Baseball Toaster was unplugged on February 4, 2009.
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Mercy, the excitement. Russell Martin flying in the air to congratulate an ebullient Manny Ramirez on scoring from first base on James Loney's double at the start of Saturday's National League Division Series finale. Jonathan Broxton in full roar after striking out Alfonso Soriano to end the game. The fans. It was some night.
Make no mistake - there was tension. Martin nearly got himself thrown out at third base on Ramirez's first-inning single - I'm told replays indicated he was out - a play that could have turned the entire evening around.
Beyond that, one of the weird aspects of Saturday's game was that Hiroki Kuroda was getting two strikes on numerous hitters without being able to close them out. The crowd would rise, waving their rally washcloths, but the batters kept making contact. My brother and I looked at each other at one point and said to each other, "This isn't working."
Then in the fifth inning, after surviving by getting outs at just the right time (the Cubs left six runners on in the first four innings), Kuroda got hot. He got his first strikeout of the game to close out a one-two-three fifth, then whiffed the final two batters in a perfect sixth.
That Kuroda was getting hotter as the game went on set up Joe Torre for a potential series-changing trap. Leading 3-0, the Dodgers had Blake DeWitt on third base with two out and Kuroda due up. Kuroda had passed the 90-pitch mark, which meant that he only had about 20 pitches left in him - the equivalent of one inning. But impressed by the previous two innings, Torre let Kuroda bat for himself.
The worst happened. Kuroda struck out, then got only one out in the top of the seventh, leaving with runners at first and second (admittedly, Ryan Theriot reached on what could have been ruled an error on Rafael Furcal). Suddenly, the Cubs had the tying run up.
The reason that Torre could have pinch-hit for Kuroda is the reason he was able to get by without pinch-hitting for him. Cory Wade, once again, did the job, retiring Soriano and Mike Fontenot (the latter on a flyball over a hesitiating Matt Kemp's head that he jumped to catch.)
From the moment he brought Wade into the game, Torre managed the bullpen perfectly. He didn't worry about roles. He didn't worry about what inning it was. He just looked at who was most likely on the staff to get the next out. He used Wade until it was Broxton time (after the Cubs finally scored with two out in the eighth, and had the tying run at the plate again), and instead of taking Broxton out just because it was the ninth inning, he kept him in.
This was not a vote of no-confidence in Takashi Saito. It was recognition that you don't take out a pitcher who has his best stuff and has only thrown six pitches, just because it's the Closer Inning.
Some Broxton games are better than others. This was one of his best. Hopefully, it was on a big enough stage for people to remember.
* * *
You always hear talk about hitting with runners in scoring position. But a huge key to this game was the Dodgers' pitching with runners in scoring position. Think about it: the Cubs stranded runners on second or third in the first, third, fourth, seventh and eighth innings of a 3-1 loss. The Dodgers dominated this series, but this was a game won by a razor-thin margin.
The Dodgers only needed to use seven pitchers to get their 81 outs, including Saito, who got none. Wade and Broxton pitched in every game of the series, a luxury they won't have in the next round. But do not fear. The team has weapons it didn't even use this past week.
* * *
In speaking with Tony Jackson of the Daily News, Ned Colletti passed some credit for the NLDS victory to his scouts.
"There are two unsung heroes in all this, and they are (special assistants) Toney Howell and Vance Lovelace," Colletti said in the clubhouse as champagne sprayed in all directions around him. "They were (advance scouting) those guys (the Cubs), and they did a wonderful job learning them and finding out everything about them. Toney was on them for a couple of weeks, and Vance was there for eight or nine days. They brought that information to the coaching staff and the manager, and they executed it to a T. Toney and Vance have a love and a passion for it, and they apply that day in and day out.
"I hated to say goodbye to Toney and Vance, but they have moved on to watch a couple of other clubs now."
* * *
So, remember when it looked like Rafael Furcal would not play again for the Dodgers this year, and it looked like his best chance for returning to the team might be on a one-year, prove-himself-again contract? With the playoffs, Furcal is reemerging as an elite free agent, which might mean Dodger fans should enjoy him while they still can. Ramirez, Furcal, Derek Lowe - three leading cogs that all might be on their way out after this month.
* * *
From Tom Singer at MLB.com: "Of the previous 21 teams to sweep Division Series, only nine went on to LCS triumphs, six of eight in the AL but only three of 13 in the NL."
