Monday, October 4, 2004
NFL "Expert" Picks
Friday - 6:30 p.m. - I am going to be around this weekend, and there are rumblings of freezing rain and even (gasp) snow, so I may be posting some random thoughts from time to time. It is the final weekend of baseball's regular season, and there is a lot going on. I will keep Friday's entry posted in this main page because from a Twins fan's perspective, the A's/Angels series this weekend is very important. It, along with the Twins/Indians series, will determine whether the Twins get homefield advantage in the ALDS or not. Basically, either the A's or the Angels will win two of their three games. Both teams have tie breakers over the Twins, so the Twins will have to got 3-0 to gain homefield. And, if one of those two teams sweeps, then the Twins will be in Yankees Stadium on Tuesday no matter how well they play this weekend.
But an equally exciting situation is brewing in the Wild, Wild, National League Wild Card race. Going into the weekend, the San Francisco Giants and Houston Astros were tied, one game ahead of the Chicago Cubs for the final playoff spot in the National League. Well, this afternoon, Mike Hampton homered and pitched the Atlanta Braves to a win over Kerry Wood and the Chicago Cubs. Basically, the Cubs are done, unless the other two teams BOTH play really bad this weekend. Please check out The Baseball Savant for the pitching matchups and some great thoughts on those three team's matchups this weekend.
One point Twins fans might be interested in is the Houston Astros fifth starter. Peter Munro will be starting tonight for the Astros. Remember Munro went to spring training with the Twins and started the season in the Rochester Redwings starting rotation. He actually pitched well but was passed over by the likes of Seth Greisinger and Matt Guerrier for opportunities to be the Twins fifth starter. When he was still at AAA on June 1, he became a free agent and immediately signed with the Astros. He has been with them since. He has pitched in 20 games (and started 18 of them). He is just 4-7 with a 5.20 ERA, so certainly nothing spectacular. Generally, he goes between four and six innings and gives up some hits and runs, but he has kept the Astros in games. Hard to believe that the Astros, a team that fired manager Jimy Williams the day after the All-Star Game, has returned from the dead and put themselves in this position. They will start Munro, Cy Young candidate Roy Oswalt and lefty Carlos Hernandez (Who just recently returned to the team following almost two missed seasons after arm surgery) against the Colorado Rockies this weekend. No Clemens. Good thing their offense is so great!
Another great series is the Giants/Dodgers series. Barry Bonds is essentially the offense for the Giants. AJ Pierzynski and Pedro Feliz have done well. JT Snow has surprisingly provided some production behind Bonds. But this weekend, they will send out Kirk Reuter, Jason Schmidt and Brett Tomko, their top three pitchers. But the Dodgers are very good too, obviously, as they are leading the division. This will be a fun series to watch! Game 1 is on ESPN tonight at 9:00 central.
So, as you can see, I will just post some random thoughts and updates throughout the weekend on baseball, the playoffs, and plenty of very random topics. I hope you enjoy it!. Please feel free to e-mail me at any time if you have any questions or comments on anything! Have a great weekend!
Friday - 6:33 p.m. - Batgirl held an Intervention for the Twins Bullpen. Please check it out. Some of the best laugh-out-loud reading I have found! Also, she names the Batgirl Twins MVP, and it really isn't much of a surprise.
Friday - 6:38 p.m. - Will Young is one of the best Twins bloggers out there. He is a grad school student in Washington DC (George Washington U.) going into Sports Management. He went to a class the other night and wrote an entertaining posting explaining the concept of Binomial Distribution by using Twins situations. It is great! Check it out! My favorite part of Will's site is his Organizational Big Board. If you want to see who is playing SS at Ft. Myers, you can find that here. He keeps it up well.
Friday - 6:50 p.m. - Andy Wink is writing another Twins blog called Twin Killings. It is an excellent read. Is it just me, or do the Twins not only have a lot of bloggers, but there are also some very good ones?
Well, the Twins start their three game series against the Cleveland Indians in a few minutes. I am actually going to go sit down, relax and just enjoy the game! Stop by as frequently as you want over the weekend for Twins updates and to see how those other divisions and Wild Card races are shaping up!
Friday - 9:18 - Corey Koskie just gave the Twins a 4-3 lead with a two-run single to left-centerfield in the bottom of the 8th inning. Lew Ford led off the inning with a single. A couple pitches later, Jason Kubel hit a perfect hit-and-run single to the spot that SS Omar Vizquel had just vacated. Torii Hunter walked. Justin Morneau was made to look silly by lefty reliever Cliff Bartosh. But then, for some reason, Bartosh threw Koskie a first pitch fastball that Koskie hit to give the team the lead.
