Baseball in the Pythagorean Universe 1871-Present

Now it's time for Game 3 of the 1996 World Series from Busch Stadium in St. Louis. The date is Friday, October 18:

Lineup Changes:

Indians- Kevin Seitzer will start at first base. Manny Ramirez moves up to fifth, while Jeff Kent starts at second base and will bat sixth.

Weather: 47 degrees, fair skies, west-northwest wind at 5 MPH.

Cardinals- Ozzie Smith starts at shortstop and will lead off. Willie McGee moves from right field to center and will bat second. In the absence of the designated hitter, Ron Gant, Brian Jordan, and Gary Gaetti will all move up one spot, and Jordan will move from center to right. Finally, John Mabry will start at first base and bat sixth.

Indians 1st: Kenny Lofton lined the first pitch of the game into right center for a base hit. Seitzer's single to right put runners at the corners, and Lofton came home when Jim Thome grounded into a 3-6-3 double play. Albert Belle kept the inning going with a single to left, but Cardinals starter Todd Stottlemyre struck Manny Ramirez out swinging to end the inning. The Tribe has scored first thanks to three hits and a double-play ball; now let's see about the Redbirds.

Cardinals 1st: With one out, McGee lined a base hit to right center. That brought Gant to the plate against Indians starter Albie Lopez. Here's Joe Buck with the count two balls and no strikes:

"In case you're wondering why Dennis Martinez isn't starting this game, he's not on the World Series roster. He was allowed to be added briefly to the ALCS roster when Jack McDowell was sent home from Arlington with the flu and finished Game 4, but he was taken off when McDowell officially returned at the start of this series. Chad Ogea will start tomorrow night, while Charles Nagy will go on Sunday. Next pitch to Gant...….HIGH FLY BALL TO DEEP LEFT CENTER, BACK GOES LOFTON, AT THE TRACK, AT THE WALL, IT'S GONE! CARDINALS TAKE THE LEAD, AS RON GANT HOMERS IN THE FIRST FOR THE SECOND STRAIGHT GAME!"

Tim McCarver: "Lopez tries a cutter here, but it doesn't cut; it just sort of lays there in the strike zone, and that's nice fresh meat for a hitter like Gant. That's where the Indians miss Dennis Martinez, who's a much more experienced pitcher and wouldn't have made a mistake like that. Of course, he could have made an entirely different mistake, but that's just speculation."

Jordan lined to Kent at second for the second out, but Gaetti's double to left kept the inning going. Mabry took a called third strike to end the inning with Gaetti still at second, but Gant's second homer of the series has given the Cards a 2-1 lead after one.

Indians 2nd: A one-two-three inning for Stottlemyre. After an inning and a half, the Cardinals still lead 2-1.

Cardinals 2nd: Lopez returned the favor. After two, it's Cards 2, Tribe 1.

Indians 3rd: Lopez struck out swinging, Kenny Lofton bounced to second, and Seitzer grounded to short. Stottlemyre's retired eight in a row, and his Cardinals still lead 2-1 after two and a half.

Cardinals 3rd: Smith grounded to second, McGee bounced to third, and Gant was caught looking to end the inning. That's seven in a row retired for Lopez, but after three it's still NL Champs 2, AL Champs 1.

Indians 4th: Thome went down swinging, Belle grounded to Mike Gallego at second, and Manny took a called third strike. Stottlemyre's run is up to eleven in a row, and the Cards still lead by one after three and a half.

Cardinals 4th: Jordan flew to Lofton is shallow left center, and Gaetti and Mabry both went down swinging. That's ten in a row for Lopez, but the Cardinals still lead 2-1 after four.
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Indians 5th: Kent and Vizquel each took called third strikes, while Alomar grounded to second in between. Stottlemyre has now set down the last fourteen Indians he's faced, and halfway through Game 3, it's St. Louis 2, Cleveland 1.

Cardinals 5th: Lopez got the first two outs to run his skein to twelve in a row, but Stottlemyre ended it there with a single to right. The Wizard of Oz followed with a single past a diving Lopez and up the middle to move Todd to third, and McGee used his speed to beat out a grounder to second for an infield hit to bring him home and put the Redbirds up 3-1. Runners were still at first and second for Gant, but he was caught looking to strand the runners and end the inning. The Cardinals add a run thanks to a string of three hits, and they now lead the Indians 3-1 after five.

Indians 6th: Lopez went down swinging to extend Stottlemyre's streak to fifteen in a row, but Lofton ended it with a base hit to right center, then stole second. Seitzer's single to left brought Lofton home, and the Tribe was back to within 3-2. Thome followed with a single to right to put two men on, but Belle took a called third strike and Ramirez went down swinging to end the inning. The Tribe settles for a run on three hits while leaving runners at first and second, and as we head to the bottom of the sixth the Cardinal lead is down to 3-2.

Cardinals 6th: Another one-two-three inning for Lopez: Jordan bounced to third, Gaetti went down swinging, and Mabry flew to left center for the final out. Here's how Joe called our Defensive Play of the Night:

"Fly ball to left center, not deep. Lofton playing deep, has to come in, dives and CATCHES IT!...….If he'd missed that ball, it would have been trouble. As it is, the Cardinals are down in order in the sixth, but lead 3-2 as we go to the seventh. Back with more after these messages and a word from your local Fox station."

Indians 7th: Kent led off with a base hit to right center. Alomar's base hit up the middle put two on, but Vizquel bounced into a 4-6-3 double play. Kent moved to third with the tying run, and Julio Franco came out of the dugout to bat for Lopez. Stottlemyre walked him on five pitches, and there were runners at the corners for Lofton, but he bounced to Gallego at second to end the inning. The Indians leave runners at first and third, and as we stretch at Busch the homestanding Redbirds still lead 3-2.

Cardinals 7th: Stottlemyre singled to right with two out against new Indians pitcher Eric Plunk, but Smith's liner was speared by Seitzer to end the inning, It's still 3-2 Redbirds after seven.

Indians 8th: With one out, Thome hit a fly ball deep to left. Gant thought he'd made the catch, only for the ball to tumble out of his glove before he could get it back into the infield. Thome ended up at second thanks to the error, and Belle smacked a single to left to bring him home and tie the game at three. He was forced by Manny for the second out, and Kent went down swinging to end the inning. The Tribe has tied the game thanks to Gant's miscue, a hit, and a force play, and after seven and a half we're tied at three.

Cardinals 8th: McGee drew a leadoff walk against new Indians pitcher Paul Assenmacher, but Gant and Jordan each struck out swinging and Gaetti flew to Manny in right to retire the side. We head to the ninth still tied at three.

Indians 9th: New Cardinals pitcher Rick Honeycutt had a one-two-three inning: Alomar flew to left, Vizquel's fly was caught by Lofton on the warning track in right center, and Brian Giles (batting for Assenmacher) struck out swinging. We're still tied at three as we head to the bottom of the ninth.

Cardinals 9th: Even though the game was still tied, Indians manager Mike Hargrove went to his closer, Jose Mesa, in the hopes that his team would score in the top of the tenth and that Mesa could then get a two-inning save. First up was Mabry, who hit the first pitch he saw to new second baseman Jose Vizcaino. Jose muffed it, and the Cards had a baserunner. Tom Pagnozzi's bouncer to third moved Mabry to second, and at that point Miguel Meija went in to run for him. Gallego struck out swinging on three pitches, and then it was time for Ray Lankford, batting for Honeycutt. Lankford hit Mesa's second pitch to left center, but it was an easy play for Lofton, and we were headed for extra innings with Meijja still at second. After nine, it's Indians 3, Cardinals 3.

Indians 10th: New Cardinals pitcher T.J. Matthews retired the Tribe in order: Lofton tapped to first, Seitzer bounced to short, and Thome went down swinging. After nine and a half, we're still even at three.

Cardinals 10th: Gant whacked a two-out double down the left field line, but Jordan's grounder to third stranded him at second and ended the inning. We've played ten, and it's AL Champs 3, NL Champs 3.

Indians 11th: Belle tapped to new Cardinals first baseman Mark Sweeney, and Ramirez and Vizcaino each went down swinging. Matthews has retired all six Indians he's faced, and the Cardinals bullpen has retired the last eleven Cleveland hitters in a row, We're still tied at three after ten and a half.

Cardinals 11th: New Indians pitcher Kent Mercker had a three-up, three-down inning, as Gaetti flew to left and both Sweeney and Pagnozzi flew to right. We're heading to the twelfth with the game still tied at three.

Indians 12th: The Indians went down one-two-three again: Alomar grounded to short, Vizquel went down swinging, and pinch hitter Casey Candaele (batting for Mercker) flew to McGee on the warning track in left center. Matthews' night is over after three perfect innings, and St. Louis relievers have now retired the last fourteen Indians they've faced. It's still a 3-3 tie after eleven and a half.

Cardinals 12th: New Indians pitcher Paul Shuey caught Gallego looking for out number one, but Royce Clayton batted for Matthews and hit a bloop that fell fair on the right field line for a double. Smith walked to put two on, and Shuey now faced McGee. Here's Joe with the count one ball and one strike:

"Clayton's got speed at second, and his is the only run that matters. Tony Fossas warming up in the Cardinal bullpen should there be a thirteenth, and that's up to Shuey and McGee right now. The infield's at double-play depth for the Indians, but anything hit to the outfield ends the game barring a miraculous play. Shuey checks the runners, and here's the one-one to McGee...……..LINE DIRVE INTO RIGHT CENTER, BASE HIT! LOFTON COMES UP THROWING, TO VIZCAINO, NOW HOME AND...….SAFE! CARDINALS WIN GAME 3!......Lofton and Vizcaino each made perfect throws, but Clayton touched the plate with his hand a half-second before Alomar got him on the back pocket with the tag, and this one's over."

Our final in twelve innings: Cardinals 4, Indians 3, and the Cardinals lead the series two games to one.

McGee's game-winning hit earned him Player of the Game honors from Fox. He finished three for five with a run scored and two more driven in. The Indians' offense was led by Lofton, who was one of three Cleveland hitters with two hits and also scored twice. But the big story was the Cardinals' pitching staff; Stottlemyre retired fifteen in a row at one point, and the bullpen almost matched him with a second run of fourteen in a row retired to end the game, the last nine by winning pitcher Matthews.

Final score: Cardinals 4-10-1, Indians 3-9-1.

W- Matthews (1-0)
L- Shuey (0-1)

HR- STL: Gant (2)

The series will continue with Game 4 tomorrow night here at Busch Stadium. First pitch is scheduled for shortly after 8PM Eastern, with Chad Ogea starting for the Indians and Alan Benes going to the hill for the Cardinals.

Next: We look at Game 4.

Thoughts?
 
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Now it's time for Game 4 of the 1996 World Series from Busch Stadium in St. Louis. The date is Saturday, October 19:

Lineup Changes:

Indians- A major overhaul. Casey Candaele will lead off and play second base. Jim Thome moves up to the two hole, while Brian Giles starts in right field and will bat third. Jeff Kent moves to first base and will bat fifth. Kenny Lofton moves down to sixth. Tony Pena will catch and bat seventh.

Cardinals- Luis Alicea will lead off and play second base. Mike Gallego is back at short and will bat second. Dmitri Young will stat at first base and bat third. Mark Sweeney is the right fielder and will bat cleanup. David Bell will start at third base and bat fifth. Ron Gant moves down to sixth, while Miguel Meija will start in center field and bat eighth.

Weather: 51 degrees, fair skies, east-southeast wind at 8 MPH.

Indians 1st: Giles drew a two-out walk against Cardinals starter Alan Benes, but Albert Belle's grounder to third ended the inning. Now let's welcome the Redbirds.

Cardinals 1st: Alicea drew a leadoff walk, but was forced by Gallego. Young flew to center for the second out, and Sweeney forced Gallego to end the inning. We're scoreless after one.

Indians 2nd: Kent led off with a single to left center, but was forced by Lofton. Pena then grounded into a 6-4-3 inning-ending double play. We're through an inning and a half, and it's still zip-zip.

Cardinals 2nd: Bell stroked a leadoff single to right. After Gant flew to left for the first out, Pagnozzi lined a double off the wall in left. Bell stopped a third, and a walk to Meija loaded the bases. But Alan grounded into a 4-6-3 double play on the first pitch, and the Tribe was out of the inning. The home squad leaves runners at second and third, and there's still no score after two.

Indians 3rd: Alan retired the visitors in order. After two and a half, it's AL Champs 0, NL Champs 0.

Cardinals 3rd: Gallego slapped a single to left with one out. After Young took a called third strike, Sweeney beat out a slow roller to first for an infield single. But Indians starter Chad Ogea struck Bell out swinging on three consecutive pitched to retire the side with runners still at first and second. After three, it's still nothing-nothing.

Indians 4th: After one out, Giles and Belle drew back-to-back walks. Kent struck out swinging for the second out, but Lofton walked on four pitches to load the bases. The attack of wildness that cut Alan's Game 1 start short appeared to have returned, but after a chat with Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan Alan got Pena to ground to Young at first, retiring the side with the bases still full. We've played three and a half, and there's still no score.

Cardinals 4th: A one-two-three inning for Ogea. There's still no score after four.

Indians 5th: Vizquel drew a leadoff walk. Ogea hit one right back to Alan, who threw to second for the force on Vizquel. Candaele beat out a grounder to short for an infield single to put two men on, but Thome flew to Meija in center for the second out. Next up was Giles, who hit a ball deep to left that looked like a three-run homer. Not quite; it hit just below the home-run line, which was enough to score Ogea and Candaele and allow Giles to steam into third with a standup triple. After Belle received an "unintentional intentional" walk, Kent ended the inning by flying to Sweeney in right. The Indians have left runners at the corners, but they've also scored a pair of runs thanks to Giles' triple. We're halfway through Game 4, and it's Cleveland 2, St. Louis 0.

Cardinals 5th: After two out, Gallego grounded a base hit to right center. Young was hit in the kneecap by a pitch to put two men on, and Sweeney's single to left scored Gallego to cut the Cleveland lead to 2-1. Bell followed with a fly ball to deep right center, but Lofton ran it down on the warning track and made the catch for the final out. The Cards are on the board thanks to a run on two hits and a hit batsman, but they still trail the Tribe 2-1 after five.

