Monday, May 28, 2012

AL Playoff and World Series Recap by cebola

In the AL 2nd round, Trenton stormed by Jackson after losing game 1 to (who else) Reese "Smokin'" Hemphil. They were already dealing with the abscence of superstar Nick Jacques to injury, and they could have been down 0-2 after blowing a 6-1 lead in the 8th of game 2. But they came back to win that one on a huge walk-off hit by Wade Kirk, and then took games 3 and 4 to win the series 3 games to 1. John Suzuki had a big 3-run blast in game 3 to overcome a defecit, and free-agent signee ace Pat Combs threw a gem in the clincher (7 innings, 1 ER, 11 K's.)

Jackson had another very fine season, and will continue to compete as they still have a solid core left from their not-to-distant champioship sason. Way to go, Jackson!

LA's series win over Charlotte took even more than all 5 games to be decided, as the final took went into extras. The series was marked by stellar pitching, especially in the first 2 games as the teams traded W's. "The Professor" Alex Gabriel pitched 8 and 2/3 in his win for Charlotte and LA's JD "Tool Belt" Schneider tossed 8 shutout innings in their game 2 win. Charlotte took game 3 and a 2-1 series lead then Felipe Estrada hit a game-winning HR in the 8th. LA need 13 innings to tie the series and force the game 5, but only after surrendering the lead in the 9th. Last season's Cy Young winner Travis Jones did something he only did 5 times during the past 2 seasons combined; blew a save on a Dan Larson RBI single.. But his teammates covered for him and took the game on a Travis Wells RBI double in the 13th. The deciding game had us all on the edge of our seats, as Charlotte had a slim lead heading into the 8th. LA tied it up and the game went to the 11th, where it was won on a "Bobby Thompson Style" walk-off HR by Andrew Gipson. Carlos "Exxon" Valdes pitched 3 and 2/3 crucial hitless innings for LA in the win.

Charlotte proved once again to be a force to be reckoned with, coming a few outs short of making it to the LCS. Since they always make it into the tournament, I'm betting a ring is in their near future. Great job once again.

In the LCS, LA went up 3-1 in the series, and things looked grim for Trenton, as they were still playing without slugger Nick Jacquez. Old "Tool Belt" Schneider pitched 6 innings of 1-run ball and their game 1 win, and they got a huge game 3 from Clay Stanley, who blasted 2 HR's. Trenton won game 2 on the back of their original ace Karl Hurst who went 8 shut-out innings for the win. LA tipped the scales to give them the 3-1 series lead by again working their extra inning magic. This time Tim James got the game-winning RBI in the 14th. With the medical team fighting and scrapping to get Jacquez back in there, the Trenton squad play their hearts out with their backs against the wall to get the game 5 victory. Combs spins a beauty to earn the win and Damaso Espinoza comes up big with 2 HR and 6 RBI. Game 6 finally marks the return of Jacquez and he makes LA rue the day for not taking care of business in game 5. Jacquez blasts 2 homeruns in his return and Karl Hurst gets his 2nd win of the series in the 5-0 Trenton victory. In the deciding game, Schneider has little in the tank as he attemps to go on three-days rest for LA, and he surrenders 6 in the 11-3 Trenton win. Jacquez continues his return party with another homer.

The Dodgers had another fantastic season and was not far from reaching the series. They have a strong well-balanced team on all levels and will undoubtedly be back bext season. I bet they can't wait to roll! Very nice job.

Very close games in all 4 World Series contests, but Iowa proves too much for Trenton. The Rounders overcame a 2-0 defecit to win game 1 4-3. Bruce Mullens goes 6 and surrenders only 2 runs. Game 2 was a walk-off, Sammy Cochrane Style, in Iowa's 3-2 win. Clinton "Puff Daddy" Puffy goes 6, surrendering only 2 to keep his team in it long enough to come through. Elrod "Rum &" Coke continues the trend of outstanding pitching by tossing 6 and 2/3 and giving up just a single run. It was Coke's 3rd win of the playoffs. Jaret Walters finally has a big playoff game in hitting a homer and driving in all of Iowa's runs in the 4-1 win. Mullens doesn't mess with the formula for victory as he pitches 6 innings of 1-run ball in the game 4 series clinching 4-1 victory. Super swing-man gets the final 9 outs for the save.

Congratulations to Trenton, who made the move from a tough, competive team, to a legit contender. The 1-2 punch of Hurst and Combs at the front of the rotation, and a healthy Nick Jacquez should keep them in the mix for seasons to come. Look out! Great job, Trenton; League Champions!

Iowa had a season for the ages. They led A.Rod with an amazing 112-50 record and .691 winning %. They won the division by 15 games; were 13 games better than the next best team in the NL, 11 games better that the next best team in the World. Their expected winning % was .702, based upon their run differential. Expected % is usually a solid indicator of how good (or bad) a team really is; any variance between expected and actual can usually be attributed to luck, as winning (or losing) close games can cause a variance. This means Iowa was actually UNLUCKY this season. They should have won 114, and with a little luck going the other way, could easily have won 116-120.

After an early 7 game losing streak and a tough 8-10 start to the season, they proceeded to go 104-40, which is a .722 winning %! They had another 6 game losing streak early on, but then they lost NO MORE THAN 2 IN A ROW at any point over their final 109 games! Their winning streaks just got longer and longer as the season went on; an 8 game streak, followed by a 12, and then a 16! Oh yeah, they finished their season with 8 games a row in the playoffs against the best competition. They went 11-1 in the post-season.

NL Rankings ...

Number 1 in team ERA at 2.89 (next best 3.47)
Number 1 in runs allowed 523 (next best 608)
Number 1 in WHIP 1.10 (next best 1.27)
Number 2 in fielding % .987

All pitching and run prevention? Not quite!

Number 2 in runs scored at 835; only Colorado's Murderer's Row Mach II scored more.

Iowa extended the contact of SP Clinton Puffer and has him through season 27. Mullens is signed through 24, and Coke is final-year arb eligible next season, and will undoubtedly be locked up long term. They realized they couldn't replace Gio Hernadez's innings and performance with 1 guy, so they signed a bunch of great alteratives to give them effective innings; Roger "Mister" Andrelcyzk (13-5 3.06 ERA), Andres Lopes (6-1, 1.44 ERA in relief), Carlton McGee (10-3, 7 saves, 3.24 ERA), Vinny Cortes (11-4 3.06 ERA), Jay Clemens (8-4, 2.86 ERA), and of course, PJ O'Shea (35/38 saves, 0.88 WHIP, 1.59 ERA).

The more research I do, the more frightened I am of having to compete in the same division! Excellent job, Ahsowhat, of putting together what will prove to be one of the best all-time seasons in A.Rod. You deserve the championship, enjoy the trophy!