Thursday, October 22, 2015

Mets Now Patiently Waiting For Their World Series Opponent

Backed by some spectacular pitching and unexpected power by Daniel Murphy (named NLCS MVP after hitting homeruns in a records 6 consecutive playoff games), the Mets completed a sweep of the Cubs last night in Chicago. Given the young talent, and now experience, on both teams, expect this to be a regular postseason matchup for years to come. In the AL, the Blue Jays looked like a completely different team after getting pluck in game 4. The series now heads back to Kansas City with the home team still one game away from clinching their second consecutive ALCS title.  

Blue Jays Romp Royals 7-1

The American League Championship Series is headed back to Kansas City after the Blue Jays staved off elimination and forced Game 6 with yet another victory when their backs were against the wall. Right-hander Marco Estrada faced one batter over the minimum through the first seven innings and later departed in the eighth en route to Toronto's 7-1 victory over Kansas City in Game 5 on Wednesday at Rogers Centre. Chris Colabello homered and Troy Tulowitzki also provided a spark with a three-run double. The Blue Jays climbed back in the series, but the Royals still hold a 3-2 advantage going into Friday's Game 6. Toronto became the 41st team in 80 attempts to force a Game 6 after trailing 3-1 in a best-of-seven postseason series. Twelve of those teams went on to win the series despite the early deficit. "I think that's a recipe for winning -- good pitching and timely hitting," Tulowitzki said. "That's what we did today. Obviously you try to carry this over to Kansas City. It's not going to be easy. They have home-field advantage. Our backs are going to be against the wall. "But you look at it, you've got to win two games in the grand scheme of things. It's possible. And that's how we're looking at it -- win the next game. Get to Game 7, and anything can happen." The last time Estrada took the mound in an elimination game, the Blue Jays were trailing the Rangers 0-2 in the best-of-five AL Division Series. He was one of the main reasons Toronto stayed alive, and that was the case again on Wednesday. Estrada didn't allow a run until the eighth, and he surrendered three hits and one walk while striking out five. Royals right-hander Edinson Volquez was almost as effective early on. His lone early mistake came in the second inning when Colabello hit a shot to left-center field to give the Blue Jays a 1-0 lead. Volquez cruised after that until the sixth inning, when he walked three batters and hit another to begin the frame. He was pulled with the bases loaded, and that's when Tulowitzki came through with the three-run double to left-center field. Salvador Perez spoiled Estrada's bid for a shutout with an opposite-field home run in the top of the eighth. It was the second hit of the day for Kansas City and Perez's fourth homer of the postseason. Alex Gordon and Alex Rios followed with singles later in the inning, but the Royals could not get any closer. "Again, we knew it was going to be a tough series," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "But after winning the first two games, in reality your goal is to come to Toronto, in kind of a foreign environment, a hostile environment, and at least win one. Then you get to go home and win one there and the series is over. "Now we're going back to a place where we're completely comfortable. That's why home-field was so important to us. We really wanted to play four games in our park. And we're taking a 3-2 lead back to where we are comfortable and back to our home fans that support us and are fantastic."