Indians 6th: Lofton led off by banking a ball off of Alan's glove for an infield single, but was immediately thrown out by Pagnozzi while trying to steal second. Pena drew a walk, but Vizquel flew to Meija in left center and Ogea went down swinging to end the inning. We've played five and a half, and it's still Indians 2, Cardinals 1.

Cardinals 6th: Gant drew a leadoff four-pitch walk. Pagnozzi's base hit to left center moved him to third, and Meija walked to load the bases. Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa then called on his bench for the first time tonight, sending Willie McGee up to bat for Alan. McGee tapped one down to first, and Kent threw a strike to Pena at the plate to double up an incoming Gant for out number one. Alicea forced McGee, but this time Pagnozzi crossed the plate with the tying run. Runners were still at first and third for Gallego, but his bouncer to Vizquel at shirt ended the inning. The Redbirds have tied the game thanks to two walks, two force plays, and a hit, and we're headed to the seventh tied at two.

Indians 7th: Giles doubled to right with two out against new Cardinals pitcher Mark Petkovsek, and Belle walked for the third time tonight to put two men on, but Kent's grounder to third retired the side with runners still at first and second. It's stretch time on the banks of the Mississippi, and Game 4 is even at two.

Cardinals 7th: New Indians pitcher Paul Assenmacher had a one-two-three inning: John Mabry batted for Young and grounded to first, Sweeney flew to right center, and Bell's fly down the line in left was caught by Belle to end the inning. After seven, it's still Tribe 2, Redbirds 2.

Indians 8th: Petkovsek set the visitors down in order: Lofton bounced to short, Pena flew to right center, and Vizquel grounded to second. After seven and a lhalf, we're still tied at two.

Cardinals 8th: With one out, Pagnozzi singled up the middle. but he was forced by pinch hitter Gary Gaetti, who was batting for Petkovsek. McGee's line drive was caught by Kent at second to end the inning; Kent had moved to second at the start of the inning, while Kevin Seitzer took over at first. After eight, it's still Indians 2, Cardinals 2.

Indians 9th: Sandy Alomar Jr. batted for Assenmacher against new Cardinals pitcher Tony Fossas and lined a leadoff single to left center, but was forced by Seitzer. Kevin moved to third on Thome's single to right, and LaRussa wasted no time in calling for Dennis Eckersley from the Cardinals' bullpen. Eck retired Giles on a fly to shallow left for the second out, and LaRussa then decided to tempt fate and pitch to Belle. Albert popped up the first pitch he saw behind second, and Alicea gloved it for out number three. The Tribe leaves runners at first and third, and the Cardinals go to the bottom of the ninth with a chance to win the game and take total control of the series. It's still Cleveland 2, St. Louis 2.

Cardinals 9th: Mabry grounded a two-out single to left against Indians closer Jose Mesa, and the Busch Stadium crowd erupted as Ray Lankford came out of the dugout to bat for Sweeney. All Ray could manage was a weak roller to Seitzer at first, and we were headed to extra innings for the second night in a row. After nine, the Indians and Cardinals are tied at two.

Indians 10th: Eck set the Tribe down one-two-three: Kent bounced to third, Lofton grounded to first, and Jose Vizcaino (batting for Mesa due to a double switch) lined to Bell at third. After nine and a half, we're still deadlocked at two.

Cardinals 10th: New Cleveland pitcher Eric Plunk was greeted by Bell, who swatted his first pitch back past him and up the middle for a base hit. Next up was Gant, and we join CBS Radio's Vin Scully with the count two balls and no strikes:

"2-0 to Gant with Pagnozzi on deck, and then it looks like Royce Clayton getting ready to bat for Eckersley. Julian Tavarez getting ready in the Cleveland bullpen, but there's a good chance that the game will be over before we see him; it's up to Eric Plunk. Bell's no threat to steal at first, and LaRussa doesn't want him running with Gant at the plate to begin with. Plunk gets the sign from Alomar, looks back just to make sure, and the 2-0 pitch...….HIT DOWN THE LINE IN LEFT, AND IT'S A FAIR BALL! THEY'RE SENDING DAVID BELL AROUND THIRD! ALBERT BELLE'S THROW COMES INTO SHORT, VIZQUEL GOES HOME......TOO LATE, AND THE CARDINALS WIN AGAIN IN EXTRA INNINGS!...…….Albert Belle not known for his arm, but that was a good throw to Vizquel, and Vizquel threw home in time, but David Bell beat it, and there's pandemonium in St. Louis, where the Cardinals have a chance to clinch the world championship tomorrow night in front of some of the best fans in baseball."

Our final in ten: Cardinals 3, Indians 2, and the Cardinals lead the series three games to one.

Gant was named Player of the Game by Fox thanks to his game-winning hit. He's now homered in two of the Cardinals' victories and driven in the winning run in the third. In other news, Pagnozzi had his second consecutive three-hit game, going three for four with a run scored.

Final totals: Cardinals 3-11-0, Indians 2-7-0.

W- Eckersley (-1-0)
L- Plunk (0-1)

The series will continue with Game 5 tomorrow night here at Busch Stadium. First pitch is scheduled for shortly after 8PM Eastern, with Charles Nagy starting for the Indians and Andy Benes pitching for the Cardinals.

Next: We look at Game 5.

Thoughts?
 
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Now it's time for Game 5 of the 1996 World Series from Busch Stadium in St. Louis. The date is Sunday, October 20:

Lineup Changes:

Indians- Kenny Lofton moves back to the leadoff spot. Albert Belle moves up to third. Julio Franco gets the start at first base and will bat cleanup. Brian Giles moves down to fifth. Sandy Alomar Jr. is back behind the plate and will bat sixth. Jeff Kent moves to second base and will bat seventh.

Cardinals- Royce Clayton gets the start at shortstop and will lead off. Ray Lankford will bat second and play center field. Ron Gant moves up to third. Brian Jordan is back in right field and will bat fourth. Gary Gaetti starts at third base and will bat fifth. Tom Pagnozzi moves up to sixth. John Mabry starts at first and will bat seventh. Finally, Mike Gallego moves from shortstop to second base and will bat eighth.

Weather: 61 degrees, fair skies, southeast wind at 13 MPH.

Indians 1st: Belle lined a two-out double off the wall in left, but Franco's bouncer to Clayton stranded him at second and ended the inning. Now it's the Cardinals' turn.

Cardinals 1st: A one-two-three inning for Indians starter Charles Nagy. We're scoreless after one in Game 5.

Indians 2nd: Cardinals starter Andy Benes retired the Tribe one-two-three. There's still no score after an inning and a half.

Cardinals 2nd: Jordan lined a leadoff single to left, then stole second. Gaetti hit a ball deep to left, but Belle caught it in the left field corner for the second out, with Jordan moving to third. Pagnozzi walked to put runners at the corners, but Mabry flew weakly to right for out number two. Gallego's seeing-eye base it to left center cashed Jordan in to give the Redbirds a 1-0 lead, with Pagnozzi moving to third. Andy was next, and he helped his own cause by lining Nagy's first pitch into left for a hit. Pagnozzi scored, Gallego moved to third, and it was 2-0 St. Louis. Clayton followed with a base hit up the middle to score Gallego and make it 3-0, with Andy moving to third. Lankford took a called third strike to end the inning, but the Cards have struck for three runs on four hits, a walk, a stolen base, and a productive fly ball. After two, it's Cardinals 3, Indians 0.

Indians 3rd: Omar Vizquel led off and was hit on the elbow pad by a pith. Nagy dribbled one in front of the plate, and Pagnozzi threw to second for the force on Vizquel. Lofton flew to right, and Jim Thome's bouncer to short retired the side. After two and a half, it's still 3-0 Redbirds.

Cardinals 3rd: Gant lined to third, Jordan grounded to second, and Gaetti struck out swinging. After three, it's NL Champs 3, AL Champs 0.

Indians 4th: Belle's fly to left was caught on the warning track by Gant, Franco grounded to second, and Giles popped up to Mabry at first. After three and a half, it's Redbirds 3, Tribe 0.

Cardinals 4th: Pagnozzi whacked a leadoff double to left, moved to third on Mabey's bouncer to second, and scored on Gallego's sacrifice fly to center to make it 5-0 Cards. Andy's fly to left ended the inning, but the home squad has manufactured another run and leads 4-0 after four.

Indians 5th: Vizquel singled to right with two out, but Pagnozzi threw him out trying to steal second, and the inning was over. Halfway through, it's St. Louis 4, Cleveland 0.

Cardinals 5th: Clayton led off with a single past Nagy's outstretched glove and into center field. He was forced by Lankford, who was in turn forced by Gant. Jordan walked to put two on, which brought Gaetti to the plate. Here's Joe Bick with the count two balls and a strike:

"This figures to be Nagy's last hitter, as (Kent) Mercker's ready in the Indians' bullpen. Nagy checks the runners, nods to Alomar, two-one pitch...….fly ball left center, going over is Lofton, BIT IT TAILS AWAY FROM HIM AND DROPS IN! GANT SCORES! JORDAN'S AROUND THIRD, AND HE'LL COME HOME! GAETTI'S AT SECOND WITH A DOUBLE, AND THE CARDINALS LEAD 6-0 HERE IN THE FIFTH!"

Mercker came in to strike Pagnozzi out swinging and strand Gaetti at second, but the Cards have added two runs on a pair of hits, a pair of force plays, and a walk. Thanks to Gaetti's double, the Cardinals lead 5-0 after five and are just twelve outs away from the world championship.

Indians 6th: Lofton singled to right with one out, but Thome flew to left and Belle went down swinging. The Tribe still trails by six after five and a half.

Cardinals 6th: A one-two-three inning for Mercker: Mabry flew to right center, Gallego popped to Franco at first, and Andy struck out swinging. After six, it's Gateway Arch 6, Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame 0.

Indians 7th: A perfect inning for Andy: Franco tapped to first, Giles grounded to short, and Alomar grounded to second. As we stretch in St. Louis for the last time this season, the home squad's still in control by six.

Cardinals 7th: Lankford cracked a one-out double to left center. Gan and Jordan then drew back-to-back walks to load the bases, and Indians manager Mike Hargrove called on Paul Assenmacher to face Gaetti. The veteran lefthander struck Gaetti out swinging, then did the same to Pagnozzi, retiring the side with the bases still loaded. Will that be enough yof a lft to get the Indians' bats going? We'll find out as we head to the eighth with the Cards leading 6-0.

Indians 8th: Kent led off with a single to left. Vizquel's liner was gloved by Clayton for the first out, and Manny Ramirez came out of the dugout to bat for Assenmacher. He lined the first pitch he saw into right for a single. which put runners at the corners. Lofton followed with a base it to left center, scoring Kent and putting the Tribe on the board. Thome's base hit to right loaded the bases, and Belle came to the plate with the chance to get the Indians back into the game with one swing. But his fly to shallow center was easily handled by Lankford for the second out, and Franco's fly to right retired the side. The Indians have scored a run on four hits, but they've also left the bases loaded, and they only have one more chance to get to Andy and save their season. After seven and a half, it's Cardinals 6, Indians 1.

Cardinals 8th: Gallego drew a one-out walk against new Indians pitcher Julian Tavarez, but Andy grounded into an inning-ending around-the-horn double play. He needs just three more outs to earn himself a complete game and the Cardinals their first world championship in fourteen years, and he'll face the pitcher's spot (thanks to a double switch), Alomar, and Kent in the top of the ninth while trying to hold on to a 6-1 lead.

Indians 9th: Kevin Seitzer batted for Tavarez and lined a leadoff base hit to right center. He moved to second on Alomar's comebacker, and Kent took a pitch off of his shin to put two men on for Vizquel. Here's how Joe called the final two outs:

"If Vizquel gets on, then you have Ramirez in the nine spot with home run power, and Lofton has been known to hit a ball or two out of the park, so the Cardinals aren't out of danger despite their five-run lead. There's (Dennis) Eckersle taking his jacket off in the Cardinals bullpen, and he'll be throwing should Vizquel get on base. Andy Benes ants this complete game, and the fans of St. Louis want another world championship. Benes checking the runners, and the first pitch is GRROUNDED TO FIRST! MABRY TO OZZIE FOR ONE, RETURN THROW...…...DOUBLE PLAY! THE CARDINALS ARE WORLD CHAMPIONS, AND OZZIE SMITH GETS THE FINAL OUT!.....What a way to go out for Ozzie Smith. He knows that Royce Clayton is the future at short here in St. Louis, so he's hanging it up after nineteen seasons, and (Cardinals manager) Tony LaRussa put him in here in the top of the ninth so he'd be on the field when the Cardinals wrapped it up. He helps turn the game-winning double play, and he'll go out with a second World Series ring.

Now the talk turns to MVP, and we've just been told that that honor goes to Ron Gant. he was hitless in three at-bats tonight plus a walk, but he homered in Games 2 and 3 and drove in the winning run last night. Tom Pagnozzi also had a case, as he amassed seven hits over the three games here in St. Louis, including one tonight. He also scored two runs tonight, while Gant scored one. Not to be forgotten was the complete-game masterpiece of Andy Benes, who allowed one run on eight hits and struck out six while not allowing a walk in a hundred and thirteen pitches. Gallego and Gaetti each drove in a pair of runs as well. A total team effort, and it's earned the Cardinals a world championship. As most of you know, I call Cardinals games during the regular season on a local basis and was born and raised here, so this one's a bit special, to say the least.

The final score tonight here in Game 5: Cardinals 6, Indians 2, and the Cardinals win four in a row to take the series four games to one. We'll come back to Busch Stadium for interviews from both clubhouses and the various trophy presentations after these messages and a word from your local Fox stations. I'm proud to be the son of Hall of Famer Jack Buck, and as we go to break we'll hear how he called the final two outs of this magical season. Back to St. Louis in a moment."

Jack: "Grounded down to Mabry. To Ozzie for one, back to first......DOUBLE PLAY, AND THAT'S A WORLD SERIES WINNER!...…..Talk about your storybook endings: The Cardinals win the world championship, and a future Hall of Famer gets to make the last out in his final game. They wouldn't dare script something like this in Hollywood!"

Final totals: Cardinals 6-8-0, Indians 1-8-0.

W- Andy Benes (1-0)
L- Nagy 0-1)

This is the Cardinals' ninth world championship in this timeline.

We've now crowned ninety-eight modern world champions in the Pythagorean universe, and the scoreboard reads American League 52, National League 46.

