Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Phillies finish off 4-3 win, claim second Series title

2008 MLB PLAYOFFS SPECIAL COVERAGE – WORLD SERIES GAME 5
Game played Oct. 27-29, 2008

Nearly 50 hours after Game 5 began, the Philadelphia Phillies clinched the second World Series title in their 126-year history and first since 1980 with a 4-3 win over the Tampa Bay Rays Wednesday, winning the series four games to one. Cole Hamels, the Monday night starter, was named the Series most valuable player.

With the score knotted at three, the Phillies took the lead in the seventh. Pat Burrell led off the inning with a double to left-center. Then, with one out, pinch runner Eric Bruntlett scored on a Pedro Feliz single to center.

Philadelphia then clinched the title in the top of the ninth when closer Brad Lidge preserved the one-run lead by retiring the Rays’ Evan Longoria and pinch hitters Ben Zobrist and Eric Hinske, working around a Dioner Navarro one-out single and pinch runner Fernando Perez stolen base and striking out Hinske swinging to end it and complete his seventh save of the postseason and second of the series.

The game resumed with the score tied at two after a nearly 46-hour delay Wednesday night as Philadelphia pinch hitter Geoff Jenkins doubled to the right-center field wall against Tampa Bay reliever Grant Balfour to lead off. Jimmy Rollins bunted Jenkins to third before Jayson Werth’s shallow fly ball dropped in right-center just beyond the reach of the Rays’ Akinori Iwamura, allowing Jenkins to score to take a 3-2 Philadelphia lead.

Then, in the top of the seventh, Rocco Baldelli homered to left field with one out to tie the score again at three.

As they have in all of their victories in the series, the Phillies drew first blood in the first inning Monday, this time against Tampa Bay starter Scott Kazmir. With one out, Jayson Werth drew a walk and Chase Utley reached on a hit-by-pitch. Then, with two down, Burrell took a walk to load the bases for Shane Victorino, who ripped a single down the left-field line to score Werth and Utley for a quick 2-0 lead.

The Rays cut their deficit to one in the fourth. Carlos Pena doubled to the right-field wall with one out and scored on Longoria’s single to center.

Then, in the sixth, with the base paths matching the general consistency of muck in the cold, windy downpour, Tampa Bay tied the score thanks in part to its running game. With two outs, B.J. Upton beat out an infield single, stole second base and scored from there on a Pena single to left, with Upton beating the throw home from Burrell to tie the score at 2-2.

After the top of the sixth inning, the umpires made the call to pull the tarp. Then, after a delay of approximately 30 minutes, the game was suspended at 11:10 p.m. EST.

The contest could not resume Tuesday night because of more rain in Philadelphia, leading to the game’s continuation Wednesday.

Hamels started for the Phillies and allowed two runs on five hits over six innings, with his outing ending due to the suspension. Ryan Madson pitched two-thirds of an inning and J.C. Romero (2-0) worked 1 1-3 frames, allowing zero runs on two hits to get the win. Lidge allowed one hit over one inning with one strikeout.

Werth led the way at the plate with a 2-for-3 performance. Feliz also provided two hits.

For the Rays, Kazmir yielded two runs on four hits over four innings, with six walks and five strikeouts. Balfour pitched 1 1-3 innings, allowing a run on two hits and J.P. Howell (0-2) pitched two-third of a frame, allowing one run on one hit. Chad Bradford and David Price each worked an inning out of the bullpen.

NOTES: With the win, the Phillies became the first team to go undefeated at home during the postseason since the 1999 Yankees pulled off the feat … Kazmir’s six walks were the most in a World Series game since Florida’s Livan Hernandez yielded eight free passes in Game 5 of the 1997 Series … Victorino’s two first inning RBI gave him 13 for the postseason, a Philadelphia playoff record … Upton and Perez each stole bases in the game, allowing the Rays to total a playoff-record 24 thefts during the postseason … With the Phillies’ win, 37 of the 43 teams who have taken a 3-1 World Series lead have gone on to win the series.

Video credit – FOX

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Rain forces first suspension in World Series history

2008 MLB PLAYOFFS SPECIAL COVERAGE – WORLD SERIES GAME 5
Oct. 27, 2008

Game 5 of the World Series in Philadelphia was suspended Monday in the middle of the sixth inning with the score tied at two due to rain in cold, wet, muddy conditions.

Tampa Bay had trailed all night but tied the game in the top of the sixth inning when Carlos Pena’s single to left scored B.J. Upton to knot the score.

The game was suspended at 11:10 p.m. EST Monday after a 30-minute delay. The game is scheduled to resume Wednesday at 8:37 p.m., since more rain is scheduled for Tuesday night, according to the National Weather Service.

Video credit -- FOX

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Howard, Blanton, Phillies push Rays to brink, 10-2

2008 MLB PLAYOFFS SPECIAL COVERAGE – WORLD SERIES GAME 4
Game played Oct. 26, 2008

The Philadelphia Phillies stand one win away from their second World Series title after a 10-2 win over Tampa Bay in Game 4 of the World Series, taking a three games to one series lead. Ryan Howard hit two home runs and Joe Blanton limited the Rays to two runs over six innings while hitting a homer of his own in the win.

