I’m not going to spend very much time writing about this because it just isn’t worth it, but breaking news came out this afternoon that Manny Ramirez has retired quit.

MLB released a statement stating that the league notified Ramirez of an issue with the drug policy, something he is very familiar with, and he abruptly decided to quit instead of facing a 100-game suspension since this would have been his second positive test.

Basically he took his ball and went home. It’s not really surprising with how the tail end of Manny’s career went. He wasn’t really helping the Rays so far this season as he was just 1-for-16 with four strikeouts. Tough break for Tampa Bay, but they knew the risk when they signed him to a one-year, $2 million contract.

Manny pretty much quit with the Red Sox when he showed his displeasure with his contract situation by not running out ground balls and possibly bringing his game down to intentionally not produce until he was traded to the Dodgers. That whole mess of a situation along with his suspensions clearly shows Manny had no respect for the game of baseball. His latest move of quitting six games into the season is a joke, but one where no one should be surprised.

His numbers will always be up for talk on the Hall of Fame discussion, but my guess is he will not get into the Hall considering the voters set a precedent with being linked to steroids with McGwire and since Manny was suspended for it in his career, they won’t allow him in.

The bottom line is the game of baseball is a lot better off without Manny Ramirez. Good riddance.


Game 5: Rangers 5, Rays 1
The Rays have to shudder at just the mention of Cliff Lee‘s name. Lee was brilliant again for the Texas Rangers as he mowed down the Rays for the second time in the ALDS to give the Rangers a 5-1 win and the franchise’s first postseason series win. The Rangers became the only team in a five-game division series to win all three games on the road. Lee out dueled David Price just like in Game 1 by throwing a complete game with one run allowed, six hits, no walks and 11 strikeouts. Lee fanned 10 Rays in Game 1. For the second straight game Lee did not hand out a walk as Baseball Reference takes a look at all the pitchers that have done that before…hint, Lee was already on the list prior to this postseason. The Rangers offense played small ball early and grinded out a couple runs behind ridiculous base running that included Elvis Andrus scoring from second on a Josh Hamilton groundout to give the Rangers a 1-0 lead. With the Rangers leading 3-1, Ian Kinsler added some insurance with a two-run blast off Rafael Soriano. It was Kinsler’s third home run of the series.

The Rays only offense off Lee was a Ben Zobrist‘s RBI single in the third inning, but they were held to six hits after that. Blah, the Rays managed just two runs in 16.0 innings in the series against Lee. Once again, they put together a lackluster performance in front of their home fans and were bounced from the playoffs. They scored a total of two runs in three games at Tropicana Field while the Rangers hit a total of eight home runs overall in the five games. The Rangers move on for the first time to the ALCS and will face the Yankees with the series beginning on Friday with C.C. Sabathia scheduled to face C.J. Wilson. Remember, the Yankees were willing to give up their top prospects to Texas just to avoid this particular scenario…facing Cliff Lee in the postseason. Well it should be fun to watch!

It’s yet to be determined that the Rangers holding Cliff Lee for Game 5 against the Rays is the right decision or not with the game to be played Tuesday night, but I think the Rangers missed an opportunity to kick the Rays when they were down.

The Rangers could have elected to pitch Lee on three days rest Sunday afternoon at home with a chance to knock the Rays out while they are reeling and had all the pressure on them. Not only would Lee pitch in front of the home crowd, but he would have faced Rays fourth starter Wade Davis instead of having to face their ace David Price again in Game 5.

Lee pitched in Game 1 last Wednesday and fired 7.0 innings with one run allowed while striking out 10 batters to defeat the Rays. He threw 104 pitches, not a game where he was overly worked by any means, and I think they could look back to this chance as a missed opportunity. Instead of Lee starting in Game 4, Tommy Hunter started and only went 4.0 innings with three runs allowed and eventually was tagged with the loss in a 5-2 Rays victory. As it stands now, Lee will face Price again in a rematch of Game 1. I’m not saying Lee can’t win the decisive game or that he won’t, but anything can happen when it’s down to one game and the Rangers are back on the road for this game, but I think Lee could easily out pitch Davis then Price again. I think the correct route would have been Lee on short rest at home followed by CJ Wilson in Game 5, if necessary.

