Vladimir Guerrero comes through
Angels free-swinger ends string of postseason disappointment
Vladimir Guerrero put aside his past postseason troubles to drive in the game-winning run for the Angels in Game 3 of their American League Division Series sweep of the Red Sox.
In an effort to protect a one-run lead in the ninth, the Red Sox decided to walk Torii Hunter and set up a force at any base, pitching instead to Guerrero, who had only driven in one run in his last 72 at-bats in the postseason. But the eight-time All-Star stroked a two-run single to center to help the Angels win the game, 7-6, and the series, three games to none.
"They said Vladdy couldn't hit the fastball," Hunter told the Los Angeles Times. "I read the scouting report on ESPN. Well, he hit that one.
"He had one of the biggest smiles on his face that I'd ever seen," Hunter added. "He was so excited. He was so happy. He was like a little kid."
Lee ready to make repeat performance: In Game 4 of the National League Championship Series, Cliff Lee hopes to keep the Rockies off balance like he did in Game 1.
"I'm going to continue to try to do mostly the same sort of things I did last game," Lee, who gave up just one run in his complete game effort in Game 1, told MLB.com. "I felt like I was unpredictable then."
Furcal provides a boost at the plate: In the Dodgers' National League Division Series sweep of the Cardinals, Rafael Furcal batted .500 with two runs and two RBIs.
"Incredible," Furcal told the Los Angeles Times. "I thank God. I always stayed positive, regardless of how I was doing. I showed up no matter how I felt, no matter how I was hitting. Now, we're here. I'm hoping that upcoming series will be a good one."
"Right now, his body language is good," manager Joe Torre said. "He's using his hands a lot more. He's more patient at the plate. He's using the whole field."
Padilla shines after season of twists and turns: Vicente Padilla's performance has convinced his Dodgers teammates and has some of them wondering why the Rangers released him earlier this season.
"It's kind of hard to imagine why they let him go," catcher Russell Martin told the Los Angeles Times, "because of how good he is right now."
"He's quiet, he works hard, he does his work in between starts, he wants to win, he's competitive. ... He's been a great pickup," said pitcher Randy Wolf, who also played alongside Padilla in Philadelphia.
Abreu finds himself in right situation: The Angels acquisition of Bobby Abreu has been a key to the club's advancement to the ALCS against his former team, the Yankees, beginning on Friday in New York.
Abreu hit .293 with 15 home runs and 103 RBIs and was also credited with teaching patience at the plate to many of his new teammates. He continued his strong play in the ALDS against the Red Sox, batting .556 with four walks. Two of the hits came in the eight and ninth innings of the Angels' Game 3 comeback.
"It was tough," Abreu told the Abreu told the Los Angeles Times. "... I want to be the guy in that situation. It happened."
Pettitte continues postseason mastery: Andy Pettitte allowed only one run in 6 1/3 innings to keep the Yankees in Game 3 before solo homers by Alex Rodriguez and Jorge Posada put the Yankees ahead of the Twins.
"He's been one of the best, one we've been able to count on more often than not," general manager Brian Cashman told the New York Daily News of Pettitte before the game. "The other morning, I was thinking, 'Thank God I flew to Houston and met with Andy [in January] to find a way to bring him back.' We brought Andy back to play a significant part of getting us where we want to be."
Smoltz never gets used to losing the last game: John Smoltz still hates losing the last baseball game of the season.
"I've ended playoffs 14 times this way, and it's never easy," Smoltz told MLB.com. "You never prepare to end your season on a loss. You always think you are going to win the next game.
"You just don't feel like the season is over. You feel like you're going to get back tomorrow and win a game. That's the cruelty of the postseason. I was honored to be a part of this team. They have great tradition. They worked awfully hard to get to this point. I watched some of the greatest pitching that I've ever watched with the guys up here, and it's just unfortunate that we lost."
Holliday appreciative of fan support: Free agent Matt Holliday noticed the warm ovation he got at Busch Stadium on Saturday.
"Oh absolutely," Holliday told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "I'd like to say thank you to the fans for the way they treated me, not only when I first [came to St. Louis], but the treatment I got tonight. I'm very, very grateful."
Harris gets more time than he bargained for: Brendan Harris' development from platoon player to regular at third base wasn't overlooked by Twins manager Ron Gardenhire.
"He came into the season as a platoon guy, a role guy," Gardenhire told MLB.com. "I think you could ask any utility guy, a role guy on your team, 'If you got close to 400 at-bats, would you feel pretty good about it?' And that's what Brendan has got. He hits, he can move around the field and he has done a very good job for us."
Wieters feels the pain after his first season: Matt Wieters, fresh off of his first long Major League season, noticed that the longer schedule takes a little more out of players' bodies than a Minor League schedule.
"The body's definitely a little more worn out than it was at the end of last year. But I still feel pretty strong," the rookie catcher told MLB.com. "After the season, I'll take a break for about a month or so to just unwind. I try to completely do nothing for a month, and I'll start going full speed after that."
Verlander takes charge with two-strike count: Justin Verlander, who led the Major Leagues with 269 strikeouts this season, takes a similar approach to Roger Clemens.
"He never tried to strike someone out unless he had two strikes on him," Verlander told the Detroit Free Press. "That's the way I feel about it. It's not like when somebody steps in, I'm thinking strikeout.
"But when I get two strikes, I'm always thinking strikeouts."
Jackson overcomes bout with valley fever: After missing all but one month of the season with valley fever, Conor Jackson appears to finally be healthy.
"Dude, I feel great," the Arizona outfielder told the Arizona Republic. "Health-wise, I feel great. I felt pretty much 100 percent."
Navarro could get another year with Rays: Rays executive vice president Andrew Friedman says Dioner Navarro understands what he has to do this offseason to return to the level of play he showed in 2008.
"He gets it," Friedman told the St. Petersburg Times. "I think this offseason he's extremely focused on getting back to the level of player that he was."
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.