Next: To be determined. I know I started the Phlllies-Astros series from 2003, but I might save the rest of that one for later down the line and go in a different direction. I'm not sure yet, though.

Thoughts?
 
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Now it's time for Game 1 of the first 2004 American League Division Series from Fenway Park in Boston. The date is Tuesday, October 5:

Weather: 57 degrees, fair skies, northwest wind at 15 MPH.

Red Sox 1st: Center fielder Johnny Damon led off with a single up the middle. Second baseman Mark Bellhorn followed with another base hit to center, which moved Damon to third. Left fielder Manny Ramirez's fly to deep center was caught by the Twins' Torii Hunter at the warning track, but that was enough to bring Damon home and give the Red Sox a 1-0 lead. Designated hitter David Ortiz followed with another high fly, this time to right center. Hunter had to go the wall to make the catch again for the second out, but Bellhorn remained at first. First baseman Kevin Millar's bouncer to third retired the side. The Sox are on the board thanks to a pair of hits and a sacrifice fly, and they lead the Twins 1-0 after one.

Twins 3rd: After two out, catcher Henry Blanco lined a double to left center. Left fielder Shannon Stewart followed with a double off the wall in center to score Blanco and tie the game at one. Red Sox starter Curt Schilling struck right fielder Jacque Jones out swinging to end the inning, but the Twins have pulled even thanks to Blanco and Stewart's back-to-back doubles. We're even at one after two and a half.

Twins 4th: First baseman Justin Morneau lined a one-out double into the left center power alley. Third baseman Corey Koskie followed with a fly to center that dropped in for another double, allowing Morneau to score and giving the Twins a 2-1 lead. The Twins seemed poised for a big inning at that point, but Koskie leaned too far off second base and was picked off by red Sox catcher Jason Varitek for a big second out. Designated hitter Lew Ford's liner was speared by Sox shortstop Orlando Cabrera, and the inning was over. But another pair of doubles has given the visitors a 2-1 lead as we head to the last of the fourth.

Twins 5th: Shortstop Cristian Guzman drew a leadoff walk. Second baseman Michael Cuddyer's fly to the warning track in left center was run down by Damon for out number one, and Blanco struck out swinging for out number two. But Guzman stole second, and Stewart lined a base hit to left center to bring him home and give the Twins a 3-1 lead. Jones struck out swinging to retire the side, but the Twins have used a walk, a stolen base, and a hit to manufacture another run, and halfway through Game 1 they lead the Red Sox 3-1.

Red Sox 5th: Right fielder Gabe Kapler led off with a walk, then stole second. Damon walked to put two men on, and Bellhorn followed with a dying-quail fly ball that managed to drop in right center field. Kapler scored to cut the Minnesota lead to 3-2, while Damon moved to third. Twins starter Johan Santana fanned Manny swinging for the second out, but Ortiz walked to load to load the bases for Millar, who also went down swinging for the second out. Now it was up to Varitek, and here's how Jon Miller called it:

"One-one pitch......ground ball, BASE HIT LEFT FIELD! That'll score Damon easily, and here comes Bellhorn! Stewart throws to the plate, Bellhorn bearing down on Blanco, shoulder-first and,...…..OUT!.....Blanco may have just had some of his ribs cracked, as he's in a world of pain at home plate. Bellhorn really bowled himns 4-3 after over, but he held on, and as Bellhorn also gets up slowly we'll head to the sixth with Game 1 tied at three."

For the Red Sox: one run on two hits, three walks, and a stolen base, with a runner left at second.

Red Sox 6th: Cabrera stroked a leadoff single to center. He moved to second on third baseman Bill Mueller's grounder to short and scored on Kapler's single to right to give the Bosox a 4-3 lead. Damon's infield pop was caught by Morneau for out number two, but Kapler swiped second to keep the inning alive. He was stranded there when Bellhorn went down swinging to end the inning. The home squad has taken the lead thanks to a pair of hits, a productive groundout, and a stolen base, and they lead the Twins 4-3 after six.

Mueller's groundout was our Defensive Play of the Day. Here's Jon:

"Bouncer to short, could be two, WELL PLAYED ON THE HOP BY GUZMAN, BUT HE HAS TO GO TO FRST FOR THE OUT!.....That ball was threatening to take off over Guzman's head on the hop, but he played it between his chin and his sternum, made the stop, then got the sure out at first. Mueller moves to second on the play, and now Kapler stands in."

Twins 9th: Red Sox closer Keith Foulke got the first two outs with ease, and figured to have the third when Guzman hit a roller to Millar at first. But he was late covering the bag, and Guzman won the ensuing footrace for an infield single. That gave Cuddyet a chance, and he got ahead of Foulke two balls and no strikes. Here's Jon with what happened next:

"On deck is (catcher Joe) Mauer, who replaced Blanco in the sixth when he had to leave after he was run over by Bellhorn. Then comes Stewart, and none of them are slouches in the power department; Mauer hit six home runs in only thirty-five games this year, while Cuddyer himself had twelve. Guzman ten out of fifteen in stolen bases, as we've told you/ They're standing at Fenway looking for the last out, as Foulke stretches, now the two-ball pitch...…..HIGH FLY BALL TO RIGHT CENTER, BACK IS DAMON, HE'S AT THE WALL, IT'S OUTTA HERE!.....Cuddyer with a two-out homer here in the top of the ninth, and all of a sudden the Twins have a 5-4 lead and Fenway Park has just deflated."

Joe Morgan: "Foulke was just trying to get something over the plate because he was behind 2-0, and Cuddyer tined it perfectly. He knows how to swing that bay, as you said earlier Jon, and he puts a big charge into this ball with a nice, level swing. Damon just looks up and watches it go."

Damon snagged Mauer's fly to left center to end the inning, but Cuddyer's two-run homer has given the Twins the lead. Now closer Joe Nathan will face Damon, Bellhorn, and Ramirez in the bottom of the ninth with his team clinging to a 5-4 advantage.

Red Sox 9th: Bellhorn drew a one-out walk, which brought Manny to the plate. Here's Jon again:

"On deck is the former Twin Ortiz, and after him comes Millar. No sure outs in this lineup, and Juan Rinco is loosening in the Minnesota bullpen just in case. Ramirez hitless so far today, but drove in the Red Sox' first run with a sacrifice fly in the first. 5-4 Twins with one out in the last of the ninth, and the first pitch to Manny...…...THAT ONE'S HEADED WON THE LEFT FIELD LINE, AND IT LOOKS LIKE BIG TROUBLE AS IT DROPS IN! STEWART CUTS IT OFF, BUT BELLHORN'S ALREADY AROUND THIRD, THROW IS CUT OFF BY KOSKIE, AND THIS GAME'S TIED AT FIVE AS MANNY PULLS UP AT SECOND WITH A DOUBLE!"

Nathan recovered his composure enough to strike out both Big Papi and Millar out swinging to end the inning and strand Ramirez at second, but the Sox have tied the game thanks to a pair of clutch hits, and we head to extra innings in Game 1 deadlocked at five.

Twins 12th: Stewart drew a leadoff walk against Red Sox reliever Mike Timlin. Jones was next, and here's Jon with the count one ball and one strike:

"Stewart takes a short lead off first, but I would think they'd want Jones to hit here. Red Sox infield at double play depth, with Torii Hunter on deck. One-one pitch...….HAMMERED PAST MILLAR AND DOWN THE RIGHT FIELD LINE! STEWART'S FLYING, AND HE'LL COME HOME EASILY! THE TWINS LEAD 6-5, AS JONES COMES THROUGH WITH A RUN-SCORING DOUBLE!"

Hunter bounced to third for the first out, but Morneau walked on five pitches. Red Sox manager Terry Francona called for former closer Derek Lowe out of the bullpen, but he couldn't find the old magic, as Koskie stroked a base hit to right. Jones came home. and it was 7-5 Twins, with Morneau stopping at third. A walk to Ford loaded the base, but Lowe got Guzman to bounce into a 4-6-3 inning-ending double play. The Twins have taken the lead with two runs on two hits and three walks. They've also left runners at second and third, but after eleven and a half, it's now Mnnesota 7, Boston 5 with Ortiz, Millar and Varitek due up in the last of the twelfth.

That was all the scoring Millar drew a one-out walk against Twins reliever Grant Balfour in the last of the twelfth and moved to third on a single by Cabrera. A walk to Mueller loaded the bases, but Kapler's fly to left was caught by Stewart to end the game. Our final in twelve: Twins 7, Red Sox 5, and the Twins lead the best-of-five series one game to none.

Jones' game-winning double earned him Player of the Game honors from ESPN2. Stewart, Koskie, and Cuddyer drove in two runs apiece for the Twins, as did Ramirez for the Red Sox. Bellhorn was the only player on either team with three hits; he was three for five with a run scored and an RBI.

Final totals: Twins 7-15-0, Red Sox 5-12-0.

W- Lohse (1-0)
S- Balfour (1)
L- Timlin (0-1)

HR- MIN: Cuddyer (1)

The series will continue with Game 2 tomorrow with Game 2 here at Fenway Park. First pitch is scheduled for shortly after 1PM Eastern, with Brad Radke starting for the Twins and Pedro Martinez taking the ball for the Red Sox.

Next: We look at Game 2.

Thoughts?
 
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Now it's time for Game 2 of the first 2004 American League Division Series from Fenway Park in Boston. The date is Wednesday, October 6:

Lineup Changes:

Twins- Jason Kubel replaces Lew Ford as the designated hitter and will bat sixth. On another note, Henry Blanco is feeling good after a night's rest, and is behind the plate and batting ninth.

Red Sox- Trot Nixon will start in right field and bat fifth. That means that Kevin Millar moves down to sixth, Jason Varitek to seventh, Orlando Cabrera to eighth, and Bill Mueller to ninth.

Weather: 60 degrees, partly cloudy skies, west-southwest wind at 12 MPH.

Twins 2nd: Kubel drew a one-out walk. Cristian Guzman beat out a grounder to short for an infield single, which put two men on. Next up was Michael Cuddyer, whose fly ball to right dropped in front of Nixon and rolled to the wall. Both Kubel and Guzman scored to give the Twins a 2-0 lead, and Cuddyer pulled in at second with a double. Shannon Stewart took a called third strike for the second out, but Blanco cracked a double to center to score Cuddyer and make it 3-0. Next was Jacoue Jones, the hero of Game 1. Here's Jon Miller with the count two balls and one strike:

"The Red Sox were one pitch away from winning Game 1 yesterday when Cuddyer hit his two-run homer to give the Twins the lead, and even though they tied the game in the last of the ninth, they never really recovered and ended up losing in twelve innings thanks to a double by the man currently at the plate. Another hit like that here really puts the Red Sox behind the eight-ball, even though it's only the second inning. Two balls, one strike to Jones with Cuddyer at second and two out. A check of the runner by Martinez, and the two-one pitch...…..LINE DRIVE GOING DEEP TO RIGHT, BACK IS NIXON, AT THE WALL, BUT THIS ONE IS GONE! A THREE-RUN HOMER FOR JACQUE JONES, AND THE TWINS LEAD 5-0! FENWAY PARK IS IN SHOCK!"

Joe Morgan: "They thought Pedro would pitch better than he has in this inning, that's for sure. This slider doesn't break the way Martinez wants it to, and it ends up right over the heart of the plae where Jones can get a hold of it. It doesn't surprise me that the Twins have the lead, Jon; the shocker is that Pedro just doesn't seem to have it today."

Torii Hunter's bouncer to Mark Bellhorn at second retired the side, but the Twins have struck for five runs on four hits and a walk, with Cuddyer's double and Jones' homer doing the bulk of the damage. After an inning and a half, it's Twins 5, Red Sox 0.

Red Sox 2nd: David Ortiz led off with a base hit to right. Nixon's single up the middle put two men on, but Kevin Millar struck out swinging for the first out. Varitek was next, and his single to right center brought Big Papi home to put the Red Sox on the board while Nixon moved to third. Cabrera followed with a line drive that caromed off the wall in left, then bounced past Stewart. By the time Shannon came up with the ball, Nixon and Varitek had both scored to cut the Minnesota lead to 5-3 and Cabrera was at third with a standup triple. Mueller made it five hits in the inning with a lined single to left center that scored Cabrera to make it 5-4. Twins starter Brad Radke received a visit from pitching coach Rick Anderson, and with Kyle Lohse throwing behind him in the Twins bullpen, he got Damon to force Mueller for the second out, then retired Bellhorn on a grounder to short to finally end the inning, But the home squad has come back with four runs on five hits, and at the end of two wild innings the Minnesota lead is down to 5-4.

Twins 4th: Cuddyer belted a triple into the left field corner with one out and came home on Blanco's fly ball to Damon in left center. Stewart took a called third strike to retire the side, but the Twins have gotten a run back to lead 6-4 after three and a half.

Twins 5th: Jones led off with a single to right, then stole second. Martinez got the next two out, as Hunter struck out swinging and Justin Morneau popped to Mueller at third. But Bellhorn muffed Corey Koskie's easy grounder for an error, which kept the inning alive for Kubel. Jason finished Martinez's day by hammering a double off the wall in right to score both Jones and Koskie and give the visiting Twins an 8-4 lead. Mike Myers came in and retired Guzman on a shallow fly to right center to end the inning, but the Twins have added another pair of runs on two hits, an error, and a stolen base while leaving Kubel at second. We're halfway through Game 2, and it's Twinkies 8, Bosox 4.

Red Sox 6th: Cabrera smacked a two-out double to left. Mueller followed with another, and Cabrera scored to bring the Sox within 8-5. Unfortunately for the Sox, Mueller was stranded at second, as Damon;s roller to Morneau at first ended the inning. The home squad settles for one run on two hits, and after six it's Minnesota 8, Boston 5.

Twins 7th: Jones led off with a single to right, his fourth hit of the afternoon. After Hunter flew to left center for the first out, Jones stole second. Morneau struck out swinging for out number two, but Koskie's double into the right field corner scored Jones with the ninth Minnesota run. Kubel went down swinging for the third out, but the Twins have added an insurance run thanks to two hits and a stolen base, and as we stretch in Beantown they lead the Scarlet Hose 9-5.