In a World Series that has seen several controversial calls from umpires, yet another questionable ruling, one that finally went the Phillies’ way, helped Philadelphia’s cause in the bottom of the first. Jimmy Rollins led off the inning against Rays starter Andy Sonnanstine with a double down the right-field line.

After Rollins advanced to third on a Jayson Werth flyout and Chase Utley drew a walk, Ryan Howard hit a grounder back to Sonnanstine, who caught Rollins straying off third base, chased Rollins back toward third and threw to third baseman Evan Longoria, who appeared to tag Rollins as he dove back to the bag. However, third-base umpire and crew chief Tim Welke ruled Rollins safe at third, and Howard reached first to load the bases.

Pat Burrell then drew the one-out bases-loaded walk to force home Rollins and give the Phillies a 1-0 lead. However, Philadelphia did leave the bases loaded after that to end the inning.

Philadelphia, which has had trouble hitting all postseason with runners in scoring position, finally found a base hit with a runner in scoring position in the form of Pedro Feliz in the third frame. Utley led off by reaching on an Akinori Iwamura fielding error and took third base on a Howard single to right. After consecutive popouts to Tampa Bay shortstop Jason Bartlett from Burrell and Shane Victorino, Feliz laced a single to left to score Utley for a 2-0 lead.

The Rays got on the board in the top of the fourth. With two outs, Carl Crawford hit his second World Series home run, which just cleared the right field fence, against Phillies starter Joe Blanton to cut the deficit in half at 2-1.

The Phillies re-asserted control with a big inning in the bottom of the fourth. Rollins reached base to lead off on another Iwamura error and Werth drew a walk before Howard lifted a one-out homer to left to make it a 5-1 Philadelphia lead.

Tampa Bay’s Eric Hinske, added to the roster before the game due to Cliff Floyd’s sore right labrum, hit a pinch-hit home run to dead center in his first at-bat of the postseason in the fifth inning to cut the Rays’ deficit to 5-2.

The Phillies answered in the bottom of the frame from an unlikely source. With two out, Blanton, a July 17 acquisition from Oakland, hit a home run to left field, the first of his career.

Philadelphia played add-on in the eighth inning. With one out, Rollins doubled to the right-field wall and Werth hit a home run to left-center. Utley then drew a free pass before Howard lined another jack to right-center to make it a 10-2 game.

For the Phillies, Blanton (1-0) allowed two runs on four hits, with two walks and seven strikeouts. Chad Durbin, Scott Eyre, Ryan Madson and J.C. Romero all worked out of the bullpen.

Howard was 3-for-4 with five runs batted in. Rollins also contributed three hits, and Werth and Feliz added two hits each.

Sonnanstine (0-1) took the loss for Tampa Bay, yielding five runs on six hits over four innings, with three walks and two strikeouts. Edwin Jackson allowed one run in two innings, Dan Wheeler gave up two runs on 1 1-3 frames and Trever Miller allowed two runs in two-thirds of an inning.

For the Rays, who only managed five hits, third- and fourth-place hitters Carlos Pena and Longoria are a combined 0-for-29 with 15 strikeouts in World Series play.

NOTES:
Blanton became the 13th pitcher to hit a home run in the World Series … Game 5, the last game of the series in Philadelphia, will feature Game 1 starters Scott Kazmir and Cole Hamels pitching for the Rays and the Phillies, respectively.

Video credit – FOX

Phillies walk off with 5-4 win, reclaim Series lead

2008 MLB PLAYOFFS SPECIAL COVERAGE – WORLD SERIES GAME 3
Game played Oct. 25, 2008

The Philadelphia Phillies took an early lead, saw it disappear and then scored a run in the bottom of the ninth inning to walk off with a 5-4 win over Tampa Bay in Game 3 of the World Series, taking a two games to one lead in the best-of-seven series.

With the score tied 4-4, Philadelphia finished off the win by manufacturing a run of its own. Eric Bruntlett led off by reaching base on a hit-by-pitch from Rays reliever J.P. Howell. After a pitching change, Bruntlett took second base on a Grant Balfour wild pitch and advanced to third when catcher Dioner Navarro’s throw went into center field.

After Balfour intentionally walked Shane Victorino and pinch hitter Greg Dobbs to load the bases, Carlos Ruiz hit a chopper to third, which Tampa Bay’s Evan Longoria scooped past home plate as Bruntlett scored to win the game.

The Phillies took the lead in their first at-bat. Jimmy Rollins led off against Tampa Bay starter Matt Garza with a single to center. Rollins moved to second base on a walk to Jayson Werth and took third on a Garza wild pitch before Chase Utley’s groundout scored Rollins for a 1-0 lead.

Tampa Bay first dented the scoreboard in the top of the second. Carl Crawford led off with a double to shallow left field that fell just out of the reach of Philadelphia’s Pat Burrell. Crawford then stole third base and scored on a Gabe Gross sac fly to deep right-center to tie the score against Phillies pitcher Jamie Moyer.

Philadelphia did not wait long to take the lead back. In the bottom of the second, Ruiz hit a two-out shot to left field, his first career postseason home run, to take the lead, 2-1.

The Phillies kept up the pressure and added to their lead in the sixth. Utley and Ryan Howard hit back-to-back deep home runs to right field to make it a 4-1 contest.