* * *
So who was your NLDS MVP? Ramirez had the best numbers, but Loney had the crushing hits in two of three victories.
That was quite an amazing game, and I do think that Martin was out at 3rd but I think that you are giving Torre some undeserved credit saying that:
"From the moment he brought Wade into the game, Torre managed the bullpen perfectly"
I am still wondering why Wade was not pulled for Beimel when Daryel Ward came to bat, why bother to warm up Beimel if you are not going to use him with a man in scoring position and a lefty coming in? That well could have been a turning point had Broxton not bailed out Torre.
But what a great win for the Dodgers, any word on on Kuo's availablity for the Phillies left handed lineup?
I am still in shock from last night.
What a great day to be a Dodger fan! It's been a long time coming.
I'm old enough to remember back to the 1960's teams and the powerhouse teams of the mid-late 70's. I haven't felt so good about the Dodgers as a playoff team since the 1970's - even though they won in '81 and '88. The current team is vastly underrated (for the moment) and even if we lose the league championship I can't see a blowout coming.
One thing that concerns me, slightly, is Ethier's lack of production. He hasn't looked awful by any means and I keep telling myself he's just been a bit unlucky and he will turn it around in the next series. Maybe he needs to hit in front of Manny? What is everyone else's take on this? I'd hate to see Torre "rest" him and put Pierre in. I'm also not sold on Ethier and Loney hitting back to back. They are too vunerable to the LOOGY.
As I said, Loney is MVP.
From our vantage point, it was impossible to tell if Kuroda was getting close strike calls, but we DID notice that (I believe -- tell me if I'm wrong) that neither side had a called strike three all game. The ump would call strikes, but all the strike threes (strikes three?) were swinging.
Did the ump have an especially tight zone? Was he simply refusing to call batters out on anything close?
I'm checking out now but would love to know others' opinions.
I will say, he seems much calmer lately now that he knows the veterans know their place.
NLCS here we come.
12 batters, 56 pitches (4.67 per batter - that is a lot), 35 for strikes.
Two inherited runners, both stranded.
If that were to happen, the Dodgers would be worldbeaters. Would be nice.
it might seem weird but I busted out laughing at that.
That's great. Even though many players did not get in to the series, I think everybody knows, that if the Dodgers are to go all the way, everyone will have to contribute. I can definitely see those three coming through in some way.
Bing Devine was fired while his team was winning a pennant in 1964. Although they weren't in first place at the time of his firing. Bob Howsam replaced him.
Rickey wasn't fired after 1942. The Dodgers just hired him away, although Rickey and Breadon were headed for a parting of the ways.
The Yankees owners bought out Larry MacPhail after the 1947 World Series because he kept causing problems.
In 1890, Brooklyn manager Bill McGunnigle, who operated as a general manager in that era as well, was let go after leading Brooklyn to its second straight pennant. But that was because Brooklyn pretty much had to hire Monte Ward to run the team, as he was considered one of the best players in the game at the time.
Jon blogged the 1988 NLCS by writing his thoughts on a piece of paper in his apartment and asking people to come by and write comments underneath it.
It wasn't a success.
One thing I disagree with from your post, Jon: I do think Torre's use of Broxton in the ninth was a vote of no confidence in Saito. Nothing against Sammy, but he is basically pitching with a torn ligament in his elbow, and even though that experimental injection is allowing him to pitch with some effectiveness, he is not that pitcher we watched for his first 2 1/2 seasons as a Dodger.
While I don't expect Torre to publicly announce it, I expect Broxton to be the closer from now on.
If we play the Philadelphia, I think we will see a leadoff homer by Raffy at that ballpark.
And that is why Sweet Baby James is the MVP. Martin was awesome with all those doubles. Busted the ball hard in games one and three.
Is that the schedule even if Philly close out today?
Also: I blame the Dodgers for my fairly poor performance in soccer this morning. A few celebratory beers and I'm useless in the morning. But we won. And I'm happy.
I am happy about the lack of thundersticks too. That is what separates the Dodgers from the Angels, the Angels have thundersticks and a t-shirt shooters and crap.
I can see that, but since the Phils might close out today, I figure both clubs will have "equal momentum". It's only a one day difference.
He likes to be miserable so I don't know if he would be in a celebrating mood.
