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Cards’ young specialists fold as Sox rise in Game 4

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By Asa Schuster

Carlos Beltrán stood at the plate with a 1-1 count, two out and one on, and the chance to extend the 4-2 game in the bottom of ninth, if not tie it up with one swing.

He didn’t see another pitch as Boston escaped Game 4 on a pick-off at first, and for the second straight night at Busch Stadium the game ended on a stunning play on the base paths.

Red Sox closer Koji Uehara picked off rookie pinch runner Kolten Wong as he was caught off guard with his inertia favoring second base.

Wong was brought in specifically to replace the banged up Allen Craig because he is a ‘base running specialist’.

Beltrán could only stand at the plate helpless in disbelief, his bat well and truly taken out of his hands.

One of the great authors of postseason brilliance, was unable to put pen to paper on what could have one of his finest passages of play.

Beltrán’s first World Series has so far been stagnated by circumstance, as he was forced to exit early from Game 1 after his run-in with the Fenway wall.

The reason for the Cards’ two-run deficit was courtesy of Jonny Gomes’ three-run blast off rookie relief pitcher Seth Maness in the top of the sixth.

Maness was brought in specifically to face Gomes once starter Lance Lynn conceded a two-out single to Dustin Pedroia and walked David Ortiz.

Maness was also specifically brought in to induce a double-play as he is renowned as a ‘double-play specialist’.

Gomes was in the lineup in place of Shane Victorino, who was game-day scratching with an injured back.

Gomes, who possibly has some form of obsessive-compulsive disorder, idiosyncratically adjusted his helmet, adjusted his helmet, adjusted his helmet, and turned a sinker that failed to sink into a long-ball that resembled the Gateway Arch over the left field wall.

Beltrán had an opportunity to counter in the bottom of the seventh, digging in as the tying run with two out and Matt Carpenter on first base from an RBI single.

Beltrán had already knocked in Carpenter in the third inning to plate the first run of the game, he now faced Craig Breslow in relief, the player formerly known as the ‘smartest player in the Major League Baseball’.

In Game 2, Beltrán rolled the scoreboard over to 4-2 in favor of the Cards by guiding an RBI single to right field off Breslow.

This time he cautiosly pitched around Beltrán in four deliveries to walk him, and was promptly replaced by Junichi Tazawa, who retired Matt Holliday to end the inning.

On a night where the Cards’ rookie specialists both fell short of the mark, the Red Sox rode another crucial game-deciding home-run off the bat of one of their veterans as they’ve been able to do throughout the entire playoffs.

It’s now down to a three-game series in which the Cards’ decorated core must rise to the occasion and take matters into their own hands to ensure no more games are decided on the base paths.

Winning run fails to score as Cards claim cuckoo Game 3

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By Asa Schuster

Allen Craig found a way to win.

Inserted for a pinch-hit with the scores locked at 4-4 in the bottom of the ninth with one on and one out, he roped a double to put himself and Yadier Molina in position to score.

He’s now 3-for-3 as a pinch-hitter in Fall Classic games as his he continues to update his post-season curriculum vitae.

The next at-bat, Jon Jay tapped a grounder to Dustin Pedroia at second-base, Molina was caught out at home, and Craig was almost thrown out at third when catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia went for two.

Craig slid safely into third and as the ball escaped down the line, he was tripped up by Will Middlebrooks as he attempted to dash home.

He never reached home plate, but was deemed the winning run as Game 3 featured one of the most bizarre endings in World Series history.

The opening game at Busch Stadium reeked of National League baseball.

Boston’s bench was down to two position players, including Mike Napoli by the seventh dig as the threat of extra innings loomed at 2-2.

David Ortiz was in the field with his first basemen’s mitt in the bottom of the seventh when a wayward throw from Xander Bogaerts created a difficult play for the defensively challenged slugger.

It was a difficult play for an elite gloveman at first, but perhaps Napoli, a former catcher and defensive upgrade makes the play?

The situation perfectly exemplified the cliche ‘game of inches’ phrase, and that notion was reiterated when the next batter, Carlos Beltrán had his hefty elbow guard grazed by mere millimeters to reach base.

The Cards could have easily been none on and two out.

Instead, it was two on and none out, and Matt Holliday cashed both runners by driving the ball down the third base line, inches under Middlebrooks’ extended glove, with Beltrán hustling from first to beat the play home.

