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Futon Report: K leads to W for White Sox

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ALCS Game 2 – White Sox 2, Angels 1

A.J. PIERZYNSKI, WHO has had a marvelous post-season for his White Sox thus far, yet again helped his team by striking out.

Joe Crede has to feel good after
his game-winning double (Getty Images)

Yes, apparently you can do that and be a help.

With a 1-1 score in the ninth inning, Pierzynski, at-bat with two outs and a full count, swung on a Kelvim Escobar pitch too low to hit for strike three. Angels backup catcher Josh Paul, in unison with the rest of his team, began to trot towards the dugout in end-of-the-inning style, and Paul harmlessly lobbed the ball towards the mound.

Then Pierzynski ran to first base. He was called safe.

The umpire crew ruled that the pitch grazed the ground, activating Rule 6.09b of the MLB Official Rules:

The batter becomes a runner when the third strike called by the umpire is not caught, providing (1) first base is unoccupied, or (2) first base is occupied with two out; When a batter becomes a base runner on a third strike not caught by the catcher and starts for the dugout, or his position, and then realizes his situation and attempts then to reach first base, he is not out unless he or first base is tagged before he reaches first base.

In short, if strike three hits the ground, the batter needs to be tagged or thrown out.

The kicker in this call was amplified not just by the fact that it was a playoff game, but that the out would have ended the inning and brought the game to extra frames. Instead, the ninth carried on.

Pierzynski’s pinch-runner Pablo Ozuna stole second during next batter Joe Crede’s at-bat, then Crede laced a game-winning double down the left field line, scoring Ozuna.

OK, Mr. Paul. Now you can walk off the field.

Overshadowed by Pierzynski’s third strike, Sox starter Mark Buehrle (1-0) went the distance and tossed a gem — one run, five hits, no walks, and four strikeouts.

The Pale Hose drew first blood in the bottom of the first on a Jermaine Dye groundout which scored leadoff speedster Scott Podsednik. Then Los Angeles tied the game in the top of the 5th on a homerun to left field by third baseman Robb Quinlan.

Angels’ starter Jarrod Washburn turned in a 4-2/3-inning performance after battling strep throat over the weekend, allowing just the one unearned run. Escobar (0-1) took the loss in 2 2/3 innings of relief. Among 5 of his strikeouts was Pierzynski’s in the ninth.

NLCS Game 1 [not 2] – Cardinals 5, Astros 3

REGGIE SANDERS HAD a rather paltry post-season batting average coming into this year’s playoffs. Despite having a ring and playing in three World Series for as many teams, the veteran outfielder was only 9-for-70 (.129) in LCS games, and .188 in the entire playoffs.

That was his career, this is 2005.

Sanders continued to rip through playoff pitchers (10 RBI in 3 games against San Diego) in Game 1 of the NLCS by slamming a 2-run homerun in the first inning to give his Cardinals a quick 2-0 lead, and his team never looked back.

The Redbirds continued to pepper the scoreboard with runs off Astro starter Andy Pettitte (0-1). They added a run in the second (Chris Carpenter squeeze bunt scoring Mark Grudzielanek) and two in the fifth (David Eckstein liner to right, scoring Abraham Nunez; Albert Pujols drive to right center, scoring Eckstein).

That 5-0 lead was plenty cushion for Carpenter (1-0) to allow a two-run shot by Chris Burke in the seventh inning. And despite giving up a run in the ninth, Jason Isringhausen closed up shop with the save.

Sanders’ postseason numbers look much better now. Including the NLDS, Reggie is 5-for-15 (.333) with 2 homers and 12 RBI. For his career, Sanders career LCS average has “improved” to 14-for-85 (.165).


NLCS: The Astros try to even the series Thursday night as they hand the ball to 20-game winner Roy Oswalt. His tall task is to out-pitch St. Louis agent Mark Mulder Thursday night. (Thursday 8 p.m. EST, FOX)

ALCS: The Angels finally get a day off, but they have to travel — something they’re used to — back to California to rest up for Friday’s Game 3. In a battle of variations of the name “John,” John Lackey will take the mound for the Angels against the Sox’s Jon Garland. (Friday 8 p.m. EST, FOX)

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About Suss

  • RJ

    “NLCS Game 2 – Cardinals 5, Astros 3”

    Wasn’t that Game One?

  • Is now.

  • Cardinals will ice the Astros with ease. Houston just can’t produce runs despite all their pitching power.

    The Angels look pretty strong but so do the White Sox. Tough call. I’ll go with the Angels for reasons I’m not really sure of.

    So Cardinals vs. Angels in the WS. Angels win in 6.

    I’m probably very very wrong.

  • Maybe because the Angels know how to get to the World Series?

  • ClubhouseCancer

    The Angels are getting nothing from Figgins and nothing from Anderson, so the Sox will just keep pitching around Vlad. This will make it very tough on the Angels, and you just have to like Chicago’s arms. That said, it sounds funny to predict a White Sox World Series, and I’m never comfortable with Nerks in a big spot, so I’ll also go with the LAA of A, who’ll probably come up with something I could never predict.