After taking advantage of a couple of controversial umpires’ calls in Game 2, the Rays got some more help in the top of the seventh. Crawford, leading off, reached base on a bunt single, though replays appeared to show Moyer’s toss, which Howard caught in his bare hand, beat Crawford to first. Navarro then doubled down the left-field line. Gross’ groundout scored Crawford from third, and Jason Bartlett’s groundout sent Navarro home to cut the Tampa Bay deficit to 4-3.

The Rays manufactured a run in the eighth to tie the game. B.J. Upton led off the frame by beating out an infield single. Upton then proceeded to steal second and third bases and came home on Ruiz’s throwing error on Upton’s second steal to tie the score.

Rollins and Ruiz each tallied two of Philadelphia’s seven hits on the night.

Moyer pitched 6 1-3 innings, leaving to a standing ovation after what was easily his best performance of the postseason. Moyer, who retired nine straight batters at one point, allowed three runs on five hits and one walk, with five strikeouts. Chad Durbin, Scott Eyre and Ryan Madson all pitched in relief before J.C. Romero (1-0) worked 1 1-3 perfect innings to get the win.

Garza lasted six innings for the Rays, yielding four runs on six hits with two walks and seven strikeouts. Chad Bradford worked an inning before Howell (0-1) and Balfour came on.

NOTES: Moyer, 45, became the oldest player to make his World Series debut and the second-oldest pitcher to start a World Series game after Jack Quinn started a game at the age of 46 in the 1929 Series for the Philadelphia A’s … The game was delayed an hour and 32 minutes due to rain … Joe Blanton is scheduled to get the start for the Phillies Sunday night in Game 4 in Philadelphia, while Andy Sonnanstine will pitch for Tampa Bay.

Video credit – FOX

Friday, October 24, 2008

Shields, Rays even Series with 4-2 win

2008 MLB PLAYOFFS SPECIAL COVERAGE – WORLD SERIES GAME 2
Game played Oct. 23, 2008

The Tampa Bay Rays used a strong performance from pitcher James Shields, ingenuity on the base paths and some controversial umpiring decisions to beat Philadelphia 4-2 and tie the World Series at one game apiece.

The Rays took the lead in their first time at bat and never looked back. Akinori Iwamura walked to lead off against Phillies starter Brett Myers. B.J. Upton singled to right and Iwamura took third when Philadelphia’s Jayson Werth misplayed the ball on the ground in right. Carlos Pena’s groundout scored Iwamura, and an Evan Longoria groundout sent home Upton for a 2-0 lead.

Tampa Bay added a run in the second with some help from an interesting call by home plate umpire Kerwin Danley. Dioner Navarro singled with one out. Then, Rocco Baldelli checked his swing on a 3-2 count. Danley appeared to make a strike call before then appealing to first base umpire Fieldin Culbreth, who ruled that Baldelli had not swung. Baldelli was then awarded first base.

Jason Bartlett then hit an infield single to load the bases, and Upton singled with two out to right, scoring Navarro. Baldelli was thrown out at home by Werth as catcher Carlos Ruiz successfully blocked the plate to end the inning, with Tampa Bay leading, 3-0.

The Rays tacked on one more run in the fourth inning. Cliff Floyd led off with a single to left and scored from third on a one-out safety squeeze play by Bartlett.

Philadelphia got on the board in the top of the eighth. With two out, pinch hitter Eric Bruntlett homered to left off reliever David Price.

In the ninth, the Phillies made some noise, though they were not helped by another strange call from Danley. Ruiz doubled to lead off the inning. Jimmy Rollins, the next batter, appeared to be struck on the front of the jersey by a Price pitch, though Danley did not award him first base. Rollins subsequently popped out to the shortstop.

Ruiz later scored when Longoria misplayed Werth’s grounder, cutting the Rays’ lead to 4-2. However, Price struck out Chase Utley and forced Ryan Howard to ground out to end the game.

Bartlett led the way offensively for Tampa Bay with a 2-for-2 night, with Navarro and Upton also chipping in two hits.

On the mound, Shields (1-0) pitched 5 2-3 innings, allowing no runs on seven hits, with two walks and four strikeouts. Dan Wheeler pitched a scoreless, hitless inning, allowing one walk with two strikeouts, and Price pitched 2 1-3 frames, allowing two runs on two hits with a walk and two punchouts.

For the Phillies, Ruiz, Victorino and Howard each registered two hits.

Myers (0-1) lasted seven innings, yielding four runs on seven hits with three walks and two strikeouts. J.C. Romero pitched a perfect inning in relief, with one strikeout.

NOTES: The series shifts to Philadelphia for Games 3 and 4, and Game 5 if necessary. Game 3 is scheduled for Saturday night, with Matt Garza pitching for Tampa Bay and Jamie Moyer scheduled to go for the Phillies.

Video credit – FOX

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Hamels pitches Phils to Series lead with Game 1 3-2 win

2008 MLB PLAYOFFS SPECIAL COVERAGE – WORLD SERIES GAME 1
Game played Oct. 22, 2008

Cole Hamels and the Philadelphia Phillies took Game 1 of the World Series, 3-2, over Tampa Bay. Hamels pitched seven innings, allowing two runs on five hits, to get the win.