Friday - 9:24 p.m. - ESPN is thankfully allowing me to watch the A's/Angels game! But they also went live out to Seattle for Ichiro's first at bat of the game. In it, against Ryan Drese of the Rangers, Ichiro took a sinker low and away and bounced it over Hank Blalock's head at 3B. That gives him 257 hits on the season, tying him with George Sisler for the record. The crowd in Safeco Ooh'd and Aah'd with every pitch, every foul ball, and then finally he got the hit and the crowd erupted. I love seeing history like that!
Friday - 9:35 p.m. - Joe Nathan just finished off a dominant top of the 9th by striking out Grady Sizemore and Ronnie Belliard. Jesse Crain, who struggled in the 8th but got out of it, picks up the win. Terry Mulholland was great through 7 innings, allowing the three runs.
Friday - 9:37 p.m. - Anaheim put four runs on the board in the top of the second against Mark Mulder, who has been just awful in the second half. Bartolo Colon, who has been great in the second half, is on the mound for the Angels.
Friday - 9:45 p.m. - Just a couple of other thoughts on the Twins game. Jacque Jones found out late Thursday night that his father had passed away, so he did not play. Apparently his dad has been fighting cancer for awhile now. Jones will be leaving the team for the funeral and should be back in the lineup on Tuesday. I comment on this because it kind of puts everything, particularly baseball, into proper perspective. Home field advantage would be nice. Getting to the playoffs is nice. Putting up good numbers is great. Getting to play baseball is wonderful. But not much is more important than family and unfortunately sometimes it takes something like this to remind us of that fact. Yes, Jacque has been really struggling this season and particularly of late. There may have been things going on in his head that we will never know, or need to know. I think sometimes we put professional athletes on a pedestal and expect them to be perfect and to not be affected by the same things that would affect any of us. No need for a lecture, but it is good to remember this sometimes. I know that I certainly wish Jacque and his family the best in these trying times!
Friday - 9:52 p.m. - Jason Kubel continues to impress me with his approach at the plate. He doesn't swing at bad pitches and takes good, quick swings at good pitches. The hit-and-run was textbook. He is a good baserunner as well. I was surprised that Luis Rivas pinch ran for him in the 8th, but maybe Gardy just wanted to get Rivas moving around a little bit before putting him in as a defensive replacement in the 9th.
Michael Cuddyer continues to impress with the bat, and continues to show me that he is fully capable of playing defense at 2B. Likewise, I think that Justin Morneau has proven to be more than adequate at 1B, and that was supposedly his big question mark!
Jose Offerman was the DH tonight. He has not done well as the DH this year, but he does need his at bats. I can definitely see him pinch hitting for one of the catchers in the late innings. He has been great as a pinch hitter this year. I know I feel more comfortable with him pinch hitting late in a game than I would have been with Michael Ryan a year ago.
Friday - 9:59 p.m. - Ichiro is getting his second at bat against Ryan Drese. On a 3-2 pitch, he took a fastball and slapped it right up the middle for hit #258, setting the new record. This time, all of his Mariners teammates mobbed him around 1B. Again, I love scenes like this and it makes me wish I could have done something so momentous and memorable on such a big scale. It really is a remarkable accomplishment. George Sisler's daughter is in attendance and seems genuinely happy to be there. Ichiro went over to her and shook her hand. Classy! Speaking of classy, the unbelievable Rangers infield of Mark Teixeira, Alfonso Soriano, Michael Young and Hank Blalock, all standing near 2B, tipped their hats in unison to Ichiro who acknowledged them! What a moment!
Friday - 10:08 p.m. - For those of you in the Fargo-Moorhead area, be sure to head to Newman Outdoor Field, home of the Fargo-Moorhead Redhawks. They will be holding their 9th annual rummage sale Saturday morning from 9:00-12:00.
Friday - 10:11 p.m. - Mark Mulder, a one-time Cy Young award candidate, lasted just two innings in his start tonight. Joe Blanton, another Moneyball player, and a top pitching prospect who had an up-and-down season at AAA this year is in the game now. He has thrown three shutout innings.
Friday - 10:14 p.m. - Can you say bullpen by committee? The Houston Astros used seven pitchers in tonight's nine inning, 4-2 victory over the Colorado Rockies. As you read above, Peter Munro started, but went just 2 2/3 innings. He gave up just one run, but allowed six hits and walked two, meaning he had to work out of problems every inning. Mike Gallo (1 out), Brandon Duckworth (4), Chad Harville (2), Chad Qualls (6), Dan Micelli (3) and Brad Lidge (3) all helped the team to their obviously very important win in their quest for a playoff birth. On the other side, Joe Kennedy pitched a complete game for the Rockies.
