Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Sixers top Nuggets in Iguodala's homecoming


PHILADELPHIA — They packed them into Wells Fargo Center on the promise of an Andrew Bynum sighting. And in that regard, they didn’t disappoint.
Neither did the guys who actually played.

Spencer Hawes had a fourth quarter to remember and the 76ers, who nearly coughed up a lead that had swollen to double figures, held off the Denver Nuggets, 84-75, Wednesday night for a season-opening win at Wells Fargo Center.

The Sixers, in crunch time, went to a smaller, more-athletic lineup. What they sacrificed in rebounding, they more than made up for with streaky shooting and transition offense. It wasn’t practical and it wasn’t consistent. It’s the five-man configuration, however, that they’ll have to employ with regularity until Bynum can find the floor.

And in going to that smaller lineup, they had been keeping Hawes off the floor. Hawes, who’s been running with the second team, made his impact in the final seven minutes of the fourth quarter – making shots at one end and blocking them at the other.

Hawes finished with 16 points, 12 rebounds and five blocked shots. Jrue Holiday also had a double-double, with 14 points and 11 assists, and Thad Young paired 13 points with five rebounds for the Sixers, who won their season opener for the first time in six seasons.

Bynum got his welcome to Philly the same night the Sixers rolled out the red carpet for one of their expatriates. Andre Iguodala, traded to the Nuggets in the offseason, returned to the city where he spent the first eight seasons of his career. Some cheered, most among the 19,101 booed. Iguodala had as difficult of a time finding a fan in the house as the Sixers did pulling down rebounds.

The Sixers, who made a habit of missing open looks in the second quarter, pulled away from the Nuggets for an eight-point lead, 46-38, at halftime by sinking three of their final four shots.

Thad Young had one and so did Hawes, both on feeds from Jrue Holiday. Spencer Hawes also made a 3-pointer inside the final minute, also off a pass from Holiday. The point guard had seven assists (to one turnover) at the break.

All told, the Nuggets were as close to the Sixers in the scoring column because of the rebounding differential. It’s not as though George Karl’s team shot the ball or protected it any better than Collins’ crew. Rather, Denver owned a 33-23 edge on the glass through the opening quarters.

That didn’t deter Collins from going to his smallish starting lineup to open the second half.

Collins rolled the dice that Nuggets 7-footer JaVale McGee and Andre Iguodala wouldn’t have better luck at rebounding than Thad Young, Jason Richardson or Lavoy Allen. And they didn’t, which explained why the Sixers took their biggest lead of the night to that point, 59-47, midway through the third quarter.

They lost some flow in the fourth quarter, when the shots weren’t going down. Dorell Wright bricked a pair of 3-point attempts from the left corner, sandwiching a breakaway layup by Ty Lawson. That cut the Nuggets’ deficit to 68-59. Evan Fournier finished one in the paint on Denver’s next trip up the floor and the Sixers’ cozy lead had been trimmed to 68-61.

Using an 18-6 run to open the fourth quarter, the Nuggets reduced the Sixers’ lead to one, at 71-70 with 7:19 to go.

Then Holiday took it upon himself to right the Sixers’ offense, and spur a 12-2 run that turned the game in the home team’s favor.
Holiday knocked down a runner in the lane, picked up a foul and completed the 3-point play to push the

Sixers’ lead to 74-70. Hawes, after making a pair of free throws, made an open jumper along the baseline on the Sixers’ next possession to make a seven-point game, at 78-71, and they never looked back.

NOTE: The Sixers in pregame introductions read out all 14 rostered players, including wobbly-kneed Andrew Bynum, who picked up applause at deafening levels. Only minutes later, the Sixers welcomed the two bigs who anchored a pair of NBA Finals teams – Moses Malone and Dikembe Mutombo.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Giants work extras to sweep Tigers, win World Series

DETROIT (AP) — Marco Scutaro singled home the tiebreaking run in the 10th inning, and the San Francisco Giants beat the Detroit Tigers 4-3 on Sunday night to complete a four-game sweep and win their second World Series title in three years.

Ryan Theriot, who went hitless for St. Louis in Game 7 of last year's Series, singled softly into right field off Phil Coke opening the 10th.
Brandon Crawford sacrificed, nearly bunting the ball past Coke. Angel Pagan struck out and Scutaro singled into short center field as Theriot slid home ahead of Austin Jackson's throw.

Pablo Sandoval, who hit three homers in Game 1, was selected Series MVP. He was 1 for 5 in Game 4, dropping his Series average to .500 (8 for 16).

Santiago Casilla got the final out of the ninth for the win, and Sergio Romo struck out the side in the 10th for his third save, freezing Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera with a called third strike to end it. The Giants ran out of the dugout and bullpen to celebrate between the mound and second base.

Of the 24 teams to take 3-0 Series leads, 21 swept and three won in five games.

Delmon Young hit a tying home run off Matt Cain in the sixth. Cabrera and San Francisco's Buster Posey homered, marking the first time both reigning batting champions went deep in the same Series game.

San Francisco's Brandon Belt hit an RBI triple off the right-field wall in the second inning following a ground-rule double by Hunter Pence. But on a night when the wind was gusting to right field at up to 25 mph, Cabrera put Detroit ahead for the first time in the Series with a wild-blown, two-run drive in the third.

Cabrera's drive, on an 86 mph breaking ball, sailed over Pence, who thought he would catch it but ran out of room in front of the right-field wall on the cool, blustery night. It drove Jackson, who had walked with one out, and ended Detroit's 20-inning scoreless streak.

San Francisco had not trailed since losing Game 4 of the NL championship series, when the Giants fell into a 3-1 series deficit against St. Louis.
With a light rain falling, Scutaro reached on a chopper to third leading off the sixth and, one out later, Max Scherzer hung an 82 mph breaking ball.

Posey drove it down the left-field line, where it stayed a few feet fair and landed a couple of rows over the wall for a 3-2 lead.
That advantage didn't last long. Young sent an opposite-field, no-doubt drive into the right-field stands in the bottom half, setting off cheers among the crowd of 42,152, with many fans waving white rally towels.

Andy Dirks followed with a single and Jhonny Peralta hit a drive that Gregor Blanco caught against the wall in left.

After watching Barry Zito, Madison Bumgarner and Ryan Vogelsong each allow one run or none in the first three games, Cain gave up three runs and five hits in seven innings with five strikeouts and two walks.

Scherzer, pitching on nine days' rest, gave up three runs and seven hits in 6 1-3 innings, struck out eight and walked none. After he left with a runner on second and one out in the seventh, lefty Drew Smyly retired Brandon Crawford on a flyout and righty Octavio Dotel induced a groundout from Angel Pagan.

Smyly, Dotel and Coke combined for 2 2-3 innings of hitless relief before the 10th.

Jeremy Affeldt followed Cain and struck out four in a row before Peralta hit a ninth-inning drive to center that the wind carried and was caught by Pagan on the warning track

Casilla relieved and hit Omar Infante with a pitch, breaking his left hand. Danny Worth ran for Infante and Gerald Laird hit into a forceout.
Sandoval was 1 for 5, dropping his Series average to .500 (8 for 16). He also made a nimble play to throw out Quintin Berry on a bunt to third.

Detroit's Prince Fielder was hitless in four at-bats, dropping to 1 for 14 in the World Series (.071) and 1 for 25 (.040) against right-handers in the postseason.

Detroit has lost seven straight postseason games.

On a 44-degree night, fans bundled up at Comerica Park and some players wore caps with earflaps during batting practice.

Detroit scratched catcher Alex Avila, playing with a sore right arm since he was hit by a foul tip in the opener, and replaced him with Laird. Infante moved up to eighth in the batting order.

San Francisco started Ryan Theriot at designated hitter instead of Hector Sanchez.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Giants take 3-0 Series lead

AP Baseball Writer

DETROIT — Nothing is stopping them — not even the Triple Crown winner at the plate with the bases loaded.

Armed and accelerating, the San Francisco Giants became the first team to throw consecutive World Series shutouts in nearly a half-century, blanking Miguel Cabrera and the Detroit Tigers 2-0 on a chilly Saturday night for a commanding 3-0 lead.

“I’ll say this: The club is playing well,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.

No team has ever blown such a huge margin in the World Series. And with the way Ryan Vogelsong,
Tim Lincecum and the Giants are pitching, it seemed unlikely the Tigers would even score a run, yet alone win a game.

Gregor Blanco hit an RBI triple and trotted home on Brandon Crawford’s single in the second inning, and that was ample for the Giants. Timely hits, combined with another dominant effort on the mound and sharp defense put them close to their second title in three years.

After playing a nearly perfect Game 3, the Giants will turn to Mr. Perfect Game himself — ace Matt Cain — to try for a sweep Sunday against Max Scherzer.

At this rate, it appeared only a bailout by the San Francisco staff could help the Motor City.

Don’t count on it. Switching to an AL park, chilly weather and a crowd of towel-waving fans ready to rock didn’t slow `em down at all.

“Well, it’s a good situation, but there’s nothing been done yet,” Bochy said. “It’s a number, just like I said about two. Now it’s three. But that’s not the Series.”

The Giants won their franchise-record sixth straight postseason game, and haven’t trailed in any of them. Quite opposite for the Tigers: Coming off a sweep of the Yankees in the AL championship series, they haven’t held a lead in the Series.

“We couldn’t get the killer hit or the killer blow,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said.

