NLCS Game 6: Giants 3, Phillies 2 (Giants win series 4-games-2)
The Giants scratched out enough runs again in a hostile environment to defeat the Phillies 3-2 to eliminate the former back-to-back NL champs and punch their own ticket to the Fall Classic against the Rangers.

Juan Uribe hit a go-ahead solo home run in the top of the eighth inning off Phillies reliever Ryan Madson to give the Giants a 3-2 lead that held up as the winning run. This coming from a guy who was hitting under .100 this postseason and off of a pitcher that has been stellar for Philadelphia up until tonight. This all after the Giants had tied the game in the third inning off of another Phillies either as Aubrey Huff scored when Buster Posey‘s slow roller to third base gave Polanco trouble as he threw wildly to first base, hit the runner and got away from Ryan Howard to allow Huff to score and tie it. The Phillies showed shoddy defense all series.

The other aspect that has to be talked about for the Giants in Game 6 was the fantastic pitching by the bullpen. After Jonathan Sanchez left following 2.0-plus innings of work, the bullpen took over to shut down Philadelphia the rest of the way. Jeremy Affeldt, Madison Bumgarner, Javier Lopez, Tim Lincecum and Brian Wilson worked the rest of the game allowing no runs. Lincecum even picked up a hold! Wilson came on and worked a five-out save and got Ryan Howard to strikeout looking with two runners on in an epic at-bat to end the game and the Phillies season. Lopez picked up the win and Wilson earned his third save of the season. Cody Ross picked up NLCS MVP honors, but no one would have complained had it gone to Wilson and his beard instead.

Phillies starter Roy Oswalt was good, but not terrific as he scattered nine hits over 6.0 innings allowing two runs (one earned) with five strikeouts. Oswalt gave way to Madson, who gave up the home run to Uribe in his second inning of work for the loss. It was the first run allowed all postseason by Madson…and couldn’t have come at a worse time.

The Giants continue to win tight ball games, string together just enough runs and pitch the lights out on the road, at home, anywhere to advance to their first World Series since 2002 in the post-Bonds era. You can’t say enough about how difficult of a performance it was for them to go into a hostile environment like a rockin’ house in Philly, take your starter out in third inning and still rally for the victory. Unbelievable stuff right there.

Cliff Lee versus Tim Lincecum Wednesday night for Game 1. Wow, I can’t wait for this series.


NLCS Game 5: Phillies 4, Giants 2
Well it wasn’t pretty, but on a soggy, strange night in San Francisco, Roy Halladay out dueled Tim Lincecum in round 2 to defeat the Giants, 4-2, and send the series back to Philadelphia. The Giants lead the series 3 games to 2.

The Phillies took advantage of suspect defense and a missed foul call on a Halladay bunt to score three runs in the top of the third inning and never gave up that lead behind Halladay and stellar work for their bullpen. Despite giving up a run in the first inning and looking visibly angry at the umpire, Halladay settled down to go 6.0 innings with two runs allowed on six hits, two walks and five strikeouts for the win. Ryan Madson struck out the side in the eighth inning and Brad Lidge worked his first save of the series with a 1-2-3 ninth inning.

The Phillies opened the third with a single and a hit by pitch with Halladay coming to the plate. He attempted a bunt that hit home plate and rolled back, but was ruled a fair ball by the umpire. Posey picked it up and fired to first to almost nab Ibanez at third, but Sandoval missed the bag with his foot. With runners on third and second with one out, Victorino hit a line drive to first where Aubrey Huff misplayed off his glove and caromed into right field as both runs scored. Polanco singled in the next at-bat to score Victorino to give the Phillies a 3-1 lead.

Jayson Werth added a solo home run, his second of the series, to provide an insurance run in the top of the ninth inning. The Phillies were actually out-hit in this one, 7-6.

Lincecum went 7.0 innings, but allowed three runs (two earned) on four hits, one walk and seven strikeouts to get tagged with the loss.

The teams will meet Saturday night back in Philadelphia for Game 6. Can the Giants win one game in Philly to clinch a spot in the Fall Classic? They will turn to Jonathan Sanchez to try in Game 6 against Roy Oswalt.

Courtesy of FanGraphs, here’s the win probability chart from last night’s NLCS Game 4:

Can you say roller coaster of a game?

ALCS Game 5: Yankees 7, Rangers 2
C.C. Sabathia halted the Rangers from celebrating in Yankee Stadium as he held the Rangers offense in check as the Yankees survived for at least another day, winning Game 5 by the score of 7-2.

Sabathia wasn’t particularly sharp as he scattered 11 hits over 6.o innings of work, but only allowed two runs while walking zero and striking out seven. Kerry Wood and Mariano Rivera combined for a scoreless three innings to send the series back to Texas for Game 6. The Yankees bats used the home run ball in this one to lead the way as Nick Swisher and Robinson Cano led off the bottom of the third with back-to-back home runs off Texas starter CJ Wilson. Curtis Granderson added his first jack of the postseason and finished 3-for-4 with a HR, double and two RBI on the night.

