Tagged: MLB

Giants Prove Larger Than The “Bird”

My congratulations go out to the San Francisco Giants to overcome a 3-1 series deficit to take the NLCS Championship 2012.  Now … a days rest for the team, and a day to celebrate for the fans, to prepare for the incoming Detroit Tigers for the World Series.  I believe this is a “first” in MLB-NLCS postseason play for a team to comeback three games for “winner take all”.  So on two levels ~ the Giants have much to celebrate.

The Cardinals downfall, as it were, was not taking Game 4 at home. These past two games, being in AT&T Park ~ their hearts were just not in it. One could just tell by their demeanor first facing Giants Vogelsong, then Matt Cain … forces that were too strong for them to play good ball against. The outcome was “just not in the Cards”.  However, the Cardinals came a long way to achieve the position in which they ended their season. Manager Matheny and team can be proud of their accomplishments for the 2012 season ~ by far, nothing to be ashamed about. It is what it is and now to see the NL San Francisco Giants take on the Detroit Tigers, who are coming off five days of rest as they travel today to the West coast.

As much as it was Giants Vogelsong’s great pitching efforts in Game 6 ~ Matt Cain did what he needed to do last night in Game 7 with an added touch shutting out the Cardinals, 9-0.  No, Cain did not go seven innings, only 5.2. Even though, he only allow the Cardinals five hits, gave them a walk, along with four strike-outs. The relief pitchers held right with Cain’s efforts holding the Cardinals with only two additional hits ~ but all held them to no runs.

The Giants swatted Cardinals SP Lohse around as much as they had SP Chris Carpenter the night before.  Lohse was retired after two+ innings, followed by Joe Kelly who was just as ineffective on the mound. The Giants at bat, once again striking in the first inning taking a 1-0 lead. Seemed like a carbon-copy game of the night before. Obviously, the Giants didn’t stop there with a total of five runs against Lohse, adding four more against the Cardinals relief. They had a team effort at the plate with RBI’s by the “Panda” Sandoval, Cain, Pence (2), Crawford, Pagan, and Huff.  They added a run on an error by CF John Jay and Belt had a solo home run in the eighth.

The Giants simply ~ outplayed the Cardinals in the last three games. I believe they were “hungrier” for a championship and it showed in their execution not only at the plate, but defensively.  They are contenders, as they have proven.

Now to face Detroit. Will be interesting to see if the Giants retain their strength and intensity. Tigers SP Justin Verlander, 17-8/2.64 is scheduled for Games 1 and 5 for the World Series.  He is the Tigers’ bullet on the mound. At present, the Giants have not posted who will begin this series.  We know it won’t be Vogelsong or Cain for Game 1, possibly Bumgarner, 16-4/3.37….or Zito 15-8/4.15.  But who will be the chosen Giants’ SP for Game 5.  And, will the Giants manager Bruce Bochy hold with the line-up he scheduled for the NLCS to face the Tigers.

To both the Detroit Tigers and the San Francisco Giants congratulations on making the 2012 World Series. For tomorrow ~ let the games begin.

To the fans of each ~ enjoy your respective teams … win, lose or draw ~ quite the feat to be two of the best.

On a personal note ~ my interest now can fully be on the Chicago Bears who beat the Detroit Lions last night, 13-7 … even with Lion’s Suh trying his best to take out Bears QB Cutler.  Reportedly, bruised Cutler’s ribs … but stayed in the game to guide the Bears to a win.  This was the first, in six meetings of the teams, to play at Soldier field for Monday Night Football.  The Bears now go to 5-1, reducing the Lions to 2-4.  Next on the Bears schedule, they will host Carolina on Sunday.

Life is good.  In baseball, I’m sure we will see movement of players as it seems more common for the sport …. planning to boost one’s team to get ready for next season.

To all ~ have a great day.  Always ~ Elichap

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Cardinals Get Help From The Giants

Yes, the Cardinals made it in to post season playoffs with the help from the Giants defeating the LA Dodgers. The Dodgers have been threatening for the past 6 games to overtake St. Louis. And before game times yesterday, there were still five questionable endings as to who would be in the playoffs.  Not so much in the NL, but in the AL.  However, once all was done ~ the A’s, Yankees and Tigers were crowned as Champs of their respective divisions.  In the NL, really no surprises with the Nationals, Reds and Giants taking their respective division titles.