Vogelsong, a career journeyman whose path to the World Series took a detour to Japan, improved to 3-0 with a 1.09 ERA in four starts this postseason.

“I knew my stuff was pretty good,” Vogelsong said. “I was really pumped up to be out there.”
Vogelsong induced two early double plays, then faced his stiffest test in the fifth.

The bases were loaded with one out when Vogelsong fanned rookie Quintin Berry. That brought up Cabrera, honored on the field before the game with an actual blue-and-gold crown for his Triple Crown accomplishments.

With the fans chanting “M-V-P!” and likely sensing the whole Series was riding on this at-bat, Vogelsong seemed completely calm while chewing gum. He won the matchup, too, getting an easy popup that prompted Cabrera to slam his bat to the ground and elicited cheers in the San Francisco dugout.

Lincecum took over with two outs in the sixth, and the two-time reliever looked as if he had been coming out of the bullpen his whole life and shut down the Tigers.

Closer Sergio Romo finished off the combined five-hitter with his second save of the Series.

Blanco punctuated the ninth inning with his latest fancy grab, a sprinting catch into foul territory in left field.

Combined with Madison Bumgarner’s effort in Game 2, San Francisco threw the first consecutive shutouts in the Series since Baltimore in 1966, when Jim Palmer, Wally Bunker and Dave McNally did the trick to finish off the Dodgers.

Shut out only twice all year, the Tigers once again looked lost at the plate. When fan favorite Prince Fielder struck out in the eighth, some boos bounced around Comerica Park. Big hitters with teeny numbers, Cabrera and Fielder are a combined 3 for 19 against the Giants.

“It is what it is,” Fielder said.

The fearsome Tigers have totaled a mere three runs and 15 hits while hitting .165 in three games, and were shut out twice in a row for the first time since April 2008.

Only one team in baseball history has overcome a 3-0 deficit in the postseason, with Boston doing it in the 2004 ALCS against the Yankees.

“Well, you don’t really have to tell them anything. They can count,” Leyland said. “They’re big guys, they know what the situation is.”

For the Tigers, it was the sixth straight Series loss dating to 2006 against St. Louis. They got a fine effort from pitcher Anibal Sanchez this time, but it wasn’t enough against these Giants.

It was 47 degrees at gametime, a drop of 17 from Thursday night at AT&T Park, and the Tigers clearly knew this was their chance to pull back into the Series.

Soon enough, Game 3 took on a familiar look.

During the Giants’ early two-run burst, Detroit’s body language said all you needed to know about this Series. At one point in-between pitches, Cabrera put his hands on his hips at third base, shortstop
Jhonny Peralta scuffed the dirt, second baseman Omar Infante turned his back to the infield, Fielder stared down at first.

A losing posture, plain and simple.

The Comerica crowd, so pumped earlier in the postseason, quickly fell silent. Desperate to cheer for anything, the fans hollered for a long, albeit routine, flyout by Delmon Young.

Detroit grounded into the most double plays in the majors this year, and two slick turns by Crawford at shortstop added to the Tigers’ total.

Both DPs came with two on and one out, by Fielder in the first and the speedy rookie Berry in the third. Berry put both hands on his batting helmet as he zoomed well past the base, running out his frustration.

Working on 12 days’ rest, Sanchez may have been the latest Detroit player to be caught in the Rust Belt, at least in the second inning. That’s when he constantly overthrew his fastball and did not resemble the pitcher who had made two sharp starts this postseason.

The San Francisco hitters also were amply familiar with Sanchez. This was the fourth time he had matched up with Vogelsong in the last two years — Sanchez twice won duels, then lost a slugfest.

Hunter Pence, who scored one run and drove in the other during a 2-0 win in Game 2, drew a four-pitch walk to begin the second. It was a telling sign — Sanchez had not walked a right-handed batter since August.

Pence stole second, took third on a wild pitch and, with the Tigers’ infield playing in, trotted home when Blanco tripled off the wall in right. Crawford looped an RBI single with two outs for a 2-0 lead, and Rick Porcello began warming up in the Detroit bullpen.

NOTES: Cabrera has safely reached base in all 23 postseason games in his career. ... A few fans outside the ballpark climbed part of the way up the exterior gate to catch a glimpse of the action from left field before a stadium attendant inside told them to get down.

Friday, October 26, 2012

LIVE Saturday football chat starts at 11 a.m.

It's Week 8 of our Saturday live football chat, and we've got some big games we're watching today as teams look to sew up their playoff seedings.
WW-P North at Hamilton, 11 a.m.
Princeton at Trenton, 1 p.m.
Burl. Twp. at Hopewell Valley, 1 p.m.
Robbinsville at Pemberton, 1 p.m.

LIVE Friday football chat starts at 7 p.m.

Welcome to Week 8 of the Trentonian live Friday Night Football chat.
We’ve got a lot of big games to watch as the playoff picture starts to take shape. Our games will include: Allentown at Notre Dame, 7 p.m.; WW-P South at Hightstown, 7 p.m.; Lawrence at No. Burlington, 7 p.m.; Bensalem at Pennsbury 7 p.m.; Abington at Neshaminy 7 p.m.; Florence at Bordentown 7 p.m.
Join us right here live start at 7 p.m.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Bumgarner puts Giants up 2-0

AP Baseball Writer
SAN FRANCISCO — A Giant dose of small ball, and suddenly San Francisco finds itself in a most unique position — way ahead in a postseason series.

Madison Bumgarner shut down the Detroit Tigers for seven innings, then the Giants took advantage of a bunt that stayed fair to eke out the go-ahead run in a 2-0 win Thursday night for a 2-0 edge in the World Series.

Gregor Blanco’s single trickled to a stop inches fair on the infield dirt, setting up Brandon Crawford’s run-scoring double-play grounder in the seventh. Hunter Pence added a sacrifice fly in the eighth, and that was plenty for these masters of the October comeback.

“It definitely feels a whole lot better than having our backs against the wall,” Bumgarner said. “But you can’t relax. We’ve got to keep pushing.”

Game 3 will be Saturday night in Detroit and for once, the Giants aren’t playing from behind. They overcame a 2-0 deficit to beat Cincinnati in the best-of-five division series and escaped a 3-1 hole against St. Louis in the NLCS.

The loss certainly left the favored Tigers wondering what else could go wrong. Prince Fielder was thrown out at the plate by a hair and moments later starting pitcher Doug Fister was struck squarely in the head by a line drive.

The 6-foot-8 Fister managed to stay on the mound, and even excelled. Bumgarner more than matched him, however, allowing just two hits before the San Francisco bullpen closed it out before another pulsating crowd.

Santiago Casilla pitched a perfect eighth and Sergio Romo worked the ninth for a save in the combined two-hitter, leaving Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera and his team in a huge hole heading back to 
Comerica Park. Anibal Sanchez will start for the Tigers against Ryan Vogelsong in Detroit.

The Tigers looked rusty at the plate, maybe still lost following a five-day layoff after an ALCS sweep of the Yankees. Cabrera hopped up in frustration after third baseman Pablo Sandoval, who homered three times in the opener, snared his early line drive.

“Well, what are you going to do about it?” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “We got two hits tonight.  I’m certainly not going to sit up here and rip my offense because last night I thought we had some pretty good swings. Cabrera hit a bullet tonight.” 

Bumgarner had something to do with the Tigers’ troubles, too.

Bumped from the NLCS rotation after two poor postseason starts, he returned with a flourish. The left-hander struck out eight and looked as sharp as he did in the 2010 World Series when, as a 21-year-old rookie, he stopped Texas in Game 4 on the way to a championship.

“Just able to make pitches,” Bumgarner said. “I hadn’t done a very good job of making pitches this postseason so far and this is a team that you’re not going to be able to afford to miss with.

“They hit some balls hard, but luckily we were in the right spot,” he said.

Along with his bunt, Blanco might have hit the hardest ball of the game — the liner that nailed Fister in the second inning. The ball struck the right side of his head and deflected on the fly to shallow center field.

Fister showed no visible effect from the blow — in fact, some in the crowd wondered whether the ball perhaps glanced off his glove because Fister stayed on his feet. Only when fans saw replays did groans echo around the ballpark.

Leyland, pitching coach Jeff Jones and a trainer went to the mound, and Fister insisted on staying in the game. He walked the next batter to load the bases with two outs, but retired Bumgarner on a popup, starting a streak of 12 straight hitters set down by Fister.

“Well, if you’d have been out there, it was something to see,” Leyland said. “Because the trainer was saying, `Where are you?’ `San Francisco.’ `What game is it?’ `Game No. 2.’

“I don’t want to make light of it, but it was kind of comical really because Doug was right on with everything. But I was scared to death when it happened.”

The game remained scoreless until the seventh, right after actor Tom Hanks — a former peanut vendor at the nearby Oakland Coliseum — sang “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” on the field.

Pence led off with a single and Fister departed, getting lots of hugs in the dugout. Rookie reliever Drew Smyly walked Brandon Belt on a full-count pitch and Blanco’s bunt loaded the bases.

The Tigers kept their infield back up the middle, and had no play at the plate on Crawford’s bouncer.

“We felt like we played double-play depth because we felt like we couldn’t give them two runs. That’s why we did that, and we got the double play,” Leyland said.

“To be honest with you, we were absolutely thrilled to come out of that inning with one run. Absolutely thrilled. I mean, we had to score anyway.”

