2013 Game Recaps

Phillies Season Ends with Ugly Loss to Braves

The Phillies season ends at 73 wins, 89 losses after an ugly 12-5 defeat in the finale against the Atlanta Braves. It’s the most losses in a season since they hit 97 losses in 2000.

On the opposite end, the Atlanta Braves, winners of the NL East, finish the year 96-66.

On this day, the Phillies would be undone by the fact that their bullpen had to pitch the entire game again. Zach Miner started and allowed five runs and seven hits in 2 1/3 innings. Cesar Jimenez and JC Ramirez came in and gave up five more runs.

Erik Kratz hit his 9th home run of the season; Chase Utley had two hits.

The outcome of this game obviously meant nothing other than another notch in the win or loss column. What is does mean is that the Phillies are in a world of trouble heading into the 2014 season, unless Ruben Amaro Jr. can get crafty.

Looking ahead, it would appear many of the players currently on the roster would be back. Ryne Sandberg is already in place as the manager, but his coach staff is still relatively unknown. There is a belief that Rich Dubee could be on the way out as the Phillies transition to a new regime. But other than that, what moves can be made?

There’s always next year, as the old adage goes. All Phillies fans can look forward to is an offseason of hope and some nice player movement, and then Spring Training. See you in March.



  1. Ken Bland

    September 29, 2013 at 5:56 pm

    No matter how extensive a trend (not necessarily a good word choice) is, if you look hard enough, you can find an exception to the real time rule.

    But it was complete and consistent this week in the American League where Tampa Bay (7?), Cleveland and pending Texas (7?) all saw the task at hand at week’s start, and won out. The Rangers lead the Angels 6-2, and 3 more outs separate them from joining the other 2 clubs in this perfect unison.

    You could have gotten long odds on somebody bumbling and fumbling a game away, and who’s to say that one game might not have messed with another club’s concentration.

    But look a little deeper, and you’ll see where the prize was home field, seemingly more valuble in the overall scheme, the results didn’t match the trend. The A’s very possibly cost themselves a valuble home field edge through the AL. They held servie against the Tigers for the 2 seed, but will now need the Red Sox to lose to the wildcard to host the ALCS if they beat Detroit. Four Fenway games as opposed to 4 at Oakland figures to position Oakland as an underdog. Does dog or favorite matter? Nadda. Does last at bat 1 less time matter? Absolutely. As do a few other things.

    But the biggest failure of all took place in Dixie over the weekend. The Braves lost to the Phillies, a team that truly has exhausted negative assessment to the nth degree. Ethan Miner and Zack Miner separated the Braves from the one seed, and they couldn’t parley back to back wins. Amazingly, they overcame a never better Cliff Lee Friday nighter, but the Saturday loss slipped them to the 2 seed. The difference? As the 1 seed, the Braves would have likely hosted Pittsburgh the odd game, and while the Pirates probably would have won the opening round, the Braves would have been pretty competitive. Had they matched up with the Reds, they might have eeeked out a win. Now? They have home field over the Dodgers, but if there’s any drama to that series, it’s breaking news.

    95 wins and nothing to show for it is what it amounts to. Especially to a market that collected 1 title out of 14 straight divvys. The NL East has 1 tournament title this century. The laggard finish of it’s bottom 3 teams earned it this year’s worst division in baseball honor. It’s fitting that Atlanta is the division rep in the playoffs. Ethan Martin and Zack Miner sperated them from some degree of rightful confidence. And they failed miserably. Almost as much as the 2013 Philadelphia Phillies on the whole.

  2. Carlos Danger

    September 29, 2013 at 5:58 pm

    They had the worst run differential in the NL. It was an awful season by an metric you want to use. This is a team with absolutely no strengths. Not pitching or offense. Not defense, baserunning, or fundamentals. They don’t do anything well.

    • Mike

      September 29, 2013 at 7:53 pm

      They’re really good at leaving runners in scoring position.

      • schmenkman

        September 29, 2013 at 8:21 pm

        Not even that — they’re only average.

  3. Morris Buttermaker

    September 29, 2013 at 7:59 pm

    Today’s game was the perfect summary of this entire season.

  4. Bob in Bucks

    September 29, 2013 at 8:17 pm

    I did not expect much this season but next year looks even bleaker. We have 3 known starters by my count (Lee, Hamels and Kendrick), beyond that we have maybes like Gonzalez and Pettibone. Definitely need another starter in a not very exciting free agent year.

    One positive in the last two months has been the bullpen (excepting closer). A few of them seeem to have working things out so I don’t see a need for an addition there.

    But we need upgrades in RF and 3B. I don’t buy Ashe at this point. And I doubt Ruf can handle a full year and is a liability on the bases and in the OF. These two areas need serious upgrades.

  5. jeff of nova

    September 29, 2013 at 8:33 pm

    Bob sorry cant disagree more. The problem is not 3rd and RF it is that Howard is a mess, Rollins was weak at the plate, Revere started to look like a leadoff man then he got hurt, the bullpen is the biggest issue. Hamels, Lee, Kendrick, Gonzalez and maybe Doc on a small contract is decent just need some insurance for them. Honestly you need competition brought in but I f the OF is Revere, Brown, and Ruf I am willing to give that a try, many forget Utley was prospect when he came up and some didnt think he had enough power…they traded Polanco and gave him a shot. At some point we need to put some faith in our young guyss with the vets showing the way

  6. Bart Shart

    September 29, 2013 at 8:49 pm

    Jeff of Nova — I agree with your post. Additiionally, I hope to never see Tyler Cloyd or Michael Martinez again in Phillies uniforms. Neither player is major-league talent. Ruf may be a liability in the field or on the basepaths, but he also may be very similar to Pat Burrell when he was a Philly. Hernandez showed me talent, as did Asche (though he was streaky). Brown is injury-prone and hopefully will grow out of that next year. Howard will not last half the season, and Rollins needs to play fewer games as he was really inefficient at the plate this year. All I am saying, is give Galvis a chance. Utley will not play everyday. Our core from 2008(Howard, Utley and Rollins) is simply getting too old to effectively compete everyday.

