Home MLB Play-off baseball starts today

Play-off baseball starts today

by Matt Smith

One moment we’re lamenting the end of the regular season, the next we’re giddy with excitement about the play-offs.  Supporters of teams who just missed out will take a bit of encouraging, but all baseball fans should share in the joy of turning their calendar over from September to October and look ahead to the thrills and spills that await us over the next month.   

What’s more, the Brewers and the Phillies will be getting things underway with a day game at Citizens Bank Park, allowing British-based fans to follow the game live during the evening. 

Today will be the Brewers’ first play-off game since the 1982 World Series.  Milwaukee were in the American League at the time and let a 3-2 series lead over the St Louis Cardinals slip.  After waiting twenty-six years for another chance, the Brewers will know better than anyone that they mustn’t let this opportunity pass them by. 

That attitude will be epitomized by their starter: Yovani Gallardo.  He made an eye-catching impact as a rookie in ’07, but it’s been a frustrating second year up until this point for the young right-hander.  Gallardo tore the ACL in his right knee at the beginning of May and there was some doubt as to whether he would be able to make it back to full fitness before the season was over.  His team mates ensured that his rehabilitation work would be rewarded and he now has the chance to turn what was looking like a lost season into a memorable one.

The Phillies will counter by sending their ace to the mound.  Cole Hamels has had a strong season while leading Philadelphia’s pitching staff, cementing his reputation as one of the top young pitchers in the game.  Hamels took the loss in Game One of the Phillies’ divisional series against the Rockies last year, but nobody should mistake that for being evidence of a player who can’t handle the pressure of the postseason.  With the considerable challenge of facing CC Sabathia in the second game, the Phillies need Hamels to get their series off to a winning start and there’s no doubt he has the ability to do just that.

It should be a great way to begin the 2008 postseason.  First pitch is scheduled for 20.00 BST.

In the other two games today:

  • Ryan Dempster is given the responsibility to start Game One of a postseason campaign that Cubs fans are praying will bring an end to their 100 year wait for a World Series flag.  Their opponents, the Dodgers,  are looking to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of their last triumph by adding another title to their collection.  Derek Lowe starts for L.A., with first pitch set for 23.30.
  • Josh Beckett’s injury means that Jon Lester will come up against John Lackey in the opener between the Red Sox and the Angels in Anaheim.  Lester’s last start in the postseason was Game Four of last year’s World Series in which he took the decisive win, pitching 5.2 scoreless innings against the Rockies.  First pitch is 03.00.

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