Pence added the insurance run the next inning with his flyball off Octavio Dotel.

“We played good small ball today,” Pence said. “We played a great game of baseball, had outstanding pitching and great defense and we found a way to get it done.”

Fielder and the Tigers came up inches short of taking an early lead, the result of yet another alert play by second baseman Marco Scutaro and a dubious decision by third base coach Gene Lamont.

Fielder was hit by a pitch to lead off the second, Delmon Young followed with a double and when the ball rattled around in left field, Lamont waved the burly slugger home. Even with no outs, Lamont sent him.

“I think Gene just got a little overaggressive,” Leyland said.

Scutaro, in the middle of every big play for the Giants this month, dashed across the diamond, caught Blanco’s relay and unleashed a strong throw to the plate. All-Star catcher Buster Posey made a swipe tag to Fielder’s backside, just as the Tigers star slid home. Umpire Dan Iassogna had a clear look and made a demonstrative call — out!

Fielder immediately popped up from his slide and pleaded his case with two hands, saying he didn’t feel the tag. Leyland rushed out and pointed to the plate. At second base, Young yelled, “No!”

But even if there was replay review, it wouldn’t have helped the Tigers. Because TV replays showed Iassogna, working his first plate job in a World Series, got it right.

There was no dispute that Fister somehow avoided a serious injury moments later.

Among those who winced was Oakland pitcher Brandon McCarthy, who sustained a skull fracture and brain contusion after being hit by a line drive last month.

“I’m not watching but did just see the replay. Certainly hope he’s ok,” McCarthy tweeted.

NOTES: Bumgarner struck out Austin Jackson and Omar Infante to start the game. Two other Giants fanned the first two batters in a Series game: Christy Mathewson (1905) and Carl Hubbell (1933). ... Bumgarner picked off Infante at first base to end the fourth. Infante made a break for second and, like Fielder earlier, came up short with his slide. ... Scutaro was the only Giants hitter to have previously faced Fister. ... Posey has a hit in all seven World Series games in his career.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Sandoval slugs his way to immortality as Giants take Game 1 of the World Series

AP Baseball Writer
SAN FRANCISCO — With three mighty swings, Pablo Sandoval put the San Francisco Giants ahead in this World Series and put himself in a class with Mr. October.

Sandoval hit three home runs and joined Reggie Jackson, Babe Ruth and Albert Pujols as the only sluggers to do it in the Series, and the Giants jolted Justin Verlander the Detroit Tigers 8-3 on Wednesday night in Game 1.

A rollicking AT&T Park crowd — a sea of black and orange outfits — roared as Sandoval connected in his first three at-bats. Popular in the Bay Area as the Kung Fu Panda for his roly-poly shape, he went 4 for 4 and drove in four runs. A Giant panda for sure.  

Verlander, the reigning Cy Young winner so dominant in this postseason, looked uncomfortable from the get-go and constantly pawed at the mound. 

The final score raised a nagging question for manager Jim Leyland and his favored Tigers: Did too much rest after a playoff sweep of the Yankees mean too much rust?

Tagged by Sandoval for a solo shot in the first inning, Verlander could only mouth `Wow!’ after the Giants star launched a two-run drive in the third. Sandoval reprised his power show from this year’s 
All-Star game, when his bases-loaded triple highlighted a five-run first inning against Verlander.
And if there was any doubt that Verlander was shaky, the best sign came in the fourth. That’s when pitcher Barry Zito, a career .099 hitter, sliced an RBI single with two outs off the current AL MVP for a 6-0 lead.

The festive crowd stood and applauded when it was announced that Verlander was being pulled for a pinch hitter in the fifth. Sandoval gave them another reason to get up moments later when he hit a solo homer off reliever Al Alburquerque in the fifth, answering the cheers by waving his batting helmet in a curtain call.

Pujols homered three times last year, Jackson accomplished the feat in 1977 and Ruth did it in 1926 and again in 1928.

For good measure, Sandoval lined a single his last time up.

From start to finish, it was basically a perfect game by the Giants. Coming off a Game 7 win over St. Louis on Monday night, they looked totally fresh.

Zito shut out the Tigers until Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera hit an RBI single in the sixth, and Tim Lincecum came out of the bullpen to prevent further damage.

NL championship series MVP Marco Scutaro hit RBI singles after doubles by Angel Pagan. NL batting champion Buster Posey contributed two hits and left fielder Gregor Blanco made diving catches to rob Cabrera and Prince Fielder.

Game 2 is Thursday night, with Doug Fister starting for the Tigers against Madison Bumgarner.

The Tigers seemed out of sync in their first game following a five-game layoff. That was an issue in 2006, too, when Verlander and his teammates had nearly a week off before getting wiped out by the Cardinals.

ALCS MVP Delmon Young failed to run after a tapper in front of the plate that the Giants turned into a double play. The Giants, meanwhile, kept getting good bounces, with Pagan hitting a double that hopped off the third-base bag.

Pitching in San Francisco for the first time since 2008, Verlander scuffed at the rubber while warming up for the first inning, pulled off his glove after badly overthrowing a curve and kept taking deep breaths. He hardly resembled the guy who was 3-0 with an 0.74 ERA in three playoff starts this year.

Ever since two poor outings in the 2006 Series against St. Louis — punctuated by two throwing errors — Verlander has worked hard to harness his emotions and 100 mph in the early going.
Verlander was trying to settle in when Sandoval tagged him, pouncing on an 0-2 fastball and lining it into the front row over the center-field wall. Quite a start for the team that finished last in the majors in home runs.

Get this: It was the first three-homer game at the stadium originally known as Pac Bell Park since the very first one, when Kevin Elster did it for the Dodgers in 2000. Nope, not even home run king Barry Bonds had done this.

It was certainly a moment of retribution of Sandoval. He was benched during the 2010 World Series, his production and confidence down, his weight up. In the stands on this night, fans wearing furry panda hats celebrated with him.

Verlander got into trouble again the third, and pitching coach Jeff Jones strolled to the mound when the count went to 2-0 on Sandoval. Verlander stared at Jones and shook his head. On the next pitch, Verlander could do little but watch the ball sail into the front row in left.

To some, this looked somewhat similar to the 2010 Series opener. That day, the Giants beat up the supposedly unhittable Cliff Lee on their way to a five-game romp over Texas.

This how got it bad for the Tigers: Former closer Jose Valverde made his first appearance in 11 days. 
Leyland still isn’t sure what he’ll get from the struggling reliever.

Lincecum, meanwhile, retired seven straight batters and struck out five of them. The two-time Cy Young winner has embraced his new role in the bullpen.

Jhonny Peralta hit a two-run homer for the Tigers in the ninth off mop-up reliever George Kontos.

NOTES: Tampa Bay’s Desmond Jennings was the only other player this year to homer twice in a game off Verlander. ... Willie Mays and fellow Giants Hall of Famers Willie McCovey, Orlando Cepeda and Gaylord Perry took part in the first-ball ceremony. ... Tigers great Al Kaline, now a team executive, watched Detroit take batting practice from behind the cage. ... The Game 1 winner has won eight of the last nine championships. ... Cabrera and Posey marked the first set of batting champs to face each other in the World Series since 1954 when it was Mays of the New York Giants and Bobby Avila of Cleveland. When Cabrera walked on a close full-count pitch, he playfully patted the Giants’ All-Star catcher on his way to first base. ... Tigers bullpen catcher Jeff Kunkel wandered the stands well before the teams took the field for warmups, snapping pictures of the stadium and field with his cell phone. ... The Giants franchise played its 106th Series game, trailing only the Yankees (225) and Cardinals (112). The Dodgers are fourth with 105.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Giants complete NLCS comeback in Game 7, reach World Series

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Hunter Pence hit a bizarre, two-run double, Matt Cain pitched his second clincher of October and the San Francisco Giants won their record-tying sixth elimination game of the postseason, beating the defending World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals 9-0 in Game 7 of the NL championship series Monday night.

Marco Scutaro matched an LCS record with 14 hits in the series and Pablo Sandoval drove in a run for his fifth straight game. The Giants returned to the World Series two years after winning it all, getting the final out in a downpour.

The Detroit Tigers, who have been waiting on their opponent since finishing a four-game ALCS sweep of the Yankees last Thursday, get another trip to the Bay Area after clinching the division series in Oakland.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Giants, Vogelsong top Cards, force Game 7 of NLCS

AP Baseball Writer

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Ryan Vogelsong and the San Francisco Giants saved their season once more, pushing St. Louis to a winner-take-all Game 7 in the NL championship series.

Turns out the defending champion Cardinals aren't the only team that's tough to put away in October.

Vogelsong struck out a career-best nine in another postseason gem, and the Giants avoided elimination for a second straight game by beating St. Louis 6-1 on Sunday night.

Marco Scutaro delivered a two-run double and Buster Posey drove in his first run of the series with a groundout in the first inning as San Francisco struck early to support Vogelsong.

San Francisco's Matt Cain and St. Louis' Kyle Lohse are set to pitch in a rematch of Game 3, won by the Cardinals. There's a forecast of rain in the Bay Area during the day.

"This place is going to be loud, I can tell you that," Vogelsong said.

These wild-card Cardinals sure seem to like the all-or-nothing route in October, while San Francisco thrives playing from behind.

Five games with their year on the line, five wins for these gutsy Giants this postseason. Now, it comes down to one game for the past two World Series champions to get back, with the Detroit Tigers waiting.

