Brooks Conrad looks down after his 3rd error of the game (AP Photo/Dave Martin)
Once again the Braves and Giants had a pitcher’s duel going as their starters maintained a firm grip on the game as Jonathan Sanchez set the pace for the Giants holding the Braves to two hits and a run in 7.1 innings work and Tim Hudson holding the Giants to an unearned run in 7 innings work.
Jonathan Sanchez dominated the Braves for 7 innings (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
The Giants led by a score of 1-0 until the bottom of the 8th inning scoring their run in the second inning when Mike Fotenot tripled and then scored on Brooks Conrad’s fielding error on a Cody Ross ground ball. The lead held up until with one out in the 7th Sanchez gave up a single to Alex Gonzalez. This brought in Sergio Romo to face pinch hitter Eric Hinske. With a 0-2 count Hinske drilled a shot just over the right field wall next to the foul pole to give the Braves a 2-1 lead. This sent the fans at Turner Field into a tomahawk chop frenzy, the Braves dugout was celebrating and the Giants appeared to be thunderstruck. Sanchez appeared to be in shock and others were shaking their heads.
Aubrey Huff drives in the tying run off of Mike Dunn with 2 outs in the top of the 9th (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
The Giants came up in the bottom top of the 9th inning to face Craig Kimbrel. Kimbrel got leadoff batter Cody Ross to pop out to second for the first out. Travis Ishikawa pinch hit for Romo and drew a walk. Kimbrel then struck out Andres Torres for the second out. With the crowd roaring Kimbrel had Freddy Sanchez down to his last strike when Sanchez singled up the middle to keep the Giants in the game. That was all for Kimbrel who turned the ball over to left hander Mike Dunn to face Aubrey Huff who hits left handed pitchers like piñatas. Huff was behind in the count but ripped a slider on the outside corner into right field where it dropped in from of right fielder Jason Heyward to score Ishikawa. Dunn was done in by the hit and Bobby Cox brought in Peter Moylan to get Buster Posey. Moylan did his part; Posey hit a sharp ground ball to Conrad which went between his legs into right field allowing Sanchez to score giving the Giants a 3-2 going into the bottom of the 9th. With the exception of scattered boos for Conrad the crowd sat in stunned silence and all the energy disappeared from the Braves dugout.
Freddy Sanchez celebrates with Nate Schierholtz after scoring the go ahead run (AP Photo/John Amis)
The Giants brought in Brian Wilson to close the game and Wilson back in form shut down the Braves to get the save and give the Giants a 2-1 series lead. The teams will meet Monday with the Giants’ rookie Madison Bumgarner (7-6 3.00 ERA) going against Derek Lowe (16-12 4.00 ERA) in what could be the final game of Bobby Cox’s long career. One wonders if the Braves can rise to the occasion.
Derek Holland watches Even Longoria after Longoria hit a two run homer in the top of the 5th inning Sunday
The Tampa Bay Rays after losing the first two games of their series against the Texas Rangers at the Trop have come back to even the series at two as they won game four of the series at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. The Rays had excellent pitching from Wade Davis and the bullpen quartet of Randy Choate, Grant Balfour, Joaquin Benoit and Rafael Soriano which limited the usually hot hitting Rangers to just 2 runs on 8 hits. The Rays were lifted by the clutch hitting of Evan Longoria who broke out of his slump with a 2 run homer in the 5th inning off of Rangers’ starter Eric Holland. Carlos Pena and B.J. Upton add RBI doubles and the Rays were aided by an error by Ian Kinsler which allowed Carlos Pena to score in the 2nd inning. The Rangers offense was hamstrung by their inability to drive in runs when they needed them the biggest chance having the bases loaded in the bottom of the 5th with two outs but not scoring when Vladimir Guerrero struck out swinging to end the inning.
The teams will now go back to Tampa and Tropicana Field for the finale of their series on Tuesday evening. The Rays have the momentum; the Texas bench looked defeated on Sunday afternoon. However, the Rangers will start Cliff Lee who held the Rays to one hit and a run in 7 innings work against the Rays in Game one. Lee will face David Price who gave up 4 earned runs including two home runs against the Rangers in game one. Momentum goes to the Rays, but the pitching edge goes to the Rangers. This one is anybody’s series to lose. I picked the Rangers to win the series and still stand by that because of Cliff Lee. We’ll see if I am right on Tuesday night.
Still smiling, Mariano River and Yankees seal the deal again (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
The ALDS series between the Yankees and Twins ended about as I expected it to end, another humiliating defeat for the Twins at the hands of the Yankees. As I said on my prediction the “Twins cannot beat the Yankees with a stick.” Once again that proved to be the case as the Twins lost their 12th straight playoff game. They had an excellent record but did not do well at the end of the season and that carried into the ALDS. Once they lost a 4-0 lead with Francisco Lariano on the hill in game one the writing was on the wall as to how this series would end. The looks on the faces of the Twins players and Manager Ron Gardenhire showed it all and from that moment on they were toast. If one wants to beat the Yankees or for that matter any other good team one has to believe that they can win against them. The Twins unlike the lowly Orioles don’t believe they can beat the Yankees. That is the difference, until the Twins start believing they can beat the Bronx Bombers they will be the perpetual victim in the ALDS or ALCS whenever they face them. The Yankees won 6-1 on Saturday with Phil Hughes holding the Twins to just 4 hits in 7 innings work. The Yankees hitters cranked out 12 hits to get the 6 runs including 2 home runs, one each by Nick Swisher and Robinson Cano.
The Thrill of Victory (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Deep in the heart of Texas the Rays kept their hopes alive against the Rangers. The Rangers took a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the 7th on an Ian Kinsler home run. It seemed at that point that the momentum had shifted to the Rangers and their usually very effective bullpen. That did not happen, the usually strong bullpen surrendered 2 runs in the 8th and 3 more in the top of the 9th to give the Rays a 6-2 lead. The Rangers scored another run on a Nelson Cruz solo home run. Rays starter Matt Garza was effective through 6 innings and relievers Randy Choate, Joaquin Benoit and Rafael Soriano limited the Rangers to just 1 hit and allowed no walks in the final three innings.
The Agony of Defeat (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
The Yankees now get a few days off before they play the winner of the Rangers-Rays series. Today the Rangers and Rays play in the first of three Divisional Series games with Tommy Hunter (13-4 3.73 ERA) going up against Wade Davis (12-10 4.07 ERA).