2009 MLB Playoffs

Playoff Baseball Is About the Bullpen

CLEVELAND - OCTOBER 18:  Closing pitcherJonathan Papelbon #58 of the Boston Red Sox delivers against the Cleveland Indians during Game Five of the American League Championship Series at Jacobs Field on October 18, 2007 in Cleveland, Ohio.  The Red Sox won the game 7-1 making the series 3-2.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Bill MckillopCorrespondent IOctober 13, 2009

The first round of the MLB playoffs has concluded tonight, with the Philadelphia Phillies defeating the 2009 Cinderella Colorado Rockies in a late inning nail biter.  The Phillies and Dodgers are set to do battle for the National League Championship starting Thursday night.

In the American League, it will be the Los Angeles Angels taking on the New York Yankees starting Friday evening.  

How did we get to this MLB final four October show down?  We got here with lots of late-inning excitement this year and the better performing bullpens prevailed.

Phillies vs. Rockies - Closer Hudson street of the Rockies comes up with two postseason losses one in Game Three and one in Game Four. Both of the losses were at home where the Rockies seem to almost be unbeatable.  This was the only series that went more than three games in the first round of the MLB playoffs.

Dodgers vs. Cardinals-  The Matt Holliday drop of a routine ball in the ninth inning of Game Two gave Franklin the loss. Granted, Franklin gave up some other hits that could of saved Holliday from being the fall guy. It also put the Cardinals in a 0-2 hole and pretty much ended the best-of-five series.

Twins vs. Yankees-  The Twins either failed to hit with runners in scoring position or the Yankees really pitched well. I think an argument can be made for both, depending on what team you support. The Twins had a couple of costly base running errors in a couple of games that cost them runs. 

It also seemed the bullpen seemed to crack in Game Three with three consecutive walks in the ninth inning that helped the Yankees extend the lead. They Yankees also had that Rivera guy to get the final four outs, including the best hitter in the game Joe Mauer. 

It was great to see the best postseason closer of all time come in to face the best hitter in the game today.

Red Sox vs. Angels-  The two games out west were the Angels all the way and really showed how good of a team the Angels are. In Fenway, the Red Soxs had a commanding 5-2 lead going into the top of the eighth. The Angels chipped away two runs off Billy Wagner to make it 5-4, with Boston in the lead.

Boston added one run in the bottom of the eighth to make it 6-4 heading into the top of the ninth inning. Papelbon was in for the Red Soxs, but the Angels scratched back to put up three runs and sweep the Red Soxs.   

Every series is either won or lost in the bullpen, but especially in a five-game series, as every win is critical. The managers really earn the paycheck as the matchups, double switches, and pinch runners all have a critical impact.

Next July 31 trading deadline, hope and pray your team picks up an extra arm or two for the 'pen, 'cause you never know when he will make the difference.


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