Pitching to chants of "Vogey! Vogey!" from the sellout crowd of 43,070 at AT&T Park, the right-hander didn't allow a hit until Daniel Descalso's broken-bat single to center with two outs in the fifth. Vogelsong struck out the side in the first and had already fanned five through two innings.

Scutaro had no chance for a collision with Matt Holliday this time. In their first game back at AT&T Park since Holliday took out the second baseman with a hard slide in Game 2, Holliday was scratched about an hour before first pitch because of tightness in his lower back, and Allen Craig replaced him in left field.

It hardly mattered the way Vogelsong pitched.

The Cardinals managed their only run on Craig's two-out single in the sixth. St. Louis had gone 15 innings without scoring after left-hander Barry Zito won 5-0 on Friday in Game 5.

"I just tried to do really the same thing he did, come out and set the tone early for us," Vogelsong said.

Vogelsong had his second stellar seven-inning outing against the Cardinals in a week, allowing four hits and one run in seven innings. He walked one in a 102-pitch performance and lowered his postseason ERA — all this year — to 1.42.

"I just believe that it's my time," Vogelsong said.

After taking a 3-1 lead back home at Busch Stadium, Mike Matheny's Cardinals will have to find some offense in a hurry if they want to get back to the World Series.

These Cards might just prefer close calls. Just like last year.

They won the NL's second wild card on the second-to-last day of the regular season, then won at Atlanta to reach the division series. The Cardinals rallied from a 6-0 deficit with a four-run ninth inning to stun the Washington Nationals 9-7 in Game 5 of the division series.

The Giants got to St. Louis ace Chris Carpenter again. The Cardinals winningest postseason pitcher with 10 victories looked out of sync for the second straight start — and he left with a nearly identical line as in his 7-1 Game 2 loss here last Monday, down to the hits, earned runs, unearned runs and innings.

Carpenter was done in by one big inning this time, too. He allowed six hits and five runs, two earned, in four innings.

Vogelsong reached on shortstop Pete Kozma's fielding error in the second, scoring Brandon Belt after he led off the inning with a triple. Scutaro came up two batters later and doubled home two more runs.

The 10 unearned runs allowed by the Cardinals are the most in an NLCS, according to STATS, LLC — topping the nine given up by the Braves in 2001 and Dodgers in 1985.

San Francisco never faced an elimination game in 2010 on the way to winning the World Series, but has had to go the distance in each of its first two postseason series this year. They became the first team in major league history to come back from a 2-0 deficit to win a best-of-five series by winning three straight on the road as they did at Cincinnati.

They have Vogelsong for this year's run.

The Giants put pressure on Carpenter right away.

Scutaro drew a one-out walk and Pablo Sandoval doubled off the wall in center on a ball that eluded Jon Jay. Posey followed with a groundout to third to score Scutaro for a 1-0 lead.

While the Giants have won five straight games facing elimination this postseason, the Cardinals have won their last six dating to last year.

NOTES: Giants 1B coach Roberto Kelly worked his first home game of the series after sustaining a concussion during the initial workout day Oct. 13 before the NLCS began. He gave a thumbs-up before running out to the field during pregame warmups. ... San Francisco is 5-1 when scoring first this postseason. ... The most unearned runs allowed in any LCS is 13, by the Angels in 1986 against the Red Sox. ... Scutaro is batting .458 (11 for 24) during the NLCS.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Allentown pulls out a big win, gets to 7-0

HAMILTON - It was the game of the year in what used to be the CVC, and it lived up to every bit of hype, as Allentown barely egded Nottingham in a thriller.
It was also the first time we took The Trentonian live football chat on the road. It wasn't excatly College Gameday, but it was fun. Thanks to George O'Gorman and Rich Fisher covering the game for the paper every which way possible, that gave me the time to try to make this the biggest football chat yet.
I recommend checking out the chat replay, which can be found on this blog, if you missed the chat on Saturday, because it had videos of various touchdown plays, the teams running out of the locker room at the start, etc. It was something we really wanted to try and we hope it was a good experience for you.
Oddly, we had our record chat participation and attendance LAST Saturday, when everyone was online getting fired up for this game. Today, we didn't have as big a numbers, because I think everyone in the county was at the game.
It was a great crowd on both sides, and it made for an incredible high school football atmosphere.
First things first, though. Here's the Frank Juba touchdown that I promised you when it was 14-14.
The referees didn't make friends on either side, as there were major controversial calls that shifted the momentum of the game. But ultimately, the game was decided by the players, as it should be.
Here's what Allentown quarterback Nick Palladino had to say after the ball game.

LIVE Saturday football chat at 1 p.m.

Welcome to Week 7 of the Trentonian Saturday Football Chat, hosted live at Nottingham High School for the battle of unbeaten powers Nottingham and Allentown.
Chat begins live at 1 p.m. and the rest of the slate today includes: Rancocas Valley at Trenton, 1 p.m.; Burlington Township at Princeton 2 p.m.; Hopewell Valley at Steinert, 2 p.m.; West Windsor North at Northern Burlington 2:30 p.m.
We’ll have the best live coverage of the big game today so join us for all the updates, insights and more.
Join us here for all the action.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Zito, Giants tops Cards, extend NLCS

AP Sports Writer

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Barry Zito pitched the San Francisco Giants back into the NL championship series, dominating into the eighth inning of a 5-0 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals on Friday night that narrowed their deficit to 3-2.

The defending champion Cardinals might have thrown away a chance to clinch a second straight World Series trip. Pitcher Lance Lynn's toss on a possible forceout deflected off the second-base bag, paving the way for the Giants' four-run fourth.

Pablo Sandoval homered for the second straight night and Zito made an extremely rare offensive contribution with a perfectly executed bunt for an RBI single.

The Giants' win in Game 5 sent the series back to San Francisco. Game 6 will begin Sunday in the twilight at AT&T Park, with Ryan Vogelsong pitching against the Cardinals' Chris Carpenter.
Once again this postseason, the Giants benefited from a big error.

Needing three straight wins at Cincinnati to avoid elimination in the division series, San Francisco began its comeback on a bobble by third baseman Scott Rolen in the 10th inning that gave the Giants the go-ahead run in Game 3.

The Giants improved to 4-2 on the road this postseason and have won Zito's last 13 starts, with the last setback on Aug. 2. They're averaging more than six runs a game during the streak, although the lefty didn't need much help in this one.

Zito looked like the same guy who won the 2002 AL Cy Young award. He retired 11 batters in a row in one stretch while scattering six hits with six strikeouts in 7 2-3 innings.

Giants catcher Buster Posey twice tapped Zito on the chest when he was pulled in the eighth inning. It was Zito's first postseason win since 2006, shortly before he left the A's and signed a $126 million, seven-year contract with San Francisco.

Zito was left off the postseason roster when the Giants won the 2010 World Series because he had pitched so ineffectively. He started Game 4 of the division series against the Reds earlier in this year's playoffs and lasted only 2 2-3 innings.

Lynn, an 18-game winner his first year in the rotation, failed to make it out of the fourth for the second time in the series.

The Cardinals are seeking consecutive pennants for the first time since 1967-68, and trying to advance for the second year in a row as a wild-card entry. One more win would set up a rematch of the 2006 World Series against the Tigers, which the Cardinals took in five games.

Lynn struck out five of the first 10 batters, sailing through the first three innings with no balls hit out of the infield. His undoing was a wild throw off the second-base bag attempting to get a forceout on a comebacker that paved the way for San Francisco's four-run fourth.

The Giants had runners on first and second with one out when Lynn gloved a tapper by Hunter Pence, wheeled and waited a bit while rookie shortstop Pete Kozma hustled to second. But Lynn threw a low dart off the bag with the ball bounding into shallow right field and Marco Scutaro scoring without a play from second.

Eighth-place hitter Brandon Crawford singled up the middle with the bases loaded on a full count with two outs as Lynn just missed with a kick save for two more runs. Zito, who has just 30 career hits in 310 at-bats in the regular season with no extra-base hits and nine RBIs, laid down a perfect bunt for a fourth run.
Lynn has allowed four runs both of his NLCS starts, although all four were unearned in Game 5.

Zito's only trouble came in the second when Yadier Molina and David Freese, both swinging on the first pitch, opened the inning with a single and double. Lynn, a career .056 hitter including the postseason, hit into a bases-loaded double play to end the threat.

Lynn was 3 for 50 with 1 RBI, 10 sacrifices and 36 strikeouts during the regular season, going hitless his last 42 at-bats.

NOTES: Standing room attendance for Game 5 was 47,075, a franchise best for league championship play, topping the previous best in Game 4 by 13. ... Actor Matthew Morrison sang the national anthem. ... Longtime Cardinals broadcaster Mike Shannon bounced a ceremonial first pitch from in front of the mound to Lou Brock, teammates on the last St. Louis team to go to consecutive World Series in 1967 and '68. ... Carlos Beltran has 10 career stolen bases in the postseason. ... Matt Carpenter, who subbed for Beltran in Games 3 and 4, is a career .529 hitter (9 for 17) against the Giants counting the postseason with a homer and four RBIs. ... Cardinals rookie RHP Trevor Rosenthal struck out four in two scoreless innings. He has fanned 11 in 6 2-3 scoreless innings in the postseason while allowing just one hit.

LIVE Friday Night Football Chat starts at 7 p.m.

