Archives for: 2012, week 40

10/06/12

2012 Baseball Playoff Preview - Division Series

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-Digger's Weekly-

Sloppy was the operative word in Wild Card playoffs. Seven errors committed in do or die games. Chipper Jones final game did not play out well. One of baseball's all time greats suffered through one of his worst against the defending champion Cardinals.

Now it's time for the Divisional Series. I'm really against how best record teams are visitors in the first two games in a best of five. Ridiculous! This is clearly a home field disadvantage! This should be a 2-2-1 format. How could MLB get this so wrong? MLB claims they'll get it right next year. Yeah, thanks.

Thrilling matchups await. Red hot Oakland (vs Detroit) and Baltimore (vs New York) set out to prove their seasons are not flukes. Nationals go after champion Cardinals while the Reds take on San Francisco. Get ready for plenty of excitement.

American League
Oakland A's (94-68) vs Detroit Tigers (88-74)
1) Jarred Parker (13-8, 3.47) vs Justin Verlander (17-8, 2.64) Edge Tigers
2) Tommy Milone (13-10, 3.74) vs Doug Fister (10-10, 3.45) Edge A's
3) Brett Anderson (4-2, 2.57) vs Anibal Sanchez (4-6, 3.74) Edge Even
4) A.J. Griffin (7-1, 3.06) vs Max Scherzer(16-7, 3.74) Edge Even.

Oakland is red hot and in playoff baseball this is a very significant factor. Hot or not, beating Justin Verlander twice in a short series is highly unlikely. Nonetheless, the A's are 57-26 in their past 83 contests. They've won 6 in a row and 8 of 9. Timely hitting is leading the way. Oakland is riding a wave. For how long?
AL Central champion Detroit sports a fearsome 3-4 punch of Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder. The Tigers attack is capable of big outbursts. However, except for Miguel & Prince, they're a streaky bunch.

Prediction: A's in 4

New York Yankees (95-67) vs Baltimore Orioles (93-69)

How far can the Orioles go. There's no way I believed Saunders (0-6 in Arlington) was going to shut down the mighty Rangers attack last night. He proved me wrong. Will Baltimore stun me once again? These two split their season series 9-9 and were tied for the AL East lead after 159 games.

Rotation matchups haven't been announced other than CC Sabathia starting Game 1 for New York. Edge Yankees. Most likely Kuroda takes the mound in Game 2 giving NY another advantage in the starting pitcher category.

This has the potential to become an explosive high run scoring series. Both play in hitters parks and pack plenty of lineup power. On paper, Yankees probably hold an advantage. In reality, Baltimore's timely hitting has been second to none lately. Orioles bullpen nearly unhittable. Yanks bullpen prone to gaffes.

Prediction: As a New Yorker, I'm saying Yankees in 5. Reality is telling me Baltimore in 4. We'll soon find out.

National League

Cincinnati Reds (97-65) vs San Francisco Giants(94-68)

1) Johnny Cueto (19-9, 2.78) vs Matt Cain (16-5, 2.79) Edge Even
2) Bronson Arroyo (13-10, 3.74) vs Madison Bumgarner (16-11, 3.37) Edge Even
3) Mat Latos (14-4, 3.48) vs Tim Lincecum (10-15, 5.18) Edge Reds

No room for mistakes on defense. None. Timely hitting will be the difference in wins vs losses. A single run could determine games against top rated pitching. Cueto vs Cain is championship calibur matchup.

Prediction: Both teams playing well of late. Cincinnati is my sentimental pick. Had this series opened in Cincy, I'd say Reds hands down. Don't count out the Giants. Reds in 4.

Washington Nationals (98-64) vs St. Louis Cardinals (88-74)

This is about the time when everyone scratches their heads and screams at Washington's front office for keeping their best hurler intentionally shelved. This could haunt them for years to come.

1) Gio Gonzalex (21-8, 2.89) vs Adam Wainwright (14-13, 3.94) Edge Nats
2) Jordan Zimmerman (12-8, 2.94) vs Jaime Garcia (7-7, 3.92) Edge Nats

Nationals yet to name starters for games 3 & 4. Cards intend to send Cris Carpenter and Kyle Lohse.

Washington need to play top notch baseball against a Cardinals team which seems to find ways to win when all hope seems gone. St. Louis played from behind in much of the 2011 post-season. Never count these guys out.

Washington's spirited attack has all essentials to knock off the defending champs... except one. No experienced big game players on this youthful roster and their most devastating pitcher isn't playing. Cardinals always seem to find a way in playoff baseball.

Prediction: Cardinals in 5.

