Thursday, October 21, 2010

Playoff Recap: 10/20

Last night saw ALCS game 5 and NLCS game 4 take place. CJ Wilson took the mound for the Rangers, while Joe Girardi sent CC Sabathia to try to stave off elimination and get the series back to Texas. 

In San Francisco, the Giants and Phillies ran out their fourth starters, with rookie Madison Bumgarner toeing the rubber for the Giants and Joe Blanton opposing him.

The Yankees ran away with game 5, beginning the scoring in the second frame. After Wilson walked two of the first three batters, Jorge Posada and Curtis Granderson singled. A Jeff Francoeur error later, the Yankees had jumped out to a 3-0 lead. 

Back to back home runs by Swisher and Cano in the third made the game 5-0, and Texas would mount only a timid comeback on a solo shot by Matt Treanor. They’d scrape another run across, but the Yankees scored two more on a Berkman sac fly and a 9th-inning home run by Curtis Granderson gave this game a final scoreline of 7-2 Yankees. With the series now at 3-2, it would take a heck of an effort from the Bronx Bombers to get back into the World Series and defend their championship, but it’s not as unlikely as it was 24 hours ago.

San Francisco hosted a back-and-forth game that was a rollercoaster ride for Phillies and Giants fans alike. The win expectancy chart for the game should give you an idea of how intense this game really was.

The Giants struck first, as Freddy Sanchez doubled in the first and advanced to third after two wild pitches by Blanton. Buster Posey, who had been having a postseason to forget until this game, singled him home, making this a 1-0 game. Posey would drive home the next run as well, as with two outs in the third, Aubrey Huff singled. Posey hit a ball to the wall in left-center, and the Giants were up 2-0.

The Phils would get it back in the 5th, as Francisco and Ruiz had back to back singles to start the inning. Blanton bunted them to second and third before Victorino singled to center. Francisco scored easily, but Aaron Rowand came up throwing. Buster Posey made a spectacular play to tag Ruiz coming home and the Giants momentarily maintained their lead. Chase Utley singled, and Bumgarner’s evening was over. Santiago Casilla came in and promptly allowed a two-run double to Placido Polanco. Casilla intentionally walked Ryan Howard before plunking Jayson Werth to load the bases. Casilla then threw a wild pitch that got by Posey, scoring Polanco and putting runners on second and third before striking out Jimmy Rollins to end the inning. However, the damage had been done, and the Phillies were up 4-2.

The Giants got one back the next inning, as Andres Torres took a leadoff walk. He moved to second on a Renteria grounder and eventually scored on a single by Aubrey Huff to make this a 4-3 game. Blanton came out, while Contreras struck out Buster Posey to end the inning. They would take the lead in the next inning, as Pat Burrell’s leadoff walk was followed by a Cody Ross double. Another day, another huge hit from Cody Ross. Business as usual. Yawn. Pablo Sandoval doubled to score both runners, making this a 5-4 game.

The Phillies tied it up in the 8th. Ryan Howard and Jayson Werth hit back to back doubles to lead off the inning and tie the contest at 5, but the Phillies could not convert in a runner on second, no out situation. The Giants had a quick bottom of the 8th, and the Phillies went 1-2-3 in the 9th against Giants’ closer Brian Wilson.

The Phillies sent out Roy Oswalt to pitch the bottom of the 9th and attempt to send the game into extras. Oswalt induced a flyout from Freddy Sanchez to lead off. Aubrey Huff grounded a ball to the right side of the infield, but Ryan Howard was guarding the line to prevent a possible double and could not get back toward the center of the diamond to field the ball. After a spectacular at-bat, Buster Posey lined a single into right, making it first and third with one out. Juan Uribe’s fly ball to deep left gave Francisco no chance to get Huff at home, and the Giants went wild on the diamond as they moved within one win of the World Series. 

Let’s check it out.

Yankees vs. Rangers:
WPA Leader: CC Sabathia (.177)
Carsten Charles did his job as the Yanks’ ace, going six innings and allowing two runs while striking out 7. His performance extended this series at least one game. Now he just needs some help from his teammates in order to start game 1 of the World Series for the second season in a row.

Biggest Plays: 
Curtis Granderson’s single and Jeff Francoeur’s error, throwing away the ball to allow Posada to score, put up a .138 WPA, turning this from a manageable 1-0 lead to a 3-0 game and giving the Yankees a big early advantage.

The Goat:
CJ Wilson did not pitch well. He put up a -.269 WPA, giving up 6 runs (5 earned) in five innings of work. The Rangers will have to hope that Colby Lewis comes out and performs a little better in the next game of the series, because they’d really like to avoid having to pitch Cliff Lee in a potential game 7 (and preventing him from opening the World Series).

Giants vs. Phillies:
WPA Leader: Buster Posey (.401)
Posey had a real breakout game, which Giants fans will hope bodes well for future playoff performances. He’d been 1 for 11 in the first three games in this series, but in game 4 he finished with a 4 for 5 line, including two doubles. Honorable mention goes to Placido Polanco (.337) collected a huge portion of his on one play, as we’ll discuss in a bit, and Cody Ross put up a .253, bringing him to .723 total WPA this series to lead all players.

Biggest Plays:
Polanco’s two-run double with two down in the 5th inning provided a huge .292 win expectancy swing for the Phillies. The hit came in a critical situation (2.44 LI) and gave the Phillies the lead, at least for a while. Jayson Werth’s double to score Ryan Howard and tie the game in the 8th put up a .245 WPA, while Posey’s huge 9th-inning single and Ross’s 6th-inning double each added .192 to the Giants’ chances of victory.

The Goat: 
Roy Oswalt, tasked with shutting down the Giants in the 9th and sending the game into extras, didn’t get his job done. Oswalt went 0.2 innings, allowing two hits and the game-winning sacrifice fly. He ended up with a -.371 WPA. Several other relievers were also ineffective, with Santiago Casilla giving the Giants a -.337 in 1.1 innings and Chad Durbin putting up a -.329 in one frame.

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