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The 2007 Playoffs: Divisional Series Recap

Game Recaps, Uncategorized

Saturday, October 9th – in a divisional series round with few tight races, things went even easier than expected for the favored teams. One series ended in  a sweep, and the three others went 4-1, setting up the earliest league series round (starting October 10th) in recent memory.

For a supposed pushover opponent, Game 1 of the Daly City Montis-Asia Giants series started off with a dramatic opener – Whitney Esguerra, leading off the series after #1 Starter Nathan Yan pitched the final game of the regular season, turned in a solid 2 run, 7+1/3 inning performance against the Asia Giants, striking out 7.  The prolific Montis offense, however, couldn’t quite get started against the Giants’ Ramon Obando , racking up only 3 runs through the first 8 innings.

With middle reliever Alvina Chu effectively handling the 8th, it was up to the erratic closer Josiah Leong to finish out the 1-run lead. Despite evolving into one of the most dominant closers in the league this season (his 2.09 ERA and 11.6 K/9 were both 3rd-best among relievers), Leong promptly imploded with a walk, two hits, a wild pitch, and two runs to give up the lead and throw the Montis into a rare do-or-die at the bottom of the 9th, down by a run.

Nonetheless, the Montis had reason to hope, with the core of their lineup coming up, starting with Reid-Kwong-Chen-Lew. The group went 2 for 4 to set up runners on 2nd and 3rd with two outs, and then it was up to the feeble-hitting catcher, Tina Quach, to make things happen at the plate.

Strike 1, taken.

Strike 2, taken.

Then a diving split-fingered fastball, some hesitation, and a late swing.

Fouled off, just barely, dribbing in the dirt down the first base line.

And then like a Cinderella story gone terribly wrong, it all seemed to unravel  for the underdog Asia Giants.  Closer Pendergast issued four straight balls, to grant Quach a walk and load up the bases, and set up a final showdown against Daly City’s #8 hitter.

And for a game as dramatic as this, who else would be waiting on deck, in the 9th inning with two outs, but the legendary clutch hitter of storied postseasons past, Joanna Maung. Naturally, she loads up a full 3-2 count…

The count is 3 and 2…
Pendergast kicks and fires…
Maung swings…
it’s lined
Simmons dives…
but he can’t get it…
Reid scores with the tying run…
Kwong is rounding third…
Batchelder throws home…
Beasley takes it…
Kwong slides…
it’s going to be close…
And the clutch hero Maung comes through yet again with a game-winning, 2 RBI single!

The rest of the series ended without too much fanfare – the versatile middle infielder Wissmath powered the offense in Game 2 with 2 hits, a walk, a homer, 2 runs and 2 RBIs, and a stolen base in 4 plate appearances from the 9-spot, as the Montis won a 6-2 game that was never much in doubt.

The Montis then closed the series out with dominating performances in games 3 and 4, with Yan pitching a 1-hit, 1-walk, 20-K shutout in game 3, backed by 12 runs and 21 hits and 2 walks in an offensive massacre.  The clinching game 4 ended 8-2, on the strength of a 5 for 5 on-base day for leadoff hitter Kuo (4 hits, 1 walk, 3 stolen bases, 3 runs) and 3 for 5, 4 RBI game for leftfielder Kwong.

There weren’t too many surprises elsehwere in the league, either.  Microsoft looked to be in dire trouble aftr their first game, when ace pitcher Kernel Tyranus (18-8, 2.80 ERA, 1.10 WHIP in the regular season) strained his rotator cuff after pitching just 2 outs into the 2nd inning, and the Carribean hitters feasted on the Longhorns bullpen to the tune of 22 hits and a walk in 47 at bats, including 6 doubles and 2 homers for an overall .468-.479-.723 day en route to 13 runs.