The Phillies got off to a great start, taking the lead in their first trip to the plate. Chase Utley hit a one-out home run to right after Jayson Werth drew a walk from Rays starter Scott Kazmir for a 2-0 lead.

Philadelphia added a run in the fourth inning. Shane Victorino led off the inning by blooping a single to right-center, moved up on a Pedro Feliz single and a Chris Coste groundout and scored on Carlos Ruiz’s groundout to short.

The Rays scored their first run of the night in the bottom half of the frame. With two out, Carl Crawford homered to right off Hamels to cut the deficit to 3-1.

Tampa Bay cut the Philadelphia lead in half with a run in the fifth inning. With two out, Jason Bartlett walked, stole second and scored on Akinori Iwamura’s double to left field.

However, the Rays could muster no more offense, with Carlos Pena reaching in the sixth inning on an error on Philadelphia’s Ryan Howard but getting picked off and caught stealing. After that, Hamels retired the next two batters in the sixth and three straight in the seventh and Ryan Madson and closer Brad Lidge retired the side one-two-three in the eighth and ninth innings, respectively.

Hamels (1-0) struck out five with two walks in his time on the mound. Lidge struck out two while earning his sixth save of the postseason.

Werth, Utley, Victorino and Pedro Feliz each chipped in two hits for the Phillies, who stranded 11 runners in the game.

For Tampa Bay, Kazmir (0-1) took the loss, allowing three runs on six hits over six innings, with four walks and four strikeouts. J.P. Howell, Grant Balfour, Trever Miller and Dan Wheeler pitched a scoreless three innings out of the bullpen for the Rays.

Offensively, Iwamura was 3-for-4 for the Rays.

NOTES:
The Phillies are now 86-0 this season when leading after the eighth inning, including the playoffs … Game 2 of the series is scheduled for Thursday night, with Brett Myers scheduled to pitch for Philadelphia and James Shields working for Tampa Bay.

Video credit – FOX

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Upstart Rays, long-overdue Phillies set for World Series

2008 MLB PLAYOFFS SPECIAL COVERAGE – WORLD SERIES

For the first time in their 11-year franchise history, the Tampa Bay Rays will play in the World Series after a 3-1 series win over the Chicago White Sox in the American League Division Series and a thrilling 4-3 series triumph over defending champion Boston in the ALCS. Their opponent will be the Philadelphia Phillies, who knocked off Milwaukee three games to one in the National League Division Series and defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers 4-1 in the NLCS. The Phillies, in their own right, have only won one World Series in their 126-year existence, the win coming over Kansas City in 1980.

Tampa Bay’s offense is led by Carlos Pena, who slugged 31 homers and drove in 102 runs. Akinori Iwamura set the table with a .274 average. B.J. Upton has hit seven homers in the playoffs, one shy of tying Carlos Beltran and Barry Bonds for the most in any one postseason. Evan Longoria has chipped in 27 regular-season jacks and six in October.

The pitching staff is led by Scott Kazmir, who went 12-8 during the regular season with 166 strikeouts and is 1-0 during the playoffs. Matt Garza won the ALCS MVP award while going 2-0 against the Red Sox, including the Game 7 win. Andy Sonnanstine is 2-0 in postseason play, while James Shields and potentially Edwin Jackson form a solid back end of the rotation. Closer Troy Percival has not pitched in the postseason while recovering from injury, but J.P. Howell, Dan Wheeler and rookie phenom David Price, who saved the ALCS Game 7 win over Boston, lead a strong bullpen.

The Phillies’ lineup is led by Ryan Howard, who hit 48 home runs and knocked in 146 runs during the regular season. Shane Victorino batted .293 during the regular season, while Chase Utley and Pat Burrell each put up 33 homers. The Phils’ offense has not been hitting on all cylinders at any point during the playoffs, but they have capitalized on contributions from nearly everyone thus far.

Cole Hamels is the unquestioned leader of the staff, having won 14 games during the regular season with 196 strikeouts and a 3.09 ERA, while posting a 3-0 postseason mark so far this season. Jamie Moyer was 16-7 during the regular year, though he has struggled mightily in October, with a 0-2 mark, most recently only working 1 1-3 innings at L.A. Brett Myers is also 2-0 in the playoffs. Brad Lidge leads a solid bullpen, having converted 41 of 41 regular-season save chances with five straight playoff saves.

The Rays have the luxury of home-field advantage in the series due to the American League’s 4-3 15-inning win in the All-Star Game at Yankee Stadium in New York July 15. Interestingly, Kazmir was the winning pitcher in relief in that contest, while the pitcher of record for the NL was Lidge.

Prediction: Tampa Bay in six.

Schedule: Game 1 – Phillies (Hamels) at Rays (Kazmir), Oct. 22, 8 p.m.
Game 2 – Phillies (Myers) at Rays (Shields), Oct. 23, 8 p.m.
Game 3 – Rays (Garza) at Phillies (Moyer), Oct. 25, 8 p.m.
Game 4 – Rays (Sonnanstine) at Phillies (Blanton), Oct. 26, 8 p.m.
Game 5 (if necessary) – Rays (TBA) at Phillies (TBA), Oct. 27, 8 p.m.
Game 6 (if necessary) – Phillies (TBA) at Rays (TBA), Oct. 29, 8 p.m.
Game 7 (if necessary) – Phillies (TBA) at Rays (TBA), Oct. 30, 8 p.m.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Garza, Aybar send Rays to World Series with 3-1 win

2008 MLB PLAYOFFS SPECIAL COVERAGE – ALCS GAME 7
Game played Oct. 19, 2008

Matt Garza twirled seven innings of one-run, two-hit ball to lead the Tampa Bay Rays to their first World Series with a 3-1 win in Game 7 of the American League Championship Series, eliminating the defending champion Boston Red Sox. Willy Aybar was 2-for-3 with one RBI and a run scored to lead the offense.

