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Cain is Able: Matt Cain and Giants down Phillies 3-0 Take NLCS Lead

Cain is Able: Matt Cain shuts down Phillies to win NLCS Game Three

Expert after expert picked Phillies ace Cole Hamels to master the San Francisco Giants while giving faint praise to Giants starter Matt Cain in game three of the NLCS at AT&T Park this afternoon. It seems that no matter what the Giants do to win they can get no respect from the baseball media establishment. First it was that they would finish no better than 4th or if they were lucky 3rd in the NL West. Then while some predicted them to defeat the Braves in 4 or 5 games is was almost a derisive pick figuring that even if the Giants got by the Braves that they would be no match for the mighty Phillies. Well that sports fans changed today as the great hope of the established sports media Cole Hamels and the vaunted Phillies lineup fell to the underdog, no name San Francisco Giants in a three hit shutout.

Aubrey Huff and Cody Ross  celebrate in the 4th inning. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

The heroes for the Giants were predicable first there was Matt Cain who was given faint praise before the game by every commentator that I listened to. Cain pitched 7 innings giving up just 2 hits and no runs pitching out of a couple of tight jams that might have sent another pitcher scurrying for cover. When Cain was done Javier Lopez and Brian “Fear the Beard” Wilson came in to shut down the Phillies. On the offensive side of the house it was Hamels’ nemesis Cody Ross who with two outs in the bottom of the 4th inning singled to drive in Edgar Renteria. Ross was followed by Aubrey Huff who also had an RBI single to give the Giants a 2-0 lead against a pitcher that the experts said would shut them down. The Giants got another run in the bottom of the 5th inning when Aaron Rowland doubled and then scored from second with two outs on a fielding error by Chase Utley. 

Brain Wilson gets his 4th save of the post season (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

After that it was the Giants pitching, Cain, Lopez and Wilson that shut the Phillies down.  The middle of the Phillies order had 2 hits a single by Ryan Howard and another by Jimmy Rollins. The Giants staff struck out 7 Phillies and walked three with Cain hitting two batters.  Hamels gave up just 5 hits but surrendered runs with 2 outs in the 4th and 5th innings. 

The Giants now have a 2-1 series lead with rookie Madison Bumgarner facing Joe Blanton in game four of the series Wednesday night. Blanton has not pitched since September having been left off the NLDS roster by Phillies Manager Charlie Manuel.  There is talk that Manuel may move Roy Halladay up in the rotation on short rest but as of this moment Blanton is the scheduled starter for the Phillies.  The Giants now have a psychological advantage over the Phillies as they know that they can beat Halladay who has not beaten the Giants this season and has a career worst record against them as opposed to any other team.  If the Giants win tomorrow over Blanton then it will come down to a duel between Halladay and Tim Lincecum who has proven that he can handle the Phillies.  

Matt Cain has to be feeling good as in 14 innings of playoff baseball this year he has yet to allow an earned run.  The Giants have made this series very interesting and I expect them to continue to surprise the Phillies and the baseball media establishment in the days ahead. I predicted this series to go to seven with the Giants taking it but I could be wrong, it might go just 5 or 6 games.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Phillies and Oswalt Down Giants 6-1 Even Series

Roy Oswalt shut down the Giants givig up just three hits in 8 innings (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

The Philadelphia Phillies smarting from their game one loss against the San Francisco Giants evened the NLCS with a 6-1 win on Sunday night.  The game was actually much closer than the final score would indicate as the Giants were only down 2-1 until the bottom of the 7th inning when the Phillies chased Jonathan Sanchez from the game scoring their third run against the Giants starter.  With no outs the Giants sent in Ramon Ramirez who gave allowed a sacrifice bunt, a intentional walk and a single to score Roy Oswalt. With one out Jeremy Affeldt relieved Ramirez and the normally solid Affeldt after striking out Ryan Howard with two runners on base intentionally walked Jayson Werth to get to the slumping Jimmy Rollins loading the bases.  Rollins though delivered a double to right center which cleared the bases to give the Phillies a 6-1 lead.

