Tuesday, November 28, 2006

AL Action- Classic Division

Entering this series, the Yankees seemed to have retaken control of the AL Classic division, while Cleveland had all but clinched the AL Modern division. To the action!

Yankees-Browns: St. Louis began action in 6th place, but with an inexplicable advantage over New York through the season. That continued, to the Yanks dismay, as the Browns took 3 of 4, including two in extra innings. Ken Williams went 8-20 in the series, Eddie Foster adding an 8-17 performance. The Browns won big (11-6), small (2-1 in 10) and in between (5-4 in 12). While New York was still in first place at series' end, they lost a big chance to put Baltimore and Boston away...

Orioles-Red Sox: ...because they were playing one another. Boston and Baltimore split the first two games before Buck O'Brien captured his 22nd win for the Sox, tied for the league lead. Baltimore did get Boog Powell and Frank Robinson back from injury for this series, though they lost Paul Blair in the second game. Blair is likely out for the season, though could possibly return for the playoffs.

Nationals-Tigers: The hits kept falling in during this series. Four different Washington players had three-hit days, while five Detroiters pulled off the stunt (including a four-hit, five RBI day by Pete Fox). The Tigers erupted for 17 runs in the course of salvaging the final game, and remain mathematically in contention, 6 games back in fourth place.

White Sox- Phil. Athletics: The series started promisingly for Philadelphia, as George Earnshaw (19-16) pitched a one-hit shutout in a game sloppily played by Chicago (with four errors). The Pale Hose came back to sweep the remaining games, however, foiling Lefty Grove's bid for his 23rd win by scoring two in the 9th, then erupting for four in the first inning the next day to win in less-dramatic fashion. Buck Weaver was 6-12 in the three games, including the only hit off of Earnshaw.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Edging closer to the postseason: the NL

Pittsburgh-New York Giants: The Pirates put some room between themselves and their pursuers by taking two from the Giants. Ginger Beaumont was 5-9 with 4 RBI in the two games, and is second in the league in batting at .342. They head home to Exposition Park to host Philadelphia. The Giants remain at the Polo Grounds for a visit by Montreal.

Boston-New York Mets: Things did not go well for the reigning champs. A big third inning highlighted by a 3-run home run by Keith Hernandez led to an early exit for Boston ace Nichols in game 1, and El Sid struck out 11 in 6 1/3 before giving way to Sisk and McDowell. George Foster and Wally Backman each had 3 hits, including a homer by Foster. In the second game, it was Kevin Mitchell who single-handedly doomed the Beaneaters, driving in all 6 runs on a double, triple, and homer. Backman added two more hits. The Beaneaters cling to their hopes for unseating Pittsburgh, returning home to meet Atlanta. The Mets travel to Brooklyn.

Atlanta-Montreal: A Tuesday rainout led to a Wednesday doubleheader, swept by the Expos. Two home runs by Andres Gallaraga were for naught, though he now sits in third place in the league in that category. Jeff Fassero pitched masterfully for the 'spos in the nightcap, combining with John Wetteland for a three-hit shutout. Maddux was the hard luck loser in the 1-0 final, lowering his ERA to 1.93 and only giving up an unearned run (thanks to Chipper Jones)... Atlanta is now 4.5 back, with 11 to play.

Brooklyn-Philadelphia: The Dodgers and Phillies split their two games. hit two home runs in the first game, helping Curt Schilling get a complete game victory (he's now 9-11) and dropping Brooklyn under .500. They came back in game 2, but still find themselves mired in 4th place. Dolph Camilli leads the NL in batting average, slugging and on-base percentage, making him the odds-on favorite for the MVP, despite Brooklyn's standing.

Chicago-Houston: The Cubs took two from the last-place Astros, Ed Reulbach going the distance in an 11-inning game to win game 1, Pfiester striking out 14 to win game 2. Unsurprisingly, there wasn't much to cheer for as a Houston fan, though Craig Biggio did hit a 3-run home run and David Bell did have a 4-4 day...