Friday - 10:16 p.m. - The Giants are out to a 2-0 lead over the Los Angeles Dodgers through four innings. As would be expected, Barry Bonds has not been allowed to hit. He has been walked in both of his at bats thus far. Marquis Grissom doubled in Bonds and Deivi Cruz to give the Giants the lead.
Friday - 10:29 p.m. - Sometimes I wish I was a good writer I wish I could express my thoughts a lot better to give the readers a better perspective. Different people have different opinions on the Star-Tribune's Patrick Reusse, but tonight, he wrote a great article! Just great! He discusses Jacque Jones, the Yankees weekend, who Ron Gardenhire is and isn't playing, the bullpen and more. And, he is doing it all without bashing Gardy. He actually is agreeing with him, which is unusual for a columnist sometimes! But he expresses many of the same things that I think. So, I would encourage you to check out his article here.
Friday - 10:32 p.m. - Brent Hanson of BrentNet will be running in the Twin Cities Marathon tomorrow morning. Here he outlines and previews the marathon. I don't run/jog, but even I find this stuff very interesting. Check out his site and send him an e-mail.
Friday - 10:39 p.m. - SI.com has an article on baseball's All-Dud Team. It gives players from both league, from each position, who did not perform either well or up to expectation. It is sad to see how many of those guys I had on my teams!!
Friday - 11:05 p.m. - Baseball America staffers are busy at this time developing their lists. Right now, they are showing their series on the Top 20 prospects in each Minor League league. Today, they showed the prospects of the Florida State League. Of course, the wins High-A affiliate, Ft. Myers, is in that league. They have just one prospect listed in the Florida State League's Top 20. They list lefty Francisco Liriano as the league's #11 prospect. I have ranked him as the Twins #4 prospect on my Twins prospect list.
The Twins organization actually had better representation on the previously ranked leagues in which they have an affiliate. The Swing of the Quad Cities of the Midwest League no longer is the Twins affiliate as of the conclusion of the minor league season (they were stolen by the Cardinals!). However, two Twins prospects ranked in the Top 20 in the Midwest League. RHP Adam Harben ranked #10 on their list (He was my 8th ranked Twins prospect). Former Gopher and Twins first round pick in this year's draft, Glen Perkins, ranked 14th on their list (I have him listed as the Twins #6 prospect).
The Twins have two short-season rookie league teams. Elizabethton is in the Appalachian League. The E-Twins places six players on Baseball America's Top 20 Appalachian League Prospects. The Twins third first-round pick, RHP Kyle Waldrop, ranks 3rd in the league (and 7th on my list). The team's first first-round pick, SS Trevor Plouffe, ranks 6th on their list (and I ranked him 11th). Holland native Alexander Smit, the tall-lanky lefty, ranks as the league's 9th best prospect (20th on mine). RHP Matthew Fox, a sandwich pick between the 1st and 2nd round this year, ranks as the league's #11 prospect. RHP Frank Mata, the team's closer, ranks 15th in the league. Finally, Deacon Burns, the Twins 26th round pick out of Northern State, ranks #20 in the leagues. The last three were all honorably mentioned in my top prospects list.
The other rookie league team is the Gulf Coast Twins, who play in Ft. Myers as well. The Twins put four players on the Gulf Coast League's Top 20 Prospects list. Repeater, Kyle Waldrop ranks 4th in this league. Jay Rainville, another sandwich pick this June, was ranked 8th in the league (and #24 on my list). 3B Juan Portes, the team's 15th round pick, put up great offensive numbers and ranked #12. Finally the Twins 2nd round pick this June, RHP Anthony Swarzak, ranks 15th on their list.
Baseball America will provide their Top 20 lists for the Eastern League (New Britain) on Wednesday and for the International League (Rochester) on Thursday. The Twins should place plenty of players on those lists as well.
Friday - 11:07 p.m. - Joe Blanton pitched three shutout innings for the A's, holding down the Angels lead to 4-0. However, in the 6th innings, Blanton allowed the bases to be loaded and, of all people, 2B Alfredo Amezaga, hit a long grand slam to increase the A's lead to 8-0. Bartolo Colon is in cruise control for the Angels. The teams play tomorrow again. Barry Zito will start for the A's against Kelvim Escobar. Assuming the Angels hold this lead, the A's have to win tomorrow afternoon or the division goes to the Angels. If the A's do win, then Sunday's game is all or nothing. Winner to the players; loser to their home for vacation!
