Thursday, October 31, 2013

Shane Victorino Drives in Four as Red Sox Capture World Series

Players of the Day for Wednesday, October 30, 2013

World Series Game Six

The Boston Red Sox grabbed the momentum with their 3-1 win at St. Louis in game five, and it carried through to a series-clinching effort in a 6-1victory over the Cardinals in game six.

Shane Victorino
Shane Victorino, who had missed games four and five with a sore back, was feeling no pain when he tripled with the bases loaded in the third inning to put Boston up 3-0, a lead they would never relinquish as they captured their third world series championship in the last ten years.

Victorino delivered in big spots for Boston, singling in another run with the bases full in the fourth for a 6-0 lead.

St. Louis had their chances, putting two runners aboard with less than two outs in the second and fourth and fifth innings, only to have Red Sox starter, John Lackey, make key pitches for outs to end the threats.

The Cardinals, who led the major leagues in batting with runners in scoring position, were woefully inefficient throughout the series and especially in game six, stranding nine.

St. Louis finally broke through in the top of the seventh, when Carlos Beltran stroked a single to left with two outs and runners on second and third. The Cardinals eventually loaded the bases, chasing John Lackey, courtesy of a wild pitch and a walk to Matt Holliday, but Junichi Tazawa came on to get Allen Craig on a ground out to first.

Yesterday's Trivia Answer: Christy Matthewson threw four World Series shutouts.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Jon Lester's 7 2/3 Shutout Innings Sends Series Back to Boston; Red Sox Lead, 3-2

Players of the Day for Monday, October 28, 2013

World Series Game Five

Jon Lester
Boston's Jon Lester was rock-solid in Game One - an 8-1 Red Sox Rout - and turned in another shining performance in Game Five of the 2013 World Series, to put St. Louis in a hole, three games to two, and send the series back to Boston.

Lester subdued St. Louis bats for 7 2/3 innings Monday night, yielding only a fourth-inning, Matt Holliday home run which tied the game at 1-1, but his teammates came back with a pair of scores off Cardinal starter, Adam Wainwright, in the seventh, producing a 3-1 win for the Red Sox.

Lester allowed four hits, struck out seven and issued no walks, many St. Louis batters completely off-balance against the post-season master, who scored his second World Series win this season and is 4-1 with a 1.56 ERA during the playoffs in 2013.

With the 3-2 lead in games, the series heads back to Boston for game six on Wednesday and, if necessary, game seven, Thursday night.

First pitch is slated for 8:07 pm EDT. John Lackey gets the nod for Boston; Michael Wacha goes to the mound for St. Louis.

Today's Trivia: The record for career shutouts by a pitcher in the World Series is four. Who holds claim to that mark? (answer Thursday)

Yesterday's Answer: Mickey Mantle holds the all-time World Series career total bases record, 123.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Red Sox Knot Series, 2-2, on Jonny Gomes' 3-Run Homer

Players of the Day for Sunday, October 27, 2013

World Series Game Four

With St. Louis starter, Lance Lynn departed after yielding a two-out single to Dustin Pedroia and then giving up first base to David Ortiz on a four-pitch "pitch-around", Jonny Gomes faced reliever Seth Maness in the sixth inning of World Series game four, the score tied 1-1 and Boston in dire need of a win.

Jonny Gomes
Maness worked the count to 2-2, but Gomes dug in and belted a high slider deep and over the left field fence, driving in three runs and giving the Red Sox what would turn out to be an insurmountable lead.

Maybe Cardinal manager Mike Matheny's move to lift Lynn was a mistake; after all, Lynn had only given up three hits and thrown 89 pitches. He still looked sharp and in control. Nonetheless, the crucial move was made, costing the Cardinals the game, tying the series at two games apiece and setting up a critical game five Monday night in St. Louis.

The Cardinals were able to produce another run, in the seventh, but their lack of power (no homers in the last three games and only one for the entire series) is beginning to appear a problem as the Red Sox won game four, 4-2. The Red Sox won the one game they needed to offset St. Louis' game two win in Boston, making Monday night's match-up - a repeat of the game one pairing of Adam Wainwright and Jon Lester - a must-win for both teams.

Game five starts at 8:07 pm EDT in St. Louis.

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Today's Trivia: Who is the all-time career leader in world Series total bases? (answer tomorrow)

Yesterday's Answer: Reggie Jackson in 1977 and Willie Stargell in 1979 each accounted for 25 total bases in the World Series.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Matt Holliday Drives in Three as Cardinals Take 2-1 World Series Edge on Bizarre Ending

Players of the Day for Saturday, October 26, 2013

World Series Game Three

Matt Holiday drove in three runs to help position the Cardinals for a wild ninth-inning ending, putting St. Louis up two games to one with a 5-4 win over the Boston Red Sox.

Holliday: 2-5, 3RBI
Prior to Allen Craig doubling and scoring the game-winner on an obstruction call, Holliday had gotten the Cardinals out to an early lead with an RBI single in the first as St. Louis scored a pair off Boaston starter, Jake Peavy. After Boston tied the game at 2-2, with single runs in the fifth and sixth innings, Holliday delivered a two-run double in the seventh to give St. Louis what looked, at the time, a safe lead.

Boston re-tied the contest with a pair of runs in the top of the eighth and the game appeared headed for extra innings after the Cardinals failed to produce in the bottom of the eighth. But, Yadier Molina singled with one out in the ninth, followed by Craig's double as a pinch-hitter for reliever Trevor Rosenthal.

With runners at second and third and the infield playing in, Jon Jay grounded to second baseman, Dustin Pedroia, who threw home to nail Molina at the plate. Boston catcher, Jerrod Saltalamacchia, whipped a throw to third base in an attempt to gun down Craig, who was trying to advance on the play. The ball eluded third baseman, Will Middlebrooks, who lay prone in the third-to-home basepath when Criag rose from his slide and attempted to slide, but tripped over Middlebrooks, falling face-first to the ground.

Craig continued down the line, the throw beating him to the plate, where Saltalamacchia applied the tag, but the play was overruled by third base umpire Jim Joyce, who awarded Criag home on grounds of obstruction by Middlebrooks, an obvious and correct call.

Notes: Both teams emptied their respective benches in a managerial free-for-all. St. Louis used 18 players, six of them pitchers, while Boston fielded 17, also employing six hurlers, though Mike Napoli, Boston's surest power hitter, sat the bench throughout.

-- As is often the case in World Series games, little things matter, such as Matt Carpenter reaching on a checked swing to shortstop Xander Bogaerts (moved from third to short to start the inning). Bogaerts got to Carpenter's dribbler, but threw wide to first base, manned by David Ortiz, who had played the position all of five times during the regular season. Ortiz failed to come up with the ball and Carpenter later scored the go-ahead run, breaking a 2-2 tie, on Holliday's double down the left field line.

-- The Cardinals won for the second straight time without the benefit of a home run. Matt Holliday has the only St. Louis homer thus far, a ninth-inning solo shot in game one, an 8-1 Boston rout.

Game four starters are Lance Lynn for St. Louis and Clay Buchholz for Boston, with first pitch slated for 8:07 pm EDT.

Today's Trivia: The record for total bases in a World Series is 25, shared by which two players? (answer tomorrow)

Yesterday's Answer: David Freese set the standard for total bases in a single post-season with 40 in 2011.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Jay Jay Leads Cardinals over Red Sox, 4-2, Sends Series to St. Louis

Players of the Day for Thursday, October 24, 2013

World Series Game Two

After an embarrassing game one loss, St. Louis regrouped, topping the Red Sox, 4-2, to tie the series at a game apiece.