If only Middlebrooks could have obstructed the ball from reaching the outfield, his team wouldn’t have been trailing 2-4 heading into the eight inning.

The Red Sox rallied back in the next frame through Jacoby Ellsbury’s single and Shane Victorino’s hit-by-pitch setting the table for Daniel Nava’s RBI fielder’s choice to second and Bogaerts’ high bouncing RBI single up the middle to once again level the scores.

The Cards’ NL trademark double-shift that moved their closer Trevor Rosenthal’s position in the lineup to sixth, made way for Craig’s timely inclusion in the bottom of the ninth with a chance to win the game, obstructed or not.

Not so smart Sox surrender series edge in Game 2

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By Asa Schuster

The Boston Red Sox hadn’t lost a World Series game in almost 27 years, but as the errors favored the Cardinals in Game 2, gone is the Fenway Park advantage as the teams venture to St. Louis tied 1-1.

Cards starter Michael Wacha had his roughest start of the postseason (just the 13th start of his career), but in 114 pitches (career high) over six innings, he was able to notch his fourth win in October thanks to his team picking him up with a three-run seventh.

Trailing 2-1, David Freese set the table with a one-out, eight-pitch walk, before Jon Jay reached on a single to end Boston starter Jon Lackey’s night.

Enter Craig Breslow on the mound for the Sox, the Yale University graduate with a double major in molecular biophysics and biochemistry and supposedly the ‘smartest player’ in Major League Baseball.

He walks Daniel Descalso to load the bases, surrenders a sacrifice to Matt Carpenter to lock the scores, but on the play Breslow throws the ball into the left field seats, whilst attempting to hose Jay at third.

Jay scores, Cards lead 3-2.

Breslow could probably write a thesis on the biophysics and biochemistry that makes Carlos Beltrán tick, but instead he feeds Beltrán an outside pitch that he handles comfortably to right field.

Descalso scores, cards lead 4-2, Breslow exits the game, and there’s a new ‘smartest player’ in the Majors now.

The Cards bullpen then muscled-up as Carlos Martinez and Trevor Rosenthal combined to strike out six Sox in the final three innings.

October 27, 1986 at Shea Stadium was Boston’s last loss in the Fall Classic, after they peeled off eight consecutive wins for two championships with the common denominator of both titles being the damage punctuated by the bat of David Ortiz.

Throughout Boston’s recent postseason success, Ortiz’s production has been the most spectacular and consistent source of offense, as the Sox have become accustomed to winning games in October thanks to Ortiz’s late game heroics.

He gave them the lead in Game 2 with an opposite-field shot over the Monster, but as it turns out, the sixth inning isn’t late enough when compared to his body of work.

Besides, how much can you rely on a strictly 2-tool superstar?

In regards to the defensive half of the game, Ortiz can’t help the Red Sox, but as the series moves to the National League ball park, either Big Papi plays the field or Boston need some other big bats to make some noise. 

Old Fenway inflicts a pair of critical blows as Red Sox claim opener

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By Asa Schuster

Fenway played its first ‘home-field advantage card’ of the series in the opening inning of the opening game of the 2013 World Series.

The crusty old ball park dealt another blow in the 2nd inning and it was downhill from there for the visiting Cardinals, who fell 8-1.

Cards 6’7” starter Adam Wainwright bumped his head on the roof of the antiquated Fenway dugout moments before taking the mound and if not suffering a mild concussion, his equilibrium and coordination was compromised enough to offset his usual sharpness and command.

The effects immediately spilled over to the leadoff at-bat, walking Jacoby Ellsbury, giving up a two-strike single to Dustin Pedroia, before Cards shortstop Pete Kozma allowed David Ortiz to reach on an error and load the bases.

Kozma, who mishandled a potential double-play flip from Matt Carpenter was possibly suffering from a sympathy concussion.

Mike Napoli then took the first steps to riding himself of that disgusting Texas Rangers World Series taste in his mouth by smoking a 2-0 cut-fastball to the wall in center for a bases-clearing double.

Just 23 pitches into the World Series and the Cardinals were ominously off-kilter and facing an uphill battle.

It got worse for the wobbly Wainwright the next inning, he appeared even more uncomfortable when he and catcher Yadier Molina failed to organize the capture of a routine pop-up by lead-off Stephen Drew.

Wainwright and Molina met halfway between the mound and the plate and both watched as the ball fell safely to the ground between them.

A David Ross single and another error from Kozma set the table for Pedroia, who singled in a run and in turn set the table for the destructive Ortiz to add to his postseason highlight reel.

