Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Cubs Shock The World, Dodgers Force Game 5


History was made last night as the Cubs continued to win, eliminating a Cardinals team that won a MLB best 100 games during the regular season. The right pieces seem to be falling into place and performing… how far can this team go? In the other game of the night, Clayton Kershaw dominated the Mets forcing a decisive game 5 matchup to determine who will be facing the Cubs in the NLCS. This postseason is just starting to get interesting.  

Cubs Eliminate Cardinals 6-4

For the first time in the history of Wrigley Field, the Cubs clinched a postseason series at home, edging the mighty Cardinals, 6-4, in Game 4 of the National League Division Series. The Cubs now can party as they wait to see whether they'll face the Mets or the Dodgers in the NL Championship Series, which opens on Saturday. "We beat the Cardinals -- these guys are like our older brothers and they've been kicking sand in our face for 100 years," Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said. "There's a lot of similarities to when [the Red Sox] knocked off the Yankees in '04. This one just gives us a nice date on Saturday." Javier Baez joined the young Cubs power corps with a three-run home run, Anthony Rizzo delivered a tiebreaking solo shot with two outs in the sixth and Kyle Schwarber nearly reached Lake Michigan with a leadoff blast in the seventh to spark Chicago to victory and a 3-1 Series win. Despite posting the best record in baseball, St. Louis, which had reached the NLCS the last four years in a row, now heads home. "It's disappointing," said Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright, whose comeback season ended with two scoreless innings in relief on Tuesday. "We don't set our sights in Spring Training for getting in the postseason just [to] go home in the first round. That's never what we aspire to do or be. It's painful when you lose, for sure. I can't get away from all the things we overcame this year to even get here. But losing is losing. It's never easy. There's nothing we can do. We have no regrets. We absolutely went about this thing the right way. We left it all on the line, and we got beat." Baez was filling in for injured shortstop Addison Russell, and all manager Joe Maddon wanted was solid glove work from the 22-year-old. Baez added some punch as the Cubs became the first team in postseason history to have four players 23 or younger hit home runs, joining Kris Bryant, Schwarber and Jorge Soler, who each connected on Monday in Game 3. Baez's blast came off Cardinals right-hander John Lackey, who was starting on short rest in the postseason for the third time in his career. "He hit a tough pitch, especially that time of the day with the shadows," Bryant said of Baez's blast. "I couldn't see the ball my first at-bat and he goes up there and hits a three-run homer." Rizzo's home run came off an 0-2 pitch from Kevin Siegrist, and was his second in as many games against the Cardinals' lefty. Rizzo is the first player in Cubs postseason history to smack a go-ahead homer in the sixth inning or later of a series-clinching game. "You can't pitch like that in the postseason," said Siegrist, who had kept Rizzo without an extra-base hit in 22 regular-season plate appearances. "There's no excuse for that. I'll learn from it. I'll be better next year for it." This was only the third time the Cubs have won consecutive postseason games at home. They also did so in 1907 in the World Series against the Tigers and again in 1984 against the Padres in the NLCS. Chicago entered this postseason 0-11 all time in any series in which they lost Game 1. "This is a team that was as impressive to watch from Day One as any team I've ever been around, and just a collection of skill and fight and character and just all the way across the board from the veteran guys leading to the young guys figuring out a way to contribute," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "It was a special group." Both starting pitchers -- the Cubs' Jason Hammel and Lackey -- completed just three innings, and this marked the second time a team has clinched an NLDS in which the starter hasn't completed more than three innings. Wainwright exited after 2 1/3 innings in 2012 as the Cards defeated the Nationals in Game 5. Chicago scored 14 runs combined in Games 3-4, and all but one came on a home run. The other was courtesy of pitcher Hammel's RBI single in the second inning of Game 4.

Dodgers Dominate Mets 3-1

Desperately needing a win to stave off elimination, Clayton Kershaw thrust his postseason troubles aside with a brilliant performance Tuesday in National League Division Series Game 4, firing seven innings of three-hit ball in a 3-1 Dodgers win over the Mets. "I don't think anyone was going to outpitch Clayton Kershaw tonight," Mets third baseman David Wright said. "I wish we could have won here, obviously so that we could prepare for the next round and do it in front of our fans. But Kershaw was just a beast tonight. It was going to be tough to beat him when he was on like he was. Hopefully we can take care of business in L.A." Pitching on three days' rest, Kershaw battled early before settling into one of the better postseason grooves of his career in the middle innings. After Daniel Murphy homered with one out in the fourth, Kershaw did not let another runner past first base. He struck out six of seven batters during one stretch, snapping his five-game postseason losing streak.


