Giving credence to the idea that a home field advantage helps wins championships, all three home teams won their LDS games yesterday and took a tidy 1-0 lead in their best-of-five series. The Phillies topped the Rockies 5-1 in a game marred by umpiring mistakes and some wacky windy weather. The Yankees beat the Twins behind solid pitching and sexy line drive hitting. The Dodgers upended the Cardinals despite both teams leaving enough runners on base to fill out the entire cast of West Side Story. Yes, both the Jets and the Sharks and Officer Krupke.
Let's take a gander at three individuals who, for better or worse, made a big difference in whether or not their teams succeeded:
- Yadier Molina, Cardinals: What is it with catchers this week? First, Tigers backstop Gerald Laird leaves 10 runners on base in the tiebreaker loss to the Twins and now, Molina led the day with six stranded gentlemen. Molina strode to the plate five times and recorded only one hit; naturally the one hit came when no runners were on base. In the first inning and the bases loaded with a run already in, Molina killed an early rally with a GIDP. In the third, he flew out with two on. Fella struck out in the ninth with a runner on first and the team down but three runs.
- Cliff Lee, Phillies: Clifton Phifer was cool under pressure in his first big-league postseason start despite the swirling Philly winds and the expectations from the WFC crowd. He pitched a complete game win over the hot Rockies and came within one strike and a Troy Tulowitzki double of recording a shutout. Lee struck out five and allowed six hits while walking nobody. Fella even had a single and a stolen base, the first ever by a Philly pitcher in the postseason. Lee's start-to-finish performance erased any worry that a bullpen member would blow that game up; the entire relief staff is now rested and waiting for Cole Hamels to leave the game after five innings today because he hates afternoon affairs.
- Alex Rodriguez, Yankees: Just kidding, despite the fact that A-Rod recorded two big-time RBI, this final spot has to go to Captain Fantastic himself, Derek Jeter, who went two-for-two with two RBI, two walks, a tater tot, and three runs scored. Going four-for-four in reaching base is exactly the right way to be a leadoff hitter; take note, Jimmy Rollins. Sometimes it's good to watch some pitches fly by and draw a walk! Jeter didn't make any spectacular plays in the infield to help out his pal CC Sabathia; in fact, a couple grounders got by him and became singles. Time to go back for some more fitness training, Jeet.
So, who did I miss?