Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Casilla Sends Tigers Home Unhappy; Playoff Previews

Playoff Coverage for Tuesday, October 6, 2009 American League The Minnesota Twins completed their long pursuit of the Detroit Tigers and finally captured the AL Central flag, as Alexi Casilla drove home Carlos Gomez with the winning run in the bottom of the 12th inning of their one-game playoff. The 6-5 win touched off a wild celebration in the last regular season game ever to be played in the Metrodome, which was seen by a record crowd of 54,088. Casilla had a chance to win the game in the prior inning. After being inserted as a pinch-runner, he was thrown out at home plate on a bullet throw from right fielder Ryan Raburn when he tagged up from third. He made the most of his chance in the 12th however, delivering the final knock-out blow to the staggering Tigers. The Twins played incredible baseball down the stretch, going 17-4 in the final three weeks to erase a 7-game Tiger lead in September. To have the Twins beat the Tigers in the Metrodome was especially sweet for the home town fans. ALDS: New York Yankees vs. Minnesota Twins Minnesota travels to New York to face the Yankees in the first of their five-game series which begins Wednesday. Despite the emotion of winning the Central division, Minnesota faces yet another uphill climb. The Yankees are considered the class of the league, having finished with the best record in baseball, at 103-59. Minnesota lost all seven game to New York this season. Minnesota will start Brian Duensing against the Yankee ace, C.C. Sabathia. Game time is 6:00 pm EDT. All of the first round opening games will be televised live on TBS. ALDS: Boston Red Sox vs. LA Angels Despite losing to the Red Sox the last three times these two teams have hooked up in the ALDS (2004, 2007, 2008), the Angels have one advantage over Boston this season: speed. The Angels swiped more bases than any team still playing (148) and the Red Sox catchers have not been very efficient when it comes to throwing out runners. Catchers Jason Varitek and Victor Martinez are considerably better at the plate than behind it, giving the Angels an edge if they can get Chone Figgins (who led the team with 42 steals), Torii Hunter or Bobby Abreu aboard, they can cause havoc for Boston backstops. The series begins in Anaheim on Thursday at 9:30 pm EDT. John Lackey will start for the Angels. The Red Sox send Jon Lester to the mound. National League NLDS: Philadelphia Phillies vs. Colorado Rockies The reigning wold champion Phillies have both the power and the pitching to keep the Rockies in check throughout this series. The rotation of Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Joe Blanton and Pedro Martinez may be the best starting four - top to bottom - of any team in the playoffs. The Phillies' lineup is loaded with sluggers: Raul Ibanez, Chase Utley, Jayson Werth and Ryan Howard all smashed more than 30 homers this season. Howard led the team with 45. For good measure, leadoff man, Jimmy Rollins knocked 21 homers and is a threat to steal as well. The Rockies just don't match up well with the Phillies. though Troy Tulowitzki, Garrett Atkins, Brad Hawpe and Todd Helton will beg to differ. Even if the Rockies get to the Phillies' starters, Philly has solid middle relief. The one weak spot for Philadelphia is closer Brad Lidge, who blew 11 saves during the regular season. The series opens at 2:00 pm EDT in Philadelphia. Cliff Lee starts for the Phillies, while the Rockies send up Ubaldo Jiminez. NLDS: St. Louis Cardinals vs. Los Angeles Dodgers The Dodgers, winners of the NL West, appear to be overmatched by the Cardinals, even though the Dodgers have home field advantage. The mound duo of Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright are probably the best 1-2 punch of any of the World Series contenders. LA boasts solid starting pitching, but nothing like what St. Louis offers. Add in the ultimate weapon - Albert Pujols - and this looks like it could be a very short, one-sided series. Even though manager Joe Torre is regarded as one of the great managers of all time, he'll be looking across the field at a worthy foe, Tony La Russa, a certain Hall of Famer. Big edge to the Cardinals. St. Louis sends up Chris Carpenter against the Dodgers' Randy Wolf in Game 1, 9:30 pm EDT in LA.

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