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10/26/2008 Archived Entry: "WORLD BASEBALL TODAY (October 26, 2008)"
by Bruce Baskin
Radio Miami International
HAMELS, UTLEY LEAD PHILS TO SERIES-OPENING WIN OVER RAYS
Philadelphia pitcher Cole Hamels continued his dominant postseason performance while Chase Utley added a two-run home run as the Phillies defeated the Tampa Bay Rays 3-2 Wednesday night in the opening game of the 2008 World Series. The Rays won their first American League pennant last weekend by completing a seven-game American League Championship Series victory over the defending world champion Boston Red Sox.
However, opening night of this year's Fall Classic belonged to Hamels, who allowed just two runs on five hits by the Rays in a 102-pitch effort over seven innings at a very noisy Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, as the sound of thousands of cowbells clanged against the dome roof to create a deafening atmosphere. Hamels now has four playoff wins this season, becoming the tenth starting pitcher in history to win that many games in the postseason. Nobody has ever reached five victories on the mound after the regular season.
Utley gave Hamels and the Phils a lead to work with in the first inning by sending an 0-2 Scott Kazmir pitch into the right field seats for a two-run homer, scoring Jayson Werth. Philadelphia made it 3-0 when Shane Victorino scored on Carlos Ruiz' groundout in the top of the fourth. Tampa Bay came back with one run on a Carl Crawford homer in the bottom of the fourth and Akinori Iwamura's RBI double that scored Jason Bartlett, but the night belonged to the Phillies.
Ryan Madson relieved Hamels and tossed a scoreless eighth for the Phils, and Brad Lidge pitched a 1-2-3 ninth with two strikeouts for save. Lidge has not blown a save opportunity all season for Philadelphia.
TAMPA BAY COMES BACK TO TIE SERIES, TEAMS HEAD TO PHILLY
“Big Game” James Shields took a shutout into the sixth inning while B.J. Upton and Jason Bartlett each rapped out RBI singles to aid Tampa Bay’s 4-2 win over Philadelphia in Game Two of the World Series Thursday night at Tropicana Field. The Rays evened the series with the win as the two teams headed back to Philadelphia’s Citizens Bank Ballpark for the next three games of the Fall Classic.
Shields was lifted with two out in the sixth holding a 3-0 lead after scattering seven hits and striking out four Phillies batsmen. Dan Wheeler tossed one scoreless inning before giving way to rookie David Price, who had a tough 2.1 frames and gave up a pair of Philadelphia runs but did not blow the lead.
The Rays went ahead 2-0 in the bottom of the first when Iwamura and Upton each scored on consecutive groundouts to Phils shortstop Jimmy Rollins by Carlos Pena and Evan Longoria, respectively. Tampa Bay padded their advantage in the second when Upton’s bases-loaded single brought in Dioner Navarro. Tampa Bay made it 4-0 in the fourth on Bartlett’s RBI single bringing in Cliff Floyd.
The Phillies made a belated comeback when Eric Bruntlett crunched a pinch-hit homer off Price in the eighth and Ruiz scored on a Longoria error in the top of the ninth, but it was a night of missed opportunities for the Philadelphians, who were 1-for-15 in scoring opportunities. Brett Myers took the loss after letting in four Tampa Bay runs in seven innings.
LIONS BEAT FIGHTERS TO TAKE PACIFIC LEAGUE PENNANT
The Seibu Lions and Nippon Ham Fighters were tied at two games apiece in the Pacific League Climax Series finals before the Lions won two straight contests to win the best-of-seven set, 4 games to 2, earning the 2008 PL pennant and a berth in next week's Japan Series.
The Lions took the series lead Tuesday night with a 9-4 win over the Fighters as Seibu starter Kazuhisa Ishii struck out 13 Nippon Ham batters over seven innings en route to the win. Seibu then closed out the Fighters one night later with a 9-0 pounding of Nippon Ham. Lions starter Hideaki Wakui was electric on the mound, retiring the first 20 Fighter batters he faced and finishing with a three-hit shutout and seven strikeouts for his second win of the series. Seibu claimed their first Pacific League pennant since 2004.
Meanwhile, the Chunichi Dragons opened the Central League's Climax Series schedule with a 4-3 win over the Yomiuri Giants Wednesday night as Norihiro Nakamura stroked a tiebreaking single in the top of the ninth for the Dragons. The Chunichi win actually tied the CL finals at one game apiece because both Seibu and Yomiuri began their respective sets with one-game advantages due to their first place finishes in the regular season.
DOOSAN ONE WIN AWAY FROM KOREAN SERIES BERTH
The Doosan Bears and Samsung Lions have engaged in an entertaining second round Korea Baseball Organization series, with Doosan holding a 3 games to 2 advantage after beating the Lions 6-5 Wednesday night. KBO batting champion Kim Seong-su was 3-for-5 with three runs scored and two more driven in for the Bears as Doosan starter Matt Randel took the win after allowing two runs in 5.1 innings pitched.