The Cardinals wrapping up their series with the Reds in Busch Stadium ~ euphoria overtook the stadium, with a win, 1-0.  Cardinals manager Matheny held out seven of the regulars. Where as Reds manager Dusty Baker played his regulars in the game. It was Cardinals SP Shelby Miller on the mound against Reds SP Bailey.  A standoff at “OK Corral”!  Until the 8th inning, with a RBI by Cardinals Matt Carpenter for the one run.  Cardinals CP Jason Motte came in for the save.  Mood point, maybe ~ but the final game of the season … now the Cardinals team and fans could truly celebrate their advancement to the playoffs.

The Cardinals travel to Atlanta to take on the Braves.  Wild Card 2.  Cardinals SP Kyle Lohse, 16-3/2.86 will be up against Braves Medlin, 10-1/1.57.  Importance = “One and done”.   The Cardinals and the Braves last meeting, May 11-13, the Braves swept the Cards in their three game series.  The Cardinals’ mindset has to be “absolute” for their payback ~ if they want to advance to defend their title … it’s a must win. Playing in the Braves home part will not make it any easier.  The Braves have been contenders throughout the season, and they too will be looking to advance.  And I’m sure Braves Chipper Jones would enjoy another try for a World Series ring.

Out West, Thursday night in their WC game, will be the Texas Rangers hosting the Baltimore Orioles at Arlington Stadium. The Rangers SP Darvish, 16-9/3.90 will be up against ~ yet TBD by the Orioles.  This will be the third season in a row the Rangers have had a chance for the World Series … is there true lucky number ~ 3.

The excitement continues into our post season ~ new teams in the mix is good to see.  To all ~ enjoy!

Always, Elichap

Cardinals Had A Field Day

The St. Louis Cardinals hosting the Washington Nationals ~ first game of their series last night.  What a game for the Cards and their fans.  It was a hit fest and a walk in the park.

The Nationals took the lead with a RBI by LaRoche off Cardinals SP Adam Wainwright. Nationals SP Edwin Jackson took the mound and the Cards showed no mercy in the bottom of the first. The Cardinals put up 5 RBI’s in the first by Craig, Molina, Beltran, Descalso and Kozma. At the close of the  first inning ~ the Nat’s were looking at a 5-1 deficit. Wainwright did his job in the second to hold the lead. Then to add “salt to the wound” for Jackson in the second ~ the Cardinals did not let up. Matt Holliday and Allen Craig added two more RBI’s with Yadier Molina getting a two run homer pushing his HR record to 22. Cardinals now with a healthy lead, 9-1. It was not a night that the Nationals SP Edwin Jackson wants to remember … or repeat.  He was stepped down with only 1.1 innings pitched allowing 6 hits, 9 runs with one unearned, adding 4 walks and he had no strike outs.

The packed stadium* was estatic with their home team taking over the game from the NL East leaders.  However, the game quieted to the normal up at bat and out, until the 8th inning with Nationals CP Gonzales taking the mound. Once again the Cardinals kicked in gear with 3 hits and adding 3 runs ~ RBI by Matt Carpenter and a two run homer by Shane Robinson.

Cardinals SP Adam Wainwright had a very good night, only allowing the Nat’s 5 hits, 1 run, with 1 walk and 5 strike outs.  The Nationals did add one more run with a homer by Bernadina on a 1-1 count off Cardinals RP Joe Kelly in the top of the seventh.  Even though, the Cardinals took full advantage of the Nat’s bullpen taking the win, 12-2.

Even with the loss for the Nationals ~ they hold steady with their lead by four over the Braves in their division. The NY Mets handed the Braves a loss, 3-1.  With the LA Dodgers shutting out the Rockies, 8-0, the Cardinals still hold a 3 game lead for the WC2 position. The Brewers who made a excellent charge for a WC position, but with a loss to the Astros, 7-6, are now five behind the Cardinals. So as it goes in baseball ~ it is what it was and today is a brand new day.

In second game with the Nationals, it will be Cardinals SP Kyle Lohse, 16-3/2.77 up against the Nationals SP Zimmerman, 12-8/2.90.  With only five games remaining in our regular season ~ keeping the mindset and nose to the grindstone is of the up-most importance coming down the stretch.

A special note and congratulations to Cincinnati Reds SP Homer Bailey. He added his name to this season’s no-hitter list being the seventh to do so. They are in a series against the Pirates. Bailey only had 1 walk and added 10 strike outs to his stats against 27 at bats for the Pirates yesterday.  The Reds won, 1-0.  Even though, the Pirates did well to hold the Reds to only one run.  That in itself is quite a feat.

*The fans broke a record ~ as of last night’s game, over 3 million! have attended the Cardinals games at Busch Stadium.

