The Joe Torre postseason magic has happened again.
Torre's Los Angeles Dodgers have swept the Chicago Cubs, the best team in the National League during the regular season, finishing off their ALDS Saturday night at Chavez Ravine with a 3-1 victory.
Not many would have predicted a Dodger series victory, much less a sweep, but it appears the first-year L.A. manager just wins in the postseason wherever he manages. Torre just wins, period.
(Other than his prior stints with the Braves, Mets, and Cardinals, that is, but I digress.)
And on the losing end, Lou Piniella, managing the Cubbies.
Torre had gotten the best of Piniella when they were managing in the AL in the late 1990s, but this time it appeared Sweet Lou was going to have the upper hand, especially when the North Siders won an NL-best 97 contests while Torre's Dodgers (84-78) would be a fifth-place outfit if they were in the NL Central.
But regardless of regular season records, once October starts, it's all about Joe Torre magic.
How do you explain the Cubs making four errors in one contest and their ace walking seven batters in another? In fact, none of the Cubs' starters got the job done: neither Ryan Dempster nor Rich Harden lasted five full innings, while Carlos Zambrano got lit up in the second game.
Meanwhile, Torre's starters, Derek Lowe, Chad Billingsley, and Hiroki Kuroda, allowed just three runs the entire series.
The Cubs scored the most runs in the NL, led the senior circuit in doubles, and were in the top five in batting average and home runs. Their pitching staff led the big leagues with 1,264 strikeouts while finishing third in the NL with a 3.87 ERA.
Chicago also had home-field advantage, going 55-26 at the friendly confines of Wrigley Field during the season.
Yet, none of that mattered. Chicago managed just six runs in three games and was outscored by 14 runs. The Cubs hit just one home run in the series and couldn't win at home.
(Yikes, Alfonso Soriano hit just .071 for the series after an 0-for-5 showing in the finale.)
Is this the Billy Goat curse again when it comes to the Cubs in the postseason, or just the fact Joe Torre just gets his team to do the job in October?
Is it Torre just owning Piniella in games that mattered?
Torre has now beaten the ex-Yankee in all three of their head-to-head meetings in postseason play.
In 2000, their first ever meeting, Piniella's Seattle Mariners shut out Torre's Yankees in the opener of the ALCS and had a 1-0 lead in Game Two at Yankee Stadium, just six outs away from a commanding 2-0 series lead going to Safeco Field.
Yet Torre's Bombers, who hadn't plated a run in the last 21 innings, scored seven runs in the eighth to change the course of that ALCS on the way to winning yet another World Series.
Torre's Yankees then upset Piniella's 116-win Mariners in the ALCS in 2001 and Seattle has gone downhill ever since.
Piniella then moved on to Tampa Bay and now Chicago with the North Siders and Torre to the Dodgers after 12 years in pinstripes.
But the more things change, the more they stay the same. The Cubbies still can't win in the postseason.
Torre still gets his team to perform in October and still beats the Cubs' skipper.
On Saturday night, Torre helped his Dodgers win a postseason series for the first time in 20 years. When he took over the Yanks in 1996, Torre helped the Bombers end an 18-year World Series drought.
Are there anymore surprises in October?
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