This post will serve as the preview to the NLCS; I’ll live blog the thing after the jump.
So when Kaz matsui hit that Grand Slam in game 2 of the NLDS, I could only think of this:
When Donald Trump appeared on a sponsored segment of ESPN’s ”SportsCenter” on June 30, Matsui was hitting .254, appearing anemic at the plate, committing errors at a rapid rate. He was the easiest target imaginable.
The host, Dan Patrick, asked Trump to name the athlete or manager he would most like to fire. Trump stalled for a moment, tried to give a diplomatic answer, then could not help but fire away. ”I would certainly say Kaz Matsui of the Mets has been a bust,” he said. ”There’s no doubt about that.”
I bet Matsui has a clipping of this article in his locker. I would. It goes to show that Trump is just a dick, and he doesn’t know baseball any better than he knows how to run a company with profits with out declaring for bankruptcy (sue me Donald!).
But really, It makes for great baseball blogging to see Matsui come through for one the biggest surprises this off season.
Incidentally, the Dimondbacks capitalized on the amazing pool of talent they have, and they surprised many by reaching the NLCS. In fact, back before the season started, my fellow umpbumpers and I engaged in a little game called “Hot Off-season Action,” where we all scrutinized each team’s off-season moves with an eye on 2007.
One of the teams I wrote about was the D-backs. But before I go dig the Umpbump archives (with our newly-redesigned search function – give it a try!) to find out what I really wrote, I will go out on a limb and say I envisioned the young Rattlesnakers making it this far.
<opens a new tab, goes to the site, searches for “hot offseason action: dimobbacks,” returns>
OK. I was cautious. I praised the team for allowing their young and talented ball-players to develop while trading away costly veterans:
Gone is cult-hero Luis Gonzalez to make room for two promising outfielders, Chris Young and Carlos Quentin. With Quentin’s flashy leather, he’ll take over center field, while local spaz Eric Byrnes shifts to left field.
Out is Craig Counsell at short in favor of Stephen Drew.
But I shied away from making a bold prediction:
Yes, they’re young; yes, they have the O-Dog at second and a promising shortstop, not to mention, promising outfielders, but these D’backs are one or two full seasons away from truly measuring up and contending for the NL West crown as previous generations of Snakes did.
All in all, I have to say I feel good about my pre-season write-up. The Dimondbacks are a good team and they deserve to be in the NLCS.
On to the live blog!
Game hasn’t started! But I will say this. Why Craig Sager? Why?!?!
8:35 Here we go!
8:39 Taveras attempts to bunt for a hit on the first pitch of the game. Man, this is the National League.
8:40 Pre-game notes on Matsui, courtesy Yahoo!: “8 of his 11 career hits against Webb have come off of his outstanding sinker.” He struck out on high cheese.
8:42 Webb retires the side, striking out two. Cy-lock!
8:50 Here we go, Byrnes doubles and Stephen Drew scores from first. Good baseball.
8:53 Inning over. According to the afore-mentioned pre-game notes, Connor Jackson owns Jeff Francis: “Has homered off of every pitch in Francis’ arsenal in his career (2 changeups, 1 curve, 1 fastball).” Time for my bold prediction of the night: He’ll belt a bomb to the right-field bleachers.
8:56 Todd Helton’s first-ever postseason hit.
9:01 Rockies threatening; Tulowitzki at the plate with the bases juiced. Ground-ball double-play. Can’t say that it was an entirely unproductive out; even with two outs, it’s better to tie the game than to try to bring home the spread, and pop-out to short.
9:09 Craig Sager’s suit actually looks normal tonight. Any NBA fan out there knows exactly what I mean.
9:15 That was former D-backs manager Bob Brenly cracking a joke about Brandon Webb’s inability to hit. “He should swing one of those guitars he has laying around the clubhouse if he wants to make contact.” So is that his way of getting back at TBS for making him work a Dimondbacks game?
When Webb kept the at-bat going, Tony Gwynn quipped back, “I think he heard you.”
9:24 Kaz Matsui is clutch. He just blooped a single (after a lengthy at-bat) and Taveras scored from second. FWIT, Matsui’s average in the playoffs .385.
9:27 That Helton fly-out was a base hit in any outfield not patrolled by Chris Young.
9:29 For the second time in the game, the Rockies load the bases on Brandon Webb…
… this time, Brad Hawp comes through with a single and that Francis/Webb match-up all of a sudden isn’t what we thought it was. 4-1 Colorado.
9:45 Nothing doing for the past inning and a half. Webb seems to have settled down, but Francis is cruising.
9:57 Finally, some action. Webb throws a sinker down and in to Helton. From our view, it clearly hit him in the thigh, and after Helton non-nonchalantly starts walking to first, the ump calls him back.
10:05 Just after Webb’s hit, I suddenly realize Bob Brenly has been eerily quiet.
10:13 Dimondbacks get two runners on but fail to capitalize. Even though Francis is keeping the D-backs off the board, I won’t back down from my Connor Jackson home run prediction.
10:21 Kind of hitting a lull here. Webb seems to be running out of gas, but the Rockies hitters can’t figure out his curve.