Cody Ross goes yard for the third time in the NLCS (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

Roy Oswalt continued his stellar performance since coming to the Phillies holding the Giants to one run, a home run by Cody Ross and just 3 hits while striking out 9 batters.  Oswalt got the win and Sanchez the loss, his first against the Phillies this year.  The series resumes in San Francisco on Tuesday afternoon with Phillies ace Cole Hamels on the hill to face Matt Cain and the sea of orange and black at AT&T Park. I picked this series to go 7 games so it should be interesting.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Padre Steve’s MLB LCS Picks

The Vicar of the Church of Baseball Harbor Park Parish makes his LCS Predictions

Well baseball fans it is time to pick who I think will be in the 2010 World Series.  This year we have the heavyweights, the New York Yankees the defending World Series Champions and the Philadelphia Phillies who won the Series in 2008. The Yankees will be facing the upstart Texas Rangers who are fresh off their first playoff series victory in franchise history while the Phillies face the irrepressible collection of unknown underdogs the San Francisco Giants.

The NLCS

“The main idea is to win.” John McGraw

Roy Halladay no-hit the Reds has his worst record against the Giants of any team that he has faced more than 3 times

Both of these series will be fascinating to watch and should provide baseball fans with some memorable moments. The teams took different paths to get the LCS.  The Phillies as expected took the NL East in a convincing manner going 97-65 in the regular season and having one of the best trios of starting pitchers seen in the Majors for a long time.  The Phillies defeated the Cincinnati Reds sweeping the Big Red Machine in the NLDS.  Despite this the Phillies, apart from the great pitching of Roy Halladay and Cole Hamels were not impressive hitting only .212 against a rather lackluster Reds pitching staff. The Phillies scored only 13 runs on 16 hits in that series, just a fraction above 4 runs a game but only 7 of those 13 runs were earned runs, the rest came as a result of the Reds abdication of something that is known as defense. To skew the numbers even more 4 of those earned runs came in a 1.2 inning period against Reds game one starter Edinson Volquez. Remove those 4 runs and the Phillies scored just 3 earned runs in 25 innings. The Phillies had a .301 OBP and an anemic .273 SLG against the Reds. In the series the Phillies had just one home run, that coming from Chase Utley who led the team in RBIs with 4 in the series. Only one other player had more than 1 RBI and that was Shane Victorino with three. Ryan Howard and Chase Utley led the team’s position players tied with a .273 batting average. Phillies starters had a 1.17 ERA while the team staff had a collection 1.00 ERA.

Jonathan Sanchez beat the Phillies twice in 2010 in a convincing manner (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

The Giants are the dark horse of the playoffs in fact if you look at all of the “expert” predictions no one had the Giants finishing better than 4th in the NL West behind the Padres, Dodgers and Rockies. The team was a collection of no-names at the start of the season save their starting pitching rotation of Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Barry Zito and Jonathan Sanchez.  During the regular season and at the trading deadline the Giants went and picked up a bunch of journeymen rejected by other teams leading Padres ace Matt Latos to call them a team made up of “mercenaries.” Since the Giants have gotten little respect most of the year why should they now? The Giants went 92-70 in the NL West taking the division on the last day of the season from their nemesis the San Diego Padres.  The Giants get to the NLCS after gutting it out in four one run games against the Atlanta Braves, a team so evenly matched in most departments in a series that was arguably one of the most filled with tension and exciting in recent divisional series history.  Like the Phillies the Giants hitting was weak hitting .212 and scoring 11 runs 7 of which were earned on 23 hits. Rookie Buster Posey led the team in hitting with a .375 batting average followed by Cody Ross at .286 and Aubrey Huff at .267.  The Giants had a .288 OBP and .295 SLG against the Braves. Giants starting pitchers had a .089 ERA in the series and the team staff had a collective 1.66 ERA.

In the Regular season the Phillies went 97-65 but there is a caveat 25 of those 97 wins came against the Nationals and Marlins. Remove those two teams stats out of the equation and the Phillies are 72-54 against the rest of the league.  The undoubtedly a great record but over a quarter of Phillies wins came against two bad opponents. Now I am not dissing the Phillies in any way as it would have been criminal if they even were close to having a .500 record against them. The Giants went 92-70 and like the Phillies they beat up on their division’s cellar dweller the Arizona Diamondbacks with a 13-5 record.  The only team in the league that had the Giants’ number was the Padres who the Giants edged out on the last day of the season for the Division title.

Playing against common NL opponents the Phillies went 84-54 against the Giants went 82-57 and the teams were 3 and 3 against each other in 2010.  In those 6 games the Phillies had 28 runs to the Giants 27, 45 hits compared to 60 for the Giants and 2 errors against the Giants 4.  But I think the real key is how the starting pitchers did in head to head matchups against the opposing team and I find these numbers to be interesting.

