes into PR, Eric Haase comes in to catch. Reddick grounds to the Petit who goes to 1st for the 1st out. Moreland then draws a walk to put runners at 1st and 2nd. Trey Mancini flies out and then Lindor grounds into a FC to end the inning. Jandel Gustave is not the Capitals hurler and he starts by fanning Enrique Hernandez. LaMahieu then dribbles one to 1stfor the 2nd out. Trevor Story up and he hits one to LF that might, it could, it carries to the wall, Mancini jumps – he comes down empty-handed and Story was hit a walk-off extra-inning homer (3), his 2nd of the game!  The series is now tied!

SAC 3-8-0 LP Gustave (0-2) BS Baez (1)     (10 innings)
COL 4-8-2 WP Petit (2-0)

Columbus 4, Sacramento 3 (10 Innings)

GAME #7 – Zack Greinke (23-6 2.52) vs. Jordan Lyles (15-5 3.84)

The TV sponsors and networks are thrilled, the series moves to 7 games, and so far filled with lots of drama.  Greinke makes his 3rd start – has been strong in both of the previous ones. Lyles will try to stay up with him as Columbus seeks to complete the comeback, nothing has been easy for them.

Both starters control the 1st two innings but in the 3rd, Lyles has to face Greinke in the batter’s box. Not good for Columbus but a big blasting boost for Sacramento as Zack hits his 2nd HOMER of the series and gives himself a big 1-0 lead! Lyles shrugs it off (but you can see he’s worried).  But he doesn’t allow anything else in his 5 innings.

Columbus fans begin to make noise the home team responds in the 5th. D.J. LaMahieu leads off with a single to RF. Giovanny Urshela singles him to 2nd. After Ian Desmond flies out, Robinson Chirinos launches one that Josh Reddick and Corey Dickerson begin to chase, but it’s no use as it flies into the stands for a 3 run homer (3) and a 3-1 Columbus lead!  So, it’s the top of the 6th, Columbus up 3-1, game 7, turn it over to Liam Hendriks! Greinke leads off and flies out, Reddick whiffs, but Corey Dickerson doubles to right-center. Trey Mancini walks and then Francisco Lindor singles to center field and drives in Dickerson and Mancini moves to 3rd, 3-2 Columbus. Mike Moustakas then bloops a single to TIE the game – and Hendriks is driven to the showers! Steve Cishek comes in, quells the riot, but the damage is done and the Capitals have climbed back to tie it up, 3-3!

Greinke has a new life with the score 3-3 as he comes out for the bottom of the 6th and he starts by getting Brock Holt to fly out. But then Trevor Story mashes a monster homer (4) and Columbus is back on top, 4-3. Greinke then gets Charlie Blackmon to ground out. But LaMahieu, who seems to have found a groove, doubles down the RF line. Urshela follows with a single to drive in LaMahieu and then he’s cut down at 2nd trying to advance. But the Explorers are now up 5-3. Columbus then brings in the defensive subs and after Cishek blanks the Capitals in the 7th, they turn it over to Yusmeiro Petit for the 8th (and 9th?). Jacob Webb and Pedro Baez gets the Caps through the 8th so we move to the 9th with Columbus up 5-3 needing 3 outs to wrap up the series!

Lindor leads off and grounds out on a great play by LaMahieu. But Mike Moustakas then drills a Petit pitch that clears Juan Lagares in RF and clears the wall, and Sacramento is now just one run behind. And when Avasail Garcia walks, Petit walks to the dugout and J.B. Wendelken trots in from the bullpen. Delino DeShields comes into PR, Eric Haase comes in to catch. With Yadier Molina up, DeShields steals 2nd. That was one of the very few successful steals in the game (and series – the catchers have been something more than amazing). Molina then takes advantage and delivers a base hit to RF, DeShields never hesitated and goes for home against Lagares great arm, but it was no contest as he crosses the plate standing up and the GAME IS TIED in the 9th.  The crowd moans! Still, just 1 out but Wendelken gets the next two batters so we go to the bottom of the 9th.

Oliver Drake comes in for Sacramento and he gets the first two batters but then pinch-hitter Asdrubal Cabrera singles but the rally ends when Matt Carpenter pops out.

