- Game 1 of the first series featured a duel between last
season's Cy Young award winner and a solid candidate for this year's
prize. Milwaukee got to Tampa's Rich "Say it Ain't" Sobelewski for 3 in
the third with the help of an Eduardo Melendez error. The big blow was
a 2-run HR by SS Phillip Morgan. Sobelewski settled down and then
helped himself a couple innings later with an RBI single off of
Milwaukee's ace "Don" Juan Bennett to make it a 3-2 game. Both aces
continued to keep things in check until Tampa's Derrick Grissom tied it
in the 7th with a solo homerun. The Dons then take the lead with three
in the 8th off reliever Victor Webb on another big hit by Grissom, this
time a 2-out, 2-run double. Closer Alfonso Villafuerte gets the side in
order in the 9th to secure the 6-3 win.
In game 2, Milwaukee jumped out to the quick 2-0 lead lead on Edge Edwards's RBI single and a Morgan sac fly off Tampa starter Harry Lee. The Tampa line-up could not do much with Milwaukee southpaw, Stu McCurry, as he goes 8 scoreless innings, giving up only 4 hits and no walks, and the Bommers build a 4-0 lead. Tampa does get a 2-run HR from veteran Blake Leary in the ninth off Webb, and Fireman of the Year Chief LeCroy is called upon to sew up the win, tying the series at a game apiece. LeCroy gets a lift from a fantastic play by defensive replacement Benji Ramos at short to keep a potential rally from brewing.
Veteran York Harris gets the call for Milwaukee to start the pivotal game 3, and he puts his team in a 5-0 hole through Tampa'a half of the third. The damage came via a solo HR by CF Hi Shouse and 2 bombs by Leary, one of them a three-runner. Miwaukee scratches out a run with a two-out rally off Tampa starter Rob Cormier in the 3rd, and cut the defecit to 2 in the 6th with a 2-run blast by Cookie Silva. Harris, along with releivers Tsubasa Suzuki and Victor Webb throw 4 scoreless innings after the third to allow Milwaukee to come back. And come back they do, with 3 huge runs in the 7th to take a 6-5 lead. Pablo Diaz had the game-tying single and Siva the go-ahead sac fly. Reliever Tom Person continues Milwaukee's strong bullpen performance by getting Tampa's 4-6 hitters in order in the 8tt, and hands it over to LeCroy in the 9th. PH Roy Miller hits the big game tying homerun with 1 out, and then former Boomer Nigel Lidge draws a PH walk. Pinchrunner Shane Kent raced all the way around from first to score the go-ahead run on Josias "Viva Las" Vega's bloop double.Tampa loads the based but fails to score any insurance runs. The one would be all they need, however, as Villefuerte gets the side in order in the 9th to wrap up the 7-6 win and 2-1 series lead.
With their season on the line, Milwaukee brings back Bennet on three-day's rest. He falls into a 3-0 defecit through 3 on a couple of Jamie "The Fire" Byrne RBI singles and an Eduardo Melendez RBI double. Tampa starter Cody sanders gives up a solo shot to Juan Alarcon in the 5th, but he was otherwise brilliant, going 7 innings (4 hits, 1 walk) in securing the series clinching 3-1 win. Villafuerte strikes out the side in the ninth for his third save of the series and takes MVP honors. Tampa moves on to try to defend their NL crown against Tacoma.
Congratulations to Milwaukee for a great season, and their first playoff berth since season 14. They appear to be restocked to loaded for another serious run at the title during the next several seasons. Nice job!
Game 1 of the other NL series was the Mariano Padilla show! Fresh off hisemotional CG game 5 victory over Burlington in the last series, he asks his manager for the ball on two day's rest. He gets the scoring started for Tacoma with a run run single in the 4th off of Cy Young favorite Alex Torres. St. Louis answers with two of their own in the 4th on RBI's from Rip Anderson and Nicholas Woods. But Tacoma give Padilla the lead for good on a Ronald Martin sac fly the next inning, and Padilla has a final line of 7 innings, 7 hits 1 walk and 3 runs in the 4-3 win. St Louis had a great chance to break through against him in the 7th, loading the bases with no outs, but Chuck Merrick, coming off the bench as a PH, strikes out, and they manage to only plate 1. Tacoma's rock-solid bullpen delivers a hitless 8th and 9th.
Momentum seemed to carry over into game 2, as Tacoma strikes for 1 in the first off St. Louis's David Polanco on an Andy Jacobs RBI single. But in bottom 1, St. Louis explodes for 4 off Gregg Sweeney, the big blows a Louie Santiago 3-run blast and a Merrick solo shot. That would be enough as Polaco doesn't allow another run through the next 5, and St. Louis hold on for the 6-3 win. Ploanco goes 6, giving up 4 hits, 1 walk 1 run and 6 K's. Stump Matheson gets a 1-2-3 ninth for the save.
Carvernous Cheney Stadium provided us with a pitcher's duel in game 3. A Ronald Martin RBI groundout, set up by a Jacob's walk and Moreno double in the 4th would prove to be the only run Tacoma starter Wladimir Ontiveros would need. WO goes 6 innings, 3 hits, no walks and 6 K's, and the three-headed bullpen beast of Norm Cohen, Lawrence Thomas and Harold Taylor nail it down with 3 hitless innings, striking out 5 with no walks. Ruben Calderon was the hard-luck loser giving up just the 1 run, but did struggle with his command, surrendering 5 walks, including the one that came around to score.
Game 4 seemed like it would be over before it really got started as Tacoma explodes for 6 in the second, and chase St. Louis starter Pedro Borges before the inning is over. Back-to-back triples by Moreno and Martin get the scoring started, and after a couple of RBI singles by SP Shawn Harris and SS Ellie Leach, Roland Soriano connected for a three-run homerun. Don Yates proved to be the almost-hero, as he pitches 4 and a third in releif of Borges, yielding only 1 run and keeping St. Louis in it. The Redbirds chip away by getting 2 in the 4th with a Santiago solo shot and Gil Ashby RBI single. In the 7th, with the clock ticking on their season, they get 3 more to cut the defecit to 2, the big hit a 2-out, 2-run double by Merrick. In the 8th, it looks like the momentum is going to carry, as St. Louis gets the first two men in, but the rally is crippled by a DP by PH Joel Raben. Ted Anderson picks him up with the RBI single to salvage 1, but St. Louis enters their ninth down by one, but with Santiago, Anderson and Merrick due. Closer Howard Taylor is again unfazed, as he gets the side in order to advance Tacoma to the Championship Series against Tampa. Taylor protects three one-run leads in saving all three games in the series to earn MVP honors in a tight race over Calderon.
Another outstanding season from St. Louis, as their 102 wins were their 2nd most ever, only to their sick 112 of their last championship season. You know they will be back next season, poised to make a serious bid for their 3rd title. Congrats!