Matt Holliday scored he game's first run in the fourth inning, as Cardinal rookie phenom, Michael Wacha, and Boston's John Lackey locked into a pitching duel. Holliday tripled to deep center leading off the inning and scored when Yadier Molina grounded out to second.

The Red Sox responded in the sixth, finally getting to Wacha when Dustin Pedroia worked a one out walk and David Ortiz followed with a home run over the Green Monster in left field, giving the Sox a 2-1 lead.

Jon Jay
The crucial plays came in the seventh inning as St. Louis responded. David Freese walked with one out and advanced to second on Jon Jay's single to right. That was all for Lackey, replaced on the mound by reliever Craig Breslow. Pete Kozma came on to run for Freese. The Cardinals pulled off a double steal, Kozma advancing to third, Jay to second, as Boston catcher, Jerrod Saltalamacchia, could not get the ball out of his glove and did not produce a throw.

David Descalso worked a walk to load the bases, bringing leadoff hitter, Matt Carpenter, to the plate. Carpenter lofted a ball to shallow left field, Kozma tagged and beat the throw by Shane Victorino, which was off line, toward the first base side. The ball glanced off Saltalamacchia's glove, but Breslow was in position to back up the play.

Jay made a bee-line for third base, and Breslow's throw sailed over the head of Boston third baseman, Xander Bogaerts, and into the stands. Jay scored, Descalso advancing to third, giving the Cardinals the lead again, at 3-2. The next batter, Carlos Beltran, added an insurance run, stroking a single to right, bringing Descalso home.

Given the two-run lead, Cardinal relievers Carlos Martinez and Trevor Rosenthal were magnificent. Martinez worked the seventh and eighth, allowing one hit while striking out three. Rosenthal was all business in the ninth, striking out the side on eleven pitches to end the game and send the series back to St. Louis for games three, four and five, on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Jay's single, stolen base and alert base-running in the seventh were the keys to the St. Louis win, putting pressure back on Boston, as they must make lineup changes in St. Louis, where the DL rule will not be in effect. If Boston wants to keep Ortiz and Mike Napoli in the lineup, they'll be at unfamiliar positions. Ortiz, Boston's regular DH, will be at first, while Napoli, who spent years with the Angels and Rangers primarily as a catcher, has played first base all season and has not been behind the plate since last season.

Today's Trivia: Who holds the record for total bases in a single post-season? (answer tomorrow)

Yesterday's Answer: Bernie Williams of the New York Yankees is the all-time career leader in post-season RBI with 80.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Jon Lester, Mike Napoli, David Ortiz Lead Red Sox 8-1 Rout of Cardinals in World Series Game One

Players of the Day for Wednesday, October 23, 2013

David Ortiz
World Series Game One

It was obvious right away which team was ready for the World Series and which was not.

After Jon Lester retired the Cardinals in the top of the first, yielding only a single to Matt Holliday, Boston roughed up Cardinal starter, Adam Wainwright, with some help from an error by shortstop Pete Kozma.

Jon Lester
Walking the first batter he face, Jacoby Ellsbury, Wainwright looked jittery and nervous. After he got Shane Victorino on a sharp liner to left, Dustin Pedroia laced a single up the middle, then David Ortiz grounded into what appeared to be a tailor-made double play, but Kozma never handled the toss from second baseman Matt Carpenter, loading the bases.

Then came the biggest blow of the game, as Mike Napoli cleared the bases with a booming double that went to the wall in left center.
Mike Napoli

It was 3-0 Boston, and it didn't get any better for the visitors after that.

The Sox scored two more in the second inning, Pedroia singling in a run and Ortiz plating another with a sac fly.

Lester mowed through the St. Louis order, eventually working 7 2/3 innings, allowing five hits with a walk and eight strikeouts. Wainwright took the loss, lasting five innings, giving up five runs (three earned) on six hits and a walk.

Ortiz smashed a two run homer in the eighth, giving him and Napoli three RBI apiece. Boston finished the scoring with a sac fly run from Xavier Bogaerts which got Daniel Nava home from third base.

Holliday supplied the only Cardinal run with a solo homer in the ninth, the Red Sox running off to a 8-1 win.

Not only did the Cardinals lose the game, they may have lost their most capable hitter, Carlos Beltran, who slammed into the wall in right field, robbing Ortiz of a grand slam in the second inning. He finished the frame in the outfield but did not return after going to the bench, and then into the clubhouse, replaced by Jon Jay.

Beltran received X-rays to his ribs, which came back negative. He is day-to-day with bruised ribs and doubtful for game two, which starts Thursday night, at 8:07 pm EDT at Fenway Park in Boston.

Today's Trivia: Who is the all-time career leader in post-season RBI? (answer tomorrow)

Yesterday's Answer: Kenny Lofton is the all-time post-season stolen base leader, with 34, one better than Ricky Henderson.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

2013 World Series Final Preview: Details Matter

As we approach the start of the World Series (approximately 8:07 pm EDT), some final consideration to the little things that may matter a heck of a lot are addressed.

#1: St. Louis has better starting pitching. Beginning with Adam Wainwright, who may prove to be the decade's predominant post-season pitcher, the Cardinals have four quality starters, in Wainwright, Joe Kelly, Lance Lynn and amazing rookie, Michael Wacha.

Wainwright is 4-1 in seven starts and nine relief appearances (all in 2006) with a 2.10 ERA and 62 strikeouts in 55 2/3 innings. Wacha is 3-0, with an amazing 0.43 ERA in three post-season starts, fanning batters at a rate of about one per inning. Another rookie, Joe Kelly, may not have performed well this post-season, but has garnered the respect of manager, Mike Matheny, and gets the start in game three versus Boston's Clay Buchholz, who has not been particularly effective. In four post-season starts (2009, 2013), Buchholz has no decision, allowing 12 earned runs in 20 2/3 innings.

Mike Napoli
Game four starters are Lance Lynn for the Cardinals and Jake Peavy for Boston, the one match-up in which the Red Sox seem to have an edge.

#2 Allen Craig will DH in Boston. The first two games in Boston will be a return to the lineup for Allen Craig, one of the Cardinals' best power hitters, who's been sidelined since September 4, but is returning from his foot injury and will DH in Boston. when the series shifts to St. Louis, Criag could replace Matt Adams, who's done a solid job filling in at first base.

#3 David Ortiz and Mike Napoli will play in St. Louis. The two big boppers from Boston likely be on the field in St. Louis, when the teams play without the AL's DH rule. That means both will have to field positions they are unaccustomed to and may not be adept at playing. Ortiz will probably be at first base, after spending the entire regular season and playoffs in his usual role as DH. Napoli will shift from first base to catcher, and he is not very good defensively, and also quite rusty, which could be a detriment to Boston pitching.
Yadier Molina

#4 Yadier Molina has a gun. In what is somewhat a reversal of roles, the Red Sox have more speed, especially in regulars Jacoby Ellsbury, Shane Victorino, Dustin Pedroia and Xander Bogaerts off the bench, all of whom are capable of stealing a base at any time. However, Molina is one of the best defensive catchers in the business, and has a rocket for an arm from behind the plate. This season, Molina gunned down 20 of 46 attempted base stealers, and has nailed 11 of 27 in his cumulative post-season career. Molina's presence behind the plate slows down any running game and often eliminates it.
Carlos Beltran

#5 Carlos Beltran. If Reggie Jackson was the Mr. October of the 1970s, Beltran fits the mold for the 21st century with a batting average of .337 with 16 home runs, 37 RBI, 44 runs, 33 walks in 45 post-season games. He has never been caught stealing in the post-season in 11 tries.

