LA Ousted in 5 Games in NLCS; Joe's Moves Questioned
First it was the Mets, then the Brewers and ultimately the Dodgers. The Philadelphia Phillies, who will now have six days off before beginning the World Series on the road, beat out all three, in both the regular and post season.
They earned that right on Wednesday night at Chaves Revine, sending Manny, Joe and the rest of the Dodgers packing. Manny, of course, is Manny Ramirez, who will be hitting the open market after carrying Los Angeles into the playoffs and nearly the Fall Classic. Joe is our old friend Torre, who stuck it to the Steinbrenners by taking a coveted job and making good. Reaching the playoffs and winning a round was a heck of a lot better than the Bronx Bombers did this season.
Did the Dodgers lose to a better team? There is no question that the Phils were more talented and bettered the Dodgers easily, losing only Game Three, the first of the series on the left coast, 7-2. In the final game, Jimmy Rollins opened the game with a home run while ace Cole Hamels was sharp in the 5-1 clincher. The Dodgers only run? What else but a long ball from Ramirez, who, in eight playoff games, hit a whopping .520 (13 for 25) with four homers and 10 RBI.
The turning point in the series came in the eighth inning of Game Four. With the Dodgers leading 5-3, Ryan Howard singled and Torre decided to take out reliever Hong Chih-Kuo, who had a 1-2-3 seventh. On came Corey Wade, who retired Pat Burrell then surrendered the game-tying two-run home run to Shane Victorino.
After an out and a single, Torre lifted Wade for his closer, Jonathan Broxton, who would face pinch hitter Matt Stairs, a journeyman left-handed hitter who recently turned 40. The veteran turned on Broxton's 3-1 pitch and crushed it into the right field seats. 7-5 Philadelphia, and instead of the Dodgers drawing level in the series, they were one loss away from extinction.
Although Los Angeles is not the Bronx, Torre faced some tough questions during the off day on Tuesday. His handling of the pitching changes were taken to task, and the Brooklyn native defended his actions, starting with the quick hook of Kuo.
"I don't think the ball was coming out of his hand as easy (as opposed to the previous inning) and that's why I removed him in that part of the game," Torre told reporters during a scheduled press conference at Dodger Stadium.
Concerning the Victorino home run, Torre said, "He (Wade) threw a breaking ball and it stayed up and Shane just knocked the hell out of it." Critics said that Torre should have brought in Broxton instead of Wade at that point, but in all fairness, lefthanded hitters were hitting only .211 off of Wade prior to the game.
"I have a two-run lead in the seventh inning, and the game's in my court and then the winning home run is hot off my closer," continued Torre. "I don't know what I could say to myself that would change what I would do, to be honest with you."
Luckily for Torre, Game Five did not have any decisions that could have been questioned. For what it's worth, the Phillies were the better team on paper and the field. Their comeback in that pivotal game proved that and they will be a tough out in the World Series, regardless of the opponent.