Astros Force Game Seven

Altuve

Photo Credit: Marco Torres

Last night the Houston Astros offense came to alive as they defeated the New York Yankees 7-1. It looked as if the Astros were on the verge of losing the series after their bats went dead. The Astros won the first two games of the series and looked to be pulling away. The series changed however when the series shifted to New York as the Yankees won games 3-5. The Astros bats were held in check as before yesterday the most runs they scored in a game in this series was four. With their season on the brink of ending the Astros key players stepped up when needed the most.
At this year’s trade deadline, the Astros surprised many by trading for Tigers long time ace Justin Verlander. He has been nothing short of amazing in the playoffs. In the first game of this series Verlander pitched a complete game while only allowing one run. Last night when the Astros needed him the most he delivered. He went seven innings while only allowing one run and struck out eight. The Astros offense backed their ace as Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, and Brian McCann all came up big.
Altuve who may win the AL MVP award had two hits including a homerun. Bregman who has been clutch for the Astros during the playoffs had two runs batted in including a double in the eight as the Astros pounded David Robertson. McCann who had been quiet in the series up to this point also had an RBI double in the eight off Robertson. During the regular season the Astros were known for their offense because of their deep lineup. In their first-round matchup against the Red Sox the Astros again displayed their potent offense. Against the Yankees their offense had been kept in check until last night. With their season on the line the Astros offense came alive behind the man on the mound has been nothing short of extraordinary. Tonight, the Astros place the ball and their season in the hands of Charlie Morton. Game seven is where legends are born and tonight for both these teams legends will be made.

Written By: Jamie Gatlin

#Astros

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David Price Proves His Critics Wrong

 

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Photo Credit: Jason Miller/ Getty Images

In December of 2015 the Red Sox signed David Price to a seven year contract worth 217 million dollars. The deal at the time was the largest contract ever given to a pitcher. Since signing that deal Price has received heavy criticism and clashed with the media in Boston. He hasn’t put up the spectacular numbers he did prior to arriving in Boston and has continued to struggle in the postseason until this past week. This year Price has dealt with elbow problems which placed him on the disabled list for the majority of the second half of the season forcing the Red Sox to use him as a reliever for the playoffs. In the opening round against the Houston Astros Price is pitching like the pitcher the Red Sox thought they were getting. As a starter Price is 0-8 in the postseason and in his only  postseason start last year against the Cleveland Indians he did not pitch well. Yesterday Price changed the narrative and saved the Red Sox season.

So far in this series against the Astros the Red Sox starting pitching has gotten destroyed. That didn’t change yesterday as the Red Sox starter Doug Fister only lasted one inning. Price entered the game in the fourth inning after two scoreless innings of relief from Joe Kelly and stunned the Fenway faithful. Facing the most potent offense in baseball Price delivered four innings of scoreless relief. The Sox bats followed suit as they came alive for the first time of the series and scored ten runs. The offensive explosion included homeruns by Jackie Bradley  and rookie Rafael Devers. The Red Sox needed some sort of jolt and it came from Price.

Many people have been critical of the starter this year. He needed a defining moment in a Red Sox uniform and he got that yesterday. Price may never pitch again this series depending on if the Red Sox can complete a comeback and win this series. Regardless of how this series ends Price stepped up when the Sox needed him the most and finally began to justify the contract Boston gave him.

Written By: Jamie Gatlin

#MLB #RedSox

Baseball Is Back

Busch Stadium gets ready for opening day

Photo Credit: Brian Stull

The 2017 baseball season is officially underway and the first two games have reminded fans why America’s pastime was missed so dearly. Last year the Chicago Cubs broke an  108 year title drought in one of the best World Series in recent memory. The first two games earlier today had the New York Yankees vs. the Tamp Bay Rays  and the Arizona Diamondbacks vs. the San Francisco Giants.  Those games did not disappoint as they were filled with drama and history.

The Rays and Yankees was the first game to start the 2017 season and  it was all Tampa Bay. The Rays won 7-3 as the Yankees lost their opener for the sixth consecutive year. The Rays pounded the Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka for seven runs as he didn’t even make it through the third inning. The Rays hit two homers off of Tanaka and one of them stood out. Rays Third Baseman Evan Longoria hit a homer that was remiscent of the one he hit on the final day of the 2011 season to send the Rays to the postseason. The Rays starter Chris Archer appreciated the support from his offense and pitched seven innings while giving up two runs. This game wasn’t as dramatic as the second game played today however it brought back memories of one of the most dramatic walk-offs in MLB history.