Welcome to Week 7 of the Trentonian Friday Night Football Chat. We're following some
big games tonight starting at 7 p.m. to whet our appetite for the showdown between
Allentown and Nottingham on Saturday.
The big game tonight is Notre Dame traveling to WW-P South for a battle of Mercer
County's two most consistent programs. Other games are:
Ewing at Robbinsville, 7 p.m.; Hamilton at Hightstown 7 p.m.; Pennsbury at Rock
North, 7 p.m.; Neshaminy at Bensalem, 7 p.m.
Join us right here for all the action.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Titans lose Hovinen but stay perfect

For The Trentonian

TRENTON — Some skill, some grit and a little bit of geometry. The Titans are finding ways to win early in the season, and all that and then some were the keys to their 3-1 win over division-rival Reading on Wednesday night in front of Flyers brass.

Trenton’s horrendous performance in their return to the league is well-documented; their 21 wins were both a franchise-worst and league-low, and many a night they lost games exactly like the one played in front of an announced crowd of 2,236 at Sun National Bank Center.

“We’ve improved since last year, obviously the goaltending and the defense is intact and we’ve got more skill up front,” said Titans head coach Vince Williams.

“Collectively, we’re just a better hockey’s a totally different makeup.  To compare the two, it’s just totally different.”

Anything that could have gone wrong did go wrong last season, but that’s not to say the Titans escaped without incident against the Royals. With the score tied 1-1 through one period, Reading came out strong to start the middle 20 minutes. Defenseman Julien Brouillette, who was sent down for the game by the AHL’s Hershey Bears, fired a high, hard slapshot that struck Titans goaltender Niko Hovinen in the left collarbone area.

Hovinen fought off the puck and made the save, but stayed down. After eventually getting back to his skates while being tended to by team trainer Scott Stanhibel, the prized Finnish goaltending prospect gingerly skated off the ice without moving his left arm and did not return to the bench for the remainder of the game.

“I just know that I don’t think he’s feeling too good, so we’ll have to wait and see,” said Williams, who would not specify where Hovinen was hit, although his left collarbone area was heavily wrapped after the game.

“We might have to try to bring in (another goalie) and re-evaluate him, but I haven’t really talked to Scott. I don’t know if it was the collarbone or the neck, but we play Friday and Saturday and we’ll take some precautions.”

Scott Wedgewood, who had just collected his first pro win in Reading on Saturday, came into the game in relief of Hovinen and was stellar. The only blemish against him was determined not to have counted by referee Ryan Murphy — Royals forward David Marshall was ruled to have pushed the puck and Wedgewood past the goal line after the goaltender had already covered the puck.

Midway through the game it was becoming increasingly clear that the next goal could be the game-winner, as both teams had tightened up defensively.  At the 8:12 mark of the second stanza, with 
Reading having seemingly plugged the neutral zone, Titans forward Andy Bohmbach threaded a beautiful pass through traffic onto the stick of Marcel Noebels, who had gotten behind the defense, just staying onsides in the process.

“The puck was rolling, and I saw (Noebels) at the last second and just kind of fired it hoping that it got through, and it did,” Bohmbach said.

“He made a nice move and put it away. There was one guy right next to him, but I don’t think he saw me pass it, so he didn’t know where the puck was. I knew it was going to be close, but it found a way through.”

Noebels made several slick dekes and eventually went to his backhand to finish the task, lifting the puck over the outstretched left pad of Reading goalie Philipp Grubauer, a former teammate of Noebels on the Under-20 German National Team.

Trenton clung to their one-goal lead throughout the majority of the duration of the game, but saw that advantage flash before their eyes while on the power play in the third. With 9:43 to go in regulation, 
Royals defenseman T.J. Syner flipped a perfect pass to forward Kirk MacDonald, who had inexplicably been left wide open in front of the net. Wedgewood lunged with his right pad and made the save that ultimately won the game.

“I wasn’t expecting (to come in), but all goalies get prepared to come in if (an injury) happens,” Wedgewood said.

“For the most part, I got the nerves out early and just kept playing.”

Even the empty-netter that Trenton scored at the end of the game was entertaining, making it all the more disappointing that the game was played in front of a sea of empty green seats. Titans captain Ray 
DiLauro fired the puck off the glass from his own end, approximately 160 feet away from the goal, in an apparent attempt at an icing. Instead, the puck found its way in the back of Reading’s net to put Trenton on top for good thanks to lessons learned in elementary school, said the captain. 

“At that point, you’re winning the game and it’s a faceoff in your own end and you just want to get it out of there,” DiLauro said.  

“The safest play is off the glass. I guess I took a geometry class or two in my time.”

Game 4 of ALCS postponed by rain

DETROIT (AP) — Game 4 of the AL championship series between the Yankees and Detroit Tigers was postponed because of bad weather in the area Wednesday night — although Comerica Park was still dry when the game was called.

Wednesday night’s game was rescheduled for Thursday at 4:07 p.m., when Game 5 was originally slated to be played. Detroit leads the best-of-seven series 3-0.

The first pitch had been scheduled for 8:07 p.m., but shortly before then the crowd was informed of a delay. A radar forecast for the Detroit area was eventually posted on the scoreboard video screen, as if to explain to fans why there was no baseball despite what was still rather pleasant weather at the ballpark.

The postponement was announced after a delay of about 1 hour, 10 minutes.

A misty rain finally began about 15 minutes after the postponement was announced.

The Tigers are no strangers to rain in the playoffs. Last year, ace Justin Verlander had two starts cut short by bad weather — although both were on the road.

After Game 1 of the 2011 ALCS at Texas was delayed twice for a total of 1 hour, 50 minutes, Game 2 was called off well before the scheduled first pitch because of a forecast calling for more wet weather.
Then it didn’t rain that night.

New York was set to send ace CC Sabathia to the mound for Game 4 against Detroit right-hander Max Scherzer. Under the original schedule, there also was a chance for Sabathia to pitch a potential Game 7 on three days’ rest if the Yankees rallied in the series.

There was no immediate announcement on when Game 5 would be played if the Yankees win Game 4.

If Game 5 is simply moved to Friday’s scheduled off day, then New York would have to win four games in four days and Sabathia would seem unlikely to make more than one start.
There is also a chance of rain in Detroit on Thursday and Friday.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Yankees make it interesting, still fall to Tigers in Game 3 of ALCS

AP Baseball Writer

DETROIT (AP) — Justin Verlander took a shutout into the ninth inning and the Detroit Tigers held on to beat the New York Yankees 2-1 Tuesday night for a 3-0 lead in the AL championship series.

Phil Coke gave up consecutive singles with two outs in the ninth before striking out postseason star Raul Ibanez for his second save in two games.

Verlander allowed only a pair of singles by Ichiro Suzuki and a leadoff homer by Eduardo Nunez in the ninth. Delmon Young hit a solo home run for the Tigers, and Miguel Cabrera had an RBI double.

Yankees starter Phil Hughes was lifted in the fourth because of a stiff back, and manager Joe Girardi’s lineup shuffle — Alex Rodriguez was benched again — failed to snap New York out of its untimely hitting funk.

The Tigers were on a historic pitching run even before their ace took the mound Tuesday. With the exception of a four-run ninth inning against Detroit closer Jose Valverde in Game 1, New York had been shut out for the entire series.

Nunez’s homer snapped a streak of 37 innings by Detroit starters without allowing an earned run, the longest in a single postseason in the live-ball era.

Verlander fell just short of a second straight shutout after stopping the Oakland Athletics in the decisive fifth game of the division series. He struck out only three but kept New York off the scoreboard until the homer to left field by Nunez, the first run allowed by the powerful right-hander since he gave up a leadoff homer to Coco Crisp in Game 1 of the ALDS.

Verlander got Brett Gardner on a tapper before he was lifted after 132 pitches, one shy of his career high set in Game 5 of last year’s ALCS against Texas. Coke came in and allowed two-out hits to Mark Teixeira and Robinson Cano, with the latter snapping a drought of 29 at-bats without a hit.

But Ibanez, who hit tying and winning homers in the same game in the ALDS against Baltimore and tied Game 1 of this series with a homer in the ninth, struck out swinging at a breaking ball to end it.

Valverde’s meltdown nearly cost Detroit the first game of this series, but the Tigers were able to win 6-4 in 12 innings. Coke closed out a 3-0 victory in Game 2 and was able to hold on Tuesday in a tense final inning.

Hughes matched Verlander in a scoreless duel until Young led off the Detroit fourth with a line drive over the wall in left field. It was his seventh homer in the last two postseasons — he’s already the Tigers’ career leader in that department.

Five of those homers — in only eight games — have come against the Yankees.

Andy Dirks followed with a walk, and Hughes was pulled with an 0-2 count on Jhonny Peralta. David Phelps came on and got out of the inning, but the Yankees now have a pitching injury to go along with all their hitting problems.

Hughes allowed a run and three hits in three-plus innings. He walked three and struck out one.

The Yankees kept it close, dodging several Detroit rallies. The Tigers added an unearned run in the fifth when Eric Chavez — Rodriguez’s replacement at third — misplayed a grounder. Cabrera, the AL Triple Crown winner, followed with an RBI double.

Cabrera has a 16-game hitting streak in LCS play, breaking a tie for that record with Manny Ramirez and Pete Rose, according to STATS LLC.

