Marty Lurie Talks San Francisco Giants Baseball

Cubs Slip, Astros Win, Marlins, Red Sox In October

The dance ticket is almost filled out as the Marlins eliminated the Phillies and now only need one more win over the Mets to be the NL Wild Card team. Meanwhile, the Red Sox knocked the Orioles all over Fenway to send the Mariners home for the winter, winning the AL Wild Card race.

So, what does it all mean?

Can the Red Sox slug their way past the A’s?

Teams that rely on one pitcher are not very successful in the postseason.

What would happen to Boston if Pedro lost game one next Wednesday? Can they rely on their hitting to beat the best pitching staff in the American League? Do they have enough secondary pitching to close out three wins? No matter how great Pedro is or Derek Lowe is for that matter, you know it, I know it, the American public knows it and even Bob Dole knows it, you can’t survive without pitchers who can close the deal from the eighth inning forward.

That one area will decide this playoff, no matter what Pedro does in his two starts, if they are necessary. Both Pedro and Lowe will need bullpen help if the Red Sox are to beat the A’s. Boston has the hitting, do they have the pitching?

The Giants will face a Marlin team that is playing very well. The Giants have a deep bullpen and as I said yesterday, the Miami pen is coming up short these days. Do the Marlins have a reliable lefty to get Barry Bonds out? Probably not, Michael Tejera has struggled lately. Jack McKeon will walk Bonds every chance he gets, no matter the score or the inning. Can the Giants hit the Marlins starters? That may be the one area that will challenge the Giants. Josh Beckett, Dontrelle Willis, and Brad Penny can take you into the seventh inning, but that is where the series will turn because the Marlins pen most likely won’t seal the deal after that inning.

Chad Fox, Braden Looper, and Ugueth Urbina are hittable if used too often. They will be in every potential win. Jack McKeon has ridden this trio hard down the stretch, he had to each game, that’s how demanding the six games with the Phillies and the six with the Braves were.

So, these two series will be very exciting to watch because what I am suggesting is the games will be decided in the late innings which makes for dramatic baseball.

A playoff series changes from moment to moment, so enjoy the shifts during the game because it ain’t over until it’s over, and especially this year.

Click below for more!The Cubs let one get away last night in Cincinnati. There must be something wrong with Carlos Zambrano as he walked the Reds all over the yard after getting hit hard by Pittsburgh last Friday night. It’s probably the wear and tear of the season finally catching up with the young man.

The Cubs couldn’t shut the Reds down with their pen when they needed to last night. This doesn’t bode well for the weekend because the Pirates can hit. Mark Prior goes tonight in the biggest start of his major league career against Josh Fogg, not an overpowering righty, but one that keeps his team in the game.

Pittsburgh has a decent pen with Julian Tavarez becoming a reliable closer the last month or so of the season.

Dusty Baker changed his rotation so Prior can pitch tonight and in the first or second game of the playoffs, if they get there. If Prior pitched on Saturday as planned, he would not have been able to start before next weekend which might have been too late for the Cubs in the division series.

As it is, if the Cubs and Astros tie and need a playoff game on Monday who pitches for Chicago? Shawn Estes or Juan Cruz would have the necessary rest.

When Dusty Baker was faced with the same dilemma in 1993 he didn’t ask Billy Swift or John Burkett to pitch on three days rest, instead going with Salomon Torres in what turned out to be a disaster for the Giants in Los Angeles.

So, if the Cubs play monday, does Dusty bring Zambrano back on three days rest or go with, gulp!, Estes or Cruz.

But we are getting ahead of ourselves, because the Cubs need to keep pace with Houston, who are lucky enough to see the Brew Crew all weekend in Texas.

Tomorrow’s game with Matt Clement pitching for Chicago may be the pivotal game of the weekend for the Cub nation, who anxiuosly pray that their overacheiving team will get it done. I’m not so sure they will get it done.

Minnesota’s Johann Santana tuned up for his Yankee Stadium start with five nice innings against the Tigers who all of a sudden don’t look like a lock to break the ’62 Mets record for losses in a season (120). The old Mets knew how to play at one time, Gil Hodges, Richie Ashburn, Charlie Neal, Roger Craig, etc., they just were too old to compete in the NL in 1962. This Tiger team has players who have never done anything in their big league careers, and are truly more like a AAA team, other than Dimitri Young, who can swing the pole on any team.

Carlos Delgado one of the nicest players in the game hit four homers against the Devil Rays last night, including his 300th career homer for the Blue Jays.

Is Delgado MVP? I’d take him over A Rod any day. I saw a stat about A Rod yesterday that caught my eye. Before the Rangers were out of the race, they had had a stretch of 22 games to play, many against good teams. Well, they lost something like 20 of 22 and were buried for the season. A Rod hit .200 or so during that three week period, assuring his team of another last place finish.
That’s no MVP.

The Phillies and Braves close out the Vet this weekend in Philly. Atlanta needs to get the odd game against the Giants in a possible NLCS series, these three games this weekend will matter.

By the way, if the makeup game scheduled for Monday between the Giants and Mets impacts the SF-Atlanta finish the Giants will send their second team back East to play the game. Obviously, baseball won’t like it, but until they change the start date of the divsion series, these sorts of problems will creep up. No reason not to start the division series on
Thursday to accomadate ties and rainouts, if they have to be played.

Every team in the 2003 playoffs can make it to the world series. I don’t mean just because they are playing in October, every team has starting pitching, good enough hitting, and folks in the bullpen who have the potential to come through in the clutch.

Mariano Rivera, Todd Worrell, John Smoltz, Keith Foulke, Byung Hyun Kim, Eddie Guardado, Ugueth Urbina, Billy Wagner or Joe Borowski can all close the deal ,the real question is who can get them the ball for the five outs before they come into the game.

That will be the key to the winning in October.


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