Just like the regular season, Cano has been a beast this postseason and Girardi finally decided to move him up in the order to the three hole. Even though the only reason he finally made the move was due to Teixeira’s injury that has him sidelined for the remainder of the playoffs. Cano is hitting .387 with four home runs in the postseason, with all the homers coming in the ALCS.

Backup catcher Mike Treanor provided the only two runs for Texas in this game with a solo home run in the fifth inning and an RBI groundout in the sixth. With the 13 hits they came up with in the game, they left eight on base including six in scoring position. Texas out-hit the Yankees 13-9 despite only scoring two runs.

The teams have today off and will travel to Texas for Game 6 Friday night where Phil Hughes head to the mound against Rangers starter Colby Lewis.

NLCS Game 4: Giants 6, Phillies 5
This back-and-forth affair ended with Juan Uribe‘s game-winning sacrifice fly to score Aubrey Huff in the bottom of the ninth to give the Giants a 3-games-to-1 series lead on Philadelphia. The game saw four lead changes and ended up with Phillies starter Roy Oswalt on the mound after both starters failed to go at least 5.0 innings.

Buster Posey had a big night with four hits, two doubles and two runs batted in and a great tag to nail Carlos Ruiz at the plate in the fifth inning. Posey’s now hitting .344 in his first postseason.

Though the big hit of the game for San Fran came in the bottom of the sixth after the Phillies had taken a 4-3 lead, Pablo Sandoval ripped a double to center field that scored Burrell and Ross to give the Giants the lead. The Phillies tied it in the eighth inning after two back-to-back doubles by Ryan Howard and Jayson Werth, but it just set the stage for the G-men in the ninth. With one out and Oswalt pitching, Huff singled and Posey followed with a single, moving Huff to third. Uribe came up and ripped a 1-2 pitch into left field for the game-winning sac fly.

The Phillies face elimination tonight in San Francisco as it’s a rematch of the most hyped pitching matchup in a long time of Roy Halladay against Tim Lincecum. Lincecum won the first one and the Phillies not only need this game, but will be pitching Halladay until his arm falls off with the way their bullpen took a hit last night.

NLCS Game 3: Giants 3, Phillies 0
The pitching performances this postseason has been something to watch. To quote a McDonald’s slogan—I’m lovin’ it. The Giants returned home to AT&T Park and greeted the fans with a three-hit shutout of the Phillies to take control of the series 2-games-to-1.

Matt Cain, one of the most underrated pitchers in the game, started for the Giants and mowed down the Phils for two hits and three walks through 7.0 innings of work. He struck out five batters, allowed no runs and picked up the victory. Javier Lopez pitched a scoreless eighth inning and closer Brian Wilson shut the door on Philadelphia in the ninth. The Phillies offense only had three hits…three measly singles.

The Giants offense only mustered five hits against Cole Hamels, but it was enough to scratch three runs out. Cody Ross and Aubrey Huff had back-to-back RBI singles in the fourth inning and Aaron Rowand scored in the sixth on a Chase Utley error to make it 3-0. Hamels struck out six batters, but only went 6.0 innings and allowed three runs on five hits.

Tonight, the Giants will turn to their rookie starter Madison Bumgarner against the Phillies Joe Blanton, who’s making his first start in the playoffs as his only appearance this year was 1.0 inning of work against Atlanta where he allowed two runs. This could be a huge game for Bumgarner and the Giants to go up 3-1 in the series with Roy Halladay scheduled to pitch against Lincecum in Game 5 before possibly returning to Philadelphia for Game 6 and 7.

ALCS Game 4: Rangers 10, Yankees 3
This is pretty much what I expected from an AJ Burnett start in the postseason. Burnett has not been a very good pitcher this year, and he showed it again Tuesday night as he was hit around for five runs as the Rangers eventually won the game 10-3 to move within one game of their first World Series berth ever.

The Rangers broke out the long ball in this one with Josh Hamilton blasting two home runs, Nelson Cruz hitting his fourth of the playoffs and ol’ Bengie Molina hitting a crucial three-run homer to give the Rangers the lead after a questionable intentional walk. With the Yankees leading 3-2 in the top of the sixth inning with one runner and two outs, Joe Girardi elected to intentionally walk David Murphy and let Burnett face Molina. Well, baseball 101 says you never put the go-ahead run on base. I understand where Girardi was going with this one considering Murphy homered off of Burnett in the regular season and Molina is 1-for-5 against Burnett, but sometimes you shouldn’t pull a Jim Leyland and over manage. For whatever reason, Molina has just been the hotter hitter in the playoffs so far. He hurt the Rays in the ALDS and last night, he hurt the Yankees by belting a three-run homer off Burnett to give the Rangers the lead in which they never looked back.

After Molina’s homer, the Rangers added two runs in the next inning and three runs in the ninth inning to put the game away. Rangers starter Tommy Hunter was not effective either as he only lasted 3.1 innings after allowing three runs and two home runs to Robinson Cano and Lance Berkman. Derek Holland ended up picking the win with 3.2 scoreless innings of relief.

