Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Playoff Baseball In The Daytime, And Nighttime: First Pitch '09

Today we kick off a little thing known as the Major League Baseball Playoffs. In our minds it seems as though that bubble was burst yesterday, with the Twins' extra-innings win over the Tigers. But that festival of screwup in the Metrodome was merely a regular-season tiebreaker -- today is the real deal.

We've got a tripleheader on tap, with all games broadcast on the TBS. That's right, y'all, no Buck or McCarver until the ALCS starts next week. Our first game includes a heaping helping of local color in the person of your Colorado Rockies, so join us after the jump for today's orgy of baseball...

Colorado @ Philadelphia, 12:37 Mountain Both today's and tomorrow's games in the City Of Brotherly drop at this absurd noonish hour, a direct result of the Rockies' lack of national magnetism. The Philly phaithful are pissed about this, and demand is so light that one can acquire a nosebleed seat to today's game for less than a c-note on the black market.

Ubaldo Jimenez assumes his rightful role as the Colorado ace and Game 1 starter, while midseason acquisition Cliff Lee gets the ball from Charlie Manuel. Both are capable of complete domination, but only one has experience pitching in the postseason. Jimenez was on the staff of the '07 Rocktober club, but Lee was not on the Indians' playoff roster that autumn.

The question marks in Jim Tracy's lineup are found at third base (Ian Stewart or righty-hitting Garret Atkins versus the lefty Lee?), catcher (Yorvit Torrealba played most of September, but Chris Ianetta has crouched much of the last week), and in the outfield (the normal alignment of Gonzalez-Fowler-Hawpe, or a wild card such as Seth Fucking Smith or RH Ryan Spillborghs?). Regardless of the particulars, everyone knows that the Rockies have had a harder time hitting lefties this season (.253/.335/.430 against LHP vs. .264/.346/.445 against RHP), and they will face Lee, Cole Hamels and J.A. Happ in this series. If they can get to the bullpen, however, the Rockies will see almost no southpaws (unless Happ is assigned to relief). J.C. Romero, Scott Eyre and Jamie Moyer are all hurt.

As for the Phillies, they boast a prodigious power-and-speed lineup along with rings from last year's championship. The fact that Colorado's only lefty starter (Jorge De La Rosa) will not pitch in this series to Philly's lefty sluggers (Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Raul Ibanez) is pretty devastating to the Rockies' hopes.

The deck seems stacked against the Rockies, but Tracy is some sort of voodoo witch doctor. My guess is that he has one more potion in his bag of tricks for these Phillies. SERIES PREDICTION: ROCKIES IN FIVE.

Minnesota @ NY Yankees, 4:07 21 hours after killing off the Tigers, the Twins get a date with the 103-win Yankees at the Stadium. All you need to know about this game is that the Yankees' new park is an absolute bandbox, and the weather forecast calls for 10-40 mph winds blowing out to center. Expect copious home runs, mostly by the home team. Brian Duensing is Minnesota's sacrificial lamb, while C.C. Sabathia starts for the Bombers. SERIES PREDICTION: YANKEES IN THREE.

Cardinals @ Dodgers, 7:37 The late game features two teams that limped down the stretch, but still coasted in thanks to massive division leads. Although the Dodgers have home field here, everyone's picking St. Louis thanks to their Cy Young-y 1-2 pitching punch of Chris Carpenter/Adam Wainwright and their MVP-ish hitting combo of Albert Pujols/Matt Holliday. LA's issues start with their thoroughly pedestrian rotation (Randy Wolf starts tonight opposite Carpenter) and their punchless cleanup hitter (Manny Ramirez, who's hit just one HR since Sept. 9). Try as I might to find a way for the Dodgers to prevail, I just don't think they're very good. SERIES PREDICTION: CARDINALS IN FOUR.