If all of this sounds like it favors the Cardinals, that's because it does, despite the Red Sox being the favorite in the betting spots. When it comes down to a seven-game series for all the marbles, its often the little things that make big impacts.

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Today's Trivia: Who holds the lifetime mark for career post-season stolen bases?

Yesterday's Answer: Both Bobby Cox and Tony LaRussa won manager of the year four times.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

World Series 2013 Preview: Key Players Batting and Pitching Stats


Key Players for 2013 World Series

Boston Red Sox

Regular season batting
David Ortiz 30HR

Player GP AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI TB BB SO SB BA
David Ortiz 137 518 84 160 38 2 30 103 292 76 88 4 .309
Dustin Pedroia 160 641 91 193 42 2 9 84 266 73 75 17 .301
Jacoby Ellsbury 134 577 92 172 31 8 9 53 246 47 92 52 .298
Mike Napoli 139 498 79 129 38 2 23 92 240 73 187 1 .259

Regular season pitching

Starters

Player GP GS W L IP H ER HR BB SO ERA
Clay Buchholz 16 16 12 1 108.1 75 21 4 36 96 1.74
John Lackey 29 29 10 13 189.1 179 74 26 40 161 3.52
Jon Lester 33 33 15 8 213.1 209 89 19 67 177 3.75

Relievers

Player GP W L SV HLD IP H ER HR BB SO ERA
Koji Uehara 73 4 1 21 13 74.1 33 9 5 9 101 1.09
Craig Breslow 61 5 2 0 14 59.2 49 12 3 18 33 1.81
Junichi Tazawa 71 5 4 0 26 68.1 70 24 9 12 72 3.16


St. Louis Cardinals

Regular season batting

Player GP AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI TB BB SO SB BA
Yadier Molina 136 505 68 161 44 0 12 80 241 30 55 3 .319
Matt Carpenter 157 626 126 199 55 7 11 78 301 72 98 3 .318
Allen Craig 134 508 71 160 29 2 13 97 232 40 100 2 .315
Matt Holliday 141 520 103 156 31 1 22 94 255 69 86 6 .300
Carlos Beltran 145 554 79 164 30 3 24 84 272 38 90 2 .296

Regular season pitching
Adam Wainwright 19-9

Starters

Player GP GS W L SV HLD IP H ER HR BB SO ERA
Joe Kelly 37 15 10 5 0 2 124.0 124 37 10 44 79 2.69
Michael Wacha 15 9 4 1 0 0 64.2 52 20 5 19 65 2.78
Adam Wainwright 34 34 19 9 0 0 241.2 223 79 15 35 219 2.94

Relievers

NAME GP W L SV HLD IP H ER HR BB SO ERA
Randy Choate 64 2 1 0 15 35.1 26 9 0 11 28 2.29
Seth Maness 66 5 2 1 15 62.0 65 16 4 13 35 2.32
Trevor Rosenthal 74 2 4 3 29 75.1 63 22 4 20 108 2.63
Edward Mujica 65 2 1 37 5 64.2 60 20 9 5 46 2.78

Today's Trivia: What manager won Manager of the Year honors four times? (answer tomorrow)

Yesterday's Answer: The most recent World Series championship by the Dodgers was 1988 when they topped the Oakland A's four games to one.

Monday, October 21, 2013

World Series Preview: Boston Red Sox vs. St. Louis Cardinals - Team Histories

Relevant histories for the upcoming World Series between the Boston Red Sox and St. Louis Cardinals:

Last time they met: In 2004, Boston won four games to none, sweeping the Cardinals for Boston's first World Series Championship since 1918.

Since then:

2005: Red Sox lost in LDS to Chicago White Sox, 3-0; Cardinals beat San Diego in LDS, 3-0, lost LCS to Houston, 4-2.

2006: Red Sox did not make playoffs; Cardinals beat Pardes, 3-1 in LDS, beat NY Mets, 4-3 in LCS, won World Series, 4-1, over Detroit.

2007: Red Sox won LDS, 3-0, over LA Angels, won LCS, 4-3, over Cleveland, won World Series, 4-0, over Colorado; Cardinals did not make playoffs.

2008: Red Sox won LDS, 3-1, over LA Angels, lost to Tampa in LCS, 4-3; Cardinals did not make playoffs.

2009: Red Sox lost in LDS, 3-1, to LA Angels; Cardinals lost to LA Dodgers in LDS, 3-0.

2010: Neither Red Sox nor Cardinals made playoffs

2011: Red Sox did not make playoffs; Cardinals beat Philadelphia in LDS, 3-2, beat Milwaukee, 4-2, in LCS, won World Series, 4-3, over Texas.

2012: Red Sox did not make playoffs; Cardinals won one-game Wild Card playoff game over Atlanta, won LDS, 3-2, over Washington, lost LCS, 4-3, to San Francisco.

2013: Red Sox won AL East, won LDS, 3-1, over Tampa Bay, won LCS, 4-2, over Detroit; Cardinals won NL Central, won LDS, 3-2, over Pittsburgh, won LCS, 4-2, over LA Dodgers.

Prior to 2004, the Red Sox and Cardinals have met in the World Series twice (this will be their fourth meeting overall). In 1967, the Cardinals won the World Series, four games to three, over the Red Sox.

In 1946, the Cardinals won the World Series over the Red Sox, four games to three.

The Red Sox have won six World Series championships: 1912, 1915, 1916, 1918, 2004, 2007. Boston teams have won three other championships. In 1892, the Boston Beaneaters (NL) beat the Cleveland Spiders (NL), 5-0-1. The games were considered exhibitions.

The Boston Americans (AL) beat the Pittsburgh Pirates, 5-3, in 1903. The 1914 Boston Braves (NL) beat the Philadelphia Athletics, 4-0.

The Cardinals have won 11 World Series championships: 1926, 1931, 1934, 1942, 1944, 1946, 1964, 1967, 1982, 2006, 2011. In 1886, the St. Louis Browns (AA) beat the Chicago White Stockings (NL), 4-2. The games were considered exhibitions.

Tomorrow: Top Pitchers and Hitters for World Series participants.

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Today's Trivia: When was the last time the Dodgers won the World Series? (answer tomorrow)

Yesterday's Answer: Boston won World Series, 4-0, over Colorado, in 2007.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Shane Victorino's Grand Slam Sends Boston to World Series with 5-2 Win over Tigers

Players of the Day for Saturday, October 19, 2013

American League

Shane Victorino socked an seventh-inning grand slam, turning a 2-1 Detroit lead into a 5-2 Boston win and a trip to the World Series to face the St. Louis Cardinals.

The Red Sox won the AL championship, four games to two, winning game six in front of a full house - 38,823 fans - at fabled Fenway Park.

Shane Victorino
After an extended pitcher's duel between Detroit's Max Scherzer and Red Sox starter Clay Buckholz, Boston struck first, scoring the game's first run in the fifth, on a Jacoby Ellsbury single that brought home Xander Bogaerts.

