Tuesday, November 22, 2011

NLCS Recap

This great six game series between Tampa and Burlington was full of drama, and was still hanging in the balance right up till the final pitch. Game 1 featured a match-up of CY Young hopefulls Rich "Say it Ain't" Soboleski and "The Fireball Kid" Larry Kile. Tampa scored 6 runs in the second on 5 consecutive hits, sending Kile to the showers, while Sobolewski pitched 7-and-two-thirds, giving up 2 runs and striking out 7 in earning the win. In game 2, it was Burlington that jumped out to the quick lead, courtesy of the Cam Connection. Cam "Da Wild" Weston blasted a two run homer in the 2nd, and Cam Lewis pitched 6 brilliants innings, taking a 3-1 to the 6th. In the hopes of adding some insurance in the 6th, Burlington's bottom of the order started a rally. And when Harry "Met Sal' Lee intentionally walked 8th place hitter Whitey "Black" Holzemer to load the bases, pitcher Lewis did the unimaginable and blasted a grand slam to all but secure the win to tie the series. In support of Lewis, Andruw George and Doc Figga combined for 3 scoreless 2-hit innings of relief. Game 3 saw Tampa's bullpen pitch great, as four relievers go 4 scoreless innings in support of Doug "Buck" Rogers in the 3-1 victory. Hi Shouse hit the go-ahead solo homer in the 6th, and scored an insurance run after hitting a triple in the 8th. Burlington leaves 14 men on base, including the bases loaded twice. Game 4 saw Tampa's Einar Tavarez do his best Greg Maddux impression, pitching 8 innings of 1-run ball on only 85 pitches! Ala Maddux, he added an RBI single in support of his 6-2 win. Veteran Eugene Moreno hits a 2-run homer. Game 5, a rematch of game 1's starters, was the classic-type pitchers' duel that we'd expected earlier. Sobolewski again did his part by throwing 6 shut-out innings, but Kile shows up this time as well. Kile's only blemish through 6 strong innings was a solo shot given up to Jamie "The Fire" Byrne in the 3rd. Kile appears to be the hard-luck loser, as Tampa turns the 1-0 lead over to fireman of the year, Les "Fat" Albers in the 9th. With Tampa two outs away from securing a trip to the Series, Wilbur Servais cracks a 2-run, walk-off homer to extend the series.
MLB network would be showing game 6 tomorrow, as it became an instant classic. An early Dioner "Big Claw" Moreno two-run homer for Burlington helps create a 2-2 tie. In the fourth, pitcher Cam Lewis drives in his team leading fifth RBI of the series to give Burlington the 3-2 lead that they would hold until the 7th. Mr. Clutch, Jamie Byrne hits a three-run homer in the 7th to give Tampa the 2 run lead with 6 outs to go. The Booya load the bases in the 8th, but Graham Oliver hits into an inning ending DP to kill the rally. In the ninth, Moreno's second HR of the game cuts the defecit to 1, and then Albers blows his second staight save by surrendering the game-tying hit to his game 5 nemesis, Wilbur Servais. In the bottom half, Byrne hits into a twin-killing to squash a rally and send the game to extras. In the 12th, the Booya load the bases with no outs, but get just one on a Brennaman single, to turn the game over to super-swingman, Carlos Tavarez. Tavarez, who did not blow a save all year, loads the bases with 1 out on two hits and a walk, then fans one of the toughest guys in the league to strike-out, Tom Hardtke. Hi Shouse comes up big with the 2-out, game winning 2 run single to send Tampa to their first World Series in franchise history. Shouse gets series MVP honors. Burlington collected 20 hits and left 18 men on base in game 6, and were just one timely hit away from forcing a game 7. Congrats to the Booya; I have a feeling those big hits will come next year, and for many, many more. Great Series. Tampa moves on to face Jackson, against whom they went 2-1 in interleague play during the season.

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