Sunday, October 18, 2009

Cliff Lee shuts out Dodgers, Kuroda gets rocked

Hiroki Kuroda hadn’t pitched since Sept. 28 because of a bulging disk in his neck. Doctors said this problem may have been caused by the line drive he took to the skull in August. Despite the concussion, Kuroda still came back in September, but was mediocre. Now your team is in the National League Championship Series, tied at a game a piece. Are you going to throw Kuroda, simply because he was dominant against the Phillies last year? Hell no.

Joe Torre is going to take the brunt of the blame for this one. Knowing Kuroda was a question mark at best, Torre chose to drop starter Jon Garland and long reliever Jeff Weaver from the NLCS roster. Torre said he went with Scott Elbert because the Phillies have so many lefties in their lineup. Still, why pitch Kuroda, a right-hander? Given how crucial this game was, wouldn’t you throw Randy Wolf, a left-handed pitcher who’s familiar with Citizens Bank Ballpark? Kuroda was absolutely awful, giving up six hits and six runs in one and a third innings. The Phillies immediately jumped over Kuroda as he gave up four consecutive hits to Shane Victorino, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, and Jayson Werth. By the end of the first inning, the Phillies had scored four runs off of Howard’s triple and Werth’s solo shot.

Scott Elbert soon took over, but didn’t have any command. Enter Chad Billingsley, the former Dodger ace who was removed from the starting rotation before the postseason began. Billingsley was better than expected, but still allowed two runs in three and a third. If the Dodgers can somehow force a Game 7, Billingsley could get the call.

While the Phillies’ bats were hot throughout the night, the Dodgers might as well have hit with chopsticks. Cliff Lee was simply phenomenal. Over eight innings of work, Lee struck out 10, holding the Dodgers to three hits and zero runs.

The Dodgers were the best hitting team during the regular season, so what happened tonight? Manny Ramirez did come up with two of the Dodgers’ three hits but, as we learned during his fifty-game suspension, he is not the team. A solid rotation is the most vital part to a club’s postseason success. At this point, the Dodgers don’t have one. Vicente Padilla is shaking his head.

Pedro Martinez, CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, and Cliff Lee have all been dominant in the League Championship Series. Which teams do they play for again?
Posted by Christopher Glotfelty

Jasper Howard Was On Track For Success


- Jasper Howard was hundreds of miles from his Miami home, but he grew to love it up here.

UConn, the big school in a tiny town, was giving him an opportunity to escape the tough area he grew up in and get in position to make a much better living for his mom and two sisters.

But that opportunity was taken away early Sunday morning.

Howard, known as "Jazz," was killed in a stabbing near the Student Union on campus after a school-sanctioned party.

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The Miami Edison High graduate was 20 years old, and his girlfriend, also from Miami, was pregnant with their child.

Howard, a 5-foot-9, 174-pound cornerback who had 96 tackles and four interceptions in his career, was on his way. He was known as one of the Big East Conference's better one-on-one cornerbacks.

He had a career day on Saturday, when he made 11 tackles and forced a fumble that he recovered in the Huskies' 38-25 win over Louisville at Rentschler Field in East Hartford.

Pictures: Jasper Howard's Career At UConn

Howard was a standout in high school, too. He was an All-Dade County selection as a senior at Edison and was named MVP of the Nike Dade-Broward All-Star Game, which has the best players from south Florida, fertile recruiting ground for major colleges. In that game, foreshadowing what was to come, he returned a punt 70 yards for a touchdown and had a 45-yard TD reception. Last season, Howard led the Big East in punt return average (11.8 yards).

"I'm real close to all my guys, but Jazz and I were real close," Corey Bell, Howard's coach at Edison and now the director of football operations at the University of Miami, told the Miami Herald. "We spoke at least once every week. He's a great kid, coachable, dependable, real tough mentally and talented. He's like most of the kids from that area in Little Haiti. He had dreams of getting to the next level and making it and taking care of his mom and his sister."

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Raiders End 3-Game Slump, Edge Eagles 13-9

A funny thing happened over at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. No it wasn’t a dream sequence nor was it anything that came from a Hollywood script. No way, no how. What happened, you’re wondering? The Oakland Raiders – poster children of the dysfunctional set – in their game against the Philadelphia Eagles, actually put together a game of football that probably made team owner Al Davis even smile – not that he has had much to smile about lately.

