The Full Count: NL West Rules


1. Rocky Road: The Colorado Rockies, with their second straight win in Philadelphia, have virtually locked up a series victory over the Phils. After winning with pitching in Game 1, the offense took over in Game 2. Matt Holliday homered for the second straight game, and Kaz Matsui hit a key grand slam that helped Colorado to a 10-5 victory. The Rockies have been so good the first two games that they have established themselves as the team to beat in the National League. If they close out the series against the Phillies (which they will do as the series goes to Colorado on Saturday), then the Rockies will have by far the best offense left in the NL playoffs. Their pitching staff isn’t bad either, particularly the bullpen. The Rockies’ relievers had six innings pitched in Game 2 and only one earned run. For the Phillies, sluggers Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard each bounced back from an unproductive Game 1 with homeruns. However, their awful pitching sent the Phillies into a hole they won’t be able to overcome.

2. Amazing Arizona: The Rockies-Diamondbacks is now the probable NLCS matchup, as Arizona also gained a 2-0 series advantage with another win over the still-cursed Cubs. Chicago starter Ted Lilly got lit up for six runs, starting with a three-run shot by Chris Young. Arizona’s Doug Davis got his first career playoff win, with four runs allowed but eight strikeouts. The Diamondbacks, though far from a formidable team, have proved that they are the class of the National League this year, with its best regular-season record and the almost-clinched NLCS berth. However, they will have to top the red-hot Rockies, which may be more than anyone can handle right now.

3. Pitching Kills: Of all the teams in the MLB playoffs, it seems the Cleveland Indians went it the quietest. However, with a 12-3 statement win over the Yankees in Game 1, they proved they are a team to be feared. This game came down mainly to pitching. Cleveland starter CC Sabathia, though he walked six, allowed only three runs and was credited with the win. Then the bullpen was near-perfect in his relief. The Yankees’ pitchers looked as bad as they were in April. Chien-Ming Wang allowed eight runs, and the bullpen wasn’t any better as the Indians’ lineup dominated. Kenny Lofton went 3-4 with two RBIs, and Travis Hafner and Victor Martinez both homered for the Tribe. This series is far from over, but the Yankees need a Game 2 victory. That will be hard to get, as they face Fausto Carmona, who was just as good (if not better) than Sabathia this year. With those two at the top of the rotation, the Indians have a weapon not a lot of teams can come close to matching.

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