Tuesday, May 19, 2015

14' BoS NLCS: Games 3 & 4

Portland's Sanchez eyes to finish off the Panthers.
Welcome everyone to TCSN Baseball! Home network of the Traverse City Panthers -- brought to you from beautiful Panther Park, sitting on the west bay.

The Panthers trail the defending National League Champions - Portland Microbrewers, 2-0, and will have to face Anibal Sanchez. Sanchez was outstanding this season with a 18-3 record (his .857 winning percentage was tops in the entire BoS), 2.72 ERA & 200 K's in 169 innings, allowing only 119 hits. Sanchez will be facing the Panthers' Alex Cobb, who had a 8-11 record, 3.61 ERA in 24 starts, with 116 K's in 152 innings. Cobb is 1-0 with a 1.50 ERA during these playoffs, a 6-inning, three-hit performance that allowed only one run vs. Hannibal in Game 2 of the NLDS; while this is Sanchez' first start of the post-season (Portland had a first round bye for having N.L.'s top seed).

The Microbrewers led their division basically all year long, at one point were on pace for 118 wins, but ended up with 2nd best single-season record of 108 wins. Meanwhile, Traverse City went from a 46-win team in the 2013 Season (2012 MLB stats), to a 90-win team in 2014, a 44-game improvement due to major players stepping up such as Josh Donaldson, Matt Carpenter & Matt Harvey, the #1 overall 2014 Draft choice in Yasiel Puig & a full-season with Hunter Pence (acquired last season from the Boston Bravos).

These two teams may be seeing more of each other in the seasons to come.

These Panthers bats will need to come alive, after being shut down in Game 2, held to three hits by Hisashi Iwakuma. T.C.'s backs are to the wall, can they claw back and hopefully make this a series? We'll see... it's Game 3 of the National League Championship Series!


Top of the 2nd - Alex Cobb in some trouble early, allowing a lead-off walk to Alfonso Soriano. Juan Uribe follows with single to right. Cobb throws wild pitch that rolls to the screen, Soriano & Uribe move up a base. No outs, with lefty Colby Rasmus coming to the plate to face righty Cobb, the pitch, it's a fly to left-center, Yasiel Puig tracks it down, makes the catch, but the runners hold, that ball just was not deep enough. Russell Martin goes fishing, down on strikes, two down. Brad Miller hits a fly to right, which Hunter Pence tracks it down with a fine running catch. Cobb escapes this one.

Bottom of the 2nd - Josh Donaldson comes to the plate, he has been on base a lot in his brief LCS performance (.667 OBP), but all due to bases on balls & getting plunked. He got injured the first game from a Bartolo Colon pitch (missing the remainder of the game), and then got plunked by Hisashi Iwakuma in Game 2. The Panthers also have been without Giancarlo Stanton, who got hurt early in the League Division Series against the Hannibal Cavemen.

Donaldson strikes out. Jason Castro barely stretches a single into a double, testing Carlos Gonzalez's arm in right, who retrieved the ball in the gap in right-center. Hunter Pence bloops a fly to the shortstop Brad Miller -- two down. Anibal Sanchez strikes out Alejandro De Aza. Still no score after two.

Top of the 3rd - A long one-out double by Mike Trout, that nearly made it over the right-center wall -- that is Trout's second hit of the game, 3rd in the series. Carlos Gonzalez draws a bases on balls, runners now on 1st & 2nd. Freddie Freeman scorches a liner to Brian Dozier, caught! Runners hold, two down, for Alfonso Soriano. Cobb strikes out Soriano.

Bottom of the 3rd - Jordy Mercer leads the inning off with a fly to center that tailed away from Mike Trout and lands, Mercer slides into second with a double (his 2nd double, 3rd hit of the series). Anibal Sanchez strikes out his 5th batter in Brian Dozier, making him look bad, one down. Matt Carpenter hits one to deep left-center, Mike Trout is after it, Mercer scores easily, as Carpenter pulls into second, RBI double for Matt -- Panthers strike first. Yasiel Puig hits a fly to left, but Carpernter holds at second. This brings up T.C.'s early hero in Brandon Belt, who had an amazing first round series against the Cavemen, but happens to be 1-for-9 against Portland. Sanchez strikes out Belt, making him his 6th victim already. Traverse City l, Portland 0

Top of the 4th - After back-to-back strikeouts by Alex Cobb (he has 5 K's) to Juan Uribe and Colby Rasmus, Russell Martin sends a ball misjudged by Yasiel Puig in center, Martin races around second to third, as the relay throw is coming to the cutoff man Jordy Mercer, Martin decides to go for home, and is nailed on a close play & great throw from Mercer.

