Sunday, January 25, 2009

Milwaukee wins first title

The Milwaukee Manic Maulers have won their first title, making it 4 different winners in 4 seasons here in the Bigs. A look back at the playoffs:

1st Round

In the National League, Atlanta used their arms and home-field advantage to knock off Osvaldo Johnson and his San Juan team 3 games to zero. The other series was a battle of division rivals and fellow first-time playoff teams Vancouver and Salt Lake City. The Shakers won the division, but the boys from north of the border took the series 3 to 1.

The American League saw surprise team Little Rock fall to the Louisville Legends 3 games to 1. Little Rock won the first game in Kentucky and lost 3 straight. The best series of the first round was Las Vegas knocking off Charlotte in 5. The two teams split the first two in Vegas and then the next two in Charlotte. In game 5 Charlotte was up 4-3 in the 6th when Ronnie Brown's grand slam turned around the entire series and gave the Gamblers a 7-5 win and a date in the next round with the mighty Milwaukee team.

Round 2

The National League's second round closely resembled season 1, as both top seeds failed to advance to the NLCS. Houston, the defending champions, couldn't generate enough offense to take out Atlanta, whose power arms got the job done in 4. The Fargo-Vancouver series was even stranger; neither team won a single game at home. Fargo scored 13 runs in two games in Canada, but only 4 in 3 games in Fargo, so the Wild marched on with a 3-2 series win.

The American League wasn't quite as exciting. Milwaukee averaged more than 8 runs a game in taking out the Las Vegas Gamblers in 3 straight. Monterrey (in season 2) and Louisville (season 3) had both already played thrilling 7-game sets with the Manic Maulers in ALCS play; Louisville earned the repeat trip with a 3-0 sweep, holding Monterrey to 4 runs in 3 games.


-The NLCS pitted two upstart teams, the 4th seeded Atlanta Bandits and the 6th seeded Vancouver Wild. In game 1, Stan Starr's 2-run single in the 8th turned a 3-2 deficit into a 4-3 Bandit win. Game 2 saw Vancouver even the series with a 7-5 win. Again the key hit was in the 8th, but this time it came off the bat of a Wild hitter- Tony Kwon's 2-run double.
- The series shifted to Vancouver, and we saw two pitching duels. In game 3, Vancouver's Oswaldo Astacio threw 7 shutout innings to outduel Fred Carter in a 3-0 Vancouver victory. Matty Eusebio gave up 1 run on 4 hits over 8 innings in game 4 to take a 6-1 decision and even the series at 2.
- Game 5 saw the bats come to life again. Atlanta's Steven Michaels got shelled, giving up 8 runs in the first 3 innings. Atlanta almost came all the way back, but it was just too much and the Wild took game 5 9-7.
- Game 6 saw Vancouver get a 2-run homer from Cap Herrera in the first and never look back. Roland Casey and Yuniesky Bennett shut down the Atlanta bats to win the game 6-1 and the series 4-2.

American League

Milwaukee faced Louisville in a rematch of last season's epic 7-game ALCS. This edition would not be nearly as exciting.
- Game 1 saw the hometown Manic Maulers wait until the 5th to open the scoring, but did it in style with 6 runs. Two-time Cy Young award winner Vin Solano gave up 2 runs in 6 2/3 innings and the bullpen hung on for a 10-6 victory. Game 2 saw a 3-3 game go to the 12th, but Milwaukee's Eric Speier sent the crowd home happy with a 2-run walkoff shot for a 5-3 win and a 2 games to 0 lead in the series.
- In Louisville, the Legends broke out with a 10-6 win in game 3. The win was fueled by an 8-run 2nd inning highlighted by Cy Hughes and Ismael Polanco home runs. Game 4, like game 2, saw Milwaukee get the clutch hits when they needed them. Milwaukee turned a 2-2 game after 7 innings into a 6-2 win with 4 in the 8th.
- Holding a 3-1 lead, a second straight World Series appearance appeared to be a foregone conclusion. The Maulers figured they might as well give their loyal fans a reason to celebrate, as they took game 5 by a score of 5-3. Louisville scored the first 3, but Milwaukee scored 5 unanswered to win.

World Series

Milwaukee entered the World Series as an overwhelming betting favorite against Vancouver. However, the Wild had already knocked off the Shakers, Dirtbags, and Bandits to get here, so another upset wasn't unthinkable. However, it was not to happen. Vancouver again failed to win on its home field; this time it cost them the series.

- In game 1, Vin Solano outdueled Oswaldo Astacio in a 3-1 win. Bob Malone hit 2 solo shots, including one to lead off the game.
- Game 2 saw Vancouver eke out a 4-3 win. Wilt Gardner's 2-run single in the 4th closed the scoring, as the bullpens were not to be touched on either side.
- Game 3 saw more late inning heroics from Milwaukee, this time from Harold Lewis. His 2-run homer in the 8th broke a 2-2 tie and gave Milwaukee a 4-2 win.
-In game 4, Milwaukee took a stranglehold of the series with an 8-7 win. Vancouver got to James Morton for 4 in the first, but Oswaldo Astacio had his worst performance of the postseason, giving up 6 runs in 2 1/3 innings.
- Game 5 saw a close game (1-1 in the 6th) turn into a laugher with 8 runs in the 7th. Vancouver had no chance at that point, and succumbed to Milwaukee 10-2 in the game and 4-1 in the series.

Congratulations to Milwaukee on winning the World title. One of the storylines for season 5 instantly becomes: Can they defend it?

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