Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Second Round, Day One (Tournament III Action)

Family Matters

The 1979 Pittsburgh Pirates (defending champs) hosted the 2013 Boston Red Sox, with Bert Blyleven (Pirates) and John Lackey (Red Sox) taking the mound. This was one of those match-ups that I had highlighted in my mind, as a must-roll dice game & it lived up (for the most part) to the hype.

Due to the 79' Pirates being the home team, teams play to whatever home team's rules, meaning that pitchers bat (no DH) for this game.... Meaning that the Red Sox had to sit Mike Napoli (Fielding 4), in favor of David Ortiz's bat, although they would be sacrificing two points in defense; Napoli was no slouch at the plate, hitting .259 with 23 HR & 92 RBI (.842 OPS), which falls among his better seasons.

Daniel Nava got things rolling early for Boston with a solo home run off Blyleven during the top of the 2nd. 

The Bucs' Bill Madlock led off the 4th with a single, Dave Parker would hit an RBI triple, while Willie Stargell would get him in on a sac fly, to give the Pirates a 2-1 lead.

Blyleven would start having control problems as his three walks would all come in the 6th inning, but he would escape by only giving up a run (RBI BB with bases loaded to Nava)... although a game-tying run at 2-2.

Blyleven's control problems would continue to haunt him, as he would plunk pinch-hitter Jonny Gomes with a pitch in the 7th; Jacoby Ellsbury advances runner to 3rd with single, and would steal second on the next pitch... Ellsbury scores on Shane Victorino's sac fly to give Boston a brief 3-2 lead.

Ed Ott's RBI double & John Milner's RBI ground out during the bottom of the 7th, would give Pittsburgh back the lead (4-3), in which the Pirates' bullpen (Enrique Romo & Kent Tekulve) would wrap up the victory; Tekulve recorded his 2nd save of this tournament.

The 1979 Pirates will host the winner of the 1933 Philadelphia Phillies / 1901 Pittsburgh Pirates game... They will have to do it without Bill Madlock who suffered a late-game injury (2 games).

Wild Affair in Washington

When I started this tournament in 2016, I didn't have the APBA teams collection that I do now, so that's why we have the 2004 Los Angeles Angels in this tournament... Sure, they don't look like they belong, but they keep proving otherwise.

The Angels find themselves visiting the 2012 Washington Nationals, which I find a fun team with plenty of potential, but the furthest they ever got is the 2nd Round (twice now)... Can they get to the Sweet Sixteen? We shall see...

Washington is coming off of a big high with a no-hit performance by Gio Gonzalez -- no-hitting the tough 1998 Atlanta Braves.

Newly inducted MLB Hall of Famer, Vladimir Guerrero knocks in Darin Erstad with an RBI double in the 1st, while Washington would match that in the 1st with Adam LaRoche grounding out deep to short to score in Jayson Werth

Top of the 2nd, runner on first (Adam Kennedy reached base on a error by Ian Desmond) -- Bengie Molina hits a two-run homer [66-0, 35-1] off of Stephen Strasburg; Darin Erstad adds RBI sac fly to give Angels a 4-1 lead.

The Nats answer back during the bottom of the 2nd, after back-to-back singles to Danny Espinosa and Kurt Suzuki, the Angels' starting pitcher Kelvim Escobar gets frustrated with a called ball pitch to Strasburg, and is tossed for arguing with the umpire.... Angels call on Jarrod Washburn, who then gives up a two-run double to Stephen Strasburg, cutting the Angels' lead to one run (4-3).

Strasburg and Washburn would settle down for a few innings.

The Nationals would take the ball away from Strasburg after 5 innings of work -- allowing 4 hits, 3 earned runs (4 runs) & a walk, with 6 strikeouts; Ryan Mattheus comes in to pitch the 6th. 

Mattheus comes in & plunks Jose Guillen with a pitch, Adam Kennedy would hit into a fielder's choice as the Nats get lead runner Guillen at second. Kennedy would advance two bases, by stealing second & then advancing to third on a wild pitch by Mattheus. Runner on third, Bengie Molina comes up to the plate... [33-0]... second roll [35-1, again] .... Two-run homer!

Let it be noted that Molina had only 10 HR in 337 at-bats.

Bengie Molina watches 2nd HR leave the park.
The Angels sat with a comfortable 6-3 lead during the 7th Inning stretch, but nothing's ever guaranteed in APBA and what happened next was not surprising considering how the game has been playing out...

The Nationals answer back (again) during the bottom half of the 7th, with a two-out, two-run homer by Ian Desmond (off of reliever Scot Shields), trailing the Angels 6-5.