Top of the 5th - Jason Kipnis draws one-out walk, steals second base. Mike Trout hits chopper back to the mound, Cobb looks Kipnis back to second, the throw to first, second out. Carlos Gonzalez flies to left.

Top of the 7th - Alex Cobb issues a free pass to lead-off man Colby Rasmus, that is Cobb's 4th walk in this game. There is action in the bullpen, just in case. Russell Martin squares, it's bunted to Cobb, Cobb throws it to second -- SAFE! Over to first, they get Martin by a step, a sacrifice that now has the tying-run at second. One out, Brad Miller steps to the plate -- Panthers' Manager Shawn Baier comes out, signals to the bullpen, they are calling on the southpaw Tim Collins to face Miller. The pitch to Miller, it's hit right back at Collins, Collins looks the base-runner back to second, over to first, two down! Collins will now face the lefty Jason Kipnis at the plate, who is 2-for-10 this series -- the pitch, Kipnis skies it to left, should be no problem for De Aza in left. Portland fails to score again. Score remains, 1-0 in favor of the Panthers.

We go to the 7th Inning Stretch, the Panthers only have 3 hits, Portland not much better with their 4 hits this ballgame -- Runs are certainly being hard to come by in this one.

Mercer: Getting it done with both his glove & bat.
Bottom of the 7th - Anibal Sanchez still in the game, delivers the pitch to Josh Donaldson -- this one sails, it might go, and it does, deep home run to left by Donaldson! Jason Castro follows with his 2nd safety of the game. Castro is off and running, Hunter Pence hits a ball a few steps towards Freddie Freeman's right, Sanchez runs to cover first, Freeman's under-hand toss to Sanchez, and he's SAFE! Sanchez's foot came off the bag too soon, runners on 1st & 2nd. Portland goes to the pen & calls on Tony Watson, who has had 0.2 innings of work this series, in Game 1. The Panthers counter by calling on Ryan Raburn, a righty to face the southpaw -- Raburn is on the roster, simply for reasons like this. Raburn hits a frozen rope to center, runners will not tag up on Trout's arm. Portland goes to the pen again, after Watson faced one batter, they'll go with Joaquin Benoit. Jordy Mercer steps up to the plate with one out -- Benoit delivers, it's sliced down the right field line, Carlos Gonzalez is after it, Castro scores, the relay is coming in, Pence is around third, the throw home and he's safe on a very close play, Mercer into second with a two-run clutch double. Brian Dozier pops up to Brad Miller at short, two down. Matt Carpenter hits one to the mound, it's smacked down by Benoit, Benoit is up with it, over to first, to end the inning. The Panthers tack on a few more.. Traverse City 4, Portland 0

Top of the 8th - Traverse City has Brandon Kintzler pitching the 8th, with a 4-0 lead, the righty will have to face the heart of the Portland lineup in Mike Trout, "CarGo" (Carlos Gonzalez) & Freddie Freeman. Ryan Raburn, who pinch-hit for Alejandro De Aza, takes over in left for the Panthers. Mike Trout draws lead-off walk. Carlos Gonzalez hits a slow roller to short, Jordy Mercer has to race in, picks up, throws it to first, not in time! A scratch base-hit for Carlos, and there are runners on 1st & 2nd with no outs. The Panthers call on southpaw Sean Doolittle to face Freddie Freeman, hoping for that double play ball. Freeman hits a shallow pop fly to left, in which the SS Mercer tracks it down, out number one. The Panthers once again are going to the pen, they call on Tyler Clippard to face Alfonso Soriano -- Portland counters with lefty Charlie Blackmon, only his second plate appearance this series. Clippard with the pitch, swung on & missed -- he struck him out, two down. Juan Uribe steps to the plate, and clubs it to deepest center, Puig races to the fence, but the ball wins this one, as its long gone! Three-run blast by Uribe, and its suddenly a one-run game, as the T.C. crowd is silenced. Clippard stays in the game & gets Colby Rasmus to fly out to right for the final out of the inning. Traverse City 4, Portland 3
Otero & Panthers' bullpen is a big key to their success.