Friday - 11:21 p.m. - Gophers Football Fans, your time has come. Is it possible? Your team is starting to get some national recognition! In the media! The most recent Sports Illustrated issue has an article on the team. And now, ESPN's Ivan Maisel wrote an article on the team and specifically on the amazing RB combination of Marion Barber III and Laurence Maroney. It's actually a great, and even long, article. So, you'll want to check it out!
Friday - 11:24 p.m. - ESPN.com also ran an article ranking the best bullpens among playoff contenders. Obviously the Angels ranked #1. But the Twins came in #2. They say Juan Rincon might be the most underrated relievers, and Joe Nathan is dominant. They also right that JC Romero is good. Ha! Jeff Brantley on Baseball Tonight still talks about Romero as if he is good. No mention of Rincon, or Crain, or some of the guys that are good.
Friday - 11:33 p.m. - OK, the Dodgers had cut the Giants lead to 3-2. But then in the top of the 8th inning, JT Snow, hit a solo home run. Now, this may not seem like a big deal. It was his 12th homer of the year. I happened to notice that through that at bat, Snow is now hitting .325 this season. And last night was his 106th game of the year. We are talking about a career .267 hitter here! As great as Snow has always been with the glove, he has never been a great hitter, or at least he has not been good since, well, as least not this millennium, if not a decade. Good for him! And to think that earlier in the season, the Giants and Mariners at least discussed a John Olerud for JT Snow trade. Snow is now hitting behind Barry Bonds! Of course, he doesn't get Bonds more pitches to hit. Tonight again, Bonds is currently 0-1 with three walks. That is 228 walks for the season!
Friday - 11:43 p.m. - Andres Galarraga just hit a home run to increase the Angels lead to 10-0. As you know, The Big Cat has now come back to the big leagues after beating cancer twice! The home run was the 399th of his career. The 43 year old is now 3-7 for the Angels this month.
Friday - 11:46 p.m. - Dustin Hermanson came in and recorded the Save for the Giants, protecting a 4-2 lead.
So, here's where we stand going into Saturday.
In the NL Wild Card race, the Giants and Astros both won, while the Cubs lost. So those teams share the lead, two games ahead of the Cubs. The Cubs are essentially done. They need to win both remaining games AND for both the Giants and Astros to lose both of their remaining games
In the NL West, if the Giants win their two games with the Dodgers, the two teams will be tied atop the division. Both teams would be in the playoffs if the Astros lose once.
In the AL, the Twins won, meaning they still have hope for home-field advantage in the first round. The Angels crushed the A's. Any way the Twins look at it, they must win both games to have a chance at homefield. If the Angels win on Saturday, they will be the AL West's division champion. If the A's win, the winner of Sunday's game will be the champion and playoff bound.
Friday - 11:52 p.m. - Gotta love this time of year. And, I love sleep, so I'm going to bed. I will be writing more throughout the day tomorrow, so stop by and see what's new.
Saturday - 12:02 a.m. - One more quick note; Ichiro added another hit and was 3-5 on the night to end with 259 hits.
Again, any questions or comments, please feel free to e-mail me.
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 2
Saturday - 10:11 a.m. -
"He's had arguably the greatest second half of any pitcher in the history of the game. I have followed him almost as closely as I would somebody on my team because, as a pitcher, I appreciate that he's had just a phenomenal, phenomenal season. He's been phenomenal to watch."
- Curt Schilling
That works from me. The Star-Tribune's Chris Snow writes that Curt Schilling says that Johan Santana 'absolutely' deserves the Cy Young Award.
"If there were no lefthanders in baseball, I might be shooting for my third Cy Young award,"
That's kinda what I was saying in my article on Schilling on Monday.
Jim Souhan reports that it is Grant Balfour and not Joe Roa will be the 10th pitcher on the post-season roster. Roa was invited to attend the games and travel with the team, with a chance to be added to the roster for the ALCS, should the team get that far. Roa declined. I can't blame him for being upset. He has been a part of the pitching staff all season. He isn't as talented as Balfour, but he does deserve respect. That said, I don't blame Gardy for choosing Balfour. He can be more dominant and could be put into a situation where a strikeout is needed. But let's be honest, Gardy won't put him into a situation like that anyway.
