Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Season 3 AL Playoff Recap

Division Play-in Series -
#3 Kansas City Royals vs. #6 Seattle Mariners
The Royals were a team that dominated the first half of the season and then became mediocre throughout the second half and only held on to win their division because their primary rival, the Charlotte Knights, did the very same thing. Meanwhile the Mariners spent most of the season in the thick of a three-way divisional race and needed a big surge at the end to capture the final wild card spot. So going in to the series it appeared that the Mariners were actually the team with momentum on their side as it appeared like the Royals were worn out.
In the end, the Mariners starting pitching dominated the series as they used four different pitchers to take the series 3 games to 1. Richard Ishii was named series MVP for both his hitting (.353 avg, 4 RBI) and defensive contributions at shortstop.

#4 Minnesota Twins vs. #5 Portland Beavers
The Twins future has arrived as this young team made its first of what looks to be many trips to the playoffs by winning the surprisingly weak AL North division. Meanwhile, the Beavers used a combination of youngsters and some key free agent pick-ups to assemble a team that was hot down the stretch en route to their first playoff appearance. Both of these teams were young, excited, and well-rested while performing well down the stretch, so it looked like anyone’s series.
The series was a bit of a mixed bag with two blowouts that were split and two tight games, both taken by the Beavers as they won the series 3-1. Josias Rosado’s masterful performance in the decisive game 4 earned him the MVP of the series.

Division Championship Series –
#1 Anaheim Angels vs. #5 Portland Beavers
This was a match-up of two of the hottest teams down the stretch as well as between bitter division rivals. Everyone knew this would be a tense series with both sides hating each other and partaking in numerous hit-by-pitch incidents which culminated with the bench clearing brawl last month, resulting in numerous suspensions and fines on both sides.
Cooler heads prevailed in this series as both sides maintained composure and avoided any incidents. The Beavers were able to prevail in this tight series that saw the pitching dominate the series with all the games decided by 2 runs or less. And no pitcher was as dominant as the Beavers’ Nelson Stockton who earned series MVP by going toe-to-toe with Cy Young candidate Haywood Charles with 6 scoreless innings in game 1 and by out dueling him in the decisive game 4.

#2 Boston Red Sox vs. #6 Seattle Mariners
The Red Sox once again dominated the weak AL East and this season had a second half surge to earn them the first round bye. However with only one starting pitcher in which they had any confidence, staff ace Jeff Bollea, the Red Sox would need to find another pitcher to make a solid contribution. It was pitching that carried these Seattle Mariners to this point, through both the regular season and the first round. With Bollea, it seemed as if this series was destined for five games unless Boston could pull off another win.
BOLLEA!!! Boston was able to find another win thanks to a superb outing in game 2 by Gordon Wilson and take the series 3 games to 1. But it was series MVP Jeff Bollea who dominated the series with a game 1 win and a no-hitter in the decisive game 4. It was quite possibly the greatest pitching performance in league history.

League Championship Series
#2 Boston Red Sox vs. #5 Portland Beavers
Coming in this looked to be a very intriguing series. Boston came in with reigning MVP Valerio Guillen leading a dangerous offense and the mighty Jeff Bollea leading an inconsistent pitching staff. Portland came in coming off two impressive playoff series in which their pitching overpowered their opponents and their opportunistic offense scored enough to win. It looked like it would be a pretty even series, possibly of the seven game variety.However, looks can be deceiving as the Beavers dominated the series winning 4 games to 1 and outscoring the Red Sox 36 – 15. Things looked very bad right out of the gate for Boston as Bollea was tagged for four runs in only 4 1/3 innings of work. The trend continued throughout the series with the only reversal occurring in game 4 as Bollea was his usual dominant self, allowing 1 run in eight innings. Leading the Portland charge was series MVP Bono Mullen with a .458 avg (11 for 24), 5 runs scored, 8 RBI, 2 doubles, and 3 home runs. Portland looks to be a serious challenger as they head to the World Series as the AL representative.

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