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Random observations from Game One

Oct 16, 2009, 8:20 AM EDT

Matthew’s live chat and Bob’s recap covered almost all you want to read about last night’s NLCS, but given that I watched the thing and my wife doesn’t like talking about baseball, I figured I was as share my observations as well:

We’ve taken your National League division champions and secretly
replaced them with the Red Sox and Yankees! Let’s see if anyone
notices! Four hours+. Lots of homers. Not my kind of game, but I
suppose the Phillies will take it.

As I said in my preview, I had thought that Kershaw would come out sharp and Hamels not so much.  Guess I was only half right. Both starters
struggled, with such struggles aided by what looked to my untrained eye
as a really poor effort by home plate umpire Randy Marsh. Kershaw later
said that he “failed to make adjustments” throughout the night. It
wasn’t the lack of adjustments to Phillies hitters that seemed to be
the problem, though. It was the adjustments he tried to make to Marsh
not giving him anything low in the strike zone.

But this can by no means be blamed on Marsh. You get lots of tough zones from umps throughout the season, and you just have to work with it.  Kershaw didn’t: he turned to
overthrowing and seemed to get frustrated. More experienced pitchers
would have probably stayed with their game and kept trying to drop that
backdoor pitch down low until Marsh finally started calling it. If he
did call it: great. If not? Well, at least you’re not getting shelled
for five runs and throwing three wild pitches like Kershaw did.

But even if the game didn’t turn on the umps. It did turn on the
strike zone. As in George Sherill’s inability to find it
against Howard and Werth in the eighth. After those walks, the fastball he threw to Ibanez
was an obvious get-me-over pitch, and Ibanez just stroked it. If Sherill wasn’t having control problems, there would be more life on that pitch, I suspect, because lefties just tend not to connect against him like that.

In light of last night, Game 2 brings a great chance to make Torre look
like the goat of the NLCS. The youngin’ in which he placed his trust
for Game 1 got beat up. If the lighting-in-a-bottle veteran he has tapped for Game 2 — Padilla —
reverts to Padillistic form, the story of the offday will be how L.A.
managed to all but lose the NLCS without Randy Wolf, Kuroda or
Billinglsey — the
dudes who staked them to a big lead back in the spring — ever throwing a pitch.

I’m not saying
it’s a fair storyline — I liked the Kershaw call — but it’ll be out

  1. Mo Green - Oct 16, 2009 at 8:28 AM

    The last thing Sherill wanted to do was to have to pitch to Jayson Werth, known lefty-killer. But Ibanez is an unknown lefty-killer, .998 OPS against southpaws this year. It’s no fluke either, he had better splits against LHP in 2008 as well.
    I almost got the feeling Marsh didn’t like Kershaw’s reaction to not getting his low-end strikes called, and dialed it up a notch. Oh, you didn’t like that call? How about this one?

  2. Craig Calcaterra - Oct 16, 2009 at 8:34 AM

    Good observation on Ibanez, Mo.
    As for Kershaw’s reactions, I was wondering the same thing myself. Fair or not, we all know that umps will give way more leeway for bitching to veterans than they will for young guys like Kershaw. Maddux used to get more calls than anyone, but in the rare instances he didn’t, he’d drop an audible F-Bomb and look pissed. You’d think that would piss off the umps (who always went out of their way to give him borderline calls). Nah. They let it go and he’d go right back to painting corners.
    Young pup does it? He gets squeezed.

  3. jonny5 - Oct 16, 2009 at 9:20 AM

    Seriously, the Phillies have wiped up against Kershaw in the past.I guess Marsh umped then too??? LOL ;>)~ This is what happens with the Phillies. They have more heart. Please take note that Hamels had the same strike zone as Kershaw, I also noticed by the strike zone on the tv that Hamels had plenty of strikes get called as balls, One right before the first home run of the game. I could see Hamels wanted to throw the ball at Marsh’s head after that ball went into the stands. It’s funny to me how the media loves their hollywood team…. But as pretty as the LA Dodgers are? The Phillies are even prettier…

  4. jonny5 - Oct 16, 2009 at 10:30 AM

    “Kershaw was 0-2 with a 5.23 ERA against the Phillies this year, and he is 0-3 with a 6.64 ERA vs. them in his career.” This was before last night. I think that it’s pretty clear that they have his number.

  5. Kjuggs - Oct 16, 2009 at 11:58 AM

    Jonny5-what’s up?! Where are you guys posting these days? Anyway, it never ceases to amaze me how the national media jumped on the Dodgers bandwagon prior to this series…”it will come down to the BP, and the dodgers are unhittable after the 6th…; The Dodgers have Homefield advantage…” Whatever- the Fightins will take this series in 5 games- nobody seems to remember except for Philadelphia that the Phillies were the best road team in baseball this year. BTW, Cole Hamels showing up Utley was garbage- that guy needs to get a clue that he is no longer the ace on this team and that Chase always comes through- after all, he is the man, according to Harry Kalas.

  6. jonny5 - Oct 16, 2009 at 12:21 PM

    JUGGS!!! What’s new? So, tell how much better it feels to be back. You are back, right? Cole is an emotional guy at times, and it is his Achillies heel. It’s the playoffs and Chase will forgive him. I figured he’d be on shaky ground over his low change up being taken away. I predict if he plays again this postseason, he’ll excel. Here’s where the old crew is at bud. Hope to see you there.

  7. chiliD - Oct 16, 2009 at 2:26 PM

    From all the games I’ve seen Randy Marsh as plate umpire, the more I think he’s GOTTA be the worst ball/strike calling ump in the league.(even in games between teams I don’t care about)I’ve seen Little League umps be more accurate with ball/strike calls.
    If the MLB umps are REALLY rated like NFL & NBA officials, I don’t see how he hasn’t been canned by this point, much less allowed to work post-season games.

  8. awineguy - Oct 16, 2009 at 3:21 PM

    Marsh’s zone was the same all night and that’s all a pitcher can ask for, most power pitchers love the high zone.
    It’s a lot easier to get the bat on 90+ at the knees than it is at the letters.
    Hey the Dodgers lost, let’s blame the strike zone.

  9. Craig Calcaterra - Oct 16, 2009 at 3:24 PM

    Or you can read the post and acknowledge that I wrote “But this can by no means be blamed on Marsh.”
    Kershaw was dealing with a zone he didn’t like. He didn’t react positively to it, and he cost his team. A better, more experienced pitcher adjusts.

  10. chris - Oct 16, 2009 at 3:53 PM

    Kershaw is a good pitcher, but he is young. Can’t get away from it. He is not savvy enough to work around the situation as the more mature pitchers do on a regular basis. He’ll get there. Hamels also exhibited his youth…waving his arms in middle of the field! Puhlease! He just seems ‘off’ to me, but that’s me!
    Park showed experience as did Lidge. You can’t make it up, it comes with time.
    The series is going to be tough. I would not jumpt to conclusion based on that one game. Although I would love the Phils to run away with it, it does not seem in the cards. It is going to be a knock down, drag out fight.

  11. awineguy - Oct 16, 2009 at 7:14 PM

    Or I can read the post where despite your statement regarding blame, you question the strike zone with the line “aided by what looked to my untrained eye as a really poor effort by home plate umpire Randy Marsh”.
    Marsh’s zone was the same all night it just wasn’t what Kershaw wanted that’s not a poor effort by a home plate umpire. Ask 90% of pitchers, catchers and managers what they want out of a home plate umpire and they’ll say consistency.

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