Friday, October 16, 2009

NLCS Game 1

What a kickoff to the rematch of the 2008 NLCS between the Phillies and the Dodgers. Some thoughts post-game, if I'm relaxed enough after another four hours of white-knuckle baseball...

- For all the pre-game and pre-series talk about the Dodgers having such a shutdown bullpen and the Phillies having bullpen issues, it was the Dodger pen that gave it up, and the Phillies pen that got all the big outs it needed

- Shane Victorino still clearly has some animosity towards the Dodgers coarsing through his veins. I'm not sure why, but I don't care, he seems to play better when he's all charged up.

- Chan Ho Park was electric. The velocity and movement on his pitches was staggering. For a guy that hasn't pitched in a Major League game in a month, he was thrown right into the fire. Game 1 of the NLCS, tying run on second, no outs in the seventh inning. No big thing. Park got in Manny Ramirez' kitchen and got a weak ground out to third, blew away Matt Kemp with high cheese and then induced a weak ground ball to second from Casey Blake. What a job by Park. His injury was a hamstring issue, and maybe having a fresh arm is helping him at this point of the year.

- Cole Hamels is soft. He's just a big whiner and complainer. I'll even leave alone the fact that he showed up Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins after a botched double play grounder in the fifth. You could visibly see that he was in the tank after this, and he responded by throwing a gopher ball to Ramirez. Look, pal, you stunk all year, and then you stunk again against Colorado, and you stunk in game one. The offense (your fielders) just got you five runs. So stone up, go out and get some outs. Period. That's it. Darren Daulton was angry about Hamels on the postgame show. If Daulton played with Cole, he would've borderline fought the big soft lefty. I'm disgusted with Cole Hamels right now. Shut up, pitch, get outs, stop whining and making excuses.

- Manny Ramirez' bat looked awfully slow last night. He couldn't catch up to decent fastballs fired up there by Park or Madson, and his home run came on a change up. Visibly, he looks substantially smaller than he did last year also. Maybe all of this is coincidental, but taking those observable items into consideration along with his post-suspension statistics (bad compared to pre-suspension), you can't help but think alot of ManRam's dominence in recent years has been chemically derived.

-Randy Marsh was terrible behind the plate. No strike zone, no consistency to it, nothing. He also allowed Joe Torre to stall far too long to get Randy Wolf ready to pinch run in the sixth. Sorry, if you're not ready to go, tough luck.

- More than any other Dodger, Rafael Furcal scares me. He's a good player, and has been back to his days in Atlanta, and he always seems like he's getting big hits. There are probably others that should scare me more, but Furcal is it in that lineup.

- Andre Ethier is swinging a really hot stick these days, however

- Clayton Kershaw showed his youth on the mound in game one. Torre believed he could be what Hamels was last year. He was not.

- Torre again got outmanaged by Charlie Manuel. He stuck with Kershaw too long, costing his team two runs on a double by Ryan Howard. I think he also hooked Hon Chi Kuo a little too early, as Kuo is tough on the Phillies.

- George Sherrill had the look of a guy a little overwhelmed by the big stage

- As did J.A. Happ

- Ryan Madson concerns me. I think he's just about out of gas. He's still throwing hard, but not as hard as a month ago, and the ball isn't moving as much on him. That's two straight rough outings for him, even with three days rest in between.

- I don't know if Brad Lidge is all the way back. But watching him, he certainly believes he is, and that might be all that matters.

- Carlos Ruiz is some kind of playoff performer. He's hitting .375 with six RBI in five playoff games so far in 2009, and in his career has hit over .300 in four of his five playoff series. He had a huge deflating three-run bomb off of Kershaw in game one to compliment a walkoff 28 foot roller to win game three of last year's World Series. 'Chooch' as he is known to the Phils and their fans, has been dubbed 'Senor Octobre' on local sports talk radio.

- Interesting thought on Pedro Martinez starting in game two in LA as opposed to back in Philadelphia. I don't remember where I heard it in order to give credit, but it's a good idea. The thought goes that you start Pedro in LA because the park is much bigger and more forgiving, which are all obviously good things. But, beyond that, those factors allow Pedro to nibble a bit more and not have to be so aggressive in the zone.

- The Dodgers now have to rely on Vicente Padilla in a must-win game two in Los Angeles. Padilla could shut it down, or blow sky high, with no way to predict either outcome.

- Torre clearly had no interest in having Padilla start a game at Citizens Bank Park. That would greatly increase the chances of a meltdown.

Jayson Stark's column makes several good points regarding game one. My two favorites...
- The Dodgers brought the tying run or go-ahead run to the plate 17 times in the game, and never pulled even
- George Sherrill had given up one home run to a lefthanded hitter in the last two seasons before giving up an eighth inning bomb to Raul Ibanez

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