The Tigers responded in the top of the sixth with a pair of runs. Torii Hunter and Miguel Cabrera both came home on a Victor Matinez single with none out, but Tiger first baseman Prince Fielder committed a base-running blunder, getting caught between third and home on the back end of a double play, impairing what could have been a huge inning.

Victorino's smash was also set up, in part, by the Tigers' failure to execute. After Johnny Gomes led off the seventh with a double, Scherzer struck out Stephen Drew, but walked Bogaerts with one out and was replaced by reliever, Drew Smyly.

Ellsbury reached first to load the bases when Detroit shortstop Jose Iglesias couldn't handle his ground ball, prompting manager Jim Leyland to go to the bullpen again, this time for Jose Veras.

Leyland, who could be criticized for making too many pitching changes in this series, didn't get the result he sought, as Victorino, the first hitter Veras faced, hammered one over the green monster in left, all but sealing the deal.

Detroit could not recover, Craig Breslow set the Tigers down in order in the eighth and Koji Uehara picked up his third save of the series, allowing one hit and fanning two in the ninth.

The World Series between the Red Sox and Cardinals will be the fourth time the two teams have met. In 1946, St., Louis won, four games to three, and won again by the same margin in 1967. In 2004, the Red Sox ended nearly a century of frustration, winning the World Series, 4-0, over the Cardinals, their first championship since 1918.

The fall classic gets underway on Wednesday night in Boston.

Today's Trivia: Boston won their second World Series of the 21st century in 2007. Who did they beat? (answer tomorrow)

Yesterday's Answer: Bobby Richardson drove in 12 runs - an all-time record - in the 1960 World Series.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Michael Wacha, Carlos Beltran Thump Dodgers, 9-0, Lead Cardinals into World Series

Players of the Day for Friday, October 18, 2013

National League

Carlos Beltran
Amazing rookie, Michael Wacha, and tireless veteran, Carlos Beltran, led the charge in a 9-0 slaughter of the LA Dodgers as the St. Louis Cardinals captured the National League pennant and are headed to the fall classic.

Michael Wacha
Wacha won for the second time in the league championship, topping LA's Clayton Kershaw with seven innings of shutout ball and Beltran drove in the first and last runs for the Cardinals, in front of an over-capacity crowd of 46,899 in St. Louis.

Called up in August from the Cardinals' AAA affiliate, Memphis (Pacific Coast League), Wacha was used primarily as a reliever until September, when he joined the starting rotation, going 2-1, with a 1.78 ERA in five starts.

In the ALDS, Wacha held the Pirates to one run on one hit - an eighth-inning solo homer by Pedro Alvarez - over 7 1/3 innings for a 2-1 win. St. Louis won the divisional series in five games.

In game two of the championship series, Wacha faced off with Kershaw for the first time, shutting out the Dodgers on five hits over 6 2/3 innings in a 1-0 St. Louis victory.

In three post-season starts, Wacha is 3-0, with an 0.43 ERA, allowing one run on eight hits over 22 innings, walking four and fanning 22. In the pennant-clincher Friday, the 6'6" right-hander walked one and fanned five.

Beltran got the Cardinals on the board in the third inning with an RBI single and later scored as the Cardinals got to Kershaw early for four runs. In the fifth, St. Louis plated five more, Beltran finishing the job with another RBI single, driving in Wacha with the final run of the game.

Beltran also doubled, going 3-for-4 for the game. He drove in six runs for St. Louis in the series, the same number he had in the divisional series against Pittsburgh.

By beating the Dodgers four games to two, St. Louis heads to the World Series for the fourth time in the last 10 years. They await the winner of the ALCS which resumes Saturday night in Boston (8:37 pm EDT), the Red Sox holding a 3-2 lead in games over Detroit.

Game one of the World Series is scheduled for Wednesday, October 23. Having won the All-Star game, the American League champion will have home field advantage, hosting games one, two, six and seven, if necessary. The middle three games will be in St. Louis.

Today's Trivia: The record for RBI in a single World Series is 12. What player holds that distinction? (answer tomorrow)

Yesterday's Answer: Mickey Mantle holds the record for most World Series homers with 18. Babe Ruth is second with 15, though Ruth hit his in 167 plate appearances; Mantle had 273 World Series plate appearances.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Mike Napoli Goes 3-for-4, Leads Red Sox to 4-3 Win over Tigers in ALCS Game Five

Players of the Day for Thursday, October 17, 2013

American League

Mike Napoli went 3-for-4, while Jon Lester and three Boston relief pitchers held off the Tigers for a 4-3 Red Sox win in game five of the ALCS.

Napoli: 3-4, HR,
2B, 2R, 2RBI
Napoli's second-inning solo homer to the deepest part of center field ignited the Red Sox, plating two more in the inning. In the third, Napoli stroked a ground rule doule down the left field line, advanced to third on Johnny Gomes' ground out to Tiger starter, Anibal Sanchez, and scored when Sanchez uncorked a wild pitch.

That was the last run the Red Sox would score, the Detroit relief staff holding the Red Sox to just one hit over the final three innings. Napoli singled with two outs in the fifth, but he and David Ortiz were left stranded.

Winning game five puts Boston in an enviable position. With a three games to two lead, they need to win just one of two at Fenway Park over the weekend in order to advance to the World Series.. Game six is scheduled for Saturday at 4:30 pm EDT. If needed, game seven would be Sunday at 8:00 pm EDT.

National League

There was no National League game on Thursday. Game six of the NL championship series is 8:07 pm EDT in St. Louis, where the Cardinals lead the Dodgers, three games to two.

Today's Trivia: Who holds the career mark for most home runs in World Series play? (answer tomorrow)

Yesterday's Answer: Whitey Ford is the all-time career leader in World Series wins, with ten. Bob Gibson won seven, tied for second all time with Red Ruffing and Allie Reynolds.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Tigers Tie ALCS as Austin Jackson, Miguel Cabrera Power Detroit; Adrian Gonzalez, Dodgers Force Game Six with 6-4 Win

Players of the Day for Wednesday, October 16, 2013

American League

Austin Jackson
Miguel Cabrera
Detroit tied Boston at two games apiece with a 7-3 win in game four of the ALCS.

Getting to Boston starter, Jake Peavy, early, the Tigers scored five runs in the second inning, and two more in the fourth, all runs charged to Peavy, who did not get an out in the fourth, officially logging just three innings, allowing five hits and three walks.

Center fielder, Austin Jackson, demoted from his usual leadoff spot to the eight-hole in the order, spent most of the night on the base paths, going 2-for-2 with a pair of singles, a stolen base, a run and two RBI. Miguel Cabrera went 2-for-4, drove in a pair of runs and also stole a base.

Game five is 8:07 pm EDT at Comerica Park in Detroit.

National League

Adrian Gonzalez sparked the Dodgers to a 6-4 win over St. Louis in game five of the NL championship series with a 3-for-4 performance, socking a pair of homers, driving in two runs and scoring three times.

Adrian Gonzalez
A.J. Ellis and Carl Crawford also homered for the Dodgers. All of the long balls were solo shots.

Gonzalez got things started for the Dodgers in the bottom of the second when he singled and scored on Juan Uribe's single. The Dodgers scored twice in the frame, but were quickly tied when St. Louis plated two in the top of the third. The first of Gonzalez's two homers gave LA the lead in the bottom of the third, and they continued to add to the lead with single runs in the fifth, seventh and eighth.