Saturday - 10:40 a.m. - The Fargo Forum's Mike McFeely writes that the Twins have set themselves up for failure by not going after home-field advantage. Columnists make me laugh, especially columnists that are not even close to the situation. Seriously, do you think that the Twins went to Yankees Stadium last week and TRIED to lose those games? Were the blown out?? No, they lost three games by a combined four runs. As I wrote before, the Twins played their best lineup for that day. Players that did not play, didn't play for a reason. Shannon Stewart's hamstring is not healthy. The Twins have four other outfielders on the roster who can step up. Luis Rivas had a cortisone shot in his elbow, so he didn't play. Also, Michael Cuddyer is a step up anyway. Torii Hunter, Henry Blanco and Corey Koskie all got Game 2 of a double-header off. I suppose Jason Kubel shouldn't be playing, right? Even if he is hitting well? This is not them trying to lose. And, I don't think that the Twins need to be intimidated by the Yankees. Yes, they have a great offense, although there are holes in it. The Twins bullpen was not good in the series. But, in the playoffs, the Twins will (hopefully) get 7+ innings from Johan Santana and Brad Radke. Juan Rincon can pitch the 8th with Joe Nathan in the 9th. Hopefully JC Romero won't get into a crucial situation. I would take my chances with Jesse Crain. Terry Mulholland will also be in the bullpen. And, Carlos Silva has been very good the past month!
Am I say that the Twins will beat the Yankees? For sure? No. But would the Twins absolutely be favorites in a home-field series with the Red Sox either? Not at all. If the Twins lose to the Yankees, is it because they lost three games to them last week? No, it will be because the Yankees starters do well and get them to Tom Gordon and Mariano Rivera.
Would the Twins prefer home-field? Sure! Do they respect the Yankees and the Red Sox? Of course they do. People just make too much of this stuff. We'll see what happens starting on Tuesday.
Saturday - 11:20 a.m. - The Twins are starting early again today to accommodate the Gophers football game against Penn State tonight. Carlos Silva is trying for his 15th win of the season, but things are not starting out well. Grady Sizemore led off with a triple. Coco Crisp singled him in before Ben Broussard walked. But Silva settled down and only allowed one more run, on a Casey Blake ground out. So, before coming to bat, the Twins are down 2-0.
I'm sure everyone wants to know the Twins lineup, and since they're not on TV today, I'll tell you:
Ford LF, Kubel RF, Hunter CF, Morneau 1B, Koskie 3B, Tiffee DH, Guzman SS, Rivas 2B, Borders C.
Stewart with another game off. Kubel replacing Jones. Rivas replacing Cuddyer. Borders replacing Blanco. And, Terry Tiffee getting some more at bats against Indians starter Jake Westbrook.
Saturday - 11:31 a.m. - The Twins came back in the bottom of the 1st. Lew Ford led off with an infield single and advanced to second on a Jason Kubel groundout. Torii Hunter then singled in Ford for the Twins first run. Justin Morneau singled Hunter to second. However, Corey Koskie flew out to left and Terry Tiffee flew out to center. But the Twins did cut the Indians lead in half.
Saturday - 12:15 p.m. - Grady Sizemore, the Indians top prospect, improved to 3-3 on the game with a home run to give the Indians a 3-1 lead. He's good, and will be going for the cycle in his next at bats.
Saturday 12:33 p.m. - In the bottom of the fifth, the Twins clawed back. Henry Blanco led off with a double and moved to third on a single by Lew Ford. Jason Kubel hit a sacrifice fly to deep centerfield which allowed Blanco to score and Ford to advance to 2B. After a Torii Hunter ground out to 3B, Justin Morneau lined a 1-2 pitch into right field to score Ford and tie the game. Corey Koskie then struck out to end the inning.
Saturday - 12:40 p.m. - Josh Phelps gave the Indians the lead again with a solo homer off Silva. 4-3 Indians.
Saturday - 12:43 p.m. - John Kruk wrote an interesting article on preparing for the playoffs. Like him, or agree with him, or not, this article does give some incite into what goes on for a player in the playoffs. From getting rest, to slowing things down, to the media and more. Oh, and he has some thoughts on the Milton Bradley situation too.
Saturday - 12:45 p.m. - The Twins answered again in the bottom of the sixth. Terry Tiffee led off with a double. Jason Bartlett ran for him. Cristian Guzman sacrifice bunted him to 3B. Luis Rivas scored him with a sacrifice fly to left field. Manufacturing runs in close games can be good! Ha!
Saturday - 12:57 p.m. - Ah Crap! 7th inning and JC Romero is in to replace Carlos Silva. He promptly walked left Grady Sizemore, who again needs just a double for the cycle. After striking out Coco Crisp, he allowed a single to left-handed Ben Broussard. Lefty Victor Martinez hit a fly ball to deep right, advancing Sizemore to 3B. And with that Grant Balfour came in to replace the enigmatic Romero! I'm actually surprised that Juan Rincon wasn't brought in for the 185th time this year. I'm glad, and also glad that Balfour is being put into this situation. Unfortunately, Balfour allowed an infield single to Blake that scored Sizemore from third to give the Indians the lead again. Don't you love when relievers come in for Romero and allow his runners to score!?! It is only fair! Balfour got Josh Phelps to ground into a fielder's choice to end the inning with the Indians leading 5-4.