Red Sox 9th: Damon singled to right center with one out against Twins closer Joe Nathan. Bellhorn followed with a double to right, which brought Damon home and shaved the Boston deficit to 9-6. Manny was next, and here's Jon with the count two balls and one strike:

"It won't get any easier for Nathan, as Ortiz is in the on-deck circle with just as much home run power as Ramirez, if not more."

Morgan: "Manny needs to get on base somehow and set up Ortiz. A home run is the worst thing that can happen to the Red Sox right now; it would give Nathan a clean slate, like he had at the start of the inning, and he'd only need two outs."

Miller: "I'm sure Manny's not thinking of any of that right now."

Morgan: "He certainly should be."

Miller: "He just wants to make contact, AND BOY, DID HE EVER! THAT ONE'S WAY OUTTA HERE OVER THE GREEN MONSTER, AND THIS IS A ONE-RUN GAME WITH ORTIZ COMING UP!"

Morgan: "Well, when a pitch is out over the plate like this one is, what I just said doesn't really apply. I'm worried about Nathan, to be honest; he gave up the tying run in the ninth yesterday, and he's one big swing away from giving up a four-run lead today. There has to be another option to close games for (Twins manager) Ron Gardenhire going forward, because this spot looks too big for Nathan right now."

But Gardenhire stayed with Nathan, and his faith was rewarded, as both Papi and Nixon went down swinging to end the game and leave the Red Sox one run short. Our final: Twins 9, Red Sox 8, and the Twins lead the series two games to none.

Jones was named Player of the Game by ESPN for the second consecutive day. He finished four for five with a two-run homer and two other runs scored, and he also stole a pair of bases. Kubel, Cuddyer, and Blanco each drove in a pair of runs for the Twins, and Cuddyer also had two hits and scored twice. For the Red Sox, Manny was three for five with a homer and two RBIs, while Mueller was three for four and knocked in another pair. Cabrera was two for four with two runs scored and two more driven in.

Final totals: Twins 9-110-0, Red Sox 8-13-1.

W- Radke (1-0)
S- Nathan (1)
L- P. Martinez (0-1)

HR- MIN: Jones (1)
BOS: Ramirez (1)

The series will shift to the Metrodome in Minneapolis for Game 3 on Friday afternoon. First pitch is scheduled for shortly after 4PM Eastern, with Bronson Arroyo taking the mound for the Red Sox and Carlos Silva getting the start for the Twins.

Next: We look at Game 3.

Note: This game takes the place of Game 1 of the Phillies-Astros NLDS, which I deleted for the moment. I'll do it over when I clean up all the leftover series once the assorted curses I've talked about over the last umpteen pages have been lifted (or not, as the case may be).

Thoughts?
 
Now it's time for Game 3 of the first 2004 American League Division Series from the Metrodome in Minneapolis. The date is Friday, October 8:

Lineup Changes:

Twins- Lew Ford replaces Jason Kubel as the designated hitter and will bat sixth.

Twins 1st: Shannon Stewart led off with a base hit up the middle. After Jacque Jones flew to right for the first out, Torii Hunter's bloop single to right put runners at the corners. Justin Morneau's sacrifice fly to Johnny Damon in center brought Stewart home, and the Twins had a 1-0 lead. Hunter took second at the play, but he was stranded there when Corey Koskie flew to Manny Ramirez in shallow left to retire the side. The Twins have struck first thanks to a pair of hits and a sacrifice fly, and they lead the Red Sox 1-0 after one.

Red Sox 2nd: With one out, Trot Nixon socked a double down the right field line. Kevin Millar followed by dropping another double among three Minnesota defenders in short left center. Nixon raced home, and we were even at one. Millar moved to third on Jason Varitek's bouncer to second and scored on Orlando Cabrera's lined single to left to put the visitors up 2-1. Twins catcher Henry Blanco threw out Cabrera trying to steal second, which brought the inning to a close. But the Sox have taken the lead with two runs on three hits and a productive groundout, and they lead the Twins 2-1 after two and a half.

Red Sox 3rd: Bill Mueller lined a leadoff single to right. Damon followed with another double down the line in right to bring him home and make it 3-1 Boston. Next was Mark Bellhorn, who grounded a base hit to right center that scored Damon to make it 4-1. Manny's foul pop behind third base was caught by Koskie for out number one, David Ortiz hit a comebacker to Twins starter Carlos Silva which stabottom of the rted a 1-6-3 inning-ending double play. The visitors have added a pair of runs on three hits, and after two and a half it's Bosox 4, Twinkies 1.

Red Sox 4th: Nixon led off with a single to right. Millar walked to put two men on, and Varitek hit a ball down the right field line that bounced over the fence for a book-rule double. Nixon was awarded home plate, and the Red Sox led 5-1. Millar was stopped at third on the play, and a four-pitch walk to Cabrera loaded the bases and ended Silva's day. Terry Mulholland came out of the Minnesota bullpen to clean up the mess, and he began by retiring Mueller on a fly to Hunter in left center. Millar scored, Varitek moved to third, and the Sox led 6-1. Damon's grounder to second scored Varitek to make it 7-1. with Cabrera moving to second. Mulholland finished the job by striking Bellhorn out swinging to end the inning. Despite Tarry's excellent relief work, the Red Sox have still scored three runs on two hits, two walks, a productive groundout, and a sacrifice fly. After three and a half, it's Boston 7, Minnesota 1.

Red Sox 5th: Manny led off against Mulholland. Here's Jon Miller with the count no balls and one strike:

"Despite Mulholland's job last inning, the Red Sox got three runs, which makes this a tough hill to climb for the Twins. If things stay this way, we'll be back here tomorrow for Game 4 at 4PM Eastern, with a Game 1 rematch between Curt Schilling and Johan Santana on the mound. If we need Game 5, it's in Boston on Sunday, with the time to be determined. Ramirez has homered in this series; his two-run shot in the bottom of the ninth in Game 2 brought the Red Sox within 9-8, but (Twins closer) Joe Nathan struck out the next two hitters to end the game. One-strike pitch is HIT HIGH AND DEEP TO RIGHT CENTER, BACK IS HUNTER, AT THE WALL, BUT THIS ONE'S AT LEAST FIVE ROWS UP! ANOTHER MONSTER HOME RUN FOR MANNY RAMIREZ, AND IT'S NOW 8-1 RED SOX!"

Joe Morgan: "Manny's really locked in as a hitter right now. He hit a real bomb in Game 2 back at Fenway, and this is another one. I'm not even sure he got a very good swing on it, but he's so powerful it doesn't really matter. If he can stay this hot, the Red Sox aren't out of this series by any means."

Mulholland struck Big Papi out swinging and got Nixon to bounce to second, but Millar's seeing-eye base hit to left kept the inning alive briefly. Varitek's fly to shallow left brought it to an end, but the visitors have added a run on Ramirez's second home run of the series to lead 8-1 halfway through Game 3.

Red Sox 6th: Mueller lined a one-out double off the wall in center and scored on Damon's base hot to right center, giving the Sox a 9-1 lead. Bellhorn grounded into a 6-4-3 inning-ending double play, but the Scarlet Hose have added another run thanks to a pair of hits to lead the Twins 9-1 after five and a half.

Twins 7th: Ford belted a leadoff triple off the top of the wall in left. After Cristian Guzman struck out swinging, Varitek failed to handle an Arroyo curve in the dirt, and Ford scampered home with the second Minnesota run. Michael Cuddyer grounded to second, and Henry Blanco's fly to Nixon in shallow right retired the side. The Twins are back on the board thanks to a triple and a passed ball, but they still trail 9-2 after seven.

Twins 8th: With one out, Jones doubled to center. Hunter's single to left drove him in and cut the Red Sox' lead to 9-3. That was the end of the line for Arroyo; Mike Timlin came in to face Morneau, whose single to center put runners at the corners. Koskie bounced into a force play, which doubled up Morneau but allowed Hunter to score and make it a 9-4 game. A walk to Ford put two men on again, but Guzman tapped back to Timlin to end the inning with runners still at first and second. The Twins settle for two runs on three hits, a walk, and a fielder's choice, and as we head to the ninth they still trail the Red Sox 9-4.

That was all the scoring. Our final: Red Sox 9, Twins 4, and the Twins now lead the series two games to one.

Damon was named Player of the Game by ESPN2. He finished two for five with a run scored and three more batted in. Five different Red Sox finished with two hits apiece, and Nixon, Millar, and Mueller each scored twice. Arroyo also deserves a tip of the cap; he pitched seven and a third innings, giving up three runs on six hits while walking two and striking out four.

Final totals; Red Sox 9-13-0, Twins 4-7-0.

W- Arroyo (1-0)
L- Silva (0-1)

HR- BOS: Ramirez (2)

The series will continue tomorrow here at the Metrodome with Game 4. First pitch is scheduled for shortly after 4PM Eastern, and Jon gave us the pitching matchup earlier: Curt Schilling (Red Sox) against Johan Santana (Twins).

Before we go, here's our Defensie Play of the Day. It's the bottom of the second, and Ford's leading off against Arroyo. Here's Jon:

"Pitch is LINED RIGHT AT MUELLER!...…..He made a stab at that one right below his sternum, and if he hadn't caught it, heaven knows how badly he would have been hurt, because it would have hit him square in the chest. Here's Guzman with one out."

Next: We look at Game 4.

Thoughts?
 
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Not necessarily; they'll just have to make two comebacks: one in this series and one against the Yankees (assuming that the Yankees beat the Angels in the ALDS). No team in either universe has been at the point of being swept in two postseason series and come back to win them both.
 
Now it's time for Game 4 of the first 2004 American League Division Series from the Metrodome in Minneapolis. The date is Saturday, October 9:

Lineup Changes:

Red Sox-
Gabe Kapler replaces Trot Nixon in right field and will bat ninth. This means that Kevin Millar moves up to fifth, Jason Varitek to sixth, Orland Oabrera to seventh, and Bill Mueller to eighth.

Twins- Shannon Stewart will serve as the designated hitter, while Lew Ford gets the start in left field.

Red Sox 1st: Johnny Damon led off by lining a double off the wall in left. Mark Bellhorn followed with another double to left that scored Damon and gave the Red Sox a 1-0 lead. But he was stranded at second, as Twins starter Johan Santana struck Manny Ramirez out swinging for the first out. David Ortiz popped to Corey Koskie at third for the second out, and Millar grounded to third to end the inning. The Red Sox have hit the board first thanks to a pair of doubles; now let's see what the Twins can do.

Red Sox 2nd: Varitek led off with a triple into the right field corner. Cabrera took a pitch off of his forearm to put runners at the corners, and Mueller lined a single to right to bring Varitek home and make it 2-0 Red Sox. Kapler forced Mueller for the first out, and Damon took a called third strike for out number two. But Kapler stole second to keep the inning alive, and Bellhorn walked on five pitches to load the bases. That brought Manny to the plate. Here's Jon Miller with the count no balls and two strikes:

"It would be a disappointment if the Red Sox had to settle for one after the way this inning started with that booming triple by Varitek. Mueller singled him home, and now the bases are loaded with two out. Conversely, it would be a huge left for Santana and the Twins to get out of this down only 2-0, and that outcome's only a strike away. A last look at the runners, who will be off on contact, and the two-strike pitch...…...LINED DEEP TO LEFT, FORD GOING BACK, AT THE TRACK, AT THE WALL, IT'S GONE!...….Manny Ramirez has now homered in three consecutive games, and it's now 6-0 Red Sox!"

Joe Morgan: "Manny guessed curveball here, Jon, and look at this swing. He's really been getting good wood on the ball throughout this series, and that's a function of being able to time pitches correctly as they come through the strike zone, and as hard as he can hit the ball, they go out more often than not. I think I said this yesterday: If Manny can stay hot, the Red Sox can certainly come back to win this series."

Ortiz's bouncer to second finally ended the inning, but the Red Sox have exploded for five runs on three hits, a walk, and a hit batsman, with the key blow coming on Manny's grand slam. We've played an inning and a half, and it's Red Sox 6, Twins 0.

Twins 3rd: Henry Blanco led off with a single to left, which brought Stewart to the plate. Here's Jon with the count one ball and one strike:

"Stewart and Lew Ford just about split time in left field, with the one who's not starting in the field serving as the designated hitter most of the time, and that's been a successful system this year. Ford's a tad more versatile, as he can also play center and right. Right now Stewart wants to keep the inning going to set up Jacque Jones, who's had a very successful series so far. Red Sox lead by six here in the third, as Schilling checks first. Blanco not going, and the one-one pitch......THAT ONE'S LINED DEEP TO RIGHT! BACK GOES KAPLER, AT THE WALL, AND THIS ONE'S OUTTA HERE!......The Twins have life here in the third, as Shannon Stewart hits a two-run homer to put them on the board."

Morgan: "A nice piece of hitting by Shannon Stewart, as he goes out and gets this curveball and hits it right on the sweet spot. The Twins are really starting to make Schilling work; they left runners at first and second in the last inning, and now Stewart's homer has gotten them back into the game. If they can keep this up, they may get Schilling out of the game; he has a sore ankle, and pitching on the artificial surface here at the Metrodome may be affecting him to the point that he can't follow through properly on his pitches. We'll have to keep an eye on that as the game moves along."

Jones followed with a lined single to right center, but Schilling rebounded to get the next three batters: Torii Hunter struck out swinging, Koskie was caught looking, and in between Justin Morneau's fly to the warning track in left center was caught by Damon. The Twins have scored twice on three hits, one of them Stewart's two-run homer. We've played three in Game 4, and it's Boston 6, Minnesota 2.

That was all the scoring. Our final: Red Sox 6, Twins 2, and this series is tied at two games apiece.

Ramirez and Schilling shared Player of the Game honors from ESPN2. Manny's grand slam in the second broke the game open. while Schilling pitched a complete game, allowing only two runs on seven hits, striking out eight and not allowing a walk in a hundred and seven pitches. After Stewart's homer in the third, Schilling allowed only two more baserunners. In the fourth, Cristian Guzman doubled down the right field line in the fourth and moved to third on a groundout by Michael Cuddyer, but Blanco flew to Damo in shallow left enter to end the inning. In the sixth, Koskie doubled to left center with one out, but Ford flew to center and Guzman grounded to second to end the inning.

Final totals: Red Sox 6-8-0, Twins 2-7-0.