On cue, Ortiz sent a blast to right field, a grand slam if it weren’t for Carlos Beltrán’s gold glove reaching over Fenway’s outdated five-foot wall in right.

But while making the catch, Beltrán’s rib cage had smacked into the top edge of the wall as he hustled back to make the play.

Beltrán had finally reached the World Series after a decorated 16-season career, littered with clutch post-season moments, only to be claimed as another visiting victim of Fenway Park.

And where the Cards once had the mercurial Beltrán in the lineup, now stood Jon Jay a discarded and depreciated component of the Cardinals’ roster.

Ortiz would later get his home run in the seventh, a two run shot over the bullpen in right.

Matt Holliday sent one over the ‘Boston Strong’ sign on the Green Monster to finally get the Cards on the board in the top of the ninth, but Boston were way too strong and had gained an edge from the unforgiving edges of their ageing fortress.

Together the Cards bumped their heads, hurt their ribs and ultimately began the World Series on the wrong foot, the hometown Red Sox simply held serve and Fenway Park was the winner in Game 1.

Mean Vato Del Mes: Bryan Shaw

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The Cleveland Indians closed out the regular season riding a ten-game winning streak to charge into the playoffs for the first time since Trot Nixon was patrolling the outfield for them. 

Somehow during those ten victories relief pitcher Bryan Shaw emerged as the winning pitcher on three occasions and also picked up a save, as the Tribe gave Cleveland more clutch in one month than LeBron did in seven whole years.

The streak was sparked on September 19th, when Shaw entered a 1-1 game against the Astros in the top of 11th and retired all three batters faced.

In the bottom of the dig, Yan Gomes reached on a single, advanced on a single by Asdrubal Cabrera and a Mike Aviles walk, before being knocked in by Matt Carson to hand Shaw the win.

The next night, the Indians once again trumped Houston 2-1 in just seven innings as Shaw struck out three of the four batters he faced during a perfect four-out save.

Shaw registered his fourth win of the month in bizarre circumstances on the 24th, thanks to Jason Giambi’s incredible long ball in the bottom of the ninth, after Indians’ closer Chris Perez surrendered two home runs and the lead in the top of the frame.

Shaw cleaned up the mess in just three pitches, inducing a foul-out from Marcus Semien, before Giambi walked the game off with his third pinch-hit bomb of the season, his tenth career walk-off, while becoming the oldest player in MLB history to hit a walk-off home run.

Two nights later, Shaw notched his fifth win in September during a five-out relief appearance over the fifth and sixth innings against the Twins.

In total, Shaw threw 15.1 innings over 13 appearances (Indians won 11 of those games), giving up just eight hits with no runs, while striking out 15.

This time a year ago, Shaw was cleaning out his locker in Arizona as the San Francisco Giants began their journey to the World Series.

His five wins in September were as many as former Cy Young winner and Giants starter Barry Zito had all season and one more win than Giants starter Ryan Vogelsong.

The Indians host the Wild Card game on Wednesday, an 11th straight win by Shaw and the Tribe gets them a Division Series date against their manager Terry Francona’s former team the Boston Red Sox.

1 Octubre 2013

Mean Vato del Mes: Alfonso Soriano

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All Alfonso Soriano wanted to do was be a Yankee, and 10 years later he was granted his second stint in the Bronx and rediscovered the swing that helped bring two World Series championships to the franchise.

In his first full month as a Yankee since 2003, Soriano stepped it up from his heydays in New York and notched some milestones while smashing 11 home runs and 31 RBI.

Soriano’s change of pinstripes saw him swing blow-for-blow with Miguel Cabrera during August, despite a slow start where he managed just one long ball in the first eight games.

His bat began to warm up on August 11, when he took Justin Verlander deep for his 2000th career hit during a 5-4 victory over the Tigers.

Two nights later, he tagged a pair of dingers off Jason Vargas and Joe Blanton for six RBI in the Yanks’ 14-7 rout of the Angels.

Super Alfonso then got the tape measure rolling against Jared Weaver in the next game, peeling off a pair of 400-foot bombs for seven RBI in an 11-3 victory.

While some teams were more concerned about taking it upon themselves to police the return of Alex Rodriguez, Soriano quietly went about his business from the clean-up spot.

In Boston two games later, Soriano launched a 409-foot shot over the Green Monster as the Yankees claimed the series opener 10-3.

