Thursday, November 29, 2012

S24 Playoffs---Rd 1 Recap by cebola

Incredible action during this season’s round one. Lots of legendary games and performances

Things were looking bleak for Cincinnati by the 8th inning of game 2. In a 0-1 series hole to Trenton (courtesy a gem by Pat “Puffy” Combs) and down to their final 6 outs trailing 2-0 in game 2, they get 3 runs to take a one run lead. Trenton’s Placido “My Funny” Balentien had been cruising along, surrendering only 1 hit through the first 7. The big blow was a two-run blast by 9th place hitter Andy “Psycho” Hitchcock. Al Lopez pitches the final 3 scoreless innings to steal the Thunder’s thunder and even the series. Cincy was able to keep momentum and take game 3 behind playoff veteran Roger “Mister” Andrelczyk’s 6 scoreless innings and by getting to Karl Hurst for 4 runs. Trenton’s series -evening game 4 win was an extra-inning nail-biter as they blow a 3-2 lead in the 8th. They take the game in the tenth on John Suzuki’s two run blast to set up the deciding game 5. The game was everything a deciding game should be and created a legend in the process. Cincy broke through first with three runs in the 5th, on a John Martin RBI triple and a Davey Diaz 2-run homer, only to see Trenton answer with 5 of their own in the bottom half. Vin Mendoza belts a grand slam in the inning and one ups the MVP candidates Suzuki and Jacquez. Cincy ties the game in the 7th on a couple of solo shots by Alving Rivera and Jose Avila (say those 2 names a couple of times real fast!). Then with 2 outs in the bottom of the ninth Mendoza cements his legend and hits a series walk-off three-run blast. Mendoza earns series MVP honors as Trenton moves on to face the force that is the Jackson Colonels.

Congratulations to the Cincinnati Sextons. They win 90-plus games for the third time in four seasons, and have become an offensive force to be reckoned with. Odds are that the shrewd ownership will not stand pat and will keep the Sextons on track to continue to make runs at the title. Nice job.

In Charlotte’s 3 games-to-one series victory over Augusta, The Minute Men got solid starting pitching and great relief work to keep the ‘Bears offense in check. Front men Einar Tavarez, Estaban Guapo, and Phillip Bryant each earned a win and the relievers combined to pitch 10 scoreless inning in the series. Augusta’s ace, Flip “Lennon &” McCartney, was shaky in his two starts, allowing Charlotte’s bats to adequately support their great pitching performances. Augusta’s series highlight was game 2’s 6-2 win, in which they got all of their runs via the long ball, two by beast Cleatus Alexander "The Great". For Charlotte, the offensive attack was just as balanced as their pitching. Kenneth Adams earns MVP honors. He drove in 6 runs in the series, including 4 in game 3’s 7-2 win, which included his three-run blast that staked his team to the 3-2 lead from which they would not look back. After almost squandering their 7 game wildcard lead in the final week and a half of the season, Charlotte seems to be back on track and could be a team of destiny. They move on to face reigning AL champs LA, who seem to be on a mission of their own.

Congratulations to Augusta for another tremendous season. They just missed winning 100 games for the third time in the past three seasons. They’ve won 90-plus for an amazing 10 out of the past 11 campaigns! The main pieces of the team are still in or haven’t yet reached their primes. We should be seeing these guys making runs for a long time. Great job.

Tampa jumped out to a 2-0 series lead by taking both games in Cleveland by scores of 8-4 and 8-5. The Dons built early leads in both games, and had just enough in the tank to stave off the Cobalts’ relentless hitting attack. They wouldn’t be fortunate in game three however, as this game was an instant playoff classic. The teams took a 3-3 tie into the 7th before Cleveland broke it open with 3 in the top half. Art Krause hit his second two-run homer of the game in the inning. Fellow MVP candidate Andy Jacobs added an insurance run in the top of the ninth to give the Cobalts a 4 run cushion. But Odalis Tavarez blasts a game-tying 3-run homer to tie it up and send it to extras. After exchanging goose eggs in the 10th, Cleveland gets a huge grand slam from catcher David Soriano to go up 4 and put them in position to take game 3. Tampa answers with four of their own in the bottom of the 11th, the big hit a 2-run single by Hi Shouse, and on we go. Cleveland gets and RBI double from mid-season pick-up P.T. Moya (it’s getting to point of initials only, I guess)in the 13th, only to see Tampa answer once more with a run of their own. Tampa squanders a great opportunity to win the series at this point, but Kid Flair grounds into a bases loaded 5-2-3 DP to kill the rally. Andy Jacobs blasts his second homerun of the game in the 14th, this time a 2-run job, and this time Cleveland is able to make it stand up, but not without a little excitement. After getting back-to-back doubles to start the inning to cut the lead to 1, Hong-Chih Nakamura gets Tampa’s Justin Long (loved him in Jeepers Creepers) to strike out with the tying run on third with only 1 out. Cleveland takes the dramatic game 3, 14-13 in 14 innings. In game 4, Cleveland was 6 outs away from tying the series after getting another homer by Art Krause to give them a 2 run lead. But Tampa gets three in the bottom of the 8th to go up by a run on a big two-out pinch hit single by Peter Clark. Closer Alfonso Villafuerte gets the final three outs of the series to send Tampa off to meet Colorado in the next round.

Cleveland won the division for a second year in a row, and is good position to make it many more in the future. Jacobs and Krause are absolute beasts and should anchor that line-up for years to come. Alex Estallela is around for at least another season at the top of the rotation. Great job, Cleveland.

If you thought Tampa-Cleveland’s game three was something special, you wouldn’t believe game one of the DC-Helena series. The Peacemakers were cruising along, following the formula that made them so successful during the regular season. They got 6 shutout innings from Rico Petit and another 2 from super set-up man, Wellington Seanz. A couple of solo shots by Gerald Hull and Cristobal Chavez in the 6th built a 3-0 lead. But in the 9th, the Senators got to closer Stump Matheson, who blew only 2 saves all year. Back-up 3B Claude Walters belted a dramatic game-tying 3-run homerun to send the game to extra frames. Helena squandered bases loaded opportunities in both the 10th and 11th, while DC had their bases loaded in their half of the 11th, only to see Ernest Puffer strike out to end the threat. Scoring opportunities were few and far between the rest of the way, as Helena’s Valerio Santiago (3 plus innings) and DC’s Kid Spahn (5 innings) kept the opposition at bay, trying to allow their respective offenses to break through. Vet slugger Les Callaway’s sixth hit of the game was a walk-off 2-run blast in the 18th to give DC the dramatic game 1 win. In game 2, Helena rode an early three run homer by Leon Justice and got a solid outing from starter Darrel Bigby to even the series, and won game 3 behind an absolute gem by Paul “Absolut” Cintron (7 shut-out innings, 10 K’s). DC tied the series with a big go-ahead RBI by Homer Hill in the 7th inning of game 4. Kid Spahn throws another 2-plus innings in relief for the win. But in game 5, Helena gets stellar performances by Hersch Glynn (2 big hits, 3 RBI) and young starter Darrell Bigby, who picks up his second win of the series in going 8 shutout innings, striking out 8 and walking none. Bigby gets MVP honors and Helena moves on to face defending champ Iowa for the second season in a row.

The Washington franchise gets back to the playoffs for the first time since season six! Ownership has done a tremendous job putting that team back on the map, and turning them into serious contenders. Great job, DC, and here’s betting you’ll be back next season for another run.

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