ST. LOUIS’ DEPTH STUNS PHILADELPHIA
The short rest starters in the National League didn’t fare too well yesterday as Chris Carpenter of St. Louis and Zack Greinke of Milwaukee got hit hard and chased early. But it didn’t stop their teams from still getting Game 2 wins, and the biggest stunner was the Cards rally from 4-0 down to top Cliff Lee in Philadelphia.
As Philadelphia rang up three runs in the first, I was already thinking that it was time to get Carpenter out of there. While St. Louis certainly didn’t want to go down 0-2, they did have two home games ahead of them and could win those, then bring back Carpenter on short rest again for Game 5. Tony LaRussa did indeed pull him and the veteran skipper did what he does best and that’s mix and match relievers the rest of the way. St. Louis got six innings of shutout work from six different relievers. The Cards got plenty of contributions from the lesser-known names of their attack as well. While Albert Pujols drove in the game-winner in the 5-4 final, St. Loo also got big hits from Ryan Theriot and John Jay and stole a win on the road.
All in all, it was tough day to be a Philadelphia sports fan. The baseball and football stadiums are situated side-by-side, so I’m guessing there were quite a few fans who left the Eagles game, tailgated a couple more hours and then went into watch the Phils. They got two blown leads for their trouble.
It was a great day—indeed a great weekend to be a Wisconsin sports fan and the media certainly picked up on this theme starting Saturday night with Wisconsin’s 48-17 thumping of Nebraska and rolling into Sunday. While the Packers were continuing to win, the Brewers moved out to 2-0 lead against Arizona in the Division Series, the only of the four matchups where one team has won both games. Ryan Braun has gotten himself very comfortable in postseason play with his second straight three-hit game. Greinke left after five in a 4-4 game, and Milwaukee broke it open with five in the sixth to win 9-4.
Postseason experience proved to be overrated in the Bronx. Max Scherzer made his first playoff start for Detroit and tossed six shutout innings, including the shutting down of A-Rod, who hasn’t had a hit in the first two games and is undoubtedly further endearing himself to New York fans. Veteran Freddy Garcia didn’t pitch badly, but Miguel Cabrera beat him early with a home run, tacked on two more hits while Magglio Ordonez also had three hits and the Tigers won 5-3. Both Ordonez and Yankee DH Jorge Posada have swung the bat well the first two games after regular seasons that signify their imminent retirement.
Each series now has two games under its belt, and the deadlocked AL matchups continue tonight at new venues. Tampa-Texas hook up in the Trop where Colby Lewis goes for the Rangers and David Price pitches for the Rays. I like the decision by Ron Washington to move Lewis up for what looked to be an originally scheduled Game 4 start. He’s a gamer, as proved by his two wins in last year’s LCS and Texas’ best shot to get the series back to Arlington for a Game 5 on Thursday. That game starts at 5 PM ET and then in the 8:30 PM nightcap it’s Justin Verlander-CC Sabathia Part II, This Time We Really Mean It, from Detroit. After the aces were shut down by rain in the second inning of Game 1, they each get the start tonight.
MONDAY NIGHT PREVIEW: INDY-TAMPA BAY
Welcome to the NFL, Curtis Painter. Well not literally, but at least welcome to your first NFL start. Nothing like being on Monday Night on the road against an improving team that would surely love to make a national statement and more importantly, keep pace with New Orleans in the NFC South. That’s what Tampa Bay is bringing to the table tonight when they face Indianapolis.
Kerry Collins isn’t healthy, but reports indicate that head coach Jim Caldwell is giving up on the vet as a short-term fix while Peyton Manning is out. Whatever the implications of that decision, Painter is not ready to be a starting quarterback in this league and a Tampa defense that spent all of last Sunday in Matt Ryan’s face should be equally nasty with Painter. The Buc secondary is beatable, but you have to be able to run the ball and get some pass protection to keep them at bay and I don’t see either one happening tonight. I’m looking for that Tampa front four led by young Gerald McCoy and Adrian Clayborn to have a big night and give their offense every chance to win.
Indianapolis can still pressure the passer on the edge, bringing Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis, but Tampa’s offense has what’s necessary to neutralize that. Josh Freeman can hit Kellen Winslow over the middle quickly and they can run the ball inside with LeGarrette Blount. As a disclaimer, Blount isn’t off to the greatest of starts this year, but I’m guessing that some running games will bloom a little later because of the lockout and I see Blount having a good game running between the tackles tonight.
Normally an AFC-NFC game isn’t all that huge in the big picture, but I think this one is for Tampa. They simply have to take care of a home game against what’s become a hapless team and I think they will do just that.