Sunday, April 13, 2008

Playoff Wrapup

The 2nd round came and went- I was exactly right on the AL and very wrong on my NL predictions. First of all, Nashville upset top seeded Milwaukee in 5 games and Monterrey swept the surprising New York team in 3. In the NL Salem took out top seeded Trenton in 5 competitive games to face Houston, who swept Montreal.

In the ALCS Monterrey defeated Nashville in 6 games; 3 out of the 6 were decided by 1 run. Houston just didn't have much left, and Salem took out the Oilers in 4 straight. So the first ever World Series in the Bigs was a matchup of:

Game 1 was a matchup of co-Cy Young winner Dwight Salmon (Salem) vs. Cy Young candidate Phillip Allensworth (Monterrey). Salmon continues to pitch beyond his experience, going all 9 innings, giving up 2 runs and striking out 11. Allensworth was almost as good for his 5 1/3, giving up 2 on a 6th inning Chip Young home run, making a 1-0 Monterrey lead a 2-1 deficit. Salem tacked on 3 in the 9th against Patrick Sullivan and Vern Baez to make the lead too much for Salem. The Sacrifices took game 1 5-2 in Monterrey.
Game 2 pitted the other Co-Young winner David Dunwoody for Salem against 22-game winner Albert Gonzalez for the Sultans. Knowing the couldn't afford to fall behind 2-0 in the series, the Sultans jumped on Dunwoody early. A two-out double by Cody Lincoln in the 1st made it 1-0 Monterrey, and RBI hits by Sammy Castro, Glenn Leach, and Dewayne Castillo in the 2nd, making it 4-0, which was more than enough for Gonzalez. The Monterrey starter gave up only a solo home run to Chip Young in the 7th in his 8 innings of work. The scoring was finished by Lincoln, who hit a 2-run shot in the 5th and a mammoth solo homer in the 7th as the Sultans win 7-1 to tie the series at 1.
Game 3 at Salem didn't necessarily have a stellar pitching matchup, but it had a lot of intrigue. Salem went with knuckleballing veteran Darrell Carter in a pivotal home game to go against Monterrey's R.J. Toca, who was making his first start in almost 3 months. This game had the potential to be a slugfest and lived up to it. A solo shot by Moose Coleman in the 1st off Carter was answered by a 2-run shot off Toca by Macbeth Keller. Toca helped his own cause with a single in the 2nd, but then gave up another homer, this time a solo job to Travis Ryan in the bottom of the inning. It was 5-3 after 4 innings. Carter was strong through 7 but fell apart in the 8th, yielding a Cody Lincoln RBI double and then Haywood MacDonald's 2nd home run of the game, a 2 run jack to give Monterrey a 6-5 lead. They tacked on another run on a fielder's choice to make it 7-5. But Nate Cox hit a 2-run homer in the bottom of the 8th to tie the game. The drama came in the 11th, and it did not come without a little controversy. Lincoln singled Castillo home in the top of the inning, and it looked like Monterrey would prevail. But up stepped Cox with the bases loaded and two out against Parker Mashore. Cox singled up the middle, scoring Cooper Roa easily. Frank Keller slid in under the tag for the wininng run; Monterrey fans still argue that Bum Casey had the plate blocked. Regardless, Salem wins a 9-8 thriller for a 2-1 series lead.
Salem figured they could do without all the drama from game 3, so they decided game 4 quickly. They sent Dan Pederson out against game 1 starter Allensworth, and Salem got to Allensworth, sending him to the showers in the 3rd inning. MacBeth Keller hit 2 homers in the first 3 innings, as the Sacrifices jumped out to a 7-0 lead. The 8th run came on a solo homer by Nate Cox in the 6th. The Sacrifices won game 4 8-3 for a commanding 3-1 series lead.
Game 5 seemed to be a pitching mismatch, with Monterrey sending out 4th starter Dennys Fox against Salmon. Salmon again was his normal self, going 8 innings giving up 2 runs. But Fox went 5 2/3 giving up only 1 run, and the bullpen was spectacular, pitching 3 1/3 innings of shutout ball. The difference was an unearned run in the 7th in a 1-1 game. With two out and one on, an easy groundball to short was booted by Albert Strong. Bum Casey took advantage and singled up the middle for the deciding run in a 2-1 Monterrey victory.
The win in game 5 meant Salem would have to bring the champagne south of the border. It was a repeat of the game two pitching matchup in Dunwoody against Gonzalez. Gonzalez just didn't have it- they key inning was the 2nd when he gave up 4 runs. After striking out Young to start the inning, 4 straight singles led to two runs. A groundout gave Gonzalez the 2nd out, but Salem came up with yet another 2 out hit to drive in a run, as Howard Robinson singled up the middle after a walk to drive in two. Benito Tavarez drew Monterrey to within 2 with a 2-run homer, but it wasn't enough. Gonzalez was pulled in the 7th after giving up 3 more runs, and there was no way Dunwoody would give up 7. He went the route, giving up only 3. And after he induced a lazy ground ball to 2nd by Lincoln for the final out, the celebration began. Dunwoody was mobbed by his teammates on the mound, as Salem won 7-3 to take the World Series.
Congratulations to both teams on a great series and to Salem for prevailing in the 1st ever The Bigs World Series.

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