Bottom of the 8th - Mark Melancon takes over the mound for the Microbrewers. One-out single for Brandon Belt that sneaks past second baseman Jason Kipnis. Melancon than clobbers Josh Donaldson with a pitch, and once again is injured for the rest of the game -- Donaldson was not happy with that one, and hollered a few things back towards the mound as he walks off to the dugout in pain, Melancon just shakes it off. The speedy Jean Segura will come in to pinch-run for him. Melancon will now face lefty Jason Castro, the pitch, it's a hard liner towards Kipnis, and it's caught -- runners hold. Hunter Pence steps in to the batter's box, but Melancon makes quick work of him, as he strikes him out, for out number three. The Panthers fail to add some insurance runs.

Top of the 9th - The Panthers call on Dan Otero to close out the game; Jean Segura stays in the game and will take over at shortstop, while Jordy Mercer will move over to third for the injured Donaldson. Russell Martin leads it off by striking out. The Brewers will call on more power in Adam Lind over Brad Miller's bat. Lind hits it to medium deep right-center, Yasiel Puig is there, he's gone -- two down. It's all up to Jason Kipnis, batting .182 this series -- the pitch, strike three! The Panthers will hold on to win Game 3 to a delightful crowd that nearly watched this one get away from them.

FINAL SCORE: Traverse City 4, Portland 3


Cliff Lee for Portland takes the mound against Matt Harvey.

Bottom of the 1st - Matt Carpenter leads off with single to left-center. Yasiel Puig hits into a fielder's choice, one out, Carpenter back to the dugout with Puig on first. Josh Donaldson hits a ball to Freddie Freeman's left, the under-hand toss to Cliff Lee covering first, and he's safe -- Lee's foot was off the base. Runners on 1st & 2nd, one out, to Ryan Raburn; Raburn hits a fly to center, caught by Trout, but the base runners hold. Brandon Belt hits shallow fly to Colby Rasmus for third out.

Top of the 2nd - Freddie Freeman hits lined single to center that happens to skip past Yasiel Puig, Freeman reaches second, Puig is lucky that Hunter Pence was behind him to prevent any more damage. Matt Harvey racks up his 3rd K, by striking out Alfonso Soriano. Juan Uribe pops it up behind third to third baseman Josh Donaldson. Colby Rasmus smacks an RBI double to left-center, scoring in Freeman; Portland draws first blood. Russell Martin strikes out to end the inning.
Portland 1, Traverse City 0

Bottom of the 2nd - Jordy Mercer stretches a one-out single to right-center into a double -- making it his 4th double (5th hit of the series). Wilson Ramos hits a soft liner to center, Mike Trout races in and makes the difficult catch, Mercer races back to second, two down. Alejandro De Aza smacks a single past Uribe & Miller on the left side, Mercer is well around third, but decides not to test Colby Rasmus's arm in left. De Aza is off & running, Matt Carpenter smacks this one to right, it's deep enough if it's fair, it is -- gone! Three-run blast by Carpenter, as he takes his time going around the bases. Yasiel Puig fists a fly to right, Carlos Gonzalez makes a good running catch -- Inning over, but not before the Panthers took the lead. Traverse City 3, Portland 1

Top of the 3rd - Matt Harvey walks the lead-off hitter in Brad Miller. Jason Kipnis flies out to right. Mike Trout strikes out, Harvey's 5th K of the night. Carlos Gonzalez hits a two-out, RBI double to the gap in right, scoring in Miller. Freddie Freeman strikes out for final out of the inning. Traverse City 3, Portland 2

Bottom of the 3rd - A 1-2-3 inning for Cliff Lee with a pair of strikeouts (Donaldson, Raburn).

Top of the 4th - Matt Harvey cruises through a 1-2-3 inning, that involved his 7th & 8th strikeouts of the night in Alfonso Soriano & Juan Uribe.