W- Schilling (1-0)
L- Santana (0-1)

HR- BOS: Ramirez (3)
MIN: Stewart (1)

This series has come down to Game 5, which will be at Fenway Park tomorrow afternoon. First pitch is scheduled for shortly after 4PM Eastern, and it will be a rematch of Game 2 on the mound, with Brad Radke pitching for the Twins and Pedro Martinez starting for the Red Sox.

Next: We look at Game 5.

Thoughts?
 
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Let's update what's been going on in the Pythagorean universe while the site's been down. First, here's the recap of Game 5 between the Twins and the Red Sox on Sunday, October 10:

Red Sox 11, Twins 8 (11 innings; ESPN: Jon Miller, Joe Morgan, Gary Miller; BOS wins series 3-2)

The Red Sox completed their improbable comeback in historic fashion before a raucous sellout crowd at Fenway Park. They scored four times in the fourth to wipe out a 1-0 deficit, with the key hit coming on Mark Bellhorn's two-run single. Orlando Cabrera's two-run double made it 6-1 Boston after five, but the Twins used a bases-loaded walk, a force play and an RBI single by Shannon Stewart to score three in the sixth. The Sox came back with one in the bottom of the inning on Manny Ramirez's RBI double, but Cristian Guzman doubled in a pair in the seventh, and Stewart went deep against Red Sox reliever Mike Timlin in the top of the eighth to tie the game. Lew Ford singled in Justin Morneau with the go-ahead run later in the same inning, and Twins manager Ron Gardenhire turned to closer Joe Nathan for a two-inning save. That strategy was spoiled on the first pitch of the Boston eighth, when Manny homered for the fourth consecutive game to tie things up at eight.

The score stood unchanged until the bottom of the eleventh, when Jason Varitek led off with a single up the middle against Twins reliever Grant Balfour. A seemingly easy fly to center off of Cabrera's bat bounced out of Hunter's glove for an error, and Varitek went to third when Bill Mueller forced Cabrera for the first out of the inning. Johnny Damon was next, and here's what he did with Balfour's first pitch, as called by ESPN's Jon Miller:

"A simple fly ball wins everything for the Red Sox. The only runner that means anything is Varitek at third. Mark Bellhorn on deck, and Manny Ramirez and his four home runs in this series comes next. Balfour ready, looks the runners back, first pitch to Damon........SWING AND A DRIVE TO DEEP RIGHT! JONES GOING BACK, HE'S AT THE WALL, BUT THIS SERIES IS OVER! JOHNNY DAMON COMPLETES THE COMEBACK WITH A THREE-RUN HOMER, AND THIS WHOLE CITY', THIS WHOLE REGION, IS OUT OF ITS MIND! LISTEN TO THEM!"

Final totals: Red Sox 11-19-0, Twins 8-14-2.

W- Lowe (1-0)
L- Balfour (0-1)

HR- MIN: Stewart (2)
BOS: Ramirez (4), Damon (1)

Next: We follow the Twins to 2006, when they meet the Yankees in the ALDS with the Curse of the (St. Paul) Saints and (Minneapolis) Millers at seventy-five years and counting.

Note: The Millers and Saints were the two Triple-A teams that were cleared out of the Twin Cities to make way for the Twins in 1961. The Saints moved to Omaha, while the Millers disbanded altogether. The "curse" in this universe was put on them by a disgruntled Washingtonian who famously proclaimed on Opening Day that the newly-relocated Twins wouldn't win a championship until they came "crawling back home on their hands and knees, begging for forgiveness" and "would play worse than the teams they're replacing", namely the Millers and Saints. Unlike most curses, this one is mostly ignored by the Twins' fanbase, although the national media has run with it in recent years.

Thoughts?
 
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Now let's look at Game 1 of the first 2006 American League Division Series from Yankee Stadium in New York. The date is Tuesday, October 3:

Yankees 3, Twins 2 (Fox: Joe Buck, Tim McCarver, Ken Rosenthal; NYY leads series 1-0)

The Yankees overcame a 2-1 deficit with tallies in the eighth and ninth against Twins starter Johan Santana to take Game 1. First baseman Gary Sheffield drove in right fielder Bobby Abreu with an RBI single in the eighth to tie the game at two. In the ninth, the home squad strung together three hits after one out: left fielder Hideki Matsui singled to right center, catcher Jorge Posada's base hit to left moved Matsui to third, and second baseman Robinson Cano won the game with a single to right that brought Matsui home. Cano was also part of the Yankees; first run, as he scored on center fielder Johnny Damon's double to right in the bottom of the fifth. He was the only player on either team with three hits, as he went three for four. The Twins scored their runs on third baseman Nick Punto's fielder's choice in the third that scored designated hitter Phil Nevin and second baseman Luis Castillo's RBI groundout in the fifth that brought home left fielder Rondell White.

Santana pitched an eight-and-a-third inning complete game in a losing cause, giving up three runs on nine hits while walking two, striking out nine, and throwing 123 pitches. Winning pitcher Chien-Ming Wang also went the distance, giving up two runs on seven hits while walking one and striking out one in a hundred and eight pitches.

The series will continue tomorrow afternoon here at Yankee Stadium. First pitch is scheduled for shortly after 4PM Eastern, with Boof Bonser starting for the Twins and Mike Mussina taking the hill for the Yankees.

Final totals: Yankees 3-9-0, Twins 2-7-1.

W- Wang (1-0)
L- Santana (0-1)

Next: We look at Game 2.

Thoughts?
 
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Now it's time for Game 2 of the first 2006 American League Division Series from Yankee Stadium in New York. The date is Wednesday, October 4:

Lineup Changes:

Twins-
Jason Tyner replaces Phil Nevin as the designated hitter and will bat eighth.

Yankees 1st: With one out, Derek Jeter singled to right. He moved to third on Bobby Abreu's single to right center and scored on Gary Sheffield's bouncer to second to give the Yankees a 1-0 lead. Abreu moved to second on the play, but he was stranded when Jason Giambi grounded to short, ending the inning. The Yankees have broken on top thanks to a pair of hits and an RBI groundout, and they lead the Twins 1-0 after one.

Yankees 2nd: With one out, Hideki Matsui singled to right. Hideki Matsui's pop behind first was caught by Justin Morneau for out number one, but Robbie Cano's single to right center put runners at the corners. Johnny Damon walked on five pitches to load the bases, which brought Jeter to the plate against Twins starter Boof Bonser. Here's Joe Buck with the count one ball and one strike:

"Bonser hasn't been comfortable at all so far, and it was only through good luck that the Yankees were only able to score one in the first; if (second baseman Luis) Castillo's not at double-play depth, he doesn't get to Sheffield's grounder so quickly, and if that's a hit, the Yankees have a bigger lead. As it is, he has to deal with a bases-loaded situation and Jeter at the plate. Matsui at third, Cano at second, and there's Damon at first."

Tim McCarver: "Bonser can't just throw a strike to throw a strike; he has to remember location, because Jeter's a dangerous hitter."

Buck: "HIGH FLY BALL DOWN THE LINE IN LEFT! IF IT'S FAIR IT'S A GRAND SLAM!........FAIR BALL! 5-0 YANKEES!"

McCarver: "And Bonser knows he made a bad pitch. Look at him kick the mound. But he did exactly what I just got through saying he shouldn't: He put that pitch right over the heart of the plate. Jeter didn't get it all, because if he had it might have gone all the way out of the park. Instead, he tucks it just inside the left field foul pole."

Abreu's grounder to second ended the inning, but The Captain's grand salami has given the home squad a 5-0 lead after two in Game 2.

Twins 3rd: Tyner lined a single to right center with one out. After Jason Bartlett took a called third strike for out number two, Castillo stroked a base hit to right center to move Tyner to third. Nick Punto's bloop single to left center brought Tyner home and put the Twins on the board, with Castillo moving to third. Joe Mauer was next, and he lifted a high fly to deep center that died on the warning track, allowing Damon to make the catch just before he hit the wall to end the inning. The Twins settle for a run on two hits while leaving runners at the corners, and after two and a half they trail the Yankees 5-1.

Yankees 4th: After one out, Posada ended Bonser's day i style. Here's Joe:

"Posada o for 1 so far. Dennys Reyes again throwing in the Twins bullpen, as Bonser's thrown a ton of pitches even with retiring the last five Yankee hitters in a row. (Twins manager) Ron Gardenhire doesn't figure to go too much longer with him no matter what. FIRST PITCH IS HIT DOWN THE LEFT FIELD LINE! BACK GOES WHITE, HE'S AT THE TRACK, AT THE WALL, AND THIS ONE'S GONE!.......A little to the right of Jeter's grand slam, but still out of the park by a god margin, and it;s 6-1 New York."

McCarver: "This wasn't a bad pitch by Bonser, but it was an excellent swing by Posada. Like Jerter, he ended up pulling the ball a little more than he wanted to, but also like Jeter, it ended up going out of the park regardless. Bonser has settled down over the last couple of innings, but unfortunately for him, the damage has already been done."

Bonser rallied to strike A-Rod out swinging for the second out. Damon walked to keep the inning going, but Jeter forced him to retire the side. The Yanks have added a run on Posada's homer, and after four it's New York 6, Minnesota 1.

Yankees 5th: With one out, Sheffield doubled off the wall in right center. Giambi took a pith off of his thigh to put two men on, and A-Rod singled past a diving Bonser and into center field o score Sheffield and put the Yanks up 7-1. That was all for Bonser; Gardenhire brought Reyes in to face Matsui. Before Joe could finish reading a promo for Fox's NFL coverage coming out of the pitching change commercial break, Matsui had already crushed Reyes; first pitch down the right field line and inside the foul pole for a three-run homer and a 10-1 New York lead. Here's how it sounded:

"Then in America's Game of the Week, the Cowboys head to Lincoln Financial Field to take on the Eagles, AND THAT BALL'S GONE IF IT'S FAIR! MATSUI FIRST PITCH SWINGING, AND THAT'S THE YANKEES THIRD HOMER OF THE NIGHT! A THREE-RUN SHOT, AND THEY NOW LEAD 10-1!"

McCarver (chuckling): "I guess Matsui's not a football fan, Joe. At any rate, the first two Yankee home runs today have been pulled down the line in left, but Matsui pulls this one down the line in right. None of them have been hit more than 325 feet, but put them together and they now have the Yankees up by nine runs, and it's only the fifth inning."

Buck: "That'll teach me to take my time reading promos!"

Posada walked on four pitches to continue the inning, and Cano followed with a single to center. That was all for Reyes; Matt Guerrier was the next man out of the Minnesota pen, and Damon lined his first pitch right to Jason Bartlett at short for out number two. Jeter then chopped one down to third, and Punto stepped o the bag to force the incoming Posada and end the inning. The Yankees have scored four more runs on four hits, a walk, and a hit batsman while leaving runners at first and second; the key blow was Matsui's three-run homer. At the end of five, it's Pinstripes 10, Twinkies 1.

Twins 6th: Punto led off by beating out a grounder to short for an infield single. Mauer's double into the right center power alley brought him home with the second Minnesota run. Mauer held at second on right fielder Michael Cuddyer's grounder to short, and Morneau's single to right center put runners at the corners. Next up was center fielder Torii Hunter. Here's Joe with the count two balls and no strikes:

"This is the first inning that (Yankees starter Mike) Mussina's been in serious trouble. After Hunter comes Rondell White, and then the DH spot, where Gardenhire certainly has options to bat for Tyner. Infield looking to get out of this with a double-play ball, and Mauer at third will be off on contact. Mussina checks the runners, and the two-ball pitch.......HIGH FLY BALL DEEP TO CENTER, DAMON AT THE RACK, AT THE WALL, AND THIS ONE IS GONE!.....Torii Hunter gives the Twins a bit of hope here in the sixth, as they're now down by only five."

McCarver: "This may be Mussina;'s first bad pitch of the game, and it ends up right over the heart of the plate where Hunter can really drive it to the deepest part of the park Damon takes a look just in case, but this one's headed way over the wall in center, and as Joe said, the Twins now have a bit of life, at least for the moment."

White lined the first pitch he saw right at A-Rod for the second out, but Jason Kubel batted for Tyner and kept the inning going with a base hit to right center. Mussina came back to strike Bartlett out swinging to retire the side, but the Twins have gotten back into the game with four runs on five hits, including Hiunter's three-run homer. After five and a half, it's Yankees 10, Twins 5.

Yankees 7th: A-Rod led off by beating out a grounder to second for an infield single. Matsui's base hit to right put two men on, and Posada's bloop single to right scored A-Rod to make it 11-5 Pinstripes. Cano whacked a double to center to score Matsui and move Posada to third, and it was 12-5. Damon made it five straight hits with a single up the middle to score both Posada and Cano, and the home squad led 14-5. That was all for Twins reliever Pat Neshek; he was replaced by Willie Eyre, who was greeted by Jeter's single to left that moved Jeter to third. Abreu's single to left made it seven straight hits, and Damon came home to make it 15-5 while Jeter moved to third. Sheffield doubled off the wall in left center for the eighth consecutive New York hit, which brought home Jeter with run number sixteen and Abreu with run number seventeen.

Next out of the pen was Francisco Liriano, who hadn't pitched since September 13. He finally got the first out of the inning when Giambi's sizzling liner was gloved by Castillo at second, and A-Rod went down swinging for out number two. But Matsui singled to right center to bring Sheffield home and make it 18-5, and he moved to third on Posada's lined single up the middle. Cano then drove in Matsui for the second time in the inning with a single to right, and the Yankees led 19-5. Damon forced Cano to finally retire the side, but the Yankees have scored nine runs on eleven hits, sent thirteen men to the plate, gone through three Minnesota pitchers, and taken forty-four minutes to hit. We've finally gotten through seven at the Stadium, and the Yankees are now blowing out the Twins 19-5.

Yankees 8th: With one out, Abreu singled to right. Sheffield walked to put two men on, and Giambi stepped to the plate against Liriano. Here's Joe with the count one ball and no strikes:

"Giambi was deprived in the last inning; he only batted once, and his liner was gloved by Castillo for the first out. He's hitless in four at-bats today, but he has scored a run. He was the first batter faced by Liriano when he came in, and you know he wants to get in on the offensive fun, This looks to be his last chance barring another explosion here in the eighth. Liriano checking the runners, but nobody's going anywhere up by fourteen. One-one pitch IS CRUSHED TO DEEP CENTER! HUNTER BACK, AT THE TRACK, AND THE WALL, AND IT'S GONE!...…Giambi gets on the board for the afternoon with a massive three-run homer, and the Yankees now lead 22-5."