The Pirates seemingly spent up all of their offensive energy in that first game, and weren’t able to mount much of any offense thereafter, even against a Longhorns pitching staff ranked woefully below-average this season.  The fading Sherwood Bertsch, who mustered only a 5.01 ERA and 1.23 WHIP this season, kept the Pirates down to just 1 run over 7+2/3 innings. Willhuff Tarkin, who earned a 5.48 ERA and 1.40 WHIP in the season, then pitched a gem in a 5-hit, no walk, 1-run, 8+2/3 inning Game 3 performance.  And then lastly Eddie Castilleja (6.59 ERA, 1.62 WHIP in regular season), combined with relievers Ellsworth Hartzler (4.98, 1.26) and rookie reliever Miguel Ojeda (3.28 ERA, 1.35) for another 1-run performance in the game 4 win. The clinching game 5 was delivered by a fearsome hitting clinic put on by Jabba Desilijic Ture (3 for 4 with 2HRs, 3 RBIs, and 2 runs), but also came with a cost: #2 starter Sherwood Bertsch went down after just 3+1/3 innings with an inflamed rotator cuff, making him doubtful for the rest of the playoffs, and possibly putting down the Longhorns to the 3rd, 4th, and 5th starters of their already woeful staff.

League Series: Daly City Montis vs. Microsoft Longhorns

Even at full strength outset, this matchup would have been tough – the Longhorns might have hoped to hammer some of Daly City’s starters with their core lineup (the only one in the league with 3 hitters with a  > 1.000 OPS this season), but after losing their ace and only above league-average starter Kernel Tyranus, and then even losing their #2 starter Bertsch, it’s hard to imagine the Longhorns being able to do much at all to stymie the onslaught of a Montis offense that is firing on all cylinders, with four hitters (RF Chen, DH Reid, CF Kuo, and LF Kwong) with a divisional series OPS greater than 1.000, and an overall team performance in the first round of .354-.429-.524.

Prediction: Montis, 4-0

Over in the SWL, some analysts questioned how well Skywalker would produce in his first postseason stint with the Shake Reducers, and if it would be enough to propel the otherwise weak-hitting Pentax offense over the more well-balanced Nikon Vibration Reducers.  To the first question, as if it were anything but rhetorical, Skywalker raked the Nikon pitching staff to put up an incredible line: .550-.609-1.800, going 11 for 20 with 8 (EIGHT!) homeruns while driving in 14 RBIs and scoring 9 runs himself.  He homered in every single game of the 5-game series, hitting 2, 1, 1, 1 and 3 homeruns.

The second question is more vital to how far the Shake Reducers go this season. While Skywalker certainly led the way, Pentax piled on 41 runs in five games over the Vibration Reducers, who were no slouches as the 5th-best staff in baseball by ERA this season.  The offense was bolstered by a hot week by centerfielder Steffen Richardson (.400-.455-1.000 in driving in 10 RBIs and scoring 8 in 22 plate appearances) and 2B Joseph Thomason (.450-.500-.650 in 22 plate appearances), two players who didn’t show much offensive prowess during the regular season (.737 and .736 OPS, respectively).  If they cool off, and no one else heats up, things could get much more challenging for the Shake Reducers.

In a masterful demonstration of pitching dominance, Paris pulled off a dominant 4-1 series victory over Tokyo by allowing just 11 runs over 5 games – 2.2 runs per game, compared to 4.0 allowed by Pentax and 4.2 allowed by Microsoft in their 4-1 series victories. They were led by two dominant outings by ace Kyle Katarn, who pitched two complete games to go 2-0, 18 innings, 15 K’s, with a 1.00 ERA and miniscule 0.61 WHIP.

League Series: Pentax Shake Reducers vs. Paris Forfeiters

The SW league series once again pits offensive prowess against dominant pitching, with baseball’s hands-down Batter of the Year, Skywalker, hoping to lead a one-man offense against a solid rotation led by the hands-down SWL Pitcher of the Year and Triple Crown winner Kyle Katarn.  While the Shake Reducers bashed the other side into submission and the Forfeiters mowed down the opposing offense, both dominated to similar degree – Pentax outscored Nikon 41-20 (2.05x, 0.808 pythag. win%), while Paris outscored Tokyo 21-11 (1.91x, 0.785 pythag. win%). The deciding factor may be Forfeiters ace Katarn’s limited schedule, having pitched complete games in both Games 1 and 4 of the division series, ruling him out for what may be a critical Game 7 third start.

