Sacramento returns to the National League Division Series for the 7th time since 2003, when the franchise was last defeated by the Kentucky Headhunters.  This time around, post-season newcomers Owensboro, operating under new management, threatened to unseat the defending World Series Champions.  Owensboro brought a powerful line-up, anchored by Lance Berkman, Mike Napoli, David Ortiz and Alfonso Soriano–but would they be enough to overpower Sacramento’s duo of Justin Verlander and Cliff Lee?

 Game 1

Verlander v. Hamels–the ace’s face off.  Game 1 started similarly for both teams, both lead-off batters reach base only to be stranded in the first.  But, it didn’t take long for Sacramento to hit stride, scoring 6 runs between the 3rd and 4th innings against Cole Hamels, and another 6 runs in the 7th against Guillermo Mota.  Uncharacteristically, Sacramento didn’t need the long ball to get it done in Game 1–the only home run of the game came from Hunter out of the 8th spot.  Needless to say, Owensboro did not have a good day on the mound.  Verlander had better luck, holding Owensboro to only 1 unearned run through 6 innings.  This one was all Sacramento.

WP: Verlander, LP: Hamels


Game 2

Cliff Lee v. Josh Collmenter–a classic pitchers’ duel.  But, this time, neither left the game happy.  Game 2 started quietly and would end in a 2-0 victory for Sacramento.  Collmenter couldn’t have been happy, having pitched well and holding Sacramento to only 2 runs in 6 innings, he left the game with literally NO offensive support. Albert Pujols was first to get to Collmenter with a solo blast over the right field wall in the 2nd.  Cliff Lee helped his cause with a single to center in the 3rd; Lee advanced to 3rd with a Kevin Youkilis double to left field and scored on a Robinson Cano sacrifice fly to Soriano.  That was all Cliff Lee would need.  Lee was less than thrilled with the managerial decisions he’s seen from Sacramento in recent playoff series.  Lee was pulled in the middle of a no-hitter, leaving after 7 2/3 innings of stellar pitching.  In Game 2 of the 2011 World Series, Manager George Skiles yanked his star pitcher after the 7th inning, again in the middle of a no-hitter.  In Game 2 of the World Series, Sacramento’s pen subsequently gave up a single to lose the no-hitter; this time around Eric O’Flaherty and Mariano Rivera finished off the no-hitter, advancing Sacramento to 2-0 on the series.

WP: Lee, LP: Collmenter, S: Rivera

 Game 3

Erik Bedard v. Javier Vazquez.  Game 3 was not a pitchers’ duel.  Sacramento’s offense continued as hoped while Owensboro’s offense finally started to get rolling.  The scoring began in the 2nd inning, with a four-bagger for Pujols and doubles from J.J. Hardy and Yadier Molina, giving Sacramento a 2-0 lead.  Owensboro answered right back by scoring in the bottom of the 2nd on 3 straight walks and a sacrifice RBI by Jack Hannahan, cutting Sacramento’s lead to 2-1.  Sacramento proceeded to score four more runs in the 3rd and 4th to extend their lead to 6-1, a lead that would prove sufficient behind Sacramento’s solid pitching staff.  Owensboro would ultimately score another four runs, while Sacramento would add three more runs in the 6th, for a 9-5 Sacramento win and a 3-0 lead for the series.  Unfortunately, Sacramento did not escape the game unscathed.  Jason Giambi was hit by a pitch that knocked him out 14 games … must have been one hellofa pitch!

WP: O’Flaherty, LP: Vazquez, S: Lewis

 Game 4

Verlander returns on three days’ rest to face off against Owensboro’s Henderson Alvarez.  This one was over fairly quickly, with Sacramento bats jumping to a 7-run lead after 5 innings, while Verlander held Owensboro to 1 hit and 0 runs over seven innings.  Troy Patton and Mariano Rivera subsequently gave up runs in the 8th and 9th innings, but it was too little too late.  Sacramento takes the game 7-2 and the series 4 games to none.

WP: Verlander, LP: Alvarez

Overall, Sacramento outscored Owensboro 30-8 in the four-game sweep.  The series MVP was Robinson Cano, who hit .438 with 5 R and 7 RBI in 4 games.  Pitcher of the series was Verlander, who won two games by pitching a solid 13 IP, giving up only 4 hits and no earned runs.  For Owensboro, Hannahan was by far the most consistent hitter, batting .333 with a run and an RBI, but Berkman was the most impactful, batting .167, but with a home run, 3 RBI, 2 BB and 1 HBP.  Owensboro’s pitcher of the series was no doubt Collmenter–the only starting pitcher of the series able to hold Sacramento to less than 6 runs.

Despite the lopsided results of the series, I must say that this was a great introduction to Dom.  We played head-to-head (via join.me and over the phone), and it was a pleasure to get to know him a bit.  He really took his role seriously as he temporarily took control of Owensboro. I look forward to Dom’s tremendous contribution to the future of this league.

WEDNESDAY 07/31/2024
AT 11:59 PM - ET!