Adam Ottavino comes in for the 10th and gets 2 Ks and a flyout. Drake still in and he gets 2 Ks and a flyout, so it’s on to the 11th!! Ottavino gives up a 1 out walk to Moustakas but that’s it. In the bottom half the Capitals turn the ball over to Kyle Hendricks and he sets down Columbus in order.

Top of the 12th – the crowd has not stood since the 9th, they are getting restless. Ottavino still hurling. Robinson Cano leads off with single and Schindel turns to a tired Matt Shoemaker and Mitch Moreland greets him with a single to RF moving Cano to 2nd.  Then Shoemaker throws the WP and the runners move up!  Columbus pulls in the infield and Josh Reddick steps up and chops one to 1st, only play is at 1st and the run scores and Sacramento takes the 6-5 lead and Moreland moves to 3rd! Corey Dickerson, along with Moustakas has been a wrecking machine, steps to the plate, and launches one high and far to RF. Lagares gets under it and catches it, Moreland tags, the throw – he’s OUT at home and that ends the top half – BUT THE CAPITALS TAKE the LEAD.

The bottom half, Hendriks looks to close it out. But Ian Desmond has other ideas and he leads off hitting a double off the wall in right-center! Cabrera then walks. Enrique Hernandez then comes into pinch hit for Shoemaker and he spanks one hard to the hole on the right side skipping it past Cano. Reddick fields it and Desmond heads for home, Cabrera heads for 3rd. The throw to the plate – SAFE – TIE GAME and Hernandez goes for 2nd on the play and is safe. So, no outs, runners at 2nd and 3rd, 12th inning, and it’s tied and it’s game 7. Capitals don’t bring in the infield as Eric Haase comes to the plate. Hendricks to pitch and throws it in and it gets by Molina for a PB, the ball goes to the backstop and Cabrera races home to score and WIN the GAME and WIN the series!!  The 12th inning is defined 1st for a WP and then by a PB!

SAC 6-10-0 LP Hendricks (0-1)   (12 innings)
COL 7-12-0 WP Shoemaker (1-0) BS Hendriks (1), Wendelken (1)

Columbus 7, Sacramento 6 (12 Innings)

SERIES SUMMARY –Well, this was an unbelievable series – both teams had big ups giving them momentum, but couldn’t follow up on it and then the final two in Columbus going to extra innings and then that wild 12th. Dickerson (.350, 2 hrs, 7 RBIs) and Moustakas (.296, 4 hrs, 7 RBIs) led the Capitals.  Story banged 4 homers and drove in 7 for the Explorers but the series MVP goes to Robinson Chirinos who hit .364, 3 homers, and 7 RBIs and seemed to be there when needed.

Congratulations to George on a great season and these games were all played live in one amazing sitting – and the heart rates of both managers took a long time to settle down.  Columbus now heads to Pittsburgh to take on the amazing Lumber guys who are prepped to batter their way to the World Series –  home town Columbus fans hope not and the quick drive between the two cities will be getting lots of use.

2020 NATIONAL LEAGUE DIVISION SERIES #1

Triple Creek Patriots @ Pittsburgh Lumber Kings

PittsburghSERIES PREVITriple CreekEW – One of the favorites and one contender showdown for what could be a beating, an upset, or just an all-around good series.   Which of these two teams will move forward?
GAME #1 – Kevin Gausman (9-8 4.09) vs. Hyun-Jin Ryu (16-6 1.31)

Kevin Gausman (3XY) pitches the game of his life, going 7 innings, allowing 4 hits, 0 walks, and 12 Ks.  Unfortunately for him, one of his four hits was a solo HR from Jorge Polanco.  And his opponent on the mount (Ryu) was just as good – going 6 innings with 2 hits, 6 Ks, and one run (also on a solo HR).  Hunter Wood comes in to relieve Gausman in the 8th and promptly serves up a 2-run gopher ball to pinch-hitter Ryan Braun – and just like that, it’s a 4-2 Pittsburgh victory.