Pentax: 4-3

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The 2006 Playoffs: League Series Review

Game Recaps

Friday, October 22nd – It’s been a rollercoaster ride the last ten days in the baseball world, as the powerhouse teams came together in the final four round.  The DC Montis against the M-Dollar Longhorns, and the Canon IS vs. the Pentax SR.

The bookies won little and lost big this round.  Heavily favored going into the series, the Daly City Montis swept past the #2 seed Microsoft Longhorns, outscoring the team from Seattle 28-13 to take the series in 5 games.  Daly City led off with a 9-0 shutout start by ace Nathan Yan, who pitched a gem of a 2-hitter, while Derek Lew provided the offense with a 4 for 5 game, hitting two solo homers, but dropped the next game behind an average start by Esguerra and a dominant 1-run start by Microsoft starter Eric Holl.

Tragedy struck game 3, as midway into the fifth inning, starter Terrence Zhao pulled a bicep tendon, taking him out of the game.  Alfred Vong finished the rest of the game out, which Daly City won 9-6.  Zhao, however, will be out for 1-2 weeks with the injury, taking him out of the rest of the playoff picture.

Samantha Chin pitched another strong game in Game 4, in which Daly City’s offense took care of the rest by slamming Microsoft ace Sherwood Bertsch for 13 hits and 7 runs.  By Game 5, it was all over, as the reborn Sean Wade took to the mound for another masterful start, throwing a complete game, 2-hit, 1-run gem to shut down the Longhorns 2-1.’Like the Galactic Colossus growing ever stronger with each new planet it consumes, the Montis seem unstoppable on its quest for a 4th straight World Championship. They’ll have a surprising opponent for the final round, however.

Originally picked to bomb out in the first round, Pentax, with a bit of luck, eeked into the 2nd round with a 4-3 series win over the Paris Forfeiters, who had blown a 3-1 series lead.  Facing the powerhouse Image Stabilizers, however, few gave them much of a chance.  True to form, the Image Stabilizers cleaned house with the Pentax Shake Reducers the very first game, obliterating them 15-2 behind a solid start by Justin Ramage and explosive by hitting from the 1-9 spots in the batting order.  The IS slipped the next game however – going into the 8th leading 5-4, the bullpen blundered and gave up two runs in the 8th and 9th, off solo shots by RF Simeon Sarvis and CF Steffen Richardson.  Interestingly enough, Gonzalo Bolanos once again pitched for the save.

The very next game, Canon was embarrassed 4-10, behind a near complete game by Augusto Figueroa and a couple of 3-4, 2HR, 4RBI games by CF Steffen Richardson and SS Noe Pessoa.  If Canon ever needed a wake-up call, it was then, and Justin Ramage stepped up to make it, bowling over Pentax with a 4-hit shutout in a scant 106 pitches, while Gates Skywalker brought the hardware with a two-homerun performance.

The surge, however, was momentary, as a Robert Bone implosion the very next game (7 runs and 12 hits in 6 1/3 innings) doomed Canon, no matter what 4-4, 2HR performance Gates could pull out that day.

As in any great back-and-forth matchup, Canon rebounded back to make it 3-3, with a 6-3 win in Game 6.

With the series and a shot for a 2005 World Series rematch on the line, the Image Stabilizers needed to bring it, and who else to have on the mound by ace Justin Ramage, who was almost single-handedly responsible for two of Canon’s three wins, and would surely be MVP of the series if he worked his magic to win 3 out of 4 wins for Canon.  Ramage pitched 7 innings, with 9 K’s and only 2 runs, and Gates Skywalker hit another homer for his SIXTH homerun in four straight games.  What nobody counted on was the game put on by 29-year-old Moises Silva, who in four postseason starts had gone 2-2 with a 7.11 ERA and 1.50 WHIP.  Silva brought the heat with an 8-inning, ONE RUN start, inexplicably besting Ramage and bringing the Shake Reducers to their first  WORLD SERIES!!