St. Louis rallied for two runs in the top of the ninth and brought the winning run to the plate with two outs, but Kenley Jansen got pinch-hitter Adron Chambers looking on a called third strike with two runners aboard to end the threat and the game.

LA's win staved off elimination, forcing a game six in St. Louis, Friday, at 8:37 pm EDT. St. Louis leads the series, three games to two.

Today's Trivia: Who had more World series wins, Whitey Ford or Bob Gibson?

Yesterday's Answer: Lou Brock holds the record for stolen bases in a single World Series, swiping seven in both the 1967 and 1968 series.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

John Lackey, Mike Napoli Get Red Sox Past Detroit, 1-0; Matt Holliday Pushes Dodgers to the Brink in 4-2 St. Louis Win

Players of the Day for Tuesday, October 15, 2013

American League
Mike Napoli

John Lackey
John Lackey gave the Red Sox his best, blanking the Detroit Tigers for 6 2/3 innings, and Mike Napoli delivered the only run of the game with a one-out, seventh-inning solo shot as Boston took a 2-1 lead in the AL championship series with a 1-0 victory in Detroit.

Lackey notched his second post-season win for the Red Sox in as many starts, improving his career marks to 5-4 with a 3.10 ERA in 14 starts. Giving up just four hits, Lackey fanned eight and did not walk a batter. Leaving in the bottom of the seventh with one aboard and two down, a trio of relievers finished his work, culminating with a four-out save by Koji Uehara, his third save of the post-season.

Napoli's homer came off Detroit starter, Justin Verlander, who went eight innings, giving up four hits and striking out 10. Torii Hunter and Victor Martinez both went 2-for-4 for the Tigers - all singles - but the 3-4 batters, Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder produced only one hit between them, an inconsequential single by Fielder, a combined 1-for-8.

The series resumes Wednesday in Detroit at 8:07 pm EDT.

National League

Matt Holliday
After fouling out in the first inning, slugger Matt Holliday was still searching for his first hit of the series, 0-for-13 against the Dodgers in the NLCS.

When he came up in the third with a run already in, two outs and Matt Carpenter on third, Holliday didn't waste any time, mashing the first pitch from Ricky Nolasco into the far reaches of Dodger Stadium beyond left field, a 423-foot blast that put the Cardinals ahead 3-1.

Holliday's homer set the stage for the Cardinals' third win in four games over the Dodgers, putting LA on the brink of elimination in the best-of-seven series with a 4-2 victory and a three-games-to-one lead.

LA struck back with a pair of runs off starter Lance Lynn in the fourth, but it was all they could muster and proved insufficient, as Lynn picked up his second win of the series, going 5 1/3, and three relievers completed the job, blanking the Dodgers the rest of the way.

Shane Robinson added a solo homer in the seventh as a pinch-hitter, giving the Cards a cushion down the stretch.

Andre Ethier and Yasiel Puig each went 2-for-3, but the Dodgers largely failed to get runners home despite eight hits and three walks (all off Lynn), grounding into three double plays. Nick Punto was picked off at second base by reliever Carlos Martinez in the seventh. LA stranded five and were 2-for-6 with runners in scoring position.

St. Louis will be looking to qualify for the World Series in game five Wednesday afternoon in Los Angeles, Game time is 4:07 pm EDT.

Today's Trivia: Who holds the record for most stolen bases in a single World Series? (answer tomorrow)

Yesterday's Answer: Mickey Mantle holds the career mark, scoring 42 runs in multiple World Series as a member of the New York Yankees.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Hyun-Jin Ryu Stops Cardinals on Three Hits over Seven; Dodgers Take Game Three, 3-0

Players of the Day for Monday, October 14, 2013

American League

There was no AL game on Monday. Game three of the ALCS is scheduled to begin at 4:07 pm EDT at Comerica Park in Detroit. The Red Sox and Tigers are tied at a game apiece.

National League

Ryu: 7IP, 0R, 3H
Returning to Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles was the perfect tonic for the Dodgers, taking game three of the NLCS by a 3-0 score after dropping the first two games of the series in St. Louis.

LA starter, Hyun-Jin Ryu, out-pitched Cardinal ace, Adam Wainwright, giving St. Louis but three hits over 7 innings, walking one and striking out four.

Ryu, the 26-year-old rookie hurler from Incheon, South Korea, recorded his first-post-season victory, throwing 69 of 108 pitches for strikes before being lifted for reliever Brian Wilson, to start the eighth. Wilson allowed one hit and fanned two. Closer Kenley Jansen picked up the save with a perfect ninth inning.

Hanley Ramirez and Yasiel Puig each had two hits and an RBI to pace the Dodger offense. Pitching has been spectacular during the series. Thus far, the two teams have combined to score just nine runs.

Ryu was 14-8 with a 3.00 ERA during the regular season.

Game four of the series is 8:07 pm EDT in LA on Tuesday.

Today's Trivia: Who is the all-time leader in World Series runs scored? (answer tomorrow)

Yesterday's Answer: Tom Glavine threw 218 1/3 innings in post-season play, the most by any NL pitcher.

Monday, October 14, 2013

David Ortiz Grand Slam Sends Boston Crowd into Delerium; Red Sox Win, 6-5, over Detroit

Players of the Day for Sunday, October 13, 2013

American League

David Ortiz
Max Scherzer was at his best, mowing down the Red Sox over the first five innings without allowing a hit, finally surrendering a run in the sixth, when Boston's Dustin Pedroia doubled home Shane Victorino, the Red Sox run coming after Detroit had scored four runs in the top of the inning on a solo homer by Miguel Cabrera, a pair of doubles by Prince Fielder and Victor Martinez and a two-run blast off the bat of Alex Avila.

After retiring the side in order in the seventh and fanning 13 overall, Scherzer was relieved by Jose Veras to start the eighth, which is where the game turned from Detroit looking at a commanding 2-0 lead in the series to a tie game, and finally, a Red Sox victory in the ninth.

Veras got the first out in the eighth, but then allowed a double to Drew Middlebrooks and was replaced by Drew Smyly, who walked leadoff hitter, Jacoby Ellsbury. Al Alburquerque followed to the mound, striking out Shane Victorino. Pedroia singled to load the bases, prompting Tiger manager Jim Leyland to insert closer Joaquin Benoit to pitch to David Ortiz.

With one quick swing of the bat, Ortiz tied the game with a grand slam, sending Benoit's offering into the right field stands, the crowd erupting in jubilation, Scherzer's heroic effort wasted, four relievers (maybe a few too many for one inning) charged with a run apiece.

After the Tigers failed to score in the top of the ninth, in the bottom of the frame, Rick Porcello, normally a starter, didn't record an out, allowing a single by Gomes, who took second on a throwing error by shortstop Jose Iglesias and made it to third on a wild pitch, Jerrod Saltalamacchia's single to left bringing Gomes to the plate with the game winner, tying the series at a game apiece with the sudden, 6-5 win.

The series tied, 1-1, game three takes place in Detroit on Tuesday, at 4:07 pm EDT.

National League

There was no National League game on Sunday. The NL championship series resumes Monday night at 8:07 pm EDT when the Cardinals play at Los Angeles in game three. St. Louis holds a two-games-to-one lead over the Dodgers.