Pittsburgh 4, Triple Creek 2

GAME #2 – Frank Montas (11-3 2.44) vs. Justin Verlander (23-3 1.93)

This one is all Pittsburgh, as they jump all over Frankie Montas, collecting 3 HR in the game for an easy 8-2 victory.  Justin Verlander goes 6 strong, allowing a pair of runs while striking out 9.  The Lumber Company collects 13 hits; Josh Bell is the big star with 7 total bases (3-4, 2B, HR, 2 RBI, 2 Runs).

Pittsburgh 8, Triple Creek 2

GAME #3 – Mike Clevinger (13-4 1.97) vs. Shane Bieber (13-9 2.72)

The series shifts to Triple Creek and Shane Bieber delivers the goods – a complete-game victory, striking out 10 and allowing only 5 hits.  Mike Clevinger doesn’t have his best stuff for Pittsburgh, as surrenders 4 doubles and a single in his 6 innings of work as the Patriots win it 4-2.

Triple Creek 4, Pittsburgh 2

GAME #4 – Sonny Gray (10-9 2.94) vs. Matt Strahm (15-11 3.68)

Sonny Gray quickly rights the ship for Pittsburgh, going the distance in a 5-0 shutout.  Gray allows only 3 hits while walking 2 and striking out 11.  Matt Strahm pitches well for Triple Creek, but the bullpen implodes late to let the game get away.  Lumber Company bats produce 3 HR (JUdge, Braun, Carson Kelly) in the victory.

Pittsburgh 5, Triple Creek 0

GAME #5 – Hyun-Jin Ryu (16-6 1.31) vs. Kevin Gausman (9-8 4.09)

Facing elimination, the Patriots send Gausman back to the hill hoping to catch lightning in a bottle again.  He pitches well but is nowhere near as dominant as he is pulled after 3 innings.  Meanwhile, Ryu is on auto-pilot, going 8 innings and only allowing 3 hits and a walk while whiffing 7 batters.  The Lumber Company pounds Brandon Workman in the 9th to turn a 1-1 tie into a 5-1 rout and win the divisional series 4 games to 1.

Pittsburgh 5, Triple Creek 1

SERIES SUMMARY – The series goes the way we all thought, as the Lumber Kings are just so strong that it wasn’t close.   Who do these Lumber Kings take on next?   Stay tuned.

2020 AMERICAN LEAGUE DIVISION SERIES #2

Chicago Mobsters @ Dallas Cougars

ChicagoDallasSERIES PREVIEW – Could two teams be more evenly matched headed into the American League Division Series?    Check out these numbers & see what you think for yourself.

Dallas 103 – 59 – .636 Winning Percentage – Chicago 101 – 61 – .623 Winning Percentage

Team Fielding: Dallas .986 – Chicago .983
Team Pitching: Dallas 3.58 – Chicago 3.82
Team Batting: Dallas .250 – Chicago .272

They played 12 games vs. each other in the regular season and the series was split 6-6.

This one is going to be a nail bitter & should go the distance if the oddsmakers are correct.

GAME #1 – Rich Hill (6-3 2.75) vs. Lucas Giolito (19-7 2.86)

Chicago got off to a quick 1-0 lead on a Joey Votto Home Run in the top of the 1st.
Back-to-Back-to-Back solo shots in the 6th by Votto, Alex Bregman & Yordan Alvarez were the only runs Chicago managed to put on the board.
Dallas’s Ramon Laureano had an RBI Double & a solo Home Run.   Lucas Giolito gave up 4 Runs on 6 Hits, but 4 of those were Home Runs.
Rich Hill cruised through 6 innings allowing only 1 Run. Chicago’s bullpen went the last 3 Innings allowing only 1 Run.
Aroldis Chapman came on in the 9th, walked one, but struck out 2 & closed the door.