Round 2 was a round of what could’ve beens.  Microsoft lost two save-situation games, where the production brought by their slugger Jabba Desilijic Ture could’ve made the difference.  Microsoft’s #1 starter, Kernel Tyranus, and #2, Wilhuff Tarkin, could have also easily made up two or three games.  Similarly on Canon’s end, the team felt the absence of their #2 best hitter Francis Cote in their three save situation losses, as well as the two of their starters.

Canon’s Gates Skywalker, who blew away the league in the regular season with a 182 RBI, 146 Run, .350-.441-.891, 79 homer regular season campaign, and bashed away with a marvelous 27 RBI, 20 Run, 12HR, .467-.561-1.467 postseason (his run production alone outnumbers that of the entire Las Vegas or Pentax teams during their matches).  A free agent this year, Skywalker could very well move on to greener pastures, after two seasons without a ring in Canonland.

Looking forward to the World Series, 2006 seems to be another easy one for the Daly City Montis, who coast into this series outscoring their opponents 63-25 in the postseason (that’s 6.3 runs to 2.5 runs per game), while Pentax has stumbled along into two miraculous underdog 4-3 series wins, scoring 73-76 along the way (that’s 5.2 runs to 5.4 runs per game).  Yes, that’s right, Pentax has actually been outscored in the postseason, despite arriving at the World Series with the Shinto-World League pennant. 

Round 3, World Series: Pentax Shake Reducers vs. Daly City Montis

The Daly City Montis come into this series like they came into the regular season – a so-so offense backed by a lights-out pitching staff.  This description may be more true than ever now, as Daly City has stumbled with poor performances by their top players, and has relied heavily on star performances from their light-hitting batters like Joanna Maung (.429-.489-.595) and Tiffany Ho (.488-.543-.683).

The pitching has been lights out, however.  Daly City’s starting five: 

Nathan Yan: 2-0, 0.50 ERA, 0.44 WHIP, 16.5 K’s per 9
Whitney Esguerra: 1-1, 3.86 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 10.9 K’s per 9
Terrence Zhao (injured, out for playoffs): 1-0, 2.38 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 8.7 K’s per 9
Samantha Chin: 1-0, 2.77 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 8.3 K’s per 9
Sean Wade: 2-0, 1.53 ERA, 0.57 WHIP, 7.1 K’s per 9

The pitching has been so good, the bullpen’s barely been tapped at all, meaning Daly City has a well-rested reserve compared to Pentax.

Pentax’s star hitter Walter Vanish has been ailing so far, with a .236-.300-.382 line in the postseason.  They’ve been buoyed mostly by two very strong performances by RF Simeon Sarvis (.298-.386-.660, 14RBI, 16 Runs) and CF Steffen Richardson (.373-.439-.824, 16RBI, 12 Runs).  The rest of the lineup has been downright abysmal, and right now Pentax is relying on both of those players heavily to come up with some kind of offense.

Their pitching is worse than average, and while they have a clutch workhorse in Augusto Figueroa, who’s thrown 39 innings in 5 games this postseason, his ERA is still a middling 4.62.

Prediction: Daly City, 4-1

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The 2006 Playoffs: Divisional Series Recap

Game Recaps

Tuesday, October 12th – tensions are high on the eve of the league championship round of the 2006 Monti Bizarro Baseball postseason.  From eight teams down to four, the teams here are more evenly matched, and the stakes higher than ever.

As expected, both the Daly City Montis and the Microsoft Longhorns blazed past their Round 1 opponents.  Daly City was dominant with a set of five strong pitching performances:

Game 1, W8-3: Whitney Esguerra, 7 1/3 innings, 3 runs, 4 hits, 4 walks, 8 K’s on 108 pitches
Game 2, W6-2: Terrence Zhao, 7 innings, 1 run, 5 hits, 1 walk, 7 K’s on 108 pitches
Game 3, W9-1: Nathan Yan, 9 innings, 1 run, 4 hits, 1 walk, 19 K’s on 152 pitches
Game 4, L3-4 (12 innings) : Samantha Chin, 6 innings, 3 runs, 5 hits, 3 walks, 6 K’s on 96 pitches
Game 5, W9-2: Sean Wade, 8 2/3 innings, 2 runs, 7 hits, 1 walk, 7 K’s on 132 pitches