On the 21st, Soriano broke an 0-17 slide at the plate and a 2-2 score in the eighth against the Blue Jays when he sent a R.A. Dickey knuckleball over the left field wall to help lift his team to an 8-4 win.

Soriano gave Toronto more headaches on the 28th, gaining some revenge on the Yankees’ nemesis J.A. Happ with a pair of long-balls in the 7-1 victory, the second shot marking his 400th career home run.

In total, Super Alfonso’s bat accounted for ten home runs and 27 RBI in 16 wins for New York in August.

Fresh from his gap decade away from the Bronx, Super Alfonso is back as if nothing happened, but the rest of New York’s ageing roster have to follow his lead if they’re going to have one last hurrah.

2 Septiembre 2013

Manziel’s Miley moment

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Johnny Manziel had his Miley Cyrus moment on Saturday, swapping twerking for taunting.

Johnny Football emerged from one of the most scrutinised off-seasons for a player in the history of college football, only to add more fuel to fire with his on-field antics in Texas A&M’s opener against Rice.

He started proceedings by ‘Tebowing’ on the sideline, before diverting directly away from Tebow’s squeaky clean image during a brash display of playmaking brilliance coupled with sophomoric showboating.

After all, let’s remember Johnny Football is a sophomore, and much like Cyrus used her VMA performance last Sunday to shock the masses; Manziel used his return to enrage the college football community.

He scrambled and ran as only Johnny Football can, and matched his performance with gesture enriched smack talk.

His cameo lasted for five drives, where he threw just eight pass attempts, but connected for three touchdowns and made a lasting impression on the viewing public.

Johnny and Miley aren’t too dissimilar; two supremely talented 20-year-olds, that stand as undeniable idols for the next generation of American boys and girls. 

Neither of them are old enough to buy alcohol, but they both seem to know their way around a bottle, red party cup or keg.

Unfortunately, Miley is old enough to twerk and Johnny is old enough to party, and he’s getting pretty good at partying.

He may have sat out of the first half against Rice after being slapped on the wrist by the NCAA, but he continued his eight-month party since winning the Heisman as a freshman last December.

The way things are going he’s looking to party on any given Saturday afternoon in the SEC this season.

And he can’t stop, and he won’t stop.

1 Septiembre 2013

Ranking quarterbacks by ‘likeability’

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Last week we put forth Russell Carrington Wilson as the most likeable quarterback in the NFL.

For us the decision was simple, however there was an interesting selection process that led to Russell Carrington Wilson coming out on top.

To clearly demonstrate how we reached our conclusion, we’d now like to show our working for the equation, we’ve got nothing to hide.

Below is the reasoning behind our likeability scale of all 32 projected starting quarterbacks for the upcoming NFL season;

In order of likeability:

Firstly, just to reinforce Russell Carrington Wilson’s top ranking, we’d like to point out that Russell Carrington Wilson’s middle name is Carrington.

Secondly, RG3 is just that, a close second. The Japanese African-American medical-marvel Heisman Academic and Track & Field All-American is almost too polite and well spoken for our liking. Could he be the devil in disguise?

Brady, Peyton, Eli and Rodgers are all too talented not to be hated.

Kaepernick creates fear, and fear breeds hate.

Alex Smith made us all uncomfortable last season and none of it was his fault. 

Big Ben likes to party. Big Ben also likes to hunt, and sometimes Big Ben parties when he’s hunting and vice versa.

Drew Brees is a hero to most, but he fraternizes with an unsavory bunch.

Flacco got paid, overpaid.

Matt Ryan is a little bit Kenneth Parcell from 30 Rock.

Andrew Luck talks funny.

Romo, Rivers and Cutler are all boobs.

Cam Newton seems to like being unliked.

Bradford, Stafford and Ponder are waiting to do something.

Brandon Weeden is a former New York Yankee and now lives and works in Cleveland.

Andy Dalton isn’t kidding us, so he must be kidding himself.

Matt Schaub doesn’t even like Matt Schaub.

Carson Palmer keeps lingering around like a stale fart.

Matt Flynn is depressing

Josh Freeman, Ryan Tannehill, Blaine Gabbert and Jake Locker have never been fantasy drafted, nor been picked up off fantasy free agency. They might as well be invisible, do you even know who they play for? We don’t!

Mark Sanchez; please.

We can’t even bring ourselves to mention Kolb.

Vick is left-handed.

22 Agosto 2013