To all ~ enjoy your games.  Have a great day!  Always, Elichap

The Cardinals Are Inching Along – Steady As They Go

The Cardinals have won four of their last six games.  They split their previous four game series with the Dodgers and have taken the first two games of three from the Astros. In last night’s game, Cardinals SP Lance Lynn had another great night on the mound. Even better than his last appearance with his shutout last night in his 6.1 innings ~ only allowing the Astros 3 hits and struck out five at the plate.  With help from the offense ~ a two run homer by David Freese, solo home run by Yadier Molina, giving each their 20th this season. Cardinals added RBI’s from Matt Holliday and Allen Craig.  Lynn gets his 16th win and CP Jason Motte got his 37th save, 5-0 win over the Astros. This puts the Cardinals two ahead of the Dodgers, and holding the Brewers at 2.5 for the WC #2.

This afternoon’s game will wrap-up their short home stand with Cardinals SP Jamie Garcia, 4-7/4.24 against the Astros Bud Norris, 5-12/4.24.  Norris has been effective against the Cardinals, so we will see how the Cards handle their nemesis.

Tomorrow will begin with the Cardinals back on the road for six games before finishing their season at home for six hosting the Nationals, followed by the Reds.  Tomorrow at Wrigley field to face the Cubs will be SP Chris Carpenter’s debut this season. The “Carp” is returning from his lengthy rehab from his Tommy John’s surgery.  What a welcome this will be for the Cardinals … timing is perfect with a mild slump in recent games for the pitching line-up. I hope he does well on the mound, but more importantly ~ very nice to have him back and exciting to see him pitch again.  He will be up against Cubs Chris Volstad, 3-10/6.26.  As much as the Cardinals have had their pitching woes…so have the Cubs.  However….the rivalry between the two teams lives on ~ so the Cardinals can not take them for granted even with their record at 58-91.

The storm front that hit the Chicago area Monday which the Cubs playing the Pirates opted to play after an approximate four hour delay ~ moved to the East coast by Tuesday.  The Nationals, Yankees and the Mets had their games postponed. Since the Mets – Phillies played Monday, their make-up game will be today.   Double-headers were scheduled yesterday for both the Nationals – Dodgers, who split, and the Yankees – Blue Jays…Yanks winning both their games. All will play today to end their respective three game series.

On the heels of the Yankees, the Orioles sit a bare .5 behind in the AL East. The Orioles are leading the WC race in the AL along with the Oakland A’s. LA Angels are 3.5 games behind with the Tigers sitting at 5.  Even though … The A’s are only 4 games out of the AL West leader, the Rangers.  Tigers even closer to the White Sox, who are leading the AL Central, only by two games. There still are interesting possibilities that could occur within the 13 games left to be played.

In the NL, the Nationals – East, Reds – Central and the Giants – West …. have nothing to really be concerned about with all teams playing well right now.  Even though, the Nationals want to keep heads up ~ the Braves are only 5 games back.

We have a solid schedule to be played in the next 13 days ~ who will be “on first”.

To all ~ enjoy.  Always, Elichap

Cardinals ~ Never Lose Hope, Wait Another Day for The Chicago Bears

As the NL wild card race heats up, with the LA Dodgers sitting one behind the St Louis Cardinals prior to last night’s game…followed by the Pirates, Brewers and the Phillies in the hunt.

The Cardinals are playing the Dodgers with the first of a four game series won by the Cardinals, 2-1.  Their win saves their lead in the race, but still by a slim margin. Nothing to be comfortable with, yet.

The pitching of both teams … pretty evenly matched. Cardinals pitcher Lance Lynn was moved back into their line-up.  With waning pitching performance by the starting pitchers, Lynn was reinstated from the bullpen to replace SP Jake Westbrook, who is the day-to-day DL with a strained right oblique.  Lynn has had his pitching woes as well in recent outings.  However, he did his job last night on the mound ~ kept the Dodgers to 5 hits, allowed 1 earned run on a RBI by A. Gonzalez in the first, but settled in and had seven strike-outs through his six innings.

Dodgers SP J. Beckett, for his 5.1 innings ~ allowed 7 hits, 1 run on Schumaker’s RBI in the second, and had 6 strike outs.  Game tied 1-1, RP Paco Rodriguez followed Beckett giving up the leading run for the Cardinals, with a RBI by Craig in the seventh.

Cardinals RP’s Mujica, Boggs and CP Jason Motte did an excellent job in holding the Dodgers to their one run….giving Lynn (15-7) the win and Motte his 34th save.  Dodgers P Rodriguez (0-1) for the loss.