After being dominated for three games, the United States managed to avoid the sweep by mounting a stubborn upset bid in game 4 – they scored 3 runs on Chin, were held scoreless by Khan for 3 innings, but finally came away with the win in the bottom of the 12th inning, when third baseman Juan Truex hit a homer off of reliever Alvina Chu.  Nonetheless, Sean Wade came in Game 5 and dominated, carrying a shutout through 8 2/3 innings and winning the game.

Microsoft had a similarly easy time with the Asia Giants, winning the series 4-1.  They’ve been lead by a monstrous postseason run by SS Maul Foundation, who batted .579-.591-.842 with 5 RBI and 6 Runs in the five Round 1 games.  Staff ace Sherwood Bertsch, who was disappointing in the regular season, has stepped up so far in the playoffs, winning both his starts with a 2.25 ERA and 0.88 WHIP, going a long way towards compensating for the loss of SP Kernel Tyranus.

Over in the Shinto-World League, as expected the tight matchup between the Pentax Shake Reducers and Paris Forfeiters went down to the wire in a 4-3 matchup, in which FOUR out of the seven games were 1-run decisions.

Game 1 went into extra innings, as starter August Figueroa blew a 3-1 lead in the 8th inning, sending the game into extra innings.  Having thrown 141 pitches over 9 innings, many questioned the Pentax manager for leaving in his starter.  Going into extras, Paris DH Jeff Borum hit a HR off of Pentax’s shaky closer Gonzalo Bolanos in the 11th inning to take a 1-0 lead.

Things bounced right back to Paris’ court the next game, however.  Pentax SP Moises Silva was working on a 1-run gem going into the 8th with a dominant 8-1 lead.  Things started to fall apart, however, as Paris mounted a comeback bid, scoring 2 runs off of back-to-back Ernesto Monalto-Luis Sanchez homers in the 8th, and a BIG 4-run 9th inning, pulling them within 1 run.  Alas, it wasn’t to be.  Pentax’s shaky reliever Gonzalo Bolanos closed out the game and gave Pentax the win, despite giving up FOUR runs in the 9th inning.

Game 3 was another tight matchup, with Robert Arredondo pitching an edge-of-your-seats 7-inning, 3 run performance that took up 111 pitches and saw 9 hits and 2 walks (1.57 WHIP!).  2B Christian Lee provided all the offense they needed, however, with a pair of two-run homers to give Paris the 4-3 win.

Entering into Game 4 after three consecutive 1-run matches, everyone was expecting another tight game.  Instead, Paris surprised everyone, and the Shake Reducers most of all, by exploding for a 9-0 shutout win.  Christian Lee hit yet another pair of 2-run homers to lead the team again with 4 RBIs, but the story of the night was Paris’ phenom Rex White, facing Pentax’s ace Augusto Figueroa yet again and shutting down the Pentax offense with an 8 2/3, 0-run start.

At this point, Pentax was put into serious doubt.  Paris was hot off the heels of a 9-0 shutout performance, their best hitter was on a 4-HR, 8-RBI tear in the past two games, and their hero Augusto Figueroa had just suffered an embarrassing 6-run loss in one of the most critical games of the postseason.  With the momentum Paris had, there didn’t seem to be much hope for Pentax.  They turned to Moises Silva, who again broke out with a dominant start, bringing a 1-run game into the 8th inning.  With another commanding 6-1 lead, it seemed as if Silva had this game squarely locked up.  Paris rallied however, and at the end of the eighth had answered back with 4 runs to make it a 1-run game.  Turning yet again to Gonzalo Bolanos, the Pentax closer pitched a 1-2-3 9th for the save, ensuring Pentax would live to play another day.