    Nest year will be a tough year, but I am hoping for some positive movement and a 500 record.

    • schmenkman

      September 29, 2013 at 9:05 pm

      Utley was the 2nd most productive second baseman in the NL this year, even with the missed time. In what conceivable way is he “simply getting too old to effectively compete everyday”?

  7. Hogey's Role

    September 29, 2013 at 8:55 pm

    Beautiful protected pick in the draft…. #7 baby I’m happy..

    I’d like to see us try to get an established right field power threat then I would use ruf and Howard in a platoon at first. I think it’ll be an interesting competition in center with revere and Hernandez, however I believe revere is their guy… I’m willing to try asche at third with frandsen as a back up, unless Franco comes into spring and wins the job, catcher should be interesting probably resign Ruiz and I would go with rupp as the backup…

    • "Big Ed" Delahanty

      September 30, 2013 at 6:08 am

      Not only has the #7 pick been fantastic, as per WAR produced, but almost all those picks are stellar major leaguers. However, the real bonus is the pick is protected from Amaro, so he cannot trade it for a Casper Wells, etc. this definitely is a positive!!!

  8. bacardipr

    September 30, 2013 at 12:12 am

    Why is every time the word” Core players” is used we leave out Ruiz? The Phillies have a ton of $ committed to a few players. Unless Rube gets creative and this what we fear we basically will get the same reincarnation of this squad +/- a few secondary pieces. He can either blow his wad on one major free agent or a few secondary pieces unless he happens to unload one of his other major contracts.

  9. brooks

    September 30, 2013 at 6:23 am

    I’m glad the pain is over with.
    And I do look forward to next season in a big way. Like Bart said, there are a few players I would not mind NEVER seeing again in Phillies red, Paps being at the top of my list… I know we’re tied into a foolish contract but something can be done to use him in other spots, other than giving up 3 runs in the 9th –
    Anyone else have a favorite list of unfavorite Phils you want to see in some other uniform next year?

    • Ken Bland

      September 30, 2013 at 11:04 am

      “Anyone else have a favorite list of unfavorite Phils you want to see in some other uniform next year?”

      First, a concession. When Revere was not doing well, I’d describe my physical position to describe my view as arms thrown up in disgust over the way things were, and probably would keep going, in thinking Mayberry should play everyday in center.

      It wasn’t a love of the guy’s ability.

      His effect on me by season’s end has become comparable to that of Kendrick. I’m just tired of his game. Kendrick, at least, maybe his arm was shot, and while I’d still prefer to see him moved, maybe there’s hope. Mayberry? Seems a nice guy, no bad reports of his work ethic, but enough is enough. He’s like Ben Fransisco. I’ll follow his progress elsewhere, and appreciate the sometimes good results, but enough is enough. This idea that he’s effective enough against lefty pitching to warrant a spot in a platoon is overdone.

      I’m at a point where I’d prefer a different shortstop, but there won’t be a change there, and there might be an Indian Summer in there before it’s over, so I just live with it.

      I’m not up in arms over Papelbon being here next year. Maybe it’s because I don’t care much about him.

  10. Art

    September 30, 2013 at 7:27 am

    What is there to look forward to for next season? Our arrogant GM is bringing back the same team! His comments to bring back Kendrick stating, “I don’t even know why people are asking about that” says it all. Why are people asking about that Ruben? Because Kendrick finished with an ERA of almost 5 runs a game and our lineup can’t score any runs! What a pompous jerk. For the first time in 8 years I will not be renewing season tickets.

    • schmenkman

      September 30, 2013 at 7:43 am

      Kendrick’s ERA of 4.70 was similar to: Ian Kennedy (4.91), CC Sabathia (4.78), Dan Haren (4.67), and Ryan Dempster (4.57), and bit higher than Tim Lincecum (4.37).

      His FIP (which is a better predictor of future performance) was 4.02, which was similar to Sabathia (4.10), Haren (4.09), Lohse (4.08), Jeff Locke (4.03), Ervin Santana (3.93), and Matt Cain (3.93).

      I’m saying bringing him back is a slam dunk, but it’s not such a crazy thought, either.

  11. Bob D

    September 30, 2013 at 8:27 am

    Don’t be surprised if Revere and Ruf are either bench players or traded. I see Hernandez pretty much like Revere except he can play 2B and will be learning 3B/corner OF. Both seem a bit shaky on defense, but Hernandez has a much better arm and should improve in OF.

    Ruben should look to bring in Choo and even another OF whether he can pull off a trade for Stanton or Braun or another top player who could be dealt because they are “too expensive” (Stanton) or “burnt their bridges” (Braun). A number of players could be used for trade including Revere, Ruf, Asche (if they want to bring in Franco), Kendrick, and Ruben’s favorite – prospects. Time to think outside the box here.