Bottom of the 9th, the Angels call on their closer Troy Percival (Grade A*-Y) to close out the game, he would get the first hitter, Kurt Suzuki to fly out for the out number one... Nationals call on Tyler Moore to pinch-hit for reliever Sean Burnett (2 innings of scoreless relief); Moore hit 10 HR & 29 RBI (.840 OPS) in only 156 at-bats for the Nats in 2012.

Moore ties the game... you guessed it... with a solo homer, at 6-6.

During the 10th, Bengie Molina nearly hit 3 HR in a game [11-0, 36-6], the odds for this card to hit 3 HR in a game would be huge... he ended up with 2 HR & a double, along with 4 RBI instead.

Both teams would match runs in the 11th inning, but it would be a huge two-out, two-run single by Jose Guillen in the 13th (off of reliever Drew Storen) that would seal the deal for the Angels; Guillen's 3 RBI all came in extras, while he had a home run during the 1st round of tournament action.

The Angels were running out of players & had to deal with Bartolo Colon (Grade C-Y) being on the mound with four innings of relief, while recording the win; Colon went 18-12 with a 5.01 ERA in 34 starts & 208 innings for the halos in 2004. 

The Angels used every player on their roster, except for Bengie's brother, Jose Molina. Both teams used 14 pitchers combined (7 each), while the Nats used most of their roster as well.

The 2004 Angels continue their wild ride with another extra innings winner, they went 12 innings in their upset over the 2001 Seattle Mariners during the 1st Round.

Other Games....
  • 1987 Detroit Tigers at 1909 Pittsburgh Pirates: George Gibson's two-run homer during the 2nd Inning off of Doyle Alexander was the difference for the most part, as the Tigers lose 3-2; Gibson only hit 2 HR in 510 at-bats for the Pirates in 1909. Tigers' Kirk Gibson & Larry Herndon hit solo HR -- accounting for 2 of the Tigers' total 3 hits as Vic Willis (4 K) was solid during his complete game effort.
  • 1993 Chicago White Sox at 1914 Boston Braves: The White Sox will be advancing to the Sweet Sixteen for the second consecutive time, as they were led by a pair of homers by Tim Raines (in the first), while "The Big Hurt" Frank Thomas hit a two-run bomb in the 4th. (WP-Alex Fernandez, LP-Bill James & SV-Roberto Hernandez). White Sox 3, Braves 1
  • 1981 Montreal Expos at 1995 Cleveland Indians: The Indians win 2-1 & will advance to the Sweet Sixteen, that's great news for a team that could never get out of the 1st Round before this tourney. Eddie Murray goes 2-for-3, 6th-Inning two-run double to single handily carry the Tribe past the Expos. (WP-De.Martinez, LP-Gullickson & SV-Jose Mesa).
  • 2013 Los Angeles Dodgers at 1957 Milwaukee Braves: Frank Torre (2-Run HR in 6th) and Lew Burdette (Grade C-Z advanced to Grade A-Z) were the heroes for the Braves; Burdette allows only 2 hits with 3 walks during his shutout against the Dodgers. (LP-Zack Greinke). Braves 3, Dodgers 0
  • 1948 Boston Braves at 1971 Pittsburgh Pirates: The 71' Pirates (a Final Four participant during the last tournament) could not keep up with Boston's bats... Big hits by Phil Masi and Eddie Stanky led to 3 runs in the 4th, while Bob Elliott reached base all four times -- going 2-for-2, RBI triple, 2 runs & 2 BB. Willie Stargell and Al Oliver hit homers, while Richie Hebner was a HR short of the cycle, for Pittsburgh in their losing cause. (WP-Warren Spahn, LP-Dock Ellis & SV-Bob Hogue). Braves 5, Pirates 3
  • 1986 Houston Astros at 1917 Chicago White Sox: The "Nolan Express" (Nolan Ryan) got derailed, allowing 7 runs, 7 hits in only 1.1 innings of work. Eddie Collins (3 hits, 3 R & 2 RBI), Buck Weaver (two-run 2B & R) & "Shoeless Joe" Jackson (2-for-3, 3 RBI & R) led the charge, as the White Sox reach the Sweet Sixteen for the second time. Odd Stat: Red Faber (Grade A) allows 7 walks through 6 innings). White Sox 9, Astros 4

*** I want to take this moment and mention that I will be referring to this tournament as Tournament III for its remainder. The tourney started back in 2016, and was intended to be the 3rd Amazing April Tournament -- which it won't be labeled as; The other two tournaments are Amazing April Tournaments & are still 'Amazing April Tournaments' while also being known as Tournament I & Tournament II ***

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