NLCS/ALCS Reactions and Previews

C KSenior Analyst IOctober 14, 2008

First off, sorry for not being able to publish my Eagles report yesterday. Time got ahead of me, and I was unable to write anything. But anyway, let's get to the task at hand.

The MLB playoffs are heating up and are getting quite interesting.

Heading into last night, the Los Angeles Dodgers were coming off of a Game Three win to put their series with the Phillies to 2-1 in favor of Philadelphia. Many were looking at the big game for the Dodgers as a turnaround game and predicted the Dodgers to come back and win. Not so fast my friends! Shane Victorino and Matt Stairs beg to differ.

The Phillies had taken an early 2-0 lead, only to lose that lead. The game went back and forth for seven innings, and in the eighth inning, everything went well for the Phillies.

The Phils were down two, and Shane Victorino was stepping to the plate as the tying run. He saw a pitch he liked and nailed it. At first, the hit looked nothing more than a double off of the wall. Yet somehow, it was like angels were lifting the ball higher and higher, until the ball somehow went over the fence. The ballgame was all tied at two.

So now the game was 5-5, and the Phillies were looking to add some more. With two outs in the same inning, Matt Stairs came to plate with a man on. He saw his pitch, and nailed his as well. This time, no angels were needed. The ball sailed way over the fence, and was a no doubter the whole way.

Phillies nation went nuts. Fans everywhere across the area went crazy, jumping and screaming, waking the grumpy old neighbors at 11 at night. But when you have an actual chance to end a 26-year period without a championship, who cares if you wake some grumpy old guy next door.

After those huge homers, Brad Lidge was called on to give a two-inning save. And so he did. Lidge got into some small trouble in the eighth but quickly got out of it. The Philadelphia Phillies had taken a 3-1 series lead.

Many are now saying Wednesday will be the end of this series. The Phillies have young lefty Cole Hamels on the mound, while the Dodgers are throwing Chad Billingsley out there.

Cole Hamels went seven innings allowing just six hits and two earned runs in his first start in this series, while Billingsley went two-and-a-third innings, giving up eight hits and seven earned runs.

Bottom line: Hamels was impressive, Billingsley...not so much.

I expect the same result from these pitchers on Wednesday, and I think the Phillies will take advantage of their opportunity to clinch a World Series berth and will win easily.

What about the ALCS? Well, in case you missed it, the Tampa Bay Rays have been...well...does dominating work? I guess so.

Ever since the Red Sox won Game One, the Rays have come out just played better. The Rays won an extra-innings affair in Game Two on Saturday...and then came the poundings.

Last night, the Rays came out, in Boston, and beat the Sox 9-1. Ouch. No, that's more than ouch. That's youch. (Don't ask...)

Jon Lester wasn't terrible, but he was a huge disappointment. He went five-and-two-third innings, allowing eight hits and four earned runs. Matt Garza went six innings for the Rays, allowing just six hits and one earned run.

After that game, I was thinking that the Sox were done playing their reindeer games and were ready to rock. Eh, not so much.

As I write this article, it is 10-1 Rays in the top of the sixth. The Rays currently have the bases juiced with just one out. They have already scored four runs in the innings.

Boy oh boy, did anyone see this coming? Sure, plenty of people were predicting the Rays to win it, but did anyone expect them to just toss the Red Sox to the curb as if they were dinner leftovers from last week? I didn't. I even though the Sox would win it after their poor showing last night.

I suppose I was wrong...