McCarver: "The slider Liriano threw didn't break at all; it hung out over the heart of the plate, and Giambi did exactly what you'd expect him to do with it. What an offensive display today by the New York Yankees, especially in these last two innings. They've now scored twenty-two runs on twenty-three hits. This is the kind of loss that only truly special teams come back from, and the Twins don't strike me as that special. They'll have a chance to prove me wrong at home in Game 3 on Friday night."

A-Rod was caught looking for out number two, but Matsui kept the inning going with a single to right. Posada's fly to the warning track in left was caught by White to end the inning, but Giambi's three-run homer has put the exclamation point on a most satisfying evening for New York. We head to the ninth with the Yankees comfortably in front, 22-5.

That was all the scoring. Our final: Yankees 22, Twins 5, and the Yankees lead the series two games to none.

There were plenty of offensive standouts for the Yankees, but Matsui received Player of the Game honors from Fox. He went five for six with a home run, four runs scored, and four RBIs. Cano added four hits in five at-bats with two runs scored and two more driven in, and Jeter was three for six with a homer, four RBIs, and three runs scored. The Yankees' offensive starters played the whole game, and all nine of them scored at least two runs apiece as the Yankees finished with twenty-four hits. Mussina did his part on the mound as well, striking out eleven Minnesota batters in seven innings of work.

Final totals: Yankees 22-24-0, Twins 5-10-0.

W- Mussina (1-0)
L- Bonser (0-1)

HR- MIN: Hunter (1)
NYY: Jeter (1), Matsui (1), Posada (1), Giambi (1)

The series will shift to the Metrodome in Minneapolis for Game 3 on Friday night. First pitch is scheduled for shortly after 8PM Eastern, with Randy Johnson starting for the Yankees and Brad Radke taking the ball for the Twins.

Next: We look at Game 3.

Thoughts?
 
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Now it's time for Game 3 of the first 2006 American League Division Series from the Metrodome in Minneapolis. The date is Friday, October 6:

Lineup Changes:

Yankees-
Alex Rodriguez moves up to fourth. Jason Giambi will start at first base. Jorge Posada moves up to sixth, while Bernie Williams serves as the designated hitter and will bat eighth.

Yankees 5th: Giambi led off by banging a double to right. Posada followed with another double to right that brought Giambi home and gave the Yankees a 1-0 lead. Posada moved to third when Hideki Matsui bounced to second and remained there on Williams' grounder to short, but Robbie Cano's seeing-eye single to left brought Posada home to make it 2-0 Yankees. Johnny Damon's bloop found right center field for a hit to put runners at the corners, and the Yankees took advantage of the overeager Minnesota defense for a third run, as catcher Joe Mauer tired to pick Damon off at first to end the inning, only for his throw to go into center field. Damon stole second uncontested and moved to third on the error, while Cano came home with the Yankees' third run. Derek Jeter's grounder to short ended the inning with Damon still at third, but the Yankees have taken the game's first lead with three runs on four hits, an error, and a productive groundout,. Halfway through Game 3, it's Yankees 3, Twins 0.

Yankees 6th: With one out, A-Rod and Giambi drew back-to-back walks. That brought Posada to the plate. Here's Joe Buck with the count one ball and one strike:

"Radke has to get Posada to stay in the game, as Pat Neshek is ready in the Minnesota bullpen. The Twins can't give up any more runs down 3-0, especially with the way Randy Johnson's been pitching tonight; he's working on a three-hitter through five innings, which is exactly the kind of pitching that they signed him for last year. The infield's at double-play depth, and there you see the runners; Rodriguez at second and Giambi at first. Possibly the biggest moment of the game, as Radke nods to Joe Mauer. Here's the one-one pitch.....LINE DRIVE DEEP TO RIGHT, BACK GOES CUDDYER, AT THE TRACK, AT THE WALL, AND THIS BALL IS GONE! 6-0 NEW YORK, AS POSADA GOES DEEP FOR THHE SECOND TIME IN THE SERIES!....That's all for Radke, as Neshek is coming in, perhaps one batter too late."

Tim McCarver: "Radke was trying to paint the outside corner, but this pitch never got there, as Posada got his bat to it before it could hit the target. A perfect swing, and there you see it go. In this series, the Yankees have been able to get the key hit whenever they needed it, all the way back to Game 1's comeback. The Twins haven't, and that's why they're about to be swept, barring a comeback of their own."

Neshen struck Matsui out swinging and retired Bernie on a grounder to second to end the inning, but Posada's three-run homer might have put the series on ice for the Pinstripes; they now lead the Twins 6-0 after five and a half.

Yankees 8th: A-Rod led off with a base hit to right against Twins reliever Willie Eyre. Giambi walked to put two men on, and after Posada flew to Torii Hunter in right center for the first out, Matsui walked to load the bases. Williams grounded one down to first, and Justin Morneau fired to Mauer at the plate to nail A-Rod for out number two. Cano was next, and he lined a single to left to score Giambi and Matsui and extend the Yankee lead to 8-0. Eyre departed at this point in favor of Jesse Crain, who got Damon to ground to short, ending the inning with runners still at first and second. But the Yanks have added a pair of insurance runs on two hits and two walks, and as we head to the bottom of the eighth they lead the homestanding Twins 8-0.

That was all the scoring. As we join Joe, the Twins have runners at first and third in the bottom of the ninth, with Hunter at the plate and a count of one ball and two strikes:

"Kyle Farnsworth warming up in the Yankee bullpen, as Johnson has thrown a hundred and eleven pitches. It's been seventy-six years since the Twins' last world championship, which came back when they were the original Washington Senators in 1930; they beat the St. Louis Cardinals. We've talked about their history here in the Twin Cities, especially their series against the Red Sox two years ago, when they had a two games to none lead and lost the last three, with Johnny Damon's homer in the twelfth inning of Game 5 clinching it for Boston. They led Game 1 in this series with two innings left, only for the Yankees to tie the game in the eighth and win it in the ninth. That's been it, as the last two games have been all New York to the tune of 30-5. The Big Unit now looking to finish off the shutout, and here's the one-two pitch to Hunter.....popped up behind first in foul territory, Giambi under it, and MAKES THE CATCH! THE YANKEES SWEEP THE TWINS!........The Yankees outscore the Twins 33-7 in the series and 30-5 in the last two games to get the sweep and move on to the ALCS. The Twins are better than they've looked over the last two games, but even their best didn't figure to be enough against the well-oiled Yankee juggernaut, and they weren't at their best in this series; they were dominated on the mound, at the plate, and in the field.

Our Player of the Game tonight is the Big Unit, Randy Johnson. He shut out the Twins on six hits, walking two and striking out four while throwing a hundred and twelve pitches. The offense came from Jorge Posada, who was three for five with a homer, another run scored, and four und batted in, and Robinson Cano, who was two for four with a run scored and drove in the other three Yankee runs. Taken all together, it was far too much for the Twins on this night.

We'll be coming back to the Metrodome on the other side of this break, as Ken Rosenthal has interviews ready to go on the field with some of the victorious Yankees, and we'll also preview the upcoming ALCS. Our final score in Game 3: Yankees 8, Twins 0, and the Yankees sweep this series three games to none. We'll come right back to the Metrodome after these messages and a word from your local Fox station. You;re watching the American League Division Series on Fox."

Final totals: Yankees 8-11-0, Twins 0-6-2.

W- Johnson (1-0)
L- Radke (0-1)

HR- NYY: Posada (2)

Next: With their curse now seventy-seven years old, the Twins host the Toronto Blue Jays in Game 1 of the first 2008 American League Division Series on Thursday, October 2. First pitch is scheduled for shortly after 2:30 PM Eastern on TBS, with A.J. Burnett starting for the Jays and Nick Blackburn going to the hill for the Twins.

Thoughts?
 
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Now it's time for Game 1 of the second 2008 American League Division Series from the Metrodome in Minneapolis. The date is Thursday, October 2:

Twins 1st: With one out, second baseman Aleki Casilla's bloop fell in the left center power alley for a double. Catcher Joe Mauer struck out swinging for the second out, but first baseman Justin Morneau walked to put two men on. Next was designated hitter Michael Cuddyer, whose fly ball to left dropped on the warning track and hopped over the fence for a book-rule double. Casilla was awarded home plate, and the Twins took a 1-0 lead, with Morneau stopping at third. Left fielder Delmon Young's popup was caught by Blue Jays third baseman Scott Rolen to end the inning with runners still at second and third, but the Twins have gotten on the board thanks to two hits and a walk, and they lead the Jays 1-0 after one.

Blue Jays 2nd: First baseman Lyle Overbay led off against Twins starter Nick Blackburn. Here's Dick Enberg with the count no balls and a strike:

"This is the first time in the postseason for Toronto since they won the world championship fifteen years ago with Joe Carter's memorable home run against the Phillies. As for the Twins, their story's well known; they're looking for their first pennant since 1991 and their first world title since all the way back in 1930 when they were the original Washington Senators. The fans here remember the last time they came close in 2004 against the Red Sox, and the name of Johnny Damon is actually used as an epithet by some Twins fans to this day. He was also on the Yankees team that beat them in the divisional round two years ago. OVERBAY SENDS ONE DOWN THE LINE IN RIGHT! OVER GOES SPAN, HE'S AT THE WALL, BUT THIS ONE'S GONE! TOUCH 'EM ALL, LYLE OVERBAY!.....Overbay hit fifteen in the regular season, and his first of the postseason has tied this game at one."

Jim Kaat: "Overbay got out in front of the pitch a little bit, but he put such a good swing on it that it carried further than it otherwise would have. You were talking just a second ago about all the history that the Twins are fighting, Dick, but they need to realize that it can't hurt them on the field unless they let it. Just relax and play the kind of ball that got them to this point, and they'll be fine."

Blackburn got the nex three outs in order: Rolen struck out swinging, left fielder Travis Snider popped to Morneau at first, and catcher Gregg Zaun flew to shallow right. But Overbay's homer has evened the game at one after an inning and a half.

Blue Jays 3rd: Second baseman Joe Inglett led off with a single up the middle. Shortstop Marco Scutaro lined a double into the left center power alley to bring him home and give the Jays a 2-1 lead. Right fielder Alex Rios popped to third for the first out, center fielder Vernon Wells lined another single up the middle to score Scutaro and make it 3-1 Jays. Designated hitter Adam Lind (no relation to Jose, and pronounced with a short I) forced Wells for the second out, and Overbay grounded to Morneau at first to end the inning. But the Jays have retaken the lead with two runs on three hits, and after two and a half it's Blue Jays 3, Twins 1.

Twins 4th: Morneau led off with a base hit to left. Cuddyer flew to left for out number one, but Young's bloop double to left center put runners at second and third. Third baseman Brendan Harris' fly to center was too shallow to score Morneau, but shortstop Nick Punto dropped a double in the left center gap to score both Morneau and Cuddyer and tie the game at three. Center fielder Carlos Gomez went down swinging to end the inning with Punto still at second, but the Twins have tied the game with two runs on three hits, with the key blow being Punto's two-run double. After four, it's Jays 3, Twinkies 3.

Blue Jays 5th: Inglett lined a leadoff double into the right field corner. A Blackburn curve hit Scutaro in the hip pocket to put two men on, and Rios stroked a single to right center, scoring Inglett and putting the Jays up 4-3. Scutaro moved to third on the hit and scored on Wells' bloop single to left to make it 5-3, with Rios moving to third. At that point, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire excused Blackburn in favor of Boof Bonser, who struck Lind out swinging for out number one. Overbay forced Wells for the second out, with Rios scoring and giving the Jays a 6-3 lead. Rolen's fly to right bounced over the wall on a hop for a book-rule double that moved Overbay to third, but Snider went down swinging to end the inning. The Jays have taken the lead once more with three runs on four hits and a hit batsman, but they've also left runners at second and third. Halfway through Game 1, it's Toronto 6, Minnesota 3.

Twins 6th: Punto lined a one-out base hit to right. Gomez beat out a grounder to short for an infield single to put two men on, and right fielder Denard Span scored both of them when he lined a double off the wall in right; it was now 6-5 Toronto. Casilla lined a base hit to center to score Span, and we were even at six. That was all for Burnett, who was replaced by reliever Jesse Carlson. who retired Mauer on a liner to Scutaro at short. Morneau's single to right put two men on, but Cuddyer went down swinging to strand the runners and end the inning. The Twins have tied the game with three runs on five hits, but they've also left runners at first and second. After six, we're even at six.

Twins 7th: Young lined a leadoff double into the right field corner. Harris beat out a grounder to second for an infield single, which moved Young to third. Punto struck out swinging for out number one, and Gardenhire sent Jason Kubel to the plate to bat for Gomez. Here's Dick with the count one ball and one strike:

"Gardenhire looking for the big hit right now in a 6-6 tie. Based on what the Twins have done during the year, it seems that Kubel will stay in the game in right field, and Span will move from right to center. Kubel hit twenty homers during the year, most of them as the designated hitter, so Carlson will have to be careful with him. One ball and one strike, and there you see the runners at the corners. Young a speedster at third, Harris not so much at first. Carlson checks the runners, nods to Zaun, and here's the pitch........LINED TO RIGHT CENTER, CARRYING WELL, OVER GOES WELLS, HE'S AT THE WALL, AND TKUBEL TOUCHES 'EM ALL!..........A three run pinch-hit homer for Jason Kubel, and the Twins now lead 9-6 as the Metrodome lives up to its nickname of the Homerdome for the home team here in the seventh!"

Kaat: "Carlson tried a backdoor slider to fool Kubel, but Kubel wouldn't be fooled. Wells isn't the fastest outfielder in the world, and maybe a faster outfielder could have made this a closer play, but iin the end this ball was hit too hard and too far."

Scott Downs came out of the Jays bullpen to replace Carlson, and he retired Span on a pop to Overbay at first and Casilla on a fly to Wells in shallow center to end the inning. But the Twins have taken the lead thanks to Kubel's electrifying three-run pinch-hit homer, and they've come all the way back from a 6-3 deficit to take a 9-6 lead as we go to the eighth.

That was all the scoring. Our final: Twins 9, Blue Jays 6, and the Twins lead the best-of-five series one game to none.