The Cardinals put their team 2 ahead of the Dodgers with the win, Pirates at 3, Brewers 3.5 and the Phillies at 4.  Now is the time for St Louis to increase their lead even more over the Dodgers…keeping those in the hunt at bay. For tonight’s game, it will be Cardinals SP Joe Kelly (5-6/3.51) against the Dodgers Chris Capuano (11-10/3.59).

Other teams of interest … both the Orioles and Yankees won, keeping the AL East division tie going.  The Chicago White Sox were looking to take two of their four game series against the Detroit Tigers in their final game yesterday, but the game was postponed. The WS sit only one ahead of the Tigers in the AL Central … the make-up game is scheduled for Sept. 17th, this coming Monday afternoon in Chicago. In the AL West, the Rangers lost to the Indians. However the A’s lost to the LA Angels….so the Rangers still remain three up on the A’s.

Very few baseball teams played yesterday, which is not uncommon for a Thursday. Since our NFL season has begun…we will have a few more Thursday night games to watch.  And last night’s match between the rivals of the Chicago Bears vs. the Green Bay Packers ~ still leaves the Pack with a 5-0 lead over the Bears in their last five games … and still the Bears have not won a night game against the Pack since 1991!  No…Bear fans did not walk away with bragging rights as Green Bay won, 23-10. The Packers definitely closed the “eye-of-needle” for Cutler last night, as much as the Bears offensive line did little to protect him. It is what it was. However ~ they will meet again….but the Bears have a lot of improving to do.

To all ~ enjoy your day right into the weekend.  Always ~ Elichap

R.A. Dickey Again ~ Shuts The Door on the Cardinals.

On June 2nd, the Cardinals were in New York for a four game series.  They faced Mets SP R.A. Dickey for the first time.  Dickey proved his power over the Cards with a shutout, 5-0, in his complete game only allowing 7 hits with adding 9 strike outs to his stats.

In yesterday’s game ~ Dickey did not pitch a complete game nor was it a shutout.  Dickey allowed eight hits, but the Cardinals could only put two runs on the board during his 6.2 innings.   However, the Mets offense, which included a three run homer by Ike Davis, was more than helpful yesterday for Dickey.  The Mets took the win, 6-2, and kept the Cardinals from a sweep in their three game series.  The Mets did most of their damage off of Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright (13-12), who allowed five runs and eight hits in five innings.  Even though Wainwright was not at the top of his pitching game ~ he gave the Cardinals their first score with a home run off Dickey in the third inning.

Dickey has become the first to reach 18 wins in the league for this season, and the first since 1990 for the Mets.  During that season, two Mets SP’s Frank Viola (20-12) and Dwight Gooden (19-7) reached that level during that season.  He has five more starts and hopeful to reach 20….and with his finesse, I’m sure he will accomplish his goal.  R. A. is in the running for this season’s Cy Young Award.

Wrapping up the series with the Mets, the Cardinals will host the Milwaukee Brewer’s in Busch Stadium with a three game series beginning tomorrow.  In their last meeting in Milwaukee, the Cardinals managed one of their very few sweeps of the season.   Cardinals SP Kyle Lohse (14-2/2.81) is scheduled against Brewer’s Yovani Gallarrdo (14-8/3.79).

With 25 games left to play ~ In the NL, the Atlanta Braves (77-60) and the St. Louis Cardinals (74-63) still are holding the Wild Card positions with the LA Dodgers (73-65) and Pittsburgh Pirates (72-64) tied at 1.5 behind.   In the AL race … the Baltimore Orioles and the Oakland A’s, both (76-60) hold the Wild Card positions, followed by the Tampa Bay Rays (75-62) at 1.5 and the LA Angels (74-63) at 2.5.

The Cardinals still have a lot a work ahead of them. Of late, their starting pitcher’s have been less effective and the offense in general has been unable to back them up.  Their concentration has to stay on the Wild Card bid.  For the moment, the Cardinals need to forget about closing the gap on the NL Central leader, Cincinnati Reds who have an 8.5 game lead (83-55).  The Reds have been playing very strong ball, and unless they hit a major speed-bump, are they going to let up.  The Cardinals need to step up to the plate and take the games they are capable of winning.  Strong mind-set is needed between now and the end of the season.  Their last six games at home on the schedule, Sept 28-30 the Nationals. Oct. 1-3, they will host the Reds ~ then they will have to be absolute and commanding.

