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Tournament of Champions, Round 2: day 8

the main discussion today (part 2 of red baron's amateur draft preview) is directly below.

in my haste to get out the door yesterday morning, i neglected to post the summaries for yesterday's games . . . . . duh. they're up there now, for those who want to read 'em. as for today, only 2 games on the slate: the 85/96 and 85/00 series take days off, and the 1888s have already advanced at the expense of the 04s.

the 2005s are facing elimination today, while the 28s and 68s duke it out in a 2-2 series. summaries after the jump (they're there this time, i promise), box scores right here:

Game 5, 1928 v 1968
Game 6, 1943 v 2005

Game 5
(series tied, 2 games each)

summary by lboros

With Gibson and his 1.12 ERA looming again in Game 7, it'd behoove the 1928s to win the next 2 games and close it out. It's not as if he's unbeatable; the '28s have managed 3 runs against him in both starts, at least giving themselves a chance. But facing Gibson in a Game 7 is a fearsome prospect, and one best avoided. On the other side of the diamond, the '68s had best win today's game --- because a loss would force them to beat Ol' Pete in Game 6. True, they hung 5 runs on the guy in Game 3, but he's a 300-game winner and boasts a better ERA+ than any '68 pitcher not named Gibson.

Taylor Douthit returns to the lineup and the leadoff spot for the '28s after a day off; here's how they line up:

1928 1968
Taylor Douthit, cf Lou Brock, lf
Frank Frisch, 2b Curt Flood, cf
Chick Hafey, lf Roger Maris, rf
Jim Bottomley, 1b Orlando Cepeda, 1b
George Harper, rf Mike Shannon, 3b
Andy High, 3b Tim McCarver, c
Jimmie Wilson, c Julian Javier, 2b
Rabbit Maranville, ss Dal Maxvill, ss
Bill Sherdel, p Nelson Briles, p

The '28s mount the game's first threat, loading the bases with nobody out in the 2d on a single, walk, and single. But Briles gets the weak-hitting Maranville on a popup to center to bring up the pitcher, Sherdel. He's actually a pretty good hitter --- here's his aggregate batting line between 1922 (when he joined the rotation for good) and 1928:

565 68 130 25 2 6 53 .230 .291 .313

Not bad at all for a pitcher. Taking nothing for granted, Briles pitches him tough and gets him to hit a chopper to 3d base --- Shannon throws home for one, and McCarver relays it to first for a 5-2-3 double play. Instead of a big inning, the '28s simply have a goose egg; bad omen.

Briles gets a chance to help himself in the bottom of the inning, batting with two on and two out. He is a dreadful hitter, with a career .127 average (22 for 173) and 2 extra-base hits through 1968. You can probably see where this is headed . . . . Briles laces a single to center, plating the game's first run and turning the lineup over. Brock and Flood pile on with RBI singles, and by the time Sherdel finally puts a stop to it he trails 3-0.

Shannon makes it 5-0 in the next inning on a two-run shot to dead center, his second home run (and 5th extra-base hit) of the series. The Moon Man is only hitting .250 so far in the series, but he's slugging .700. His next time up, in the fifth, he pokes a single to start another rally, this one capped by Maxville's 2-out, 2-run single. And just 1 inning later Shannon strikes again, singling home a run in the midst of a 4-run outburst. By the time that's all done, the 1968s lead the game 11-0.

Briles heads into the 8th still working on a shutout, albeit not a pretty one --- he has allowed 10 baserunners through 7 innings while only logging a single 1-2-3 inning. He gets the first two guys in the 8th but finally runs out of gas; Hafey singles, Bottomley walks, Harper singles to break up the shutout, and High doubles two more guys home. Moral victory for 1928; they won't win the game, but at least the score's not gonna be quite so ugly. And in the 9th they salvage a bit more respectability, leading off with 4 singles against Mel Nelson. But so what, right? It's still 11-4, and even with Hafey up and Bottomley on deck . . . . I mean, come on. But then Hafey doubles to clear the bases; it's 11-7, and there's still nobody out, and Sim-Schoendienst doesn't think it's amusing anymore. Nelson hits the showers, and Ron Willis enters to pitch to Sunny Jim; he drills him in the back. Still nobody out, and now the tying run is on deck. George Harper takes four wide ones; now the sacks are jammed, and the tying run is at the plate.

Holy crap.

I'm thinking, where the hell is Joe Hoerner? He hasn't pitched once in the series, even though two of the games were tied heading into the 9th (and one of those went 11 innings). Hoerner went 8-2 with a 1.48 ERA in 1968 and finished 2d in the National League in saves with 17, his 3d straight year of making the league's top 10 in that category. I guess his low innings-pitched total (just 48.2) puts him in disfavor with the simulator. . . . . at any rate, the wild Willis stays in to face Andy High with the game suddenly, improbably on the line. High immediately removes the suspense by bouncing into a 4-6-3 double play. A run scores, making it 11-8, but the peril drops sharply; there are now two out and the tying run has been pushed back to the on-deck circle. Willis strikes out Jimmie Wilson to end it; whew. 1968 takes a 3-2 lead in the series heading into tomorrow's off-day.