I’m not going to bog this post down with stats from every angle on how pitchers on three days rest have fared well over the years, but take a look yourself at the list of southpaws in the postseason on three days rest. There are some great starts there and a couple of horrid ones, but for the most part it’s a pretty solid list of performances. C.C. Sabathia did it twice last year for the Yankees in the ALCS and World Series, and he won both starts on way to a championship. Plus, Lee is currently one of the elite pitchers in the league…does anyone think he couldn’t have handled short rest and pitched effectively? I would expect the best from him as usual.

Lee could still fire a gem tomorrow as the Rangers win their third game on the road in the series to eliminate the Rays, but if it goes wrong and the Rangers do not win the series, I think fans will look at this decision and wonder if their team blew a great chance to win their first playoff series in franchise history.

Game 4: Rays 5, Rangers 2
Well it looks like this series will live up to the hype as the Rays won their second straight game on the road 5-2 to tie the series at two games apiece, forcing a decisive game 5 back at Tropicana Field. The Rays stormed out to a 5-0 lead off Texas starter Tommy Hunter behind RBI doubles by Carlos Pena and BJ Upton and then a two-run blast off the bat of Evan Longoria, his first of the postseason. Wade Davis limited the Rangers to two runs through 5.0 innings of work to pick up the win while the Rays bullpen tossed a nearly-perfect four innings to close out the game. Nelson Cruz provided the only offense for Texas with a solo home run, his third homer of the series. The road team has won all four games in this series so far with the Rangers leaving home 0-2 in front of fans that have yet to see a postseason series victory. David Price and Cliff Lee will meet again in Tampa Bay on Tuesday for the winner-take-all game.

Game 3: Giants 3, Braves 2
Poor Brooks Conrad. The Braves second baseman made three costly errors in Game 3 at Turner Field, the last one being the difference as the Giants rallied to defeat the Braves 3-2 to take a two-games-to-one series lead. With the Giants leading 1-0 on another brilliant pitching performance, this time by Jonathan Sanchez, Eric Hinske hit a clutch, pinch-hit two-run homer in the eighth inning off reliever Sergio Romo to give the Braves a 2-1 lead. The Giants were not done yet though as Aubrey Huff singled in the tying run with one out in the ninth, but Buster Posey reached on a fielding error by Conrad, his third of the game and fourth of the series, to allow the winning run to score. Brian Wilson mowed down the Braves in the bottom of the inning to hand the Giants the tight victory. Conrad’s fielding error in the second inning allowed the Giants first run to score as well. The Giants and Braves will face off in Atlanta for Game 4 Monday with a chance for the Giants to close out the series on the road.

Game 3: Phillies 2, Reds 0 (Phillies win series 3-games-to-0)
If you somehow didn’t think this series was already over after Halladay’s no-hitter in Game 1 and the Reds collapse in Game 2, Cole Hamels ended it quickly Sunday night as he fired a complete game shutout to give the Phillies a three-game sweep of Cincinnati. Hamels allowed just five hits through 9.0 innings of work with nine strikeouts and no walks. The Phillies opened the scoring with a run off a Reds error, go figure, and Chase Utley hit his first home run of the postseason to give the Phillies a 2-0 lead. That was all Hamels needed on the night as he threw 119 pitches. NL MVP candidate Joey Votto went 0-for-4 and hit just .100 in the series. Johnny Cueto suffered the loss for Cincinnati after lasting just 5.0 innings with two runs (one earned) allowed. The end result of this series shouldn’t really be a surprise to anyone, the Reds inexperience showed throughout the series and no matter what they tried to do, the Phillies overall were just better at every facet of the game.