American League Division Series
Kansas City and Houston tied 2-2
Game 5: Wednesday, October 14, at 8:00 PM

Toronto and Texas tied 2-2
Game 5: Wednesday, October 14, at 4:00 PM

National League Division Series
Chicago Eliminated St. Louis 3-1
NLCS Game 1: Tuesday, October 13, at 4:30 PM

New York and Los Angeles tied 2-2
Game 5: Thursday, October 15, at 8:00 PM

National League Championship Series
Chicago at TBD
Game 1: Saturday, October 17, at TBD

American League Championship Series
Game 1: Friday, October 16, at TBD


Breaking Ground – Four months after the Phillies dedicated four new and renovated baseball fields at FDR Park, there was a ceremonial groundbreaking on Tuesday for the next phase of its Urban Youth Academy: an indoor-outdoor facility in South Philadelphia. A 7,500 square foot extension will be added to the existing building to create a new training facility. Parts of the existing Marian Anderson Recreation Center will be renovated to create space for fitness training, educational and vocational programs. Among the dignitaries in attendance were Mayor Michael Nutter, Major League Baseball's vice president of youth and facility development Darrell Miller, Phillies chairman Dave Montgomery, Councilman Kenyatta Johnson and Deputy Mayor Michael DiBeradinis. "This is an incredible example of the city partnering with community organizations and the private sector to renovate a recreation center in the community that lacks abundant public play spaces. The new classrooms, fitness center and equipment at the [center] will benefit 8,000 players receiving free baseball and softball instruction on a regular basis," Nutter said. "The city supports the Urban Youth Academy's mission to use baseball and softball to teach young people about teamwork and responsibility, all while teaching them to be active and healthy in these spaces. By providing our young people with a fun and fulfilling environment in their own neighborhood, we're also giving them the tools to learn, to connect and to grow with successful, caring adults who give back to the community on a regular basis." Philadelphia joins Compton, Houston, New Orleans and Cincinnati as cities with UYAs. A facility in Kansas City has also been announced. Montgomery noted that leftfielder Pat Burrell, who last played for the Phillies in 2008, contributed seed money and that current first baseman Ryan Howard and his wife, Krystle, stepped up when additional funding was needed. Also contributing was the Baseball Tomorrow Fund, a joint effort between MLB and the Major League Baseball Players Association. "These projects take time, and Philadelphia was no exception," Miller said. "We wanted to do something here in the baddest way. You have to understand, the Phillies have been in the trenches 20 years. They've been committed from the very beginning to make sure kids have an opportunity to play baseball. "We now have the opportunity to take it to the next level. We're not doing anything different. We're just going to do it bigger and better and we're going to have a lot of fun with it. The facilities are going to be big league." Montgomery also introduced Dr. Mahlene Duckett, whose father, Mahlon, was a Philadelphia native, a Negro League star and the last surviving member of the Philadelphia Stars. When he passed away at the age of 92 this summer, the family asked that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the Philles' Urban Youth Academy. Miller became passionate when discussing the impact these academies can have. "Major League Baseball wants to make sure every child who wants to pick up a bat or a ball or a glove and wants to play catch, or play the game of baseball or girls' softball, gets an opportunity to play," he said. "Our youth deserve tremendous facilities. They deserve the opportunity to play the game at the highest possible level. They deserve great coaching. They deserve mentoring. They deserve the opportunity to play the greatest game ever created. It's a hard game to play. It takes a tremendous amount of time and dedication. It's all about work. It's all about individual determination. It's the fabric of what our great nation has been built on. And that's hard work. That's what makes great baseball players. That's what makes great softball players. That's what makes Major League contributors to our society." He caught himself, stopped and smiled. "I'm preaching," he noted. "But the Pope was just here and I'm following his lead. We have a lot to do on this field and on this front throughout America."

The Phillies finally put an end to the season finishing in last place in the NL East with a record of 63-99. Given the departures, aging stars, injuries, and bipolar performances this season, this has ended up being one of the worst seasons in franchise history! However, there are some former Phillies still making headlines in the playoffs this year.

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