  12. Ken Bland

    September 30, 2013 at 11:11 am

    Still plenty of baseball left, and it should finally most all be good baseball

    Tonight’s 163rd game of the season for the Rangers and Rays conjures up some memories of one of Cliff Lee’s more memorable post season games. It was at a time when Cliff was still building one of the post sewason’s more terrific resumes, a full year ahead of when kinks dented the armor in that post season string when game, set, match fell through the cracks after the Phils had built a 4-0 lead against the Cardinals and the team failed to hold the lead. Prior to that, Lee had essentially accumulated remarkable post season results.

    His opponent in Game 5 of The Division Series that Game 5 was David Price. Cliff’s CG 5-1 win capped a 5 game set that saw 5 road victories. Price pitched pretty well that night, not to be confused with very well, but now, at age 28, he’s the senior pitcher in the matchup, and has pitched to better results of late than his injury affected season has shown. Not well enough to offer much hope for 9 inning mastery, but well enough. He certainly has ace potential, as reflected by a 12 player polling recently that found 2 players saying they’d choose him to start if they had 1 guy to pitch a playoff game, who would they choose. Why anyone would choose Price over Clayton Kershaw is besides the point, but Price’s name did come up on 2 answers. Price has not faced Texas this year, which you’d think works to his edge.

    One guy Price has faced, 21 official at bats if you’re scoring at home,, is Nelson Cruz, who there is no doubt will start tonight, with his suspension in the past. Cruz has 9 hits in 21 AB’s against Price. That includes a homer (2 hits) in 5 AB’s last year, and 2-3 in 2011. Cruz is the same guy who nobody spoke of when the Strangers won about 10 of 12 when his suspension started, and who became the source of a lot of comment when the Rangers set up for a late season failure prior to arriving at another Houston portion of their schedule in the last week. A clutch, valiant effort in the last 4 games against the Angels was parlayed with the Houston sweep that has them alive.

    All I know about Cruz being potentially rusty is in his first game after a 6 week layoff, David Wright took Cole Hamels deep in his 1st at bat, and that was too late in the season to even have a single rehab at bat. The real problem with Cruz’s pending free agency is his soon to be 33rd birthday that mixes the how many years question with how long do you offer him. In a weak free agent class, his power numbers (when he plays) would easily justify 3 years at close to 55-60 mil, but who would settle for 3 years when the market won’t laugh at 4 with an option, even if the AAV comes down a hair.

    The saving grace for both clubs is the last game with expanded rosters. Tonight would mark Joe Nathan’s 5th straight appearance, and you can bet your bottom dollar that Ron Washington won’t shy away from using him. Fernando Romney was well rested for yesterday, but off a 33 pitch effort, how much physical skill he has left to accompany courage is debatable. A blown save either way won’t be shocking.

    So can Price be Cliff Lee this time? I’m guessing no. My suspicion is the Rangers are in the right place at the right time, often a prelude to playoff success, even if not the entire way. They win tonight, they win at Cleveland Wednesday. The good times end there, but it’s a better end to a season than could have been. And for a team that’s essentially had season ends the last couple times that were about as bad as could be, it’s not as bad.

    • Ken Bland

      October 1, 2013 at 3:54 pm

      That was a fun game to watch. D Price played the scenario alluded to, the senior guy, a la Cliff, terrific game, went 9, and defying what was expected.

      Kinda like the Buccos tonight, though I could see with Billy Hamilton active, that is one excellent weapon off the bench. Cueto’s terrific, but just back. Think I remember hearing the Pirates played right near 60 games scoring 2 or less. They did that in the 60 World Series, too. 55 games under 2 runs, and got rings. Great to see a spirited city transformed to a baseball capital for at least a night. Either clubs a good show against the Cards.

      • Ken Bland

        October 2, 2013 at 11:19 am

        It is clearly rock and roll time in The Great Game now, last night coupled with Monday’s AL playoff, and we’ve seen terrific examples of the spectacle forthcoming as baseball for 2013 winds it’s way to a championship trophy presentation, and a parade. And it’s such an ease of metal allocation not having to deal with the frustrations that were on the front plate during the year.

        Working in reverse, good luck feeling convictional about the Pirate-Cardinal Series. Uncle Selig will earn a number of valid, positive comments for his tenure, but among his flaws, this one is ridiculously worthy of 7 games. It DOES add to the fireupedness of the match, that it’ll be decided in 5, but this one could well go down as thee post season of the year. Just a tremendous crowd, Luriano capitalizing Neil Huntington’s case for Exec of the Year, by working ahead of hitters in textbook winning pitching fashion, and Clemente alive and well in centerfield, with Russell Martin banging 2 out. Screw the greedy athlete nonsense when it comes to Cutch. This terrific talent extended for years for small market money because he wanted to be a Bucco. And he’s now finally smack dab in the process of what he envisioned.

        The win or go home drama continues tonight. I liked Texas to beat The Tribe, so it feels a little like pouncing to lean toward The Rays tonight, but it is what it is. Once you reduce the emotion out of it (as opposed to TAKING it out), just from one angle, The Tribe was 36-52 against .500 or better during the year. Proud owners of a 10 game win streak, all against sub sea level squads, it’ back to the big boys. I don’t see where the day off hurt the Rays, and Joe Maddon’s brilliant milking of 9 Pricey innings gave his pen a chance to catch up on stamina.. That 36-52 includes a lot of games of long ago that it drops it to an excuse, or marketing ploy to go against CLE, but it’s of SOME value. Whoever wins, they are rewarded with more than a WC deserves with a day off tomorrow, but in Tampa’s case, that prize might enable them to make the ALDS a better matchup than most expect The Red Sox to participate in. Well guage Lurian’s poise as max and compare it to that shown by Salazar. Aside from Delmon (if he plays), this is a pretty patient lot of Tampa hitters.