W-L             IP       H         ER      BB      SO      HR         ERA

Hamels     Phi      0-1             20        11        9        5        15         1         4.05

Sanchez    SF        2-0            13       5         2        6         8         0             1.38

Cain           SF        0-1           6        7        5        1          4         1               7.50

Blanton     Phi      1-0           6.1     8        2         2         7         2              2.95

Zito            SF        0-1          5          8        4         4         0         0             7.20

Oswalt      Phi       1-0          7           6        3          3        7        2             3.86

Lincecum   SF       0-0          8.1        3         2         2        1       11           2.22

Moyer        Phi      0-1          6          10        4         4        1        2            6.00

Wellmeyer  SF      1-0          7           3          2         2        4        0           5.27

Halladay      Phi      0-1        7           10        5         5         0        1           6.43

“The only thing that matters is what happens on the little hump out in the middle of the field.” Earl Weaver

In the coming series the pitching rotations tentatively have Lincecum against Hallady in game one, Sanchez against Oswalt in game 2, Cain against Hamels in game 3 and Bumgarner against Blanton in game 4. Both managers have not ruled out pitching either Halladay or Lincecum on short rest. The Giants have a stronger bullpen but Giants closer was banged around by the Phillies worse than any of his other opponents.

Padre Steve’s NLCS Pick

I think this series goes 7 games and I hate to try to pick a winner based on these numbers. All the experts are picking the Phillies in 5 or 6 games but I don’t know if they will manage that based on the statistics. My heart lies with the Giants but the Phillies do have more pop in their bats. In the starting pitching it looks like the Giants have the edge in the head to head match ups.  Also the Giants did not have a good number of new players in their first two games against the Phillies. I am going to be the odd guy out and I will probably be wrong but I am going with the Giants to upset the Phillies in seven simply because the Giants have nothing to lose in this series, none of the real experts expects them to win. I expect Lincecum and Sanchez to be the difference and for Hamels and Halladay not to do as well against the Giants as they have the Reds and their own division. If the Giants lose the series then people will say that I didn’t know what I was talking about and forget these picks by game one of the World Series. If not people will say that I am a genius or incredibly luck. Either way I’m okay with this pick.

The ALCS

“You got to get twenty-seven outs to win.” Casey Stengel

Cliff Lee Owns the Yankees (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)

In the ALCS we have the Yankees (95-67) looking to secure their chance to get in the World Series and win in for the 28th time going up against the playoff novice Texas Rangers (90-72).  The Rangers walked away in a weak AL West race and the Yankees finished as the Wild Card winner just behind the Division champs, the now eliminated Tampa Bay Rays. The Yankees rolled by the Minnesota Twins in the ALDS humiliating the Twinkies again proving as I said in my ALDS prediction that the Twins can’t beat the Yankees with a stick.  The Rangers defeated the Rays in a close series that went the full five games with their ace, Cliff Lee being the difference maker. The Yankees swept the Twins in a one sided series where they outscored the Twins 17-7 and outhit them 36-21 with their pitching staff having a 1.73 ERA against the Twinkies.  Phil Hughes was dominate in 7 innings work in game three while Andy Pettitte showed that he had recovered from injury and was effective in game two. C.C. Sabathia was banged around in game one but had the good fortune to have Yankees hitters come on strong. Mariano Rivera was simply lights out.

The Rangers won the AL West and faced the AL East champion the Tampa Bay Rays. This was the only series to go five games and the first division series to do so since 2005.  It was also a series where no home team won a game on its own field, so much for home field advantage.  In the series the 21 runs on 44 hits and committed 5 errors against the Rays 13 runs on 37 hits and 5 errors.  The Rangers pitching staff had a 2.40 ERA and was led by Cliff Lee and C. J. Wilson.  Lee was 2-0 in the series going 16 innings giving up 2 runs on 11 hits with a 1.13 ERA.

Mariano Rivera and the Yankees look to down the Rangers and try for their 28th World Series Title (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

In the regular season the Yankees went 84-60 and the Rangers went 76-68 against common AL opponents.  The teams went head to head 8 times splitting 4 games each. The Yankees swept the Rangers in mid-April and split a pair in mid August with the Rangers sweeping the Yankees at home in September. The Yankees pitching staff gave up 33 earned runs on 51 hits in those 8 games with a 4.23 ERA against the Rangers.  The Rangers pitching staff gave up 37 earned runs on 63 hits with a 4.62 ERA. The only pitcher to completely dominate the Yankees was Cliff Lee just as he did in the 2009 World Series when he was with the Phillies.