Kubel was named Player of the Game by TBS because of his three-run game-winning homer. Span and Punto each had two hits and two RBIs for the Twins, while Morneau was three for four with a run scored.

Final totals: Twins 9-16-1, Blue Jays 6-10-1.

W- Crain (1-0)
S- Nathan (1)
L- Carlson (0-1)

HR- TOR: Overbay (1)
MIN: Kubel (1)

Before we go, let's look at our Defensive Plays of the Day. First, Rolen is leading off the top of the fourth with the Blue Jays leading 3-1. Here's Dick:

:"One-two pitch is hit to right. Moeneau coming out, Span coming in, Span calling Morneau off, and MAKES THE ONE-HANDED GRAB!...….He just missed crashing into Morneau head-to-head, which would have been a nightmare for Minnesota. Now here's Travis Snider with one out."

Now it's the bottom of the eighth with one out and the Twins up 9-6. Morneau's at the plate, and here's Dick:

"Comebacker for Downs, SLIPS AND GOES DOWN, NOW BACK UP AND THROWS TO FIRST.......OUT! WHAT A PLAY BY SCOTT DOWNS! Many pitchers would have just put that one in their pocket, but Downs stayed with it and got Morneau by half a step at first. Now it's up to Cuddyer with two out."

The series continues with Game 2 tomorrow night here at the Metrodome. First pitch is scheduled for shortly after 6PM Eastern, with Roy Halladay starting for the Blue Jays and Kevin Slowey going to the mound for the Twins.

Next: We look at Game 2.

Thoughts?
 
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Now it's time for Game 2 of the second 2008 American League Division Series from the Metrodome in Minneapolis. The date is Friday, October 3:

Lineup Changes:

Blue Jays-
Alex Rios moves from right field to center field. Vernon Wells will serve as the designated hitter. Adam Lind starts in left field, while Travis Snider moves from left field to right field.

Twins- Jason Kubel will serve as the designated hitter and bat fifth. Brian Buscher starts at third base in place of Brendan Harris and will bat seventh.

Blue Jays 1st: Joe Inglett led off the game with a triple off the wall in left. After Marco Scutaro was caught looking for the first out, Rios hit a bouncer down to second. It took the ball three hops to get to Alexi Casilla, who rushed his throw to first and end up pulling Justin Morneau off the bag for an error. Inglett scored, and the Jays led 1-0. Wells grounded into an around-the-horn inning-ending double play, but the visitors have used a hit and an error to take the game's first lead. Now let's hear from the Twins.

Blue Jays 3rd: Snider led off against Twins starter Kevin Slowey. Here's Dick Enberg:

"Slowey was getting over a cold yesterday, so Nick Blackburn, who's been the horse of the staff this year for Minnesota, took the ball on two days' rest. He was far from sharp, but the Twins staged that late comeback, with Kubel's homer ultimately making the difference. Slowey's feeling much better today, but he's down 1-0 as he faces Travis Snider in the third. Here's the first pitch, AND IT''S HIT WELL TO DEEP RIGHT VENTER, GOMEZ GOING BACK, HE'S AT THE WALL, BUT THIS ONE'S GONE! Travis Snider touches 'em all leading off the third for the Blue Jays, and they now lead 2-0."

Jim Kaat: "Travis Snider is one of the gifted young power hitters that the Blue Jays' lineup is filled with, and he gets every last bit of this pitch from Kevin Slowey, which isn't a bad pitch at all. There were only two homers yesterday here at the Metrodome, but this park's been known as a home run hitter's haven through the years, so we'll see if it does a better job of living up to its reputation today."

Slowey got the next three outs in order, but Snider's homer has increased the Jays' lead to 2-0 after two and a half.

Blue Jays 4th: Rios led off with a single to right center, moved to second on Wells' grounder to second, and scored on Lind's double into the right center power alley to give the Jays a 3-0 lead. Overbay was next. Here's Dick with the count one ball and one strike:

"Slowey on the ropes here in the fourth down 3-0 with one out, Lind at second, and Overbay, who homered in Game 1, at the plate."

Kaat: "Boof Bonser throwing in the Twins' bullpen, and Slowey looks to me like he's laboring a bit. Whwther it has anyhting to do with his illness or not, I'm not sure."

Enberg: "It must be hard trying to throw a ball of any kind with maximum efficiency if you can't get your breath."

Kaat: "It's up to the pitcher to tell his manager if he doesn't feel he can go, Dick. If he accepts the ball on a given day, it's up to him to do his job."

Enberg: "OVERBAY DOING HIS JOB WITH THAT PITCH, AS IT'S GOING TO LAND ABOUT FIVE ROWS UP IN THE RIGHT FIELD BLEACHERS FOR A TWO-RUN HOMER!,,,,,,Lyle Overbay's second home run of the series makes it 5-0 Toronto here in the fourth, and (Twins manager) Ron Gardenhire's seen enough of Slowey. He's calling for Boof Bonser from the bullpen."

Kaat: "That was a hanging curve, and you can see Overbay waiting on it at soon as it leaves Slowey's hand. Overbay's a lot like Snider; once he gets some experience and learns how to be a better hitter, he can be a perennial All-Star with power like that."

Rolen greeted Bonser with a single up the middle, but was forced by Snider for the second out. Gregg Zaun's foul pop behind third was caught by Buscher for the third out, but the Jays have added to their lead with three runs on four hits and a productive groundout. After three and a half, it's Blue Jays 5, Twins 0.

Twins 4th: Casilla led off against Blue Jays starter Roy Halladay. Here's Dick with the count one ball and one strike:

"Halladay has allowed just one baserunner over the first three innings: Young walked with two out in the second, but Buscher's grounder to short on the very next pitch ended the inning. Halladay won his twentieth game of the season in his last start against the Yankees, and he's established himself as one of the top pitchers in the American League this season. There you see Casilla closing his stance, maybe trying to generate a bit more power in his next swing. Halladay's one-two pitch is HIT DEEP TO CENTER! BACK GOES RIOS, AT THE WALL, AND THIS ONE IS GONE! TOUCH 'EM ALL, ALEXI CASILLA!..........We mentioned just before the pic that Casilla was closing his stance at the plate to generate more power, and if that was true, it certainly worked."

Kaat: "This pitch got away from Halladay a bit, and Casilla was right there to pounce on it. He's not known for his power, but he put every bit of his strength into this swing and deposited this ball over the fence in center, which is 408 feet here at the Metrodome. That's quite a feat for someone who didn't hit a home run all year."

Joe Mauer followed with a double off the wall in center, but he was stranded at second as Morneau struck out swinging., Kubel was caught looking, and Young's fly to the warning track in right was caught by Denard Span to end the inning. Casilla's homer has cut the Twins' deficit to 5-1 after four.

Blue Jays 6th: With one out, Lind faced Bonser. Here's Dick:

"A beautiful catch by Span at the wall against Wells, and he's had to make more than one great play today to take away home runs from the Jays. Lind had an RBI double his last time up in the fourth, which was followed by Overbay's two-run homer. Blue Jays 5, Twins 1, top of the sixth, and Bonser's taking a deep breath and getting ready to face Lind after the scare off the bat of Wells. First pitch is HIT DEEP TO RGHT CENTER, BACK GOES GOMEZ, HE'S AT THE WALL, AND THIS ONE'S GONE! ADAM LIND TOUCHES 'EM ALL, AND THE JAYS HAVE THREE HOME RUNS TODAY AND A 6-1 LEAD!"

Kaat: "Bonser was probably still rattled by Wells' near-home run, and he put this one right over the heart of the plate where Lind could get to it. This series has been quite an offensive exhibition, not just in terms of home runs, but hits as well, and we're staying indoors as we head to Rogers Centre in Toronto for the next two games. The record books are going to be in big trouble at this rate, Dick."

Overbay took a pitch off of his shin to continue the inning, but Scott Rolen grounded into a 4-6-3 inning-ending double play. Lind's homer has restored the Jays' five-run lead, after five and a half, the lead the Twins 6-1.

Blue Jays 7th: With one out, Zaun singled up the middle. Inglett's single to right out two men on, but he was forced by Scutaro for the second out, with Zaun moving to third. Rios was next, and he lifted a fly to left. Young got a late break on the ball, and it went into, then out of his glove for an error. Zaun scored, Inglett moved to third, and the Jays led 7-1. Wells' grounder to second ended the inning with runners still at first and third, but the Jays have added a run in two hits and an error. As we stretch in the Twin Cities, it's Toronto 7, Minnesota 1.

Twins 7th: Kubel led off against Halladay. Here's Dick with the count two balls and no strikes:

"Kubel had the game-winning homer yesterday, and the Twins hope he can spark a similar comeback here in Game 2. They were down 6-3 in the sixth then, and now they're down 7-1 in the seventh against a razor-sharp Roy Halladay, who's given up just one run on four hits through six innings. Kubel, Young, and Buscher here in the seventh for the Twins. Halladay ready now, and here's the two-ball pitch...….HIT HIGH AND DEEP TO LEFT! LIND GOING BACK, HE'S AT THE WALL, REACHES OVER, BUT CAN'T GET IT! IT'S A HOME RUN! THE TWINS ARE BACK ON THE BOARD!.....Kubel touches 'em all for the second time in this series, and the Twins are still alive."

Kaat: "Kubel's been really locked in over these last two games, Dick. He doesn't get all of this pitch like he did the one yesterday, but he still gets enough of it that Lind can't rob him no matter how hard he tries. Look at this: he's halfway over the wall before he gives up, and this is in a 7-1 game."

Enberg: "He almost took quite a fall over the fence, but stopped himself in time."

After Young flew to left for the first out, Buscher drew a walk, but was forced by Nick Punro. Carlos Gomez's base hit to right put two men on, but Rolen speared Denard Span's line drive to end the inning with runners still at first and second. Kubel's home run has given the Twins some life, but they still trail the Jays 7-2 after seven.

Blue Jays 8th: Overbay walked with one out against Twins reliever Juan Rincon. Rolen's base hit to left put runners at the corners, and Snider walked to load the bases. Zaun's single to left field scored Overbay to make it 8-2 Toronto, and Inglett lined a base hit to left to score Rolen and Snider and put the Jays up 10-2. Dennys Reyes came out of the Twins bullpen to retire Scutaro on a pop to short, and Rios' tap to first ended the inning with runners still at first and second. But the Jays have added three runs on three hits and two walks, and after seven and a half they now lead the Twins 10-2.

Blue Jays 9th: Wells led off against Reyes. Here's Dick with the count one ball and two strikes:

"What a wild pair of games here in Minneapolis, and it figures to be more of the same when we move to Toronto on Sunday for Game 3. Games 3 and 4 will be at Rogers Centre on Sunday and Monday, and if we have to come back here for Game 5, that will be on Wednesday, at a time to be determined. Wells back in after his trip back to the bat rack for some new lumber, and Reyes now set as well. One-two pitch is ABSOLUTELY HAMMERED DEEP TO CENTER! GOMEZ TURNS AROUND, BUT HE;LL JUST WATCH IT FLY! VERNON WELLS BECOMES THE FOURTH BLUE JAY TO TOUCH 'EM ALL TONIGHT, AND THE JAYS LEAD 11-2! OH, MY, WHAT A BLAST BY WELLS!"

Kaat: "The Blue Jays have so many young power hitters, Dick. Not only can they hit home runs, but they can hit them hard and far. The Twins also have great young hitters such as Mauer and Kubel, so this series looks like it's going to be a paradise for fans who like offense in spite of the presence of young pitchers like Roy Halladay and Nick Blackburn."

Lind took a pitch off of his elbow to continue the inning, but held at first while Overbay flew to right. Rolen's lined single to left center put runners at the corners, and Snider smacked a double off the wall in center to score Lind and Rolen and put the Jays up 13-2. Snider moved to third on Zaun's bouncer to second and scored on Inglett's base hit to right to make it 14-2. Matt Guerrier replaced Reyes and struck Scutaro out swinging to finally retire the side, but the Jays have scored four more runs on four his, a productive groundout, and a hit batsman, and they lead the Twins 14-2 as we head to the bottom of the ninth.

Twins 9th: Young lined a leadoff single to left. Buscher's single to left center put runners at the corners, but Overbay speared Punto's liner for the first out as the runners held. Gomez flew to shallow left for out number two, but Span singled to right to sclettore Young with the third Minnesota run. That was all for Halladay; Jays manager Cito Gaston called for Jason Frasor out of the bullpen, but he hadn't pitched since September 16, and the Twins took full advantage of his rust. Casilla grounded his first pitch into left center for a single to score Buscher with the Twins' fourth run, then Mauer lined a double into the right center power alley to bring home Span and Casilla to make it 14-6. Morneau lined a base hit to right center to bring Mauer home, and it was 14-7. Kubel's tap to first was gobbled up by Overbay, who shoveled the ball to Frasor covering to finally end the game. The Twins scored five runs on six hits, but their comeback still fell seven runs short. Final score: Blue Jays 14, Twins 7, and this series is tied at a game apiece.

There were many offensive stars for the Jays in this game, but TBS gave its Player of the Game award to Inglett, who finished four for six with a run scored and three RBIs. Snider also drove in three runs and scored three more, one of each coming on his homer. Lind was two for four plus a hit-b-pitch with a homer, two other runs scored, and two runs driven in, while Rolen was three for five and scored a pair of runs. Mauer was four for five in a losing cause with a run scored and two more driven in.

Final totals: Blue Jays 14-16-0, Twins 7-13-2.

W- Halladay (1-0)
L- Slowey (0-1)

HR- TOR: Overbay (2), Lind (1), Wells (1), Snider (1)
MIN: Kubel (2), Casilla (1)

The series shifts to Toronto's Rogers Centre for Game 3 on Sunday afternoon. First pitch is scheduled for shortly after 4PM, with Francisco Liriano starting for the Twins and Shaun Marcum going to the hill for the Blue Jays.

Next: We look at Game 3.

Thoughts?
 
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Now it's time for Game 3 of the second 2008 American League Division Series from Rogers Centre in Toronto. The date is Sunday, October 5:

Lineup Changes:

Blue Jays-
Marco Scutaro moves from shortstop to second base and will lead off. Jose Bautista will bat second and play first base. Scott Rolen moves up to sixth. Travis Snyder moves up to seventh. Rod Barajas will catch and bat eighth, while John McDonald will start at shortstop and bat ninth.