Today's Trivia: Who holds the NL record for most post-season innings pitched? (answer tomorrow)

Yesterday's Answer: In 2001, Curt Schilling struck out 56 batters in 48 1/2 post-season innings.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Anibal Sanchez, Jhonny Peralta lead Tigers to 1-0 Win over Red Sox; Cardinals Take 2-0 Lead in NLCS as Michael Wacha Silences Dodgers

Players of the Day for Saturday, October 12, 2013

American League

Anibal Sanchez
Jhonny Peralta
Tigers' starter, Anibal Sanchez, tossed six innings of no-hit ball to lead Detroit to an opening-game, 1-0, win over the Boston Red Sox in the AL championship series.

Detroit's only run came in the top of the sixth inning, when Jhonny Peralta drove in Miguel Cabrera from third with a solid single to center. Peralta also doubled twice, going 3-for-4 with the lone RBI.

Sanchez struck out 12 and walked six, and was pulled after six innings due to a high pitch count (116) despite the no-hit bid. A series of relievers made their ways to the mound after the departure of Sanchez, each keeping the no-hit bid intact until Joaquin Benoit surrendered a single to Daniel Nava with one out in the ninth, though the hit came to naught as Benoit got Stephen Drew to fly out to Carlos Beltran in right field and Xander Bogaerts on a popup to short, securing the win.

Sanchez took the win, his second, against three losses, in post-season play. John Lester, despite pitching well for six innings, was saddled with the loss.

Michael Wacha
Game two of the series is slated for an 8:07 pm EDT start, Sunday evening at Fenway Park.

National League

Michael Wacha allowed no runs on five hits with a walk and eight strikeouts over 6 2/3 innings, as the Cardinals took their second straight from the LA Dodgers, 1-0, in St. Louis.

Wacha out-dueled LA ace, Clayton Kershaw, who took the loss, when David Freese came home on a Jon Jay sacrifice fly in the bottom of the fifth inning. Freese's double was one of just two hits allowed by Kershaw. The run was unearned because Freese took third base on a passed ball by A. J. Ellis, preceding Jay's sac fly.

Now 2-0 in post-season play, Wacha, the savvy rookie hurler, shut down the Pirates in the NLDS on October 7, allowing one run on one hit, going 7 1/3 innings for the 2-1 victory. Wacha has allowed just six hits and one run in 14 innings in the post-season, fanning 17.

Game three of the NL championship series will be held in LA, on Monday, at 8:07 pm EDT.

Today's Trivia: Who holds the record for strikeouts in a single post-season? (answer tomorrow)

Yesterday's Answer: Randy Johnson and Francisco Rodriguez each won five post-season games in a single season, Johnson in 2001, Rodriguez in 2002.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Carlos Beltran Delivers in 13th as Cardinals Take NLCS Game One with 3-2 Win over Dodgers

Players of the Day for Friday, October 11, 2013

National League

It took 13 innings for the Dodgers and Cardinals to decide game one of their best-of-seven championship series, but the Cardinal fans who kept the faith for four hours and 47 minutes were well rewarded, when Carlos Beltran knocked in the game-winner with one out in the bottom of the 13th for the 3-2 victory.

Beltran: 2-6, 3 RBI
With one out in the final frame, Daniel Descalso - pinch-hitting for Lance Lynn - singled up the middle and the next batter, Matt Carpenter, drew a walk off LA reliever Chris Winthrow. With the winning run on second base, manager Don Mattingly decided to make a move, bringing in closer Kenley Jansen to face the switch-hitting Beltran.

Beltran, who had driven in both of the Cardinal runs in the third inning with a two-out double to the right center gap, delivered with a sharp single to right, bringing around Descalso with the winning run.

After homering twice and driving in six runs in the NLDS with the Pirates, Beltran continued to provide for the Cardinals, driving in all three runs in the opener with the Dodgers. He also was a defensive star, throwing out A.J. Ellis at the plate in the 10th.

The Dodgers used six pitchers during the game; the Cardinals employed seven, including Lynn, who tossed the final two innings and may be the starter for Sy. Louis in game four.

The 13-inning marathon the longest postseason game for the Dodgers since the 1916 World Series, when Babe Ruth pitched 14 innings to lead the Boston Red Sox past Brooklyn.

Game two of the series begins at 4:37 pm EDT at Busch Stadium in St. Louis.

American League

There were no AL games on Friday. Game of the the ALDS between Boston and Detroit is scheduled to start at 8:37 pm EDT at Fenway Park.

Today's Trivia: Two pitchers have won five post-season games in a single season. Who are they?

Yesterday's Answer: John Smoltz has the career post-season mark for most strikeouts, with 199 in 209 innings.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Justin Verlander, Miguel Cabrera Lead Tigers over A's in Decisive Game Five

Players of the Day for Thursday, October 10, 2013

American League

Over the past two days, baseball fans have been reminded why experience matters in the post-season, especially in big games and even more so, on the mound.

Justin Verlander
Wednesday saw St. Louis ace, Adam Wainwright, go the distance in a decisive game five win over the Pirates over rookie starter, Gerrit Cole. On Thursday, with the Tigers squaring off in Oakland with the A's, Detroit sent their big-game pitcher, Justin Verlander, up the hill against rookie hurler, Sonny Gray, of the A's.

The result was eerily similar to that in St. Louis a night earlier.

Gray gave up a two-run smash over the wall in right field by an obviously ailing Miguel Cabrera in the fourth inning. 2011 Cy Young award and league MVP Verlander? All he did was take a no-hitter into the seventh inning, shut out the A's over eight full innings and send the Tigers into the AL championship series against the Red Sox.

Miguel Cabrera
Perfect through the first five innings, Verlander gave up a walk to Josh Reddick with one down in the sixth, but didn't allow a hit until Yoenis Cespedes slashed one up the middle and into center field with two gone in the seventh. Verlander finished the inning unfazed, gave up a two-out single to Reddick in the eighth and turned the ball over to closer, Joaquin Benoit, who finished the job for the 3-0 win.

The Tigers scored an additional run in the sixth, when Victor Matinez scored on a fielder's choice.

Verlander fanned 10 and allowed just the two hits and the one walk, throwing 111 pitches, getting first strikes on 17 of the 27 batters he faced, improving his lifetime post-season mark to 7-4, with a 3.48 ERA.

Cabrera, who led the AL in batting with a .348 average, finished second in HRs and RBI behind Baltimore's Chris Davis, with 44 long balls and 137 ribbies. The All-Star third baseman and triple crown winner from 2012 has been slowed late in the year by nagging abdominal and leg ailments. The homer was his 11th in post-season play, to go with 33 RBI and a cumulative .273 average.

The Tigers will travel to Boston for games one and two of the best-of-seven championship series, starting Saturday at 8:00 pm EDT.

National League

There were no National League games on Thursday. The Dodgers and Cardinals begin the NL championship series with two games in St. Louis, game one starting at 8:37 pm EDT.

Today's Trivia: Who holds the record for most career strikeouts in the playoffs? (answer tomorrow)

Yesterday's Answer: False. In the 143 years of major league baseball, there have been 274,586 total home runs.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Adam Wainwright Goes Distance as Cardinals Move Past Pirates, 6-1, onto NLCS

Players of the Day for Wednesday, October 9, 2013

American League

There were no AL games on Wednesday. Game five of the ALDS between Oakland and Detroit begins Thursday at 8:07 pm EDT in Oakland.

National League

When it came down to the deciding game, the Cardinals went to their ace while the Pirates went with a rookie.

