Results tagged ‘ Cliff Lee ’

King Felix Indeed

Twins_Mariners_Baseball_sff_174741_game.jpgWell, there is a reason why I take this guy every year in my fantasy baseball league.  When Felix Hernandez is on, his ball has such incredible movement that it is almost impossible to hit solidly (if at all).  That was the case tonight.

The other two reasons the Twins lost:

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The Mariners exposed a Carl Pavano weakness and turned the basepaths into a track meet.  This is becoming a serious problem when Carlos pitches against teams with speedsters.

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Then, Jose Lopez really got ahold of one and you could just feel the air come out of our sails, what with King Felix holding court.

Preview (31-23, 1st, 2.5 GA DET): Scott Baker (5-4, 4.48) vs. Dallas Braden (4-5, 3.60).  In the span of three days, the Twins will have stared down last year’s postseason hero (Cliff Lee), one of the top hurlers in the AL (Felix), and a guy (in Braden) who has pitched a perfect game this season.  Ouch.

Men In Blue Are A Little Black

Indians_Tigers_Baseball_sff_174463_game.jpgTo set the scene: Earlier in the day, with Armando Galarraga of the Detroit Tigers just one out away from pitching a perfect game against the Cleveland Indians, umpire Jim Joyce blew a call at first base that broke everything up (the runner was clearly out, as indicated by the instant replay).  As of this time, Commissioner Bud Selig is refusing to overturn the call and give Galarraga his perfecto, despite an admission of guilt from Joyce.

Then, the Twins-Mariners game last night transpires as follows:

Kevin Slowey and Cliff Lee lock up in a magnificent pitching duel, with the score tied at 1-1 heading into the bottom of the tenth inning.  With runners on first and second and two outs, Ichiro Suzuki hits a slow roller up the middle that Matt Tolbert adeptly smothers and flips to JJ Hardy for what looks to be the final out of the inning.  However, despite the fact that replays show the ball beat the runner to the bag, the runner was called safe and, by that time, the lead baserunner had already wheeled around third and scored easily:

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Two blown calls that cost their respective players/teams potentially dearly.  In Galarraga’s case, he will likely never approach a perfect game if he pitches for 20 more seasons.  The Twins, on the other hand, know first-hand the importance of a single game (we’ve played in two consecutive 163-game seasons) on the standings.  I can see the kind of tough position this puts Bud Selig in, and thus can understand why he is hesitant to overturn the Tigers call (as wouldn’t that be valuing individual achievement over team victories?).

Let’s just hope that this sort of fiasco leads to the introduction of instant replay into MLB as early as next season (or even this postseason in full-fledged form).  Football purists (if such a group exists) argued against instant replay for the same reasons that baseball purists (a much larger group) argue against it today (undermines umps, slows down the game, etc.).  However, replay has now become an established part of the NFL, and the league is (at least in my opinion) much better off for it, as getting the call on the field correct is the ultimate goal.  It should be the same in baseball as well.

Preview (31-22, 1st, 3.0 GA DET): Carl Pavano (5-5, 3.99) vs. Felix Hernandez (2-4, 3.50)

Goliath vs. Goliath

It’s been way too long since I updated this blog, but in part it is because of exactly what I am about to say.  Last week, the New York Yankees beat the Philadelphia Phillies in the World Series, and I’ll admit that I hardly watched any of it.  Was it because my beloved Twins were knocked off by the hated Yanks?  Partially, I will admit.  But I think the real reason is just because of how depressing it was to see the “haves” of baseball continue to lay the unrequited smackdown on the “have nots”.  This line of thinking was epitomized by the Game One starting pitching matchup:

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The Yankees opened the Series with burly lefthander C.C. Sabathia, who had pretty much dominated any opponent sent to face him all season long.  Just two seasons previous (2007), though, old cap-tipping C.C. (the Yanks must have straightened that out along with Jason Giambi’s mustache, Randy Johnson’s dangly hair, and Johnny Damon’s Jesus-mane) had been the star of Cleveland, winning the AL Cy Young award.

Sabathia’s mound opponent in Game One was Cliff Lee:

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Much like C.C., Lee had lead his Phillies with dominating performance after dominating performance down the stretch the throughout the playoffs. But, again like Sabathia, just one year previous Lee won the AL Cy Young while in Cleveland.

So, while most baseball fans may have just seen a great pitching matchup, I saw what is wrong with the very fabric of what was once America’s Pastime (much more on that topic in my next post).  Instead of a level playing field, some teams are given advantages (based no more than upon the geographic territory they happen to inhabit) that allow them to dominate the lesser opponents.  I mean, just imagine how Cleveland fans must have been feeling while watching that Game One?  It would probably be like how you and I (Twins fans) would feel should the Mets ever stop sucking and Johan Santana gets the chance to shine in the postseason.  It is a very helpless feeling, and one that completely turned me off to the rest of the Series.

About the only excitement I got out of it was watching old Pedro Martinez turn back the clock one more (last?) time against the team he will be forever paired with:

pedro-martinez-phillies.jpg Other than that, I don’t have much interest in watching teams steal young talent from around the league and then calling it “high drama” when they invetabily meet in the biggest of games.  I can’t begrudge the fans of either team, as I guess I can’t blame them for their economic advantages, but I personally find it very disheartening.

Coming up next: Why football is quickly approaching my beloved baseball in terms of “favorite sport”.

Laying Down The LAW(rie)

Lawrie.jpgAlthough I did enjoy watching the Twins hold the lead against the Indians last night, the premiere baseball excitement came from the Women’s College Softball World Series Championship on ESPN.

My Dad got me into watching the games a few days ago, and they really are very exciting.  One playoff game was decided by a walk-off grand slam, while another came down to a freshman (Jazlyn Lunceford) pinch hitting for a senior and team captain (Brittany Rogers) and hitting a granny!

However, the entire tournament was really dominated by Washington Huskie pitcher Danielle Lawrie.  She was the PAC-10 player of the year in 2009 and, at least during the playoffs, pitched every inning of every game (one going 15 innings!) for her team.  Although she had a few off innings, most times she was absolutely unhittable.  During the final game, where the Florida Gators needed to beat WASH to force a deciding game three, Lawrie and her Huskies were clinging to a slight 3-2 and Lawrie was struggling.  Once the fifth inning dawned, though, Lawrie came out to the mound with a look of determination that I don’t think I have ever seen from a baseball player of any kind, major leagues or otherwise.  From that point on she completely dominated the Gators’ bats and, pretty obviously, was named MVP of the World Series.

The amazing thing is, Lawrie is just a junior, so you can bet that she will have the Huskies back in the hunt next year as well.  I will be watching!

Twins Preview (26-27, 2nd, 3.5 GB DET): Cliff Lee (2-6, 3.16) vs. Anthony Swarzak (1-1, 2.08).  As beat up as the Indians are right now, I have to give Swarzak the nod in this one.  Of course, Lee could always (as a southpaw) pull a complete game shutout out of his hat against our bats.

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