With the score knotted at one run apiece, Tampa Bay took the lead for good in the fifth inning. Willy Aybar led off against Red Sox starter Jon Lester by lacing a double off the left-field wall and came around to score on Rocco Baldelli’s single on the ground to left.

Aybar later added some insurance for the Rays with a leadoff shot to deep left field in the seventh inning for a 3-1 lead.

Tampa Bay then had to survive a Red Sox charge in the eighth inning. Alex Cora led off for Boston by reaching on a Jason Bartlett fielding error against Garza. David Ortiz reached on a fielder’s choice against reliever J.P. Howell and Kevin Youkilis drew a free pass from Chad Bradford to load the bases with two out. However, rookie David Price struck out J.D. Drew looking to end the threat.

Then, in the ninth, Price remained on the mound and, after walking leadoff batter Jason Bay, struck out Mark Kotsay looking and Jason Varitek swinging and forced pinch hitter Jed Lowrie to hit into a fielder’s choice to end it.

Boston drew first blood in its first time at the plate. Dustin Pedroia hit a one-out homer to left field off Garza for the 1-0 advantage.

Tampa Bay tied it up in the fourth frame. Carlos Pena reached on a fielder’s choice and then scored from first base on an Evan Longoria double down the right-field line, beating the relay throw from Pedroia at the plate for the equalizer.

The Rays totaled six hits in the win, while Boston managed only two base knocks.

Garza (2-0) walked three and struck out nine batters in his seven innings. Dan Wheeler also pitched, while Price earned his first major league save, working 1 1-3 innings, with one walk and three punchouts.

Lester (0-2) was the hard-luck loser, yielding three runs on six hits over seven innings, with zero walks and eight strikeouts. Hideki Okajima worked the final inning out of the bullpen for the Sox.

NOTES: The loss snaps Boston’s string of winning nine straight ALCS elimination games, and its mark of winning 13 of 15 elimination games overall … Tampa Bay and Boston combined for 26 home runs in the series, a postseason record … The Rays will host the Philadelphia Phillies, who won the NLCS in five games over the Dodgers, Wednesday night to kick off the World Series. Neither team has announced a starter.

Video credit – TBS

Saturday, October 18, 2008

McCoy sets school mark, Texas drills Missouri, 56-31

COLLEGE FOOTBALL
Game played Oct. 18, 2008

Colt McCoy completed 29 of 32 passes for 337 yards and two touchdowns, also rushing for two scores and hitting on 17 straight throws at one point, as the No. 1 Texas Longhorns defeated No. 11 Missouri 56-31. McCoy broke former Longhorn quarterback Vince Young’s school record for touchdowns accounted for with a third-quarter scoring run, the 82nd touchdown rushing or passing in his Texas career.

The Longhorns wasted no time taking the first lead of the game on their first possession. Missouri’s Jeff Wolfert pinned Texas deep with a 51-yard punt to its own 6-yard line. However, Colt McCoy and the Longhorn offense engineered a 12-play, 94-yard drive. Chris Ogbonnaya made a 12-yard reception, then rushed for a first down on second-and-1. Jordan Shipley caught a pass for three yards on third-and-2, McCoy sneaked for another first down on third-and-1 and the Tigers’ Brian Coulter’s late hit gave Texas a free first down. Vondrell McGee rushed for a gain of 20 before McCoy capped the drive with a 6-yard touchdown run, and Hunter Lawrence hit the extra point for a 7-0 lead.

After a Missouri punt, Texas added to its early lead. Brandon Collins made a 38-yard catch on third-and-6, and Shipley caught a pass for six yards and a first down. Quan Cosby pulled in a pass for 13 on third-and-7 before Ogbonnaya ran for a 9-yard touchdown, and Lawrence’s boot doubled the advantage to 14-0.

Texas forced another Tigers kick and then kept up the assault with another score on its first possession of the second quarter, beginning the drive at Missouri’s 43-yard line after Jake Harry had a 26-yard punt for Mizzou. Cody Johnson ran for four yards on third-and-1. Then, on third-and-12, McCoy squeezed a 32-yard touchdown pass to a leaping Malcolm Williams in between two Missouri defenders, and Lawrence made the score 21-0, Texas.

After a 17-yard Wolfert punt, the Longhorns punched in another touchdown with a short field. Ogbonnaya ran for a gain of 26 yards and then had a 10-yard touchdown run on the third play of the 41-yard drive, with Lawrence’s point-after extending the lead to 28-0.

Missouri finally got a drive going on its next possession, driving deep into Texas territory. However, Chase Coffman dropped a high Chase Daniel throw in the end zone on third-and-5, and on fourth down, Daniel’s pass to Danario Alexander along the sideline in the end zone was initially ruled a touchdown, but was overturned after review, giving the Longhorns the ball on downs.