Last year Madison Bumgarner was very vocal about having pitchers hit in the homerun derby and today he showed why. The Giants ace hit two homeruns and did not allow a baserunner until after the fifth inning and he struck out eleven batters. Bumgarner become the first pitcher in MLB history to hit two homeruns on opening day. That was not enough as the Diamondbacks came back from behind not once put twice. The Giants signed free agent pitcher Mark Melancon to a huge contract this past offseason. Last season the Giants last four games when leading in the ninth in September and saw Melancon as the solution. Today he was not as after getting two quick outs Melancon allowed four hits and two earned runs including a walk off single to the Diamondbacks shortstop Chris Owings.

Both these games were dramatic and saw some records broken. Baseball is back and these first two games are an indication that this season could be even more special than last.

Written By: Jamie Gatlin

#Giants #Yankees #Rays #Diamondbacks # Opening Day

History in Cleveland

 

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Photo Credit: Rob Tringali- MLB Photos

Last night the Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians reminded us all why Baseball has long been America’s past time. It doesn’t matter which team you support or even if you don’t like Baseball at all. This series showed not only why people love Baseball but sports in general. These two teams squared of trying to end two long championship droughts and not even nine innings was enough. Through it all we saw men become kids again and the passion that only shows when someone truly cares about something and will do anything to attain it. In the end only one championship drought  could end and it would end up being the Chicago Cubs. For the first time in 108 years the Cubs can finally call themselves champions but this series meant so much more than just a game.

This series had everything a sports fan could want and then some. The Indians took a 3-1 series lead and then the Cubs won three straight to win the series. David Ross the beloved Cubs catcher hit a homerun in the final game of his career. This series however was not only about sports but the revival of two cities. For as long as I can remember the Cubs have been the subject of every sports joke. Their 108 years without a title was long documented along with many heartbreaking moments along the way. The Indians have not had to suffer through 108 years without a title but they now have gone 65 years without one and  counting.  This series however showed that these two cities are still Baseball towns. The Cubs are the champions but the Indians still have a lot to be proud of. They fell short this year but for the first time in a while there is optimism about this team and its future. This was evident in game 7 as they fought until they had nothing left.

Game 7 is already being regarded as one of the best in Baseball history. The Cubs took a 6-3 lead heading into the eight inning with Aroldis Chapman in the game. It seemed as if it was finally the Cubs time. The Indians had a different thought and scored three runs to tie the game including a two run homer by veteran outfielder Rajai Davis. Just when you thought this series couldn’t get any better these two teams proved us wrong again. The tie would only be temporary as in the 10th inning the Cubs scored three runs and the team of destiny haid its title.

The Passion of these Cubs could be seen in their faces however the most defining moment in my opinion  was the last play. Kris Bryant fielded the ground ball for the final out of the game. As he was making the play he was smiling and didn’t look like a twenty four year old he looked  as if he was five again. This is the great thing about sports. You can try to predict the outcome of a season but most of the time you will be wrong. The Indians were never favored to make it to the World Series. Yet they were one of last two standing. This  is the beauty of sports you cant predict the outcome and most of the time the outcome will leave you breathless and make you believe anything  is possible. That’s what these two teams did for seven games and I for one am thankful that they did.

Written By: Jamie Gatlin

#Indians #Cubs

Could This Finally be the Year: Cubs heading to the World Series for the first time since 1945

cubsPhoto citied: Sports Monkey

It’s been 71 years since anyone can say this; The Cubs won the National League Pennant, and are going to the World Series! You can fly the W, Chicago. The Cubbies advanced Saturday night with a 5-0 win vs the Los Angeles Dodgers. Jon Lester and Javier Baez was named Co- MVP of the NLCS. The Cubs have a date with the Cleveland Indians, with game 1 of the World Series on Tuesday. Cubs fans were overwhelmed with emotions as Wrigley was full of excited loyal fans, some were crying tears of joy, while everyone else was screaming and singing GO Cubs GO.

The Cubs lost the NLCS last year to the New York Mets, and from that point on everyone knew the Cubs were out for blood. Going into this year’s spring training the Cubs signed big free agents in the name of: Ben Zobrist and Jason Heyward. The team was just adding more ammunition to there already lethal lineup. The team right off the bat, had so many expectations and many had this team being the team that finally wins the World Series for Chicago.  But what is it that made the team special….