        We”ll gu lean toward Tampa, and a full dive into feeling that it’s a helluva ballgame.

  13. Lefty

    September 30, 2013 at 11:34 am

    As bad as they stunk it up, there is still an empty feeling when the season ends. No game for the home team tonight. Rays and Rangers I guess, or Monday Night Football- I couldn’t even tell you who’s playing.

  14. Ken Bland

    September 30, 2013 at 5:57 pm

    Phillies Season Ends with Ugly Loss to Braves” screams the headline of this post.

    And truer words were never spoken.

    Whether its a trivia question, or a poll question, I know not. But if winning begets winning, the exit of September, MLB awards division personifies it, I mean what would you rather have run support, or public support?

    Kris Medlen has walked off with NL Pitcher of the Month honors for the month.

    Jumpin sufferin’ succotash. Cliff Lee struck out 54, walked one. Medlin struck out 36 in 33 innings. Lee outwhipped him, 0.7 to 0.9, thus more than negating Medlin’s awesome BAA against of .100. That’s nice. Medlen allowed an OBP of .244, Cliff .194

    I guess pitching wins are still alive, maybe just not well. Medlin was 4-0.

    I guess when it rains, it just pours.

    May the Dodgers knock this fine righthander, but worthy of a tie at best for this honor all over the park.

    But I think I finally spelled his name right. Lee, I’ve never had a problem with.

    What a joke!

    What a sham.

  15. Ken Bland

    October 4, 2013 at 12:26 pm

    Without even considering other candidates for the now vacant Reds manager’s chair, at leadst initial reaction is we finally (wrong word…hasn’t been too long) have a manager’s gig that we can realistically say at least Charlie has a potential landing spot.

    at the very least, you’re not quickly turned off by the possibility of Charlie working with those hitters that just died at season’s end. Contender, close to his WVA home. A little more likely than the M’s or Cubs, which I’d classify as a close to zero chance.

    Hope things work out for Dusty. Good baseball man.

  16. Ken Bland

    October 7, 2013 at 4:51 pm

    If you’re rooting for the Dodgers, or against the Braves, the decision to start Clayton Kershaw tonight certainly provides instant impact. It’s not like a Lee over Kendrick decision, Nolasco is pretty competent, but Kershaw is unique. So much so that in a matchup against Freddie Garcia, your first reaction is about the champagne.

    And while this is no doubt a decision by multiple parties beyond Don Mattingly and Kershaw, it, in a word is CURIOUS.

    .Frankly, it has a taste of playing into the run of good fortune the Cardinals have had in recent years, which is by no means to take credit away from them.

    Afterall, this early, you’re still managing a season, and not a sprint to the end.

    Kershaw will go on 3 days rest. He threw 126 pitches his last start. The Braves K’d 12 times against him in Game 1, and being as that’s not far from average for them, he figures to throw a good amount of pitches and work 1-2 fewer innings. It does potentially push him back to a later start in the NLCS, which might be an advantage, but taking him out of his routine seems too cute.

    Can the Braves take advantage of a short rested Kershaw? I doubt it. I just wonder if the Cardinals wind up running into a stroke of luck out of this that perpetuates this run of upsets and miracles they’ve pulled off the last couple years. It could be Pittsburgh’s turn to assume that role, and benefit from the move, but the whole thing just seems so St. Louis. At a minimum, Don Mattingly just made the playoffs more interesting.

  17. wbramh

    October 8, 2013 at 1:45 am

    I thought starting Kershaw on 3 days rest was a bit risky since he hasn’t had to rotate that quickly all year. Still, Kershaw pitched a decent game and the braves continued to strike out and keep the ball in the park.

    Personally, I think the Dodgers are rapidly emerging as the class of the National League so I naturally compare where they are compared to the Phillies.

    If you combined rosters between the Phillies and the Dodgers you’d probably come out of it with three non-pitcher Phils as starters (Catcher, 2nd & Left). The other five positions heavily favor Dodger starters.

    Add to that imbalance pitching which also gives the edge to the Dodgers. Additionally, I’m sure the Dodgers are not going to sit still in the off-season. In fact, their new management has been very aggressive at rebuilding and if I had to guess I’d say they’ll out-deal Rube between now and April. For the Phillies to be mentioned in the same sentence as the Dodgers next year would require major miracles in red and equal misfortunes in blue.

    In other words it’s time to get bold.

    • Ken Bland

      October 8, 2013 at 5:29 am

      You can’t judge the decision to pitch CK off the one game. I’m sure he feels great about his game, and the series win, but this is about how he pitches in his next maximum 4 starts. At his age, although there are numerous considerations that need to be taken into account, ranging from the animal himself to his between starts work, you expect something decent the first time out. Even that can hardly be taken for granted as the old routine of flashing graphics of pitcher’s poor records on 2 and 3 days is gone. Can’t forget, MANY of those instances, as they phased to 5 mans and 4 days were by older pitchers, not guy’s Kerhiser’s age.