Guess what happened.

David Freese socked a second-inning, two-run homer off Pittsburgh starter, Gerrit Cole, and St. Louis' Adam Wainwright made it stand up with a complete-game win as the Cardinals cruised into the NL championship series with a 6-1 victory in game five.

Adam Wainwright
Cole pitched well, allowing two runs on three hits, striking out five, but not as well as Wainwright, who gave up eight hits but allowed only one run, that coming in the seventh, when Justin Morneau scored from second on a ball hit by Pedro Alvarez that went off the first base bag and was snagged by Cardinal shortstop, Matt Carpenter. A double play - one of three turned by the St. Louis infield - ended the inning with the next batter.

Wainwright walked one and fanned six. He was consistently around the plate with a dazzling assortment of off-speed curve balls and sliders, and the occasional fast ball, throwing 74 of 107 pitches for strikes. The lean, 6'7" right-hander also won game one of the series, a 7-1 victory for St. Louis. In that outing, Wainwright allowed one run on three hits over seven innings. Wednesday's effort was his first post-season complete game and his fourth playoff win without a loss.

First-baseman, Matt Adams, filling in for the injured Allen Craig, smashed a mammoth two-run homer in the eighth, adding to the St. Louis lead. Matt Holliday went 2-for-4 and was on base for both Cardinal homers.

A leading Cy Young candidate, Wainwright finished the regular season with 19 wins, tied with Washington's Jordan Zimmermann for the most in the National League. Hs 219 Ks were third-most in the league and his 2.94 ERA, seventh.

The Cardinals will host the LA Dodgers in game one of the best-of-seven NL championship series, beginning Friday.

Today's Trivia: True or false: Including the National Association (1871-1875) there have been more than 300,000 home runs hit in the entire history of major league baseball. (answer tomorrow)

Yesterday's Answer: The St. Louis Cardinals have won 10 World Series, the most by any National League franchise.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Red Sox Oust Rays from Playoffs with 3-1 Win as Xander Bogaerts Scores Twice without a Hit

Players of the Day for Tuesday, October 8, 2013

American League

Bogaerts: 0 AB, 2R
As much as fine pitching and bombastic home run hitters generally decide the outcome of games, baseball is also replete with oddities and quirks which make it statistically astonishing at times.

The Boston Red Sox won their best-of-five divisional series with the wild card Rays three games to one with a 3-1 victory at Tampa's Tropicana Field Tuesday night. Here is some of the quirky scoring:

Boston starter Jake Peavy - aided by two double plays - allowed one run on five hits over 5 2/3 innings, but did not get the decision, the win falling to reliever Craig Breslow, who allowed one hit over 1 2/3rd innings, getting four of his six outs via the strikeout. Koji Uehara, who got the final four outs, fanned two without allowing a hit, earning his second save of the series, a night after giving up the home run that forced game four.

Rookie Xander Bogaerts, Boston's speedy sometime shortstop, scored two runs without having an official at bat, walking both times he appeared at the plate. The first instance was in the seventh inning, when he pinch-hit for Stephen Drew, eventually scoring on a wild pitch by Tampa reliever, Joel Peralta. Remaining in the game at short, Bogaerts walked again in the top of the ninth, this time scoring on a sac fly by Dustin Pedroia, giving the Red Sox an insurance run before Tampa's final at-bat.

Despite not having an official at-bat in the series, Bogaerts scored three runs.

In Detroit, the Tigers evened their series with the A's at two games apiece with an 8-6 win, sending the series back to Oakland for a deciding game five on Thursday, at 8:07 pm EDT. The Red Sox will have home field advantage over whichever team comes out on top in the AL Championship Series.

National League

Thre were no NL games on Tuesday. The Pirates play at St. Louis, Wednesday, in the deciding game five of the NLDS at 8:07 pm EDT.

Today's Trivia: Which National League team has won the most World Series? (answer tomorrow)

Yesterday's Answer: The Oakland A's - formerly the Philadelphia A's - have won nine World Series championships.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Evan Longoria, Jose Lobaton Keep Rays' Hopes Alive in 5-4 Win; Michael Wacha Forces Game 5 for Cardinals; Juan Uribe Homers to Lead Dodgers into NLCS

Players of the Day for Monday, October 7, 2013

American League

Evan Longoria
Jose Lobaton
Evan Longoria tied the game at 3-3 with a three-run homer and pinch-hitter Jose Lobaton delivered a walk-off, game-winning home run with two outs in the bottom of the ninth to lead the Rays to a 5-4 win over the Boston Red Sox, keeping the Rays alive in the ALDS.

Tampa Bay lost the first two games of the best-of-five series in Boston and were in danger of elimination, as Boston forged a 3-0 lead until Longoria's blast in the fifth inning.

The Rays took a 4-3 lead in the bottom of the eighth, but Boston quickly re-tied the game with a single run in the top of the ninth. In the bottom of the frame, Boston reliever Koji Uehara seemed to have things well in hand, retiring the first two batters in order, but surrendered the bomb to Lobaton, forcing a game four, Tuesday, 8:37 pm EDT at Tropicana Field.

Michael Wacha
In Detroit, the Oakland A's took a 2-1 lead with a 6-3 victory over the hometown Tigers. Game four is Tuesday at 5:07 pm EDT.

National League

Rookie hurler, Michael Wacha, took a no-hitter into the seventh inning, spoiled when Pedro Alvarez socked a solo homer to put the Pirates down 2-1 against the Cardinals in game four of the NLDS. Wacha would not face another batter, manager Mike Matheny opting for his bullpen, which got the final five outs of the game without incident, evening the series at two games apiece and forcing a decisive game five in St. Louis on Wednesday night (8:07 pm EDT).

Juan Uribe
Matt Holliday's two-run homer in the fifth inning provided the winning runs for the Cardinals' 2-1 victory. Wacha was 4-1 in nine starts during the regular season for St. Louis and took the win in his first post-season appearance.

In Atlanta, the Braves were eliminated by the LA Dodgers, three games to one, when Juan Uribe touched off a two-run shot in the bottom of the eighth inning, sending the Dodgers into the NL Championship Series with a 4-3 victory.

Dodger starter Clayton Kershaw pitched well for six innings on three days' rest, allowing just three hits, but the Dodgers surrendered two unearned runs. Reliever Brian Wilson took the win and Kenley Jansen struck out the Braves in order in the ninth for his first post-season save.

Today's Trivia: After the Yankees, what AL team has won the most World Series? (answer tomorrow)

Yesterday's Answer: Juan Marical and Fergie Jenkins were pitchers who liked to finish what they started. Marichal had 244 complete games in 16 seasons; Jenkins, 267 in 19 seasons.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Hanley Ramirez Leads Dodgers to 13-6 Rout and 2-1 Edge in NLDS over Atlanta

Players of the Day for Sunnday, October 6, 2013

American League

There were no AL games on Sunday. Both divisional series resume Monday, as the Tigers host the A's at 1:07 pm EDT and Boston plays at Tampa Bay at 6:07 pm EDT.

National League

Scoring 10 runs in the first four innings, the LA Dodgers took a two-games-to-one lead in their National League divisional series with a 13-6 thumping of the Atlanta Braves.

Hanley Ramirez
The Dodgers trailed briefly when the Braves scored a pair of runs in the first inning, but LA came back with four in the bottom of the second. Atlanta re-tied the game at 4-4 in the top of the third, but after that, it was all Dodgers, scoring two in the third and four more in the fourth.