After that, Texas scored another back-breaking touchdown before halftime. Cosby caught a pass for four yards on third-and-3. Collins made a 12-yard reception, then caught a pass for seven and a first down. McCoy hit Cosby and Ogbonnaya for 23-yard gains on successive plays before Shipley caught a 13-yard touchdown pass. The extra point made the score 35-0.

The Tigers did finally get on the board before halftime. Jeremy Maclin returned the kickoff 50 yards to begin the drive. Daniel hit Tommy Saunders for 17 yards and Derrick Washington for 18 before Wolfert’s 33-yard field goal as the first half expired cut the deficit to 35-3.

Mizzou continued to cut into the lead on its first possession of the second half after forcing a Texas punt. Coffman caught a pass for 11 yards and Maclin made a reception for nine yards before a pass interference penalty on Texas’ Curtis Brown gave the Tigers another first down. Daniel hit Coffman for 13 yards and Jared Perry for 11 before Washington ran for a 10-yard gain and then a 2-yard touchdown. Wolfert’s boot made the score 35-10.

The Longhorns answered immediately with their first score of the second half. Ogbonnaya ran for two yards and a first down, Cosby made a reception for 14 and Shipley caught a pass for 17. After Ogbonnaya caught another 12-yard pass, McCoy hit Shipley for 16 on third-and-7, with a personal foul face mask penalty on Missouri’s Hardy Ricks tacked onto the end of the play. McCoy then ran for a 2-yard score, and the point-after from Lawrence made it a 42-10 game.

The Tigers scored again on their next possession. On third-and-6, Maclin caught a pass for seven yards, while Texas’ Brian Orakpo was flagged for a roughing-the-passer penalty and 15 extra yards. Coffman caught a pass for 22 down the sideline before making a 13-yard touchdown catch on third-and-7. Wolfert’s kick set the score at 42-17.

Missouri forced Texas to punt on its next possession. However, on the ensuing possession, Daniel’s pressured throw from the end zone was intercepted by the Longhorns’ Ryan Palmer.

Beginning the drive at Mizzou’s 15-yard line, McCoy hit Collins for a five-yard gain on third-and-5 before Johnson punched in the 1-yard score. Ryan Bailey booted the extra point to make it a 49-17 game.

The Tigers kept the offensive wheels rolling with another score. Coffman caught a pass for seven yards on third-and-5. Maclin made a 16-yard reception and Jimmy Jackson rushed for five and a first down before an 18-yard scoring strike to Perry.

Texas kept up the pressure, going to the air for another strike with just over five minutes to play. McGee ran for a gain of 21 yards, then backup quarterback John Chiles picked up two yards on third-and-1. Chiles hit Dan Buckner in stride for a 51-yard score down the sideline, and Bailey’s kick gave the Longhorns a 56-24 lead.

Mizzou returned the favor. Daniel hit Coffman, who hurdled a Texas defender, for a gain of 31 yards. Saunders then caught a pass for 18 before Daniel ran for a 1-yard score. The kick set the final deficit at 56-31.

Shipley caught eight passes for 89 yards and a touchdown for Texas, while Collins caught six throws for 76 yards and Cosby, who has a reception in 39 straight games, hauled in seven tosses for 74 yards. Ogbonnaya chipped in six receptions for 68 yards, while Buckner made one catch for 51.

Ogbonnaya carried the ball 13 times for 65 yards and two touchdowns. McGee ran six times for 58 yards.

For Missouri, Daniel connected on 31 of 41 attempts for 318 yards, two touchdowns and one interception, also rushing for a score.

Coffman caught 12 passes for 140 yards and a touchdown, setting Missouri’s all-time school record for most receptions by a tight end. Coffman now has 213 catches in his Tigers career, eclipsing Martin Rucker, who caught 203 balls.

Maclin caught eight passes for 66 yards in the effort.

NOTES:
Texas (7-0, 3-0 Big 12) is back in action Saturday afternoon against Oklahoma State, while Missouri (5-2, 1-2) hosts Colorado Saturday evening … The Longhorns now lead the all-time series 16-5, with a 6-1 record since the formation of the Big 12 … The Tigers have not won in Austin since 1896 … Texas has won five straight in the series … The Longhorns share first place in the Big 12 South with Oklahoma State and Texas Tech, while Missouri is in second in the North, tied with Kansas State, Nebraska and Colorado and trailing Kansas, which is 2-1 in conference play.

Video credit – ESPN on ABC

Monday, October 13, 2008

Garza, Upton, Baldelli pace Rays to 9-1 win in Boston

2008 MLB PLAYOFFS SPECIAL COVERAGE – ALCS GAME 3
Game played Oct. 13, 2008

Matt Garza allowed one run over six innings and B.J. Upton and Rocco Baldelli each cranked three-run home runs as the Tampa Bay Rays took a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven American League Championship Series over the Red Sox with a 9-1 victory.

The Rays cracked the scoreboard first in the second inning. Evan Longoria led off with a walk against Boston starter Jon Lester, took second base on Willy Aybar’s single to center and moved to third on a passed ball on Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek before scoring on Dioner Navarro’s groundout.