Chicago 4, Dallas 2

W – Rich Hill 1-0
L – Lucas Giolito 0-1

GAME #2 – Julio Urias (8-2 2.75) vs. Patrick Corbin (20-8 2.85)

Julio Urias went 5 solid for the Mobsters before Noah Syndergaard came out of the pen to go 3 more strong.  Both Urias & Syndergaard both allowed a single run each.   Chicago’s pen let up 2 late runs.  Ramon Laureano & Victor Robles both had Home Runs for the Cougars.  Patrick Corbin went 4.1 but was pulled early after a little twinge in his arm & some noticeable discomfort.  The call went to Dallas Keuchel who pitched well allowing only 2 Runs in his 4.2 Innings of work   Chicago had big games from both Nelson Cruz (3 for 4 with 2 Home Runs, 3 Runs Scored, & 4 RBI’s) along with Danny Santana (2 for 5 with a Home Run, & 3 RBI’s).  Hunter Pence chipped in with a solo Home Run for the Mobsters.   

Chicago 8, Dallas 4

W – Julio Urias 1-0
L – Patrick Corbin 0-1

GAME #3 – Zach Plesac (12-6 3.04) vs. Trevor Bauer (16-13 4.33)

Zach Plesac was masterful for the Cougars going 7.1 Innings allowing only a solo Home Run to Yandy Diaz.   Dallas’s bullpen went the final 1.2 Innings allowing nothing on the board, not even a blip in the box score.   They simply came in (Jose Alvarez, Chris Martin, & Casey Salder) & shut the door down on the Chicago squad.   Trevor Bauer pitched O.K. (6.2 Innings 4 Runs) for Chicago, but ultimately it was the lack of offense on the Mobsters side of the board that did them in.

Dallas 4, Chicago 1

W – Zach Plesac 1-0
L – Trevor Bauer 0-1

GAME #4 – Chase Anderson (13-4 3.01) vs. Rich Hill (6-3 2.75)

This was the turning point for the series.  Dallas jumped out to an early 2 to 1 lead after 1 Inning of play.  The Cougars then did the damage on the Mobsters. scoring 2 more in the 2nd, 1 in the 3rd.   Chicago chipped back with 1 in the 4th, but it wasn’t going well for the Mobsters even though they were keeping it close at 5-2 after 5 innings of play.  Then Dallas had the big inning.  4 Runs in the 6th gave the Cougars a 0-2 lead after 5 & a half innings.   Chicago was not done.   They had something left in the tank & picked up 3 of their own in the bottom of the 6th.   So after 6 full innings, it was Dallas 9 – Chicago 5.   The 7th was scoreless for both squads.  Top of the 8th Dallas was held off the board.  Chicago on the other hand had their big offensive inning. 4 Runs, putting the score even or knotted at 9 each after 8 Innings of play.  Top 9 Dallas scratches out a walk, but nothing more.   Chicago’s longtime catcher Buster Posey is pinch-hit for to lead off the bottom 9th, the crowd going wild, Yandy Diaz steps to the plate & takes Chris Martin deep to left for a Walk-Off solo Home Run to finish the comeback at 10-9.    

Jose Abreu was 3 for 5 with a Home Run & 3 RBI’s as was Victor Robles as well for Dallas. Will D. Smith had a solo Home Run for Dallas.

For Chicago besides the Walk-Off by Yandy Diaz, Danny Santana was the man with 2 Home Runs, 5 RBI’s.  Yordan Alvarez & Niko Goodrum both had Home Runs.

Chicago 10, Dallas 9

W – Felipe Vasquez 1-0
L – Chris Martin 0-1

GAME #5 – Lucas Giolito (19-7 2.86) vs. Julio Urias (8-2 2.75)

From all that offense, including a Walk-Off win to a pitchers duel is where the end of Game #4 & Game #5 came & went.   Lucas Giolito was dominant for the Cougars striking out 11 Mobsters in 7 Innings of work.   The Cougars triple threat bullpen Jose Alvarez, Chris Martin, & Casey Salder came in for the 8th & 9th & once again did the Mobsters dirty by allowing only a couple of Hits in 2 Innings of work.

Ramon Laureano had a Home Run & 3 RBI’s in the top of the 1st Inning.   It was all the Cougars needed.   Chicago couldn’t muster up anything more than a run in the 5th & 8th.  Marcus Stroman was spectacular in relief of Julio Urias who was pulled after 6 batters faced & 1 full inning of work.   