Top of the 5th - Russell Martin strikes out. Brad Miller hits a single to right. Jason Kipnis becomes Matt Harvey's 10th victim of the night. Two outs, Mike Trout steps to the plate. The fastball gets away from Harvey, as Trout is clobbered in the lower back, the ump calls time, Trout is still down, but eventually dusts himself off and trots down to first. Runners on 1st & 2nd for Carlos Gonzalez, the pitch, it's in the dirt and back to the screen, the base runners will move up -- Harvey is getting a bit sloppy suddenly, catcher Wilson Ramos trots up to the mound to calm down Harvey. "CarGo" waits for the pitch, It's hit deep into the hole at short, Mercer dives, he's up with it, the long throw across the diamond, and just gets him -- third out! The T.C. fans are loving it.

Carpenter hits a clutch homer during the bottom of the 2nd.
Bottom of the 5th - Josh Donaldson beats out a deep infield single, on a good (but tough) throw by Jason Kipnis. Ryan Raburn hits deep fly to left, Rasmus puts his glove up, it's over his head, Donaldson rounds third, but holds as Raburn pulls up with a double. Brandon Belt pops up to Juan Uribe for final out. Hopefully, the Panthers won't look back at this inning & question if they should have had Donaldson try for home. Score remains: Traverse City 3, Portland 2

7th Inning Stetch - Matt Harvey has 12 strikeouts for the Panthers.

Bottom of the 7th - Giancarlo Stanton steps into the box for his first at-bat of the series; Stanton got injured during the Panthers' Division Series against division rival Hannibal. Wide pitch, Stanton draws a walk. The Microbrewers' manager Brad Stark comes out to the mound, signals to the bullpen for Glen Perkins -- so that's it for Cliff Lee. The southpaw Perkins will face lefty Matt Carpenter, Carpenter flies out to center. Portland makes another pitching change, calling on Nick Vincent to face Yasiel Puig. Stanton is off & running, the pitch, the ball is hit off Vincent's glove, he's after it, and he's going to have no play -- everyone safe, runners on 1st & 2nd, one out. Josh Donaldson pops it up behind the plate, two outs. Ryan Raburn comes to the plate, hoping to add some insurance runs for the Panthers. Vincent kicks & deals, Raburn goes down swinging.

Top of the 8th - Matt Harvey strikes Jason Kipnis out, as Kipnis earns the infamous hat trick. Harvey against Mike Trout, did he go around? No -- Trout has earned a one-out free pass, that is only Harvey's second walk issued in the night, the tying run is now on first base for Portland. Mike Trout steals second on catcher Wilson Ramos. Harvey intentionally walks Carlos Gonzalez, as the lefty Freddie Freeman heads towards the batter's box. Traverse City goes to the pen for the lefty Sean Doolittle, hoping for a double play ball. Doolittle gets Freeman to pop up to second baseman Matt Carpenter. The Panthers now call on right-hander Luke Gregerson to face Alfonso Soriano; Portland counters with Charlie Blackmon. Gregerson with the pitch to Blackmon, it's hit right back to Gregerson on the mound, over to first, and they get him -- for the third out.

Bottom of the 8th - Portland calls on reliever Tony Watson, to try to keep the Panthers from adding to their slim, 3-2 lead. Brandon Belt pops up for out number one. Hunter Pence hits a single over the shortstop Brad Miller's head, Colby Rasmus is after it in the gap, he ends up kicking it off his foot, Pence is around second, heading for third, Mike Trout tracks it down & fires towards third, as the relay comes in -- Pence is safe, mark that down as a single & a E7 (Rasmus with the error). One out, Jordy Mercer comes up, hits a come-backer to the mound, Watson to first, two down, no advancement by Pence. Mercer hits a shallow fly to center Mike Trout, as the Microbrewers get out trouble.

Top of the 9th - The Panthers call on their closer Dan Otero, to hold onto a 3-2 lead. Juan Uribe hits a shallow fly to center, Yasiel Puig makes a good running catch. Colby Rasmus strikes out, for out number two. It's all up to Russell Martin to keep Portland alive in this game, while the Panthers are hoping to tie the series, 2-2. Portland calls time, and they are sending lefty Adam Lind to the plate. Otero with the pitch, and it's lofted to right, Hunter Pence is on the run, and has it all the way for the final out -- Panthers win, as Matt Harvey was dominant in this one, putting together a fine looking post-season.

FINAL SCORE: Traverse City 3, Portland 2

Matt Harvey has been impressive this post-season, delivers big blow to Portland in Game 4.


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