Browsing the archives for the Steffen Richardson tag.

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

No Comments

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

No Comments