Dallas 3, Chicago 2

W – Lucas Giolito 1-1
L – Julio Urias 1-1

GAME #6 – Patrick Corbin (20-8 2.85) vs. Julio Urias (8-2 2.75)

As was mentioned above in the series preview how close could these two teams be?  Chicago holds a 3-2 lead in the series & we’re headed back to Dallas for Game #6.   No score after 5 full innings of play, Chicago chimes in with a single run in the 6th & Dallas roars back with a pair of runs in the bottom half.   An Alex Bregman Single scores Niko Goodrum in the 8th to knot this one up at 2 apiece after 8.   

Scoreless in the 9th this one heads to the 10th.   (Again how close are these two teams?)   

Nelson Cruz is the man in the 11th for Chicago with a solo Home Run giving the Mobsters a 3-2 lead.   Aroldis Chapman who was called upon for the 10th starts off the 11th getting the 1st out of the Inning before facing Cougars Pinch-Hitter Wil D. Smith.   Smith does exactly as Cruz did for Chicago, he takes Chapman over the fence to tie it up again.   3-3 after 11 innings of play. 

In the 12th a one-out walk to Andrew McCutchen followed by a textbook HIt-&-Run by Andrelton Simmons puts runners at the corners for the Mobsters.  Dallas Keuchel facing Francisco Mejia who lofts a lazy flyball to left.   Is Cutch going to go?  Yes, he’s headed for the plate.  Here comes the throw home … and he’s … just safe under the tag, McCutchen scores the go-ahead run.  Mejia picks up a sac fly and an RBI on what should not have been a run, but the hustle of long time Mobster veteran Andrew McCutchen gives the Mobsters a 4-3 lead.

Chapman climbs the hill for the bottom of 12th & quickly gets two outs before facing Dallas Cougars All-Star first baseman Jose Abreu.   After falling behind 3-0 & not wanting to groove one to the beast in Abreu, Chapman decides he won’t & he goes after Abreu with a fastball to the ribs.   Bamn, Abreu goes down.   Chapman gets tossed & barks over at Abreu about getting up & stop being a baby.    The bench clear & more words are exchanged, mostly in Spanish.  Chapman is hurried into the Chicago clubhouse before anything else happens & things settle down as Abreu is now the tying run on at first base with two outs.   A.J. Pollock is the batter & he will face freshly in from the Mobsters bullpen Carlos Matias Martinez.    Bottom 12, down 4-3, 1 one, 2 out, A.J. Pollock has the pressure on him, as well as does Martinez.    The Pitch, it’s hit, groundball to shortstop, Andrelton Simmons fields it, throws over to first & that does it.   Mobsters win in 12 Innings.

Chicago 10, Dallas 9 (12 Innings)

W – Aroldis Chapman 1-0
L – Dallas Keuchel 0-1
S – Carlos Matias Martinez #1

SERIES SUMMARY – Back to what was said in the Series Preview.   How close could these two teams be?  Dallas scored 40% of their runs early in the game in the 1st 3 Innings of play.  Chicago’s pen was solid for them allowing only 6 runs after the 6th Inning of play.   That was part of the difference in this one.  Chicago scored 41% of their runs in the middle innings and 38% of their runs in the 7th or later.  Both teams batted under .230  – Chicago .230 & Dallas .220.  The other major factor in Chicago taking the series was the power.   Chicago had 16 Home Runs in the 6 game series.   Dallas had 9.    Chicago’s team ERA was 3.47, Dallas was 4.18.   Two good teams, two close teams all around.   Chicago just came out on top with a 4-2 series victory.    

Chicago will head to Hollywood where they will take on the Werewolves for the American League Championship Series!