      Many times, a club’ll do a short turn off an extra inning late night/fast turn travel, and you’d think they’d be flat the next game, but they do okay. It’s the lingering effect that’ worth watching. He may be fine, but it’s worth watching, and he’s probably through against lesser challenging lineups, It’s over the next few games that a club yields to fatigue, just like he might be flat 1-3 starts out. But I love killer instinct, and short rest with a series lead is pretty throwback. From a purely emotional view, it was awesome. And if it works out splendidly, he increased his value even more. As a fan of his, I’m happy for him in that regard.

  18. Lefty

    October 8, 2013 at 6:24 am

    I was convinced that the Braves were going to be the first team knocked out. They just don’t put enough balls in play. They can get away with that in the regular season, go on runs for a few weeks that put them ahead of the pack for good, but not in a short series.

    42 K’s in 131 AB’s, that’s not going to win a short series.

    • schmenkman

      October 8, 2013 at 6:54 am

      The Dodgers struck out 35 times in 138 AB’s. K’s alone don’t seem to be the difference maker.

      One other stat:
      .962 – Dodgers OPS (.333/.390/.572)
      .564 – Braves OPS (.214/.290/275)

      The Dodgers struck out a lot, but unlike the Braves, they hit well.

      • Lefty

        October 8, 2013 at 1:52 pm

        As Bill Baer says in the piece I will link below, “there are other factors of course” – but his review of the last ten years shows that typically the team that puts the ball in play more- wins more.

        “Of the 10 World Series winners since 2003, eight of them have had a strikeout rank in the lower half of the league. Six of them were in the lower one-third. The only team to win the World Series with an offense that struck out at a top-10 rate was the 2004 Red Sox (18.3 percent, sixth). ”

        The whole article-


      • schmenkman

        October 9, 2013 at 1:08 pm

        Lefty, thanks — that’s an interesting piece by Bill.

        I did some more research, and it looks like it’s a recent phenomenon (since the playoffs were expanded, that is):

        1995-2013 (132 postseason series):
        – teams that struck out less won 78 of the 132 series (.591 W-L%)
        – winning teams ranked, on average around 19th in Ks, while losing teams ranked ~17th (where 1st=most)

        1969-1993 (79 postseason series):
        – teams that struck out MORE won 46 of the 79 (.582 W-L%)
        – winning teams ranked, on average ~13th in Ks, while losing teams ranked ~15th

      • schmenkman

        October 9, 2013 at 1:11 pm

        (i.e. based on which team struck out more during the regular season that year)

      • Lefty

        October 9, 2013 at 1:56 pm

        schmenkman- I’d guess that since the frequency of strikeouts in the game are up in general, that might help explain the difference in the time periods as well. Obviously, there are more elite pitchers on playoff teams, but maybe pitching in general is better now?

        I wonder if the trend is the same for the same time periods in the regular season. Don’t bother with the research unless it interests you too. (or unless you’ve already done it.) I don’t need to know.

      • schmenkman

        October 9, 2013 at 2:12 pm

        Lefty, not sure if this is what you mean, but these are already based on which team struck out more in the regular season (as Bill’s was). To rephrase…

        1995-2013 (132 postseason series):
        – teams that struck out less *in the regular season* won 78 of the 132 series (.591 W-L%)
        – teams that won those 132 series ranked, on average, around 19th in Ks, while losing teams ranked 17th (where 1st=most Ks)

        1969-1993 (79 postseason series):
        – teams that struck out MORE in the regular season won 46 of the 79 series (.582 W-L%)
        – teams that won those 79 series ranked, on average, 13th in Ks, while losing teams ranked 15th

        I can’t wrap my head around what the reason for the change might be, assuming it’s real and not random noise.

      • Lefty

        October 9, 2013 at 3:36 pm

        Thanks man, yeah I’m not sure either.

  19. Ken Bland

    October 8, 2013 at 7:59 pm

    After Max Scherzer Cy Young’d his way out of the bases loaded with none out, the Tigers ran off the field, totally pumped, their 1 run lead protected. The crowd was going crazy.

    That wildness in place, I couldn’t help but look forward to the 9th, when we will no doubt see Joaquin Benoit, who’s done an admirable job of FINALLY stabliazing the closer role in Motown.

    But I couldn’t help but think back to the deadline, when every Tom, Dick, and Barry was so convinced the Tigers were gonna get Papelbon, who would be drwing that 9th inning shot that Benoit will get. Holy suspense. I can just imagine Papelbon getting the 9th inning in this game. Oh, brother.

    This matchup was the World Series last year. It’s fitting and proper that it’s become a bear of a series, and might go the distance in it’s reprisal year. There’s enough drama without Papelbon wearing the Olde English D. I can just imagine the reaction to how it would turn out with Paps working the 9th. Good freaking lord.

  20. Ken Bland

    October 8, 2013 at 8:35 pm

    Verlander and Wainright comin’ up in deciding games. And we’re not even at the LCS’s yet.

    Gooooood stuff.

    And Cole and Colon’s not too shabby, either.

  21. Ken Bland

    October 9, 2013 at 6:36 pm

    “Hurdle has managed in the World Series before, but this is an elimination game. People are going to second-guess everything he does. And what he’s doing is starting a rookie over a veteran.”

    Tonight, if Garrett Cole pitches well, which is a reasonable expectation, you can expect a lot of media and the like gushing over the”youngster” responding to the “pressure.”

