Saturday, July 12, 2008

Spotlight on: Fargo

We finally have our two World Series teams: The NL's Fargo Thundering Herd and the AL's Monterrey Sultans. Today we'll spotlight the newly crowned NL champs and how they got here.

Fargo at a glance:

Team: Fargo Thundering Herd
Owner: kjmulli
Payroll: $73.8 million
Stadium: Cash Field
Capacity: 7,500
Dimensions (LF-LCF-CF-RCF-RF) : 335-368-400-363-325
Season 1: 87-75 (missed playoffs)
Season 2: 104-50 (NL North Champs)

Season 2 Postseason:
Round 1: BYE
Round 2: Def. Atlanta 3-0
Round 3: Def. Chicago 4-0

The Dirtbags have been in cruise control in the playoffs, as they have yet to lose a game. They have given up a total of 7 runs in the 7 games. Needless to say, their pitching is the main reason they've come this far. A recap of Fargo's domination in the NLCS:

Game 1: In game 1 Cy Young candidate Javier Henriquez completely shut down the Chicago offense, yielding 3 hits and no runs in 8 innings. CF Stan Peterson was the offense, hitting a solo homer in the second and a 2-run shot in the fourth to give Fargo a 3-0 win.

Game 2: Game 2 was an offensive explosion for the Dirtbags. Led by 3B Scot Hutton, who went 4 for 5, and starting pitcher Jim Arnold, who went 3 for 3 and drovfe in 2, the Dirtbags pounded out 13 hits. Arnold, Peterson, and 2B Greg Burkhart drove in two runs each. Chicago managed only solo home runs by Denny Moss and Orel MacFarlane, and Fargo triumphed 8-2.

Game 3: Other than the series switching to Chicago, the story remained the same. Fargo broke a scoreless tie in the 4th, with a Stan Peterson RBI single and a Morris Curtis 2 RBI single, both with 2 outs. Henriquez, on two days rest, gave up 2 hits: a Moss RBI double and a Grady Smart RBI single in the 7th. Henriquez went 7 2/3 and Bert Price got the final 4 outs for the save in a 5-2 final.

Game 4: At this point it was just a question of when, not if, Fargo was headed for the series. The answer became obvious after the first 3 batters of the game; Stan Pederson and Greg Burkhart both led off with singles and Kurt Christenson followed with a double to score both runners. This meant even if the Cubs held the Dirtbags without a run the rest of the game, they needed to somehow get two runs off of Arnold and the Fargo bullpen. The two runs was enough for Arnold, who went 6 2/3 and gave up one run. Christopher Siddall followed and gave the ball to Price for the 9th. The Dirtbags won 4-1 and had the sweep. Henriquez, Arnold, and Christenson were named NLCS co-MVPs.

The Bigs Daily News caught up with Henriquez after the series for an exclusive interview:

TBDN: Congratulations on this win, Javier. How does it feel?
JH: It feels great. We were very disappointed to miss the playoffs last season, so making it all the way to the World Series is great.
TBDN: I'm sure it's your dream to be in the World Series, but are you just a little disappointed that your opponent will be Monterrey instead of Milwaukee, the team that traded you?
JH: Not at all. Our goal is to win the World Series, no matter who we play. I'm just excited to be able to pitch for the title. Ever since I grew up in San Francisco de Macoris, I wanted to play in the major leagues and play for the World Series.
TBDN: What do you think of the series coming up against Monterrey? Any thoughts on the Sultans?
JH: Well, they were in the series last season too, so they're a good team. They've got some good hitters. But I'm still feeling confident. We have a good team, too, and I like our chances. I'm looking forward to the challenge.
TBDN: You're a candidate for the Cy Young Award, as our two of your teammates (Jim Arnold and Bert Price). Do you guys have any discussion about it and about who should win?
JH: No, not at all. We're focused on Monterrey right now. If I win, great. If Jim or Bert wins, that's great too. I'd rather win the World Series than the Cy Young Award.
TBDN: Any predictions for the series?
JH: Nope. I'll leave that to you guys.
TBDN: Javier, thanks for your time and good luck in the series.
JH: No problem.

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