Bullpens at Their Best in the NLCS
Bullpens at Their Best in the NLCS
The Phillies and Dodgers finished 1-2 in the NL in bullpen ERA, so it's no surprise that only one run has been charged to a reliever in 24 combined innings of work through the first three games of the league championship series.
That run came Sunday night on Nomar Garciaparra's RBI single off J.A. Happ, which helped Los Angeles beat Philadelphia 7-2 to trim its deficit to 2-1 in the best-of-seven playoff.
``They're kind of like us. If they're down a couple of runs, they've got guys they can bring in to keep the game right there and give their team a chance to come back. That's why we've both been successful,'' Dodgers lefty Joe Beimel said. ``They were the top bullpen in the league, so you definitely can't ignore that. They've got a closer who hasn't blown a save all year, and they've got the guys to bridge the gap between the starter and him.''
``Those guys don't get enough credit,'' Lidge said. ``They've been doing it all year long. I mean, what Madson's been doing the last month and a half is just extraordinary. I'd say, from top to bottom, this is the best bullpen I've ever been on. There's no weakness down there. There's no one you can say can't get the job done in important, close-game situations.''
The Dodgers' bullpen finished the season with a 3.33 ERA, just 14 points higher than Philadelphia.
``We've been feeding off each other in the bullpen all year. It's been awesome,'' said closer Jonathan Broxton, who took over and converted 14 of 16 save opportunities after Takashi Saito went on the disabled list July 13 with sprained right elbow.
Josh Beckett insists he's healthy, despite his postseason struggles.
The Red Sox right-hander allowed eight runs in 4 1-3 innings Saturday night when the Tampa Bay Rays beat Boston 9-8 in 11 innings to even the best-of-seven AL championship series at one game apiece going into Monday.
``It came down to execution - pitch selection and execution,'' Beckett said before Boston's optional workout Sunday at Fenway Park. ``I felt fine.''
Beckett struggled in his last regular-season game, a 4-3 loss to Cleveland on Sept. 22 in which he allowed four runs in six innings and hit a career-high three batters with pitches.
m back from starting the opener of the AL division series against the Los Angeles Angels to Game 3. He wasn't sharp then either, allowing four runs in five innings in the Angels' only win of the series, 5-4 in 12 innings.
``He's fine,'' Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. ``He's certainly battling some consistency issues, and I think some of that is having some of your starts interrupted and then having the oblique (strain) a couple of weeks ago. You know, it's been a battle for him.''
In his two playoff starts, Beckett has an 11.57 ERA. He has allowed 18 hits, five walks and five homers in 9 1-3 innings. In 10 postseason games before this year, he was 6-2 with a 1.73 ERA, allowing four homers in 72 2-3 innings.
On Saturday night, the Red Sox gave him three leads and he lost every one.
``That's frustrating,'' Beckett said. ``You score eight runs and you couldn't come out of there with a win. I don't expect that of myself.''
Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said he never considered stepping away from his duties after his mother's death last week ``because we've come this far.''
June Manuel died Friday in Roanoke, Va., after a brief illness. She was 87.
I'd miss her funeral, but at the same time, hopefully this is going to work out.''
June Manuel called her son four or five times a week.
``She'd tell me things like, `You go tell those guys that I said I'm praying for them and I want them to bear down and really get after it,''' Manuel said. ``I used to say, 'Yeah, Mom, I'll be sure to tell them.' Sometimes I might get a little upset. I'd say, 'One of these days I'm going to bring you up here and let you tell them.'''
Manuel said he likes being by himself and that it's been ``annoying'' to deal with the volume of phone calls he's been getting.
``I understand that,'' he said. ``Seems like every time I sit down the phone rings. Every time I get up the phone rings. But that's kind of what you got to adjust to. And it's OK.''
Manuel said he didn't want his mother's death to be a distraction to the Phillies, who lost 7-2 in Game 3 of the NL championship series Sunday night against Los Angeles.
``But I feel like the type of players that we have, and knowing them like I do and their attitude and the way they like to play baseball and the things that happen, I don't think nothing's going to get in their way,'' he said.
Jonathan Papelbon walked out of the drug store just around the corner from Fenway Park when a fan asked politely for an autograph.
closer Sunday, ``but would you mind signing this ball?''
Papelbon complied, then got in his car and drove away on a familiar street.
Papelbon and his Boston teammates returned for three games in the ALCS after splitting the first two in the best-of-seven series on the road against the Tampa Bay Rays.
The Red Sox had the second-best home record in baseball during the regular season. Only five teams had better road records than the Rays.
``They don't have a lot of experience,'' Boston reliever Manny Delcarmen said. ``They have a little bit of heart, (but) playing in Boston's a little different in the playoffs.''
The teams split their first 12 matchups this season, each team winning six at home. Then the Rays came into Boston and took two of three in early September. In the series finale, Carlos Pena hit a three-run homer in the 14th inning and Tampa Bay won 4-2.
``We know we can win everywhere,'' Pena said Sunday. ``We also understand that we have to play our game. The Boston Red Sox are a great team. But we're a pretty good team ourselves.''
SURGERY FOR PROCTOR:
Dodgers reliever Scott Proctor, who hasn't participated in the postseason, is scheduled to undergo surgery on his pitching elbow Wednesday.
shaved down. Proctor is expected to be recovered by spring training.
Proctor, 2-0 with a 6.05 ERA in 41 games with 46 strikeouts in 38 2-3 innings, missed 63 games because of tendinitis in his elbow before being activated from the disabled list Sept. 1.
Los Angeles manager Joe Torre said Proctor told him recently he'd like to have the surgery as soon as possible if he wasn't in the Dodgers' postseason plans.
``We talked about it in Philadelphia the other day. I told him to go ahead,'' Torre said.
The Dodgers got a boost out of the bullpen Friday in Game 2 when 23-year-old right-hander James McDonald, who spent most of the season in the minors, worked 3 1-3 scoreless innings.
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