Saturday, March 16, 2013

AL and NLCS Recaps by cebola

Each team playing for the AL Championship entered the series by vastly different means.  Trenton cruised by Oakland via a sweep and had a well-rested rotation at its disposal, while Augusta battled hard in their five games against San Diego, burning both Pedro “High” Sierra and Cy Young winner Flip “Lennon &” McCartney in the clincher.  But after throwing 55 pitches two days prior, McCartney takes the ball for his team in game one and once again shines.  He pitches a complete game in the 3-1 win, outdueling Karl Hurst, who was uncharacteristically wild.  He doesn’t give up a hit, but walks five in taking the loss.  In game two, Trenton bounces back behind Pat “Puffy” Combs in the 3-0 shutout that saw former triple-crown winner Nick Jacquez go deep.  With the series moving to Augusta, Trenton is three outs away from taking the series lead, as Placido Balentien pitches 7 brilliant innings and hands over a 5-2 lead to closer Charles Chen.  But the ‘Bears turn the tables and walk-off with four in the ninth to take the pivotal game 3.  Danys Dotel, Tony Juarez and Marvin Crabtree all have huge RBI hits the inning, with Crabtree’s being the walk-off.  What’s the remedy for suffering a deflating loss that puts you behind in the series?  How about three straight spectacular pitching performances by Trenton’s trifecta of aces.  Hurst does the honors in game 4, going 6 in surrendering just a single run the 5-1 win (Jacquez goes deep again.)  Combs outduels McCartney in a classic pitchers’ duel in game five’s 2-1 Trenton victory.  “Puffy” gives up only 2 hits and no runs, striking out 7.  And then Balentien puts the nail in the coffin with eight innings of shutout ball in the game 6 clincher, which Trenton  takes going away, 12-2.  The aces combine to give up just a single run in the final three games, deservedly taking the series from the top slugging Polar Bears.

Congratulations to Augusta on a great season.  If anyone was going to take down Trenton, it appeared that this squad was primed to do so.  They slugged 300 homers over the course of the year, and got a Cy Young season from McCartney, who could have effortlessly pitched in a game 7 if needed.  Augusta may be losing Flip to free-agency, but this team is loaded on both sides of the ball, and will easily be in contention again next year.  Great job commish!

The NL Series pitted the streaking Philadelphia Colonials, who were winners of 6 out their last seven en route to knocking off the red-hot Texas Wildcats and #2 seed Tampa Bay Don Ceasars, against the #1 seed Colorado Shock.  The Shock were coming off their dramatic five game series against Chicago.  Game 1 was an up-and-down affair that featured four lead changes before all was said and done.  Colorado’s 3-1 lead, which came courtesy of a Marc Clarke 2-run shot, was overcome by a Philly 3 run fifth, which featured solo homeruns by Max Kelly and Dennis Hammel, and a go-head RBI single by Santos Torres.  But the Shock worked their come-from-behind magic yet again, as they get a Hector Pena 2-run shot in the sixth to take the 5-4 lead that would hold up, courtesy of the Shock star-studded pen.  Ken Priest, Lorenzo Alomar and Lyle Erickson combined for 4 and a third shutout innings.  In game 2, Philly’s middle-of –order studs took nicely to the thin air of Coors Field, as Hammel, Max Kelly and Geoffrey “Opie” Cunningham combined to drive in 9 runs in the 10-3 thrashing, behind a great effort from Carl “The King” Pressley (7 innings, 8 K’s).  Colonial game 3 starter Rob Cormier continued the momentum and pitched 6 effective innings, and the offense built a 6-0 lead through 5.  Donn Jones drove in three of the runs, 2 coming on a 1st inning homer off Cy Young candidate Rafael Beltre.  ‘Rado would work their magic again and cut deficit 6-4 by the 8th on Clark’s 2-run shot and RBI single, but it wouldn’t be enough as Philly tacks on 2 insurance runs and holds on to take the pivotal game by a 8-4 score.  In the next two games, the Shock would be held to 1 and 2 runs respectively, as Philly’s co-aces Clarence Coleman and Pressley dominate the line-up stacked with sluggers.  Philly’s overlooked bullpen threw 5 scoreless innings in the two wins as well, and Philly takes the series with victories of 6-1 and 6-2.  Hammel was the game 4 hero with a homer and 3 driven in, and Cunningham did the honors in the clincher, with a homer and 3 driven in.

Congratulations to Colorado for another great season.  The pitching staff gave up the third fewest runs in the league; no small feat playing half their games in thin air!  They are still loaded top to bottom on both sides of the ball, and we expect them to compete for a title once again next season.  Nice job!

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