Things began falling apart for the Forfeiters, who after Game 4 seemed to be in such a dominating position, with a 3-1 series lead.  Game 6 saw the utter implosion of the Paris pitching staff – starter Robert Arrendodo lasted only 3 1/3 innings and gave up 6 runs, and the subsequent relievers were equally abysmal, giving up a collective 7 runs over the next 5 2/3 innings.  The Pentax hitters had a field day, led by RF Simeon Sarvis, who had a 4-5 day with 5 RBI and 3 runs.  Pentax won the game 14-3, and all of a sudden the series was tied 3-3, and headed to Game 7.

Here it was, Game 7, and both teams were throwing out their best.  Pentax had their hero pitcher Augusto Figueroa on the mound, who had dominated before but definitely showed his age in the last matchup, where he gave up 6 runs.  On the visiting side, Paris had their 22-year-old boy wonder Rex White, who dominated Pentax the last time around with a near complete game shutout.  Things seemed to be going Paris’ way at first, when they scored 3 runs in the 4th, while White went into the 5th with another shutout bid at hand.  Things fell apart, however, as the Pentax hit hard with a 4-run 5th inning, and not letting up even after White had been taken out, tagging the Paris relievers for 2 runs each in the 6th and 7th.  At the end of the day, Paris was up 8-3, and Augusto Figueroa had a complete game victory, proving why he’s still one of the game’s best.

Although Canon’s 4-2 series win doesn’t show it, they were perhaps the most dominant team all the way through the first round.    Right out of the gate, they slammed down the Las Vegas Valleys on a 2-hit, 7 2/3 shutout start by ace Justin Ramage.  #2 ace Robert Bone picked up right where he left off with a dominant 1-run start for an 11-1 win.  Out of nowhere, however, the Valleys came back to win the next two games, both by 4-3, one run victories.  This apparently woke some sort of sleeping giant, as Canon exploded the next game with a 20-3 victory, with Skywalker’s 2-HR, 5RBI performance and SS Antonio Nevarez’s 5RBI day leading the way.  The Image Stabilizers wrapped up the series on a low-key 6-2 victory.

Round 2: Microsoft Longhorns vs. Daly City Montis
The top two teams in the league meet in perhaps the real world championship round.  Without Microsoft’s ace Kernel Tyranus and their slugger (and league HR leader) Jabba Desilijic Ture, this may very well be the match that could’ve been, but nevertheless Microsoft brings a strong lineup and a so-so pitching staff to the table.  Microsoft outscored Asia 28-19 in Round 1, while Daly City was 35-12, but Microsoft’s offense has looked unstoppable at times, with SS Maul Foundation (.579-.591-.842) and Boba Fett (.409-.409-.636) leading the way.  Daly City has been no slouch either, and despite their star hitter, Derek Lew, struggling at the plate (.182-.174-.364), other light-hitting members of the batting corps have been surprisingly good, including 3B Joanna Maung (.591-.625-.727) and CF Tiffany Ho (.565-.583-.870).  Surprisingly, or perhaps not, Daly City’s playoff hero has been Francis Chen, who is once again on his October tear with a .333-.444-1.067 performance, leading the team with 3 HR, 6 runs, and 7 RBI. Pitching-wise, the series is hands-down in the favor of the Daly City Montis, especially without Microsoft’s star (and #2 pitcher in the league) Kernel Tyranus.  Even Microsoft’s #1, Sherwood Bertsch, seems a shaky bet to be able to beat any of Daly City’s starting 5.
Prediction: Daly City, 4-2

Round 2: Pentax Shake Reducers vs. Canon Image Stabilizers: In the David vs. Goliath battle out in the Shinto-World League, Canon seems to be firing on all cylinders after their dominating performances over Las Vegas.  Their 48-14 run differential in Round 1 was by far the best of any team, and it dwarfs the 41-36 performance by Pentax in the 1st round.  Pentax has a fleet of hitters firing on all cylinders.  However, the production from Canon’s Gates Skywalker alone (.450-.556-1.550, 14 RBIs, 8 Runs) nearly dwarfs all of them combined.  Pentax still’s got a fighting chance, however, with Canon’s all-world catcher Francis Cote on the DL, along with two of their starting pitchers.
Prediction: Canon, 4-2

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