    Somewhere, over the rainbow, maybe we can get past this that has become a “myth” about young pitchers.

    They don’t make ’em like they used to. Hell, maybe they never did make ’em that way.

    I’m not saying Cole, or Wacha, or Parker, or their types don’t need deep breaths when the going gets rough, but so many of these young kids that rise to the occasion have paid big pressure dues along the way, that Game 5’s and 7’s might make fans so nervous that it seems like life and death, but these guys are better prepared for it than they used to be, and they may have been better prepared for it back then than we know.

    Hurdle called Cole a tough decision. I’d call Burnett a tough decision. THis isn’t as momentum driven as KC was in Game 7 after the Denkinger play, but I like the Cards to prevail tonight. It’s been a marvelous year for the Bucs, and if they do lose, it’s a shame if a goat develops out of it. No matter how good a year the team has had, a loss would still be painful enough without some individual being the center of scrutiny.

    I won’t be disappointed in whichever ballclub moves on, but I think it’s the Cards that do.

    It would have been a terrific 7 gamer.

  22. Ken Bland

    October 9, 2013 at 7:59 pm

    Let’s see how the Vegas lines change with the kick ass change by the A’s from Colon to Gray for Game 5. Verlander was real close to 120 to win 100 across the board.

    Not a bad assignment for a rookie to draw the start after there was question whether he’d even be in the post season rotation until AG Griffin went down. It’s a tough, tough road through Verlander, but now, Sonny’s got a shot at becoming a household name, and we’re just gettin’ started in the 2013 playoffs.

    Mooch brownie points to the A’s for the decision. Not one club is going with the conservative pitching choice, and you gotta love the seize the moment approach that’s so widespread. Well, except Atlanta, where Kimbrel is STILL warming up.

  23. Ken Bland

    October 10, 2013 at 6:09 pm

    Looks like the price on V has dropped a little tonight. Right book, you can probably risk as low as 53 to win 50, down from close to 60.

    Whoop deee dooo.

    I only know this. Ask me who’s going to the World Sseries, I can give you a straight, confident answer. Maybe not a right one, but one of within my mind certainty. This Boston-LA marketable match looks pretty likely.

    But this one tonight? I liked my pre series feel. The winner of Game 1 will take it, but I wonder if I’ll feel the same way if it goes 5 and how it’ll feel before said 5th game.

    You have a left side of the infield tonight of Cabrera, and a likely rusty Peralta. I don’t know if scary’s the right word, it’s maybe a little harsh. Alex filed suit in New York today against Austin Jackson for outimpersonating him in the post season. Prince? Miggy? Sheesh. When your strength’s not carrying you, it is hard.

    For the A’s, it’s so easy to let your heart and connect to your mind and think what you feel. Sonny is such a story.

    The bottom line totals out this way. Verlander’s pitching for the Tigers. Sometimes, the most compelling points are the ones mentioned in simplest form. Verlander.

  24. Ken Bland

    October 11, 2013 at 3:31 pm

    Is there any doubt that the National League’s 2 premiere teams of 2013 now settle it on the field? That might be a slight of the Pirates, but not a big one.

    As for trying to pick a winner, many more than all predictions should be required by law to be taken with a grain of salt. But when you’re mandated by editorial heads to give ’em by a certain date, it can even compound the danger.

    Such was the case over at one blog, which presented it’s writers post season predictions smack dab in the middle of what seems the long ago play in between Texas and Tampa.

    So you consider the early calls, going as deep as the World Series, and, the lack of knowledge of who, if anyone took the “responsibility” seriously, and it’s a clear respect the predictions at your own instincts.

    But there was something ridiculously uncanny about the 8 or so bloggers that had their choices published. There was unanimous conviction that the NLCS would go 4 or 5 games.
    Of equal amazement, and I could swear I recall this correctly, last year’s similarly early opinions, once again featured every single one saying the NLCS would go 4 or 5 games on that blog.

    If you did the math, based on his picks and number of games, one fella pick(ed)s the Cards to sweep the Dodgers. That’s tough to imagine, although who’d have thought the ’63 Dodgers and ’66 Orioles would have swept. In retrospect, both clubs had outstanding pitching, which, if hot, can do that sort of thing. Plus, these 2 clubs both are well rounded, and pretty even. this isn’t Red Sox-Cards of ’04, a momentum aided mismatch, and the clubs nicely fresh, unlike the Tigers of last year who were too well rested.

    So most likely, this is a 6 or 7 gamer. If you pick the Dodgers, you’re going against some things.

    – Home field edge

    – Wainright naturally positioned to pitch a pivtal 3rd game, and possible 7th game.

    – The Cardinals won’t be much of an underdog in any of the early scheduled matchups. Greinke’s a better home pitcher, and doesn’t have a sparkling record against the Cards. Kershaw’s results in his last 3 starts V The Loo is lousy.

    But this isn’t a matchup based on that logic. The Dodgers have a couple guys who can fall prey to their minds wandering. I don’t see any problem with consistent focus bringing out the best in Hanley and Puig. It’s largely irrelevant since the Phillies lineup isn’t St. Louis, but in his last start against the Phils, you could have painted a career of shortcomings for Kershaw. He was painfully dominant that last game, reversing a lot of prior results. He’s what he is now, not then.

    I believe we’ll see 6 or 7 games, Dodgers winning on the road. But it’s quite similar to 2011. You expected the Phils to win because they were good. But you know better than to disrespect the St. Louis bunch by using certain in the same sentence.