10:29 Man, funny an Ambien commercial is playing right now. These past two innings have been snoozers. My pick-to-click Matsui, however, has been keeping things moving at second base. He turned a quick double-play ball even after getting run-over the inning before.
10:33 Webb is out to start the 7th; Cruz is in.
10:41 Who’s that running out a grounder misplayed by 1B Connor Jackson, why, Kaz Matsui. A run scored on the play, by the way. 5-1 Rox.
Oh, wha, what? Matsui’s running on the first pitch after the play! He’s safe!
10:44 It’s falling apart for Juan Cruz and the D-Backs. After Holliday walks, Matsui moves to third on the wild pitch. Cruz is out, Slaten is in.
10:47 Helton’s foul-out to end the top of the 7th is a microcosm of this game. Runners in scoring position, and teams not capitalizing. Sure, the Rockies are up 5-1, but they ought to be up 7-1.
10:53 Francis hits Justin Upton. Third player hit by a pitch, but only the first to take a base.
10:56 Upton takes out Matsui on a nasty, hard slide on a grounder to short (second time this happens, see below). Replays show he actually went after Matsui’s knee mid-transfer of the ball; interference is called. Two outs. Again, the Dimondbacks fail to score, this time tough, their runner on third is erased.
10:59 Something’s happening now! Unhappy with the interference call, fans pelt the field with water bottles and paper wrappers. Umpires halt the game, and of course, Rockies manager Clint Hurdle pulls his team off the field, heightening the spectacle. Very crass and tasteless D-Backs fans.
11:02 So the water-bottle pelters are getting booked. Perhaps if the fans showed some blood actually pumps through their veins earlier in the game, the D-Backs would still be in it.
Rockies come back to the field; fans boo senselessly.
11:05 Jeff Cirillo bunts a single down the third-base line and finally, fans come to life to cheer for their team.
11:11 D-Backs respond to their fans, and they load the bases. Remember how the Rockies failed to score? Well, the tying run is at the plate.
11:15 Recurring theme? Stephen Drew flies out to right to end the threat and the inning.
11:21 Dustin Nippert pitching for the D-Backs in the 8th. Another young, talented Dimondbacks player. Too bad the Rockies are on swoon, man, they’re on a roll.
11:25 The broadcast booth keeps talking about the Rox wearing black, sleeveless unis. Here’s some background:
The Rox have won their last six games in black sleeveless jerseys. They switched to the solid black jerseys on Sept. 29, the day after the only loss in the streak — on Sept. 28 to the Diamondbacks.
On Sept. 29th, in their black sleeveless jerseys, they defeated the Diamondbacks 11-1.
And they’ve never looked back, wearing the black sleeveless jerseys in beating the Diamondbacks, the Padres and the Phillies.
“Black sleeveless has been lucky,” said the official, who asked that he not be named because he isn’t the official spokesman.The starting pitcher picks the uniform of the day. But sometimes a pitcher may have a memory lapse, and he is reminded about what’s working, he explained.
It’s working indeed. Bottom of the 8th, Rox up 5-1.
11:30 The home plate ump was mic’d up, and TBS showed him talking about the water bottle incident. “We gotta fight through it” he told Hurdle. Sure I guess, until your right fielder gets knocked out.
Connor Jackson home run watch is over. He singled to center in what seems to be is last at-bat of the game.
11:41 Tony Peña (the pitcher) opens the 9th for the D-Backs. Two douchey dudes in the backstop seats are waving at something. Though distracting, Peña is unfazed, strikes out Sullivan.
11:43 Chip Carey: “These are not your father’s Colorado Rockies.” I don’t get it, I thought the Rox were born in ’93. I mean, sure there’s teenage pregnancies and kids are gettin’ married young-n-all, but c’mon.
I think it was supposed to be a reference to the “Blake Street Bombers“:
1995 playoff run and the opening of Coors Field
Prior to the 1995 season, the Rockies acquired free agent outfielder Larry Walker, previously of the Montreal Expos. He would form the group known as the “Blake Street Bombers” — named after the street on which new ballpark Coors Field was located — along with Galarraga, Bichette, and third baseman Vinny Castilla, who had played sparingly with the major league club the prior season. The quartet combined to hit 139 homers in the 1995 season, with Bichette leading the way with 40 (45 projected over a 162-game season.)
I still don’t get it.
11:48 Bottom of the 9th. Rox closer Manny Corpas comes on. Salazar flies out to deep left. D-Backs down to their last two bullets.
11:50 Augie Ojeda is as tall as I am. Meaning I would look very small in that batter’s box. He also grounded out to second. Two down.
11:51 What an anti-climatic way to end it! Miguel Montero slaps a double against the left-field wall, but he over-slides second base! Of course, Kaz Matsui tags him for the third out, and to end the game. Lame!
Well, what to say about this game. Jeff Francis was able to keep the D-Backs from scoring (or they kept themselves from scoring) and Brandon Webb wasn’t as sharp as his Cy-Young award would lead you to believe. The Rox could’ve scored more, but the D-Backs ability to choke with runners in scoring position let them off the hook. Here’s hoping the Rox wear black sleeveless unis next time around.
That’s it! Thanks for reading! Rox win 5-1