Pitching Reigns in October


The Cover 4.com presents you with Pitching Reigns in October! Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter at @thecover4 or facebook at theCo VerFour

The World Series matchup is set. The Boston Red Sox and the St. Louis Cardinals. Two storied franchises competing against each other. The ratings will be high, well higher than usual.  It’s a rematch of the 2004 World Series where the Red Sox swept and broke the Curse of the Bambino. Truth be told, this World Series is a real treat, and on paper one of the best ones in recent memory. Both teams have big-time hitters, but it was the pitchers that dominated the League Championship Series. The adage, “good pitching beats good hitting,” came to fruition and showed who reigns supreme on a baseball diamond.


We had two phenomenal matchups in the League Championship Series with the Dodgers-Cardinals and Red Sox-Tigers. At a glance, many experts agreed that the Dodgers had a better pitching staff than the Cards with Clayton Kershaw and Zach Greinke against Adam Wainwright and a bevy of young pitchers. Many experts picked the Tigers to win it all with Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander and Anibal Sanchez over veterans Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, John Lackey and Jake Peavy. Well the experts were right that the better pitching staff won, but it just was not the ones they thought were better.

Game 1 in the Cardinals-Dodgers series shaped the tone for the entire series. Greinke faced rookie Joe Kelly in one of many pitchers duels in the LCS. The Dodgers and Cardinals each scored twice in the third inning. Zeroes hung on the scoreboard the rest of the way like Christmas tree ornaments. The Dodgers did what they did for many parts of the season. They got runners on, they got them over, but could not get them in. They even had a runner thrown out at home in the top of the 10th by Carlos Beltran, whose big two-run double tied the game at 2. And to seal the deal, Beltran roped a double down the line for the game-winning hit to win 3-2 and commence a great set of LCS games. The lead in the series was up for grabs and the Cardinals took it and never looked back.

In Game 2, the Dodgers put out their best pitcher, maybe the best pitcher in baseball, Clayton Kershaw, but it was another pitcher who made a name for himself. Michael Wacha, another rookie for the Cardinals, outpitched Kershaw in a 1-0 ballgame. This was not a soccer game, but it felt like it when the Cardinals scored their only goal, I mean run. The Cardinals had all the momentum heading to Los Angeles, but they got blanked by the rookie this time for Game 3. Hyun-Jin Ryu pitched beautifully and beat the Cardinals 3-0. Are you sensing a theme with these recaps yet?


A big hit actually took place in Game 4 when Matt Holliday hit a mammoth two-run homer to help the Cardinals beat the Dodgers 4-2. A two-run lead felt like a blowout given the circumstances. The Cardinals’ World Series berth was put on hold when Greinke dealt and the Dodgers finally got some big hits, taking Game 5, 6-4. Going back to St. Louis with the Cardinals up 3-2, everyone felt Game 7 was inevitable with Kershaw on the mound again. However, people forgot about the real ace of this series, Wacha.

Yes, his last name sounds like a Russian’s favorite liquor, but the only thing strong about Wacha is his arm and his pitches. He continued to dominate the Dodger lineup while Kershaw had an inning to forget. The Cardinals batted around in the fourth, tallying four runs, and in essence, punching their ticket to the 2013 World Series. They won 9-0. In six games, the Dodgers scored 13 runs and pretty much half of them came in Game 5. Not even the antics and over-the-top emotions of Yasiel Puig could carry the Dodgers. His flaws were exposed by a gritty Cardinals team, and so were the rest of the Dodgers. Wacha, a pitcher, was named NLCS MVP, and we might just be seeing the tip of the iceberg with this young stud.


The Dodgers made one of the most amazing turnarounds during the regular season and brought baseball excitement back to L.A. However, in the end, the Cardinals reminded us that baseball is a team sport and the team that spends the most money is not usually the one who wins. The Cardinals proved to have the best pitching, and consequently, they are now in great position to win the 2013 World Series.

