Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Rox outpitch the Phils

In a scintillating offense-laden game (8 hits, combined), the Rox beat the Phils 4-2 in game 1 of the NLDS today. The same Rockies starter against whom the Philly lineup had batted 28-for-58 went six innings and gave up four hits and just two solo HR.

And The Monk's old friend Tom Gordon is back in full form -- he gave up the insurance run (a Matt Holliday HR) that helped the Rox ice the game. Gordon is useless in the playoffs (career ERA 7.32 in the playoffs before this year, now 7.52) and was the unqualified goat of the 2004 ALCS fiasco (6.1 IP, 6 ER, blew game 5, nearly blew game 1). He may be a nice guy, and did solid work during the regular season as a set-up man for Mo in 2004 and 2005, but he is a liability in the postseason, period.

Seriously, there are just some guys who bonk in the playoffs. My favorite example is Ed Figueroa, a major part of the Yankees' rotation in their three pennant-winning seasons of 1976-78. Figgie went 19-10, 16-11 and 20-9. In '76 he led the team in wins; in '77 he tied for the team lead. In '78 he was one of only two reliable and healthy starters the Yanks had all year (Guidry at 25-3, 1.74 and Cy Young all the way was the other). In other words, he was a top-of-the-rotation guy.

But Figgie was a playoff bust: 0-4, 7.47 ERA, 53 baserunners in 31.1 IP over 7 poor-to-putrid starts. The Yanks won despite him in four of the five playoff series in which he pitched -- in the '77 WS, Martin benched him for a rotation that went Gullett-Hunter (shelled)-Torrez-Guidry-Gullett-Torrez. Very strange how the playoffs work -- some solid guys can handle (Tommy John, 6-3, 2.63; Joe Niekro, 0 ER in 20 IP), some middling guys excel (Jack Billingham), some top guys just stink.

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