I have to say, James Loney has to be the series MVP. The grand slam in game one, the two run double last night were game winning shots.
Remember that most people are wrong.
Although, I must say, Ronnie Brown is pretty good at football
There are way too many old friends coaching in other organizations. I mean, I understand that guys take the jobs that are available, but there's something not right about seeing Scioscia and Mickey Hatcher in Angels uniforms, or Davey Lopes in a Phillies uniform. It'd really be nice if we had more former Dodgers on the coaching staff.
Derek Lowe @ Cole Hamels
Chad Billingsley @ Brett Myers
Hiroki Kuroda @ Jamie Moyer
Greg Maddux or Clayton Kershaw @ Joe Blanton
Other than that, I'm happy to report that WSU is rather terrible football team.
Some fun pictures from last night, including celebration.
Click on the 10/4/08 Gallery.
Also, I've got a little story to share if I can violate Rule 1 in Spanish. May I get a ruling, Philosopher King?
Frankly, given that the Phillies have a balanced lineup (2 switch, 3 righties, 2 lefties, 1 platoon), unlike the righty-heavy Cubs, I hope to see Lowe 3 times, who is by far our most effective starter against such a lineup (.633 OPS against lefties, .635 against righties); both Billingsley and Kuroda allow .100 or so points higher OPS verse lefties; also, a 3 man rotation gives us more match-up options in the pen.
Sammy was pounded hard on Thursday, leaving Torre with a thin bullpen. He didn't want to use the lefties (Beimel and Kershaw) against the Cubs' all-RH lineup, he knew McDonald is too green to come into that situation, and Chan Ho is nothing more than a long reliever at this point. That meant Torre could either use Maddux as his 7th inning guy, or he could stretch the three guys he knew he could count on (Kuroda, Wade, Broxton) as long as he could to fill up that extra inning.
He decided to let Kuroda hit in the 6th inning, hoping he could make it through 7. The fallback plan would be to use Wade and Broxton each for 3+ out appearances if Hiro couldn't finish the 7th. Which is exactly what happened. It was tremendous tactical managing by Torre. I've been as tough on Joe as anyone here, but he came up huge last night.
MVPs = Loney, Lowe, Billingsley, Kuroda, Broxton
I think everything starts with Manny this off season. My hunch is that they resign him for 3 or 4 years, for a very big chunk of money. I also suspect that Jones will be traded or designated for assignment, and Pierre will also be on the trading block. I could see resigning Blake to a 2 year deal while they develop someone in the minors to take over. I'm not sure the Dodgers need more pitching, even with Penny and Lowe leaving (Billingsly, Kuroda, Kershaw, McDonald as a front four isn't too bad) but CC wouldn't be a bad acquisition, the question is whether the Dodgers would be willing to pay for him.
Can McDonald really start next year? And what to do with Clay's innings?
Hopefully, the Brewers won't ruin CC's arm.
JP might be a better player than Alfonso Soriano today.
I am not going to complain about the position players being: Martin, Loney, Abreu, DeWitt, Hu, Young, Kemp, Ethier.
But one great arm and one great bat to help for the next two years might be needed to repeat as World Champs in 2009.
Only this time, I mean it.
110 - bad memories? he came up as a 19 year old, had 3 20 home run seasons before his 48 home run season. He's a career OPS+ 107 (career line of: .271/.327/.459). He's hit 25 and 26 home runs in each of the last 3 seasons while playing in Safeco National Park. I wouldn't mind having him back for ages 30-33.
Oh, I know he's a generally fine player. However, his career arc began before I understood baseball statistics, and I can remember many a night spent at the Ravine frustrated at his utter inability to lay off breaking balls low and outside. Just a personal bad-taste-in-my-mouth kind of thing.
Looking at opponent Jayson Werth, I always liked the guy--he has that blend of speed and power like Kemp---but I can see how we gave up on him over health. I think someone here pointed out his sister's string of injuries as an athlete way back? Oh well.
Also, count me as one of those who would be against trading for Beltre for several reasons. He's on the last year of his current contract, and with his agent Scott Boras will not be looking for an extension with any team that trades for him. Scott Boras is the same guy who advised Joe Crede to basically pack up and leave the playoff bound White Sox just to start on rehab a month early. Despite the White Sox one of the teams that would be desperate for a 3rd baseman. Boras always wants the market place to set the price of his clients. No way he'll even allow the Dodgers initial discussions about a contract extension.