Game 3: Rays 6, Rangers 3
The Rays showed signs of life for the first time this postseason to stave off elimination for at least one game with a 6-3 victory over the Rangers. The Rangers hosted their first playoff game since 1999 and took a brief 2-1 lead on an Ian Kinsler solo home in the 7th inning, but the Rays responded in the next inning. Carlos Pena and John Jaso each had an RBI single to give the Rays a 3-2 lead and Pena added a two-run home run in the top of the ninth inning to put the game away. Carl Crawford also homered in the game for Tampa Bay. Rays starter Matt Garza went 6.0 plus innings with two runs allowed (one earned) for the no-decision and former Rangers reliever Joaquin Benoit picked up the win in relief. Nelson Cruz hit his second homer of the playoffs on a solo blast in the ninth for the Rangers final run of the game. Texas will try again to close out the series Sunday afternoon with Tommy Hunter on the mound against Wade Davis.

Game 3: Yankees 6, Twins 1  (Yankees win series 3-games-to-0)
Death, taxes and the New York Yankees beat the Minnesota Twins. The Yankees closed out their first round series at home with a 6-1 victory in Game 3 to sweep the Twinkies right out of the postseason. This one wasn’t much of a contest as the Yankees hit starter Brian Duensing early and often. With the score 2-0 in the fourth inning, Marcus Thames belted a two-run shot for the Bronx Bombers. Duensing exited after just 3.1 innings five runs allowed on seven hits. Nick Swisher also homered for New York in the Yankees 12-hit attack. Phil Hughes was stellar on the mound for the pinstripes, tossing 7.0 shutout innings allowing just four hits for the victory. Hughes struck out six. Even though it was a non-save opportunity, Mariano Rivera closed the door on Minnesota’s season with a scoreless ninth. This series marks the fourth time the Yankees knocked out the Twins in the past decade joining last season, 2004 and 2003. The Twins have lost 12 straight postseason games dating back to 2004 with the last nine games being against the Yankees. New York will play the waiting game before facing Tampa Bay or Texas in the ALCS.

Game 2: Rangers 6, Rays 0
The Texas Rangers moved within one victory of winning their first postseason series in franchise history as they blanked the Rays 6-0 in Game 2 of the ALDS at Tropicana Field. For the second straight day, the Rangers shut down the Rays behind stellar pitching holding the Rays to just two hits in the game. C.J. Wilson tossed 6.1 scoreless frames with just two hits, two walks while fanning seven for the victory. Ian Kinsler launched a solo home run to give Texas a 2-0 advantage while Michael Young delivered the big blow, a three-run homer one pitch after the umpire said Young held up on a ball, but replays show the bat went too far and wasn’t called. Tampa manager Joe Maddon argued the call immediately following the home run and was ejected from the game. Not that it mattered much because the Rangers bullpen shut down the Rays the rest of the way with a 2.2 hit-less innings from Darren O’Day and Darren Oliver. James Shields was not effective for Tampa as he lasted just 4.1 innings after allowing four runs, four hits and one home run for the loss. The Rays have shown zero offense in two games at home and now are forced to travel to Texas and need to win three straight games to advance to the ALCS.

Game 2: Yankees 5, Twins 2
Once again the Twins held a lead at home, and once again the Yankees rallied to defeat the Twinkies to take a two games to none lead with the series shifting back to Yankee Stadium this weekend. Andy Pettitte was his usual boring playoff self…by boring I mean effective as hell, going 7.0 stellar innings with five hits, two runs allowed and four strikeouts for the win. Lance Berkman was the other story for the Yanks last night as he broke a tie twice, first with a solo home run in the fifth inning and then after Orlando Hudson tied the game for Minnesota with a solo blast, Berkman responded in the very next innings with an RBI double to give NY a 3-2 lead. Curtis Granderson had another strong game for the Yankees with three hits, one run and one RBI. Like the Rays, the Twins face the difficult scenario of having to win two on the road just to get back to Minnesota for a possible decisive Game 5. I have a feeling this was the last baseball game played in Target Field in 2010.