All in all ~ baseball outcomes are not in stone.  There is much to be done, and much to overcome for many teams….one game at a time.

For all ~ enjoy your day as well as your games.  Off the cuff ~ a surprise ending for the NY Giants in the season opener last night against the Dallas Cowboys.  The Cowboys rode right over the Giants with a win, 24-17.  So it begins ~ and NFL Sunday just a few short days away!!

Always, Elichap

 

The Cardinals Prove, They Still Have Life

Oh ~ the sweet sound of victory, the ending of a losing streak, getting a handle on the opposing team, no more mister nice-guy and giving the opposing team a run for their money.  That’s what the Cardinals achieved in yesterday’s game against the Nationals.

Even so, the Cardinals had to rise to occasion with hard work that proved to be successful.  But ~ the Nationals did not lay down and roll over.  A very close game and an exciting finish for the Cardinals in their 10-9 win.

Cardinals Kyle Lohse started on the mound and the beginning was pretty much as it had been for the Nationals, taking over in the first with 4 runs on RBI’s by LaRoche, Desmond and K. Suzuki ~ one which was on an error by LF Holliday.  I thought ~ we just can’t have another repeat….the Cardinals are making it too easy.  It’s not like the Nationals have never lost a game with 52 losses, so they had been vulnerable in previous outings.  The Cardinals had to find it ~ or relax and play the game they know how to play.  That they did ~ taking no prisoners yesterday!

Thanks to great offense and defense, which they Cardinals have shown all season ~ yesterday, they shrugged off their sluggishness and got it back.  They started slowly in the second, with a two run homer by David Freese off a 2-2 count from Nationals SP Zimmerman. The Nationals rallied back by putting two more runs on the board to hold the lead in the bottom of the second.  Then the Cardinals began to make their move … top of third ~ Holliday hits a two run homer on an 0-0 count closing the score gap.  Into the fourth, Matt Carpenter hit a double with a 3 run RBI.  And, Craig singled which allowed another runner in. The Cardinals take the lead, 8-6.  A quiet fifth inning, and seemed the Cardinals had cooled down a bit the top of the sixth. The Nationals rallied in the bottom of the inning with Espinosa getting a home run on 0-1 count off Lohse.  The Nationals added a couple of RBI’s ~ one by SP Zimmerman ~ which quieted the Cardinal fans that were in attendance ~ taking back the lead by one.  This was the last chance for the Nationals as they were held at 9 runs.  The Cardinals came back in the eighth to tie with a single RBI by Beltran. Once again, the hometown boy ~ David Freese ~ had a single RBI in the ninth to take the lead.

Cardinals RP Boggs got the win and CP Motte had his 32nd save, with a 4-4 W/L.  The SP’s were tested on both teams.  Cardinals Lohse, 5.2 IP, allowed 9 hits, 8 runs, 5 errors, no walks and 4 strike outs putting his season ERA at 2.81.  For the Nationals, Zimmerman was taken out early pitching only 3.2 innings.  He allowed 8 hits, 8 runs/errors, 1 walk, and only 3 strike outs. His ERA, 3.01.

This slugfest of the day gave fans quite the game to watch, and a lot holding their breath to see if their Cardinals were up to the task of the day.   The team proved they were, even with a couple of errors, to come out on top.  Hopefully this will be the push the Cardinals needed to play the game as we know they are capable.  In today’s final game of the four game series, SP’s will be Cardinals Jake Westbrook (13-10/3.94) against one of the few scheduled appearance until post season, Nationals Stephen Strasburg (15-6/3.05).  Westbrook is looking to improve his performance today as he was handed a loss by the Pirates in the first shutout game handed to the Cardinals in their previous series.

The Brewers, once again, helped the Cardinals with their win yesterday over the Pirates, 3-2.  However, the Dodgers held on to take the win over the Diamondbacks, 2-1.  This puts both the Pirates and the Dodgers 1.5 behind the Braves and the Cardinals in the NL Wild Card race.  In the AL, the A’s and the Orioles remain at the top of the standings for the Wild Card position, with the Rays 1.5 and the Tigers 2 behind the leaders.  Over the last couple of days, the AL teams have put a bit of breathing room in their standings for the Wild Card.

As it goes in baseball ~ it’s not over until it’s over.  Seemingly with only 30 games left in the scheme of the full 162 ~ not many left to play.  However, much can change in the next few remaining weeks.  The excitement continues.

To all ~ enjoy your games…with a bit of NFL preseason still being played.  Ah, sports ~ always something of interest.  Have a great day ~ Always, Elichap