By Michael Tapia
The weekend served as strong evidence that the despite the lack of a salary cap baseball is still competitive with both series tied. The ALCS which begun on Friday has featured a very liberal Texas team on the base paths and the struggling Yankees on the pitching end. Nonetheless, both teams are tied at one game apiece. In the NLCS, which commenced on Saturday brings a surprising Giants team powered by playoff sensation Cody Ross and the tenacious Phillies who rallied in Games 2.
Without a doubt, the big story in this year’s postseason has been the Giants’ Cody Ross who has stunned the Phillies with three homeruns thus far including two off Roy Halladay. With such performance might as well call the Giant’s outfielder the new Shane Spencer who went in batting red hot into the 1998 postseason while playing left field for the Yankees. Game 1 was close but not because of what people expected as Roy Halladay and Tim Lincecum were not at the top of their games, giving up four and three runs respectively. The surprise came from Cody Ross who was picked up by the Giants off waivers to prevent the San Diego Padres from stacking up on offense. Now, Ross is the biggest reason why the Giants are giving the more offensive driven Phillies a run for their money. With both teams scoring 14 runs collectively, the pitching has not been what people expected, Lincecum and Halladay have both been hittable, giving up 14 hits. The strikeouts were there but Halladay giving up two homeruns is not typical of him. Tim Lincecum got the 4-3 win in Game 1 but also gave up to two homeruns one to Carlos Ruiz and Jayson Werth.
Game 2 looked like the “Phillies Show” who took the lead in the very first inning and never trailed as they sealed the game in the seventh inning with four runs for the 6-1 final. Jimmy Rollins was key in Game 2 being responsible for four of Philadelphia’s six rbi. Placido Polanco also contributed to the Phillies’ offense with two rbi. Roy Oswalt pitched an amazing eight innings only giving up a home run to the emerging Cody Ross who totals four homers in the postseason. Jonathan Sanchez pitched a respectable game as well, only allowing three runs one of which was unearned and striking out seven in six inning pitched. Unfortunately, Ramon Ramirez who only pitched 1/3 inning gave up two runs dealing away the Giants hope of beating the Phillies.
In the ALCS there is a tie as well with the Yankees taking Game 1 and the Rangers winning Game 2. It seems as if the “long rest” that the Yankee earned by sweeping the Twins in the ALDS has affected their starting pitching. Both their ace CC Sabathia and their young pitching stud Phil Hughes we battered by the Texas lineup for 12 earned runs. Sabathia gave up five runs in an edgy 6-5 win and Hughes allowed seven runs in lack lusting defeat 7-2.
C.J. Wilson pitched formidable in Game 1 but the tenacious Yankees rallied for five runs in the 8th inning. Unfortunately for the Rangers, everything that manager Ron Washington tried the Yankees had an answer for battering five Ranger pitchers. The Yankees scored runs off, C.J. Wilson, Darren Oliver and Darren O’Day in the 8th inning alone. Marcus Thames who has been a surprise at the plate singled off Clay Rapada and got Alex Rodriguez to score the winning run.
After more than a week without pitching a game, CC Sabathia did not look like a 20 game winner, giving up five runs and one home run in a mediocre four inning outing. Luckily, for Sabathia he was not charged with the “lost” as the Yankees won with a 6-5 score.
The second game of the series belonged to Texas from beginning to end dominating the Yankees early in the game. The aggressive Rangers did not waste time in taking the lead bamboozling catcher Jorge Posada on a double steal that scored a daring Elvis Andrus and sent Josh Hamilton to second base. In the second inning, David Murphy homered off Phil Hughes and doubled in the 3rd inning accounting for two rbi. Michael Young and Bengie Molina also hit rbi doubles off Hughes to help the Rangers cruise to a 7-2 victory.
While the pitching has not been as big of a factor in the NLDS, the long rest has backfired on the Yankees rotation. With Halladay and Lincecum not being as dominant as expected what could have been a duel to remember has been erased. On the other hand, the Yankees who were expected to win the first two games by “regular season standard” have struggled to find their start studded identity on the mound. As both series are tied, this championship round is offering more to watch.
The action continues tonight with the Yankees and Rangers facing in New York at 8:07 PM EST. The Phillies and Giants will shift their action to San Francisco tomorrow for Game 3 at 4:19 PM EST.