Sunday, October 25, 2009

National League Championship Series Season 7

Atlanta vs. Fargo seemed to be an appropriate NLCS matchup, since these two teams are the last two World Series winners.

Atlanta vs. Fargo

- Game 1 saw an interesting decision by Fargo to start Sammy Pierce instead of Javier Henriquez. Henriquez won his 4th Cy Young this season (3rd consecutive), but struggled against Houston, whereas the less decorated Pierce was outstanding. Pierce tried to silence the critics by giving the Dirtbags a 2-0 lead in the second with a bases-loaded, 2-out single. But Atlanta struck back with 4 in the very next inning, as Ryan Snyder stepped up with the same situation (bases loaded, two outs) and launced a grand slam well over the 335 foot sign in left field. That would be all Atlanta starter Fred Carter would need, as he went 7 giving up just those two runs. Rico Mangual and Tex Howell each pitched a perfect inning for a 4-2 win and a 1-0 lead in the series.

- Game 2 saw the return of Henriquez to form. Atlanta started Stone Curtis, who gave up back-to-back solo homers in the 1st to Ricardo Martinez and David Rushford, but was very good after that. Problem for Curtis was that Henriquez was just a bit better, going 6 innings (same as Curtis) giving up only 1 run (on a 3rd inning Jason Walker homer). Chris Siddall and Bert Price shut the door over the last 3 innings as Fargo won 2-1 and tied the series at a game apiece.

- As the venue shifted from Fargo to Atlanta, so did the series itself. Fargo had chances in game 3, but left 10 runners on base and therefore only managed one run. Manny Christians was good, but just couldn't overcome his own offense. Atlanta scratched out runs in the 2nd and 6th and then struck for 4 in the 8th just to put the game out of reach. Atlanta won game three 6-1 to take a 2 to 1 series lead.

- Game 4 saw Atlanta pull out a nail-biting extra inning affair. Both teams traded runs in the second inning, then saw ten straight innings of zeroes for both teams go up on the scoreboard. In the 13th, Mac Sung made a mistake in his second inning of work to Stan Starr, who hit one deep to right center. Fargo CF Stan Peterson went to the wall, leaped, but couldn't come down with it and Starr pumped his fist in celebration as he rounded the bases; he had just provided the Bandits with a 2-1 victory to take a commanding 3-1 lead in the series.

- Game 5 was similar to game 3, as the story was again Fargo leaving 10 men on base. Sammy Pierce was very good, but Stone Curtis matched his effort, and in the 8th Albie Torres and Starr went back-to-back off Fargo reliever Bert Price to snap a 1-1 tie and hand a 3-1 lead to Tex Howell in the 9th, who nailed it down to send Atlanta back to the World Series, dispatching Fargo in 5.

Atlanta's opponent would be determined in a very good ALCS.

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