    And I too like the Cards. They’ve got the bats and the gloves and the youth over Houston, and considering the power through that St. Louis lineup, Carpenter and Mulder and Morris should be more than enough.

    I am always always always wrong with baseball predictions, although I got three of the 4 opening round series right. (wrong: Yankees). Meanwhile, this makes a dozen years in a row without my precious Phils making the playoffs.

    Speaking of the Phils:
    Discuss: the wild-card is complete bullshit as long as the teams don’t play balanced schedules. Every team in the East (the Phils’ division) had a winning record, and they had to play those teams more often. The Astros got to play the Reds and the Pirates a bunch of times. There must be a level playing field, or they should go to 4 divisions. I’d prefer to just get rid of the wild card anyway, but that’ll never happen now.

  • Interesting gambit, CC, but I’ll play your game.

    Claim: WC is BS because schedules aren’t balanced.

    Take: A balanced skej wouldn’t have gotten the Phils in the playoffs this year.

    Record against “easier” NL Central:
    Astros – 43-36 (.544)
    Phils – 21-20 (.512)

    Record against “harder” NL East:
    Astros – 20-16 (.556)
    Phils – 38-37 (.507)

    Given this, their records wouldn’t have fluctuated much. Yes, the Cincy-Pitt combo would make for an easier schedule, but Philly didn’t prove that by going 4-3 against each team.

    Teams are supposed to beat the teams on their schedule. Players and coaches don’t make political excuses on why they lost, fans do it for them.

    For the Phillies, just one extra win against both the Bucs and Reds would have vaulted them two games ahead in the standings and into the playoffs.

    Moreover, those two extra wins would have put them at 90 wins, clinching the NL East division because they beat the 90-win Braves head-to-head, 10 games to 9.

  • Don’t you realize poor Matt gets PLEASURE out of this?

    From an online conversation taking place concurrently:

    Suss: man I love when unsuspecting people throw a wild claim into one of my futon report posts. I tear ’em up so quickly, it’s so fun

    Don’t egg him on.

  • Blame it on the Cubs. If Houston hadn’t beaten them on the final day of the season, Houston and Philly would have been in a one game playoff for the wild card spot.

    A possible solution for your wild-card blues would be to do away with interleague play and make each league one big division and have the teams play each other an equal number of times. At the end of the season, take the top 4 (or 2) winningest teams and advance them to the playoffs. Had that happened we would have seen the Cardinals, Braves, Astros and Phillies in the National League playoffs.

    But, still…all in all, one of the better pennant races this year, in both the American and National leagues.

  • Listen not to what the girl says, her luck in NFL Elimination is giving her a false sense of baseball knowledge. Curse her for exposing my inflated ego during baseball discussions.

    But when I’m right, I’m right.

  • Sussman, I will beat you up in front of these people Wal-Mart-mother style and expose you for the number-crunching nerd you are.

  • ClubhouseCancer

    It doesn’t matter what the teams actually DID against the losing vs. winning teams. I mean, obviously, if the Phils had won one more game against the Mets, or the Diamondbacks, or whomever, they would have been tied with Houston, too. It just matters that the teams’ schedules were of differing quality, so it’s not fair for them to compete.

    The one-big division plan works for me. I’d also take an East-West, four-division (two in each league) plan, with East playing East more often, as long as the top two teams in each divsion made the playoffs. Teams that compete directly must play equal schedules, or it’s just not fair.

  • It doesn’t matter what the teams actually DID against the losing vs. winning teams.

    Au contraire, cancer of the clubhouse. A schedule where everyone plays everyone the same isn’t necessarily “balanced.”

    Baseball is about matchups and situations. Take, for example, the Reds. A bad team in a small park. They hit home runs and have bad pitching. The Phillies have a great offense, but are in the middle of the pack when it comes to home runs.

    Their pitching is pretty solid, but they give up the 3rd most homeruns in the NL, behind only Cincy and Arizona. This is because many of their pitchers rely on fastballs and offspeed pitches to keep the batter “guessing,” and pitchers who mix-up their speed are prone to getting flyball outs. That’s not something you want to do in the Great American Smallpark.

    So even if Philly would play Cincy more often, they wouldn’t be guaranteed “easy” wins against an “easy” team. Matchups.

    I mean, obviously, if the Phils had won one more game against the Mets, or the Diamondbacks, or whomever, they would have been tied with Houston, too.

    Right on the money. All they have to do is point to two games they let get away. Pointing to the MLB front office gets them nowhere.

    It just matters that the teams’ schedules were of differing quality, so it’s not fair for them to compete.

    But everyone’s schedule is different.

    Philadelphia is on the East coast. If they were to play more teams from the NL West (which they had an NL best 22-9 interdivisional record against), they would have to travel farther. And travel can take its toll.

