Saturday, October 17, 2009

Defense Costly for Phils and Angels

While we saw a startling contrast in climates during the two championship series games, both games turned on fielding plays. The Phillies wasted a stunningly beautiful performance by Pedro Martinez as the Dodgers rallied for two runs on good bunting, good eyes and a fielding gaffe by Chase Utley. Meanwhile, over in the Bronx, Sabathia was fantastic and the Angels played like they all had frostbite, committing three errors and missing an infield pop up that wasn't credited as an error.

First off, let the Fan state how disappointed he was that major league baseball players wimped out by wearing earflaps on their caps and ski masks. Chone Figgins, Erick Aybar and Robinson Cano looked more like they were going for a sleigh ride than they were playing in a baseball game. Tom Hanks once said that there is no crying in baseball. Well, he would also say there are no hoodies in baseball. Geez. That was pathetic.

But while Cano made some acrobatic plays at second for the Yankees (no way Soriano would have made those plays), Figgins and Aybar played like they were trolls frozen by the morning sunlight. They stood as stone figures while Hideki Matsui's innocent pop up landed between them allowing Johnny Damon to score a run. Damon was on second after singling to left because Juan Rivera couldn't figure out where to throw the ball, so he threw it in between everything.

Nobody should blame Chase Utley for those two bad double play throws in the last two games. Both times, the feeding infielders bobbled the ball and threw Utley's timing off. The errant throw from Utley in Game 2 went into the dugout and allowed the tying run to score for the Dodgers. But it wasn't Utley's fault that four Philadelphia relievers decided to walk the winning run around the bases.

The Phillies-Dodgers game featured two remarkable pitching performances. Vincente Padilla proved the Fan wrong and made Joe Torre look like a genius. Padilla was fantastic with a 95 MPH fastball that had all kinds of late movement. He pounded the strike zone and only allowed a homer to Howard on an ill-advised breaking ball that just hung up there too long. Other than that, he was buck. Pedro Martinez was even better. The Dodgers had no clue what to expect and what to do with Martinez's offerings. It was a masterful performance and a real throwback to the greatness of Pedro Martinez. Fortunately for the Dodgers, Manuel took him out after the seventh and allowed the Dodgers to get back in the game.

Sabathia also pounded the strike zone for the Yankees, striking out seven and walking one in eight innings. The only run off of him was on a bloops single. Mariano Rivera added to his post season legacy with the save in the ninth.

The Dodgers absolutely needed the win to tie the series. The Yankees needed to start off with a win at home. Missions accomplished.

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