Saturday - 1:12 p.m. - Lew Ford just singled to CF to lead off the bottom of the Ford is now 4-4 on the day, improving his batting average to .302! Jason Kubel followed it with a single to center, advancing Ford to third. Jake Westbrook induced Torii Hunter to ground into a double play, but it did allow Ford to tie the game at 5.
Saturday - 1:20 p.m. - I am also listening to the Concordia versus Gustavus college football game on the Concordia webpage. I went to Concordia (Moorhead) for four years and did stats for football and the other sports. I have two cousins that start for Gustavus. Jared Sieling is a freshman starter at linebacker. The Concordia Gameday Preview lists one cousin, Isaac Sieling, as the Marquee Matchup for the Cobbers. Here is what it says:
(picture from Gustavus Adolphus Game Summary)
The Marquee Matchup - Cobber Blockers vs. Gustavus Linebacker Isaac Sieling
Today's marquee matchup pits the Cobber offensive line - and blocking backs - against the league's top tackler - Isaac Sieling.
Concordia's offensive line - and blocking backs - will have their hands full with Gustavus senior linebacker Isaac Sieling. Sieling currently leads the MIAC in overall tackles (15.0/MIAC games) and is ranked ninth in DIII in that category for overall games (13.7).
In the team's first conference game against Hamline he had 21 tackles. Against St. John's last week he recorded a game-high nine tackles. In Gustavus' last seven games (carrying over from last season), Sieling has made at least 10 tackles in all but one game - last week against St. John's. The last time he did not record at least five tackles in a game was last year against St. Thomas when he was held to only three tackles.
Saturday - 1:26 p.m. - OK, never mind, Juan Rincon came in to pitch the 8th inning. He didn't allow a run and walked one. And yeah, then he pitched the top of the 9th too! Uggh!
Saturday - 2:01 p.m. - Joe Nathan replaced Rincon and pitched a 1-2-3 10th inning, striking out two. The Twins have had a couple of chances, but haven't been able to get the one run they need for the win.
Saturday - 3:10 p.m. - I just mowed a third of my yard and came back inside. I saw that the Twins and Indians game was suspended because the grounds crew needs time to get the field ready for the Gophers football game tonight. It will be resumed tomorrow, starting at 1:00.
Saturday - 3:11 p.m. - As I was reading that, I was still listening to the Concordia/Gustavus game. The first play I heard was a tackle by my cousin Isaac Sieling. The next play my other cousin Jared Sieling picked up a loose ball and returned it 25 yards for a Gustavus touchdown. The Gusties missed the extra point and are still down 28-27 at the end of the 3rd quarter. (Photo from Gustavus Game Summary)
Saturday - 3:32 p.m. - Johan Santana was named AL Pitcher of the Month for September. In the month, he was 5-0 with a 0.45 ERA. In 40 innings, he struck out 52 and allowed just 20 hits and 7 walks. He received the award in July and August as well. Carlos Silva (4-0, 1.72 ERA) and Brad Radke (2-1, 2.19 ERA) were also mention for consideration.
Saturday - 3:52 p.m. - Sammy Sosa (35), Aramis Ramirez (36) and Moises Alou (38) each homered, but it wasn't enough to keep the Cubs playoff hopes alive as the team lost to the Braves 8-6. Carlos Zambrano, the Cubs best pitcher all season, gave up five runs in 5.2 innings. Now it's all about the Astros and Giants. One will go to the playoffs and one will not.
Saturday - 5:05 p.m. - OK, just finished mowing the lawn, and here is the quick update. San Francisco got another big hit from Marquis Grissom. He hit a two run single to score Barry Bonds (who is 0-1 with two walks) and JT Snow. Brett Tomko has allowed no runs on just two hits and a walk through six innings for the Giants.
Saturday - 5:11 p.m. - The A's jumped out to a 2-0 lead on the Angels this afternoon when Eric Chavez hit a two-run double in the 3rd. In the top of the 6th, Vlad Guerrero launched a two run homer to tie the game. However, in the bottom of that inning, the A's came back with a run when catcher Damien Miller hit a double to score Jermaine Dye, and end the day for Angels starter Kelvim Escobar. Brendan Donnelly came in and struck out Bobby Crosby for the inning's second out. However, the nine-hitter, Marco Scutaro singled in Miller to extend the A's lead to 4-2 through six innings. Again, we want the A's to win so that 1.) their game tomorrow really means a lot and 2.) if the Twins win the suspended game and their final game, they can still get home field advantage.