The Bears won the series opener 8-4 in a tremendous comeback after Samsung had opened a 4-0 lead. The Lions then tied the series with a 7-4 victory as Shin Myeong-cheol's two-run double in the top of the 14th inning was the difference-maker. Samsung then took the series lead with a 6-2 win in Game 3 as the Lions' Choi Hyung-woo clubbed a three-run homer. Choi led Samsung with 19 homers during the season, seven against the Bears.
Doosan came back to win the next two games, including a 12-6 romp in Game 4 as the Bears scored in every inning but the seventh and eighth on the way to a 21-hit explosion to tie the series while setting the stage for their Game 5 win Wednesday night.
The winner of the KBO semis will face the defending champion SK Wyverns in the Korean Series.
ELEPHANTS SWEEP BEARS, TO MEET LIONS IN TAIWAN SERIES
The Brother Elephants are making the most of their first Chinese Professional Baseball League playoff appearance in five seasons. After missing the postseason every year since winning three straight pennants in Taiwan between 2001 and 2003, the Elephants have completed a three-game sweep of the La New Bears to qualify for the Taiwan Series against the first place President Lions, who drew a bye while the Elephants and Bears squared off.
Chia Chia stroked homers in his first three at-bats to lead Brother to a 7-1 win in the series opener, followed by a 4-3 win as the Elephants' Lin Ming-Hien drilled a two-run homer in the seventh to overcome a 3-2 deficit. The Bears were then eliminated in Game 3 by a 10-3 count. Brother starter Danny Core turned in eight strong innings, allowing two runs on four hits and retiring 18 of 20 La New batters at one point.
The Taiwan Series was set to begin this weekend in Tainan.
ROUEN REPEATS AS FRENCH LEAGUE CHAMPIONS
The Rouen Huskies defeated the Senart Templiers 3 games to 2 to cop their second consecutive French League pennant last weekend. As in 2007, the Huskies were stretched to a fifth and deciding games by Senart before winning the title, their fifth in team history.
The Templiers won Game 3 by a 5-3 score to actually take a 2 games to 1 lead in the final series. Rouen was leading 3-1 after four innings before Senart put single runs on the board in the fifth and sixth innings to tie the game, then put it away with two counters in the eighth. David Meurant's RBI single drove in Lahence Benhamida with the go-ahead run.
Rouen came back with two straight wins to win the flag. The Huskies routed Senart 12-2 in Game 4. Kenji Hagiwara went 3-for-5 with four runs and an RBI for Rouen, while Boris Marche reached base five times, scored three times and drove in two more runs. The Huskies then closed out the series and season with a 9-2 win in the fifth and deciding game. Luc Piquet racked up two triples and a double at the plate for Rouen, who got eight strong innings from starter Alexandre Sochon. Sochon let in one run on five hits for the win. Piquet was named the French League finals MVP for his efforts.
BERN COMPLETES LAUSANNE SWEEP FOR SWISS LEAGUE FLAG
Winning has become a habit for the Bern Cardinals, who picked up their fourth consecutive Swiss League pennant this month with a three-game sweep of the Lausanne Indians.
The title-clinching game resulted in a 7-4 victory over Lausanne, with the Cardinals pushing across five runs in the first inning and cruising the rest of the way. All five runs scored with two outs as Bern ended up sending eleven batters to the plate in the frame as Raphael Hanzi's ground-rule double put the Cards on the scoreboard with a lead Bern never relinquished.
Cardinal starter Severin Fries took his second win of the finals. Although Fries had a rocky seventh inning in which he let in three Lausanne runs, he had a good lead to work with and was never truly threatened. Bern concluded the most successful season in team history, having also won a Swiss Cup final and winning a CEB tournament qualifier earlier in the year.
ATHLETICS TOP VIKINGS IN FOUR GAMES FOR AUSTRIAN LEAGUE TITLE
The Mosquito Athletics of Attnang-Puchheim defeated the Union Kufstein Vikings, 3 games to 1, to win the 2008 Austrian League championship series last weekend. The series was tied at one game apiece when the Athletics won Game 3 by a 4-2 margin. Tobias Schermer gave Kufstein the lead with an RBI double in the second, and Koichi Hida made it 2-0 Vikings with an inside-the-park homer in the fifth. However, a rain delay appeared to wake up the Athletics, who narrowed the gap to 2-1 on Dave Burns' RBI single in the sixth and then tied the game on Martin Rabengruber's two-out, run-scoring double in the seventh. In the eighth inning, Harald Pointer drove in the winning run and added an insurance tally.
The Athletics closed out the Austrian finals one game later with a solid 6-1 win. Viking starter Todd Fairbrother was hurt in the first inning and replaced on the mound by Hida, who faced a bases-loaded situation with no outs but escaped with just one run scored on a fielder's choice.
Kufstein tied the game in the third, but the Athletics came back with runs in the bottom of the third and fourth, and iced the contest and championship in the seventh with two runs, including back-to-back triples by Pointer and Burns.