Also, Kim Ng's one of the front runners for the job. You can bet one of the first thing she'll do is see what the value of the M's players are. And more importantly, a trade between the Dodgers and the Mariners will favor the M's with a Ng regime. She'll know the Dodgers farm system better than anyone not named Logan White, including Ned Coletti. She'll pick him clean and I rather not take the chance with that.
oh yes! :o)
maybe i'm reading this wrong but I dislike that side of human behavior.
I am also curious to the extend Boras can help move Jones. Jones may want to start over again with a new team. If Boras can figure out a way to move Jones without costing the Dodgers, Jones $18 million could go to Manny. I am still dreaming here so duck, here comes another one. Give Manny $12 million plus Jones $18 million in year one of a two year contract and $25 million for year two. Then, off Manny goes to the DH league.
116 Definitely in that number of Dodger fans against another round of Beltre. Would rather have LaRoche back for another try that Beltre. I can't even put a name to why I'm against Beltre except 'gut instinct'.
I had that SAME thought Jon. I actually told my buddy that same thing and said it seems to be more suitable to power pitchers.
Was my first postseason experience at dodger stadium though and i loved the electricity and noise. it was amazing.
Lowe vs. @ Hamels
Bills vs. @ Myers
@ Kuroda vs. Moyer
@ Kershaw/Lowe vs. Blanton
Lowe would be on 3 days rest but if they pitch him Game 4 he would be on normal rest to pitch a game 7. They wouldn't go to Maddux I don't think and would just have a quick hook for Clayton in a game 4. If they go Lowe on 3 days rest you are looking at a Bills vs. Hamels in a looks-to-be pivotal game 5 at Dodger stadium, by the way which I have tickets for. ;)
Anyways, the Brewers had absolutely ZERO plate discipline the whole series vs. PHI. I really think that the bottom 3 of the Phils rotation will have a tough tough time getting Dodger hitters out. But the Phils bullpen is pretty sharp. Lidge is obviously their closer. He lives dangerously sometimes but gets the job done. Romero is a very good loogy and Madson and Durbin are very good relievers. Even Condrey is good. I think if Kuo can come back and be ready for this serious, it would be a HUGE boost for the Dodger bullpen. Beimal and Kuo coming out of the pen for the Phils would be huge.
I love Lowe but he will be outrageously expensive, the Mets will probably go for him with a big bid, and he can probably be replaced.
I doubt that Furcal can be replaced...he is as important as Manny to continued success.
Also, I'd love to organized some kind of DT meet up in Philly, maybe at that Chickie & Pete's place across from Citizen's Bank. I guess as soon as we know when the game starts we can set a time.
There is safety in numbers, people.
Loney is 1 for 6. Bat Kemp or Blake 5th to separate Ethier and Loney.
It's a game in Boston!
I knew I was wrong as soon as I hit 'submit' but then I got distracted.
And I was keeping score!
PT that is.
Nomar and Kent's 0-11 against Hamels thus far is as meaningless as if they'd have combined for 6-11.
i'm putting my foot down, & ain't working OT, I mean it!!
Those sample sizes aren't too small to qualify on Mike Krukow's Ownage Scale.
Tim Kurkjian previews the Dodgers-Phillies series. He picks the Dodgers in seven.
30 at-bats? 50, 100?
Practically speaking, certain hitters don't face certain pitchers nearly enough to draw any sort of valid conclusions.
L/R split is generally real.
Only If He Hits Righties Does He Hit Lefties
There hitting is what scares me... but I love Lowe starting over there (sinker baller) if he pitches the way he traditionally pitches this time of year we should be o.k.
Billingsley: i'm not an "expert" but I LOVE the extra rest playoffs series provide, his pitching style will benefit the most from the extra rest IMO.
Neyer wasn't always anti-Dodger. He loved the Dodgers when DePo was our GM. But like a lot of the sabermetrics crowd, he became a Dodger hater when DePo was fired, and has been predicting our doom ever since. And it isn't just about DePo. Among certain sabermetricians, it is an article of faith that a team that gave Juan Pierre a 5 year/$44 million deal HAS to fail.
A big help will be determined tomorrow when Kuo throws from the mound at their Monday workout at Dodger Stadium.
