News and notes from around the playoffs:
- The Yankees are heading back to New York for a deciding game five, and A.J. Burnett, who limped through a second straight disappointing season in the Big Apple, is one of the main reasons why. One of the other reasons why the Yanks won game four? Former Tiger Curtis Granderson, who vexed his former mates with a pair of spectacular diving catches to short-circuit a pair of Detroit rallies.
- Tampa got bounced from the playoffs in the ALDS at the hands of the Rangers for the second straight year, but the Rays don't sound too despondent about the result, as infielder Sean Rodriguez told reporters that it was "nothing short of a miracle" for the Rays to make it this far this season. Texas, meanwhile, is moving on to the ALCS thanks to a huge day from Adrian Beltre, who homered three times to send the Rangers to the series win.
- St. Louis skipper Tony LaRussa is being second guessed this morning after he ordered starter Jaime Garcia to issue an intentional walk to Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz with one on and two out in the top of the seventh inning to bring up the pitcher's spot in the lineup. Charlie Manuel responded by pinch-hitting outfielder Ben Francisco, who ripped a three-run homer to give the Phils a 3-0 lead.
- With the Phillies leading their NLDS series with the Cardinals 2-1, the Phils won't be bringing ace Roy Halladay back on short rest. Instead, they'll hand the ball to Roy Oswalt tonight as they look to move on the NLCS.
- Texas became the first team to win its LDS series by nipping Tampa at Tropicana Field, 4-3, yesterday afternoon. Adrian Beltre was the man of the hour for the Rangers, as the third baseman clubbed three homers -- all solo shots, in the second, fourth, and seventh innings, respectively) -- to account for three-quarters of Texas' offense. Lefty Matt Harrison worked five effective innings, striking out nine while ceding five hits and two runs, and four Ranger relievers picked up the slack from there, holding the Rays to two hits and one run the rest of the way. Neftali Feliz gave up a run in the ninth to make things interesting, but he got Matt Joyce to pop out and Desmond Jennings to ground out to notch his third save of the postseason.
- New York made it a one-game series in its ALDS matchup with Detroit, bludgeoning the Tigers 10-1 behind a six-run eighth inning and 5.2 solid innings from the mercurial A.J. Burnett. Burnett escaped major damage in the first inning when Curtis Granderson robbed Don Kelly of an extra-base hit with the bases loaded, and Burnett settled down after that: he gave up just four hits and four walks in his outing while striking out three and giving up one run. The Yankee bullpen manhandled the Tigers after that: the Yanks didn't allow a baserunner over the last 3.1 innings while striking out six Tigers. Meanwhile, what was a 4-1 game became a 10-1 laugher when the Yankees got six runs in the eighth. Jesus Montero drove in a run with a pinch-hit single, Brett Gardner had an RBI single, and Robbie Cano singled in two more with a bloop-job single to left.
- Philadelphia and St. Louis were locked in a scoreless tie until the seventh inning yesterday, as Cole Hamels and Jaime Garcia traded zeroes for the first six innings of the game. But Philly drew first blood with Ben Francisco's backbreaking, pinch-hit three-run homer in the top of the seventh, and the Phils hung on for dear life from there, winning 3-2 at Busch Stadium. The Cards got a run back in the seventh on David Freese's two-out RBI single but wasted a golden opportunity to creep even closer in the bottom of the eighth, when Ryan Madson got Allen Craig to ground into a 4-3 double play with the bases loaded and one out. Madson gave up a double and a run in the ninth inning but finished off the 5-out save when Ryan Theriot grounded out to Chase Utley to end it.
- Shaun Marcum was an abject disaster, and the rest of the Brewers weren't much better, as Arizona staved off elimination with an 8-1 drubbing of Milwaukee at Chase Field. Our recap is here.
The division series standings:
- Detroit 2, New York 2.
- Texas 3, Tampa 1.
- Milwaukee 2, Arizona 1.
- Philadelphia 2, St. Louis 1.
On tap for today:
Phillies @ Cardinals: Oswalt (9-10, 3.69) vs. Jackson (12-9, 3.79) at 5:00 p.m. CDT (TBS)
Brewers @ Diamondbacks: Wolf (13-10, 3.69) vs. Saunders (12-13, 3.69) at 8:30 p.m. CDT (TBS)