In the ALCS, The Tigers and Red Sox boasted two of the most potent offenses in baseball. What a joke! The only crooked numbers seen in this series were strikeouts and number of beards, and there were many of them on both sides. There were two 1-0 games. This is mind boggling to a guy who has watched the Tigers and Red Sox score at will like an Oregon football team playing Arkansas State all year. But it still happened.  Good pitching happened. The Red Sox lost Game 1 1-0. Enough said. Those are the highlights. In all seriousness,  Sanchez pitched effectively wild and did not allow a hit in six innings pitched. In fact, the Red Sox got their first hit in the bottom of the 9th to break up the no hitter.

Game 2 will go down as one of the gems of this postseason. Down 5-0 in the bottom of the 6th, the Red Sox again got their first hit late in the ballgame  when Shane Victorino broke up Scherzer’s no hit bid. This led to their first run of the series. Trailing 5-1 in the bottom of the 8th, the Red Sox loaded the bases for David Ortiz. And the Red Sox version of Beltran did it again. On the first pitch, he cracked a line drive over the right field wall to dramatically tie the game with a grand slam. Torii Hunter missed the catch and flipped over the short wall like a gymnast. It was electric. Even Stephen King got scared in attendance with the eeriness in the air. Jarrod Saltalamacchia had the game-winning hit in the bottom of the 9th to win 6-5 and in hindsight, win the series for the Red Sox.


Returning to Detroit, momentum was up in the air, but the Tigers felt confident throwing their ace Verlander out on the bump. The Red Sox countered with Lackey. Verlander was dominant, surrendering only one mistake to Mike Napoli in the 7th. a home run that barely cleared the fence in left. And that led to another 1-0 game. Lackey ousted the ace, like Wacha did. The Tigers could not deliver the clutch hits, like the Dodgers. The Tigers did tie up the series by roughing up Peavy in Game 4. They won 7-3, the only non-competitive game in the series, and it led to a pivotal Game 5. The Red Sox jumped to an early 4-0 lead and grinded out a 4-3 win. Closer Koji Uehara got five outs for the save and halted any chances of a Tiger comeback.

Down 3-2 in the series heading back to Boston, the Tigers still felt optimistic with Scherzer and Verlander lined up to pitch. Game 6 featured another grand performance from an unlikely hero. Pitching dominated again.  Through six innings, the Tigers led 2-1. In the bottom of the 7th, the Red Sox fans found the bases juiced with Victorino up to bat and then the unthinkable happened.  No he did not shave his beard before his at bat, but he smacked another Red Sox grand slam, this time over the Green Monster in left. Uehara closed the deal again for his third save in the series. Not to mention, he won the other game when the Red Sox walked off in Game 2. The Red Sox won in 6 games advancing to the World Series and Uehara, a closer, yet alone a pitcher, was named MVP of the ALCS.

Jon Lester

The Red Sox and the Cardinals batted poorly throughout the LCS, but they got the hits when they counted. It was their pitching that carried them to the World Series. Each team featured emerging stars winning MVPs. Wacha on the front end. He beat Kershaw and shutout the Dodgers twice.  Those two feats alone in one series are reason enough to retire. And Uehara impacted every single game the Red Sox won against the Tigers, winning one and saving three games. The entire country of Japan has new requested membership to Red Sox Nation.

It is usually the hitters that get the awards. Hitters get the highlights. The home runs and game-winning hits. Hitters are the ones that play every game and provide the most impact. However, the only thing the bats have been touching these playoffs are the racks after recording outs, and lots of them. The final four teams had the best pitchers in baseball. The Cardinals and Red Sox might not have better pitchers than the Tigers or Dodgers, but they pitched better in the LCS, when it mattered most. Their bullpens were better. Their closers were better. And now we, as fans, are better off with this fantastic matchup for this year’s World Series. Two respected and admirable teams facing off in late October.  What could be better than this? Seven games would be a nice early Christmas gift. Will the pitching dominance continue to trend or will the hitters get the last laugh? This baseball fan is eager to watch and see. Stay tuned.


