Saturday, March 2, 2013

AL Round 1 recap by cebola

Division rivals Augusta and Cincinnati squared off in a rematch of their round 1 series two seasons ago.  Cincy got the better of that one, bouncing their rivals in 5 games.  In fact, these two teams have battled it out with each other and have finished 1-2 in the AL North 5 out of the last 6 seasons.  It was only fitting that the series would again take the full slate of games to determine the winner.  The series did not disappoint, as the first three games were all one run affairs, with Augusta getting the better of Cincy in the first two.  Augusta got strong pitching from Pedro "High" Sierra and Flip "Lennon &" McCartney, and got a game-winning homer from Marvin Crabtree (wasn't that the name of the teacher in the "Little Rascals?") in game one, and took advantage of a Davey Diaz error in the 10th to plate the game winner in game two.  Carlos "Exxon" Valdes did his part for Cincinnati, belting a homer in each of the two losses.  In game 3, Cincinnati builds a 4-0 lead , as Valdes goes deep again.  But Augusta ties it by getting a 3-run shot from Victor Lawson in the sixth and a solo shot from Tony Rodrigues in the seventh.  But Dioner Moreno answered the bell with the go-ahead solo homer in the bottom of the seventh to get back the lead that would hold up,  keeping Cincy's hopes alive.  Game 4 was all Cincy, or should I say, all Carlos Valdes.  "Exxon" Valdes goes deep three times, giving him 6 for the series, and almost single-handedly evens the series at 2 apiece.  In game 5, Augusta's Cy Young probable Flip "Lennon &" McCartney earns his stripes with a complete game shut-out.  He pitched under pressure all day, as the 'Bear's lead was only 2-0 through the first 7 and a half innings.  Valdes could not work his magic again, and Augusta breaks it open with 6 runs in the eighth to take the game and the series.  Congrats to the 'Bears, who move on to the next round for the first time since season 21.

Congratulations to Cincinnati as well for a tremendous season.  You know they will back to compete for the title next season.  They have a potent line-up, led by Valdes who is locked up for a few more seasons, and a young pitching staff led by a couple of ROY candidates in the rotation, Corky Jackson and Marshall Floyd.  Great job!

The other round one match-up featured two perennial championship contenders, each in a new park and each with new ownership.  Kudos to both of the new owners for keeping their franchises on track to compete for the title.  Oakland (formerly LA) took game one 6-1, behind a strong pitching performance by Morris James, and a big three run homer by Andrew Gipson.  In fact, Gipson drove in all six runs, as his big three-run double in the 9th broke it open and provided some breathing room for Turner Ellis out of the Oakland pen.  San Juan (formerly Jackson) took two out the next three, with Kirk Lee pitching out of jam after jam in 8 gutsy innings of the game 4 series-evening 3-2 win.  Gus Pearce provided the big 2-run homer to break a 1-1 tie in the 6th.  Clay Stanley (who belted three homers in Oakland's game 2 loss), brought his team closer with a solo shot in the bottom of the 6th to cut the lead to 1, but it wasn't quite enough.  For game 5, Oakland sent game 1 star Morris James out to the mound to face the inconsistent Jason Mathews of San Juan.  Oakland got to Mathews early with 3 runs through the first 3 innings, all on solo homers, one each from Gipson, Jamie "Fire" Byrne, and Tony 'The Crooner" Bennett.  James pitched well again, and left after 5 with a 3-1 lead.  Clay Stanley belted another homer (2-run shot) and Oakland got 4 effective innings from Ellis and Valdes out of the pen to take the deciding game 5-3.  Congratulations to Oakland, who moves on to face Augusta in round 2.

Congratulations to San Juan for another fine season.  All the pieces are in place for another run at a championship next season.  Roy "Purple" Hayes has developed into a Cy Young worthy starter, and the line-up is loaded with the likes of Bryce Dupler, Dan Blair, and Ralph "Billy the Kidd' Kydd.  Great job!

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