In a season of magnificent pitching performances and close games, the San Francisco Giants provided one more and set up another. Derek Lowe did what he could for Bobby Cox but Cody Ross, another outstanding midseason pick-up by the Giants, homered to lead off the 6th, the Giants added a pair in the 7th and their bullpen guided them to a 3-2 victory, eliminating the Atlanta Braves in four. The Giants won 1-0, 3-2, 3-2, in which one run decided every game. In the four games, the Giants’ starters gave up three earned runs in 29 innings.
Madison Bumgarner, the 21-year-old rookie, pitched well as the starter for the Giants who now must face the Phillies in the best-of-seven ALCS between the two best teams in the NL and perhaps two of the three best teams in baseball. The injury riddled Braves posted 25 wins in their final at-bat during the regular season but it was not to be last night against Giants closer Brian Wilson, despite two walks. In the end Wilson struck out Omar Infante and retired Melky Cabrera on a grounder to third.
It was interesting how Ross joined this team as the Giants picked him off waivers from the Marlins, in order to block him from going to San Diego. How sweet is that? Aubrey Huff, who signed as a free agent during the offseason, is the only starter playing the same position now that he played on Opening Day for the Giants who have craftily recreated themselves as the season progressed.
As written by Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle, “For the Giants, it was another one of those games. You know this team’s favorite pastime: Torture. It’s torture when they lose, torture when they win, torture for the sheer joy of it.”
Bobby Cox deserved the final salute, the accolades and the respect. As the Giants were celebrating at the center of Turner Field, the crowd started chanting, “Bobby! Bobby!” And the retiring leader sadly came out of the dugout to acknowledge the fans and then the boisterous Giants did baseball proud; they stood and applauded for Bobby Cox.
We salute them and we thank Cox for all that he brought to the game.
For the first time since 2005 there is a Game 5 in the LDS. Tonight the Rays host the Rangers in a series that not seen either home team win a game. The Rays are trying to become just the second team in LDS history to win a best-of-five series after losing the first two games at home. The 2001 Yankees were the first to do it. They are also trying to become the fifth team to win a postseason series of any length in any round after dropping the first two games at home.
On the other hand, the Yankees realize that of the 18 league championship series in which one team has swept its divisional series and one that didn’t, the sweepers have won just six series. Sweepers faced the same difficulty in the World Series in which 12 times one team that swept the league championship series and faced an opponent that dropped at least one game in its prior series. Sweepers have lost seven times.
Tonight Cliff Lee who handled the Rays in Game One of their ALDS series faces David Price, who struggled in Game One against Texas. How much has Price learned about Texas and how much have the Rays learned about Lee? The answer may very well determine the winner.
By the by: Look for C.J. Wilson coming out of the Texas bullpen tonight if needed but Lee has averaged just under eight innings in his six career post-season starts.
And: The Rays beat Lee three times this season, the first two when Lee was with the Mariners.
But: The Rangers have won both times that Lee has faced Price this season in St. Petersburg.
Watch and listen: The game tonight is on TBS and they will have their best duo at the mikes in Don Orsillo and Buck Martinez. I will listen to Eric Nadler on Rangers radio for the final innings.
Insuring that the Yankees don’t sweep their LCS, general manager Brian Cashman told reporters that the club would go with a four-man rotation, which would include A.J. Burnett. The Yankees went with only three starters last season but thanks to Angels manager Mike Scioscia pointing out how inane it was that the postseason schedule had built in an extra day off that didn’t include travel during the series, that day was eliminated forcing the need for four starters. Burnett, and his 5.26 ERA, likely will follow CC Sabathia, Andy Pettitte and Phil Hughes against either the Rays or Rangers.
Most consecutive series lost, all-time:
10: Cubs, 1910-98
7: Dodgers, 1916-53
7: Astros, 1980-2001
6: Braves, 2001-2010
6: Twins, 2002-2010
6: Athletics, 1990-2003
Best wishes for a speedy recovery to Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn who has been diagnosed with cancer of a salivary gland. Gwynn, a 15-time All-Star voted into the Hall in the first year he was eligible in 2007, has had three procedures since 1997 to remove non-cancerous tumors to the largest salivary gland, he told the San Diego Union-Tribune. The latest operation last month discovered a malignant growth in the parotid gland.
Gwynn said he thought the cancer was most likely related to his use of chewing tobacco throughout his career.
Gwynn, who ranks 19th in MLB history as a career .338 hitter, is currently the baseball coach for San Diego State.
“Sportscenter” on ESPN will air a four-part series beginning tomorrow taking another look at four dramatic postseason walkoff home runs.
Leading off the series will be the home run hit by Pittsburgh’s Bill Mazeroski off the Yankees’ Ralph Terry to win the 1960 World Series. Thursday will be the shot hit by Ozzie Smith of the St. Louis Cardinals against the Dodgers in the 1985 NLCS. Friday will show the Kirk Gibson game-winning blast off Dennis Eckersley in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series and on Saturday it will be Yankees infielder Aaron Boone beating the Boston Red Sox in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS.