Reds fall to Giants, playoff series even at 2-all

Published: Wednesday, October 10, 2012 @ 7:56 PM
Updated: Wednesday, October 10, 2012 @ 7:56 PM

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CINCINNATI —Facing elimination again, the San Francisco Giants came out swinging. Got a saving relief appearance from Tim Lincecum, too.

Angel Pagan led off the game with a home run, Gregor Blanco and Pablo Sandoval connected later and the Giants beat the Cincinnati Reds 8-3 on Wednesday, evening their NL division series at 2-all.

Lincecum, the two-time Cy Young winner relegated to the bullpen, also delivered. He entered in the fourth with the Giants ahead 3-2, struck out six while giving up just one run in 4 1-3 innings, and allowed his team to pull away.

"I knew he would play a huge role in this," manager Bruce Bochy said. "And I know of other situations where starters have been in the 'pen and really done a great job to help their team win. We knew Timmy would play a critical role in the series like he did tonight."

The Giants can complete an unprecedented comeback on Thursday. No team has recovered from a 2-0 deficit in a best-of-five series by winning three on the road, according to STATS LLC.

"Thanks to the win today, there will be a tomorrow," Pagan said. "And we are ready for that."

Matt Cain, who lost the series opener and has yet to beat the Reds in three tries this season, will start Game 5 against Mat Latos.

The Giants' hitters emerged from a series-long slump and extended Cincinnati's playoff misery. The Reds haven't won a postseason game at home in 17 years.

One thing in the Reds' favor — they haven't dropped three straight at home all season.

"I'd like to think that we still have the advantage," Reds outfielder Jay Bruce said. "We're at home. I expect Mat to come up with a big game. I'm looking forward to it."

The Reds were hoping to start ace Johnny Cueto, but had to drop him off the roster a few hours before Wednesday's first pitch because he was still bothered by a strained muscle in his right side. He won't be available if Cincinnati wins Game 5 and reaches the NL championship series.

The way the Giants have started hitting, that's now in doubt.

San Francisco managed only four runs in the first three games of the series. The Giants avoided the sweep by pulling out a 2-1 win in 10 innings on Tuesday night with the help of a passed ball and an error by third baseman Scott Rolen.

They broke out against Mike Leake, who replaced Cueto and had a rough time. Leake threw his first career complete game in San Francisco on June 29 and was 3-0 career against the Giants.

Pagan homered on his second pitch of the game. Blanco hit a two-run shot in the second. The Giants had another breakthrough in the fifth, when back-to-back doubles by Joaquin Arias and Pagan ended an 0-for-14 slump with runners in scoring position during the series.

Sandoval's two-run shot in the seventh made it 8-3, matched the Giants' season high for homers and drew loud boos from the crowd of 44,375 — the third-largest at Great American Ball Park. Fans quietly settled into their seats and used their white rally towels as lap warmers against the evening chill.

The Giants normally don't hit many homers — only 103 during the season, fewest in the majors. They're only the seventh team since 1900 to reach the playoffs after finishing last in the majors in homers.

While the offense went to work, Lincecum bailed out the bullpen.

Bochy didn't hesitate to put the guys he wanted on the mound, using four pitchers in the first four innings. Lincecum got the final out in the fourth and kept going, allowing only two hits in his second relief appearance of the series.

Lincecum threw 42 strikes out of 55 pitches and even batted twice — just like a starter.

Bochy decided to go with left-hander Barry Zito over Lincecum for Game 4, choosing the better pitcher down the stretch. Zito was left off the postseason roster when San Francisco won the World Series in 2010, but finished the regular season with seven straight wins.

The left-hander lasted only 2 2-3 innings, his shortest career outing in the postseason. On came Lincecum to save the day.

The Reds finished with the second-best record in the majors at 97-65, one game behind Washington. The rotation was the foundation of their championship season, with all five starters making it through unscathed — a franchise first.

Things changed dramatically when Cueto had to leave the first inning of the playoff series opener on Saturday with the injury. The Reds made it through that game with Latos filling in for a 5-2 victory, but couldn't win without him on Wednesday.

NOTES: The Reds honored RHP Homer Bailey on the field before the game for his no-hitter in Pittsburgh on Sept. 28, presenting him and C Ryan Hanigan with framed photo montages. ... It was Zito's shortest outing since he lasted 2 1-3 innings on Aug. 29 at Houston. The Giants won it 6-4. ... San Francisco has won each of Zito's last 12 starts. ... Leake lasted 4 1-3 innings, giving up six hits and five runs. ... The Giants hit three homers in a game eight times during the regular season.

2012 NLDS Schedule

Game Road Team   Home Team
TV Channel Date Game Time
Game 1


at Giants
TBS Saturday, October 6th Result: Reds win, 5-2
Game 2


at Giants
TBS/MLB Network
Sunday, October 7th Result: Reds win, 9-0
Game 3 Giants at Reds
TBS Tuesday, October 9th Rresult: Reds lose, 2-1
Game 4
Giants at


TBS/MLB Network
Wednesday, October 10th Result: Reds lost, 8-3
Game 5
Giants at


TBS Thursday, October 11th 1:00 p.m.

Dodgers dominate, Cubs on the brink

Published: Wednesday, October 18, 2017 @ 1:03 AM

When the Chicago Cubs win a game at home in Wrigley Field, fans leave the park singing a catchy tune called, “Go Cubs Go.”

They weren’t singing that song Tuesday night. Maybe they should have been singing one of the two tunes sung by huge Cubs fan Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam — “Long Nights” and/or “End of the Road.”

The Cubs, trying to defend last year’s World Series championship, lost Tuesday night to the Los Angeles Dodgers, 6-1.

That’s three long nights for the Cubs and they are near the end of the road. That’s three straight losses to the Dodgers in the National League Championship Series, one loss away from elimination. Or, in this case, obliteration.

Down three games to none, the Cubs have to win four straight or go home while the Dodgers have four tries to win just one more game to qualify for the World Series.

This one mostly belonged to LA pitcher Yu Darvish, obtained mid-season from the Texas Rangers. Darvish gave up a home run to the second batter he faced, Middletown’s Kyle Schwarber, and that was it. Nothing more. Close the book and stick it on a shelf.

Darvish gave up no more runs, only five more hits and a walk and struck out seven in 6 1/3 innings. Just to rub it in, he drew a bases loaded walk against Carl Edwards Jr., to drive in the Dodgers’ fourth run.

After Schwarber’s home run, the Cubs also received singles from Kris Bryant and Willson Contrera, but Darvish struck out Jon Jay on three pitches.

So three of the six hits off Darvish came in the first inning and the Cubs never threatened again. Darvish faced one hitter in the sevent, struck him out, and left the game after only 81 pitches.

The Cubs 1-0 lead only lasted until the Dodgers came to bat in the top of the second and Andre Ethier, making his first start of the post-season, lined a home run deep into the right field bleachers to tie it, 1-1.

And the tie only lasted until the top of the third when Chris Taylor homered over the center field wall against Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks to make it 2-1.

Another Dodger making his first post-season start, Joc Pederson, led the fifth with a double and scored on Chris Taylor’s triple into the left field corner for a 3-1 LA lead.

Relief pitcher Carl Edwards Jr. was on the mound in the sixth and the first batter, Yasiel Puig reached on third baseman Kris Bryant’s error. Ethier singled and with one out Barnes walked to fill the bases.

But with two outs Edwards was facing pitcher Yu Darvish, who never in his career had batted with the bases loaded and as mostly an American Leaguer had not batted much at all.

Amazingly, with Darvish standing at the plate like a cigar star Native American statue, Edwards threw four straight balls for the walk that forced in the fourth run.

The Cubs bullpen has been nothing but a walk around the park so far in the postseason, issuing 23 walks in eight postseason games.

The Dodgers put salt on this one in the eighth by scoring two runs, the first on a strikeout/passed ball on catcher Willson Contreras and a sacrifice fly.

After Darvish left, the potent and practically peerless bullpen did its thing — no runs the rest of the way. In 11 innings of work in the three games against the Cubs, the LA bullpen has given up no runs and two hits (both in the ninth inning Tuesday) while striking out 12 and walking just one. And the Cubs are 2 for 33 against the Dodgers bullpen.

Meanwhile, over in the American League the New York Yankees, who play in Yankee Stadium like the old Bronx Bombers of the 1960s, won their second straight game at home against the Houston Astros Monday afternoon, to even the ALCS at two games apiece.

The Astros led, 4-0, and the Yankees had no runs and only one hit off starter Lance McCullers Jr. after six innings. But when Aaron Judge homered to open the seventh Houston manager A.J. Hinch removed McCullers.

And the Astros bullpen suffered a meltdown, mostly by closer Ken Giles who came into the game in the eighth when it was 4-4 and gave up two runs three hits and a walk.

Toddfather, CC, the Judge put Astros to sleep

Published: Monday, October 16, 2017 @ 11:36 PM

Those who watched Todd Frazier collect his paychecks from the Cincinnati Reds know that when The Toddfather hit a home run it wasn’t with a classic, baseball card swing like Ken Griffey Jr.

So many time when Frazier hit one out of the park it came with a lunging, one-handed swing with his body bent in half and his posterior protruding toward the third base dugout.

That’s the way it was Monday night in Yankee Stadium when Frazier hit a three-run home run in the second inning off Houston pitcher Charlie Morton.

That three-run poke and a three-run home run in the fourth by Aaron Judge ignited the Yankees toward an 8-1 win, their first after two losses to the Astros in this best-of-seven American League Championship Series.

After an infield hit and a bloop single, both with two outs, Frazier performed his pretzel swing and watched it fly into the short-porch right field seats, Frazier’s first opposite-field home run in Yankee Stadium.

It was no huge shock, although it sent shock waves through Yankee Stadium. Frazier faced Morton many times when Frazier played third base for the Reds and Morton pitched for Pittsburgh and Atlanta. Frazier was 7 for 18 with a pair of homers for his career against Morton, a 14-game winner for the Astros this season.

The Yankees made it 8-0 in the fourth and Frazier was in the middle of that, too. Greg Bird led the inning with a ground rule double to left field.

Morton retired the next two, with Bird moving to third on a fly ball from Aaron Hicks. That brought up Frazier. Knowing their history, Morton pitched around Frazier, also knowing he next hitter was Chase Headley, 0 for 16 in the postseason.

But Headley bounced one up the middle for a run-scoring infield hit and when Morton hit Brett rardner with a pitch to load the bases his night was over.

He was replaced by Will Harris and he threw a wild pitch to let in another run. Then it was time, finally, for Aaron Judge, who had struck out 20 times in the post-season after hitting 52 home runs during the season.

Judge uncoiled on a hanging slider and propelled it into the left field seat, a three-run home run that made the rest of the game inconsequential.

In the fourth inning, when it was only 3-0, the 6-foot-7 Judge ran to the wall, ran hard into the wall, and reached up to snap a home run bid hit by Yuli Gurriel. Judge jumped up unharmed while the while wailed in agony.

Blessed with the plethora of runs, 37-year-old Yankees starter CC Sabathia bolted down the high-powered Astros offense. In six innings, the big lefthander held Houston scoreless on three hits with four walks and five strikeouts.

He was the right man at the right time for the Yankees. Sabathia was 9-0 this season when he pitched a game after a New York loss. For the season he was 14-5 with a 3.69 earned run average. So CC is now 10-0 after Yankee losses this season. The last Yankees pitcher to go 10-0 after a team’s loss was Whitey Ford in 1961, the year the Yankees beat the Cincinnati Reds in the World Series four games to one.

CC’s only danger zone was in the third when it was 3-0 and he loaded the bases with two walks and a hit. But with two outs he retired the side on a pop-up to shortstop by ever-dangerous Carlos Correa.

Houston’s run came in the ninth against the Yankee bullpen and it scored on a bases loaded walk to Alex Breman, but then a double play ended it.

It wasn’t long ago that many baseball purists thought Sabathia was finished. From 2013 through 2015 he had three straight losing seasons and was 18-26.

Now he is New York’s money in the back pocket. He pitched the deciding Game 5 of the American League Division Series against the Cleveland Indians and Yankee manager Joe Girardi has him poised to pitch Game 7, if it gets that far.

Using Lackey lacks sense, Cubs lose

Published: Sunday, October 15, 2017 @ 11:49 PM

Managers continue to change tactics and modus operandi for the postseason from what they did during the regular season that was successful for them.


And it continues to explode in their faces.


They keep using starting pitchers in relief roles and time and time again it failes.

And it certainly failed Sunday night for Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon in Game Two of the National League Championship Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

He used starting pitcher John Lackey in relief in Game One, 1 2/3 innings. He used him again Sunday night in Game Two, even though Lackey had never pitched in back-to-back games in his entire career.

Maddon brought Lackey into the ninth inning of a tie game with the winning run on second base. Lackey walked Chris Taylor and then Justin Turner crushed a three-run home run over the center field wall for a 4-1 victory and a two games to none lead for the Dodgers.

“I don’t think I’ve ever hit a walk-off home run at any level of my baseball career,” said Turner.

Turner, the third baseman who resembles Paul Bunyan with his long red hair, his scraggly red beards and his beer barrel muscles.

And it was another former Cincinnati Reds connections. Turner was drafted by the Reds in the seventh round of the 2006 draft. But before he could make the majors, the Reds traded him to Baltimore, along with Ryan Freel, for catcher Ramon Hernandez.

While Maddon fiddled with fate, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts stuck with what pushed him and the Dodgers to where they are — using the same guys out of the bullpen.

Why not? The Dodgers bullpen had retired 27 straight and 41 of the last 42 batters when LA closer Kenly Jansen hit Anthony Rizzo with a pitch with one out in the top of the ninth and the score 1-1.

No problem. Jansen struck out Willson Contreras and retired Albert Almora Jr. on a ground ball to shortstop.

The Cubs scored first when Addison Russell broke a scoreless game in the fifth inning against starter Rich Hill. From that point, the Cubs could have put their bats in the rack and packed their bags for the trip back to Chicago for Game 3.

Cubs starter Jon Lester was not sharp, walking five in 4 2/3 innings and throwing only 55 strikes out of 101 pitches.

But the Dodgers scored only one run and Turner drove that one in, too. It came in the bottom of the fifth. Charlie Culberson, filling in at shortstop for injured Corey Seager, opened the inning with a double.

Lester nearly got out of it by retiring the next two Dodgers, but Turner punched a run-scoring single to right field to tie it, 1-1.

At this point, LA manager Roberts deviated slightly from the way he managed during the season — but he didn’t bring in a starting pitcher.

Even starter Hill had given up only one run and three hits and struck out eight in five innings, using only 79 pitches, Roberts brought in his set-up guy, Brandon Morrow, usually an eighth inning piece.

Morrow, though, was brilliant. He pitched two perfect innings, using only 18 pitches.

Then Roberts brought in right handed Jose Baez and induced a fly to center. Then he brought in left hander Tony Watson to get the final two outs of the inning.

That set it up for closer Jansen for the ninth. And that took it to the bottom of the ninth.

Cubs left hander Brian Duensing started the eighth and LA put two on with one out. Duensing evaded trouble by inducing an inning-ending double play out of Austin Barnes.

Maddon sent Duensing back out for the ninth of the tie game and he walked Yasiel Puig on four pitches. Charlie Culberson bunted Puig to second, but Duensing struck out pinch-hitter Kyle Farmer.

With one out needed to close out the inning and send the game into extra innings, Maddon opted to bring in Lackey instead of closer Wade Davis or another bullpen member.

Lackey walked Chris Taylor on a full count and then Turner whacked the second pitch he saw from Lackey over the center field wall, the Dodgers 11 th walkoff win this season by nine different players. Turner had done it twice.