Saturday - 5:12 p.m. - Marquis Grissom comes through again, this time with a solo homer in the top of the 7th, giving the Giants a 3-0 lead over the Dodgers.
Saturday - 6:18 p.m. - The Angels win the West. Darin Erstad doubled in two runs in the top of the 8th inning to tie the A's at four. Garrett Anderson singled to score Erstad and give the Angels the 5-4 lead, and Troy Percival pitched the 9th inning for the Save. Now the Twins need to win their resumed game tomorrow and the second, and hope that the A's find a way to scratch out a win tomorrow for the Twins to have home field advantage.
Saturday - 6:46 p.m. - The San Francisco Giants held a 3-0 lead heading into the bottom of the ninth against the Los Angeles Dodgers. With Dustin Hermanson on the mound again, Shawn Green singled and Robin Ventura walked. Alex Cora struck out. Then Jose Hernandez walked to load the bases. Hee Seop Choi came in to pinch hit for the Dodgers, and Hermanson walked him to cut the lead to 3-1. That brought up SS Cesar Izturis, and Jason Christiansen came in to pitch for the Giants. Izturis grounded to SS, but there was a fielding error allowing the run to score and for the bases to remain loaded. Matt Herges came in to pitch, still one out. Jayson Werth singled to score the game-tying run. Wayne Franklin came in came in to face Steve Finley. And Steve Finley finally ended the game in grand style, launching a grand slam to give the Dodgers a 7-3 win and the NL West title. Now the Giants need help from the Rockies against Roy Oswalt and the Astros to have a chance to make the playoffs as the Wild Card.
Saturday - 6:48 p.m. - Craig Biggio just homered for the second time in the game with his 3rd inning homer which gave the Astros a 3-1 lead over the Rockies. Jeff Kent added a solo home run as well.
Saturday - 7:29 p.m. - Jamal Lewis agrees to a plea bargain and will face some jail time. However, it is also likely that he will not have to serve that time until after the season.
Sunday - 3:32 a.m. - The Minnesota Golden Gophers beat Penn State 16-7 to remain undefeated at 5-0. Laurence Maroney rushed for 144 yards and a touchdown. Marion Barber rushed for 88 yards and a TD. For what it's worth, Northwestern beat Ohio State 33-27 in overtime
Sunday - 3:46 a.m. - By the way, the Houston Astros, behind Roy Oswalt's 20th victory, won 9-3 over that Rockies. They now have a 1 game lead over the Giants for the Wild Card berth.
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 3
Sunday - 12:25 p.m. - Hello all! Well, we're got football to watch all day, which is great. But it's also the final day of the regular season for major league baseball. Well, unless the Giants win and the Astros lose, in which case, they will need to play tomorrow to determine which of the two gets the NL Wild Card. It should be a fun day!
Sunday - 1:15 p.m. - The Twins have resumed their suspended game with the Indians. It is Kyle Lohse pitching for the Twins in this game, meaning that JD Durbin will be starting the regularly scheduled game. This does make sense. Lohse is able to prepare as if he were 'starting' this game, even though he is really relieving. And hey, it's on TV!!! The Twins are probably upset and embarrassed by having their game suspended. It isn't the Gophers fault. The Minnesota state legislature should get all of the blame! Lohse did allow a two-out double, but got out of the inning unscathed. David Riske is in for the Indians in the bottom of the 12th.
Sunday - 1:31 p.m. - With two outs and Jason Bartlett (who walked) on first based, Michael Cuddyer doubled to right centerfield. Ryan Ludwick cut the ball off and made the throw to the cutoff man who made a good throw to the plate, but Bartlett (who is very fast and was off with the pitch) scored on a very close play to score the winning run. Game 2 is 20 minutes away! Now the playoff scenario is much clearer. If the Angels beat the A's, the Twins got to New York. If the A's win, and the Twins beat the Indians in the upcoming game, the Twins will host the Red Sox. Wow!
Sunday - 1:53 p.m. - Interesting! Kyle Lohse is back on the mound to start the regularly scheduled game. He picked up his 9th win of the year with the earlier inning of work. Maybe he can pick up a second win today. I wonder if that has ever happened? Has a pitcher ever won two games in one day, at least in the current baseball era? Through one batter, Lohse looks like he's got good stuff! He struck out Grady Sizemore. A few other lineup changes. With Jacque Jones headed to his father's funeral, Michael Restovich is starting in right field (which also makes sense because the Indians starter, Cliff Lee, is left-handed). Also, Matthew LeCroy is playing 1B. 1-2-3 first inning for Lohse!