    The distance from Philadelphia to Miami is rougly 1,250 miles. That’s the longest intradivisional trek for them to go. The closest flight from Philadelphia to an NL West foe would be Colorado. Philly is 1,750 miles to Denver. It’s almost 3,000 miles to San Francisco!

    Likewise, Houston, with the rest of the NL Central is in the Midwest, so it has less travel time on average than either coast.

    “A schedule with evenly distributed teams ≠ balanced.”

    And that’s not even factoring in jet lag. Come back from playing at 10 p.m. EST on the West coast then have to play a day game (11 a.m. PST) at home two days later? Yikes.

    As far as I know, every major sports (college and pro) schedules heavily within divisions and conferences, primarily to cut down on the travel. This helps build rivalries and prepares a team to play several games against one team, learning the nuances of their game, so they will be able to take the same approach once they are injected into a crucial best-of-5 or best-of-7 at the end of the season.

  • ClubhouseCancer

    Matt, here’s a story by someone smarter than me about this issue from a couple of years back, if you’re interested:

    He concludes that for 2002, the Cards had a 4-game advantage, statistically, over the Dodgers, and they were competing against each other.

    BTW, the reason the NFL and NBA and NHL have division systems are simple math. There’s too many teams and not enough games to make balanced schedules work. In football, obviously there are more teams in the league than games in the year, and balancing the other two sports would be a nightmare that would end up with teams playing each other team 2 and a half times a year.
    But baseball has 162 games to play with, and a uniquely integral two-league structure and culture.
    Baseball can easily balance the schedule to make it fair, and they don’t, and it’s for the money.

    And by the way, I’m not blaming anybody. As a Phils fan, I’m completely comfortable with losing. I expected and predicted they wouldn’t be good enough, and I was right again. I’m just saying that the system isn’t fair, and every year the teams aren’t on equal footing, when they could and should be. In fact, I’ve been arguing about this shit for years, knowing that the odds of it ever affecting the hapless Phils were remote — they’re rarely in the picture anyway.

    As to your points, yes, a schedule where everybody plays everybody else is balanced, or as balanced as they can make it. The “travel” issue is irrelevant, unless you propose all games being played at some neutral site. Of course teams travel, and the league can’t control how far away different teams are located from each other. They can and do control which teams those teams play every year, and if everyone played the same teams the same number of times, they could compete on equal ground.

    If the schedule was balanced, the travel would mostly even out anyway. It’s just as far from LA to Philly as it is from Philly to LA.

    Your comment about the Phils’ pitching vis-a-vis home runs proves my point. If their pitching style is particularly ineffective against, say, Cincinnati, and particularly effective against a low-power team like LA (a dubious proposition anyway, statistically), then they should even more have to play each of those teams an equal number of times as a team they’re competing against, so that we can evaluate them evenly.

    The MLB schedule is unbalanced because the owners of the Cards want to play the Cubs as many times as they can, likewise the Yanks/Sox, etc.

    I think that’s fine and right, and I think they should do divisions, but make the skeds balanced within the division. (ie you play everyone in your division about 15 times, and everyone in the other division about 9 times, and about 20 interleague games — that’s about right, I think.)

    But it should be the top two teams in each division, with no wild card.

  • Eric Olsen

    CC, the wild card works because it keeps up interest for any number of teams out of division contention at least through August and often up to the end of the season – in that way it is very democratic, especially for ticket sales, media ratings, etc. I think it has worked out remarkably well. And considering the other things that are unfair about baseball: designated hitter or not, field sizes and configurations, subjective umpiring, payrolls, etc – schedule disparities are among the more minor.

    And the ending of that game was preposterous: batter out, inning over.

  • ClubhouseCancer

    Bad, bad call. He made the out call, then slowly strolled out toward the mound and kind of changed his mind. Awful.

    If I were the Angels, I’d be very worried. And pissed off.

    BTW, I’d say the DH disparity is a solvable problem, and the umpiring, but I’m not sure you can demand that teams build bigger parks, even though I think they should, too. My beloved Phils’ new park is a bandbox, and I think it hurts them.

  • Catcher Josh Paul was excited. “Yeah, we got out of the inning! Our turn to win this in extra innings!”

    And he was scheduled to bat 3rd in the top of the 10th inning.

    He had a memory lapse most catchers do and forgot to just-in-case tag the batter.

    Another reason postseason experience matters. I’m sure one of the Molina brothers would have tagged him.

  • ClubhouseCancer

    Yeah, Paul screwed up. You gotta make sure there, and it’s not si hard to just reach out and tag him. . But still… terrible call.

    The Molinas both probably would have tagged him (who knows?), but Benji is way overrated as a catcher. The way those pitches in the dirt were bouncing around against the Yankees was strictly high-school backstoppery. And his throwing numbers have gone down a lot lately. Jorge Posada outplayed him by a bunch, and Jorge is no Johnny Bench.