Until Turner’s home run, the Dodgers frustrated themselves by stranding eight runners and going 1 for 8 with runners in scoring position.

The Cubs, though, couldn’t get base runners. They had only three hits so they only stranded four and were 0 for 2 with runners in scoring position.

And Dodgers pitchers walked only one. Cubs pitchers walked eighth, including the big one by Lackey to Taylor with two outs in the ninth that brought Turner to the plate.

“I just didn’t execute the pitch,” said Lackey. “I’ve faced Turner many times. He is a good hitter. You have to execute the pitch.”

Instead, Turner executed the Cubs.


‘Little Big Man’ Altuve, Keuchel muzzle Yankees

Published: Saturday, October 14, 2017 @ 1:36 AM

The Littlest Man in Minute Maid Park, the littlest man in major league baseball, was the biggest man in Houston Friday night in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series.

The Houston Astros list second baseman Jose Altuve as 5-foot-6, but they must have measured him while he was standing on a dozen copies of The Official Rules of Baseball.

Altuve had three hits, stole a base and made a sterling defensive play while leading the Houston Astros to a 2-1 victory over the New York Yankees.

And the man with the ugliest and biggest beard in bseball, Dallas Keuchel, put duct tape around the Yankees bats with seven scoreless innings, holding them to four hits while walking one and striking out 10.

With a capacity crowd in Minute Maid Park howling, “MVP, MVP, MVP,” every time Altuve twitched a muscle, the diminutive second baseman ignited the rally in the fourth inning that produced both Astros runs.

With one out, Altuve banged a hard ground ball up the middle and beat it for an infield hit. Yankees starter Mashahiro Tanaka made three straight throws to first base to hold Altuve on. When he threw home Altuve took off and stole second.

He scored when shortstop Carlos Correa singled sharply to left field. Marvin Gonzalez grounded to second and Correa took third. With two outs, Yuli Gurrisel singled to center to make it 2-0.

And that’s the way it stayed and stayed and stayed until two outs in the ninth inning. New York’s Greg Bird hit a monster home run off the top of the right field foul pole against closer Ken Giles.

Before the home run, Giles had struck out Didi Gregorious to end the eighth with two runners on base and struck out the first two in the ninth, Starlin Castro and Aaron Hicks.

Bird homered to cut it to 2-1, but Giles struck out Jacoby Ellsbury to end it. The Ellsbury strikeout came on the 37 th pitch thrown by Giles, Houston’s closer, the most pitches he has thrown in a game this season.

He entered with one out in the eighth and gave up a walk and Bird’s home run, but struck out four of the five outs he recorded.

Other than the fourth inning, during which he gave up two runs and three hits, Yankees starter Tanaka was nearly as good as Kuechel — six innings, two runs, four hits.

The Yankees advanced only one runner past first base in Keuchel’s seven innings and that was in the fifth. He was saved the inning by a throw from left fielder Marvin Gonzalez.

Bird, who had two of New York’s five hits, singled to start the fifth. Matt Holliday then reached on a rare error by Altuve, putting runners on second and first with no outs.

Keuchel nearly pitched out of it, getting Todd Frazier on a fly to center and striking out Brett Gardner.

That brought up Aaron Judge, who broke the major league record for home runs by a rookie with 52. But during the Yankees five-game American League Division Series against the Cleveland Indians Judge was 1 for 20 with 16 strikeouts.

And Keuchel struck him out on his previous at bat. This time, though, Judge drilled a 3-and-2 pitch into left field for a single.

Bird tried to score from second but Gonzalez unleashed a perfect peg to Brian McCann and the former Yankees catcher now employed by the Astros applied the tag. The Yankees asked for a review and the out was upheld, ending the inning and the Yankees never threatened again.

That set the table for another pitching duel in Game 2 Saturday night, Houston’s Justin Verlander against New York’s Luis Severino. Verlander finished the season 7-and-0 after the Astros acquired him from the Detroit Tigers.