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THE REPLAY ZONE - JANUARY 2013
 
By Jeff Polman
 
January ruminations from your trusty Strat-O-Matic replay addict.
 
 
BEST OF 2011 TOURNAMENT CROWNS A WINNER!
 
The dice have clattered to a stop, the last team has been rubber-banded and archived, and the Best of 2011 Tournament is in the record books.
 
Walking off with the glory and $25 Strat gift certificate was Nathan White of Ottawa, Canada, for his expert lineup and rotation management with the 7th seed Dodgers. Taking care of the Brewers and Phillies with ease before outlasting the tough defending champion Giants, Los Angeles was the biggest underdog winner I’ve had since the 8th seed Cubs topped the Blue Jays to win my 1992 tournament title.
 
Runner-up Peter Schilling of Minneapolis, MN (he’s a great writer; read his book), gave Nathan a hard-fought seven game World Series with his 3rd seed Tigers, but Justin Verlander’s inability to beat tourney MVP Clayton Kershaw even once in three tries proved to be the deciding factor.

You can find details of the opening games in my
last column, but here’s how the last two rounds unfolded…
 
 
ALCS
 
TIGERS BEAT YANKEES IN 6
 
DET 3 9 0 at NYY 7 10 0
DET 5 13 1 at NYY 9 15 0
NYY 0 5 0 at DET 9 13 0 (Scherzer CG shutout)
NYY 0 4 0 at DET 6 9 0 (Porcello CG shutout)
NYY 1 3 0 at DET 3 5 1 (Verlander CG, whiffs 13)
DET 11 13 0 at NYY 8 9 1
 
A complete offensive flameout by the Yankees in the three Comerica Park games dooms them. Outscored 18-1 there, they also bat .133. A-Rod goes 4-for-20 in the cleanup spot for the series and drives in nobody. The Bomber bats heat back up when they get home again, but the Tigers stay hot, and Mariano Rivera gives up four fateful runs in the top of the 9th with the help of a critical Gardner two-base error in left field.
 
 
NLCS
 
DODGERS BEAT GIANTS IN 7
 
LA 6 9 1 at SF 7 13 0
LA 0 8 0 at SF 3 9 0
SF 3 8 1 at LA 6 12 0
SF 0 6 1 at LA 3 4 0
SF 3 5 0 at LA 5 8 1
LA 0 1 0 at SF 3 10 0
LA 3 8 0 at 2 8 0
 
Backs to the wall after two opening losses at AT&T Park, the Cinderella Dodgers sweep the Giants at home. Tim Lincecum throws a brilliant 1-hitter in Game 6 to force the series to a seventh game, but a Mark Ellis triple and single by Tony Gwynn Jr. brings in the deciding run in the 8th inning of the finale.
 
 
WORLD SERIES
 
Ten times more exciting than the actual 2012 Series!
 
Game One
L.A. 000 340 001 – 8 11 1
DET 001 200 000 – 3 11 2
W-Kershaw L-Verlander

Kemp goes yard twice off Verlander, but a key Ryan Raburn error gives the Dodgers two additional runs in a four-run 4th.
 
 

Game Two

L.A. 000 100 000 – 1 6 1
DET 202 000 00x – 6 10 0
W-Fister L-Billingsley

After going undefeated the first three rounds, Billingsley gets smacked around. Cabrera with a double and homer and Avila with two doubles as the Tigers even things up.
 
 

Game Three

DET 000 300 200 – 5 8 1
L.A. 200 001 201 – 6 11 0
W-Jansen L-Valverde

Great back and forth battle. Ethier and Kemp go deep for the Dodgers, Peralta and Betemit back-to-back for the Tigers, but it’s Carroll’s sac fly in the 9th off Valverde that wins it.
 
 

Game Four

DET 000 000 000 001 – 1 5 0
L.A. 000 000 000 002 – 2 7 0
W-Guerra L-Pauley

The best game of the entire tournament. Verlander goes nine-plus shutout innings, allowing just four hits. Kershaw goes ten shutout innings, allowing just two hits. Peralta finally singles in the game’s first run in the top of the 12th, only to have the Dodgers pull off another miracle: a single, double, two walks and a walkoff sac fly—by Jamie Carroll again.
 
 

Game Five

DET 110 010 010 – 4 10 1
L.A. 001 000 200 – 3 10 3
W-Below L-Guerra SV-Pauley

Another thriller. Dodgers tie it in the 7th with the help of a key Peralta error, but Alex Avila wins it with a pinch solo homer in the 8th off Guerra. Back to Comerica!
 
 

Game Six

L.A. 100 000 000 – 1 7 1
DET 011 000 00x – 2 9 0
W-Fister L-Billingsley SV-Valverde

Doug Fister actually had a much better tournament than Verlander, and pitches a beaut here to send the series to a seventh game. No one scores after Boesch’s tie-breaking homer in the 3rd.
Both teams are at 15-8 going to the finale…
 
 

Game Seven

L.A. 000 302 000 – 5 10 1
DET 000 000 010 – 1 3 2
W-Kershaw L-Verlander SV-Jansen

Detroit’s bugaboo the whole series is defense, and it rears its ugly head big time. Raburn lets a single get by him in right for a two-base error in L.A.’s three-run rally in the 4th, before Young drops one in left with the bases loaded in the 7th.
 
Clayton Kershaw was the shoo-in choice for MVP, by going 7-0 with a 2.32 ERA. Reliever Kenley Jansen had nine saves and a 0.64 ERA. On the hitting side, balance was everywhere. Platooning outfielder Jerry Sands went 10-for-19 (.526). Defensive replacement Gwynn hit .400. And of course, Matt Kemp led the squad with nine homers, 22 RBIs, and a .997 OPS.
 
I guess this is a long way of saying the Dodgers’ win proves that the “Best of” tournament is a yearly festival of the unpredictable. Go 2012 Nationals and Orioles!