Archive | September, 2011

And Then There Was One…..Game Left That Is

And we were down to one.  After 161 games, the Atlanta Braves and the hated (at least by this blogger) St. Louis Cardinals are tied with a single game to go.

So what will happen over the next 24-48 hours? Whatever it is, it will be fun to watch.

What looks good for Atlanta:

1. Tim Hudson is starting in game 162. Hudson has been the best pitcher for the Braves all year, and if the Braves could have 1 pitcher to throw in an important game it would be him.

2. Joe Blanton is starting for Philly. Not that Blanton is a pushover, but he isn’t exactly Cole Hamels (who was slated to start). Blanton is coming out of the bullpen to replace Hamels as the Phillies start to get their rotation in order.

3. Some Philly starters might get a rest. They may not get the entire game off, but there is a possibility that they are pulled early and/or some bullpen pitchers will not be used in order to give them a rest. This is all up in the air and may be game situation type moves, but they could go in the favor of the Braves.

What looks good for St. Louis:

1. First and maybe foremost, they are playing the Astros. Despite the fact the Astros could play spoilers to a division rival, they have still lost 100+ games.

2. The Cardinals have Chris Carpenter starting in a huge game. The numbers might not tell it, but Carpenter is a big game pitcher. His ERA and WHIP are a bit higher than normal maybe, but if I am a Cards fan I want him pitching in a big game.

Whatever happens tomorrow, the one thing I don’t want is a game 163. The Braves just don’t have the starting pitching, outside of Hudson, to really compete in a do-or-die situation. But in a game like that you never know what might happen.

I know I’ll be up early tomorrow to watch the games. The Braves start just after 8am local time for me. You can catch me on Twitter at @BaseballJourney talking baseball and either getting really excited or angry in the process. Say hey if you are on during the game.

 

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NL Wild Card Race Heating Up

The wild card race in the NL is heating up with just 3 games to go. Atlanta has played horribly over the past month, while St. Louis has really turned things on and put a lot of pressure on the Braves.

The Braves are fighting hard to stay in the lead for the NL Wild Card, but if the current trend continues, they will be on the outside looking in. They end the year against the best team in baseball, the Philadelphia Phillies. However, out in St. Louis the Cardinals look like they will make the playoffs despite playing from behind. Why?

The Cardinals face off with the team with the worst record in baseball, the Houston Astros.

But don’t count the Astros as simply a push over. A few weeks ago they took 2-out-of-3 from Philly, and they have nothing to lose. That is always something to be considered. A team whose season ended long ago would love nothing better than to keep a rival out of the playoffs.

A look at the pitching match ups for the Phillies/Braves match up:

Game 1: Cliff Lee vs Randall Delgado

The Phillies have one of the best pitchers in baseball pitching the first game of the series in Cliff Lee. Lee is 16-8 and sporting a 2.38 ERA for the year. He is an ace on a team full of aces.

Randell Delgado has never pitched a bigger game in his career, and this will only be his 7th start in the Majors. But his first 6 have been good. He is coming off his career win against Florida, a game in which he went 5 shutout innings. He has pitched well, but he is young and doesn’t go deep into games.

Game 2: Roy Oswalt vs Derek Lowe

Roy Oswalt isn’t the 20 game winner of the past, but he is still a very good pitcher. His record sits at 8-10 with an ERA of 3.86. Two of his last 3 starts though he has gotten pounded by two of the worst teams in baseball (Washington and Houston). He sandwiched those bad outings with good starts against St. Louis and Atlanta.

Derek Lowe has been atrocious this year. His 9-16 record is the worst is his worst since 2010 when he went 5-10 for Boston. He has lost 4 games in a row and in only one of those did he have a “quality start”. He hasn’t pitched well of late at all.

Game 3: Cole Hamels vs Tim Hudson

Cole Hamels has been great this year. His 14-9 record might not look that impressive, but his 2.75 ERA and 0.98 WHIP sure do. He has had some good outings in the past weeks but mix in have been some not so good outings as well.

Tim Hudson has been the ace of the Braves staff again this year. So far he is 16-10 with a 3.23 ERA and a WHIP of 1.14. He has won 2 straight but the 2 before that weren’t so good and 1 was against Philly. But expect him to pitch a huge game on the final day of the season. You can bet it will matter in the end.

Prediction: This is hard because I really am a Braves homer. I freely admit they are my favorite team. But looking at this objectively, I think it could easily go 2-1 in favor of either squad. The Braves have a lot to play for and I think Chipper and the boys will be up for the challenge.

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I Miss Watching Baseball Regularly

I can’t remember a year where I watched less baseball than this year, and I don’t like it.

I miss being able to come home from work, relax, and catch a game on TV. Summer here in Korea is my busiest time of the year at work so I get to watch even less. When September rolls around I am needing a baseball fix and that’s when I usually get MLB.tv to catch some MLB action from back home.

It’s not a bad deal here since evening games back home come on here in the morning. I can get up at 8 or 9 am and watch a game before going to work. The only problem with that is I work late and tend to stay up late to wind down after work which makes it harder to get up in the morning. I have been watching more and more and I can tell my mood is  a little better when I get to watch baseball.

I have been busy with other endeavors as well and got sidetracked not watching very many KBO games here on weekends. I can’t remember a time when I watched so little baseball, but I plan to make up for that in September and October.

I am also looking forward to hopefully seeing a little bit of the ABL (Australian Baseball League) again this winter.

I have been wondering of late how much baseball I could watch next year if I change jobs. I wonder how many people watch 162 games a year, or get close, at least people who are not working games and just fans. I don’t know if I could do that much with my work schedule and traveling a bit, but I am going to figure out a goal to hit for next year.

I know one goal here is to write daily from now on. I miss writing about baseball, but with the small amount I have been watching it makes it harder to write.

So how much baseball do you watch in a year?

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Thoughts on September MLB Races

There are some good races heating up in the last bit of the season. While several teams have sewed up playoff spots, there are some really good races left.

Perhaps the best race is the AL West. The Rangers head into today action with only a 3.5 game lead over the LA Angels. This is going to be a great race, especially since the two teams meet to end the year with a 3 game set.

So who is going to win the West? My call is going to be the Rangers for one main reason – offense.

The Rangers may not have the 3 big horses that LA has, but they have the better offense and enough pitching to get the job done. The Rangers are getting some great seasons out of players like Michael Young, Mike Napoli, and despite what a lot of people are saying Ian Kinsler.

While the Rangers don’t have the front 3 in the rotation like the Angels do, they have a deeper starting staff and a better bullpen. This might be the difference in the race.

The only other races are for the wild cards. In the AL, Boston is battling Tampa Bay and LA for the wild card as well as the Yankees for the AL East Title.

Boston is only 3.5 games back of NY for the AL East with neither team playing well of late. If they can’t catch the Yankees, they are sitting in the wild card spot, but have two teams breathing down their necks.

Tampa Bay is only 4 games back and LA 5 games back in the wild card race. Both have picked up a lot of ground on Boston over the past 10 games.

The NL Wild Card race is heating up as well with St. Louis coming on of late trailing Atlanta by only 3.5 games. The Cardinals have picked up 4 games on the Braves in the past 10 as Atlanta has really struggled of late.

So who will come out on top?

AL East – I think NY will hold onto the top spot and win the division.

AL Wild Card – Boston will hold off Tampa Bay to get into the playoffs.

AL West – Texas

NL Wild Card – This is the hardest one to call. I am hoping the Braves can hold off the Cards, but I am a little worried about how they have played of late. However, I am going to go with the homer call and say the Braves.

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