The Rangers had a regular season team ERA of 3.93 giving up 636 earned runs, 163 home runs and 551 walks.  In the hitting department the Rangers had a .276 team batting average, a .338 OBP and .491 SLG driving in 787 runs on 1556 hits of which 455 were extra base hits including 162 home runs.

The Yankees pitching staff had a team ERA of 4.06 giving up 651 earned runs and 179 home runs.  The Yankees hitters had a .267 team batting average, a .350 OBP (the best in the AL) and a .436 SLG producing 859 runs on 1485 hits including 508 extra base hits of which 201 were home runs.

Padre Steve’s ALCS pick

All things considered the teams match up well but no matter how well Cliff Lee pitches I see the Rangers losing in 6 games. However if the Series goes to 7 games and the Rangers can pitch Cliff Lee a third time I think that they will steal the AL Pennant from the Yankees, but they have to get to game 7 or they will not will the series.  My pick is the Yankees in 7 setting up an old fashioned World Series between two historic franchises the San Francisco Giants and the New York Yankees. What baseball fan besides Phillies and Rangers fans wouldn’t want to see that?  The last time the Giants and Yankees faced off in the World Series was 1951 when the Giants were still in New York which the Yankees won as well as 1936 and 1937 both of which were captured by the Yankees. One has to go back to 1921 and 1922 for the last times that the Giants defeat the Yankees in the Series, the last time that the Giants won a series was 1954 against the Indians.  A Giants and Yankees series might even bring back the ghosts of baseball past who will float into the New Yankee Stadium and AT&T Park remembering the old Yankee Stadium and the Polo Grounds with great fondness while those still living from the 1951 series like Willie Mays and Yogi Berra see their successors battle it our.

Peace,

Padre Steve+

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Hamels and Phillies Sweep Reds as Hamels Pitches 5 Hit Shutout

Cole Hamels celebrates his 5 hit shut out of the Reds (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Well it went down like I said. I predicted that the Reds might win one game but thought that the Phillies just might sweep and the Phillies delivered.  Cole Hamels the number three man in a three man playoff rotation for the Phillies dominated the Reds not quite as much as Roy Halladay who pitched the no-hitter against the Reds in game one, but still an absolutely dominating performance. Reds pitchers were also good but were not helped by their defense in the 1st inning when Orlando Cabrera’s errant throw on a routine ground ball pulled first baseman Joey Votto off the bag allowing Placido Polanco to score.

The score would remain 1-0 until the top of the 5th inning when Chase Utley hit a solo home run to center field to make the score 2-0. The play was reviewed by the umpiring crew for possible fan interference but the home run stood as there was no interference. The closet the Reds came to scoring was Brandon Phillips almost hit one in the gap to left center with no outs and a runner on first but was robbed on a brilliant catch by Shane Victorino. They had one more opportunity with 2 outs in the bottom of the 7th Ramon Hernandez doubled and the Reds put Bronson Arroyo into the game as a pinch runner. Arroyo was left stranded when Jay Bruce lined out to right.

Drew Stubbs cannot grab Chase Utley’s 5th Inning home run (AP Photo/Al Behrman)

Hamels remained in the game to get the complete game shutout as the Phillies pitching absolutely dominated the Reds. Phillies starters allowed just 10 hits and just four runs, all of which came in game two against Roy Oswalt. The Phillies hitters were not overpowering getting just 6 earned runs but their defense which had been the best in the National League was abysmal.  They had 7 errors, 6 in games two and three which cost them 7 runs, the difference in the series.  They should have at least gained a victory in game two but blew it defensively.

The series came down to fundamentals in the field and pitching. Both teams had pitching though the Phillies had the better of the two teams but for a team which had a .988 fielding percentage in the regular season to give up 7 errors in three games was unimaginable.  I expected that the Phillies would dominate Reds hitters but I did not see the defensive collapse coming.  The Phillies will now wait to see the victor of the Braves and Giants series which might be as early as this evening.

Peace

Padre Steve+

 

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Ooops…Who Hit the Self-Destruct Switch? Four Errors and 3 Hit Batsmen Doom Reds, Phillies Win 7-4

Jay Bruce misses a fly ball in the 7th inning (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

The Cincinnati Reds looked like that they had cracked the code on how to beat the Phillies after having been no-hit by Roy Halladay on Wednesday.  Tonight they went up against Roy Oswalt and drove the Phillies veteran out of the game after 5 innings.  Combining solo home runs by Brandon Phillips and Jay Bruce as well as some “small ball” took a 4-0 lead and looked like they were going to cruise to victory in game two of their NLDS series against the Phillies. Then someone somewhere flipped the self-destruct switch.