10/05/12

2012 Baseball Playoff Preview - Wild Card

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-Digger's Weekly-

Another great Major League Baseball season went right down to the wire. Division leaders, Wild Card teams and batting leaders weren't determined until the final pitch of regular season baseball (stay tuned for our 2012 MLB recap).

Now it's time to play for all the marbles, with a new twist. 2012 playoffs feature an extra Wild Card team from both leagues (NL/AL now has 2 WC teams). The two Wild Card teams face off today in a one game sudden death type game to see who advances to play division winners.

National League
Tremendous matchup. Atlanta Braves(94-68) trot Kris Medlen (10-1, 1.57) to the hill. Atlanta has won Medlen's last 23 starts (streak began in 2010). Wow! He'll need to be at his best when taking on the defending champion St. Louis Cardinals (88-74) and Cy Young candidate Kyle Lohse (16-3, 2.86).

Everyone remembers Cardinals clutch hits from last season's playoffs. They neared elimination time and time again. They came thru with clutch hit after clutch hit time and time again. Atlanta players aren't strangers to playoff baseball either led by future Hall of Fame 3B Chipper Jones.

Prediction: Medlen's hot. Don't be surprised to watch him dominate today. Then again, don't count on it. The Cardinals have proven their clutch abilities too many times for me to count them out. World Series MVP David Freese comes to life in playoff action. Perhaps there's no better clutch hitter in Cardinals playoff history than NL MVP candiate Yadier Molina.
Final score: Cardinals 5 Braves 3.

American League

Two teams in opposite directions?

Buck Showalter's guided baseball's surprise team of the year. Baltimore Orioles (93-69) nearly won the AL East. Baltimore's timely offense capitalizes on opponents mistakes. Hitters were red hot until losing final two against pitching rich Tampa Bay. O's offense will need to catch fire from the opening pitch against one of baseball's most potent offenses.

Texas Rangers (93-69) took over first place in AL West with a 3-1 record on April 9. They maintained a two game lead after game 159 and flew off to Oakland for the final three games of the season. Oakland blew them out including an embarrassing 12-5 defeat to lose the division on game 162. Needless to say... Texas is backing into playoff action losers in 7 of final 9.

Baltimore's John Saunders (3-3, 3.63) is the wrong choice for a starting pitcher in a do or die game. I believe it to be the worst choice I can remember, ever! Saunders (former LA Angel) career numbers vs Texas stink. There's no way around it. Rangers hitters combined for .350 BA, .675 SLG and .410 OBA. Trouble brewing before the first pitch is thrown.

Texas marches Yu Darvish (16-9, 3.90) to the hill. Yu was 10-2 in Arlington. Good luck Baltimore.

Prediction: O's bullpen better be ready to go early. Buck, Saunders is the wrong guy today. Texas has stumbled lately in all aspects. Saunders is the perfect pitcher to snap a cold spell against.
Final score: Rangers 12 Orioles 2

10/04/12

2012 NFL Predictions: Week 5

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-Digger's Weekly-

Last weekend was my bounceback week. 12 correct selections. Only Vikings special teams and bad last minute Giants playcalling stopped us from 14. Season total upped to 36-28. Not great but a sign of things to come with NFL refs in action.

Falcons QB Matt Ryan loves Atlanta's new style offense. He's the leagues top rated passer (112.1) throwing for 1,162 yards, 11 TD leading Atlanta to 4 straight wins.

Minnesota's total team effort has them tied with Chicago in NFC North at 3-1. Last weekend, 2 special teams touchdowns stunned Detroit. QB Christian Ponder is a quick study and it's paying huge dividends. 0 interceptions while completing passes at a rate over 68%.

NFL refs returning to action was a welcomed sight in Week 4. Games are back to normal. No more long delays figuring out what to do. No more talking heads squawking at replacements. No more games decided by poor officiating (at least not yet).

Week 5 begin bye weeks. Perfect timing for struggling Dallas, Detroit, Oakland & Tampa Bay. All need to regroup in a hurry.

THURSDAY
Cardinals 31 RAMS 17

SUNDAY
BENGALS 31 Dolphins 20
Packers 42 COLTS 14
Ravens 23 CHIEFS 21
Falcons 34 REDSKINS 30
GIANTS 35 Browns 9
STEELERS 24 Eagles 20
Seahawks 17 PANTHERS 14
Bears 27 JAGUARS 13
VIKINGS 27 Titans 21
Broncos 34 PATRIOTS 30
49ERS 28 Bills 3
SAINTS 34 Chargers 21

MONDAY
Texans 31 JETS 3