Blue Jays 3rd: With one out, Bautista lined a double off the wall in right. Alex Rios' bloop single to left brought him home, and the Jays led 1-0. Vernon Wells' base hit up the middle moved Rios to third, and Alex came home when Lind forced Wells to make it 2-0. Scott Rolen's bouncer to third retired the side, but the Jays have broken on top with two runs on three hits and a force play, and they lead the Twins 2-0 after three.

Twins 4th: Joe Mauer stroked a leadoff single to right center. He remained at first while Justin Morneau popped to second for the first out, but Jason Kubel walked to put two men on. Delmon Young's lined single up the middle loaded the bases and brought Brian Buscher to the plate. We pick up the call from Dick Enberg:

"Marcum ready now, and the two-two offering is lined into right center field, over is Rios, but he.....CAN'T GET IT! IT ROLLS TO THE WARNING TRACK, AND HERE THEY ALL COME! MAUER HAS SCORED ALREADY! KUBEL'S BEHIND HIM! HERE COMES DELMON YOUNG! THE THROW TO THE PLATE IS CUT OFF, AND THE TWINS TAKE A 3-2 LEAD ON A BASES-CLEARING DOUBLE BY BRIAN BUSCHER!"

Buscher was stranded at second, as Nick Punto flew to left for the second out and Carlos Gomez struck out swinging to end the inning. But the twins have taken the lead on Buscher's bases-clearing double, which was set up by two other hits and a walk. We've played three and a half, and it's Twins 3, Blue Jays 2.

Twins 5th: Denard Span drew a leadoff walk. Alexi Casilla's double to right brought hi, home, and the Twins led 4-2. Mauer walked to put two men on, but Blue Jays starter Shaun Marcum got the next three batters in order: Morneau's liner was gloved by McDonald, and Kubel and Young each struck out swinging. The Twins have added a run on a hit and two walks while leaving runners at first and second. We're halfway through Game 3, and it's Twinkies 4, Jays 2.

Twins 6th: Buscher led off against Marcum. Here's Dick with the count one ball and no strikes:

"Buscher had the hit that just may end up being the turning point of this series his last time up with that big bases-clearing double. Marcum's battled all day, but the wins have been able to get to him, and that's the main reason they lead by two in the sixth. Coming up next with Chip Caray and Harold Reynolds: Game 3 between the Angels and the Red Sox from Fenway Park, and that game will start on TNT if we haven't finished by 7:10 PM Eastern Time. Marc Fein will be the dugout reporter. One-ball pitch to Buscher......HIT HIGH AND DEEP TO CENTER! GOUNG BACK IS RIOS, TO THE TRACK TO THE WALL, AND BUSCHER ADDS TO HIS BIG DAY BY TOUCHING 'EM ALL!......It's now 5-2 Twins, and Buscher has driven in four of the five Minnesota runs. What a day for him!"

Jim Kaat: "This ball was hit solidly, Dick, and Buscher has shown surprising power with both of his hits today. He only hit four home runs this season and has been known more for his glove than his bat, but after what we've seen today the Twins may want to reconsider that a bit. Even his groundout in the second was hit hard."

Marcum got the next three batters out in order, as Punto grounded to short, Gomez took a called third strike, and Span tapped to first. But Buscher's homer has extended the Twins' lead to 5-2 after five and a half.

That was all the scoring. Our final: Twins 5, Blue Jays 2, and the Twins lead the series two games to one.

Buscher was named Player of the Game by TBS. He finished his day three for four with a home run and four RBIs. Casilla was two for five and drove in the other Minnesota run, while Span was two for three plus two walks and scored a run.

Final totals: Twins 5-9-0, Blue Jays 2-9-0.

W- Liriano (1-0)
S- Nathan (2)
L- Marcum (0-1)

HR- MIN: Buscher (1)

The series will continue with Game 4 tomorrow afternoon here at Rogers Centre. First pitch is scheduled for shortly after 5PM Eastern, with Glen Perkins starting for the Twins and David Purcey getting the ball for the Blue Jays.

Next: We look at Game 4.

Thoughts?
 
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Somehow or other my post was erased by the new board software, so rather than start over I'll just do a summary of Game 4. There may be more summaries in the future if I can't figure out how to keep my posts intact, so be forewarned.

Twins 15, Blue Jays 7 (TBS: Dick Enberg, Jim Kaat, Craig Sager; MIN wins series 3-1)

The Twins finished off the Blue Jays in a slugfest at Rogers Centre and will move on to face the Red Sox in the ALCS. The offense was led by Denard Span, was three for five with three runs scored, a homer and four RBIs. His homer was a two-run shot in the sixth. Brendan Harris returned to the lineup at third base and was two for four with three runs cored and three more driven in; his two-run double and Span's homer combined to put the game out of reach for Toronto in the sixth. Carlos Gomez's two-run double in the second gave the Twins the lead for good, and the visitors broke the game open with a five run fourth that was highlighted by a two-run double from Span. Catcher Joe Mauer added three hits and a pair of RBIs, and the Twins finished with sixteen hits.

For the Jays, Jose Bautista started at third base and provided a preview of coming attractions by hitting two home runs in his first two at-bats. The first came in the bottom of the first inning and gave the home squad a 2-1 lead, while the other led off the third and cut the Twins' lead to 5-3. Lyle Overbay added two hits, including his third homer of the series,, while Joe Inglett returned to the lineup at second base and was two for four with a run scored and an RBI.

Reliever Boof Bonser got the win for the Twins, giving up just one run on three hits and striking out four in three innings of work.

Final totals: Twins 15-16-1, Blue Jays 7-9-0.

W- Bonser (1-0)
L- Purcey (0-1)

HR- MIN: Span (1)
TOR: Overbay (3), Bautista 2 (2)

The ALCS will begin on Wednesday night at Fenway Park in Boston. First pitch is scheduled for shortly after 8PM Eastern, with Scott Baker starting for the Twins and Daisuke Matsuzaka going to the mound for the Red Sox.

Next: We look at Game 1 of the ALCS.

Thoughts?
 
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Now it's time for Game 1 of the 2008 American League Championship Series from Fenway Park in Boston. The date is Wednesday, October 8:

Weather: 58 degrees, mostly cloudy skies, south-southwest wind at 12 MPH.

Red Sox 1st: With one out, second baseman Dustin Pedroia singled to left center, then stole second. That brought designated hitter David Ortiz to the plate against Twins starter Scott Baker. Here's Dick Enberg with the count two balls and a strike:

"The Angels did about as well as they could against Big Papi in the Division Series, as he was only five for eighteen with a run batted in. That would be a decent series for a lot of hitters, but much more is expected from the unofficial captain of the Red Sox. Baker's the fifth different starter for the Twins in this postseason, and here's his 2-1 pitch to Ortiz...….AND THAT ONE'S HAMMERED DEEP TO RIGHT CENTER! BACK GOES GOMEZ, HE'S AT THE WALL, AND PAPI TOUCHES 'EM ALL FOR THE FIRST TIME IN OCTOBER!...…..It looked like Baker tried for a slider on the outside corner, but Ortiz wasn't fooled a bit."

Ron Darling: "That ball didn't drop through the strike zone nearly as much as Baker wanted it to, and Ortiz met it just as it went through his hitting zone. The Twins' pitchers are going to have to watch their location against Papi, because if they're even a little bit off, he can get to it and hit it a ton, as you just saw."

Jim Kaat: "And Baker can't relax, because (third baseman Kevin) Youkilis can hit the ball out of the ballpark too."

Youkilis settled for a walk to keep the inning going, but right fielder J.D. Drew struck out swinging for out number two. Left fielder Jason Bay walked to put two men on, and first baseman Mark Kotsay lined a single to left to score Youkilis and make it 3-0 Sox. Shortstop Jed Lowrie followed with a single to right center, which scored Bay with the fourth Boston run and moved Kotsay to third. Catcher Jason Varitek was retired on a comebacker to end the inning, but the Sox have scored four runs on four hits and two walks while leaving runners at the corners. We've played one, and the home squad leads 4-0.

Red Sox 5th: Drew faced Baker with one out. Here's Dick with the count no balls and two srikes:

"Baker's recovered nicely from that terrible first inning; he's only given up a hit and two walks since. Bay walked in the third and Pedroia in the fourth, and (center fielder) Jacoby Ellsbury preceded Pedroia's walk in the fourth with a single. But Dice-K (Red Sox starter Daisuke Matsuzaka) has been even batter, as he's allowed just two hits and a walk through five and retired the last eight Twins hitters in a row. No balls, two strikes on Drew with one out in the fifth. Baker ready now, fires, and DREW HITS IT DEEP TO RIGHT CENTER, GOMEZ BACK, AT THE WALL, AND THS BALL IS GONE! J,D. Drew hits one just a few feet to the left of David Ortiz's first-inning bomb, and it's now 5-0 Red Sox."

Kaat: "Baker made a good pitch here, but Drew put an even better swing on it, which happens sometimes. You said it, Dick: Baker's pitched much better over the last few innings, but the Twins have done nothing against Dice-K, which means that Baker can't afford even one more mistake."

Darling: "Almost anyone in this lineup can hit the ball out at any time, and the scary thing is that they traded away one o their biggest hme run threats at the deadline in Manny Ramirez."

Bay struck out swinging for out number two, and Kotsay's grounder to first ended the inning. But Drew's homer has extended the Red Sox' lead to 5-0 after five.

Twins 6th: Second baseman Alexi Casilla drew a one-out walk, but was forced on catcher Joe Mauer's comebacker. Designated hitter Justin Morneau was next, and his bloop touched down in right center and rolled all the way to the wall. Mauer scored, and the Twins were on the board. Left fielder Delmon Young tapped to Kotsay at first to strand Mauer and retire the side, but the visitors have scored their first run thanks to a walk, a force play, and a hit. After five and a half in Game 1, it's Bosox 5, Twinkies 1.

Twins 8th: With one out, right fielder Denard Span beat out a grounder to short for an infield single. That brought Casillla to the plate. Here's Dick with the count one ball and one strike:

"Span's infled single was just the fourth hit given up by Matsuzaka, but it's enough to get the Boston bullpen working, as Manny Delcarmen starts to toss. Casilla 0 for 2 plus a walk tonight, but has shown some pop in this postseason, as he homered off of Roy Halladay in that 14-7 Game 2 slugfest in Minneapolis. He closed his stance just before he hit that ball, ad he's been using that stance ever since. Dice-K nods to Varitek, checks the runner, now comes to the plate........AND THAT BALL'S HIT HARD DOWN THE LINE IN RIGHT, OVER GOES DREW, HE'S AT THE WALL, AND THIS BALL IS GONE! TOUCH 'EM ALL, ALEXI CASILLA, FOR THE SECOND TIME IN THE POSTSEASON!...…It's now a 5-3 game in the eighth, and Delcarmen starts to bear down in the Red Sox bullpen."

Darling: "This is the same kind of swing he put on the ball in Toronto, Dick. I don't think he's ever going to be a slugger, but even if he can hit the ball out of the park every once in a while, it can add a dimension to his game and make pitchers think twice about how to pitch to him in certain situations."

Kaat: "Dice-K's thrown a lot of pitches, and he's still got Mauer and Morneau to deal with in this inning. Delcarmen better get ready in a hurry."

Mauer walked on five pitches to bring the tying run to the plate, but Dice-K finsihed his evening with a flourish, mowing down a flailing Morneau on three straight fastballs and retiring Young on a pop to third to retire the side. Casilla's two-run homer has drawn the Twins a bit closer, but as we head to the bottom of the eighth they still trail the Red Sox 5-3.

Red Sox 8th: Bay led off against Twins reliever Matt Guerrier. Here's Dick with the count no balls and one strike:

Bay was one of the sparkplugs for the Red Sox against the Angels in the divisional round, going seven for seventeen with two homers and five RIBs, and that's including a hitless performance in five at-bats in Game 3. Tonight he's officially 0 for 1 plus a pair of walks and a run scored. He was supposed to be one of the building blocks for the Pirates, but they couldn't afford to build around him, so here he is in Boston, and they're thrilled to have him, AND THEY'RE THRILLED ABOUT THIS HIT, AS BAY BELTS ONE OVER THE GREEN MONSTER TO MAKE IT 6-3!.......That one got out so fast I didn't even have time for a proper call. Bay touches 'em all for the third time this postseason."

Kaat: "Jason Bay is a textbook example of modern baseball, in that he needed to find the proper venue for his talents. San Diego wasn't it, Pittsburgh wasn't it due to their economic situation, so it looks to be here in Boston, where he's fit perfectly into their lineup and replaced most if not all of the home run power that Manny Ramirez took with him to the Dodgers. "

Kotsay bounced to second for the first out, but Lowrie walked to keep the inning alive. Varitek was next, and he slammed a triple off the Green Monster to bring Lowrie home and put the Sox up 7-3. Ellsbury followed with a lined single to right that scored Varitek to make it 8-3. That finished Guerrier's evening; Dennys Reyes got Pedroia to force Ellsbury for the second out, and Papi went down swinging to end the inning. But the Sox have reinfiorced their lead with three runs on three hits, a walk, and a force play. As we go to the ninth, it's Boston 8, Minnesota 3.

Twins 9th: With one out, first baseman Brian Buscher doubled to left against Delcarmen. Shortstop Matt Tolbert's grounder to first moved Buscher to third, and pinch hitter Jason Kubel (batting for Gomez) lined a base hit to left center, scoring Buscher and bringing the Twins within 8-4. Span's liner was gloved by Kotsay for the last out. Our final: Red Sox 8, Twins 4, and the Red Sox lead the best-of-seven series one game to none.

Dice-K was named Player of the Game by TBS. He pitched eight strong innings, giving up three runs on just five hits while walking three and striking out seven. He threw 117 pitches on the night.

Sorry, but I forgot the totals.

W- Matsuzaka (1-0)
L- Baker (0-1)

HR- MIN: Casilla (1)
BOS; Ortiz (1), Drew (1), Bay (1)

The series will continue with Game 2 tomorrow night here at Fenway Park. First pitch is scheduled for shortly after 8PM Eastern, with Nick Blackburn starting for the Twins and Josh Beckett going to the mound for the Red Sox.

Next: We look at Game 2.

Thoughts?
 
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