* * * * * * * * * *

* * * * * * * * * *

Game 5
(1943 leads, 3 games to 2)

summary by lboros

Well, the 2004s are out of the tournament, and the 2005s are on the brink; sim-fans are still arguing about Sim-Tony's decision to let Tavarez pitch to Walker in the top of the 9th of Game 5. In their three home games the 2005s hit just .212, slugged .283, and scored a total of 8 runs; for the series they're at .246 / .295 / .321. If there's any good news at all, it's that the opposing pitcher today is Max Lanier, the only 1943 hurler they've been able to solve thus far. The lineups:

2005 1943
David Eckstein, ss Lou Klein, 2b
Larry Walker, rf Harry Walker, cf
Albert Pujols, 1b Stan Musial, rf
Jim Edmonds, cf Walker Cooper, c
Reggie Sanders, lf Whitey Kurowski, 3b
Scott Rolen, 3b Ray Sanders, rf
Mark Grudzielanek, 2b Danny Litwhiler, lf
Yadier Molina, c Marty Marion, ss
Mark Mulder, p Max Lanier, p

Tony's boys need a fast start, and they get it: a leadoff hit by Eckstein, a two-out walk to Edmonds, and an RBI single by Sanders puts them ahead 1-0. Mulder heads out there and looks very sharp, retiring the first two guys on groundouts and getting Musial to tap one weakly to 3d. But Stan the Man legs it out to keep the inning alive; fateful. Cooper's grounder finds a seam and rolls into left-center for a hit; Kurowski's roller has eyes too, getting through for an RBI hit. Mulder keeps pounding the bottom of the zone and induces another grounder, this one off Sanders' bat; it too dodges all the 2005 gloves and bounces out to left field, plating the go-ahead run. Then Mulder chucks one into the dirt and back to the screen; Kurowski trots home, and so much for the 2005s fast start. It's 3-1 for the 1943s, and TLR's guys have to play catchup.

They put two men on in the 2d and another pair in the 4th, but Walker ends one threat on a groundout to first and Eckstein ends the other on a screaming liner to 3d; if the latter gets through, it probably ties the score. Instead it remains 3-1 as Mulder heads out for the 4th; after the difficult first (in which he was more unlucky than ineffective) he has retired 6 guys in a row with almost no effort. But he suddenly loses the strike zone --- a walk to Kurowski and an HBP to Lithwiler put him in danger, and the '43s pounce. Marion whacks an RBI hit to make it 4-1, and Klein steps in after Lanier's flyout and blasts one over Edmonds' head to make it 6-1. Mulder departs after only 4 and 2/3; shades of Game 6 of the 2005 NLCS.

The 2005s get one back on a two-out basehit by Rolen, but then Musial homers leading off the bottom of the 5th to get the lead back to 5. Lanier gives way to the tireless Pollet, who throws 3 scoreless innings in relief. He encounters a mild threat in the 8th, yielding two hits to bring Walker to the plate with 2 outs. Larry scorches it, but the ball goes right to Ray Sanders at first base to end the inning. The 2005s still trail by 5 with only have 3 outs left.

Play a Hard 9, right? Pujols singles leading off the 9th against Murry Dickson, the 3d 1943 pitcher, and Edmonds immediately follows with a homer; it's 7-4, don't go away. Reggie whiffs, but then Rolen doubles and Dickson departs; Sim-Southworth waves in Red Munger. He get Grudzielanek on a groundout for the second out, and only Molina stands between him and a series-clinching out; Munger walks him. Now the tying run is at the plate, and with the pitcher's slot up Sim-Tony goes to Hector Luna (J-Rod having already pinch-hit in the previous inning). Luna swings and puts it in play; the ball rolls to the right side and gets on through for an RBI single. Rolen scores (it's 7-5) and Molina goes all the way around to third base (is the sim crazy???) with Eckstein at the plate and Walker on deck. Eck's 2 for 4 today; he went 2 for 12 at Busch II but is now 7 for 12 in Sportsman's Park. And make it 8 for 13 --- his single drives in Molina and sends the tying run (Luna) over to third with Larry Walker at the plate.

A fine time for the bats to finally come to life.

Sim-Southworth has a left-hander in the bullpen, Al Brazle, who threw 88 innings and went 8-2 with a 1.53 ERA; am I the only one who'd call him into the game? The sim doesn't, and it pays the price when Walker turns on the first pitch and rips it for a line drive. But for the second straight at-bat, his liner heads straight for Sanders; the '43 first basemen sticks out a glove, and the ball settles in for the out. Game, set, match; the 1943s hang on (barely) for the 7-6 win to clinch the series.

And with that, I think I hear Azruavatar tearing up his bracket. The 04/05s are out on their asses, a combined 3-8 in the tournament; feh and double feh. Only one version of Pujols and Rolen will appear in the round of 16, and they're with the vulnerable 2006 unit.