Sunday - 2:15 p.m. - Have a day, Michael Cuddyer! Down 1-0 in the second inning, Michael Cuddyer launched a shot to tie the game at 1. A couple of pitches earlier, Corey Koskie just missed a home run when Grady Sizemore caught his fly ball at the fence in dead centerfield. Can you believe that there are still people out there who think that Luis Rivas should be starting? Ha!
Sunday - 2:17 p.m. - Think the Astros Brandon Backe wants to win today? He has shut out the Rockies hitters through the first four innings. Also, he gave the team a 2-0 lead with a two-run single in the second inning. Then the Astros added three runs in the third inning and have a 5-0 lead. Again, if they win, they are in the playoffs and the Giants will not be.
Sunday - 2:40 p.m. - Kyle Lohse has looked really good today, throwing a lot of strikes. But he did make a mistake in the 3rd inning to Ben Broussard which resulted in a two run homer and a 3-1 Indians lead. In the bottom of the fourth, Matthew LeCroy hit a LONG home run to dead centerfield to cut the lead to 3-2. It has become apparent that Kyle Lohse has a blister or something on a finger, and Jesse Crain will come into the game.
Sunday - 2:51 p.m. - Former Twins top pick, David McCarty, has been a utility, 1B, PH, DH-type player for the Boston Red Sox all season. Earlier in the year, they had talked about him being a left-handed reliever as well. He had pitched just 1.1 innings so far. Today, with their playoff spot intact, McCarty has now pitched two innings. He has allowed one hit and struck out three.
Sunday - 3:08 p.m. - I just looked at the lineup for the Angels today. It is looking like they want to go to Yankees Stadium for the first round. Here is the lineup they're putting out there today to face the A's Tim Hudson: Jeff DaVanon CF, Curtis Pride RF, Andres Galarraga DH, Dallas McPherson 3B, Casey Kotchman 1B, Adam Riggs LF, Josh Paul C, Shane Halter 2B, Alfredo Amezaga SS. Of course, the A's are sitting out Eric Chavez, and Bobby Kielty is actually playing too. Twins still need to come back and win as well though to game home field. (But they just showed JC Romero warming up, so I'm not liking their chances!!)
Sunday - 3:20 p.m. - Some of the early football games are ending, so see below to see how our "experts" are doing. We all got the Packers game wrong. Tiki Barber ran all over them!
Sunday - 3:36 p.m. - JC Romero actually pitched a 1-2-3 7th inning. and got Ben Broussard to lead off the 8th. Not bad, and hopefully it's something he can build off in the playoffs. Grant Balfour is now in. In Oakland, the Angels got a couple of third inning runs off Tim Hudson. Alfredo Amezaga doubled. One out later, Jeff DaVanon tripled him in and scored on a Curtis Pride single. In Houston, the Astros still lead the Rockies 5-2. The Giants jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead against the Dodgers.
Sunday - 4:02 p.m. - Grant Balfour allowed a two-out triple to Grady Sizemore that scored Josh Bard as the Indians fourth run. Two pitches later, he bounced a slider about 58 feet to score Sizemore from third. So the offense is going to have its work cut out for it. For the Astros, Brad Lidge is in to close a 5-3 lead to send them to the playoffs. (UPDATE - Lidge pitched a perfect, two-strikeout inning to send the Astros to the playoffs. The Giants season is over.)
Sunday - 4:06 p.m. - Well, the Twins are headed to New York to face the Yankees. They end the season with a 92-70 record.
Sunday night - Well, there is a lot of reading here for you. The Twins, and all of the playoff teams have an off day today to travel and/or prepare for their first games. On Tuesday, the Red Sox and Angels will play. So will the Cardinals and Dodgers. And finally, the Twins and Yankees will play the national game on Fox. I'm sure that means that we will have to listen to Tim McCarver, huh? ICK! Then on Wednesday, the Braves and Astros will play their first game.
LOOKING AHEAD - Tomorrow, I will post my thoughts on these Division Series and pick who I think will advance. Throughout the playoffs, I will keep updating how those series are going. Also, over the next week, I will be posting my thoughts on the different awards, the Managers of the Year, Rookies of the Year, Cy Youngs and MVPs.
Be sure to check out the Minneapolis Star-Tribune tomorrow as well.
And on that note, I am going to call it a day. Have a great Monday and a great week. It should be fun to get the playoffs going! I'll be at the Dome on Friday and Saturday! I can't wait, hopefully the Twins can clinch at home!
If you have any questions or comments, please e-mail me.
NFL "EXPERT" PICKS
Finally, here are the results of our football picks for this week. The leader board will be updated shortly. But as you can see, Melissa Olson, Michael Labuda and Mike Brasel (again!) will win this week as all three have four wrong and have picked the Ravens tonight.
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