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Day 1 of Postseason: Aces Wild

Six teams took the field Wednesday, the opening day of baseball's postseason, and four of them had their ace on the mound in Game 1. The two teams that didn't? The Dodgers, because they don't really have one (although Clayton Kershaw, who pitches tonight in Game 2, is on the verge). And the Twins, because, after Tuesday night's dramatic tiebreaker win, it was all they could do to find a warm body to send to the mound in Game 1.

Here are how the four aces did, ranked from best to worst:

1. Cliff Lee, Phillies: 9 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 5 K
2. CC Sabathia, Yankees: 6 2/3 IP, 8 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 8 K
3. Chris Carpenter, Cardinals: 5 IP, 9 H, 4 ER, 4 BB, 3 K
4. Ubaldo Jimenez, Rockies: 5 IP, 9 H, 5 ER, 1 BB, 4 K

In short, one thoroughly dominating performance, one very good one and two disappointments. And not surprisingly, Lee's Phillies and Sabathia's Yankees both won, while Carpenter's Cardinals and Jimenez's Rockies lost.

I was in Philly yesterday for Lee's gem. Chico was two stops up on Amtrak's northeast corridor, chronicling Sabathia's postseason debut in pinstripes. And Les Carpenter was out in L.A. to see the Dodgers pound Chris Carpenter (no relation, at least that I know of). (Les also contributed a nice Kershaw feature.)

Other things I took away from Wednesday's action:

*Wow, that Dodgers bullpen is amazing: 5 1/3 almost-scoreless innings (the only run coming on a cheesy little flare to center field off closer Jonathan Broxton in the ninth), with no walks and five strikeouts.

*Sabathia collected 21 swinging strikes on Wednesday. Only once all season did he top that (23 vs. the White Sox on Aug. 28). And the Twins are not a particularly free-swinging bunch. Sabathia's slider was simply devastating.

*The Rockies' struggles against the left-handed Lee underscored why the Phillies should start rookie lefty J.A. Happ in Game 3, instead of right-handers Joe Blanton or Pedro Martinez. Yeah, Lee was awesome. But the Rockies also have some weaknesses against left-handed pitching that the Phillies are in position to exploit. Not only does the Rockies' team OPS drop against lefties (from .791 to .765), but their three top bench players (Seth Smith, Ian Stewart and Jason Giambi) are also left-handed hitters.

By Dave Sheinin  |  October 8, 2009; 9:03 AM ET
 
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Next: The Phillies' Game 3 Starter, In Cholly-Speak

Comments

Had Sabathia pitched that game last friday instead of last night, I win my roto league.

I actually popped in and out of first batter by batter with Rodney on the mound in game 163.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | October 8, 2009 11:54 AM | Report abuse

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