Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Well, I've lost sleep, I have no fingernails left and I have eaten way too much beef jerky in the last two days, but the Phillies came through in dramatic fashion again last night to take the series 3-1 and put a quick end to the month of Rocktober. In a playoff round with very little drama, the Phillies and Rockies made things very interesting and some heroes stepped forward. As did some goats (Tulo, Street). Let's take a more in depth look at the Phillies/Rockies series, as well as look forward to both the ALCS and NLCS.
What a series. The Phillies in Rockies were very evenly matched, and ultimately the series came down to a slight pitching advantage for the Phillies. Both teams sure could hit. I'm pretty happy I don't have to here the name Carlos Gonzalez again until next year, and Yorvit Torrealba officially has become the most annoying player in baseball. Partially because of his clutch hitting (where was that all season?), but mostly because of his stupid parlor games behind home plate. Nobody was falling for your stupid fake set ups Yorvit. Torrealba paled in comparison to the annoying Rockies fan in the Fargo winter hat behind home plate though. Did anybody else see him? He was yelling at the ump to call strikes on pitches in the dirt, and waving a towel or moving spasmodically before every pitch a Phillies player made. That kid made me want to remember when I had my first beer, as well as fly to Denver, take a cab to the Historic Ballpark District, buy a ticket from a scalper, walk to my section behind home plate, have the usher show me my seat, then repeatedly punch that kid in the face until my entire arm was covered in blood, then head down to the Blake Street Tavern to celebrate.
I apologize for that rant. I had to get it off my chest though. In the end, the Phillies hitting was just a little more clutch than the Rox. Howard, Utley and Victorino were great, but Jayson Werth (see the resemblance?) really stood out in this series. Of course he had the game winning hit last night (someone please help me find a picture of him on first base celebrating after the hit) but it seemed that during every at bat he had the potential to get a hit, if not a homer. If there were an NLDS MVP, Werth would be the man. Moreover, the pitching that was a huge question mark for the Phils turned out to one up the Rockies. Cliff Lee looked like Cole Hamels of last year, and the much maligned Lights Out Lidge had 2 saves while Huston Street, whom the announcers were sweating all series, blew two huge saves. That was the difference my friends.
Coming into the NLCS, there is no reason why the Phils can't send the Dodgers packing again this year. However, there are a few that need to happen if this is going to occur. First and most frustrating, the Phillies need to play better defense. I don't know how many bunts and infield singles the Rockies got because of misplays by the Phils D. It seemed every time Todd Helton was up, he hit a little dribbler but got on base somehow because of a defensive miscue. The Phillies need to get the sure outs and work on their fielding a little bit more. Just play smart. Secondly, we need the Hamels of old back. In a 7 game series, the Phils can't rely on only Cliff Lee. We need a bit of that 2008 Hamels magic. Do it for your son! If those two things can come to fruition, I see no reason why the Phils bats can't beat the Dodgers into submission in 5 or 6 games. Just as an aside, I would love to see a Pedro vs. Manny showdown, as well as a encore of "The Home Run".
In the ALCS, we have the Evil Empire against a team on a mission from gahd. Both teams swept their way to the ALCS (why they aren't playing yet eludes me), and kncoked around some top flight closers in the process. As far as MVPs go, Torii Hunter has got to be the Angels most valuable player. His shot in game 1 was a thing of beauty and sent the message that the Angels are for real. For the Yanks, despite A-Rod's coming out party (pun intended), I gotta give the MVP to Jeter. He is the epitome of the Yankees in the playoffs and seems to get all of his hits at the right time. Moreover, he is an amazing leadoff hitter and is the model of patience at the plate. He didn't strike out once, and his two run jack to tie it up in game one seemed to suck the life right out of the Twins. It was all downhill from there.
In the Championship series I still like the Angels. They have a rotation of 4 great pitchers and a lineup that can certainly compete with the Yankees. I think CC is due for a let down game, as his past stats have shown, and the Angels 4 switch hitters will make for very tough outs for all of the Yankees pitchers. Look for John Lackey to continue to pitch very well, Mike Scioscia to out manage Joe Girardi, and the big man from Naples (Mike Napoli) to get some big time hits. The Angels will continue to ride the memory of their lost teammate Nick Adenhart and take the ALCS in 7.
Let's hope that both of these series are as good as the Rockies/Phils series. If so, we are in for some amazing baseball.