Once that happened in the 5th inning the Phillies got on the board with 2 runs.  In that inning the with 2 outs and Bronson Arroyo in control the Phillies were aided by back to back errors on Brandon Phillips and Scott Rolen to load the bases giving Chase Utley the chance to drive in 2 runs with a two out single.

The pain continued for the Reds in the 6th inning when Jayson Werth walked to lead off the inning and after Jimmy Rollins popped out Arroyo left being relieved by Arthur Rhodes who struck out Raul Ibanez for the second out. Werth stole second then Rhodes hit Carlos Ruiz in the knee to put runners at first and second.  Ben Francisco came in as a pinch hitter and Logan Ondrusek relieved Rhodes. Ondrusek then hit Francisco in the bill of his batting helmet just about an inch from his head in what could have been a tragic play. Instead it loaded the bases to bring up Shane Victorino. Ondrusek then walked Victorino to make the score 4-3.

Jayson Werth Scores (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)

Things got worse for the Reds in the 7th inning. They brought out rookie fireball pitcher Aroldis Chapman to face Chase Utley and Ryan Howard. Chapman hit Utley in the forearm with a 101 mile an hour fastball to put the lead runner aboard. Chapman sent Howard down on strikes.  This brought Jayson Werth to the plate; he hit a ground ball that Utley beat out at second to put two aboard. Jimmy Rollins came to the plate and hit a line drive to right field that Jay Bruce who committed an error simply missing the ball to score Utley while Werth scored when Brandon Phillips dropped the relay with Rollins taking . Raul Ibanez singled Rollins to third and Carlos Ruiz hit into a fielder’s choice to score Rollins. Chapman then gave up a single to Mike Sweeney before being relieved by Nick Masset who got Shane Victorino to ground out leaving the Reds behind by a 6-4 score.

The Phillies got an insurance run in the bottom of the 8th when with 1 out Chase Utley singled and stole second. Masset intentionally walked Ryan Howard and Jayson Werth singled to score Utley before Masset retired the side.

The Phillies brought in closer Brad Lidge and after walking the leadoff batter sent the next three batters down in order to secure the victory and get the save. Phillies reliever Jose Contreras got the win while rookie Aroldis Chapman got the loss.

The Reds meltdown which included 4 errors which led to 5 unearned runs and 3 hit batters who all scored.

The Phillies now go to the Great American Ballpark where on Sunday Cole Hamels (12-11 3.06 ERA) will try to get the sweep against Johnny Cueto (12-7 3.64 ERA).  The last time Hamels faced the Reds he won the game giving up 6 hits and allowing no runs in 7.2 innings work. Things do not look promising for the Big Red Machine.

Peace

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Roy Halladay No-Hits the Cincinnati Hitting Machine

Roy Halladay- Scary Good…just look at the face (NY Daily News)

“The only thing that matters is what happens on the little hump out in the middle of the field.” Earl Weaver

Roy Halladay continues to do what the Philadelphia Phillies acquired him to do. Halladay who went 21-10 with a 2.44 ERA striking out 219 and only walking 30 in 250.2 innings of work has been the man in an outstanding starting rotation. Halladay is what I would call scary good and is one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball. On Wednesday evening he did what no one has done in 54 years; pitch a no-hitter in the playoff. The last time this happened was when journeyman pitcher Don Larsen threw a perfect game in Game 5 of the 1956 World Series against the Brooklyn Dodgers on October 8, 1956.

Halladay faced the Cincinnati Reds a team that hit led the NL in average (.272), runs (790), hits (1515), home runs (188), slugging percentage (.436) and second in on base percentage (.338).  The Reds offense has been explosive but a lot of their success has been against their divisional opponents, although they were dominated by their rival the St. Louis Cardinals and they had a losing record against every other playoff team in the league.

Halladay shut the Reds down in a big way only walking one batter while pitching 104 pitches striking out 8 on the way to the victory.  His fastball dominated the Reds with good movement and velocity the entire game averaging 92 miles an hour with 79 of his 104 pitches being strikes.

This is nothing new as in his last 10 appearances Halladay went 8-2 pitching 75 innings giving up 25 runs during that run only walking 8 batters and striking out 61. If by some chance the Reds get by Oswalt and Hamels they have to face Halladay yet again.  Things do not look good for the Big Red Machine.