Quarterback JaMarcus Russell finally had a decent effort while the Raiders’ usually anemic rushing attack woke up, to the tune of 116 yards. They even played some defense, holding the Eagles to 283 total yards of offense. the end result? Oakland picked up their second win of the season as they held off Philadelphia 13-9.

The game, by and large, was a game of attrition as the end zone was visited only once during the entire 60 minutes of play, which was due to either an inspired effort by the Raiders defense or simply a lackluster effort by Eagles QB Donovan McNabb. Your choice. Nonetheless, the Raiders – courtesy of a 86-yard Russell-to-Zach Miller TD pass and a 29-yard Sebastian Janikowski field goal – managed to go into halftime leading the Eagles 10-6.

The third quarter was scoreless and the final period was much like the first half – a battle of field position and ball control – with the only scoring taking place in the final quarter on a 46-yard FG by Janikowski and a 45-yard FG by Eagles kicker David Akers.

The Raiders managed to accumulate 300+ yards of total offense as Russell had his best game this season, going 17-of-28 for 224 yards with a TD and 2 interceptions while McNabb went 22-of-46 for 269 yards. The Raiders outrushed the Eagles 116-67, led by Justin Fargas as he ran for 87 yards while Brian Westbrook rushed for only 50 yards, although he also caught 9 passes for 91 yards.

Miller led all Raiders receivers with 6 receptions for 139 yards and a score while WR Gary Russell caught 5 passes for 55 yards; DeSean Jackson led all Eagles receivers with 6 receptions for 94 yards while TE Brad Celek caught 4 passes for 75 yards. Oakland (2-4) will now remain at home as they host the New York Jets next Sunday while Philadelphia (3-2) look to revert to their winning ways as they visit Washington, D.C. to take on the Redskins next Monday night.

Down 0-2, Angels counting on California comeback

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Torii Hunter grabbed his hat, tied his spikes and headed out of Los Angeles' home clubhouse into the abundant sunshine and cool breezes of Angel Stadium.

"Now I can work on my tan again," the Angels' unofficial captain said with a grin Sunday.

His Angels are undeniably in trouble after two nights of horrible weather and messier baseball in New York, where the Yankees took a 2-0 lead over their error-prone opponents in the AL championship series.

Yet the Angels say they're far from finished going into Game 3 Monday, insisting they can warm back up with the fundamentally sound play that got them here after a difficult season.

"We've got to calm it down and have some fun," Hunter said. "You've got to have amnesia, and you've got to let the past go. ... (Against the Yankees) you can try to play too much. You can let that history get in your mind, and their payroll, and you really try to do too much. We have to block that out and play our game."

If the Angels don't quickly reclaim that California cool, the Yankees could be headed to the World Series by Tuesday night.

On an afternoon expected to feature near-perfect baseball weather, New York's Andy Pettitte will attempt to win his major league-record 16th postseason game against Jered Weaver, specifically chosen for this start by Angels manager Mike Scioscia because of the southern California native's prowess at home.

"We know this thing can turn in a heartbeat," Scioscia said. "If we win Game 3, we've got a different vibe in this series, and that's what you want to create."

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Sheriff: Boy-in-balloon was hoax, charges expected

FORT COLLINS, Colo. — The story that a little boy had floated away in a giant helium balloon was a hoax concocted to land a reality television show, authorities said Sunday, and the boy's parents will likely face felony charges.

The stunt two weeks in the planning was a marketing ploy by Richard and Mayumi Heene, who met in acting school in Hollywood and have appeared on the ABC reality show "Wife Swap," Larimer County Sheriff Jim Alderden said. The Heenes have reportedly been working on a reality TV deal in Los Angeles.

Investigators are examining the possibility of other conspirators, "including the possibility that even some of the media outlets may have had some knowledge about this," Alderden said.

Documents show that a media outlet has agreed to pay money to the Heenes with regard to the balloon incident, Alderden said. He didn't name the media outlet, but said it was a show that blurs "the line between entertainment and news." It wasn't clear whether the deal was signed before or after the alleged hoax, or whether that media outlet was a possible conspirator.

Alderden did not name an outlet or provide any details.

"Let's call it (my statement) short of speculation that a media outlet was in on the hoax, but let's not discount the possibility," he said.

Six-year-old Falcon Heene may not have even been hiding in the rafters of the family's garage during the intense five-hour search for him Thursday, Alderden said.

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