Milwaukee-San Diego: The Braves took two, despite playing very sloppily. Danny O'Connell made 2 errors and his teammates added 3 more before all was said and done. But it was Rickey Henderson's dropped fly ball that doomed the Padres in game 1, wasting a 3-5 day by Wally Joyner (including a home run). Bob Buhl shut the Pads down in game 2, with Del Rice's homer providing all the offense he'd need.

Los Angeles-San Francisco: The two ancient rivals split their two games, the Giants scoring 1 run in each, but winning 1-0 in game 1. John Burkett pitched masterfully, making Don Sutton the hard luck loser. Game 2 saw Steve Garvey's three run home run iced the game for the Dodgers after Bill Russell singled home Steve Yeager in the 7th.

St. Louis-Cincinnati: The Cards eked out a split, as their poor play carried on. The Reds took advantage of 6 walks in the first game and Ken Griffey banged out three hits in game 1, while it took brilliant pitching by Johnny Beazley and a homer by Stan Musial to sneak to a 2-1 victory in game 2. The Cardinals are hoping to return to .500 against the Milwaukee Braves, while the Reds hope to catch Los Angeles and move into third place as they host San Francisco.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Edging closer to the postseason: the AL

Rather than cover every game, I figure updating after every series makes more sense. So here's the situation as it stands:

Yankees-Orioles: Split the last two games, Ruffing winning for the Yankees powered by home runs by Rolfe and Selkirk, Palmer striking out 9 in preventing the sweep. The Yankees ended the series up 1.5 games over the Birds.

Red Sox-Tigers: Also split their last two (a pattern we'll see often). Speaker was 4-6, but a rain-shortened game gave Gorsica a 5-inning complete game win (in which he drove in both of Detroit's runs)... Boston 2.5 back, Detroit theoretically still alive at 6.5 back (but a long, long shot at this point).

White Sox-Browns: Hey, another split! Chicago's bats come alive for a rare double-digit outburst in game 1, with Ed Cicotte the beneficiary. A homer by Ken Williams and a couple of hits from George Sisler (and 4 from Marty McManus) give game 2 to St. Louis.

Philadelphia Athletics-Nationals: Hey, not a split! Philly's pitchers shut down the potent Washington offense, Lefty Grove shutting them out and Rube Walberg limiting them to 1 run in the second game. Foxx homered twice, Simmons ended the series at .379.

Mariners-Indians: Seattle managed to split their last two games with Cleveland, but that left them 5.5 behind with only 12 games left. Nagy shut down the Mariners for 7 innings, while the Indians crushed Jamie Moyer in game 1, Joel Piniero shut Cleveland out, but again--- too little, too late? Cleveland's magic number is 8, and the Mariners are the only team in the division with a mathematical shot at the title other than the Indians.

Twins-Rangers: Minnesota took two from Texas, a well-pitched game preceding a slugfest. Kaat and Zepp got the winse for the Twins, while the Rangers wasted a big day from Toby Harrah (4-5, 2 HR, 3 R, 3 RBI)...

Angels-Royals: The Royals scored 11 runs in two games against California, and were never close. The Angels, unfortunately for Kansas City, scored 26 runs in the same two games... Reggie Jackson crushed Royals pitching to the tune of a 7-10 performance with 4 runs and 5 RBI, 3 doubles and a home run. Bobby Grich was only 2-10, but drove in 6 thanks to two homers. Fred Lynn drove in 5. The Royals also lost Willie Wilson to injury in the process.

Blue Jays-Oakland A's: Oakland were the anti-Angels, not only scoring zero runs in two games, but only managing 4 hits in the process. Things started poorly for Toronto as they lost Dave Steib before the first pitch was thrown, but Mark Eichhorn pitched amazingly in "relief" with 7 scoreless innings before giving way to two perfect innings by Tom Henke. Jimmy Key went the distance the next day. Frustratingly for the A's, their pitchers did very well, only allowing 5 runs and 10 hits in the two games, themselves. Toronto shut them out in the preceding game, too...