  25. Ken Bland

    October 13, 2013 at 11:44 am

    Each league featured a playoff game yesterday. The home teams, both of whom have good, potent offenses combined for 3 base hits in 17 innings. If I told you they combined for 3 RUNS in that span, the general reaction would still be how they didn’t hit, or maybe to an extent, crediting the Cardinal and Tiger pitching, but it wasn’t even that. But 3 HITS in 17 innings is nothing short of amazing.

    The Cardinal situation is rather unique. On the one hand, keeping it simple, all they have done so far is defended home field. It’s often a huge mistake to start anointing a 2-0 leader. Three series in sport where that seemed to happen were the ’96 Braves, 1978ish 6ers (over Portland) and in that series in either ’77 or ’78 when the Dodgers won the first 2 against the Yanks. All 3 instances resulted in total flips, and 4-2 series wins.

    And while praise is running in all direction now, ranging from the Cardinal roster, to their management, to their history, quite honestly, not a verb of it seems like overreaction. That lack of overreactive feeling is just plain unique. I mean, let’s get serious. Allen Craig, who just crushes the numbers with RISP, more or less conveniently replaces legendary Albert Pujols, and then Craig goes down, and Matt Adams replaces Craig. What a chain of talent. The Redbird bullpen is beyond description. 98 mph gets replaced by 99, who gives way to 100 and good night nurse. It’s just a remarkable ballclub. Is it over? Put it this way, just their starting pitching alone reminds of the ’63 Dodgers and ’66 O’s we spoke of the other day, so the capability is there. I can’t go above the Dodgers haven’t lost a home game yet, and it’s not like the Cards were a dominant historic regular season team that’s not playing a hot streak, but my goodness. But I still think LA is alive, and should not be ruled out.

    On the AL side, Detroit’s a funny team. This Johnny Peralta is a really good ballplayer, and he’s far down the list of impact guys on that club. It was hard seeing them having enough gas left to beat Boston, but now, they have the opening game indicator in the books with Scherzer and Verlander still available for 4 starts. A deep series seems easy to attach to, but more to the praise of the Red Sox than any Tiger shortcomings, it’s not shocking to see Boston win the next 4. Not that Boston is that much better than Detroit, it’s just that the BoSox are capable of beating anyone 4 straight. Scherzer and Buchholz tonight. No headline overstates the greatness of the matchup.

    I guess we still have a minimum of 9 post season games left. I think we’ll see at least 9 runs scored the rest of the way. I mean the pitching is just superb. And there’s no reason to believe it’s just hot. Third time through the lineup, see them twice in 4-5 days. Don’t matter to these pitchers. Hitters keep waiting for mistakes. Good luck on that task.

  26. Ken Bland

    October 13, 2013 at 12:40 pm

    If you think of records, and Roger Maris, the first thing that comes to mind is the 61 deal. But for my money, Roger left life with an even bigger and better record. All the memories of the pressure Roger felt as a Yankee, his hair falling out, may have been reasons to downplay it, but there’s no question Roger was a true Yankee. But after back to back caliber MVP years rolled into 5 straight WS appearances and a short, but impactful Yankee stop that was Monument Park worthy, the popular Maris made a record level adaptation to new environs in St. Louis adding still another World Series visit to his impressive resume.

    In Carlos Beltran, we don’t have a totally unique challenger for that “record,” a player who has all but done it as notably. Orlando Cepada also followed similar course to St. Louis, and isn’t it funny how we keep directing this theme to St. Louis.

    For all the rightful praise thrown John Mozeliak’s way, it’s not like he wasn’t somewhat fortunate in the Beltran circumstance. You’ll recall that Beltran[s multiple year knee problem, hefty free agent status, and financial woes by the Mets on top of it made him a prime mid year trade candidate in 2011. Ruben Amaro wasn’t motivated to follow through heavily rumored Phillie talk to go after a rent a player, and Brian Sabean finally gave up the steep price of Zack Wheeler. Unfortunately, the blueprint of a Beltran patrolled right field gave way to injury, and Carlos was still ringless when he rolled into free agency after a Giant fade

    Mozeliak wound up kinda sorts forced to sign Beltran at last. Fresh off the Pujols departure, he was as good a replacement as the late winter market offered. There was, as always, health concerns about Beltran, but his talent was never in question. It’s worked out well for the Cardinals,but who’s to say that Mozeliak wouldn’t have been a certifiable genius had he gone for the likes of Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt and/or Carlos as early as 2009 when his farm system was rebuilding from a Shelby Miller and not much else recent bottom. When he did sign Beltran, no question, a lot of credit is due, but the fact is that he kind of fell in his lap after Pujols left.

    Now, we’ll get another chance to see how smart Mozeliak is about Beltran. There are about 43 clubs in baseball that would benefit from his play based on his 2 year stint with the Redbirds. Whether they project for another 2-3 years, the likely contract period is the multi-million dollar question. Whether or not the Cards win it all, and Beltran gets a ring, Carlos is a frequent subject of rumor already in not just NY or Philly. Win a ring, wrap it up in St. Loo, Beltran has a shot at outadjusting Roger Maris’s post New York stop to a great career end.
    Mozeliak passed on him previously, yet circumstances gave him a second chance. Now, he gets another test, the high asking price at career end. Not Robbie Cano high, mind you, but high. To say the least, it’ll be interesting to see how the 2 parties match up. And even more interesting to see if Beltran has more good times ahead, and where thay are. I wouldn’t be inclined to bet against Mozeliak making a good decision. But I’d even be more inclined to bet on Carlos Beltran making a right decision. It’d be a shame if he walks away from the field ringless. .