Management- Maybe the best pick up the Cubs ever made was five years ago when they named Theo Epstein as their new General Manager. Epstein is a baseball genius who can see the future, and able to build a team to play in October. John Madden, the manager, fresh off winning the manager of the year award in 2015. Has his own unique way of managing. Putting less stress on the players, which helped remove the pressing expectations from the media. “Try not to Suck” is his motto and the players love to play for him.

Pitchers-  Arguably one of the top pitching staffs in baseball. The Cubs staff includes: Jake Arietta, Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks, John Lackey and Jason Hammel. Arietta, 2015 Cy Young winner, was the ace of the staff leading the team with 18 wins, having a 3.10 era. Jon Lester can be an ace on any other staff but also had a standout year raking in 19 wins with a 2.44 era. But maybe the most surprising pitcher of them all was the game 6 NLCS winner Kyle Hendricks. Hendricks had a career year having 16 wins with an impressive 2.13 era. Hendricks heroics in the clinching game was nothing but impressive, seven and a thirds innings, no runs on one hit. Let’s not forget about the flame thrower in the bullpen, Aroldis Chapman. Chapman was a trade deadline pick up for the Cubs, who throws in the high 90s to the low 100s, is usually a sure thing when it comes to closing out a game

Catchers- Maybe not the strongest position for the Cubbies as they have Miguel Montero and David Ross. But in mid-June a call up was made in the name of Wilson Contreras. The power hitting catcher made an impact on this first game in the big leagues hitting a game winning pinch hit home run. Now he is the starting catcher for the Cubs this postseason and adds another bat in the lineup

Infielders- Anthony Rizzio the teams longest tender Cubie, is a fan favorite. The powerful lefty first basemen have been in the number three spot in the lineup the whole year. He has the offensive ability to hit the long ball but also able to get base knocks to drive in runs. However, he is equally capable of handling the defensive duties at first base. At the hot corner is another fan favorite, Kris Bryant. The 2015 Rookie of the year, has had an MVP type year, creating a potent one two punch with him and Rizzio; creating a nightmare to the opposing pitchers. The middle infielders include Addison Russel and Javier Baez. Both young players are standout for their defensive play. But this year was a coming out party for both as they both could hit for contact on a consistence bases.

Outfielders- Disappointingly the only thing that has not worked out for the Cubs is Jason Heyward, who has had a sub-par year. However, when you have the likes of Dexter Fowler and Albert Almora Jr. you don’t need to rely on Heyward as much.

Best Utility Knife Ever- Ben Zobrist is arguably the best offseason signing of the 2016 MLB Offseason. Zobrist has found himself playing both in the outfield and the infield. Zobrist, the leadoff man for the Cubs, has both the ability to hit for power and for contact. He is the best weapon Madden has in his dugout, based on the fact he can play anywhere.

We ain’t Afraid of No Goat!!-  Maybe what makes the Cubs so special is the fans. The fans have stuck through the team through thick and thin. Well… its mostly been thin. The loveable losers have been through Billy Goats to Bartman. If there is one fan group that is ever deserving to get a World Series, it is the North Siders. The fans make the atmosphere one of the best as everyone is into the game. The whole breed of Cub’s fans are arguably the most loyal loving fans in all of sports.

The Friendly Confines- Wrigley Field, the second oldest ballpark. From the Ivy to the Wriggleyville apartment seats to the seventh inning stretch nothing compares to it. The moment you get off the Addison station stop you are greeted with everything that is good about Wrigley. Words can’t describe this holy site; it is a rite of passage for fans visit this park and experience the Wrigleyville experience.

Northside Insight- 108 years… that is a lifetime. If there was ever a team to break this curse it is this team. The North Side has suffered through enough. Cubs fans, and any baseball fans alike will be rooting for the Cubs, and all will want to see history as the Cubs hope to be the 2016 World Series Champions. So, save a Giordano’s slice of deep dish pizza for me Chicago. Four more wins and one lifetime memory.

Red Sox 2017 Preview

 

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Credit: Evan Habeed/USA Today

The Red Sox season ended unexpectedly as they were swept by the Cleveland Indians in a best of five series. David Ortiz will not ride off into the sunset with a World Series trophy however he can retire knowing the future in Boston is bright. After two last place finishes the Red Sox were able to win the American League East Divison and revive baseball in Boston. Even though it was a short ride for the first time in two years the Sox were playing playoff baseball. Boston fans should expect more of that as they have a talented young nucleas in place for years to continue.