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Paul Culley
Guest Sports Activist for The Cover 4


Battle: Los Angeles

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Two former Cy Young winners, two former MVPs, two teams and one city suddenly exploding with baseball talent. The Los Angeles Dodgers and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim recently broke the bank to snare the best free agents available on the market. With the financial backing of Magic Johnson and Guggenheim Baseball Management, the Dodgers continued their spending spree and bolstered their starting pitching by signing Zack Greinke to a six-year, $147 million contract. The spending spree appeared to be contagious. The Angels and Arte Moreno signed division rival slugger Josh Hamilton to a 5-year, $125 million contract just a few days later. Eyes are turning towards the gold rush going on out west and both the Dodgers and Angels enter the 2013 season with high expectations. The high payrolls and amount of talent on each team, invoke playoff expectations and World Series hopes. Most exciting for Southern Californians (unless you need to take I-5 to get somewhere quick in late October), it creates the potential for a Freeway World Series in the years to come.

With the Dodgers’ gross expenditure and addition of talent, anything less than a World Series berth can be called a failure of a season. The Los Angeles Dodgers have become the Yankees of the west. When you carry the highest payroll in baseball, you’re paying for championships. Good seasons and playoff berths simply won’t cut it.  Magic’s mountain of cash has raised Dodger fans’ expectations high, but will free-fall if the Dodgers fail to win. One of the largest hurdles for the 2013 Dodgers will be to overcome the world champion San Francisco Giants and win the NL West crown. The off-season acquisitions of Greinke and South Korean pitcher Ryu Hyun-Jin bolsters the starting pitching of a team that already includes the best left-hander in the NL, Clayton Kershaw. While the starting rotation seems solid, the Dodgers will need more to match expectations. Dodger fans will need to hope for the health of all-star Matt Kemp and that the late acquisitions from the Boston Red Sox trade will perform better than last year. If Matt Kemp, Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and Andre Ethier’s bats can be as big as their names and contracts, the Dodger’s lineup can have solid output in 2013.

While the Dodgers become a contender, Arte Moreno is making sure that Los Angeles is not solely a sea of Dodger blue. Even with the Angels’ addition of Los Angeles to their name, the city has always been Dodgertown. The Angels have been unable to penetrate the market to the degree that Moreno hoped. The Angels stole the spotlight by inking Albert Pujols last year, and again captured the nation’s attention by signing Josh Hamilton this offseason. The Angels have created a lineup that is not only terrifying to opposing pitchers, but also arguably the most marketable in baseball. Featuring Mike Trout, Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton and Mark Trumbo, the line-up resembles the Fantastic Four rather than reality. It’s only a matter of time until Trout, Pujols and Hamilton are plastered amongst billboards along I-5 and commercials throughout Los Angeles in a Moreno marketing campaign. In addition, he may want to make sure his star pitcher gets some coverage as Jered Weaver figures to have another great season. While Weaver can be relied upon to perform well, the starting rotation lacks some depth. C.J. Wilson is certainly solid but the rotation of Tommy Hanson, Joe Blanton and Jason Vargas leaves something to be desired. Regardless, the Angels can be expected to be more than just hype in the coming season.

Baseball’s Battle: Los Angeles transcends the traditional freeway series or a possible World Series. Wins and losses are not the only things that the Angels and Dodgers are competing for; there is immense competition for the Los Angeles market. With the ever-increasing growth of television deals and the enormous market of Los Angeles, both the Angels and Dodgers want to soak the market. Los Angeles has long been considered a city of fair-weather fans, with popularity correlating directly to wins. While recent signings by both teams show an emphasis to ‘win now’, the Angels’ additions display Moreno’s desire to expand their market. By signing Pujols and Hamilton to long-term deals, the Angels paid big money for big names and big bats. Moreno knows that guys like this get national attention.  Surely Moreno hopes that their popularity will creep beyond Anaheim and Orange County, and into the profitable Los Angeles and national markets.

Thank you for reading The Cover 4! Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook & Twitter.

Oh yeah, tell your friends too!

Tye Masters
Sports Activist for The Cover 4

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