TTB

Blogging about the 5x NL East Champion Phillies

Category Archives: Hideki Matsui

5 Teams to Watch in the AL

Yankees – They’re the 2009 World Series champions and still kept intact the solid nucleus that got them there. They traded top prospects to land centerfielder Curtis Granderson, a much better defensive asset than Johnny Damon. They also traded Melky Cabrera to the Braves for Javier Vazquez to bolster the starting rotation. With guys like C.C. Sabathia, A.J. Brunett, and Andy Pettitte, the Yankees boast a very good pitching unit. Mariano Rivera is still the best closer in the game and the aging offense led by Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, and Mark Teixeira can still put a ton of runs up on the score board. If things go right, they could have another parade down Broadway.

Red Sox – The pitching is truly phenomenal. Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, John Lackey, and Daisuke Matsuzaka form the best top-four in baseball. The offense is led by top young stars Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia. Marco Scutaro is hoping to end the revolving door at the short stop position and Adrian Beltre is an offensive upgrade at third. Offensive depth is the only thing that should concern the Sox but they have the pitching to get the job done. David Ortiz is a shell of his old self but it still the DH.

Twins – It’s safe to say that Joe Mauer is the scariest hitter in the AL. The reigning MVP is one of the reasons Minnesota is buzzing prior to the 2010 season. Along with a new outdoor park and a very dangerous lineup featuring Mauer, Justin Morneau, Jason Kubel, and Michael Cuddyer, the fans and Twins have high expectations for this year. The only problem with them this year though is pitching. If their starters can have decent years, they could beat out Detroit for the division.

Mariners – Seattle is truly going to be a serious contender in the AL. The addition of Cliff Lee, Chone Figgins, and Milton Bradley will revamp a pitching staff and offense in need of fire power. Lee became a hot pitcher again after his last season transformation with the Phillies and will look to create a formidable 1-2 punch with Felix Hernandez. Figgins will add speed and Bradley will look to add power to a Mariners lineup that hit 160 homer (12th in the AL) last season.

Angels – Surely they make their case for a serious playoff contender every year but there has to be a breaking point. They improved an already solid lineup with Hideki Matsui and bolstered their bull pen with Fernando Rodney but the team still doesn’t jump out at anyone. The core of the offense is aging in Bobby Abreu, Torii Hunter, and Matsui and they lost Figgins to the division rival Mariners. Jared Weaver, Joe Saunders, and newly acquired Joel Pineiro will need to have season like 2009 to give the Mariners a fighting chance in an AL crowded with contenders.

East: Yankees
Central: Twins
West: Mariners
Wild Card: Red Sox

Pennant: Yankees over Mariners

Free Agency Tracker

MLB.com has it’s Hot Stove Free Agency tracker fired back up. There have been no major signings yet this off season but players like Manny Ramirez, Bobby Abreu, and Ken Griffey Jr. have resigned with their former teams. The big names this year include Matt Holliday, Jason Bay, John Lackey, Hideki Matsui, Johnny Damon, Andy Pettitte, and Chone Figgins.

MLB Trade Rumors Top 50 breaks down where they think some of the top players will go. They have the Phillies projected at picking up reliever Jose Valverde and utility player Mark DeRosa. I hope they are wrong in some signings as they have the Mets getting Holliday and Randy Wolf.

Yankees Win 2009 World Series

Once again, the Yankees are Pedro Martinez’s daddy. The Phillies season has finally ended as the Yankees beat up the Phillies pitching, winning game 6 by a score of 7-3 and the series 4-2. Hideki Matsui went 3-4 with six RBI’s, falling a triple shy of the cycle, as he single handedly killed the Phillies hopes of forcing game 7.

Martinez was awful, going just four innings and allowing four runs on three hits and two walks, striking out five. His opponenet, Andy Pettitte, went 5.2, allowing three runs on on four hits and five walks. Despite pitching like crap, Pettite earned the win. Mariano Rivera pitched the last five outs, getting Shane Victorino to ground out to Robinson Cano to seal the victory.

The offensive fire power got going early for the Yankees when Matsui hit a two-run homer in the second. The Phillies answered with a run in the bottom of the inning but were soon counter-punched when Matsui hit a two-run single to make it a 4-1 game.

The Yankees then tacked on three more off of Chad Durbin in the 5th. They got an RBI single by Mark Teixeira and a two-run double by Matsui to make it a 7-3 game. Ryan Howard then came alive, answering with a two-run homer off Pettitte to finally chase him from the game. The Phillies had a huge opportunity in the 7th with Utley at the plate and two outs with two runners on but specialist Demaso Marte came in to strike him out to end the inning.

Carlos Ruiz and Raul Ibanez were the only bright spots of the night. Chooch went 2-2 with a walk and a run scored. Ibanez had a pair of doubles. For the Yankees, Derek Jeter had three hits and two runs.

On a side note, Ryan Howard struck out for the 13th time this World Series, a new record. Matsui also tied Bobby Richardson’s record of six RBI’s in a single game. Richardson did the feat back in 1960 versus the Pirates.

Stars of the Game:
Game 1: Cliff Lee
Game 2: AJ Burnett
Game 3: Nick Swisher
Game 4: Johnny Damon
Game 5: Chase Utley
Game 6: Hideki Matsui

World Series MVP (official):

Hideki Matsui: 8-13 (.615), 3 runs, double, 3 HR, 8 RBI,

World Series LVP:
Ryan Howard: 4-23 (.178), 3 runs, 2 doubles, HR, 3 RBI, 13 K’s (new record)

Phillies Player of the Series:
Chase Utley: 6-21 (.286), 6 runs, double, 5 HR’s, 8 RBI, SB

Bats Falter, Series Tied

Runners on first and second for Chase Utley. The swing and a ground ball to Robinson Cano who flips to Derek Jeter and retires Utley to end the inning. The Phillies situational hitting from the regular season returned as they squandered numerous opportunities much like that one as they allow the Yankees to tie the series up, losing 3-1.

Pedro Martinez pitched a quality outing but was not supported at all by the offense, who went 1/5 with runners in scoring position. Martinez lasted 6+, allowing three runs on six hits, two walks, and striking out eight. Two of the runs he allowed were solo homers by Mark Teixeira and Hideki Matsui.

AJ Burnett looked like a stud in his outing, going seven strong innings and allowing a run on four hits and two walks, striking out nine. His only blemish came off of Matt Stairs’ RBI single scoring in Raul Ibanez. Mariano Rivera pitched the 8th and 9th to get the save.

Those struggles are something that really has to disappear. In a series where both teams should be hitting, struggles at the plate should not be there. Looking at the third strike is also something bad teams do. The Phillies are not a bad team and should not be staring at pitches that close to the plate.

Stars of the Game:
Game 1: Cliff Lee
Game 2: AJ Burnett

Next Game: Saturday in Philadelphia, 7:57 EST
Series: Tied 1-1
Pitching Probables: Andy Pettitte vs. Cole Hamels
Gameday Discussion: Liberty Bell Sports

Hamels needs to show up this game. The Phillies do not want to be trailing at all to the Yankees this series. They are one of those teams that can get on a roll if the momentum swings their way. Pettitte has been great for the Yankees in the post season.

The Phillies bats need to come back alive. It’s as simple as that. There really is nothing else to write. The Yankees are good and the Phillies are good. Pettitte his clutch and Hamels is nothing like his 2008 form. Hopefully the roles get reversed and Hamels is back to being the World Series MVP he once was.

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