But Cabrera hit into a double play with the bases loaded in the sixth, preventing the Tigers from adding more runs.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Giants even NLCS at 1

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Marco Scutaro bounced back from Matt Holliday's hard slide by delivering a big hit of his own that helped the San Francisco Giants get their first home win this postseason, 7-1 over St. Louis on Monday night that tied the NL championship series at 1-all.

The game got off to a testy start when Holliday barreled into Scutaro at second base to break up a potential double play in the first inning. The play riled up a crowd that had seen three straight losses by the Giants so far in the playoffs.

There was plenty to cheer all night for the Giants. Ryan Vogelsong pitched seven strong innings, Angel Pagan hit a leadoff homer and Scutaro hit a two-run single off Cardinals starter Chris Carpenter that broke the game open in a four-run fourth.

Scutaro left after five innings because of an injured left hip, and was going for X-rays.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Beltran, Freese leads Cards to Game 1 win

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — This time, Carlos Beltran, David Freese and the St. Louis Cardinals took a six-run lead — and held onto it, barely.
Beltran and Freese hit two-run homers and these wild, wild-card Cardinals beat the San Francisco Giants 6-4 on Sunday night in Game 1 of the NL championship series.

The defending World Series champions took an early 6-0 cushion and made it stand up. Only two nights earlier, the Cardinals came back from a 6-0 deficit, using a four-run rally in the ninth inning at Washington in the deciding Game 5 of the division series.

The St. Louis bullpen delivered with 5 1-3 scoreless innings after starter Lance Lynn was chased. Edward Mujica, the fifth St. Louis pitcher, struck out the side in order in the seventh for the win. Jason Motte finished for his second save of the postseason.
Read more »

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Jeter hurt in Yankees' extra-inning loss in Game 1 of the ALCS

NEW YORK (AP) — Delmon Young doubled home the go-ahead run in the 12th inning after New York's Raul Ibanez hit another stunning game-tying home run during a four-run rally in the ninth, and the Detroit Tigers outlasted the Yankees 6-4 Saturday night in an AL championship series opener in which 
Derek Jeter was helped off the field with what appeared to be a serious leg injury.

Jeter rolled over his knee when he dove in an attempt to glove Jhonny Peralta's grounder up the middle in the 12th. Unable to move, he flipped the ball toward the mound and his leg was dangling as he was assisted off by manager Joe Girardi and trainer Steve Donahue.

Detroit was coasting to a 4-0 win before the Yankees rocked Tigers closer Jose Valverde in the ninth.

Ichiro Suzuki started the comeback with a two-run homer with one out, and the 40-year-old Ibanez hit another two-run drive with two outs. Three nights earlier, Ibanez hit a tying home run in the ninth against Baltimore in Game 3 of the division series and another homer in the 12th to win.

Young's one-out double off David Phelps, which followed a leadoff walk by Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera, sliced in right and eluded Nick Swisher, who appeared ready to dive but couldn't get his glove out when he realized the ball was closer to him than he had thought.

Young drove in three runs, hitting an RBI single in a two-run sixth against Andy Pettitte and a solo homer in the eighth against Derek Lowe.

Rookie Avisail Garcia singled in a run against Boone Logan, and Andy Dirks added an RBI single in the 12th on a comebacker that glanced off Phelps' pitching hand.

Drew Smyly, who had started warming up in the third when starter Doug Fister took a line drive off his right wrist, got the win by pitching two scoreless innings.

In Game 2 on Sunday night, New York starts Hiroki Kuroda, pitching on three days' rest for the first time in his big league career.

Detroit sends Anibal Sanchez to the mound.

Twenty-five of 42 previous Game 1 winners have gone on to take the AL pennant.

ALCS Game 1 Preview - Yankees vs. Tigers

Friday, October 12, 2012

LIVE Saturday football chat starts at 11 a.m.

Welcome to our Saturday football chat for Week 6. We'll get started at 11 a.m. today, with just the Hightstown-Lawrence game in the beginning and others to follow.
Hightstown at Lawrence, 11 a.m.
Nottingham at Pemberton, 12 noon
Hamilton at Trenton, 1 p.m.
Steinert at WW-P North, 1 p.m.
New Egypt at Ewing, 1 p.m.

Weekend Football Picks

-- Editors note: The football picks were erroneously left out of Friday's paper. We apologize to our readers and the Prognosticator. Below are the prognosticator's picks for this weekend.

By Trentonian Prognosticator
In two of the big games in high school football tonight, our prognosticator has picked Florence and West Windsor South to come out on top.
Hopewell Valley at NOTRE DAME: If you don’t believe Chappy Moore is a great coach, just ask him.
WEST WINDSOR SOUTH at Burlington Township: Strong running team usually beats great passing team.  
ALLENTOWN at Holy Cross: How times have changed.
Princeton at WILLINGBORO: Boro great Kareem McKenzie has been working with Chimera offensive line.
Riverside at ROBBINSVILLE: Ram fans still celebrating FC Porto’s 2-0 win over Sporting Lisbon.
PENNSBURY at William Tennent: Great to see Shawn Neely has returned from making World’s Most Interesting Man commercials.
Council Rock South at NESHAMINY: Photographers had better beware on the Redskin sideline?
ABINGTON at Truman: Tigers come close after Tiny Tim’s fake field goal from the 50-yard line backfires.
COUNCIL ROCK NORTH at Bensalem: Indians find life in Death Valley.
PENNINGTON at Bristol: Red Raiders more successful when they play public schools.
Delran at FLORENCE: It will be a hot time in Title Town tonight.
Hamilton at TRENTON: Blizzard won’t slow down the Tornadoes this year.
STEINERT at West Windsor North: Spartans should have a tough wrestling team this year.
New Egypt at EWING: Legendary Blue Devil assistant Dan “The Man’’ Bernoski has come up with some big surprises for the Warriors.  
NOTTINGHAM at Pemberton: Browns Mills hasn’t been the same since they closed the world-famous Satellite Lounge.
Hightstown at LAWRENCE: Rams are going to have a hard time replacing Tim Kalick as their softball coach.
MORRISVILLE at Delaware Christian: Believe it or not, Dawgs are in the playoff hunt.
MONSIGNOR BONNER at Conwell-Egan: John Cappelletti is from Bonner.
BORDENTOWN at Maple Shade: It’s stunning no pro team has attempted to hire away Scottie PA announcer Chris O’Leary.
Burlington City at CLAYTON: Burls won’t get any calls in the bowels of South Jersey.
MOORESTOWN at Camden: Trentonian college football prognostictor is from Moorestown.
Northern Burlington at RANCOCAS VALLEY: RV alums Franco Harris and Irving Fryar fire up Red Devils with pre-game pep talk.  
HUN at Hill: Hill just lost to Peddie.
Peddie at LAWRENCEVILLE: Walter Annenberg’s $200 million viewed as mere chump change in lofty L’ville circles.
Last Week: (18-6) .750
Season: (97-34) .740

LIVE Friday Night Football Chat

It's Week 6 of the Trentonian's live Friday Night Football chat, and here are the games we'll be watching tonight.
Hopewell Valley at Notre Dame, 7 p.m.
WW-P South at Burlington Twp., 7 p.m.
Allentown at Holy Cross, 7 p.m.
Riverside at Robbinsville, 7 p.m.
Princeton at Willingboro, 7 p.m.
Delran at Florence, 7 p.m.
Council Rock vs. Neshaminy, 7 p.m.
Pennsbury vs. William Tennent, 7 p.m.
Join us right here for all the action.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Hardy's double helps Orioles take Yankees to Game 5

Associated Press

J.J. Hardy hit an RBI double in the 13th inning and the Baltimore Orioles bounced back from a demoralizing loss to outlast the New York Yankees 2-1 Thursday night, forcing a deciding Game 5 in the AL division series.

After splitting 22 games this year, it all comes down this: a winner-take-all for a spot in the AL championship series.

Game 1 winner CC Sabathia is set to pitch the deciding game for the Yankees. Orioles manager Buck Showalter had not announced his starter.

Eric Chavez, pinch-hitting for Alex Rodriguez, lined out to end the game shortly after midnight.

The Orioles were 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position until Hardy doubled off David Phelps with one out to score Manny Machado.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

RAUUUUUUUUUL! Ibanez steps in for A-Rod, blasts Yanks to 2-1 series lead

NEW YORK (AP) — Raul Ibanez lined a ninth-inning home run while pinch hitting for slumping Alex Rodriguez, then hit a leadoff homer in the 12th, giving the New York Yankees a stunning 3-2 win over the Baltimore Orioles on Wednesday night for a 2-1 lead in their AL division series.

Batting for baseball's highest-paid player, Ibanez homered to right-center with one out in the ninth inning off major league saves leader Jim Johnson to tie it at 2. He then hit the first pitch from Brian Matusz leading off the 12th.

Phil Hughes will start for the Yankees on Thursday night in Game 4 of the best-of-five series. Chris Tillman or Joe Saunders will start for Baltimore.
Baltimore had won 16 straight extra-inning games, and had been 76-0 when leading after seven, before the Yankees stung them.

"It was a great experience. We do it as a team. We stay after it," Ibanez said. "I'm blessed to come up and have the opportunity like that. We do it together. it's about a team and about winning."

Ibanez got that chance after Yankees manager Joe Girardi made the decision to bat for Rodriguez — the first time A-Rod had ever been pinch-hit for in a postseason game, according to STATS LLC.

"You're going to be asked a lot of questions if it doesn't work," Girardi said.