Also, I'm very nervous now to hear the ESPN guys have picked the Dodgers. That's the kiss of doom, right there.
I hear those Mariners fans can be quite vituperative.
166 -- I never heard about that prediction, but in the years since McCourt fired DePo, Neyer has said an awful lot of negative things about the Dodgers (even when we didn't deserve it), and since I don't have ESPN Insider, the way I have heard about them is people mentioning them here.
This makes me very nervous becasue it makes perfect sense. And what should happen rarely does.
Maybe Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson will buy him off us for $5 million. Then he can auction him off.
Colletti's the real victim here! He deserves a bailout!
Speaking of the Dodgers, they're my pick in the National League West, just edging the Padres and the Diamondbacks (with the Rockies a few games behind them).
If anything, I thought they'd fall in love with the Phillies lineup. I think their rotation is pretty darn good. Finally, their bullpen has holes but it's not nearly as bad as the Brewers' pen or the Mets' pen.
It's surprising to see them pick LA on the strength of last week. I'd have thought they'd just dismiss the performance because "it was the Cubs."
Me personally, I have to give this to the Phils. Phils in 6 because they really dominated the Dodgers at Citizens Bank Park this year, and this was WITH Manny. The lineup is really tough to work with and now that Ryan Howard is back to normal, they're bound to score at least 3 runs in every game.
Caveat: when the Dodgers played in Philly, were they still without Cory Wade? That makes a pretty big difference, along with Furcal.
As I said a week ago, I'm hoping for the best!! We're playing with house money now!
a) They are the World Wide Follower In Sports;
b) Because their company car is a bandwagon;
c) They are the Touch Me Last Network;
d) Because the Dodgers are the "It" team right now;
e) Becasue they don't want to be wrong two series in a row.
Personally, I'll take a freeway series over the Dodger owner's "How do you like me now?" appearance in Boston with the NL Champions. But, Scioscia's team has miles to go...
Nevertheless, time to beat the Phillies. Somehow, I think the Dodgers will need to take their batting output up a notch. I don't picture the Phils team giving up 6 walks, or 5 errors or only making 6 runs in 3 games. I think Dodgers can do it, especially with their first series victory adding to their confidence.
I'm betting its Furcal, Martin, Ethier, Manny, Loney, Kent, Blake, Kemp, Lowe
I never would have pictured the cubs to do so. Crazy huh. That's why who cares what anyone predicts.
Their rotation is not that good. Hamels is terrific, but really no better than Billingsley. Moyer has been amazing for his age, but I dont think he matches up well against our lineup. Myers is incredibly inconsistent and Blanton is average at best. Our rotation as a whole is far superior.
"It's going to be a good series, but I think we can score runs on them," Manuel said. "The way our guys pitch...I don't see no reason in the world why we can't stay right with them."
By the way, he also wrote the lyrics for "A Horse With No Name."
Time to beat the Phillies!
Well... The Dodgers played so remarkably, I had to leave my hair alone. I'm gonna keep my hair growing until the team is officially eliminated. Rally hair!!
I have been letting my hair grow longer than I have in years. Maybe I will do the same.
Friday there are two games, and rather than overlap the games like last year MLB is not scheduling them at the same time or close together.
Long live the playoff beard and overgrown hair!!!
8/12 @ LA - 7 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 7 K
8/23 @ Phi - 7 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 5 K
8/14 @ LA - 7 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 2 BB, 8 K
8/25 @ Phi - 7 IP, 9 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 8 K
did not face
8/13 @ LA - 5 IP, 9 H, 4 R, 3 BB, 6 K
8/24 @ Phi - 6 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 3 BB, 4 K
Dodgers Starters Against Phillies
8/11 @ LA - 6.1 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 1 BB, 3 K
8/25 @ Phi - 6 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 5 BB, 3 K
8/14 @ LA - 7 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 7 K
8/24 @ Phi - 6 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 5 K
8/12 @ LA - 6 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 2 BB, 8 K
8/23 @ Phi - 4 IP, 7 H, 6 R, 2 BB, 5 K
*I'm assuming Lowe starts game 4, but of course that is still way up in the air.
The Dodgers are 4-2 in playoff games in Philadelphia (1977, 1978 & 1983), and are 3-3 at Dodger Stadium.
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