The Rangers have outscored the Yankees 30-11 in the series through four games as their offense continues to pound Yankees pitching, especially late in the games. The Yankees will turn to their ace CC Sabathia to face CJ Wilson in a rematch of Game 1 in a win or go home situation today at 4 p.m.

Here’s hoping Wilson out duels Sabathia again and the Rangers hold on for the victory this time to send New Yorkers home dejected .

ALCS Game 3: Rangers 8, Yankees 0
Cliff Lee is pitching on a completely different planet right now from the rest of the league. Lee mowed down the Yankees Monday night to lead the Rangers to an 8-0 win at Yankee Stadium to take a two games to one lead in the ALCS. By not acquiring Lee at the trading deadline, the Yankees are up against their worst nightmare of facing Lee giving him the opportunity to knock them out.

Lee fired another brilliant performance, this time against a loaded Yankees lineup. He blanked the Yanks for 8.0 innings of work, allowing just two hits, one walk and a stellar 13 strikeouts for his third win of the 2010 playoffs. Jorge Posada and Brett Gardner recorded the only hits, both singles, off of Lee on the night. The Yankees are lucky that the schedule sets up for them to only face Lee twice this series…and that still may be too much for NY to overcome.

Texas took a lead before Lee even stepped onto the mound as Josh Hamilton delivered a two-run homer to right field off Andy Pettitte in the top of the first inning. The score remained 2-0 until the ninth when the Rangers broke out for six runs against the New York bullpen. Nelson Cruz and Bengie Molina each had RBI singles, Mitch Moreland drove in two runs on his single, Elvis Andrus doubled in a run and Moreland scored on a wild pitch to finish the scoring. Pettitte finished the game with a strong 7.0 innings with two runs allowed on five hits in the losing effort.

There’s not much time for the Yankees to dwell on this one as Game 4 takes place Tuesday night as they turn to AJ Burnett (scheduled starter) to attempt to tie the series.

NLCS Game 2: Phillies 6, Giants 1
The Phillies responded in Game 2 with a 6-1 victory over the Giants to tie the NLCS at one game apiece. Roy Oswalt was brilliant for Philly, limiting the G-men to one run through 8.0 innings of work with nine strikeouts.

With the Phillies leading 2-1, they broke the game wide open in the bottom of the seventh with a four-run inning. Jimmy Rollins led the way with two hits and four RBI, three of which came off a bases-clearing double in the seventh. Placido Polanco drove in two runs as well.

For San Francisco, Cody Ross was pretty much the entire offense again as he hit his third home run of the series, a solo shot to tie the game at 1-1 in the fifth. Giants starter Jonathan Sanchez was effective, but did not match Oswalt’s performance Sunday night as he went 6.0 innings with three runs allowed (two earned) on three walks and seven strikeouts.

The series shifts out west to the Bay Area this afternoon with Cole Hamels against Matt Cain in Game 3.

ALCS Game 2: Rangers 7, Yankees 2
What a response game for the Texas Rangers. After blowing a 5-0 lead the night before, the Rangers responded by taking another big lead and holding onto this time to win 7-2 and even the series at one game apiece. Finally, it’s the first postseason win at home in Rangers history.

Elvis Andrus had two hits and stole home, Ian Kinsler ripped an RBI triple and David Murphy homered to lead Texas to victory. Colby Lewis took the mound for Texas and earned the win with two runs allowed while scattering six hits in 5.2 innings. The difference this time was that the Rangers bullpen held onto the lead. Yankees starter Phil Hughes did not fare much better than Sabathia on Friday as he was hit around for seven runs and 10 hits in just 4.0 innings of work.

The Yankees offense featured another solo bomb by Robinson Cano, who also had a double to continue his tear in the postseason (batting .556, 2 HR, 3 RBI).

It’s hard to not think that the Rangers could be up 2 games to none heading to New York with Cliff Lee on the mound, but I think they will take a split for now with the momentum on their side now after the game two victory. It’s now a five-game series with Lee pitching game one for the Rangers.

NLCS Game 1: Giants 4, Phillies 3
The highly anticipated pitching matchup between Roy Halladay and Tim Lincecum ended up being taking over by the Cody Ross show. Ross, who was picked up off on waivers in August by the Giants from the Marlins, homered in his first two at-bats against Halladay to help hand the Giants a comfortable 4-1 lead. Jayson Werth closed the gap to one run again with a two-run homer off Lincecum in the sixth to make it 4-3, but that would be all the scoring in this one.

While neither starter was lights out, the final pitching lines had Lincecum out dueling Doc. Lincecum went 7.0 innings, six hits, three runs, three walks and eight strikeouts for the win while Halladay went 7.0 innings, eight hits, four runs, zero walks and seven strikeouts for the loss. Can anyone say rematch in Game 5 back in San Francisco?

Along with Ross, another Giants midseason pickup Pat Burrell had a nice day at the plate, going 2-for-4 with a double and RBI. Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz also homered for Philadelphia to tie the game 1-1 in the third inning.

Giants closer Brian Wilson worked a four-out save with one hit allowed and four strikeouts. The two teams will meet in Game 2 Sunday night with Roy Oswalt matching up with Jonathan Sanchez on the mound.