Rodriguez has 647 career home runs — he's chasing the all-time record of 762 by Barry Bonds — but was just 1 for 12 with no RBIs and seven strikeouts in this series when Girardi pulled him.

The brash, young Orioles appeared poised to move within a game of their first trip to the AL championship series since 1997.

But Ibanez hit a 1-0 pitch into the seats, setting off a raucous celebration in what had been a demoralized Yankee Stadium crowd. Rodriguez led the cheers, raising an arm in the dugout and high-fiving injured star Mariano Rivera.

Now the Yankees could put away the Orioles for good.

After their 10-game July lead was cut to zero in early September, the Yankees repelled every Orioles charge. The teams were tied 10 times in the final month but New York ended up atop the division.

New York won the opener in Baltimore scoring five runs in the ninth off Johnson. The Orioles won Game 2 and rode Miguel Gonzalez's pretty performance to a 2-1 lead in the ninth.

But The Yankees limited Baltimore to one hit after Manny Machado homered in the fifth. Ryan Flaherty homered earlier for the Orioles.

Robert Andino was doubled off second after leading off the ninth with a single and advancing on a sacrifice.

Boone Logan got one out in relief of Hiroki Kuroda, who gave up two solo homers in 8 1-3 innings. Closer Rafael Soriano pitched 1 1-3 innings and David Robertson went two, finishing off his outing by bumping into and tagging Andino to end the top of the 12th.

Derek Jeter tied the score with an RBI triple in the third for the Yankees. Jeter, limping because of a sore ankle, came out after eight innings.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Shorthanded Jets fall to Texans


EAST RUTHERFORD — Plenty of people were ready to write the Jets obituary before Monday night’s showdown with the Houston Texans, but by all accounts Rex Ryan’s crew was able to stave off the reaper for at least another week.

The Jets lost to the Texans, 23-17, at MetLife Stadium, but looked considerably better doing so than they did in last weekend’s debacle against the San Francisco 49ers. Against a team many consider to be the best in football, the Jets had the ball down by six points with less than two minutes to play in the game, but came up empty on the their biggest drive.

“The objective is to win, so of course everybody is upset,” quarterback Mark Sanchez said. “At the same time, you have to give yourself a chance to win, and we did that tonight.”
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Orioles even series with Yankees at 1

BALTIMORE (AP) — Andy Pettitte slapped his glove, angry he had allowed another run.

For the Yankees, it was yet another night of missed chances.

Instead of winning both games at Camden Yards, the Yankees headed home with a split in their best-of-five AL division series against the Baltimore
Orioles following a 3-2 loss in Game 2 Monday night.

"It was obviously a frustrating game and one you hate to lose," Pettitte said. "It would have been nice to be able to get this one, that's for sure."

And now when the series resumes Wednesday night, they face having to get at least one win from the back end of their rotation. The rest of the series will be played in the Bronx.
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Sunday, October 7, 2012

Martin's homer, Sabathia's arm help Yankees crack O's

AP Sports Writer

BALTIMORE — CC Sabathia, Russell Martin and the Yankees crashed a party that was 15 years in the making.

Martin led off the ninth inning with a tiebreaking home run off Jim Johnson, Sabathia turned in a sparkling pitching performance and the Yankees beat the Baltimore Orioles 7-2 Sunday night in the opener of their AL divisional series.

Sabathia allowed two runs and eight hits in 8 2-3 innings to help the Yankees take the edge off the Orioles’ first home playoff game since 1997. The husky left-hander went 0-2 in three starts against Baltimore during the regular season, but in this one he returned to form and improved his lifetime record against the Orioles to 17-4.

Sabathia is 6-1 with the Yankees in the postseason, 4-0 in the division series.

With the score 2-all, Martin drove a 2-0 pitch from Johnson into the left-field seats. It was the first of four straight hits off Johnson, who led the majors with 51 saves. Raul Ibanez and Derek Jeter followed with singles, Ichiro Suzuki drove in a run with a swinging bunt and one out later, Robinson Cano hit a two-run double.

In his seven prior appearances against New York, Johnson allowed one run in seven innings and had three saves. Nick Swisher capped the five-run ninth with a sacrifice fly off Tommy Hunter.
Game 2 will be played Monday night.

The start of the game was delayed by rain for 2 hours, 26 minutes, and that did nothing to lessen the enthusiasm of the 47,841 fans who endured 14 straight losing season while waiting for the Orioles to play a postseason game at Camden Yards.

For eight innings, the sellout crowd was treated to tense duel that typified the competition between two division foes that split 18 games during the regular season and finished two games apart in the standings.

Orioles starter Jason Hammel allowed two runs, four hits and four walks in 5 2-3 innings. The right-hander underwent knee surgery in July and returned to pitch two games in September before his right knee began to bother him again. After working his way back into form, Hammel donned a knee brace and gave Baltimore a solid 112-pitch outing in his first start in nearly a month.

New York missed an excellent chance to take the lead in the seventh. After Troy Patton walked Martin and Ibanez, Darren O’Day entered and Jeter dropped down a perfect two-strike sacrifice bunt. With the infield drawn in, Suzuki hit a sharp grounder to second baseman Robert Andino, who threw home. Matt Wieters grabbed the ball on the short hop and tagged out Martin. O’Day then struck out Alex Rodriguez.

Neither team got a runner in scoring position again until J.J. Hardy started the Baltimore eighth with a double. He did not advance.

Immediately after Orioles fans cheered and waved their orange towels following a first-pitch strike by Hammel to open the game, the Yankees went to work. Jeter hit a leadoff single and Suzuki followed with an RBI double into the gap in left-center. But Suzuki was thrown out trying to steal third, and Hammel settled down by striking out Rodriguez and retiring Cano on a broken-bat fly to right.

Sabathia retired the first six batters he faced without allowing a ball out of the infield, then ran into trouble in the third inning. Chris Davis led off with a single, Lew Ford singled and both runners moved up on a bunt before Nate McLouth bounced a two-run single into right field for a 2-1 lead.

New York promptly tied it in the fourth, but another potential big inning was short-circuited when a runner was thrown out on the basepaths. After Hammel walked two of the first three batters, Mark Teixeira ripped a liner off the right-field scoreboard. The hit brought home a run, but Teixeira — who only recently returned from a strained left calf — was thrown out at second by Davis. That left Swisher at third base with two outs, and after an intentional walk to Curtis Granderson, Martin hit a fly to center.

Singles by Davis and Andino put runners at the corners with one out in the fifth before McLouth looked at a third strike and Hardy grounded out.

NOTES: Andy Pettitte will bring 42 games of playoff experience into Game 2 on Monday night as the starting pitcher for the Yankees. Orioles rookie Wei-Yin Chen will be making his postseason debut. ... Wieters went 0 for 4 against Sabathia and now is 5 for 28 (.179) lifetime against him. ...  In 16 career division series openers, Jeter is batting .448 (26 for 58) and reached base in 15 games. ... Suzuki has at least one hit in 10 of his 11 career postseason games and has reached base in all of them. He’s also hit in 20 straight games at Camden Yards, a streak that began in 2008. 

ALDS Game 1: Yankees vs. Orioles

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Reds bash Cain, Giants

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The Cincinnati Reds rode a patchwork pitching staff to their first postseason win in 17 years — after losing their ace, no less.

Sam LeCure, Mat Latos and three other pitchers shut down San Francisco after Johnny Cueto went out in the first inning with a back injury, and the Cincinnati Reds were powered by home runs from Brandon Phillips and Jay Bruce to beat the Giants 5-2 in Game 1 of the NL division series Saturday night.

Phillips hit a two-run homer in the third, and Bruce added a solo drive leading off the fourth as the Redsovercame the departure of their 19-game winner after just eight pitches.

Aroldis Chapman gave up a run in the ninth on a wild pitch but struck out Buster Posey with a 100 mph fastball to end it with runners on second and third.

San Francisco's Matt Cain allowed his first career postseason earned runs after going untouched during the Giants' improbable World Series season of 2010.

That same year, Cincinnati was swept out of the first round by the Phillies, getting no-hit by Roy Halladay. This time, the Reds clobbered Cain and played on with poise when Cueto got hurt. Phillips, who made the final out of Halladay's no-no, added an RBI single in the ninth for his third hit and the Reds scored another on a passed ball.

"I was just trying to make things happen for the team," Phillips said. "We really believe in our team. Johnny is the type of person that we really need."

Reds skipper Dusty Baker earned an emotional win in his return to AT&T Park for the playoffs 10 years after managing the Giants within six outs of a World Series title before losing to the wild-card Angels. He's also back on the top step of the dugout after rejoining the team this week following an 11-game absence while recovering from a mini-stroke and irregular heartbeat.

Game 2 is Sunday night, with right-hander Bronson Arroyo (12-10) taking the ball for the Reds against San Francisco lefty Madison Bumgarner (16-11).

LeCure did his part to calm the team.

The right-hander earned the win with 1 2-3 innings before Baker turned to 14-game winner Mat Latos, who was seemingly unfazed at being forced into early duty. He allowed a home run to Posey during his four innings, but San Francisco managed little else against one of baseball's best bullpens.

The Reds set a club record this year as all five starters made it through the season without getting injured — and they used their sixth starter for a doubleheader.

Other Cincinnati clubs might not have had it in them to withstand losing a starter like Cueto. The Reds have had a tough go come playoff time.