  27. Ken Bland

    October 17, 2013 at 8:55 am

    While it’s darned near impossible to sense the effect of the Cardinals being 0-4 now in their last 4 NLCS games that would clinch a pennant, it’s fascinating to think about it.

    No team in sport history has ever lost successive 3-1 LCS series leads. Last year’s loss was enough to sponsor a long winter as the Cards just fell apart, losing a home Game 5 to Barry Zito, but then getting consecutively walloped in San Fransisco in the last 2 games. Getting completely blitzkrieged from the mid point of Game 5 on is maybe less aggrivating than giving it away on a Buckner type play, but the 3-1 lead is what people talk about, and the Cards are now semi positioned to do it afreakinggain.

    The big difference is the home road thing, or at least could be. And as terrific as certain part of the Dodger pitching staff are, the Giants of a year ago maybe had a little more depth staff wide. Lohse a year ago, Wainwright this time. Cain, a year ago, Ryu this time. If it even goes 7.

    Jim Leyland offered the opinion last night that the 2 best teams in baseball are playing in the ALCS. He might be right, and it might even work out that way on the field, but it’s hard…real hard…not to see the St. Louis club not squeezing between the 2 at a minimum. But I guess we’re gonna find out. If the Cards lose these next 2, no matter how talented they are, no matter how baseball god driven a tumultuous fate would be, that’s a horrific thing to have included in your storied history. But the Dodgers winning would be a tremendous, tremendous story. Despite their road success this year, despite Hanley gutting out the pain, I’ll believe it when I see it. But it’d be fascinating to know just how, and in what ways this back to back 3-1 ate the Redbirds collective minds up if they lose. Don’t, for a split second, think that that pressure point totally escapes them.

  28. Ken Bland

    October 23, 2013 at 4:49 pm

    Finally, on October, we’re scant hours away from the 2013 edition of the Fall Classic. It’s easy enough to dramatize it, these 2 wonderful franchises representing great baseball towns renewing Fall Classic rivalry. To me, this thing could come and go without really capturing me despite that. It’s the World Series, so there’s natural interest, but it’s kinda sorta San Diego and the Yanks, or the Pale Hose and the Stros, although not quite that repelling.

    But there is one angle that perks my curiousity. And that’s how history treats the winner. We have 2 really good clubs squaring off, and you could pretty easily see a St. Louis win, coupled with recent successes igniting some real positive evaluations. A Boston win over this juggernaut with a whole bunch of strengths could earn them some serious respect. As it is, they may be the best American League representative in several years.

    It’s a shame that one of these clubs will end their season on a losing note.

  29. Ken Bland

    October 26, 2013 at 7:32 pm

    On Tom Verducci’s summer piece about how the last 5 WS winners each had 4 guys start 30 or more times, the Red Sox fall short. Lester had 33, Lackey and Dempster each started 29 games.

    For the Cardinals, they also fell short of keeping the streak alive. AW, Shelby Miller and Lynn were the only 3 that topped 30.

    Maybe that was a coincidence 5 straight times, maybe not.

    But a more time honored predictor of WS success is the Game 3 winner of first 2 splits since divvy play started in ’69. That scenario has unfolded 18 times. and the Game 3 winner has won 15 of those World Series.

    So it’s happened 5 out of every 6 times, or 83 per cent of the time. Which should translate to something close to 4-1 odds in favor of tonight’s winner.

    15 of 18’s a good, convincing ratio.

    But if I could get 4-1 odds to play the loser of tonight to win the Series, that’d be a pretty nice price to take a shot on. It’s a deficit, and you’d need to win 3 of 4, but that’s not bad. Who’d be more likely to carry you to a win on that bet? That’s a tough one.

  30. Ken Bland

    October 28, 2013 at 4:59 pm

    No Vic again tonight for Game 5. At the risk of even pretending to have medical expertise, you’d think that 24 hours after the fact, a cortisone injection might have turned the trick and propped him up, but all we know is he’s not starting.

    So Gomes and Nava are playing, Napoli “rests” again. Last night, Gomes and Nava saw 44 pitches between them. That’s outrageously good. Near 4 hour games because of Matsuzaka paced pitching will kill ya, but when smart, patient hitting is the reason, or at least up there on the list, you take your hat off. And it’s not like these are the only 2 on the field.

    The Cards appear to be a 125-115 favorite tonight. Several reasons are obvious if you’re looking for an excuse to make a pick in advance. to me, the standout headline is the lefty Lester on the hill. This won’t eliminate the Cards from still taking the series, but the BoSox seem to be in control now, let alone lining up better pitching for the last 3. Wacha and Kelly on the road for 6 and 7 just doesn’t inspire massive confidence.

    If the Cards win tonight’s Game 5, hopefully, it comes on a wild pitch, or passed ball. We haven’t seen enough strange endings to these games. If the Red Sox win, I don’t know what’s left for a strange ending. Seems like the road club can only win on an uncommon play so many ways, and we’ve seen that inventory exposed in just 1 game. Maybe they could execute a game ending triple play. All I know is B Strong is a very easy club to root for. It’s a bit of a guilt trip that comes with seeing Carlos Beltran come up ringless again, but damn, that Red Sox team and fan base is a cool combination.

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