Game 1: Giants 1, Braves 0
Pitching is paramount in the playoffs, and the Giants showed that last night in a pitcher’s duel as starter Tim Lincecum was nearly unhittable in a 1-0 Giants victory in Game 1 at AT&T Park. Lincecum fooled the Braves all night with a complete game shutout on 119 pitches. “The Freak” allowed just two hits, one walk while striking out 14 batters. San Francisco’s rookie catcher Buster Posey scored the only run of the game on a single by Cody Ross in the bottom of the fourth inning. But it was all the Giants would need as Lincecum retired the final eight batters to leave no doubt in this game. Derek Lowe took the loss for Atlanta with just one run allowed in 5.1 innings. Brian McCann and Omar Infante each picked up one double, the only hits on the night for the Braves. Atlanta will turn to the young phenom Tommy Hanson tonight in Game 2 against another solid Giants starter in Matt Cain.

Caught Looking breaks down the playoff games from the night before in a feature that will continue throughout the postseason. The opening day of the playoffs was of course dominated by none other than Roy Halladay. The best pitcher in the game over the past decade just threw the best pitching performance in the playoffs in 54 years. Let’s recap the games…

Game 1: Phillies 4, Reds 0
So much for postseason experience being so crucial? Roy Halladay added clout to his legend as he made his playoff debut by firing just the second no-hitter in MLB postseason history, second to only Don Larsen’s perfect game in Game 5 of the 1956 World Series. Halladay struck out eight batters on 104 pitches with his only blemish being a two-out walk to Jay Bruce in the fifth inning. Honestly, there’s nothing this guy can do anymore that really surprises me. It was his second no-no of the season as he threw a perfect game back in May. The Phillies didn’t need much offense but they quickly built a 4-0 in the first two innings with Doc even driving in a run with an RBI single in the bottom of the second. Shane Victorino drove in Halladay and Wilson Valdez two batters later with a single off Reds starter Edinson Volquez. Victorino finished 2-for-4 with two RBIs and a double.

Game 1: Rangers 5, Rays 1
The visiting Rangers jumped on Rays ace David Price early scoring two runs in the 2nd inning followed by single runs in the 3rd, 4th and 5th innings to build a 5-0 lead. Nelson Cruz and Bengie Molina provided some pop with solo home runs. Molina, who only hit two home runs all season, had a nice afternoon from the ninth spot with three hits, a homer and two RBIs. Texas put ace Cliff Lee on the mound and he picked up right where he left off in last year’s playoffs. Lee went 7.0 strong innings, five hits, one run allowed, 10 strikeouts and zero walks. The Rays had a chance early to get to Lee with bases loaded in the first off three singles, but Lee bore down to strike out Carlos Pena and Rocco Baldelli to end the threat. Lee cruised the rest of the way after that allowing only two hits the rest of the way. Ben Zobrist drove himself in for the only run of the game for Tampa Bay with a solo home run in the 7th inning.

Game 1: Yankees 6, Twins 4
The Yankees just own the Twins in postseason play. The Twins built a 3-0 lead and appeared to finally get a leg up on the Yankees, but things fell apart quickly in the top of the sixth as the Bronx Bombers finally got to Francisco Liriano with RBI singles by Robinson Cano and Jorge Posada followed by a two-run triple by Curtis Granderson to give the Yankees a 4-3 lead. After the Twins tied it in the bottom of the inning, it wasn’t tied for very long as Mark Teixeira launched a two-run bomb off reliever Jesse Crain to give the Yanks a 6-4 lead. The bullpen took over from there as Mariano Rivera worked a four out save to close the door on the Twins in Target Field, the first outdoor postseason game in Minnesota since 1970. C.C. Sabathia picked up the win in a laboring start (112 pitches in 6.0IP) with four runs (three earned) allowed through 6.0 innings. Michael Cuddyer provided the early fireworks for Minnesota with a two-run blast in the second.