Peace

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Padre Steve’s 2010 ALDS and NLDS Predictions

Note: Sorry for the delay in this post, most was already written but I spend the majority of the day on the road to West Virginia where we are taking some time to relax in between my assignments. I look forward to getting some rest and recreation, some good PT, a bunch of writing and take in a Marshall University football game while here.


It’s that time of the year again sports fans. After picking the Division and Wild Card winners it is time to get down and dirty as Padre Steve makes his picks to win the divisional races.  Last year I I did pretty well. During the playoffs and World Series I only missed one series picking the Angels to beat the Yankees in the ALDS based on their seasonal record in head to head games, especially those in Anaheim. That was the only wrong series pick that I made and when it came to the World Series I only made one mistake picking the Yankees to win game one versus game two.  When it came down the last game it was as if I had inside information, if you don’t believe me take a look at those posts, but I digress.

As I said last year I always try to be dispassionate about my picks even if I am for a particular team. This year I am praying that the Giants go all the way but this will not influence how I predict the series that they play in.  So here are my picks to get to the ALCS and NLCS from the division series.

In the American League:  Minnesota (94-68) versus New York (95-67). The Yankees will take the Twins in 4 games. The Twins have been the best team in the American league during the back half of the season and the Yankees have done well but have not been spectacular during the stretch. The Yankees are starting to show their age but the Twins have not been able to beat the Yankees with a stick. They are 2 and 14 against the bombers in the past two years and the Yankees have dominated the Twinkies in the playoffs in a very ugly manner.  I think that the Twins win one game but that the Yankees take them in four, though I cannot rule out a sweep.

Texas (90-72) versus Tampa (96-66):  The Rangers will take this in four. The Rays have the best record in the American League but were 28-28 from August 2nd until the end of the season. The Rangers were marginally better but play in a weak division whereas the Rays won the toughest division in baseball where ever the last place team had the best record in the division in the same time span. However, it comes down to Cliff Lee and hitting. The Rays starting pitching is marginally better in their ERA but their ERA was much lower post All-Star break than before and they are hitting only .236 since the All-Star break. Contrast this with the Rangers who are hitting .274 since the break and 3.89 ERA.  Cliff Lee ate up the Rays today and the free swinging Rangers are tailor made to win in the Trop.  If the Rangers take game two in Tampa the Rays are toast when they go to Arlington.

The National League: Philadelphia (97-65) versus Cincinnati (91-71). The Phillies have the best starting pitching in baseball and have been phenomenal since the beginning of August, the best record in the Majors. The Reds are a hitting machine leading the league in average (.272), runs (790), hits (1515) and home runs (188) but have a history of being dominated by the trio of Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels.  Today Halliday pitched a no-hitter against the Reds and I expect that Oswalt and Hamels will also dominate. Bottom line the Phillies have the chance to get a sweep. I think that the Reds may win one at home but that the Phillies pitching will dominate and that their hitting will be more than adequate to deal with the rather pedestrian Reds pitching staff.  The most interesting thing will be seeing flamethrower Aroldis Chapman face Ryan Howard and the Phillies in the late innings.

Finally we come down to San Francisco (92-70) and Atlanta (91-71).  The Braves go into this banged up without Chipper Jones or and without much in the way of hitting but want to win for their legendary Manager Bobby Cox.  Their leading RBI producer is Brian McCann who has 77 for the entire year, 32nd in the NL.  The teams are evenly matched in hitting but the Giants have the best ERA in the NL and were even better in the second half of the season.  Pitching matchups favor the Giants and with the first two games at home they have the edge. Their pitching staff also has the best road ERA in the NL.  The Giants have continued to improve during the second half of the season adding key players and the Braves as I said are pretty dinged up.  Add to this the fact that in September and October the Giants were 19-10 while the Braves limped across the line with a 14-16 record for the same period. This is a harder series to call because of how evenly matched the teams are but I pick the Giants in four based on roster strength and how they are trending though the Braves might take it to five before falling to the Giants.

Of course I could miss the whole thing, but I try to take the emotion out and look at the stats and in most occasions the stats tell the truth.  I don’t think that I am missing anything and the ALCS should be the Yankees against the Rangers and the NLCS the Phillies against the Giants.  I will analyze those series when these are complete and factor in any roster moves and injuries incurred during the divisional series as well as how the teams are trending.

Peace

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