Saturday, December 29, 2007

Championship Series, Game 6

The action switched back to Cleveland for Game 6. As expected, Ed Reulbach got the call for the Cubs in this must-win situation. The Indians opted to hold Dennis Martinez for Game 7 and trust in Charles Nagy to try and bring the Cloverland League championship to the Forest City.

The game was a taut one through 5. Chicago scratched out a run in the 2nd on a single by Johnny Kling (who took 2nd on a misplay by Manny Ramirez), a sacrifice by Frank Schulte, and a bloop single by Johnny Evers. The Indians threatened in the bottom of the inning, putting men on 2nd and 3rd with one out before Ramirez grounded hard to Tinker and Sorrento ended the inning with a strikeout.

Nagy ran into more trouble in the 6th, walking Steinfeldt to open the inning, who came around to score on a single by Schulte after a fielder's choice. Nagy again escaped without further damage thanks to yet another baserunner kill by Manny, who nailed Schulte at the plate after a single by Slagle to end the inning.

Nagy gave way to Alan Embree in the 7th, and Embree made the Indians' job much harder by walking the two men he faced, loading the bases. Julian Tavarez made matters that much worse by hitting Chance to drive in a run, giving up a single to Steinfeldt, and walking Kling before giving way himself to Assenmacher. One fielder's choice and one double play later, Cleveland had escaped, but with a 6-0 deficit.

Overall entered in the 8th and kept Cleveland down as the Cubs added another run off of Ken Hill in the 9th. In the end, Chicago held the Indians to 4 hits, setting up a climactic Game 7!
Carl Lundgren is slated to start for Chicago, Dennis Martinez for Cleveland. There was some speculation that Reulbach was lifted to allow him to pitch in relief in Game 7, but he's not likely to be available unless the Cubs have run out of pitchers.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Championship Series, Game 5

Rain! And more rain! The weather forced the cancellation of Game 5 in Chicago, and didn't allow a resumption the next day, either. Since there are no double-headers in post-season baseball, everything got forced a day later, screwing up everyone's travel and hotel reservations. Luckily, this is just a simulation. :)

It does, however, allow games to be played with the rotations. This will probably be seen for Game 6, but the best strategy will clearly depend on the situation after Game 5...

And this is a post about Game 5, though there's no evidence for that yet...

Knotted at two games a piece, the Cubs sent Miner Brown to the mound. While he was among the NL leaders in ERA during the season, his post-season has been less stellar: an ERA of 3.76 entering Game 5, with a 1-1 record. Since the Cubs have only been scoring 2.3 runs per game, this is not so good... The Indians countered with Orel Hershiser, whose postseason ERA of 1.19 augured much better results, or so the Cleveland fans hoped.

Chicago manufactured a run in the 2nd as the light-hitting Evers singled, stole 2nd, and scored on a single by the even lighter-hitting Slagle. The Cubs threatened to add more as Slagle stole 2nd and went to 3rd as Alomar's throw went into center field, but Hershiser ended the threat on Tinker's popout. Orel settled down thereafter, only allowing one more hit before being lifted for a pinch-hitter in the 7th.

To that point, Brown had been throwing a gem, shutting down the Cleveland offense. With Manny Ramirez on first after a walk, Eddie Murray doubled for Hershiser. Brown bore down, inducing a grounder from Kenny Lofton. Ramirez, going with contact, was gunned down at the plate by Tinker. Could the Cubbies escape?

Omar Vizquel said no. His single scored Wayne Kirby, running for Murray. Carlos Baerga followed with a double, putting the Indians up 3-1. Tempting fate, or perhaps addled, the Cubs challenged Albert Belle rather than walking him with first base open. Luckily for Chicago, Belle could not capitalize.

The Cubs tried to come back in the 8th, but aggressive baserunning did them in. Fred Schulte reached first on a dropped popup by Alomar, who then airmailed yet another throw into the outfield as Schulte stole 2nd. This time, however, Manny Ramirez' alert backup (those words have never been written before) caught Schulte trying to take the extra base.

So it came to the 9th and Jose Mesa, who promptly allowed a single to Frank Chance. After a Steinfeld popout, and Chance taking 2nd on fielder's indifference, Johnny Kling's single closed the score to 3-2. Cleveland took control thereafter, however, as Alomar finally caught a runner at 2nd and Mesa retired Evers. The Indians are one win away.

Game 6 will be back at Jacobs Field. The Cubs will pretty clearly have to start Reulbach in an attempt to keep their season alive. Cleveland, by contrast, will likely keep Dennis Martinez for a possible Game 7. It's likely Nagy will get the start in recognition of his yeoman work in the post-season so far.