What Went Right: In 2016 the Red Sox young players including Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley Junior, Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi all took steps forward in their development. Bradley finally showed that he could hit major league pitching. Betts established himself as a speed and power threat and showed that he will be an MVP candidate for years to come. Bogaerts offensive gamed improved and that power that scouts have been talking about finally showed up. Benintendi was nothing short of impressive in his rookie year showing while the Red Sox were so high on him and refused to use him in trade for a pitcher by the name of Chris Sale.

Players Who Rebounded: Rick Porcello and Hanley Ramirez came under intense criticism for their performances in 2015, their first in Boston. In 2016 they were able to reverse the script and showed why the Red Sox front office gave them large contracts . Even though Porcello was hit hard in his only postseason start he won 22 games during the regular season including an impressive 13-1 record at Fenway. Hanley showed that he still has some pop left as he hit 30 homeruns and drove in 111 runs a new career high. He also had a knack  for getting the big hit down the stretch including a walkoff homer against the Yankees. Dustin Pedroia was finally healthy and reminded people that he’s still one of the best Second Baseman in the game as he finished fourth in the majors in hits with 201.

Things That Went Wrong: Throughout the season the Red Sox bullpen was inconsistent. Craig Kimbrel struggled in non save situations and Junichi Tazawa was horrible most likely ending his career in Boston. Matt Barnes started out well however his struggles late in the season caused Farrell to lose faith in using him in high leverage situations. As a whole this unit was very good at times but also horrendous as they coughed up many late leads in the season before looking dominant in the final month. David Price was also unable to change his postseason narrative as in his only start against the Indians he didn’t pitch like ace and put the Sox in an early hole.

Analysis: Even without Ortiz this team has enough Offense to contend for years to come. The key for 2017 will be improving the bullpen and acquiring a veteran starter with a proven postseason resume.

#RedSox

Thank You Big Papi

 

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Credit: John Angelillo

Even though David Ortiz’s last game at Fenway will come during the playoffs in the regular season’s final series the Sox took the time to honor their retiring icon. The Red Sox pulled out all the stops including naming  a bridge after the slugger and revealing that next season number 34 will be retired. This broke a Red Sox rule as the previous players who got their number retired were first elected  into the Baseball  Hall Of Fame and long after their first year of retirement. This shows just how much Ortiz has not only meant to the franchise but also Boston. Not only has he come up with clutch after clutch hit but his impact can be seen in the community far and wide. His wide smile is not only a symbol for the Red Sox but all of baseball. No one will ever have the effect he has had as he is a once and a lifetime player. In an era when it is not the norm for a player to spend most of his career with one team Ortiz did that. Ortiz will retired having played nineteen major league seasons only six of those without the Red Sox. He’s been with the Sox through the highs including three championships and lows when the Sox finished in last place. Through all the change and the heroes on those championship teams one thing has remained constant and that’s Ortiz. When people are asked what is your favorite Papi moment there are so many to choose from its hard to pick one .Through all the criticism and people who said he was done after 2009 his drive never wavered but only increased . That is why fans love him so much. This man never quits no matter the deficit. Just look at his postseason stats as justification.

He single handily carried the Sox on his back as they did the impossible in 2004 and came back from a 3-0 series deficit to beat the Yankees en route to the Sox first championship in 86 years. He did the same in the  2013 playoffs  as the Red Sox offense was dead until he  brought it back to life with one swing. There’s also the countless other clutch hits however this post would be ten pages long if I included them all. Ortiz did not just lift fans with his bat. After the Boston Marathon bombings Ortiz’s speech at Fenway gave the city a source of strength after its darkest hours. He embraced the city of Boston as his home and it embraced him right back. The Red Sox  will forever be thankful to Pedro Martinez for convincing the Sox to sign him when the Twins designated him for assignment after the 2002 season. It’s hard to think where the Red Sox would be as since Papi joined the team the Sox have been one of the most successful teams in Baseball. It’s hard to picture a Red Sox lineup without 34 in it or that wide smile in the dugout. He will be remembered in highlight reels and the record books as they are stained with his accomplishments. From the many homeruns and to having one of the best final hoorahs in baseball and sports history. Next season there will be no Ortiz or number 34 in the Red Sox lineup. He however will never be forgotten as he is not only a hero but a legend and legends never die. As Red Sox fans and fans around the world watch the playoffs this year take some time and take in Big Papi’s last at bats. There will never be another big Papi both as a baseball player and person. Although its bittersweet it’s been a pleasure to watch this man change Boston and Baseball in more ways that a person can count.

#RedSox #BigPapi