MLB Division Series Day Four: NL Central Down To Their Last Breath
I guess I was counting on this round to be at least a little bit interesting. I thought at least both teams in one series would win a game, was that so much to ask?
But here we are with two games played in all four series and all of them stand at 2-0, boring to say the least.
I thought the White Sox would have given us that trend disruption yesterday with their ace, Mark Buehrle, on the mound and pitching well. Chicago not only had their bats working but Kazmir was struggling.
However the Rays ace was able to tip toe out of danger numerous times, including the first inning which could have been disaster rather than two runs.
They left enough runners on base, 21 between all nine Chicago hitters to be exact, to drive manager Ozzie Guillen insane. Watching every Chicago game since last Friday, I've come to the conclusion on just why they've been struggling in that aspect.
Their MVP, Carlos Quentin, isn't playing.
Quentin was the player the White Sox counted on in those situations. Paul Konerko was a big culprit of leaving men on base yesterday; Quentin was the man that would get it done in that situation. He wasn't just the big home run hitter; he was the guy that made this offense work.
The White Sox are missing their best offensive threat and it is quite evident by their struggles with runners on scoring position.
On the others side of the American League and the nation, Tampa's AL East rival was busy putting up a 2-0 lead themselves. Boston took the Angels late into the night trying to fend off Los Angeles from tying up the series.
I'm not shocked Francisco Rodriguez was tagged in his first postseason appearance this year. A five day layoff isn't good for a reliever like Rodriguez, especially one with as quirky as a delivery as Rodriguez.
Now Los Angeles is staring up at a 2-0 deficit and one of generation’s toughest postseason pitchers opposing them. Good luck LA, I wouldn't want to be in that position.
One division in the American League is dominating, while another in the National League is down to their final shot; let's take a look at today's games.
NLDS Game Three: Philadelphia (Moyer) @ Milwaukee (Bush)
Unfortunately it won't get any easier for the pressing Milwaukee lineup. The opposing pitcher isn't a guy who you want to face when your team is looking to do too much, he'll make you look silly.
That pitcher is Jamie Moyer and he’s an ageless wonder finally getting to the postseason consistently. In Moyer's 22 year career he's been to the postseason only three other times, one being last year.
Moyer was great against Colorado, allowing just one run in six innings of work. Now he's in a great position with his team looking to clinch a trip to the NLCS.
Opposing him is Dave Bush, making his first playoff start of his career. Bush has been prone to the long ball in his starts against this Phillies this year. Out of all the teams he's faced this year, Philadelphia has hit the most home runs off him that isn't a division opponent.
I think Milwaukee has been overcome by the Phillies' experience and emotion, quite like Philadelphia was last year. Colorado didn't have experience, but it was rather the inexperience and timidness of playing in a big game that sent Philadelphia to an early exit in 2007.
They've learned from their growing pains and have completely overtaken Milwaukee in all phases of the game. I don't expect the home field to make much of a difference for Milwaukee. Philadelphia should win this one and move onto the NLCS with a sweep.
NLDS Game Three: Chicago (Harden) @ Los Angeles (Kuroda)
Making his third postseason appearance but just his second start is Rich Harden for Chicago. Harden has been here before, only one other time as a starter, but some experience is good experience.
Dodger’s starter Hiroki Kuroda hasn't been here before; in fact he hasn't even been in the Major Leagues that long. Kuroda is a rookie and Japanese import. I'm not sure if he's felt the pressure of the playoffs before, but why should he with a 2-0 lead?
Chad Billingsley was downright stifling in his start against the Cubs in the last game. He even said the Cubs looked like they were pressing, which isn't something you'd expect to hear from a young starter making his first start in the postseason.
The game now switches to much warmer climate in Los Angeles, which certainly favors Kuroda more than Chicago's cooler nighttime weather. If the Cubs press like they did against Billingsley, they could be going home real early, even if Harden gives them a good start or not.
You would like to think Chicago wouldn't do this to their fans once again. Two straight NLDS sweeps is just another kick to the gut if you’re a fan of the Cubs. But that just could be yet another reason Chicago falters here to Los Angeles; there’s simply too much pressure.
Maybe a switch to the road will help the Cubs. Instead of feeding off their home crowd's energy they've feared it. Perhaps a Los Angeles crowd is what the Cubs needs to bring them back down to earth and put a little calm in them.
However, I'm going with Los Angeles. Maybe my reverse of thinking will actually make one of these series interesting.
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