Hanley Ramirez continued his hot hitting, going 3-for-4 with a single, double, triple, three runs and two RBI. The LA shortstop is batting a crisp .538 through three games, with a home run, triple, four doubles and eight RBI.

Rookie Yasiel Puig also had a big game, rapping out three singles in four at-bats, scoring three runs and driving in a pair. Carl Crawford smashed a three-run homer in the fourth, and also singled, driving in three and scoring three times.

Neither starting pitcher was particularly effective. Atlanta's Julio Teheran gave up eight hits and six runs in 2 2/3 innings, while LA's Hyun-Jin Ryu lasted just three innings, allowing four runs on six hits.

The series resumes Monday at 9:37 pm EDT, the Dodgers looking to close out the series at home.

In the other NLDS, Pittsburgh took a 2-1 edge in the best-of-five series with a 5-3 win over St. Louis. Pedro Alvarez broke a 3-3 tie with a single in the eighth inning, followed by a single to left by catcher Russell Martin, which added an insurance run for the Pirates.

Pittsburgh will be looking to close out the series at home when they hook up with the Cardinals in game four, Monday at 3:07 pm EDT.

Today's Trivia: Who threw more complete games, Juan Marichal or Ferguson Jenkins?

Yesterday's Answer: While Mickey Mantle was quick, he was no match for Willie Mays in steals. Mays finished his career with 338 stolen bases; Mantle swiped 153.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Boston Grabs 2-0 ALDS Lead as David Ortiz, Jacoby Ellsbury Power Red Sox; Oakland Ties Series with Detroit on 1-0 Win

Players of the Day for Saturday, October 5, 2013

American League

Jacoby Ellsbury
Taking a 2-0 lead in their best-of-five series, the Boston Red Sox took one step closer to the AL championship with a 7-4 win over Tampa Bay.

David Ortiz socked a pair of solo home runs and Jacoby Ellsbury went 3-for-4 to pace Boston.

Ellsbury scored three runs for the Red Sox, including their first, reaching on a single to right in the bottom of the first, stealing second and taking third when Rays' catcher, Jose Molina threw the ball errantly into center field. Ellsbury, who led the AL in steals with 52 during the regular season, scored on Dustin Pedroia's sac fly. The next batter, Ortiz, made it 2-0, staking starter John Lackey to a quick lead.

In the third, Ellsbury doubled in a run and scored again, this time on a ground out fielder's choice by Pedroia. Ellsbury scored again in the fifth, when he singled and raced around from first on a double to left by Pedroia.

David Ortiz
Ortiz smashed his second homer of the game in the eighth - a towering drive just inside the right field foul pole - accounting for Boston's final run. With 30 homers and 103 RBI during the regular season, Ortiz ranked eighth and seventh in those respective categories in the AL.

It was the first time Ortiz had gone yard twice in a post-season game.

The Red Sox will be looking for the sweep and advancing to the ALCS when they play the Rays in game three at Tropicana Field, Monday at 6:07 pm EDT.

In Oakland, the A's got a run in the bottom of the ninth when Stephen Vogt singled with the bases loaded to score Yoenis Cespedes with the only run of the game and a 1-0 win for the Oakland A's.

Starters Justin Verlander and Sonny Gray engaged in an old-fashioned pitcher's duel through much of the game. Verlander allowed just four hits and fanned 11, lasting seven innings. Gray also allowed four hits and fanned nine, working through eight innings. A's closer, Grant Balfour, took the win, getting the Tigers out in order in the top of the ninth.

The series, now tied, 1-1, moves to detroit on Monday for game three, at 1:07 pm EDT.

National League

There were no National league games on Saturday. Both divisional series are tied at a game apiece and resume on Sunday. The Cardinals visit the Pirates at 4:37 pm EDT and the Braves play the Dodgers in LA at 8:07 pm EDT.

Today's Trivia: Who stole more bases during their major league career, Mickey mantle or Willie Mays? (answer tomorrow)

Yesterday's Answer: Tom Seaver and Tommy Agee were the two former rookies of the year that played on the World Champion NT Mets of 1969. Seaver won the award in 1967 as a Met, Agee was AL ROY in 1966, playing for the Chicago White Sox.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Shane Victorino Leads Red Sox in 12-2 Win over Rays; Rookie Hurler Gerrit Cole Stuffs Cardinals in 7-1 Pirate Victory

Players of the Day for Friday, October 4, 2013

American League

Banging out 14 hits, the Boston Red Sox stopped the Tampa Bay road show at Fenway Park with a 12-2 win in the opening game of their best-of-five divisional series.

Victorino: 3-for-4
The Rays had won in Texas on Monday to get into the playoffs and then handled Cleveland on Wednesday night, taking claim of the wild card playoff, but the party ended in the bottom of the fourth when the Red Sox plated five runs after Tampa had taken an early 2-0 lead. The Sox tacked on three more in the fifth and four more runs in the eighth, turning the game into a romp for the team which finished with the best record in the AL.

All nine Red Sox batters had at least one hit; Shane Victorino had three, all singles, in four at-bats, with two RBI, a stolen base and a run scored. Boston didn't have any home runs. Nine of their 14 hits were singles; Tampa Bay pitchers issued five walks. Jon Lester took the win, going 7 2/3 innings, allowing two runs on just three hits, and three walks, whiffing seven Rays batters.

Game two is Saturday at Fenway, 5:37 pm EDT.

In the other AL divisional series, the Tigers got off to a good start by taking game one at Oakland by a 3-2 score. Max Scherzer got the win, striking out 11 over seven innings, walking two and allowing two runs on three hits. Game two is Saturday at 9:07 pm EDT.

National League

Gerrit Cole
Rookie hurler, Gerrit Cole, limited the St. Louis Cardinals to just two hits - one of them a fifth-inning, solo homer by Yadier Molina - over six innings, as the Pittsburgh Pirates evened the divisional series at a game apiece with a 7-1 victory at Bush Stadium.

Cole, who was 10-7 during the regular season and making his first post-season start, stymied the Cardinals throughout his six frames. After Carlos Beltran doubled with one out in the first inning, Cole set down the next 11 consecutive batters, retiring the side in order in the second, third and fourth innings. Molina's homer led off the fifth, but Cole got the next three batters and retired after an uneventful walk to Matt Carpenter in the sixth.

Manager Clint Hurdle made the move in the top of the seventh, pinch-hitting for Cole with a 6-1 lead. Three Pittsburgh relievers mopped up, each throwing a scoreless inning.

Tied at 1-1, the series moves to Pittsburgh on Sunday. Game time is 4:37 pm EDT.

Hanley Ramirez drove in all of the runs for the Dodgers, but he could have used some help as the Braves tied the series with Los Angeles at a game apiece with a 4-3 win at Turner Field in Atlanta. Mike Minor got the win for Atlanta, scattering eight hits over 6 1/3 innings, allowing one run. The series shifts to Los Angeles on Sunday at 5:07 pm PDT.

Today's Trivia: The Amazin' Mets, who captured the 1969 World Series, fielded two players who had won rookie of the year awards. Who were they? (answer tomorrow)

Yesterday's Answer: The three prior rookies of the year on the 1977 Yankees were Lou Pineilla (1969, KC), Thurman Munson (1970, Yankees), and Chris Chambliss (1971, Cleveland).