2019 AMERICAN LEAGUE DIVISION SERIES #1

Southbend Lynx @ Hollywood Werewolves

Hollywood2020SouthbendSERIES PREVIEW – AL West rivals Hollywood and Southbend face off in the Division Series round for the second time in Southbend’s history.  The last time they faced off Hollywood won the series 4 games to 2.  Southbend is looking for revenge to come 7 years later

 

GAME #1 – Michael Foltynewicz (10-5 4.71) vs. Charlie Morton (21-7 2.77)

With Southbend having to run out their 2-aces, Jeff Samardzija and Jordan Yamamoto, in the Wild Card round, they turn to Mike Foltynewicz to face off against Hollywood’s Ace-A, Charlie Morton.  Morton cruises through the top of the first and Freddy Galvis leads off the bottom of the first with a single.  Hanser Alberto follows with a single and Hollywood has runners at first and second with Cristian Yelich coming up. He bounces into a double play as Galvis moves to third.  Ketel Marte comes through with an RBI single to right and Hollywood leads 1-0.  It stays that way until the costly bottom of the third.  With 1-out, Galvis doubles and scores on an Alberto single. Yelich comes up and is hit by a pitch, knocking him out for 5 days. Hollywood weathers the storm by then running up the score on Southbend with 2 in the fourth, 3 in the sixth, and 3 in the eighth, blowing out Southbend 10-0.  Morton goes 7.1 innings, giving up 2 hits and striking out 10.

Hollywood 10, Southbend 0

W – Charlie Morton 1-0
L – Michael Foltynewicz 0-1

GAME #2 – Jeff Samardzija (18-4 2.96) vs. Clayton Kershaw (18-5 2.68)

With Hollywood leading the series 1 game to nothing in a blowout, they hope they can get back in it.  Mark Canha helps give Southbend a shot of adrenaline when he homers off Clayton Kershaw in the second inning.  It stays that way until the sixth when Eduardo Escobar doubles home Bo Bichette, giving Southbend a 2-0 lead. The game stays that way as Hollywood doesn’t mount much of a comeback.  Jeff Samardzija is utterly brilliant in his 2-hitter, 2-0 victory.

Southbend 2, Hollywood 0

W – Jeff Samardzija 1-0
L – Clayton Kershaw 0-1
S – Roberto Osuna (1)

GAME #3 – Diego Castillo (5-5 3.26) vs. Jordan Yamamoto (6-3 3.36)

Southbend is riding high after taking game 2 and turn to Yamamoto to keep the momentum.  Hollywood jumps on top with a Matt Olson 2-run homer in the second inning.  Castillo appears to be unhittable and Hollywood looks to get that game back.  He takes a no-no into the 5th inning and Hollywood can hear the announcers start talking no-hitter when Ryan Cordell singles to lead off the inning.  The game stays 2-0 Hollywood into the bottom of the 7th inning when Austin Meadows leads off the inning with a triple off Joe Smith.  Smith, is pulled when he walks Max Muncy.  With both Brandon Kintzler and Carlos Estevez warming up in the bullpen, Hollywood contemplates the strikeout artist Estevez, but opts for Kintzler who was his bread and butter guy all season to get them out of jams.  Unfortunately, the gamble did not work.  Eduardo Escobar hammers a triple to deep right to drive in both and tie the game at 2!  Jake Cave follows with a double (his only hit of the series) to give Southbend the improbably 3-2 lead! Estevez comes in and does what he does…getting a groundout than 2-strikeouts, but the damage was done!  Southbend adds a run in the 8th on a Muncy homer and a 4-2 lead.  Tyler Duffy and Osuna shut the door and Southbend holds on to win 4-2.

Southbend 4, Hollywood 2

W – Marcus Walden 1-0
L – Brandon Kintzler 0-1
S – Roberto Osuna (2)

GAME #4 – Charlie Morton (21-7 2.77) vs. Michael Foltynewicz (10-5 4.71)

. In a rematch of game 1, Hollywood is hoping for a similar result, while Southbend is looking to take a 3-1 series lead.  In the top of the second, Marte leads off with a single, steals second and after 2-outs, Matt Olson hammers one down the left-field line for the 2-0 lead.  Southbend cuts the lead in half in the 4th inning when Muncy hammers his second homer of the series.  Hollywood receives another crushing blow when Paul Goldschmidt gets hurt reaching over the railing to catch a ball.  Fortunately for Hollywood (already down Yelich) he is only injured for the rest of the day.  The game stays 2-1 into the top of the 7th when Matt Chapman walks to lead off. Kyle Farmer (Goldschmidt’s replacement) then walks.  With 1-out, Alex Gordon bounces into a force play, but that puts runners at the corners.  With the hit-and-run on, the ball gets passed Meibrys Viloria scoring Chapman from third and a 3-1 lead.  Stevie Wilkerson (Yelich’s replacement) singles to score Gordon and a 4-1 lead. Hollywood tacks on 3 more in the 8th to take a 7-1 commanding lead.  They close the game out without incident and the series is tied at 2.