Tampa Bay exploded in the third frame to score all the runs it would need. Jason Bartlett led off with a single to left and Akinori Iwamura doubled to left to set up Upton’s three-run homer to left. Longoria followed with a one-out jack to left-center for a 5-0 lead.

The Red Sox finally got on the board in the seventh against Garza. Varitek led off with a walk and moved to third on Alex Cora’s single to right. After J.P Howell came on out of the bullpen for the Rays, Jacoby Ellsbury lifted a sacrifice fly to right to score Varitek to cut the Boston deficit to 5-1.

The Rays salted the game away in the eighth. Carl Crawford singled to lead off, but was thrown out at home by Dustin Pedroia on a Navarro fielder’s choice, with Varitek blocking the plate. However, Baldelli hit a one-out three-run homer to left, scoring pinch runner Fernando Perez, running for Aybar, who had singled, and Navarro for an 8-1 lead.

Tampa Bay tacked on one more in the ninth. Carlos Pena hit a one-out bomb to left to set the final count at 9-1, Rays.

Aybar led the Tampa Bay offense with a 2-for-4 afternoon, while Iwamura, Upton and Pena all added two hits to the Rays’ 13-hit attack, as every starter got a base hit.

Garza (1-0) got the win, working six innings of one-run, six-hit ball with three walks and five strikeouts. Howell worked two innings, allowing one hit with two strikeouts, and Edwin Jackson pitched a perfect ninth.

For Boston, Pedroia and Mark Kotsay each recorded two hits. Lester (0-1) lasted 5 2-3 innings, yielding five runs on eight hits with two walks and seven strikeouts. Paul Byrd worked the final 3 1-3 frames out of the bullpen, allowing four runs on five hits, with two strikeouts and no walks.

Andy Sonnanstine will work for Tampa Bay Tuesday night, while the Red Sox turn to veteran Tim Wakefield for his first start of the postseason.

Video credit – TBS

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Kuroda, bullpen pitch Dodgers past punch-less Phillies

2008 MLB PLAYOFFS SPECIAL COVERAGE – NLCS GAME 3
Game played Oct. 12, 2008

Down 2-0 in their best-of-seven series with Philadelphia, the Los Angeles Dodgers used a shutdown pitching performance from starter Hiroki Kuroda and the bullpen to cut their series deficit in half with a 7-2 victory.

Los Angeles scored all the runs they would need by batting around in a five-run first inning against Phillies starter Jamie Moyer. Rafael Furcal led off the inning with a single to left field and Andre Ethier singled on the ground to right. Manny Ramirez’s single to left scored Furcal for a 1-0 lead, and Casey Blake’s single to right scored Ethier to double it.

With the bases loaded, Blake DeWitt tripled into the right-field corner to score Ramirez, Blake and Russell Martin, who reached on a hit-by-pitch, for a 5-0 advantage.

Philadelphia got on the board in the second frame. Ryan Howard led off with a double to right and scored on Pedro Feliz’s two-out single to left.

The Dodgers got that run back immediately, as Furcal led off the bottom of the second with a homer to left to make the score 6-1.

With J.A. Happ on the mound in relief for the Phillies, L.A. scored another run in the fourth. Ramirez drew a two-out walk and scored on Nomar Garciaparra’s single to left.

The Phillies scored the final run of the night in the top of the seventh. Chase Utley led off with a double to left and scored on Pat Burrell’s bloop single to shallow center to set the final score at 7-2.

After some tension building from earlier in the series, the benches cleared in the middle of the third inning. Philadelphia’s Shane Victorino took exception to Kuroda’s pitch over his head, which came after Martin had earlier been hit by one pitch and narrowly missed being struck by another offering. Then, after Victorino grounded out to end the half-inning, Kuroda went toward first base and exchanged words with Victorino, leading to the benches clearing and Ramirez having to be restrained by L.A. teammates and coaches.

Furcal, Garciaparra and Matt Kemp all recorded two hits for the Dodgers, with DeWitt chipping in three RBI.

Kuroda took the win, pitching six innings of two-run, five-hit ball with three strikeouts and one walk. Cory Wade pitched two innings of one-hit ball in relief, and Jonathan Broxton pitched the ninth to end it.

For the Phillies, Howard, who had been mired in a terrible slump in the series so far, was 2-for-4.

Moyer was the pitcher of record for Philadelphia, only lasting 1 1-3 innings, allowing six runs on six hits. Clay Condrey, Happ, Scott Eyre, Chad Durbin and J.C. Romero saw time out of the bullpen for Philadelphia.

The series resumes Monday night, with Joe Blanton working for the Phillies, who have lost six straight at Dodger Stadium, and Derek Lowe slated to throw for Los Angeles, which is 20-6 at home since Aug. 1.

Video credit – FOX

Monday, October 6, 2008

Angels stay alive with 12-inning win over Red Sox

2008 MLB PLAYOFFS SPECIAL COVERAGE – ALDS GAME 3
Game played Oct. 5, 2008

Facing elimination in Game 3 of the American League Division Series, the Los Angeles Angels lived to fight another day with a 12-inning 5-4 win in misty conditions over the Red Sox, cutting their best-of-five series deficit in half at two games to one. Mike Napoli hit two home runs in the win for L.A.

