If St. Louis was going to have a chance to win their Division Series battle with heavily favored Philadelphia, they needed their offense to break out, and when Lance Berkman hit a three-run shot off Roy Halladay in the first inning of yesterday’s first game, the door was open for the Cards to play their game. But Halladay settled down and didn’t allow another run through eight. And that questionable Phils offense piled up 11 runs. Everyone produced and Ryan Howard drove in four, but one of the things that caught my eye was that Shane Victorino, who spent all of September in a terrible slump, opened up with three hits. The Phils were put into the kind of game they would have preferred to stay away from and still won.
When Milwaukee started the season, they were seen as a team who if they could just make the playoffs, had a powerful 1-2 punch in the starting lineup with Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder and a great 1-2 punch at the top of the rotation with Yovani Gallardo and Zack Greinke that could carry them. So far, so good. Braun had three hits, Fielder hit a two-run homer and Gallardo went eight strong innings in a 4-1 win to open the series.
Can we please stop calling Tampa Bay starter James Shields “Big Game James”? The only reason he got the nickname was that a former teammate used to be a Los Angeles Lakers fan in the 1980s when James Worthy had that nickname and the teammate just passed it on. Shields had a chance to put Texas behind the eight-ball yesterday and instead gave up seven runs in five innings. The Rangers almost coughed up the 7-3 lead when they insisted on pitching Koji Uehara for an inning, who promptly gave up a three-run shot to Evan Longoria, but the Texas relief trio of Darren Oliver, Mike Adams and Neftali Feliz delivered three frames of no-hit ball to close the 8-6 win.
In the Bronx, Ian Nova and Doug Fister were the #2 starters who’d pitched well during the regular season and had to answer questions about their readiness for prime-time. Nova, the Yankee rookie was ready and went 6.1 strong innings, while Fister got lit up in a 9-3 loss. Robinson Cano hit a grand slam and drove in six runs, and Derek Jeter continued his strong post-All Star break play with a couple hits.
Today, the Yanks-Tigers play Game 2 at 3 PM ET and then it’s the National League in the prime slots. It’s Brewers-Diamondbacks at 5 PM ET, a game that conflicts with Packers-Broncos for the good people of Wisconsin. Then the Cards meet the Phillies at 8 PM ET. Notable today is that Milwaukee and St. Louis each send aces out there on short rest, in Greinke and Chris Carpenter.