Mets Sweep Cubs 8-3

The spray of champagne is becoming routine. Once so inexperienced with this sort of thing that their younger players approached Michael Cuddyer and Juan Uribe in Cincinnati last month, asking how to celebrate, the Mets have since made it rote. They chased each other around their clubhouse following their 8-3 win over the Cubs in Game 4 of the National League Championship Series on Wednesday at Wrigley Field, capping the first four-game sweep of a postseason series in franchise history. They hugged and cracked open celebratory drinks and hugged some more after winning their fifth NL pennant and reaching their first World Series since 2000. "The World Series," third baseman David Wright kept saying, over and over again. "The World Series." "Say that one more time, Dave," hitting coach Kevin Long yelled from nearby. "The World Series!" Wright complied. The Mets' final act in reaching this dream was a nine-inning demonstration of their might at Wrigley Field. Lucas Duda hit a three-run home run off Jason Hammel in the first inning and a two-run double off Travis Wood in the second, giving the Mets a 6-0 lead that they never came close to relinquishing. Steven Matz allowed one run into the fifth, Bartolo Colon bridged the middle innings and Jeurys Familia finished off the Cubs. Then the Mets poured out of their dugout to celebrate the franchise's first NL pennant in 15 years. Up next for New York is the winner of the American League Championship Series between the Blue Jays and Royals, who lead the series 3-2. "You get so excited when you're able to come together and accomplish something like this," NLCS MVP Daniel Murphy said. This NLCS pitted two teams seemingly ahead of schedule against one another. The Cubs possessed gobs of young hitters, but weren't sure how quickly they could gel. The Mets boasted an embarrassment of pitching, from Matz to Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and Matt Harvey, but couldn't be certain how their offense would score. In the end, pitching won. Hammel recorded just four outs in Game 4, giving up four runs on consecutive homers from Duda and Travis d'Arnaud. The Cubs stranded four men on base in the fourth and fifth innings against Matz and Colon, three of them in scoring position. And while the 42,227 crammed into Wrigley Field for the last time this season never lost heart, chanting and clapping and screaming until the end, the end did eventually come for the Cubs. They never led in the series. "They did not let us up for air at any point," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "Their domination of the early part of the game and their pitching was impressive. They played well. They didn't make mistakes. So it's not so much to be disappointed in our performance. They were just that good for four days, man. I've got to give them credit."


National League Championship Series
New York eliminated Chicago 4-0
World Series Game 1: Tuesday, October 27, at TBD

American League Championship Series
Kansas City leads series 3-2
Game 6: Friday, October 23, at 8:00 PM

World Series
New York at Kansas City/Toronto
Game 1: Tuesday, October 27, at TBD


Rounding Out The Staff – The Phillies have added two new coaches to their staff, while they wait to hear back from a couple more. The team announced Wednesday that Rick Kranitz and John McLaren will be the bullpen coach and catching coach, respectively. Kranitz spent the past five seasons as the Brewers pitching coach, while McLaren spent the past four seasons as a scout with the A's. "John has been around a long time, he's got a lot of experience," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said Wednesday evening. "He can do anything I really need, anything I want zeroed in on. Rick was my pitching coach in Venezuela in 1989. We go back a long way." Kranitz, 57, also served as a pitching coach with the Orioles (2008-10) and Marlins ('06-07). McLaren, 64, has 23 years of coaching experience with the Blue Jays, Red Sox, Reds, Mariners, Rays and Nationals. He managed 159 games for the Mariners ('07-08) and Nationals ('11). Hitting coach Steve Henderson and pitching coach Bob McClure already have agreed to contracts for next season. The Phillies will not have an assistant hitting coach, like they had the previous three seasons. Bench coach Larry Bowa and first-base coach Juan Samuel still have offers to return, but they have not made their decisions yet. Bowa is interviewing for the Marlins' managerial vacancy, while Samuel is exploring other opportunities. "There's a chance I might lose those guys, so I'd have to come up with replacements," Mackanin said. "If Larry gets that job, I'm going to be real happy for him. If not, I'm going to be happy he's coming back. It's same thing with Juan. I'd hate to lose Juan. He's valuable and he's done an outstanding job. I don't want to lose either guy." If Samuel returns, he will become the third base coach. Samuel would coach base stealing. The Phillies still plan to add one more coach, who would be the team's first base coach and focus on base running. One candidate for that job is Jorge Velandia, who joined the coaching staff when former manager Ryne Sandberg quit in June. But the Phillies might want Velandia to return to the front office, where he was a special assistant for player personnel. "Base running is so poor throughout Major League Baseball," Mackanin said. "I want to zero in on that, and I want somebody who is going to have that as their baby on an everyday basis to stay on top of it. "Once that is set, then all we need is a GM." Phillies president Andy MacPhail is entering a final round of interviews with candidates. reported Tuesday that A's assistant general manager Dan Kantrovitz will receive a second interview. Angels assistant GM Matt Klentak is also believed to be one of the candidates.

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 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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