Hollywood 7, Southbend 1

W – Charlie Morton 2-0
L – Michael Foltynewicz 0-2

GAME #5 – Clayton Kershaw (18-5 2.68) vs. Jeff Samardzija (18-4 2.96)

In a rematch of game 2, this is the pivotal game as someone will take a 3-2 series lead back to Hollywood.  In Game 4, Hollywood made the unconventional move of batting their backup catcher, Tom Murphy leadoff, hoping to jumpstart the offense.  After that win, they didn’t want to mess with the success, so they have him leading off game 5, and boy does it pay off.  Let’s listen to the call…… MURPHY facing SAMARDZIJA.  SAMARDZIJA winds up … there’s a fly ball to left … Chris OWINGS drifts back … still back-peddling….hey, this ball may carry … at the fence … OWINGS jumps for it … does he have it? … no! a home run for MURPHY and Hollywood leads 1-0!  Kershaw has a lead before ever taking the mound. The crafty veteran uses his pitches to limit Southbend to 1-hit over 7 innings.  Chapman is hit by a pitch to lead off the 7th inning, and with 2-outs, Olson delivers his 3rd home run of the series to make it 3-0.  He follows with another in the 9th (his 4th) to give Hollywood a 4-0 lead.  They really only needed the Murphy homer that led off the game as the bullpen was brilliant.  Sam Tuivailala and Will Harris close it out and Hollywood takes the lead in the series 3-2.

Hollywood 4, Southbend 0

W – Clayton Kershaw 1-1
L – Jeff Samardzija 1-1

GAME #6 – Jordan Yamamoto (6-3 3.36) vs. Diego Castillo (5-5 3.26)

This was by the best game of the series, no matter what the outcome would have been.  A re-match of game 3. Each side trades ‘ZEROES’ into the 5th inning.  Looking to tie the series, Cordell leads off with a double.  With Russell Martin coming up, Hollywood’s pitching coach walks to the mound.  Apparently whatever he said didn’t work, so let’s listen to the call. MARTIN facing CASTILLO…CASTILLO turns and fakes the throw to second … CORDELL hits the dirt! he’ll have to brush off a bit … CASTILLO’s back on the rubber … CASTILLO rocks and fires a towering fly ball to left-center … it’s back … way back … gone! … home run for MARTIN.  CASTILLO kicks the rubber … not happy with that pitch … Russell MARTIN will circle the bases and he’s sure taking his time … he’s greeted at the plate  Southbend is up 2-0.  Castillo is then pulled for Dustin “Gingergaard” May.  He promptly gets out of the inning trailing only 2-0.  With 2-outs in the 5th, Galvis steps in.  Something to know about Galvis was that he lost the leadoff spot recently cause he hadn’t been hitting and was moved down in the order, as was Matt Chapman. Galvis singles with 2-outs and Chapman steps in.  The pitch … CHAPMAN lines one deep to right … MEADOWS got a long way to go … still after it…he’s on the track … and it clears the fence! … Matt ties the game! … home run for CHAPMAN…he seems to like base runners! Hollywood ties the game at 2! The game stays that way into the bottom of the 9th.  Tyler Duffy on the mound and Paul Goldschmidt leading off the 9th.  The pitch … and GOLDSCHMIDT takes DUFFEY for a ride … going back is CORDELL … he’ll look but he won’t touch it … it’s all over … it’s long gone! … Paul trots around the bases…he loves a trip downtown … he claps his hands.   Hollywood wins the walk off 3-2!

Hollywood 3, Southbend 2

W – Adam Kolarek (1-0)
L – Tyler Duffey (0-1)

SERIES SUMMARY – Hollywood wins the series 4 games to 2.

CHRISTMAS CLASSIC
SATURDAY 12/26/2020
AT 10:00 AM - ET!


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