But Baker has long been confident in the "fight" of this bunch, which already dealt with losing Ryan Madson and two other relievers before the season started.

The 63-year-old Baker was greeted by a rousing ovation during pregame introductions from an orange-towel-waving sellout crowd of 43,492. The main center-field scoreboard read "WELCOME BACK DUSTY GREAT TO SEE YOU BACK IN THE DUGOUT."

Baker has vowed this team is something special — "They love each other and they hang together," he said.

The Reds had dropped seven straight playoff games dating to 1995, when now-Nationals manager Davey Johnson and Cincinnati were swept in the NL championship series by Atlanta.

"I swear, I don't know any of these numbers," Baker said when it came up before the game. "You can't do anything about the last 17 years, whatever it is."

Latos began the third, going on three days' rest, after pitching five innings Tuesday at St. Louis. While he had been set to go Game 3 on Tuesday in Cincinnati, the Reds said Cueto is day to day and certainly are hoping he'll be ready later this series.

Posey homered to left leading off the sixth for San Francisco, drawing cheers of "M-V-P! M-V-P!" for the NL batting champion. It was his second career postseason home run and gave him a six-game postseason hitting streak dating to his 2010 Rookie of the Year season.

Cain was left to watch at that point, and he hardly looked happy visiting with manager Bruce Bochy in the dugout after being pulled before the bottom of the fifth for George Kontos.

The right-hander went 23 1-3 postseason innings without allowing an earned run, fifth-longest in major league history.

But two of Cain's five defeats this season were lopsided losses against the Reds — 9-2 and 5-0 — in which he allowed a total of four home runs, eight earned runs and 16 hits in 13 innings.

He had everything in his favor, pitching from the very mound where he tossed the first perfect game in franchise history June 13 against the Astros. He won his final six decisions of the regular season dating to a loss at St. Louis on Aug. 6.

The Reds survived third baseman Scott Rolen's throwing error that allowed Hunter Pence to reach starting the fourth. Brandon Belt lined into a double play moments later and Latos got out unscathed.

Chapman put runners on first and second in the ninth and Baker paid him a visit. One out later he walked Marco Scutaro before the Giants scored on a wild pitch. Posey struck out to end it.
Now, the Reds hope to get Cueto back later this series.

The right-hander threw a second strike to No. 2 hitter Scutaro and walked off the mound in obvious pain. A trainer and Baker rushed out to check on him, and Cueto came out moments later.

He retired leadoff man Angel Pagan on a strikeout. During the at-bat, Pagan stepped out of the batter's box and was granted time. Cueto apparently didn't see it and continued his motion.

He threw eight pitches and six strikes for the earliest postseason exit by a starter since Atlanta's John Thomson lasted one-third of an inning in Game 3 of a 2004 NL division series against Houston. Thomson came out with a sore muscle in his left side.

Belt, the first baseman, flopped over the railing and into the fans to make a great catch on Zack Cozart's foul popup in Cain's 17-pitch first inning that ended with a 10-pitch strikeout of Joey Votto.

NOTES: Bruce is .533 (8 for 15) lifetime vs. Cain. ... San Francisco won Game 1 in each of its 2010 series — the division series against Atlanta, NLCS vs. Philadelphia and the World Series against the Rangers. ... The franchises faced each other in the playoffs for the first time. ... 49ers quarterback Alex Smith threw out the ceremonial first pitch to Sergio Romo, wildly and in the dirt. He still got roars from the crowd a day before the Niners host the Buffalo Bills.

After early mistake, Verlander shuts down A's

AP Baseball Writer

DETROIT — Justin Verlander threw a fastball that caught a bit too much of the plate, allowing Oakland’s Coco Crisp to lead off the game with a stunning home run.

For the first few innings, Verlander labored, his pitch count rising while his control deserted him. But the Athletics could manage only that one run, missing their best chance of the night to break through against Detroit’s hard-throwing ace.

Verlander held Oakland scoreless after his early slip, and Alex Avila homered in the fifth inning to lift the Tigers over the Athletics 3-1 Saturday night in the opener of their best-of-five AL playoff.

Verlander allowed three hits in seven innings and matched his postseason high with 11 strikeouts.

“Early on was kind of a bit of a battle for me,” Verlander said. “Just kind of found my rhythm a little bit and was able to hit my spots better, and I started throwing my breaking ball for strikes a little bit better too.”

As usual, he seemed stronger in the later innings, striking out the side in the sixth and the first two hitters of the seventh.

“Early on, didn’t have great control of any of my pitches,” Verlander said. “But I was able to get myself out of jams that I created.”

Joaquin Benoit pitched the eighth and Jose Valverde struck out two in a perfect ninth for the save. Oakland’s Jarrod Parker allowed two earned runs in 6 1-3 innings and took the loss.

Game 2 is Sunday, with Doug Fister taking the mound for Detroit and left-hander Tommy Milone for Oakland. Then the series shifts to the West Coast.

“It’s always important to get Game 1. The way it is now, obviously, it’s nice starting here but to play the last three games in Oakland is definitely tough,” Avila said. “Every game’s important, but it felt real good to get one out of the way.”

It was only the second victory for Detroit in its last seven postseason series openers. The Tigers lost Game 1 to the Yankees in the division series last year before winning in five. Detroit then lost the opener of the AL championship series to Texas.

After winning their final six games to take the AL West in shocking fashion, the A’s made their presence felt right away in Detroit. The home crowd at Comerica Park greeted Verlander with a roar and a sea of twirling white towels when he popped out of the dugout and headed to the mound to start the game, but Crisp was unfazed. He pulled Verlander’s two-strike pitch just inside the pole in right field to put Oakland on top.

“He made a mistake to the first batter of the game, and then he didn’t make another one all night,” A’s first baseman Brandon Moss said, exaggerating only slightly.

Verlander had two starts cut short early by bad weather in last year’s postseason. It was 49 degrees — but dry — at game time Saturday.

The AL Central-champion Tigers, in consecutive postseasons for the first time since 1934-35, tied it in their half of the first. Austin Jackson’s hard-hit ball deflected off diving shortstop Stephen Drew and into short left field. The Detroit leadoff man ended up with a double and went to third when Quintin Berry slapped a single to third off Josh Donaldson, who also could only get a piece of the ball while diving for it.

Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera, who went 0 for 3 with a walk, grounded into a double play, but Jackson came home to make it 1-all.

Drew finally made a diving play in the second, sprawling to his right on Delmon Young’s grounder and then throwing to first for the out. At the plate, the A’s made Verlander work, forcing him to throw 61 pitches in the first three innings. Verlander struck out Moss to end the Oakland third with a 99 mph fastball — but Verlander was having to reach back for extra velocity early.

“Most good starters, you try to get to them before they get into their rhythm,” Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. “He got better as the game went along. A lot of times your best opportunity is early in the game.”

The Athletics tied a postseason record by starting four rookies — Parker, Donaldson, Yoenis Cespedes and Derek Norris.

Parker looked sharp early but allowed another run in the third because of a fielding mishap. With two out and a man on second, Berry chopped a soft grounder to the right side. Parker came off the mound to field it, but with the speedy Berry hustling to first, Parker lost control of the ball while scooping at it with his glove for an error that allowed Omar Infante to score.

“He wasn’t trying to flip it, because he was closer to the bag than I was,” first baseman Brandon Moss said. “He was just trying to grab it and it came out of his glove.”

Avila’s solo shot made it 3-1, and the A’s couldn’t take advantage of Verlander’s rising pitch count.

“In the postseason you don’t go out there and think about pitch count and keeping it low,” Verlander said. “I’m just going to be aggressive, try to find the strike zone and throw quality strikes, and the pitch count will take care of itself.”

Verlander led the majors in strikeouts for the second straight year, and Oakland was baseball’s most strikeout-prone team. It showed toward the end of Verlander’s outing.

After taking a called third strike for the third out of the sixth — Verlander’s fourth strikeout in a five-hitter span — Donaldson chirped a bit at plate umpire Jim Reynolds. Verlander was done after one more inning, finishing with 121 pitches and his fourth career postseason win.
Verlander walked four.

“We battled him hard, but it doesn’t even seem to matter how many pitches that guy throws,” Oakland outfielder Josh Reddick said. “He just keeps coming after you with all of those pitches.”
Benoit allowed a single in the eighth, followed by a flyout by Moss that Andy Dirks caught at the wall in right field.

“I didn’t think it was gone,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “I thought he just missed it. And he did just miss it.”

Oakland right-hander Pat Neshek, whose newborn son died 23 hours after his birth, came on to relieve Parker in the seventh. He entered with two on and one out but got out of the inning without any scoring.
Oakland wore patches with the initials GJN. Neshek’s son’s name was Gehrig John Neshek.

“It was really tough warming up, and I thought about him the entire time. I said yesterday that baseball would be a way to clear my mind, but that didn’t happen. He was always there,” Neshek said. “I know it is a cliche, but I really felt like I had someone watching me and helping with that last pitch. That was my best slider of the year.”

NOTES: Parker allowed seven hits. He struck out five and walked one. ... Crisp was 8 for 22 off Verlander entering but with no homers. ... Cabrera received chants of “MVP” from the fans when he was announced before the game. Oakland 3B Brandon Inge — a former Tiger — was also cheered. ... Moss struck out three times. ... Arizona started four rookies three times in the 2007 postseason, according to STATS, LLC. ... Verlander also struck out 11 against the Yankees in last year’s division series.