Napoli singled to lead off the 12th inning against Boston reliever Javier Lopez and moved to second on a Howie Kendrick sac bunt. Erick Aybar then drove Napoli home with a single to center for a 5-4 lead.

With their backs to the wall, the Angels drew first blood. Chone Figgins led off the game with a ground-rule double to right field on fan interference off Boston starter Josh Beckett. Later in the inning, Juan Rivera drew a bases-loaded walk to force in Figgins and give Los Angeles a 1-0 lead.

Boston then took the lead in historic fashion. Jed Lowrie got things started against Angels starter Joe Saunders with two out by drawing a free pass. Jason Varitek then singled to left and Coco Crisp walked to load the bases. Jacoby Ellsbury blooped a ball to shallow center that fell in between Angels Torii Hunter and Kendrick for a single, clearing the bases for the first three-run single in postseason history and giving the Red Sox a 3-1 advantage.

Los Angeles drew even in the top of the third frame. Vladimir Guerrero led off with a double to left and stole third base before Mike Napoli hit a home run to left field to tie the score at three runs apiece.

The Angels took the lead in the fifth when unlikely hero Napoli hit his second homer of the night to left for a 4-3 advantage.

Boston tied the game and eventually forced extra baseball by scoring in the bottom half of the frame. Ellsbury led off with a double to left and scored on a Kevin Youkilis double to center to again tie the game at 4-4.

The Angels and closer Francisco Rodriguez then fought their way out of a bases-loaded situation in the 10th inning, setting the stage for late-game heroics in the 12th.

For the Angels, Napoli went 3-for-5 with three RBI. Figgins also chipped in three hits, while Mark Teixeira, Guerrero, Hunter and Kendrick all registered two base hits.

Jered Weaver (1-0) picked up the win for Los Angeles in relief, tossing two scoreless innings, allowing one hit and one walk with three strikeouts. Saunders lasted 4 2-3 innings, while Jose Arredondo, Darren Oliver, Scot Shields, Rodriguez and Weaver all allowed zero runs in relief.

For the Red Sox, Ellsbury and Youkilis each went 2-for-5 on the night.

Lopez (0-1) took the loss for Boston, allowing a run on three hits over an inning of work. Beckett yielded nine hits, four walks and four runs over five innings. Manny Delcarmen, Hideki Okajima, Justin Masterson and Jonathan Papelbon each held the Angels scoreless in a stint out of the Sox bullpen.

With the win, the Angels picked up their first playoff win over Boston in the last 12 tries, a streak dating back to Game 5 of the 1986 ALCS.

Game 4 of the series is set for Monday night, with each team yet to announce a probable starter.

Video credit – TBS

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Loney grand slam leads L.A. to 7-2 win in opener over Cubs

2008 MLB PLAYOFFS SPECIAL COVERAGE – NLDS GAME 1
Game played Oct. 1, 2008

A James Loney fifth-inning grand slam paced the Los Angeles Dodgers to a 7-2 win over the Cubs in Game 1 of the National League Division Series. The win is only the Dodgers’ second playoff victory since winning the 1988 World Series over Oakland.

Trailing 2-0, Los Angeles loaded the bases in the fifth frame by drawing three walks from Chicago starter Ryan Dempster. Rafael Furcal walked with one out, and Manny Ramirez and Andre Ethier took two straight two-out free passes before Loney just barely lifted a homer to dead center for a 4-2 lead.

The Dodgers played add-on in the final three innings to create some breathing room. In the seventh, Ramirez golfed a low pitch nearly off his shoetops to left-center for a leadoff blow against reliever Sean Marshall. The homer was Ramirez’s 25th career postseason shot, an all-time record.

In the eighth with Jeff Samardzija on out of the Cubs bullpen, Blake DeWitt led off for Los Angeles with a double to center field and took third on Chicago’s Jim Edmonds’ error. Casey Blake followed with a single to center to score DeWitt for a four-run advantage at 6-2.

L.A.’s last at-bat began with a bang. Russell Martin hit a leadoff homer to left-center off Jason Marquis to close the scorebook at 7-2.

Greg Maddux, normally a starter, then came on out of the Dodgers bullpen and shut down the Chicago offense in the ninth to end the game.

The Cubs’ only two runs came in the second. Edmonds singled to center with one down and Mark DeRosa homered to right off Los Angeles starter Derek Lowe to take an early 2-0 lead.

Ramirez and DeWitt each were 2-for-4 for the Dodgers, while Loney’s jack netted him four RBI.

On the mound, Lowe (1-0) worked six innings of two-run, seven-hit baseball, with one walk and six strikeouts. Cory Wade, Jonathan Broxton and Maddux then each worked an inning to nail down the win.

With the win, Lowe is 6-1 in his last 10 starts.

For Chicago, which lost its seventh straight playoff contest, DeRosa and Ryan Theriot each garnered two hits. Dempster (0-1) went 4 2-3 innings, allowing four runs on four hits with seven walks, a season high, and two strikeouts. Marshall recorded four punchouts in his 2 1-3 innings of work.

Game 2 will feature Chad Billingsley working for the Dodgers and Carlos Zambrano on the hill for the Cubs, who won the season series five games to two and are in the playoffs in back-to-back seasons for the first time since making three straight appearances from 1906-08, culminating with a 1908 World Series win over Detroit.

Video credit – TBS