Two teams held onto slim hopes of staying in the mix for the ’09 prize when Sunday began… those hopes came crashing down by day’s end. Both the Twins and then the Red Sox were swept out of contention and suddenly find themselves making vacation plans.
“The Season doesn’t wind down. It just comes to a crashing halt.” – Terry Francona
Gardenhire’s Twins were victimized again by the lethal combination of baserunning gaffes and
heads up defense by one of the best field generals to don a baseball uniform. Holding to a life raft and a 2-1 deficit in the 8th inning, Nick Punto ran through a stop sign while Derek Jeter simultaneously punched his ticket. Jeter’s heads up play crushed any chance of a comeback rally and the Yankees pushed Minnesota into the off season.
Rodriguez had the series that Yankee fans hoped for, finishing with 2 HR’s and 6 RBIs. It was Alex that constantly brought the Twins to their knees with clutch 2 out RBIs that buoyed New York to their 3 game sweep. If his bat continues to stay hot, the ALCS should be very exciting to watch.
Colorado’s freezing weather did little to cool off their young outfielder’s bat. Carlos Gonzalez (CarGo) led the Rockies attack in Philadelphia that positioned them for a chance to steal the Home Field Advantage. Carlos continued his stellar play by posting a 3 hit day that included a Home Run and 3 runs scored. He showed Jim Tracy that he was the right choice in the leadoff spot and may ultimately be the spark that turns the series. CarGo walked in the 9th inning and with the entire universe aware he needed to steal 2nd… he did. Very impressive. Watch this kid.
Ryan Howard’s 9th inning Sacrifice Fly pushed across Jimmy Rollins for the winning run and recaptured the advantage in the series. Chase Utley provided the muscle and the drama in the tilt. Utley’s Home Run set the tone for his 3 hit day. With Jimmy Rollins on 2nd base in the 9th inning, Utley dribbled a ball that the umpires missed and reached safely to increase the pressure on the Rockies. Rollins hustled to third and eventually scored on Howard’s deep fly ball. Chase had 2 runs scored and an RBI in the game.
The Sunday shocker was the surprise uprising of the Angels in the 8th and 9th innings against the Red Sox closers. The Halos trailed 6-2 going into the 8th and appeared to be a beaten squad. Unfortunately for Boston, the Californians are led by a man that holds his team accountable for 9 innings of work. And work they did. Scoring twice in the 8th to gather some momentum … California shocked Jonathan Papelbon in the 9th.
Bobby Abreu had a marvelous 3 for 5 day which he capped with his only RBI. His two out double in the 9th inched the Halos closer at 6-5. But it was a career .321 hitter that Papelbon could not defeat that sent the Red Sox home for the winter. Vladimir Guerrero has had post season failures on a number of occasions, but not on Sunday. With the Red Sox choosing to walk Torii Hunter to get to the big man, Vlad did not take long to deliver the decisive blow. His sinking line drive to center field brought in the tying and winning runs and the Boston Red Sox season to a crashing halt.
Congratulations Vladimir Gurrero – You are